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Help a newbie get a hybrid on a tight budget!

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Help a newbie get a hybrid on a tight budget!

Old 01-02-12, 05:20 PM
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Koobazaur
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Help a newbie get a hybrid on a tight budget!

Hey all, I'm pretty new to the community and don't know much about biking. But having ridden several kinds (road, mountain, fixed gear, hybrid etc.) I know I definitely want a hybrid bike. I've been going around a few local stores and testing out bikes, but I figured I'd ask those more knowledgeable than me!

I live in LA, in a semi-hilly neighborhood, about 30mins from downtown (by bike). I will have fairly frequent use, from running errands/shopping in the neighborhood, to trekking to downtown or other parts of LA (maybe part bus part bike) for fun and potentially work.

My budget is pretty tight, and I don't want a top-of-the-line bike either that will last me 30 years, not looking to make a big long time investment at the moment. Something that will ride nicely on primarily pavement and maybe last a few years would make me more than happy. My budget is $400 bucks but as I have been looking around, it looks like the starting point for hybrids, so I don't know.

Here's three that have sparked my interest and are at $400
Corsa zh500 - rode nice but there are no online reviews of this which kinda worries me
Giant Escape 2.0 - also felt really nice and has great reviews, but a friend on another forum who deals with bikes and assembly said the parts are real cheap and will wear out fast
Fuji Absolute 3.0 - didn't get a chance to ride it, but it seems like a solid bike and also within my price range

I wouldn't mind a used bike or a non-brand assembled at a local shop, but the problem is, I'm not knowledgeable enough to tell what is good quality and what isn't. I look at the list of parts and while I have a basic understanding of what each part is and does, I know nothing about the material/sizing/brand quality.

Any thoughts, feedbacks or resources would be much appreciated!

Last edited by Koobazaur; 01-02-12 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 01-02-12, 05:53 PM
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They all look reasonably comparable in build. Different Shimano components, but I don't know offhand which parts are the better ones. Biggest issue is going to be the fit. Try them out for a test ride. Make sure you can get the bars adjusted to your preferences.

The Corsa has trigger shifters, while the others two have twist shifters. That may make a difference as to which style you prefer.

These three look like they lean more towards the roadish side of hybrid, rather than the fat tire MTB side. An older mountain bike without suspension & non-knobby tires may suit the bill as well. I have a 24 year old Trek 900 that works wonderfully as a utility bike with some commuter type tires and a rack added to it.

Old Red by Yo Spiff, on Flickr


Look for known bike store brand names such as Trek, Fuji, Giant, Raliegh, Cannondale, Specialized. Be aware with Schwinn, that they have two lines nowadays, one line sold in bike stores and another one sold in places like Wal-Mart. You may want to research specific models.

Stamped steel brakes are a sign of a mart bike. Good bikes will have cast alloy brakes. (though some better mart bikes will as well). Look for allen heads on most of the nuts and fittings. Cheaper bikes tend to use regular nuts and few allen heads.

On any used bike, spin the wheels to make sure they are reasonably true. If they get jammed on the brakes because they wobble too wide, you probably want to avoid it. Spin everything that has a bearing and make sure it is smooth spinning.

I think if you go used, you can find something very nice for under $200. I'm sure others will have more suggestions, but that should help.

Last edited by Yo Spiff; 01-02-12 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 01-02-12, 08:39 PM
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Of those (and many others) it is the Fuji hands down. They are an excellent value and are well built. My road bike is a Fuji Roubaix and I have zero complaints wit it.

Ride it to make sure it is comfortable and fits. As a newbie I completely recommend buying from an LBS. They will be there to answer questions and do maintenance.
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Old 01-02-12, 08:59 PM
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The Giant Escape is an extremely durable bike. I have the Escape 1 and have no issues with it. And they have trigger shifters, not grip ones.
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Old 01-02-12, 10:27 PM
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The Escape gets my vote.



On a side note, how did you learn of the Corza? The fact that you haven't been able to find any reviews about it isn't surprising. The website is kinda fishy to me- the lack of pricing info isn't a problem, but no dealer locator, and the contact info consists of a web form that you provide your name and email. No phone, fax, email, or P.O. Box listed...
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Old 01-02-12, 10:59 PM
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Hey all, thank you for the replies!

@Yo Spiff - thanks for the tips I was considering getting a mountain and just changing the tires and a few other tweaks, but it seemed like the cost would end up being the same if I just got a hybrid in first place. And could you elaborate on what you mean when you discuss the parts? What's the difference between trigger shifters and twist shifters? And what about "cast alloy brakes" is that the break pads or every part of the breaking mechanism?

Heck, is there any good site that kind of has an all-in-one overview of all the bike parts, what they are and what the different types/qualities are?

