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Touring bike v. Cyclocross v. Fitness v. Hybrid--finding the right match.

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Touring bike v. Cyclocross v. Fitness v. Hybrid--finding the right match.

Old 09-24-12, 04:10 PM
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PenelopePinegar
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Touring bike v. Cyclocross v. Fitness v. Hybrid--finding the right match.

I've been riding around on the cheap Walmart beach cruiser I bought in college for way too long. My husband just surprised me with a BikesDirect comfort bike as an early Christmas gift, which was a thrill, but before that I'd been hoping to find a used road bike. The new bike has been sitting in the kitchen, fully assembled, while I've tried to figure out if I should keep it or return/exchange. After all the bikeforums reading I've been doing I've decided not to keep it and I'm trying to figure out what to buy instead, while keeping within the $400 it cost.

I live in Indianapolis (flat terrain, terrible roads in our area, mostly have to drive bikes to get to decent bike path) but will be moving at the end of grad school this year. It could be anywhere at this point, so I have to plan for potential hills. In the past I've just taken out the cruiser for occasional two-hour rides, used it to get around town when we lived in a more bike-friendly area, and rented a bike for the day whenever exploring a new city. Now I'm hoping to start riding much more frequently as my main exercise, which would be on roads and paths of various quality and sometimes in poor weather conditions. My husband just got a new mountain bike and will be riding with me when he can.

I know nothing about bike construction or what the most important elements are to look for, although it sounds like the width/type of tire is crucial. I'd like to be able to get speed and efficiency at the same time as a little bit of comfort/safety/stability/ability to transport groceries etc. I've ridden a cruiser or rental comfort bike for so long that it'll be an adjustment to road bike body position, so I was thinking of compromises like a hybrid or a bike with a flat bar instead of drop-- I'm just worried I'll soon be ready for a road bike and be stuck with what I have, so I think I need to either just start all the way, with a road bike, or with something close enough to one that I'll be able to use it for years.

It sounds like a touring bike might be a good choice for me, but cyclocross bikes also sound appealing. I don't totally understand what a fitness bike is, and I'm not sold on a hybrid. I'm also not sure if these distinctions will amount to much at my under $400 price point. These are two I'm considering:

cheap cyclocross: https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...liberty_cx.htm

cheap touring: https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...alaxy_tour.htm

I think I'm off to the LBS to see what I can figure out there. Any thoughts/advice greatly appreciated!
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Old 09-24-12, 05:09 PM
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https://indianapolis.craigslist.org/bik/3276035462.html
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Old 09-24-12, 05:10 PM
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You cannot test ride the bike direct stuff.. its a 'pig-in-a-poke'
the wrong thing for someone that says:
I know nothing about bike construction or what the most important elements are to look for
go to a proper bike shop and get on a few bikes and try them..
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Old 09-24-12, 08:39 PM
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Thanks 10 Wheels! That Felt Z90 looks like it might be great, I'm going to go check it out tomorrow. I'd been trolling Craigslist but had missed it. Pretty solidly "road" though, right? No compromises toward more of a touring or commuter bike besides the relaxed geometry? We'll see how it feels when I go ride it.

Fietsbob, I know. I would have started with the local bike shop. Surprise gift from the husband and all. I'm hoping the bikes direct return works out and I can be a little more hands on about the decision.
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Old 09-25-12, 01:36 AM
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If you can get to a LBS, that would really help. When I was looking around for a better bike, I thought a hybrid, cyclocross, touring bike would be more or less similar, but they all ride much more differently than I would have originally thought.
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Old 09-28-12, 12:06 AM
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A lot depends on the builder as well. For example one companies CX bike can ride different than another. Sizing can be different as well.
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Old 09-28-12, 04:40 AM
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If you go the LBS route, there are some fine shops in Indy. My personal favorite is Nebo Ridge up at 106th and Michigan. Lots of people go to BGI, but they're so big I've never felt like I was anything but a faceless number to them. Matthews is good. And there are several smaller shops scattered around town that I'm sure are fine, though I don't have much personal experience with them.
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