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Whether to buy a road bike or stick with my hybrid

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Whether to buy a road bike or stick with my hybrid

Old 07-16-18, 08:12 AM
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CoogansBluff
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Whether to buy a road bike or stick with my hybrid

I bought a $400 hybrid from a sporting goods story a couple of years ago, and in the past year I've begun to bike pretty regularly on local greenways. I often go 50 miles at a time and did a metric century a couple of months ago.

My only concern is that I'm basically doing the same in-and-out rails-to-trails greenway over and over. It's a great trail, but it's still the same trail.

I've been looking into local group rides to broaden my biking experience and make it more fun and to keep me motivated. But, I'm not that fast. I average about 13 mph on 50-mile rides. I'm 55, so I'm not going to get significantly faster on that bike.

Would a road bike make a big difference? So that I could hang with some of the more modest group rides? I've put thinner, slicker tires on the hybrid, and that sped it up probably 1.5 mph. I was cruising at just over 11-12 mph before that. The hybrid is still about 30 pounds, and some of the greenway is dirt, so that slows me a bit. And have to stop to cross roads sometimes. I might've averaged closer to 13.5 on the metric century on the road.

Anyway, that's probably too much info, but would the road bike be worth the investment? And how much faster might I go? Don't want to be fast for any ego reasons. Just wonder if that will unlock the group ride world to me and perhaps make it realistic that I could do an American century (100 miles) one day.
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Old 07-16-18, 08:39 AM
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go to a bike shop you like, take a test ride, see for yourself , if N+1 is for you..
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Old 07-16-18, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
go to a bike shop you like, take a test ride, see for yourself , if N+1 is for you..
I've ridden one around the parking lot of a bike shop. I'd probably have to rent one for a day to really find out the difference. The one I went to this weekend charges $100 per day, which seems steep unless I was sure I wanted to buy a bike from them. I think I got my hybrid on sale for $200. But maybe that's the thing to do.
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Old 07-16-18, 09:37 AM
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Local cycling clubs probably offer rides of different level, so you should probably be able to participate in slower group rides on your hybrid. I know that our local club does have group rides for 13 mph (and even lower) levels and I've participated on my Trek 3500 in them. Apart from these, clubs can potentially have dirt or gravel rides, which may be also a good fit for a hybrid. BTW, group rides are very different experience from solo rides, you go not with your usual pace but with the pace of the group, sometimes you'll be pedaling slower than you'd want and then next moment you'll need to pedal harder than you feel comfortable. I'd recommend to start with a slightly lower level group.

As for the the change of bike, typical road bike will definitely be faster (and in my experience it'll be especially faster going uphill). However, it really depends on the exact models that are compared. Some hybrids are much more closer to road bikes than others. 30 lbs seems a lot for a hybrid. Slick tires and clipless pedals help a lot. Also, smooth gear changes help a lot, so ensure that shifters and derailleurs on your bike are well tuned.
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Old 07-16-18, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
I've ridden one around the parking lot of a bike shop. I'd probably have to rent one for a day to really find out the difference. The one I went to this weekend charges $100 per day, which seems steep unless I was sure I wanted to buy a bike from them. I think I got my hybrid on sale for $200. But maybe that's the thing to do.
I think it'd be $100 well spent. You'd gain some certainty over whether to go all in on a road bike.

And it's great that you're getting in 50-mile rides on a regular basis. That's really good.
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Old 07-16-18, 09:44 AM
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IMHO if one never ridden a drop bar road bike before then the only conclusion one can get in one day is that it is very different in handling from average hybrid. Everything will be unusual and wherefore probably uncomfortable. Bike feel is very different, body position is different, shifters are different etc.
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Old 07-16-18, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
IMHO if one never ridden a drop bar road bike before then the only conclusion one can get in one day is that it is very different in handling from average hybrid. Everything will be unusual and wherefore probably uncomfortable. Bike feel is very different, body position is different, shifters are different etc.
That was quite evident from the short ride in the parking lot. So you probably make a good point there.
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Old 07-16-18, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
I think it'd be $100 well spent. You'd gain some certainty over whether to go all in on a road bike.