And yeah, I'd prefer used as well; looking online it seems like I could easy save 50% on a used. But as I mentioned, I'm honestly not knowledgable enough to not get ripped off and I really need the bike ASAP, so can't spend a few weeks hunting for a nice used one either :/

@no1mad - my local bike shop had it, one of those smaller ones. But I think I'll pass on it, the main owner did not leave a good impression on me (I went to try it out and liked it and she said it's around 400 dollars (she wasn't sure - wtf?) but when I decide to purchase she'll give me a nice discount. When I called her few days later for the final price she just kept saying "come down to the store, I will give you a good discount!" and would not answer me directly. She also couldn't answer some basic questions, like if the frame is steel or aluminum)

Last edited by Koobazaur; 01-02-12 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 01-03-12, 04:22 AM
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1. Shifters are more of a personal preference- nothing wrong with grip shifters, save for the accidental shifting until you get used to them. Ride a bike that has them and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
2. Sheldon's site is a wealth of info. Have fun educating yourself!
3 Though the website states that the Corza has an aluminum frame, I wouldn't trust the claim- the website is too broken, specs for one model doesn't match the image of the model, claim it's a fixie while showing a deraileur...
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Old 01-03-12, 07:58 AM
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Of the 3 bikes you listed, the corsa lacks any rear luggage rack eyelets so discard that model.
Both the Giant and Fuj are decent enough bikes but I think the Giant has better spec. The EF50 shifters are better than MRX.
I have used aluminium and steel forks and they both work well.
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Old 01-03-12, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Koobazaur View Post
@Yo Spiff - thanks for the tips I was considering getting a mountain and just changing the tires and a few other tweaks, but it seemed like the cost would end up being the same if I just got a hybrid in first place.
Depends on what you happen to run across at a good deal. I got my Trek frame (with most of the components still on it) for free from an offer someone posted on my local freecycle.org mail list. Added wheels that I stole from a cheap Gary Fisher that I've never cared for and ordered a seatpost online, upgraded to pedals I liked better and then a bit of work.

Originally Posted by Koobazaur View Post
And could you elaborate on what you mean when you discuss the parts? What's the difference between trigger shifters and twist shifters? And what about "cast alloy brakes" is that the break pads or every part of the breaking mechanism?
Trigger shifters are thumb levers. Twist shifters appear to be part of the grip, but it is a section that rotates to pull the cable.

About the brakes: The cheapest mart bikes use brakes made from stamped sheet metal. You can look at them and see they are a stamped and shaped piece of sheet metal:

Better brakes are made from cast alloy:

Some cast alloy brakes can be cheap and junky as well, but they are better than the stamped ones. Stamped sheet metal brakes are the first thing I look for to identify a mart bike.
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Old 01-03-12, 11:29 AM
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A hybrid that gets a lot of good press on this forum are the Schwinn CrissCross and CrossCut that were made in the early 1990s. They featured a decent frame and good component mix.
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Old 01-03-12, 12:45 PM
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I just bought a 1995 Trek 730 that was literally in like-new condition for less than $200. The drivetrain is all Shimano Alivio, which is the entry level of mountain bike groups (rather than the "unlisted" levels on Shimano's website that are often found on cheaper bikes) so it's decent stuff and I have no doubt it will be a fine bicycle for years to come.

I would say get on Craigslist and then come back here with questions. Like someone else mentioned, Trek, Giant, Specialized, Cannondale, old Schwinns and Raleighs are all good bikes.

Last edited by corwin1968; 01-03-12 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 01-03-12, 03:38 PM
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At that price point, your best bets are as follows:

1) Craigslist (only chromoly steel bikes)

2) Bikesdirect.com, Nashbar.com, or Performancebike.com

3) New Signature Schwinn bikes purchased at your LBS

4) Jamis Coda Sport

- Slim

PS.

Don't pull the trigger until you've ridden the Jamis Coda Sport!

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Old 01-03-12, 08:14 PM
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Trigger shifters usually sit under the the bars and there are two levers. One will shift the gears one way and one the other way. Shimano's implementation has the index finger actuating the lever that shifts into a smaller gear and the thumb lever into a bigger gear. I ahve not used SRAM's implementation.

Are you sure have linked to the correct Fuji? That one is a 2009 model. The 2011 is a bit different. The 2011 model: https://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/absolute-30-usa3
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Old 01-04-12, 03:15 AM
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My "hybrid" is similar to Yo Spiff's bike. Mine is a 1989 Jamis Diablo(non-suspension mountain bike) with 1.4" slicks(for comparison, that translates to around 35c tires). If you can find something similar in good shape, that's not a bad way to go.

Bikesdirect.com appears to have some pretty decent bikes in your price range. In particular, the Motobecane Cafe Latte or Mercier Galaxy Tour. Both those have rack mounts. 28c tires on those which is more toward the road bike side of the spectrum than what I'm using on my "hybrid". I thnk those bikes would accommodate a 32c if for some reason you wanted a little wider tire. If I didn't already have road bikes to ride, I'd prefer narrower tires than what I have on my Diablo.

