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Best bicycle option for weekend recreational use

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Best bicycle option for weekend recreational use

Old 07-13-19, 05:45 PM
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Best bicycle option for weekend recreational use

I'd like to get your thoughts on what my best option would be for a bike. Here is my background / need:
  • My cycling experience is minimal. I rode a bicycle for 6+ years when I was in university + graduate school between my dorm and classes, almost on a daily basis, but that was a decade ago. Back then I rode a used Diamondback mountain bike I bought for $100 off Craigslist, with zero maintenance performed during those years
  • As my name shows, I currently live in Hoboken -- some nice biking trail options around this town!
  • Usage: The bike won't be for commuting, but rather weekend recreations. I'm hoping to spend 1-2 hours of riding every weekend, weather permitting. Also, it will be mostly on-road (little off-road options around here, unless I drive far outside the urban area)
And here are some questions that I have:
  • Which bicycle type should I get? Based on what I read from stickies and other sources here, hybrid might be a safe bet. But since there will be very little (if at all) off-road, would it make sense to look for another type?
  • Budget: I started out thinking I want to spend ~$300 or so (excluding accessories) but then, reading up on brand reviews here and also on details regarding part quality, it is sounding like stepping up to ~$500 range might be a sensible thing. Even with my light usage for my bike, am I still right to think this way?
  • Through research, I found a few potential options that appeal to me. Do you have any thoughts on these options?
    • Raleigh 2018 Preston ($250)
    • Creme Cycles Caferacer Uno ($400)
    • Specialized Roll / other models at my local bike shop (ranges from $450-$700)
    • If there are other options you recommend, please let me know!
Thank you so much for your advice in advance!
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Old 07-13-19, 07:10 PM
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Low end Specialized Sirrus for $500-$600.


Bike prices can be negotiated. My Sirrus MSRPd for $810 and I paid $690 I think. Or maybe it was less, point is I didn't pay sticker so you might have more buying power than you think when looking online.

I think the Roll is some big fat heavy beach cruiser type. I would start with a hybrid (I started with a Sirrus, and opted to keep it when I bought my road bike because I still love it). My Sirrus seemed like such a light bike weighing in the low 20 lb range, and that kept me on it to find that I liked cycling enough to invest in a road bike and all that goes with that, which is a significant investment. And yes, you want to spend $500 minimum for a nice bike. Buy nice or buy twice. I'm not familiar with any of the models you listed, but I would make sure that it is something purchased from a proper bike shop where they actually know how to assemble and maintain bikes (e.g., avoid big box stores).

Last edited by puma1552; 07-13-19 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 07-13-19, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by puma1552 View Post
Low end Specialized Sirrus for $500-$600.
I'd agree. A flat bar roadie from a reputable brand is the way to go.
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Old 07-13-19, 07:29 PM
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Checkout the Trek FX. They are very popular and range from $500 to $2100 so i'm sure there's a model with the features you can afford.
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Old 07-13-19, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
Checkout the Trek FX. They are very popular and range from $500 to $2100 so i'm sure there's a model with the features you can afford.
Another good option - OP, the Trek FX is Trek's version of the Sirrus. I originally started out looking at Treks, and ended up becoming a Specialized guy (just liked the look of the bikes better, and perhaps more importantly, the Trek shops around here suck; consider the shop as part of your purchase also - as an inexperienced rider who will depend on the shop for service, make sure you like the shop you are buying from as well).

There are also similar offerings from Cannondale and Giant.
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Old 07-13-19, 07:55 PM
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I'll third (fourth, fifth) the suggestion of a $500-600 hybrid.

The 3x8 drivetrain is nice. My wife has a Trek (not an FX. She needed something more upright) and it has a 3x8 setup like the Specialized for $625. It goes low. It goes high enough. The major issue is the jumps between ringd are rings are a bit larger. On the other hand, it's cheap and it shifts just fine.

I'd also recommend, if not going off-road, 32c tires.

