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First hybrid, looking for advice...

Old 08-06-10, 03:19 PM
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First hybrid, looking for advice...

Scanning the forums, I see a lot of people posting questions regarding their first hybrid purchases, so I'm hoping some folks here wouldn't mind giving me their thoughts on the following.

I'm looking to purchase a hybrid as I've been riding on the same, heavy, rusty mountain bike for the past 10 years. While it gets me from point A to point B, I feel like I'm expending 200x more energy than necessary when I'm on it, and frankly, I'm just ready for a change.

I've checked out a bunch of LBS (I'm in NYC) and found a bunch of bikes that seem to fit my needs. What I'm looking for is the following:

-A hybrid that's lightweight (under 25lbs), as I'm only 5'4" and not super strong, so this is an important factor
-Doesn't need to be woman-specific, but I'm willing to look at them (I just wish bike manufacturers realized that not all of us girls want pink/purple/girly-looking bikes!), too.
-Can handle city streets as well as 30-40 mile rides and the occasional use in a tri (basically, versatility).
-Aluminum frame, carbon fork would be nice
- Between $500-$700 - don't want to go super-cheap, but $700's my max.


So far the ones I've liked the most are:

-2010 Specialized Vita Sport (around $530 at my LBS) https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...8&menuItemId=0

-Kona Dew Deluxe (around $580 at my LBS) https://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=dewdeluxe
(I really liked this one, felt light, and has disc brakes and nicer components than a lot of others in the same price range. I feel like I get more bang for my buck with this one).
-Also, Kona Dew Plus at around $530.

-Trek 7.3 FX (or 7.3 FX WSD) https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/road/fx/73fx/
About $620 at my LBS (I loooved the 7.5, but it was too pricey. This might be a nice alternative, but am I paying for it being a Trek?)

-Bianchi Camaleonte 1 - Around $580 at my LBS https://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/sport/camaleonte-1/ I kinda fell in love with this bike when I first saw it. Really nice lines, and felt light. Also know that Bianchis have a great reputation, but then on the flip side, are you paying for the brand/could you get more out of a less-popular brand like Kona or Scott?

Any other recs that I should check out (or anything about any of these that should definitely make me stay away?)?

My plan is to look at a few more places, but I want to buy from an LBS (rather than online) for the service (and to support local economy, of course) and will definitely try all of these out and see how I like them.

One other question - like with automobiles, do bike shops have "end-of-season" sales? I wonder if it's worth it to wait a few months til 2011 models come out and maybe some 2010's are reduced? Not sure if that happens in the biking world.

Thanks for your advice/suggestions/tips!! Happy riding.
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Old 08-06-10, 06:53 PM
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There are 10 Jamis dealers in the New York City area. Please ride the Jamis Coda Sport and Coda Comp. You may want to spring for the extra cash the Coda Comp costs once you ride one, and better yet look for a 2009 in closeout. A steel frame bike is a joy to ride. If you must go aluminum also check out the Jamis Allegro 2 and Allegro 2 Femme.

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Old 08-06-10, 07:27 PM
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1. If you looked at the Kona Dew Deluxe/Plus already, did you get a chance to check out the base Dew as well? It's a bit lighter weight than its disc brake clad brethren.
2. Do check out the Coda- I would if I could, but I ain't driving 100 miles to the nearest dealer.
3. Bit more of a flat bar roadie, the Felt Speed50 with aero bars might be a decent tri bike. I wouldn't know, though, as tri's aren't my thing.
4. LBS's typically do have pre-season (Spring) and end of season (Fall) sales.
5. Why, yes, you do pay a premium if the headbadge says "Trek".
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Old 08-06-10, 10:12 PM
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I wanna throw a plug in for my favourite brand, Norco. Norco is a Canadian company that has been making bikes for more than four decades. They've really made a name for themselves in the Pacific Northwest and have a strong following for their downhill MTBs. They also make some great hybrids and road bikes - I just bought the Ceres - a belt-driven, IGH-equipped, all-steel hybrid and I couldn't be happier. They make a bike that I think you should test ride; the VFR Forma (click on pic for link):



It's a woman-specific design, has decent wheels and Shimano components, and is kinda sexy in an understated way (i.e. not too flashy). There are a number of Norco dealers in the NYC area; just click on the "find a retailer" link on their website.

p.s. You can find a review of a VFR bike here in Bicycle Times Magazine.

