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Need advice for a new bike

Old 09-08-16, 06:00 PM
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Essymoo
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Need advice for a new bike

Hello everyone. I'm new to the board and a bit of a newb with bikes. I've been biking to work for the last 6 years with a recycled bike. 18km per day, 8 month of the year. I would like to invest in a new bike without going over board. My budget is more or less 800$ canadian (620$ US). I know very little about bikes other than I want a hybrid.

I could really use some help to make a good investment. Thanks for your advice!
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Old 09-08-16, 09:49 PM
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Can you tell us what bike you currently have? What do you like about it and what don't you like? What types of surfaces do you commute on (paved, gravel, dirt?). You should be able to find a nice hybrid in your price range!
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Old 09-08-16, 10:16 PM
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My budget is more or less 800$ canadian (620$ US)
Thanks for your advice!
Honesty, my advice would be to up your budget to at least $1100 canadian. That's less than $100 a year if you ride it as long as you rode the other and will get you a bike you will really enjoy.
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Old 09-08-16, 11:48 PM
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You will need to learn a bit about bikes and components to make an educated decision.

Here's what I know, hope it helps:

First thing when talking hybrids I think would be to decide do you want front suspension, or a rigid fork. That will steer you (no pun intended) towards one or the other range of models available. There are arguments for and against, and strong opinions from many people on this board one way or another. Suspension forks add a small amount of weight (about 2 lb to a 30ish lb bike, over a rigid fork), but as a trade-off for the extra weight, they do absorb a fair bit of shock from potholes, curbs, rumble strips, tree roots, etc. At the end of the day, its a personal choice, don't let anyone tell you they are no good or that they are great, just decide if you feel you would benefit from a modest amount of shock relief in the front end or not and make your choice that way. As I said, it's personal and there is no right or wrong answer, just your own opinion and choice.

Once you have decided, you need to narrow down to brands. Giant, Trek, Scott, Kona, Norco, GT, Specialized and several others are all very good 'bike-store' brands and make *very* similar versions of each-other's same bike models. Some of them are pretty hard to tell apart, and in the end, they are all high-quality manufacturers (just try to stay away from the lower end brands that are sold in department or big-box stores for low $). The main difference between the brands is (1) color selection; and (2) value, and by that, I mean, what components you get on 'virtually' the same bike at what price point. More on that later...

Next you need to understand components. Main component manufacturers are Shimano or SRAM. Most of the bike manufacturers use Shimano on most of their models, some mix Shimano and SRAM, a very few use only SRAM, but there are no givens, every manufacturer specs their bike slightly different to meet a target price point for the model.

Within the components come quality ranges from lowest to highest.

Shimano goes like this (from bottom end to higher quality): Tourney, Altus, Acera, Alivio, Deore, SLX, Deore-XT (sometimes just called XT), and XTR

SRAM goes X3, X4, X5, X7, X9, X1, and XX (roughly aligned with Altus to XTR, they don't seem to have a model aligned with Tourney at the bottom end)

You will find Tourney grade on virtually all department store bikes, and generally anything from Altus to SLX on bike store hybrid bikes, although a very few of the lowest end bike store hybrids will have a Tourney component or 2, and likewise at the high end of the brand/model ranges you might fine an XT part or two.

In your $800 range, you are likely to get a bike with a mix of Acera/Alivio and possibly a few Deore components.

If you go up to the $1000 range, likely mostly all Deore components

In the $1200-1500 range, Deore/SLX mix, or completely SLX, or possibly even an XT part here or there in the mix.

For suspension forks, most of the manufacturers use Suntour, a few outliers use RST which I do not believe are quite as good quality, but not 100% on that, RST is less common. In Suntour you will see NEX models as their lowest end on hybrids, NCX as a step up on slightly better bike, and NRX as the higher end of the hybrid forks. The NRX is the best of the bunch, it's supposed to be all-terrain rated, but in reality it's still not as strong or capable as the real (heavier duty) mountain bike forks, but then a hybrid isn't a mountain bike to start with...