If I got a second bike it'd be a more road-style hybrid. I had one years ago and loved it.

Last edited by guachi; 07-13-19 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 07-13-19, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by guachi View Post

If I got a second bike it'd be a more road-style hybrid. I had one years ago and loved it.
That's what I have, and this thread got me to take it out and fool around in the neighborhood with it for 30-45 minutes just a bit ago, and I really, really, really like it with it's mixed 9 speed Shimano drivetrain (Alivio/Acera/Altus combo) that works absolutely flawlessly. Mine has 30mm tires which are pretty narrow and more roady (and they look like a narrow 30mm too), whereas the more entry level Sirrus' have 32mm tires as suggested (which for whatever reason look a lot wider than 2mm wider than mine). Either way, you can't go wrong with a Sirrus.

Even though I have my road bike, I continue to be impressed with how the Sirrus just keeps rolling at speed effortlessly even with the stock wheels and tires. I shudder to think that when I *first* started looking at bikes, I was riding a Schwinn with a suspension fork up and down the aisles at Target, thinking how good the bike looked...eek. One of the things I like is that I can just hope on it and bike, no clipping in or anything. I think of my road bike as meant for cycling, and my hybrid as meant for biking; more relaxed, more fool around type riding.

A Sirrus or equivalent is a really a good bike and the OP will not be disappointed. Honestly OP, after considering the shop, buy the bike that looks coolest to you even if you have to spend another 100 bucks or whatever - if you like the way it looks, then you'll ride it more, true story.
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Old 07-13-19, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by znomit View Post
A flat bar roadie from a reputable brand is the way to go.
1-2 hours on the bike, and I'd be wanting drop bars to minimise hand fatigue, not to mention feeling safer on the road with narrower bars.

There's no rule that says they have to be low...
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Old 07-15-19, 05:27 AM
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A Mercier Nano mini-velo would be a fun option.
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Old 07-15-19, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
1-2 hours on the bike, and I'd be wanting drop bars to minimise hand fatigue, not to mention feeling safer on the road with narrower bars.
I'd agree. I hate flat bars as my hands and wrists get sore in a hurry.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:16 AM
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Get a proper bike fit!

No mention yet of the OP getting a proper bike fit.

Many parts on a bike are mix and match( shorter/longer stem, seatpost adjustment range, etc. ...+$)...

...but a badly sized frame will:

1) Limit your enjoyment, comfort, and efficiency on the new bike.
2) Make you regret you bought before getting fitted.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:28 AM
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If you have an LBS nearby and want to go that route, everything posted thus far is sound counsel. Seriously, it is good advice.

However, my personal take on bike selection and cycling in general is outside the usual thinking held by many. So bear with me please while I extol the virtues of thinking outside of the box. I’m going to prioritize my thought in a 1, 2, 3, 4 presentation, but what follows could easily be seen as 1 a, b, c, and d. Each piece of the puzzle is important.

Fit first - be sure that what you get is a match to your inseam and reach. This is the single factor that most affects how well you bond with a bicycle. What you end up with needs to quickly feel like an extension of your body, and be a piece of equipment that you can maneuver effortlessly.

At the point of fit, I lucked into a good fit with my Schwinn MTB. Then I started reading (in other words, I went about it bassackwards). I was more informed by the time I bought my Cannondale PD hybrid (auction bike). The relaxed geometry on both bikes makes them my regular go-to choices.

How do you figure out what fits you? Depending on the manufacturer, fit in terms of frame size and geometry will differ for a road bike vs hybrid vs a mountain bike. I've read extensively at the various manufacturer web sites and find the sizing guides at bikesdirect.com to be accurate for what I call the AWR (average weekend rider). After settling the matter of frame size and fit, a fitting appointment at the LBS to adjust seat height and other nuances is of great value.

