A few weeks ago I started bike shopping mostly looking for something to ease my commute to work (about a 2 mile hike). I figured I'd look for some kind of hybrid/comfort bike at first, although I had a friend swearing up and down that fixie was the way to go. Fast forward to a few days ago when someone in a lbs talked me into taking a ss for a test ride. It wasn't the genuine fixie feeling, but I found myself really enjoying it, and tbh as I assess the city I live in (Minneapolis), I'm not sure that multiple gears aren't maybe superfluous. The city is pretty flat, and on the bike I'd been most strongly considering (Marin Larkspur) I found myself locked into max gear most of the time anyway.
I'm pretty torn, but considering buying something with a flip/flop hub so that I can see if a fixie is my thing or not. I'd like something for the commute to work and really to make the car I split with my roommate nigh on obsolete. So getting to and from work, campus, running errands, buying groceries, and of course transit to and from friends and the bar(s) =). Most of the time this will be under 4-5 miles, with maybe an occasional hike thrown in.
To that end, I've sampled the LBS around me and found both a
In my price range. I really like the aesthetics of the draft lite and I'm a big fan of the drop bar. However, googleing it found plenty of not so pleasant comments. Most were centered around an older model year using a 1pc crank, but thats alleviated. However, its still hi ten frame/fork. Not sure if thats damning or not. I haven't been able to test ride the Torker yet, but it sounds like a solid and comparable offering minus the looks (really dug the brown/baby blue on the Draft) and bars. Any experience/opinions/comments?
Finally, some digging around here saw a couple of other recommendations, namely the Republic Bikes Aristotle and several options from bikesdirect.com. I'm leery of ordering a bike online, but would consider it if the price/performance ratio really outstripped the local offerings. Any comments/experiences/concerns on how any of them compare? I have a budget of $400 for what thats worth. I intend to start on freewheel and get back in the swing of things (haven't ridden since my old schwinn was stolen in Chicago c. 2 years ago) and eventually check out fixie, but for the time being brakes are necessary so that rules out the Kilo and Kilo TT Pro options. I'm also just generally cautious of anything that purports to be factory direct from brands I've never heard of, but so far I've heard good things about bikesdirect. Thanks for any comments regarding the various options!
TL;DR version: Looking for 1st fixed/freewheel. Torker U-District, SE Draft Lite, Republic Bikes, or something from bikesdirect.com?