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  1. #1
    trw
    trw is offline
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    Advice: MTB or hybrid? Confused.

    My wife has begun riding an old bike we had stored in the basement and is wanting me to join her. We live in Colorado and there will be a split of path riding and going up to the mountains to do some trails but no jumping or riding over boulders,etc. I suggested she look at hybrids, specifically the Trek FX WSD lineup. The LBS suggested hybrids as well and said the tires on a bike like the 7.5FX would be fine on trails.

    In reading the forum posts I get the impression from some posts that hybrids are not good on trails. I am not sure what % split there will be between bike paths and easy mountain trails. Is the Trek 7.5 FX a good candidate? I hear of a lot of people who own more than one bike and maybe this is due to the riding mix they do. Should we just change out the normal hybrid tires and get something with more tread or should we steer clear of hybrids. If so, what are better candidates for this kind of riding?

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    At a given price point, say $500, you get more with a mountain bike than with a hybrid. Better frame. Better fork. Better hubs. Better rims. Better brakes.

    And, even if you ride ONLY on very smooth pavement, mountain bikes work well. Just put on some light weight slick tires, like the downtown bike messengers do.

    Bike messengers are paid by the delivery. They buy bike that won't fail them. I've seen dozens of bike messengers on mountain bikes. I've NEVER seen one on a hybrid.

  3. #3
    Senior Member st0ut's Avatar
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    The FX series is esentailly a falt bar road bike. GREAT for high speed short distances.and even some long distances as well. But they are not for Trials unless you mean bike path.

    the trek 7xxx series (since you are familiar with the trek line) is for bike path and light street i would not take that on a off road trail. my wife has a 7100 wsd.

    So if you are doing ANY offroad / bike trail stay with a MTB.

    If you are going on the bike path and roads the FX is a great bike.
    Last edited by st0ut; 07-10-08 at 09:24 AM.
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    I will agree with Alen that with that price point in mind you will have components better able to take the abuse of trails, I am guessing you have things like fire roads in mind. If you were in the 1k price point, a cyclocross bike would fit the bill. It is road oriented (and often times has drop bars) but built with mountain bike hubs and other more durable components. Trek's cyclocross would be like the XO series.

    There are a lot of advantages to the hybrid, from a road perspective. You really may want to try and ensure you understand your needs. If you bought a mountain bike and almost always used it on paved roads, putting slicks on it will help you out, but a hybrid would be more efficient.

    Good luck.

  5. #5
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    A bike like the 7.5 FX should run fine on a hard-packed, dirt trail. If you're talking lots of sand and mud and rocks and rooty bumps, you could be in trouble, but a reasonably smooth and even dirt trail should be well-within the bike's capabilities.

    A couple thoughts as I look at the bike online:

    1) There's no front-suspension. If you begin to get into too rough a trail, the rigid front end will let you know long before the bike falls apart under you. So ride whatever doesn't bounce you around too much, and you should be fine. And for riding on roads, a rigid front end is often a good thing.

    2) The gearing is higher than on a mountain-bike. When faced with a steep uphill on a trail, you might find yourself wishing for more of those lower gears. You can change the gearing on a bike, though doing so can run into money.

    Does your Trek dealer also sell Gary Fisher bikes? Both brands are owned by Trek, and many dealers carry both. Gary Fisher's dual-sport line is similar in concept to the FX, but is a bit more slanted towards off-pavement riding. The Utopia, for example, comes with a suspension fork and lower gearing that more resembles mountain-bike gearing. I actually have a bike very similar to the Utopia from another brand, and I've been very hard on the bike, and it's been fine. The Utopia comes stock with slightly wider tires (38mm versus 32mm) than the FX.

    The FX is fine though. I'm not trying to steer you to the Utopia. I'm just pointing out another option that you might find at the same bike shop.

    I'll end with the caveat that I'm not familiar with Colorado trails. I really don't know how smooth or rough they typically are. Your bike dealer should know though.

    Oh, one last thing just by way of example: My own current "around town" bike is a Specialized Crosstrail. It's very similar in concept to that Fisher Utopia I mentioned, in that it has a suspension fork, a beefy frame, and 700c tires. I run 40-some mm tires on it, and I run it on pavement and dirt roads and two tracks, up and down curbs, and even on some light single-track. And then I have a different bike that I ride when I want to go full-on mountain biking. (Next time around, I may forego the suspension fork for my commuter. I honestly go back and forth with myself on that point).

    Most importantly -- buy a bike that you feel comfortable on. How a bike fits and feels is really important.
    Last edited by JonathanGennick; 07-10-08 at 12:18 PM.

