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  1. #1
    Newbie Dark_Harvey's Avatar
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    Looking for a Hybrid

    Hi all,

    I've been riding around on an old clunker department store bicycle for the last five years or so, which I've never liked but have always considered adequate for a guy who doesn't ride as much. Lately, however, I've really been getting into riding, and I'm enjoying going for longer and longer rides on the road. I'd like to move up to a nicer bike that I'll enjoy riding more and that will perform better.

    I've been into both local bike stores in my area; one place deals mostly in Treks, the other mostly in Bianchis.
    I'm looking for a hybrid that's moderately light, suitable for decent distance road rides (20-ish miles), but could also handle dirt/gravel roads and such, preferably not much more than $500. So far, I'm comparing the Trek FX 7.2 or 7.3, and the Bianchi Cortina. I really like both and could see myself happy with either of those. I understand both are well-made machines, so I just wanted to hear any advice, insights or technical info you guys might have that would influence me one way or the other. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    You mention riding on dirt and gravel. I assume you mean you'd like to ride on these surfaces longer than necessary to make a U-turn to get back onto pavement.

    Keep in my that a hybrid is a cross between one or more nottas (notta road bike, notta mountain bike) and sometimes a not-exactly (not exactly a comfort bike). The typical tire on a hybrid isn't dirt- or gravel-friendly for extended periods IMHO. I ride a Trek 7100 (a combination of two nottas and a not-exactly) with the same tire size as the Trek 7.2 FX. I don't like riding on dirt or gravel with these tires except when necessary to make a U-turn to get back onto pavement. The Trek 7.3 FX has even skinnier tires. The Bianchi has a 38c. (BTW, I have ridden both Trek FX bikes you mention and liked both.) You almost certainly won't test-ride on dirt or gravel. Before you get too far down the road, so to speak, consider whether you can do without the capability of extended riding on dirt and gravel. If this kind of riding is important to you, make sure the tires/wheels on your prospective bike are appropriate.

  3. #3
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    I agree that a hybrid isn't very good for dirt or gravel riding. The mix of on vs. off road riding will determine the preferred bike, in my opinion. If more than 20% of the riding is to be done off the asphalt, then a MTB with knobby tires is probably the best option. If the vast majority of riding is to be on the road, then a hybrid is fine. I had a Kona Dr. Dew with smooth "hybrid" tires, and it was a dog on gravel and dirt. Happy shopping!

  4. #4
    Freddie fenders are cool wb647's Avatar
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    I own a Trek 7300- and my street has been torn up for three weeks now- hybrids are not great on gravel, but other than that I love the bike.

  5. #5
    Newbie Dark_Harvey's Avatar
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    Ok thanks guys, very helpful. Yeah, the vast majority of my riding is on the road. I do less than 10% on dirt roads, so that won't be an issue. I guess I should also point out that since I'm in VA, the roads can be hellaciously hilly, so I'll need to handle some steep inclines. I wouldn't anticipate any problems there though with either Trek or Bianchi. The way the guy in the bike shop described it to me was that hybrids are like SUV's in that they're not great at any one thing, but are reasonably capable at a little of everything. Sounds good!

    I'll do a little more browsing around and test riding, and hopefully come to a decision here this week. Thanks for your advice, guys, much appreciated!

  6. #6
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    The best bicycle for road is a road bike. It doesn't have to be a racing bike (and in fact, I highly recommend it not be one of the racing type bikes that most people buy). If you get a road bike which allows you to have your handlebars level with your seat, you get everything a fast, road-oriented hybrid can give you, plus more, not to mention that you won't need to buy another bike once you realize the limitations of the hybrid. I've always been a road bike guy, but I have also owned and ridden a few hybrids. They are great utility bikes, but they are a fish out of water on both dirt and road when compared to the mountain and the road bike when you want to do some more serious kilometres at a good clip (and you will if you are into fitness).

  7. #7
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    I ride a trek 7.2 FX and love it. A lot of people talk about hybrids being bad at everything. I disagree. I use my bike to run to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk (2 miles each way). I use it to ride on trails (mostly paved) with the kids: this includes a child seat with a 30 lb child on it, a trunk-rack cooler full of water and drinks on ice, and a 6-year old tagging along that goes relatively slow. I commute to work (10 miles each way) with that same bag full of work clothes.
    Sure, a hard core road bike is faster, but it is nowhere near as versitile as my bike. I do not regret that purchase at all.

  8. #8
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    Well what's a hard core road bike? On mine, if I'm riding on the top of the bars, my position is probably no different than yours is on your hybrid. But when the wind hits, or when I just want to go faster, have more control, go up hills, I can hit the drops or the hoods (I actually ride on the hoods most of the time, the same as when I had a hybrid, I mostly rode on the bar ends). But certainly, a good fast-type of hybrid is a very versatile bike.

  9. #9
    SWO
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    I've had a Trek 7.3 FX for about a month now, and I really enjoy it. I have 110 miles on it so far. I did a 21 mile ride yesterday and part of the trip was down and up a steep hill that was about 1 mile long. I hit 33.2 MPH (according to my GPS) on the way down and the bike felt very steady. The 20 MPH wind in my face climbing back up the hill made things painful, but I was still able to make the climb without walking the bike. On flat ground and days with no wind, it's pretty easy to maintain 16 MPH on the 7.3 FX without a lot of effort.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrBri View Post
    I ride a trek 7.2 FX and love it. A lot of people talk about hybrids being bad at everything. I disagree. I use my bike to run to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk (2 miles each way). I use it to ride on trails (mostly paved) with the kids: this includes a child seat with a 30 lb child on it, a trunk-rack cooler full of water and drinks on ice, and a 6-year old tagging along that goes relatively slow. I commute to work (10 miles each way) with that same bag full of work clothes.
    Sure, a hard core road bike is faster, but it is nowhere near as versitile as my bike. I do not regret that purchase at all.

    I ride a Trek 7100, and I wouldn't knock hybrids. I agree, a hybrid is a good all-around bike, good for errands, commuting, and, within obvious limits, joyriding. Yet this is where the "notta" (as in notta road bike and notta mountain bike) comes into play. I ride on the American River Bike Trail here in Sacramento—where road bikes are the norm, hybrids the exception, and MTBs as rare as the condor. The ARBT is smooth-paved with a mix of flats and rolling terrain. I engage in a moderate effort to maintain a steady 13-14 mph on flats, while a roadie zips past me doing 17-20 without working as hard. And, although the dirt shoulder is flat and packed, I wouldn't ride on it because the pavement is right there; and I certainly wouldn't ride on a real trail with fist-sized rocks and exposed tree roots. For that, I'd rent a mountain bike.

    To the OP: While shopping, keep in mind that all bike types have obvious limits, including hybrids.

  11. #11
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    Hybrids with 32 mm tires are fine on packed dirt trails, but are a pain on 1 cm gravel. If you are going to take a lengthy ride on that sort of gravel, a switch to 38 mm tires would not be expensive. Some hybrid bikes give a very upright riding position which puts a lot of weight on your butt. Look for one that makes you lean forward with your weight over the pedals. For riding on roads you will want a big chainring of 46 or 48 teeth.

  12. #12
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    Look at Trek 7100, 7200, 7300 and 7500. Same frame, different levels of equipment. My ride buddies have a 7200 and 7500. Both love them. I have wrenched on both bikes and they are just fine. bk

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