And it's great that you're getting in 50-mile rides on a regular basis. That's really good.
Thanks. I've gotten pretty good at grinding them out. Not sure some of these group riders would be so patient, though. But I'm sure there are some slower ones I could try.
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Old 07-16-18, 01:31 PM
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Group ride speeds are all over the place. I've been on group rides that average 5mph (seniors ride). 15mph (b-ride). 20mph, etc...so without knowing how fast the group rides in your area it's hard to take a guess.

Also, faster rides go faster because of drafting, so you can't really compare your solo speed to how fast you'd be on a group ride. Someone doing 15mph by themselves may be able to do 20mph with the same effort in a group ride.
Also, even at 55, doing 50 miles at 13mph you could probably do shorter 30 miles rides at a little faster speed with practice.

A new bike won't get you from 13mph average to 25mph or anything. It's more like a better hybrid with good tires might get your to 14.5mph, a nicer road bike with good tires might get you to 16mph. It's really just hard to say. The biggest speed improvements come from getting rid of suspension, then getting rid of knobby tires, then getting thinner faster tires, then bike weight can be a factor though it's not as big of a factor as people think (but you mentioned it might weigh 30 pounds or more). It just impossible to say over the internet without being able to see your bike. I got my brother to go from 12mph to 16mph on his bike when I bought him a new bike...but uh...turns out that was because the brake pad was rubbing on the rim on his old bike.

I've also seen people bring electric assist bikes to the more medium group rides so they can ride a bit faster than normal to keep up with the group. They're very frowned upon for "fast" rides (like 20mph average) but for the more socialable medium speed rides no one cares.
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Old 07-16-18, 01:54 PM
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My opinion is go for it. If your riding that much on a hybrid, your gonna love a road bike. Its gonna get you there faster and after some fitting and adjustments I think much more comfortable. It's a night and day difference.
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Old 07-16-18, 02:12 PM
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Yes, it will make a difference. That based on my own experience going from hybrid to road and from watching so many others I know go from hybrid to road. I don't know anyone who regrets doing so and I haven't read of anyone who regrets it. You should be able to find people who will work with you on group rides until you get settled in. Do it! If you regret it you have permission to send me a nasty PM!
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Old 07-16-18, 02:14 PM
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Also, the aerodynamic effect of riding with your hands on the hoods or (even better) the drops, will significantly increase your speed (at the same power level) and will help with your ability to keep up, as compared to a straight bar hybrid.

I've been the fastest on a few rare group rides, as well as the slowest on many, many others (which is somewhat demoralizing when you feel you're slowing the whole group down, but riding with riders faster than yourself is how you get faster).
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Old 07-16-18, 03:20 PM
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Maybe check out the “endurance” bikes like the Specialized Roubaix, Cannondale Synapse, Giant Defy. Not as aggressive of a riding position but still look and perform great !

PS - Keep the Hybrid ! Mine is still my favorite bike for just jumping on in the neighborhood, bike trails, camping trips, etc.

Good luck and enjoy whatever you get !
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Old 07-16-18, 03:35 PM
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If you want to try it do what I did with my 29er which I wasn't sure about ..... buy a 2nd hand one but just make sure you pay market value rather than over the top knowing if you don't like it or it doesn't make the difference you're hoping for you can pretty much get your money back.

I did it with a view to buying a new one if I really liked it bit it's such a great bike there's no need and it's a definite keeper ... I#m trying to do the same with a gravel bike at the moment.
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Old 07-16-18, 03:42 PM
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If the cost isn't much of a concern I would get a gravel bike. Drops can make a huge difference in comfort and it's always great to have 2 different bikes anyway.
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Old 07-16-18, 03:44 PM
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There is another option. You can put drop bars and skinnier tires on the hybrid. If you're willing to ignore the stares...

Most people actually have no clue about the difference between bikes. Most people have no idea what an expensive bike looks like vs a cheap bike. You'll get just as many "nice bike" comments on a cheap bike that's clean and pretty looking as you'll get on a similarly well groomed expensive bike. People generally have no clue what they're looking at.

Test ride a road bike. It's not as comfortable as a hybrid. See if you can deal with that.
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Old 07-16-18, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by toast3d View Post
There is another option. You can put drop bars and skinnier tires on the hybrid. If you're willing to ignore the stares...

Most people actually have no clue about the difference between bikes. Most people have no idea what an expensive bike looks like vs a cheap bike. You'll get just as many "nice bike" comments on a cheap bike that's clean and pretty looking as you'll get on a similarly well groomed expensive bike. People generally have no clue what they're looking at.