Purpose second - Is your interest as narrow as daily conditioning and club rides to get ready to race (Giant TCR series, for example), or are your interests a blend of fitness, trails/recreation, and occasional group rides and local events? In the latter case (which seems to be yours based on your post), hybrid bikes such as has already been mentioned will suit your purposes. My personal riding is 90% fitness driven, but occasionally I might participate in a local fund raising event. My Cannondale hybrid works nicely for that. If I go to one of the several local off-road parks, the MTB works best.

Convenience third - choose something you can jump on and ride with minimal fuss. Encapsulated in this is the matter of maintenance issues. My bent is towards:

a. Low-maintenance and user-friendly requirements

b. Valve stems matter: This is entirely personal, but I prefer Schrader over the Presta valves because standard fitting air-hoses can be found anywhere. The controlling factor here is driven mostly by the rim design of the bike you choose. If my wife and I take our bikes on vacation, I don't want to be delayed by the need for a special valve fitting.

In line with the convenience factor, as soon as I get back from a family vacation so I can be home to sign for a box, I'm ordering a hybrid with Nexus 8-speed hubs. In a way it's a return to my childhood and teen cycling options. Growing up in a medium-sized southern town, and totally ignorant of the plethora of factors surrounding modern bicycles, I rode all over town and threw a paper route first on a single speed spyder bike, and then on a Sears 5-speed bike with derailleur gears. In-between the spyder bike and the Sears 5-speed (both with "banana seats”) I received as a gift a 3-speed "English racer" from an uncle who owned a bike shop. The obsession with multiple gear selections and the teeth-gnashing over jumps-between-cogs that goes on around here fascinates me at how it complexifies something that does not have to be so cumbersome for the AWR bicyclist. And just as you noted about your Diamondback, I never had to touch my childhood bikes other than keeping the chains lubed.

Tweak-ability last - get something you can modify to your personal liking without having to pay a tech to do the install. Accessory installations or removals (racks, lights, etc.), seat swaps, pedal or stem swaps, and other such chores are not rocket-science. If you want to use a shop for these items in the interest of good-will, go for it. But with just a few tools you can ride knowing the tech that did your install unquestionably took your personal best-interests to heart, because it’s the guy you see in the mirror.

I installed bar-ends on the Schwinn to deal with flat-bar fatigue issues. At the moment I’m mentally debating the value of putting drop bars on the Cannondale to convert it to an endurance bike. The frame is more “roadish” but the set-up is very hybrid. Installing drop bars would require an entirely different set of shifters on the bars, so I will probably have to use an LBS for that.

In closing: budget matters, “quality,” and how I got to where I am in terms of bicycles

Back in 2003 I bought the Schwinn MTB after doing the traditional stand-over check. I hadn’t owned a bike in years, and bought it on a whim. Including tax it was something like $175 out the door. (As a point of information, Schwinn’s Signature Series are their high-end bikes sold at local shops). My Cannondale qualifies as a high-end bike, but I bought it for $100 from a student who had snagged it at auction for $75. Yes ... I'm cheap. But I'm also happy!

A year or so after buying the Schwinn I was pleased to learn the fit is indeed right and the frame is well made (according to the LBS tech that helped me with my SPD pedals adjustments). Granted, the components are only one step above junk, but they have held up well. In hindsight I don't recommend doing a purchase that way, but when all of the posturing and grousing about low-end vs high-end is sifted and sorted, it is entirely possible to make almost any bike that fits well work for your purposes.

All of this is naturally just my humble opinion. Wherever you end up in terms of purchase, be sure and keep the rubber side down.
Current bikes: '80's era Cannondale police bike; '97 Diamondback Topanga SE; '03 Schwinn mongrel MTB; '03 Specialized Hard Rock (the wife's)
Past bikes: '97 Giant ATX 840 project bike; '01 Giant TCR1 SL; and a truckload of miscellaneous bikes used up by the kids and grand-kids

Status quo is the mental bastion of the intellectually lethargic...

Last edited by BookFinder; 07-15-19 at 06:11 PM. Reason: gremmer & speelin'
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