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...fe_latte_x.htm
https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...alaxy_tour.htm

Buying used has the potential to get you the best bang for the buck, if you know what you're doing and are willing to put in the time to do it.
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Old 01-04-12, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
Trigger shifters usually sit under the the bars and there are two levers. One will shift the gears one way and one the other way.
Ah. I was incorrect in my definition. What I was thinking of would actually be thumb shifters. Similar animal, as far as this discussion is concerned.
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Old 01-04-12, 11:59 AM
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The hybrid that I have was originally marketed as a Specialized Globe--today, they call it the Crossroads (the current "Globe" appears to be a single speed cruiser). Mine has a mixed Altus/Alivio drive train, twist shifters, with a 7 speed casette and a triple crank. The biggest cog in the cassette is a 34t, which with the triple crank, would let you climb a vertical wall (well, almost). 700c x 38 tires. The current model has a suspension seat post--mine doesn't. I'm not sure of the current component line-up, though. MSRP is under $500 and you can probably get it cheaper. Be advised that this is more along the lines of a "comfort" hybrid, and not like the Trek FX series, which is more like a flat bar road bike.
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Old 01-04-12, 12:52 PM
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This will give you some idea on sizing:
https://www.ebicycles.com/article/bic...ze-charts.html

Fuji looks OK. If it's around 400$, it's a good deal. Do check if it can mount fenders and rear rack. No use getting an errand bike if it can't put good full length fenders and a rack for packing stuff (ask at the shop to fit them BEFORE paying anything).
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Old 01-04-12, 01:36 PM
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Unless you really want a new bike, craigslist is your friend. You can get a good 2-3 year old bike for $400, and should be able to get a bike with Tiagra components.

This Redline looks like a really nice bike to me.
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Old 01-04-12, 02:30 PM
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That Redline looks like a great deal to me. I'd jump on that quick(if it's the right size for you) because I bet it sells fast. People may overlook it because it's not a Trek, Specialized, etc., but don't let that stop you.
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Old 01-04-12, 05:52 PM
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Whoa! That Redline is a 2011 model, AFAIK the only year it was produced in that form. Looks like the CL seller swapped out the tires, but no biggie there.

If it was in my size and I had the ca$h, I'd tell the guy to take it to the LBS to crate and ship it halfway across the country...
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Old 01-04-12, 09:04 PM
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Whoa nice find, I just emailed the guy, hopefully will be able to get on it before someone else snatches it! Thanks!
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Old 01-05-12, 01:11 AM
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Of the bikes your original listed, I have only ridden the fuji absolute. I was pleasantly surprised by this bike. Nimble, fast, excellent shifting and comfortable. If it werent for it's unique frame cross tube that bows upward toward the rider, i might have bought the bike. this fame design made the crossover a little too close for comfort.

I just bought a Kona Dr. fine for $524.99. thats half off the retail price. Im stocked to have it arrive and hope to post pics. Now is a great time to buy a bike, alot of stores are having closeout deals, infact i just got such a notice from the trek superstore in the mail.
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Old 01-05-12, 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
Looks like the CL seller swapped out the tires, but no biggie there.
The 32c tires listed in that first set of specs at your link is an error. On down the page it shows the tires to be the same as the seller is indicating. But it does look like the seller has swapped out the saddle and seatpost, and he's swapped them out for a saddle and seatpost that sell for around $80 each new. Also looks like he may have swapped out the pedals. $250 for that bike seems almost too good to be true. Good luck to Koobazaur trying to get it!

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Old 01-05-12, 01:20 PM
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I think you're splitting hairs among quality bike brands at this price point. I would focus mostly on the fit and the bike shop and not small tradeoffs in components. I notice the fit and comfort far more than I do component differences among comparable bikes.

I can't overstate how glad I am that I bought from a great shop within convenient biking distance. They tune it up, they let me try things out, they don't charge to install accessories. It's a great resource for a casual biker like me who isn't interested in becoming a mechanical/parts expert.
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Old 01-08-12, 04:33 PM
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For the money you have to work with, your best bet is to get an older chrome-moly flatbar road or MTB. I'm most familiar with Trek and I have hybridized both 800 series (26" wheels in a MTB frame) and 700 series (700c wheels in a frame similar to what we would consider a cyclocross style today, like a road bike and a MTB had a fling and this was the result. I currently ride a 1990 vintage Trek 700 that has been hybridized into a light touring bike that also works great for pleasure, fitness, and charity rides. It's a little heavy, very comfortable, and extremely tough. Not a fast bike but a great all-day cruiser. You should easily be able to put together something similar for well under $400 if you can start with a decent frame, fork and wheels for around $100.
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