Also in the suspension forks, there are lockouts, which are simple switches to allow you to lock the fork in one position and act similar to a rigid fork, so if you don't want it to bounce when climbing hills etc. you can do that, lock and unlock it as you are riding through varying terrain. The intermediate forks that have this feature will mostly be manual lockout, meaning the switch is on the top of one of the fork stanchions, you simply lean over a bit and flip it while you are riding. The higher end bikes/forks will have a remote lockout, it's just another cable and lever coming to your handlebar to make the lockout simpler so you can do it without leaning over.

Finally on the suspension forks, you will see lower end ones having a 'set preload' which means their stiffness is factory preset and not user adjustable. The higher end ones will have a user-adjustable preload dial that you can use to stiffen them up if you are a heavier rider, or soften them if you are lighter. This is a marginal adjustment though in my experience, it doesn't have a whole lot of range or effect in reality on the hybrid style forks.

If considering rigid forks, you will see choices of aluminum, steel, or carbon fibre. I understand that aluminum is the least desirable as it will transmit most of the road roughness to the handlebar unbuffered. Steel is supposed to be better at dampening some of the vibration; and carbon is supposed to be the best, but while carbon is very strong in it's intended use, I also believe it is the most fragile in terms of *serious* impact so you need to consider that if you think you are going to be really hard on the front end. You can whack an aluminum or steel fork so hard that they get bent, and in may cases get them straightened and carry on using them, but that kind of whack will usually crack and destroy a carbon fork.

Now, back to the brands... In my own experience, I've found Giant to be the best value, meaning that at any given price point, you will generally get a better quality mix of components for the same price (eg a Giant bike for $800 might have Alivio and Deore components where as another manufacturer would generally have Acera and Alivio at that same price range). Similarly, if comparing 2 bikes from 2 different manufacturers (say Trek and Giant for instance) that both have a full SLX drivetrain, the Giant will almost always be lower in cost, usually by a significant margin. You should also know that Giant manufacturer's Trek's frames for them, along with some of the other brands. Giant is the largest frame manufacturer in the world. That's not to say that Giant is better than the other brands I mentioned - they are *all* reputable high quality brands and manufacturers that make great bikes.

If you get down to understanding most of this and are concerned about components, just pay attention to the fundamental quality comparisons. The higher you go in price and in the quality ranges that I outlined, the more durable the components generally are; meaning they have more corrosion resistant parts, have better bearings, are slightly stronger, are lower in weight, will last longer, and generally perform a bit better, needing less maintenance and adjustment over time. Tourney and Altus are generally considered low end 'consumables' that will likely perform ok for a couple of years before requiring replacement depending on how much use they get and how clean and lubricated you keep them. Acera and Alivio are considered to be pretty good and well performing and generally low maintenance for many years. Deore and SLX are considered to be very good to excellent, and are also considered to be life-time components. XT are top of the line in hybrids and mountain bikes.

Another thing to note is brakes and wheels. At the lower end of the model ranges, you will find v-brakes or rim brakes. These are cantilever devices that physically grab the edges of the wheel to slow or stop the bike. They work fine in dry conditions, but are slightly less effective in wet conditions. If you don't keep the clean, they can cause premature wheel rim wear from abrasion, which would lead to you needing to replace your wheels which could be costly. But if you maintain them they can last a very long time too. The other option in the higher end of the models are disc brakes. They work better in all conditions, are more powerful than v-brakes, and will never wear out your rims because they grip a brake-specific disc that is attached to the wheel's center hub, not the rim itself.

Rims on lower end bikes might be single walled, meaning those would not as stiff and heavy duty. Higher end rims will be double walled and will last longer and be able to take a beating, staying straight and true much more than lower end single walled units. The higher end bikes will have lighter rims too in general, along with a lot of the other components also being lighter, adding up to an overall lower weight bike, which should be somewhat more efficient as far as pedaling effort goes.

Finally, no matter what bike/brand/component mix you end up considering, you need to consider the fit of the bike too. All of the manufacturers vary their geometry somewhat. A Giant large is a 21" frame, and a Trek 21" frame is called x-large; and while their geometry is close, neither of their 21" frames are exactly the same in everything like reach, tube angles, etc. Every manufacturer posts a recommended sizing chart with their online catalogs so you can hone in on the recommended size for you based on height and inseam length; but in the end you need to test ride the bike(s) you are considering to make sure they feel comfortable to you. Take them on as long a test ride as the shop will allow, not just in the parking lot, but at the very least around several blocks several times, over varying terrain for at least 1/2 an hour ride to really get a feel for the bike. If it feels great after 1/2 an hour it's probably the right size and setup for you. If you feel strained or uncomfortable, it's probably not the right size, or at the very least is not setup correctly, and you need to look into that. You are not likely to 'grow' into it.

