First post here: My bike (trek 4300) that I used for getting around campus was recently stolen so I've been looking into new bikes. I have never really had any experience with hybrid bikes and such, but somebody suggested it to me. I ride my bike around campus ALL the time, ride trails sometimes, and plan on commuting to work on it (roads). Would a hybrid be a good idea for me? Somebody also said I could just put on mountain bike tires if I was going to end up doing more advanced trail stuff.
Also, can anybody give advice on decent brands/models in the $400-600 range? I'm only really used to Trek and Specialized bikes, but I'm open to anything.. is GT any good?
You could buy another Trek 4300 for $420.00. The Trek 7.3 FX is a good hybrid and you can find last years models going for $420.00 (msrp=$530.00). If you are going to use it on the road more, this is the bike I would get or something similar from other manufacturers/brands. You'll appreciate the speed difference with the 700c tires. I'm only listing a few Trek bikes since that's what you are familiar with. There are a lot of options in your price range. You have to do some research and take a few test rides with the bikes that interest you.
The Gary Fisher Kaitai is a little more ($660.00) but a jack of all trades. Perfect for commute and around campus with 700c wheels and disc brakes. It also has some off road capability having a mountain bike geometry , lockout shock and can handle up to a 1.9/1.8 (frt/rr) tire.
The Redline Mono Cog ($530.00) is a single speed 29'er. Steel frame, swap out tires for trail or road.