Test ride a road bike. It's not as comfortable as a hybrid. See if you can deal with that.
To you. The overwhelming majority of riders I know who have significant saddle time on a hybrid and a road bike find the road bike more comfortable.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
Would a road bike make a big difference?
Hard to say without knowing more about your bike, since "hybrid" covers a wide range of bikes.

The main advantage that road bikes have over most hybrids is the more aerodynamic posture. Aerodynamic drag grows rapidly with speed, so the faster you want to go, the more your aerodynamic profile matters. If your current posture is very upright, it might be significantly holding you back even though your speeds are only in the low teens.

Tire choice has huge performance implications. It sounds like you've already put skinny slicks on the hybrid... I don't know what particular tires you chose, but the really really important thing is a high-performance construction. A fast racing tire can buy a 5-10% speed gain over some bombproof urban tires, even if they're both slicks in the same size.

Most road bikes will also be significantly lighter than your hybrid. This is most impactful during climbing, when gravitational drag is by far the largest source of resistance. Shaving eight pounds off a bike could result in you climbing steep hills on the order of several percent faster.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
To you. The overwhelming majority of riders I know who have significant saddle time on a hybrid and a road bike find the road bike more comfortable.
Okay.

I could make a long post about this, but I will sum it up and keep it short by saying that it's not an easy transition to make. If you are comfortable on a hybrid and you ride trails, you will probably find a road bike takes time to get used to, has a harsher ride due to skinnier tires and higher pressure, and the more narrow harder saddle is going to hurt at first. Your arms and hands will hurt due to the higher pressure on them as well, because you are leaning farther forward.

Your body must adjust, and your riding style needs to change to suit the bike. Road bikes are about efficiency. Not comfort. Even for someone with no experience riding bikes, the hybrid will be more comfortable at first. Comfort on a road bike comes down to fitness and experience.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
I bought a $400 hybrid from a sporting goods story a couple of years ago, and in the past year I've begun to bike pretty regularly on local greenways. I often go 50 miles at a time and did a metric century a couple of months ago.

My only concern is that I'm basically doing the same in-and-out rails-to-trails greenway over and over. It's a great trail, but it's still the same trail.

I've been looking into local group rides to broaden my biking experience and make it more fun and to keep me motivated. But, I'm not that fast. I average about 13 mph on 50-mile rides. I'm 55, so I'm not going to get significantly faster on that bike.

Would a road bike make a big difference? So that I could hang with some of the more modest group rides? I've put thinner, slicker tires on the hybrid, and that sped it up probably 1.5 mph. I was cruising at just over 11-12 mph before that. The hybrid is still about 30 pounds, and some of the greenway is dirt, so that slows me a bit. And have to stop to cross roads sometimes. I might've averaged closer to 13.5 on the metric century on the road.

Anyway, that's probably too much info, but would the road bike be worth the investment? And how much faster might I go? Don't want to be fast for any ego reasons. Just wonder if that will unlock the group ride world to me and perhaps make it realistic that I could do an American century (100 miles) one day.
There is no magic about drop bars. In general, they offer multiple hand and riding positions which, on longer rides is helpful. On the tops for relaxed cruising, on the hoods, for spirited riding, and in the drops for sprinting and to get more aero. if you are flexible enough, riding in the drops allow you to ride in a lower more aero position, which is most of how you get more speed riding a road bike than a flat bar hybrid. So for long rides, the advantages to drop bars are not just top speed.

I ride a bike with drop bars but honestly, I am not all that fast. If you are really riding 13 mph over 50 miles, that is pretty decent. Aside from riding in the drops, a lighter bike will feel more responsive but once you are up to speed, there is almost no difference in efficiency between a bike that weighs, say, 18 to 20 lbs (the weight of a typical road bike), and one that weighs 26 to 28 lbs. (the weight of a typical hybrid).
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Old 07-16-18, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by toast3d View Post
Even for someone with no experience riding bikes, the hybrid will be more comfortable at first.
You don't need the "even" at the start of the sentence. Most hybrids are specifically designed to be comfortable to be people who don't ride very much.

Whether they also happen to be comfortable to someone who regularly puts in four-hour days on the bike is more of a crapshoot.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by toast3d View Post
Okay.