  6. #6
    Pint-Sized Gnar Shredder Zephyr11's Avatar
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    What kind of trails are we talking about? I've done plenty of Colorado trails that don't involve jumping or boulders, but would suck on something other than a mountain bike. Almost all mountain bikes have at least front suspension now, which makes a big difference. And big knobby mountain bike tires act as suspension (particularly on hardtails and 29ers) and will offer better traction than the slicks you might find on a hybrid. Additionally, mountain bike geometry just works better for trails. In most of Colorado (or at least the parts I've ridden), you don't need deep tread because there's not really mud, so the tires will roll okay on pavement too (I run Maxxis CrossMark eXCeption 2.1's, in case you're wondering). And a mountain bike can still be ridden on pavement. I did 50 mile road rides on my hardtail before I bought my roadie. It's not as fast, but it's doable, especially on a hardtail or XC bike.

    Finally, don't get too hung up on the WSD thing. I'm a woman who tried several women specific mountain bikes, and none of them fit right. Ended up with a Yeti, who doesn't even bother with women's bikes. Have her try some of both and see what fits best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by st0ut View Post
    The FX series is esentailly a falt bar road bike. GREAT for high speed short distances.and even some long distances as well. But they are not for Trials unless you mean bike path.

    the trek 7xxx series (since you are familiar with the trek line) is for bike path and light street i would not take that on a off road trail. my wife has a 7100 wsd.

    So if you are doing ANY offroad / bike trail stay with a MTB.

    If you are going on the bike path and roads the FX is a great bike.
    The geometry of the FX is more mountain bike but nearly everything else is road (especially for the 7.5 and higher). So if you don't need or want the extra speed or if there's any unpaved road or loose gravel then I would get the mountain bike.

  8. #8
    Senior Member st0ut's Avatar
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    there is a such thing as not wating extra speed? this concept if forign to me
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  9. #9
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    I've a 7.5 FX I purchased locally this year, and I would only add that my particular model came with dealer-added upgraded Bontrager wheels and tires. (I guess they must have got a deal on them, because a lot of the road bikes on the floor were offering the same upgrade.) A nice upgrade for me personally, because it lightened the bike considerably and I don't ride anything but pavement. So I ended up with a very nimble hybrid. I think if the 7.5 had a better low range it would be more suited to off road riding, however. Mine is fine for scooting around on the local backroads, but I am sure I'd be hollering for a different rear cassette if I were to go off pavement. Just a thought from a homey who owns one.
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    speed and distance

    The hybrid with lighter wheels and tires will be faster than a mountain bike on level ground, and take less effort to ride long distances. Coming more from a road bike perspective, the only good reason imo for a mountain bike is to ride rough or soft trails. Although it sounds like you may be doing just that?

    Bontrager was bought out entirely by Trek in 1995. It allows them to build house brand components of various quality levels under the Bontrager name. I've always wondered if this is good, or just good marketing? ( disclaimer, i have an MBA, so naturally question the reason for the relationships =] ) For example my wife's Electra has some house brand components of OK quality with absolutely no name on them, and therefore have little value on the secondary market or in the mindset of the purchasers.

    sunflowerflyer

  11. #11
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    speed and distance

    doublepost... sorry

    sunflowerflyer

  12. #12
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    my kid has a trek 7300 .. and has put close to 100 miles on it .. all of them are off road, single track and downhill stuff ... about the weakest link on it (besides the bottom of the line drivetrain and brakes) is the fork ... but he only weighs 115 so it does fine for him.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyr11 View Post
    What kind of trails are we talking about? I've done plenty of Colorado trails that don't involve jumping or boulders, but would suck on something other than a mountain bike. Almost all mountain bikes have at least front suspension now, which makes a big difference. And big knobby mountain bike tires act as suspension (particularly on hardtails and 29ers) and will offer better traction than the slicks you might find on a hybrid. Additionally, mountain bike geometry just works better for trails. In most of Colorado (or at least the parts I've ridden), you don't need deep tread because there's not really mud, so the tires will roll okay on pavement too (I run Maxxis CrossMark eXCeption 2.1's, in case you're wondering). And a mountain bike can still be ridden on pavement. I did 50 mile road rides on my hardtail before I bought my roadie. It's not as fast, but it's doable, especially on a hardtail or XC bike.

    Finally, don't get too hung up on the WSD thing. I'm a woman who tried several women specific mountain bikes, and none of them fit right. Ended up with a Yeti, who doesn't even bother with women's bikes. Have her try some of both and see what fits best.
    Zephyr gives good advice (along with others). The most important part is getting a bike that you are comfortable on.

    I'd like it if my wife wanted to ride a mountain bike, but she prefers the more upright position of the hybrids and comfort bikes. She realizes that she would rather have the flatter back position of the MTBs on the hills, but her overall comfort is higher on the more upright bikes.

    Get something you are comfortable on. After that, concern yourself with the components and whether you get a shock or not. Shocks will not be very good at this price level, but may suffice for your needs. Tires are easy enough to find to match the surface you ride on.

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