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Old 08-07-10, 02:32 AM
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Whatever you do ... try to get a 2009 model.
I compared many brands' 2010 models to their 2009 counterparts and found that all of the 2010 models had cheaper components for the same overall bike price.
I think this has something to do with the financial crisis and upgrading the profit margins.
Most LBS's give huge discounts on 2009 models (or will start doing so soon) so you can achieve a double win there
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Old 08-07-10, 10:19 PM
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Ooh, I like some of those Norco's. Too bad that the nearest dealer to me is a little over 12 hours drive time...
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Old 08-08-10, 09:31 AM
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The Vita Sport is a nice, versatile, comfortable, bike - and with 35 or 40mm tires, even likes to go semi fast.
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Old 08-08-10, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by no1mad
Ooh, I like some of those Norco's. Too bad that the nearest dealer to me is a little over 12 hours drive time...
I'm allways a bit stumped by the distances you americans speak of.
If I would drive for 12 hours, starting from Belgium, I could be in Spain or in Poland or in Italy
I would probably have passed thousands of LBS's by then.
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Old 08-08-10, 01:49 PM
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You can be in little town USA, 300 miles from a town of any consequence, and they might not even have the bike brand you desire. By any consequence, I mean a town that even has a bike store.

In many places, you can be in miles and miles, of nothing but miles and miles.......
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Old 08-08-10, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by AdelaaR
I'm allways a bit stumped by the distances you americans speak of.
If I would drive for 12 hours, starting from Belgium, I could be in Spain or in Poland or in Italy
I would probably have passed thousands of LBS's by then.
And I'm amazed how the villages and towns in Europe seem to keep their identity through the ages. I used to watch this one television show a lot- https://www.hulu.com/rick-steves-europe.

But, yeah, we do have some wide open spaces here. It's one of the reasons why the automobile is so interwoven into the American culture.
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Old 08-09-10, 10:16 AM
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Thanks for the advice. The comp looks like a beauty, but a bit out of my price range, sadly.
I checked out the Coda Sport at a LBS, but they don't allow test rides (crazy, right!?) so I will look for another dealer who'll let me try it out. In general,y why do you recommend steel over aluminum? I thought aluminum was lighter and didn't rust (unlike steel)?

Would be interested in hearing your suggestions.

Thanks
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Old 08-09-10, 10:42 AM
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A steel frame is generally more comfortable to ride as is absorbs shock and vibrations better than aluminum. I have a Giant Cypress DX with an aluminum frame and telescoping fork and I feel that the ride is more comfortable on my Jamis Coda Comp, steel frame and carbon fork. You will notice that many of those aluminum frame flatbar road bikes you are considering have steel or carbon forks in an attempt to calm down their ride. You won't notice a couple of pounds of weight compared to the beneficial ride. Aluminum can corrode also, proper maintenance of either can avoid it.

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Old 08-09-10, 05:47 PM
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Steel vs. aluminum

Thanks for the clarification, but I'm still a bit confused.

Most of the bikes I've checked out online and seen in my local LBS are aluminum frame. Very few (to my knowledge) are steel. If steel offers a more comfortable (ultimately less-bumpy) ride (especially on city streets), then why are they seemingly few and far between?

Also, regarding the weight issue, is steel more or less heavy than aluminum? I remember reading that carbon forks (or a "chromoly" fork) help keep things lighter, but as far as the frame goes, which is lighter? I have bike storage in my building, so won't be leaving my bike out and exposed to the elements. If I'm plunking down $700 I'll be taking good care of it

Thanks for the tips
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Old 08-09-10, 07:35 PM
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What type of "hybrid" are you looking for? When I started looking, I found the term Hybrid meant different things to different bike companies. Some company's hybrids I would consider a "comfort" bike. Others are more road bikes. I wanted something more towards the off road. I ended up with a Specialized Crossrtrail. It's exactly what I wanted. It uses a mountain bike frame, with a front suspension and 700c x 45 wheels/tires. It rides on rails2trails paths just great, and will even go real off road. Specialized ads states the "only hybrid that can also handle single track". And that's true. But after I had that for sometime, I realized I still needed something more geared to on road, but with gearing of my hybrid. I have since ended up getting myself a Diamondback Insight 2. If you have the ability to assemble and tune a bike, I highly suggest you check out Bikenashbar.com. They are having a great sale. I ended up picking up the Insight for $320.00 plus shipping and tax. They also have womens versions called the Clarity for the same prices. If you want to save even more, and they have your size, the Clarity 1/Insight 1 can be had for $240.00. These bikes appear locally for $399.99. The Insight 2 that I got is locally $599.99. They even have the top of the line Insight 3 for $450.00. That one has a carbon front fork and Deore components. All are in limited sizes in stock. Good luck.
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Old 08-09-10, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by FlyingZombo
Thanks for the clarification, but I'm still a bit confused.