That's a short summary/primer of what I know in general about hybrids, parts and manufacturers. Hope it helps you to understand and make an informed decision on a bike that will make you happy going forward!

Cheers
TRJB

Last edited by therealjoeblow; 09-08-16 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 09-09-16, 04:44 AM
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Good, informative post. I was curious as to why you've not included the Tiagra, 105, etc. groupsets in the Shimano's components range.
Some manufacturers also use parts from FSA. For example, most Sirrus come equipped with FSA chainsets.
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Old 09-09-16, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by therealjoeblow View Post
You will need to learn a bit about bikes and components to make an educated decision...

Cheers
TRJB
That is an excellent post which should be turned into a sticky.
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Old 09-09-16, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by TMassimo View Post
Good, informative post. I was curious as to why you've not included the Tiagra, 105, etc. groupsets in the Shimano's components range.
Because they are road bike sets

Our guide to Shimano road groupsets - Chain Reaction Cycles

Don't feel bad, I wasn't sure about the Tiagra myself
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Old 09-09-16, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by coominya View Post
Because they are road bike sets

Our guide to Shimano road groupsets - Chain Reaction Cycles

Don't feel bad, I wasn't sure about the Tiagra myself
OK, but, if I'm not mistaken, the sets he mentioned are mostly MB sets, and the OP is looking for a hybrid. All the hybrids I've seen so far seem to sport road bike sets. Hence the curiosity.

Maybe "therealjoeblow" could make an informative post about the differences between MB and Road groupsets, benefits and cons.

Last edited by TMassimo; 09-09-16 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 09-09-16, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by TMassimo View Post
OK, but, if I'm not mistaken, the sets he mentioned are mostly MB sets, and the OP is looking for a hybrid. All the hybrids I've seen so far seem to sport road bike sets. Hence the curiosity.

Maybe "therealjoeblow" could make an informative post about the differences between MB and Road groupsets, benefits and cons.
I don't have any experience with road bike groupsets, so I can't compare them. But entry-to-mid-level hybrid bikes pretty much universally have mountain bike groupsets. The post above was intended to help newcomers, so it was probably a fair assumption that they would be looking at entry-to-mid-level bikes.
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Old 09-09-16, 09:27 AM
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Yes, I should have prefaced that my experience and post were mainly related to flat-bar style hybrids which are typically equipped with Mountain Bike grade groupsets. Examples of the bikes that I am mainly referring to would be:

Giant Roam (suspension fork)
Giant Escape (rigid fork)
Giant ToughRoad (rigid fork)
Trek DS (suspension fork)
Trek FX (rigid fork)
Specialized Crosstrail (suspension fork)
Specialized Sirrus (rigid fork)
Scott Sub Cross (suspension fork)

There's also a sub-group of flat-bar style 'hybrids' that are referred to as 'comfort' bikes, which are configured with a more upright riding position, and most of these will have adjustable stems that let you lift the handle-bars to 'granny-mode' and ride truly upright; most of them also have a suspension seat-post for added comfort (not full suspension, just a small spring with 1-2" of travel in the seatpost itself). Generally, because of the market these particular comfort bikes are targeted to (moderate use recreational riders), these are at the lower end of the feature and quality/cost spectrum. Examples would be:

Giant Sedona
Trek Verve
Specialized Crossroad
Norco Citadel
GT Nomad


The list is not exhaustive, but I believe these all are using MTB type components. Of course there are *many* other models and other brands that fit in this group, and then many that don't... and even within some of those examples (Trek FX) at the higher end of that particular model range they start crossing over into the road-bike groupsets like Shimano Tiagra and 105. Based on information I've seen online, I believe the Shimano road-bike groupsets go (from lowest/entry end to highest/pro end): Shimano 2300, Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace. I think that most experts say that 105 generally aligns with Deore in the MTB components.

