Old 04-03-08, 11:33 AM
  #10  
Jeffbeerman2
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Wichita KS USA
Posts: 486

Bikes: Surly Crosscheck w Nexus 8 drivetrain set up as a commuter/tourer. Old and quick '89 Trek 1200. 08 Fisher Cobia 29er

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I can't compare them, but I bought my ex girlfriend a Venture 3.0 and have used it a bit. The bike is very comfortable, with a very upright riding position. I dated her for about a year and there were no problems whatsoever. The components worked flawlessly. Brakes and shifting were great. We only had it adjusted once, about a month after it was new, to account for cable stretch. The 3.0 has good tires with a kevlar belt which helps to avoid flats (which the Specialized does not have). It has more gear range than it really needs. We occasionally used it to pull her son in a trailer (although most of the time the trailer was on my bike). She never commuted on it, but I still outfitted it with a rack, lights and fenders. The frame has the necessary braze ons. The only component she didn't like that I replaced later were the grips, which I replaced with ergons.

We used it on many many weekend rides, usually around 10 miles or so round trip. I rode it about three miles a few months ago when she moved from her apartment and I loved the cushy ride. I can't say that I would like riding it for my own commute which is 12mi round trip because it is not a terribly fast bike (the style of both bikes is more leisurely). The upright geometry is super-comfortable, but isn't ideal for putting power to the pedals or cheating the wind. I wouldn't ride it on busy streets, but it was fine on recreational paths and secondary streets.

If your commute is under 5 miles, isn't on busy roads, and your riding style is more leisurely, it is a good value. I think I paid $315 for hers and put about $120 in the rack, flat repair kit, frame pump, fenders, be-seen lights, and a light-duty pannier (accessories bought on sale at nashbar). It's pretty hard to beat a complete bike for ~$450 including accessories and tax. Plan to spend another $60 on top of that if you need a helmet and lock.

While you are test riding, try an Electra Townie too. The crank-forward geometry allows you to put both feet flat on the ground while sitting in the saddle, which is a really nice feature in a comfort bike (you cant do this on either the Specialized or Raleigh). The '08 7-speed (7D model) is only about $30 more than the bikes you are currently considering. You sacrifice the front derailleur but you gain a chain guard to keep grease off of your pants. A triple chainring is overkill in this type of bike and a chain guard is important if you ever want to ride while wearing long pants (unless you like chain grease on your pants). The townie also does not have a front shock absorber. The front shock doesn't do much for ride quality, robs power, and makes the bike unnecessarily heavy.
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