Most of the bikes I've checked out online and seen in my local LBS are aluminum frame. Very few (to my knowledge) are steel. If steel offers a more comfortable (ultimately less-bumpy) ride (especially on city streets), then why are they seemingly few and far between?

Also, regarding the weight issue, is steel more or less heavy than aluminum? I remember reading that carbon forks (or a "chromoly" fork) help keep things lighter, but as far as the frame goes, which is lighter? I have bike storage in my building, so won't be leaving my bike out and exposed to the elements. If I'm plunking down $700 I'll be taking good care of it

Thanks for the tips
Haven't checked the price of steel or aluminum lately, but something that I do know- steel frames if damaged can be repaired and still be as strong as ever.

That being said, ride whatever catches your eye. Don't get caught up on the frame material, especially since it sounds like you're gonna take care of the bike. You may or may not be able to tell the difference in frame materials.
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Old 08-09-10, 09:43 PM
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"Steel is real" is very subjective - I prefer steel, but I'm a heavy guy and I often have my bikes loaded with gear (school books, laptop, etc) or I have my son in his child seat. It seems to me that, when loaded, steel's flexibility is much more forgiving than aluminum. Before I moved the child seat to my older, steel MTB I had it on my aluminum hybrid... what a difference going over bumps!

Aluminum is lighter than steel but requires more material to maintain strength - this explains why alu bikes have fatter frame tubes than their steel counterparts.

That being said, IMO an even bigger difference can be felt through tire size; fatter tires = more cushion. When I switched from the OE tires on my Schwinn (38 mm - max 65 psi) to some narrower, puncture-resistant tires (35 mm - max 87 psi) I traded some comfort for greater speed and better handling. OTOH my new bike is steel has 32 mm tires, and the ride feels smoother than either of my other 2 bikes. So, like I said, it's subjective. Get out there and test ride as many bikes as you can and then you can decide for yourself!

BTW aluminum doesn't rust the way steel does and if you add a carbon fork, or even a cromo one for that matter, the ride smooths out considerably. But again, that opinion is based on my experience and YMMV.

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Old 08-10-10, 09:02 AM
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Good question - I'm going to be doing 95% road (don't want to say 100% b/c hey, you never know) and I wouldn't want to rule out being able to handle some gravel, but that's about as off-road as I'm going to get. I'd love a road bike, but I think the hybrid is more practical (city streets aren't necessarily smooth) and feel like I get better components than with an entry level road bike (which is all I can afford for now). I don't need suspension, and prefer more road-specific tires. The Diamondback Insight 3 looks nice and I will try to check it out.

Hope to go try some bikes later this week and will report back!
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Old 08-11-10, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by FlyingZombo
Good question - I'm going to be doing 95% road (don't want to say 100% b/c hey, you never know) and I wouldn't want to rule out being able to handle some gravel, but that's about as off-road as I'm going to get. I'd love a road bike, but I think the hybrid is more practical (city streets aren't necessarily smooth) and feel like I get better components than with an entry level road bike (which is all I can afford for now). I don't need suspension, and prefer more road-specific tires. The Diamondback Insight 3 looks nice and I will try to check it out.

Hope to go try some bikes later this week and will report back!
Unfortunately, I think you've missed the "extra 20% off" sale. There still is a sale price of $549.00, but there was an additional 20% off as of last week. You may be able to call and see if you can still get the discount. They are trying to close out the 2010 models. I would have purchased the Insight 3, but they didn't have it in my size. Good luck.
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Old 08-11-10, 06:57 AM
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Don't be afraid of ALUMINUM - I actually prefer it, it seems more precise, more rigid. I like it a lot.

Also, don't be afraid of suspensions, especially if you can lock them out - they do make the ride more smooth on rough surfaces, and, locked out, are very stiff, negating any bouncing of the fork.