Other styles of bikes that use drop-bars like the Giant AnyRoad, Specialized Sequoia/Diverge/Dolce, Trek 720/920, some of the Cannondales, etc... are also considered by some to be 'hybrids', and by others to be 'touring' or 'adventure' bikes.

Many of those are using the road-bike groupsets which I am not really that familiar with, and when starting to look at drop-bars vs flat-bars, the spectrum of what is available opens up *way* too far to be reasonably covered in a simple introductory primer for new bike enthusiasts.

There is no real firm definition of 'hybrid', its just considered to be 'not a pure road bike' and 'not a pure mountain bike'; Within that loose definition exists a huge range of choice that can become overwhelming to understand and choose from.

By the way, I should also warn that if you are anal and OCD like myself, trying to understand all of this stuff can lead you down the rabbit-hole of endless spec comparisons that then leads to inability to actually decide on what bike to buy, trying to find exactly the best sweet spot in terms of components and price. Many people just buy bikes in the middle of the range regardless of specs because they like the way it looks and the color and logo! I wish I could do that myself, but alas, I'm not wired that way ;-)

Cheers
TRJB

Last edited by therealjoeblow; 09-09-16 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 09-09-16, 11:00 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by therealjoeblow View Post
Yes, I should have prefaced that my experience and post were mainly related to flat-bar style hybrids which are typically equipped with Mountain Bike grade groupsets. ...
Thanks for the explanation. I'm new to all this bike stuff. I was starting to get a vague understanding of all the different groupset size variations and never saw that list of groupset before
It's difficult to make an educated choice and choose the right bike first time. It took me three bikes in the space of three months to find the right one (so far), and I'm not atypical.

I saw this bike in another thread and seems a pretty good choice to me unless the OP wants rigid forks.

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us...2/26021/92784/
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Old 09-09-16, 11:06 AM
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@therealjoeblow - great write up - wished I'd have seen it before I bought my new bike. I had to learn all this stuff the hard way! LOL

One other thing about these bikes is that there are from 3 to 5 grades within each model that relates to componentry, and they all overlap each other creating mass confusion for the new bike buyer!

I ended up with a new Spesh CrossRoads Elite with a carbon fork and Acera gearset. So it's a comfort bike with bigger tires (700-45) and up-model gears. Very happy. But man, I looked and tried out ALL those other bikes 'till I was worn out!

If you get into the nitty-gritty of the the forums and experienced riders you find that most pan the cheap forks and cheap disc brakes. On brakes, linear pull work really well unless you're a commuter that gets caught riding in the rain. Or you live in Seattle. LOL. Seriously, unless there's a reason to get discs, the rim brakes work just fine. On the forks, same deal, unless you're really going to be riding off pavement a rigid fork works just fine. If you are riding off pavement then a more dedicated mountain bike type model would likely suit better.

For me and wifey, we're casual bike path riders at a moderate pace, so we like modern gear sets and lightweight bikes. We had 12 year old Trek FX's and they were more road-frame based back then so quite a bit of body rake. This caused numb hands and sore necks when we ride. So a more upright seating position was a must. Yes, we're getting older.

The other thing is that many of these paths have dirt sections in them so really skinny tires, while easy on road, get skittish in the dirt. So we both wanted a little bigger tire.

I really liked the models called 'flatbar road bikes', especially the fast ones, like the SLR, Quick, Sirrus, FX 4-5, especially in the higher end versions, but realistically for our riding style it came back to a more moderate model choice that was more upright. Super happy with the Crossroads Elite.

I found all the brands to be of good quality and similar pricing, Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, GT, and Diamondback. I had difficulty finding Kona, Surly, and some of the more boutique-type brands, and decided to stay with the top-sellers for easy dealer support.

Fit and dealer are both important besides the bike, in my opinion. If they're not bending over backwards to earn your business move on. It only goes downhill from there. I found most shops to be really good, some great people in the bike business out here.
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Old 09-09-16, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by TMassimo View Post
Thanks for the explanation. I'm new to all this bike stuff. I was starting to get a vague understanding of all the different groupset size variations and never saw that list of groupset before
It's difficult to make an educated choice and choose the right bike first time. It took me three bikes in the space of three months to find the right one (so far), and I'm not atypical.

