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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 07-05-13, 07:17 AM   #1
TTON
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Difference between "fitness" hybrids and road bikes with flat bars?

I see a few manufacturers putting out "fitness" hybrid bikes that look nothing more than road bikes with flat bars? What's the difference? Is the geometry of the bike any different? Most of these hybrids I see have sloping top tubes.
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Old 07-05-13, 07:41 AM   #2
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Bike makers are always looking for customers that want a bike but are unhappy with current offerings. After the mountain bike dominated bike sales in the 80's and 90's the road bike with turn down handlebars morphed into a racing-style bike with very low handlebars and hard skinny tires. People saw road bikes as being uncomfortable and not useful. Visually they associated turn down handlebars with their misery.

Many new bike buyers today, who may not have purchased a bike in ten or twenty years, walk into a bike shop and the mountain bikes look nothing like the mountain bike they rode to college classes. They want a regular comfortable road bike and flat handlebars look more comfortable.
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Old 07-05-13, 07:42 AM   #3
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Gearing, geometry. Gearing on 'fitness' (silly marketing term, IMO) bikes will be lower, and either be compact or may include a triple. Although as you point out many bikes have sloping TT's, the fitness bike may have longer chainstays, and therefore a longer wheelbase, and usually has a higher head tube for a more upright posture.
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Old 07-05-13, 07:43 AM   #4
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In my mind a hybrid has cantis, v-brakes or disc with a MTB drive train. 700cm wheels with 35 or 38mm tires. I personally find flat bars painful in a very short time and besides flat bars are incorporated into drop bars.

Here's what my hybrid looks like:

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Old 07-05-13, 07:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by stilltooslow View Post
Gearing, geometry. Gearing on 'fitness' (silly marketing term, IMO) bikes will be lower, and either be compact or may include a triple. Although as you point out many bikes have sloping TT's, the fitness bike may have longer chainstays, and therefore a longer wheelbase, and usually has a higher head tube for a more upright posture.
Yes, I think those are the main things, too, chiefly the more upright posture on the fitness category.
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Old 07-05-13, 08:01 AM   #6
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I see a few manufacturers putting out "fitness" hybrid bikes that look nothing more than road bikes with flat bars? What's the difference? Is the geometry of the bike any different? Most of these hybrids I see have sloping top tubes.
Slightly different geometry...you'll find most/many with shorter top tubes in this class because you do not bend over as far (simply put).

But these are not cheesy bikes by any stretch of the imagination...

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ss/fx/7_7_fx/#

Personally, I have sold a lot of these to cross training runners and entry level triathletes (not sure if they will like tri, don't want to jump into the deep end of the pool, they can get a really nice bike for mid-$500 range that will get them throught the race much better than themountain bike they borrowed to do their first one).

As has already been mentioned, they are less aggressively geared.
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Old 07-05-13, 08:40 AM   #7
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I took a spin on the new Sirrus Limited last week- basically a flat-bar Roubaix. It was a sweet ride, and exactly what I thought it would be- a cross btwn my hybrid and my Roubaix. For me, however, I have a hybrid when I want to ride a hybrid (20% of the time), and a road bike when I want to ride a road bike (80% of the time). I don't have a need for a compromise btwn the two.

I can see, however, the appeal for those who want as quick and nimble a bike as possible without opting for a full race geometry, whether due to physical limitations, perception or misconception.
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Old 07-05-13, 09:48 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies. How wide a 700c tire can you put on these fitness hybrids? Or are they limited like road bikes? If I wanted something I can have the option into turning into gravel grinder bike with flat bars and something like 33-35mm knobby tires should I just look into a CX bike and switch out the bars?
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Old 07-05-13, 09:57 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. How wide a 700c tire can you put on these fitness hybrids? Or are they limited like road bikes? If I wanted something I can have the option into turning into gravel grinder bike with flat bars and something like 33-35mm knobby tires should I just look into a CX bike and switch out the bars?
Tyr one of these cross over bikes. Most have lockouts on the shock for road riding and can handle most trails...depending on your bike handling skills. I generally recommend pretty entry level trails, but some get more aggressive.

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/...2/11534/55935/

This is just one example. But this type of bike might fit what you described in the above post. Then you don't need to do anything. They come with knobby tires, jsut not as aggressive as a full out MTB tire.
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Old 07-05-13, 11:28 AM   #10
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I bought a Argon 18 Cobalt last year, a "performance hybrid". It's a great bike, responsive and quick. It's brought me into cycling. A year and a half later, I'm looking to replace it. As a "sport" bike, it falls short, the flat bars are not suited for long-distance rides (say 30km+), for example. As a commuter, it lacks some robustness and comfort. So, while I like riding it, I am also annoyed by it. I would recommend it to anybody who look for a fast, agile commuter for short rides and doesn't plan to use it to carry a lot of stuff (like groceries, for example).

Long answer short: it's too much a compromise for me.
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Old 07-05-13, 11:34 AM   #11
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Road warrior, thanks for that link. I'll check it out.

jboivin, what about the flat bars made it difficult for long trips? Isn't riding on flat bars almost the same as riding upright with the hands on the brake hoods?
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Old 07-05-13, 11:45 AM   #12
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Isn't riding on flat bars almost the same as riding upright with the hands on the brake hoods?
Only if you get the 90 degree bar ends for flat bars. Riding on flat bars is more like riding on the tops of drop bars. The main difference is that your hand is rotated 90 degrees on the hoods - and that makes a big difference. Flat bars with the 90 deg extensions is an improvement and not a bad option if you would never use the drop on road bars. You also miss out on the nicer road shifters with flat bars.
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Old 07-05-13, 12:38 PM   #13
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jboivin, what about the flat bars made it difficult for long trips? Isn't riding on flat bars almost the same as riding upright with the hands on the brake hoods?
You cannot change the hand's positions. I always end up with some pain in the wrists and/or numbness in the fingers. Also, many performance hybrids (as my Cobalt) have a rather agressive position, I would not say that I stand "upright". It's not uncomfortable per se, but in the long run it can become painful since there's no other riding position available.

Of course, your mileage may vary, but that's how it goes for me.
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Old 07-05-13, 12:46 PM   #14
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Thanks, that makes sense. I might have to try the bar ends.
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Old 07-05-13, 02:15 PM   #15
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Also look in to trekking bars - lots of hand positions, and body positions in them.
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Old 07-05-13, 02:54 PM   #16
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I ride flats 18 hours plus in a day. Bar ends small aero bars make them
perfect. I literally can't stand drops. Good mtb shifters take care of the 'lack' of shifters. Xtr brifters rock.

Makes flat bar roadies the perfect bike for me. Bike in the picture is a franken hybrid running sis brake/gear pods. Smooth shifts and (for me) looks good.
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Old 07-05-13, 04:17 PM   #17
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I've had some experience with hybrids, and I think they serve a useful purpose.
If I just want to zip through the neighborhood or I know I am going to be riding
somewhere with a lot of traffic lights, I think the hybrid is perfect.

Here's my first one:



Specialized Sirrus Comp with carbon forks and seatstays. Put a 105 RD on it and had Specialized ergo grips and Specialized Dirt Rodz bar ends. 25 pounds. Very light and fast.

Here's my newest one-2013 Giant Escape 3 (Stock):



Another photo with a few upgrades:



I put Ergon grips and Specialized Dirt Rodz bar ends on it, and a 105 RD. Changed the tires to Continental Super Sport Plus, 700 X 28, and they are awesome.
Better geometry for me on the Giant, and it's a great bike for it's purpose. Heavier than the Sirrus, though.

S
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