I am a noob looking to get back into cycling after a very long absence. Mainly interested in riding for fitness, recreation and commuting, with some (very) light trail riding. I am looking at hybrid and flat bar road bikes in the $800 range and have come across this bike from Gary Fisher.
Although the msrp is $940, a LBS has quoted me $799. Any thoughts on this bike as compared to a Trek 7.5 FX Disc, Specialized Sirrus Comp, etc.. Also, what is your opinion of SRAM components as compared to Shimano?
p.s. I know there are better deals out there online, but I am looking to give my $$ to a local and hope to establish a good relationship for future service and purchases.
What leapt out at me from the description of the Mendota was the very sane set of chainrings (48/38/28) paired with the aggressive cassette (11/26). If it had an 11/32 cassette (which would require a different rear derailer) I would think it would be perfect re-entry bike.
As is, if you don't have a ton of topography to deal with, I'm sure it will be great anyway. Even if you do have a ton of topography, it will still be great, and you'll get some big leg muscles. And 28/26 is still a better low gear than a lot of racer-y bikes allow.
In general I haven't really heard much about sram or shimano being better than the other, except that everyone I know who has an opinion prefers sram chains. Not sure if that's just the smartlink, or if other factors come into play as well.
The Trek 7.5 FX Disc is cheaper, pricewise, but is all shimano derailleurs. Pretty much even or some would say "near clones" of each other, BUT the Mendota has a carbon fork which will give you a better ride. For some, a carbon fork is worth the extra money spent esp on an aluminum frame. For the $40 difference, I would get the Fisher (plus your LBS is giving you a nice discount). Test ride both of them and then decide. Both should be plenty fast on the flats and have enough gearing to tackle whatever hills you may encounter.
SRAM components are excellent. The X-7 RD that is spec'd on the bike you are looking at is 3rd from the top in their hierarchy (X-0 and X-9 are ahead of it). SRAM technology "trickles down" so the X-7 you'll get is probably equal to last years X-9. Dump the Deore FD for an X-Gen and you will be in heaven!
That's a nice looking bike, I'd go for it if I was you.