And, if you still like everything about the Vita Sport, it's a very nice bike, at a nice price..
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Old 08-12-10, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer
Don't be afraid of ALUMINUM - I actually prefer it, it seems more precise, more rigid. I like it a lot.

Also, don't be afraid of suspensions, especially if you can lock them out - they do make the ride more smooth on rough surfaces, and, locked out, are very stiff, negating any bouncing of the fork.

And, if you still like everything about the Vita Sport, it's a very nice bike, at a nice price..

Originally Posted by Wanderer
Don't be afraid of ALUMINUM - I actually prefer it, it seems more precise, more rigid. I like it a lot.

Also, don't be afraid of suspensions, especially if you can lock them out - they do make the ride more smooth on rough surfaces, and, locked out, are very stiff, negating any bouncing of the fork.

And, if you still like everything about the Vita Sport, it's a very nice bike, at a nice price..
I like the idea of something precise, and to be honest, most of my LBSs don't carry much in the way of steel. Not that I'm opposed to it, mind you, but it makes finding one a bit more difficult.

I've done my homework and am going to check out bikes this weekend. Based on price, availability, friend's (and all of your collective) opinions and advice, and specs, I've narrowed my list down to:

Giant Dash 3:
https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/....3/3876/36254/

Cannondale Quick Feminine 5:
https://www.cannondale.com/usa/usaeng...ick-Feminine-5

Bianchi Camaleonte 1:
https://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/sport/camaleonte-1/


Hope to try some out soon!
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Old 08-15-10, 02:57 PM
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If you haven't already purchased, it looks like Bikenashbar has the extra 20 % off sale going on again. Great prices, but you need to assemble. Not a big deal.
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Old 08-15-10, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by FlyingZombo
I like the idea of something precise, and to be honest, most of my LBSs don't carry much in the way of steel. Not that I'm opposed to it, mind you, but it makes finding one a bit more difficult.

I've done my homework and am going to check out bikes this weekend. Based on price, availability, friend's (and all of your collective) opinions and advice, and specs, I've narrowed my list down to:

Giant Dash 3:
https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/....3/3876/36254/

Cannondale Quick Feminine 5:
https://www.cannondale.com/usa/usaeng...ick-Feminine-5

Bianchi Camaleonte 1:
https://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/sport/camaleonte-1/


Hope to try some out soon!
Of these three, I have an immediate bias for the Giant:

1. They tend to add less branding mark-up than the other two brands

2. The fork is cromo, which makes it safer. Alu and especially bonded alu-carbon forks have horrible failure characteristics - they fall apart without warning when steel would gradually bend. This will probably never happen to you, but I have swapped war stories with people who have had terrifying failures when alu or cf steering components failed (which they only VERY rarely do.) (But the worst one was a stem that snapped while descending a mountain - leaving the bike without steering - ARGHHHHHHH!)

3. I *love* the paint job - one to have the bike shop put (invisible, super tough) helicopter tape on before taking it home.

I'd almost certainly forget the C'dale for riding a triathlon. Unless the photo is very misleading the geometry is designed for a much slower (more upright) riding position than the other bikes, and the greater top tube slope and "q-factor" won't help race handling. Both the Bianchi and Giant would be reasonable conversions to drop handles for faster racing later - but do check their full-on emergency braking capability: makers of sports hybrids often save money by fitting a type of brake handle that isn't fully compatible with the type of brakes these bikes have.

This might help you - the "How to buy a hybrid discussion":

https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-video-)/page4
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Old 08-30-10, 07:47 AM
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Just an update --

I ended up buying the Giant Dash 3 2011 and am so happy I did! It's a great ride, offers a lot of versatility, and is quite comfortable yet still very quick. I'm amazed how fast I can go with relative ease (granted, my last bike was a mountain bike, so obviously there's a big difference).

Anyway, it's a fantastic bike for $600 and I'd recommend it to anyone who has a smaller frame but wants to do some touring aside from the general commuting/biking around your neighborhood.
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Old 08-30-10, 08:13 AM
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VERY good choice - you always get more bike for your money with Giant - and that's a VERY NICE BIKE. Pretty, too!(kind of understated elegance)

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Old 08-31-10, 08:31 AM
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Thanks, Phil. I'm amazed frankly, at how it handles. At first I was worried the700x28 tires wouldn't be able to handle city streets, but they've held up well. It's a bit nerve-racking to shell out $600, but I'm totally happy with my purchase so far!
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