I could make a long post about this, but I will sum it up and keep it short by saying that it's not an easy transition to make. If you are comfortable on a hybrid and you ride trails, you will probably find a road bike takes time to get used to, has a harsher ride due to skinnier tires and higher pressure, and the more narrow harder saddle is going to hurt at first. Your arms and hands will hurt due to the higher pressure on them as well, because you are leaning farther forward.

Your body must adjust, and your riding style needs to change to suit the bike. Road bikes are about efficiency. Not comfort. Even for someone with no experience riding bikes, the hybrid will be more comfortable at first. Comfort on a road bike comes down to fitness and experience.
Not necessarily. There are road bikes and there are road bikes. These days, there are bikes with drop bars with clearance for 28, 32, or even larger volume tires,and relaxed geometry. You can use whatever saddle you find most comfortable. As for arms hurting, that I find perplexing, since if you know how to ride, you don't put a lot of weight on your arms and hands. If anything, drop bars are more gentle on your hands since you can change hand positions from time to time if your hands get fatigued.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by toast3d View Post
There is another option. You can put drop bars and skinnier tires on the hybrid. If you're willing to ignore the stares...

Most people actually have no clue about the difference between bikes. Most people have no idea what an expensive bike looks like vs a cheap bike. You'll get just as many "nice bike" comments on a cheap bike that's clean and pretty looking as you'll get on a similarly well groomed expensive bike. People generally have no clue what they're looking at.

Test ride a road bike. It's not as comfortable as a hybrid. See if you can deal with that.
Funny. I met a dude that took a Bikesdirect MTB and swapped parts to a used Santa Cruz frame/fork. He paid over 2x more for that then the whole other bike. Gets all kinds of compliments even with the dated medium grade compoents on it. Not knocking the bike or concept.

A bike is a sum of everything. Not just the name of the paint on the frame.

To stay on topic. I did MTB and hybrid for decades. When I started to get more seroius and wanted to go further a road bike was the obvious choice. I tried one I got used and felt too limited by it's functionality and did not like the ride (limited to 25 and it had 23 tires). It was fast and light though. Not giving up IItried a "gravel bike" and all but stopped riding the hybrid that day. My best year on the hybrid was maybe 2000 miles, I do that in 6 months on the gravel bike. The transition to some form of road bike from a hybrid was a great change. I went through some aches and pains and comfort issues but over time worked that out. Get the road, gravel, cx, tour of your choice and go!! If your unsure get a cheap used one first.

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Old 07-16-18, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
As for arms hurting, that I find perplexing, since if you know how to ride, you don't put a lot of weight on your arms and hands. If anything, drop bars are more gentle on your hands since you can change hand positions from time to time if your hands get fatigued.
If you're not putting as much weight forward, then you're controlling weight distribution of your upper body with your core strength. That is one major reason why core strength is a significant focus of fitness on a road bike, There are other reasons too.

Changing hand position occurs for two main reasons. First is to alleviate pain from the weight on the hands and the strain on the arm muscles. Second is to get in a position more suited for the moment, whether it be to get in a more aerodynamic position or to open the chest for better breathing.

Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Not necessarily. There are road bikes and there are road bikes. These days, there are bikes with drop bars with clearance for 28, 32, or even larger volume tires,and relaxed geometry. You can use whatever saddle you find most comfortable.
Saddles are unique to the rider and measuring sit bones is important to finding the correct saddle, as well as accounting for whether there is pressure on the privates. This isn't as much of an issue on a hybrids because the weight distribution is different due to the more upright position.

Tire width is important for comfort of course, and there will be road bike frames which cater to larger widths. I personally find 28 mm wides tires to be the goldilocks zone for comfort on a road bike while still allowing decent performance.

Bottom line is that hybrids and road bikes are two different beasts. Ignore this and suffer. Consider this carefully when trying to transition.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:58 PM
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One 55 year old to another...

I've got a carbon road bike and aluminum hybrid. I'll pick the road bike every time over the hybrid unless it's raining or very cold. The road bike is so much more fun, and that's what it's about for me.

Things I'd suggest considering seriously is get the best bike you can justify, some good clip in shoes and have someone help you get fitted. Not cheap, but (speaking for myself) well worth the investment.
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