I saw this bike in another thread and seems a pretty good choice to me unless the OP wants rigid forks.

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us...2/26021/92784/
I checked this model out close and really liked it, although did not ride one.
In the end I really needed more upright position, and decided I did not need disc brakes (we don't ride in rain).
The Roam has a lock-out fork which is a must if you ride on the road. In the end I decided I did not want a fork for the weight and complication. If I decide I really do want to ride dirt trails I would get a real mountain bike.

Giant has some really nice bikes this year. I came this close to buying a Escape 1 with the higher end gearset and carbon fork. If the dealer would have dealt a little more I would have come home with one.

The other finalists was the Canondale Quick 3, same spec as the Giant, and the giant FastRoad SLR which was just over a grand and that was quite a bit over my budget. I REALLY liked that Fastroad, and the Trek FX 4.

BTW, the thinner chainstays on the Canondale are quite noticable. Very smooth ride with a carbon fork. Very impressive. I got talked out of the C3 wheels though.
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Old 09-09-16, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by TMassimo View Post
OK, but, if I'm not mistaken, the sets he mentioned are mostly MB sets, and the OP is looking for a hybrid. All the hybrids I've seen so far seem to sport road bike sets. Hence the curiosity.
Yes you're right, some hybrids do sport road bike gears, I just haven't seen any down here in OZ in OP's price range.
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Old 09-11-16, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by a1penguin View Post
Can you tell us what bike you currently have? What do you like about it and what don't you like? What types of surfaces do you commute on (paved, gravel, dirt?). You should be able to find a nice hybrid in your price range!
The bike I currently have is ecovelo. It was initially 75% recycled which matched my values. It's a mountain bike style with no suspension but wide wheels which I find handy when I decide to cut across a park or ride the many potholes of the city or go down a curb. I live in the city where most roads are in poor conditions. I commute mostly on flat surfaces, but do get some uphill areas and occasionnaly have to cross a big long bridge. If it's not raining in the morning I take my bike out, I don't mind getting caught un thhw rain on the way home.

I don't like that my bike is heavy, I feel like a lug around alot of useless weight. I also bring my bike inside for the night and I have to carry it downstairs. I hooked a milk crate to carry my bags but plan to upgrade to saddle bags.

I had the chance to use my husband's bike, a light one gear bike, and I really enjoyed the ride. Even though it's a low end brand. Made me realize how much I need to replace my old ride.

@therealjoeblow Wow thank you so much for all of the information. Next time I walk into my LBS i will feel less stupid.

There's an LBS that builds custom bikes. Should I dare venture down that road?

Thank you all for your feedback.
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Old 09-11-16, 06:39 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by Essymoo View Post
There's an LBS that builds custom bikes. Should I dare venture down that road?

Thank you all for your feedback.
If you don't know a lot about bikes and what works for you, then I would not recommend a custom build(I am assuming they design frames specifically for individual clients).

Just bug the hell out of people here on the forum for what you should be looking for.
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Old 09-11-16, 04:17 PM
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@Essymoo, I agree with @ColonelSanders, if you are new to this, a custom bike could end up being more of a problem. Now you would be faced with spec'ing out everything that you admittedly know little about, or going with the recommendations of the builder, and we know nothing about their experience or capabilities so cannot offer much useful advice there.

If the info posted here has been helpful at all, you should be able to to use it to at least narrow down the style of bike you want. Once you do that, you should test drive a few, from several of the reputable manufacturers and then as the Colonel says, you can always come back here and ask for more advice on comparing a few and making a final decision.

Cheers TRJB
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Old 11-21-16, 10:21 AM
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I finally had time to go shop around in my neighborhood. I went to see a few stores to see what they had for sale. Here are some of the contenders that I would love to get your feedback on :

Trek-Allant-7.4 : Allant 7.4 Black 17.5 - Ekkip boutique sport
Devinci Oslo : OSLO 2016 - Pignon sur roues
Devinci Newton : NEWTON XP 2015 - Pignon sur roues
Specialized vita sport : https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bi...a-sport/115230
@therealjoeblow : Your post was very useful in my shopping process. Thanks again.
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