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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    2

    Going completely mad trying to choose a bike - PLEASE HELP!

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    Hi all, newbie here from London, thanks for reading

    I'm stuck in the (long and painful) process of trying to buy a new bike. I've been researching and test riding for months and I just can't seem to find the perfect one that is the right balance of price, weight, fit, and looks nice too! I know all the staff in my local bike shop by name and I think they think I am a bit tedious now! So any help and advice you can give me would be much appreciated!

    I'm looking for a hybrid / flat bar road bike, mostly for commuting and quick trips to the supermarket but also for fun bike rides and exercise when the weather is nice. My old bike (which was stolen) was a steel ladies step-through, incredibly heavy, and a real effort to ride. So I'm looking for something light, but which can carry a bit of shopping, and will handle the bumps on London's roads. My budget is GBP 500.

    I've been looking at the Trek FX range. The 7.2 FX fits comfortably within my budget and the 2014 model is pretty! But it feels quite heavy when compared to the 7.3, and it's much slower off the mark at traffic lights. The 7.3 is 100 more expensive (and therefore over budget) and I'm not a huge fan of the colour. But is it worth paying a bit more and putting up with the look because it's lighter? It has an aluminium fork while the 7.2 has a steel one - but I've read elsewhere that some people don't rate an aluminium fork much and say a steel one is better for ride quality even if it makes the bike a bit heavier.

    Also how do you know if you need a WSD model or not?

    Alternatively, can you suggest any other brands I should look at? If it helps inform you, I'm 34, pretty fit, do a lot of indoor spinning classes and running, so a sporty bike would suit me. My current commute would be about 5-6 miles each way. I live in London and it's winter, so I'm likely to be cycling in the dark, cold, and rain...

    Your thoughts and advice about how to get out of the spiral of confusion I'm in would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Twin Cities, Minnesota
    Posts
    487
    I just bought the TREK 2014 FX7.6 WSD.

    I bought the WDS because I am shorter, have narrow shoulders, and have smaller hands. It didn't seem to matter on this bicycle. Make sure the shifters fit your hands! I had to have mine switched out extra costs) so I could use them. I also did switch out to a wider tire so I could ride on a crushed limestone trails or when it is a little damp out.

    It's a long story why I wound up with this bike. If I had the opportunity, which I didn't without losing a lot of money, I would have looked at the Specialized Vita Comp which I think is similar to the FX and comes in a XS.

    Don't buy a color you don't like. You will be reminded of this every time you get on the bike!
    kajero
    2013 Trek FX 7.6 WSD
    2012 Specialized Ruby WSD
    2004 Schwinn (I think that is the year)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713
    How tall are you? WSD vs unisex is pretty much determined by your proportions. I'd argue, though, if you can get the reach right, who cares what the label says? (My "stable" has one WSD bike and two unisex bikes.) Long legs relative to your height usually means WSD; more even proportions or shorter legs says you should look more closely at unisex. That's a general rule and isn't going to work for everyone. (Arm length, flexibility, all that stuff plays a role.) I believe the WSD FX have step-through frames. Do you want a step-through? How tall are you? If you're under 5'4" (or thereabouts), you might have better luck finding a WSD. If you're over 5'8"-5'9" or so, unisex might be your best bet. (They tend not to make unisex frames in the small sizes, or WSD in the larger sizes.)

    Between the 7.2 and 7.3, it really depends. What are the road surfaces like? Will you have to pick up the bike and carry it up stairs? How highly do you prioritize speed? Steel is more comfy (generally), but heavier. Aluminum tends to be lighter but more "buzzy." I think the speed off the mark of the 7.2 will improve as you get used to the bike and as your fitness improves. (Riding a bike outside is very different from spinning classes!) Bear in mind that you'll need lights, fenders and probably a rack and panniers or something similar for groceries. Oh, and probably a new saddle. You don't have to get it all NOW, but bear that in mind as you put your budget together. Is the extra money worth the weight savings and extra speed? Only you can really make that determination.

    If you'd like some other suggestions...I don't know what's available in the UK besides the big brands. Besides Trek, take a look at Giant (the Rapid or the Dash are the equivalent of the FX), Specialized (Vita, and I can't remember the name of the unisex version), Fuji (I think they have a UK distributor, but I'm not sure). There's also the Cannondale Quick. If Jamis is available in the UK, take a look at the Coda/Coda Femme. Steel, but very nice bikes. Since you're in the UK, take a look at Charge. You should be able to find them more easily. Take a look at the Grater. (Or Zester, if you can find the 2013 models. They changed all their bike lines for 2014, so I'm still a little unclear as to what's what.)
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
    http://wholecog.wordpress.com/

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva


    Saving for the next one...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Twin Cities, Minnesota
    Posts
    487
    I am nearly 5'1" if I stretch it. I had to go with an aluminum bike because I have to be able to lift it onto the bike rack by myself and carry it into the house occasionally. Thus the reason for the Trek FX 7.6 WSD. The top tube is angled down, but it is still not a step through bike. I didn't get a much of chance to consider any other brand due the situation with my Ruby getting stolen and then recovered. If I ride my old steel bike, I need help lifting it.
    kajero
    2013 Trek FX 7.6 WSD
    2012 Specialized Ruby WSD
    2004 Schwinn (I think that is the year)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    8,982
    Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on the road ~ Motobecane Mixte
    N+1 new bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Commuter ~ Soma Buena Vista Mixte

    http://madeinusareviews.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    2
    Thanks everyone!
    I'm 5'8 with normal proportions for a girl though possibly slightly long in the body. I shouldn't have to carry the bike much but you never know where you'll end up. I have also been considering the Specialized Vita Sport but you can go on for years testing all the different brands and models and I think I just need to make a decision now!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Saskatoon, Sask.
    Posts
    345
    THere's a really great U.K. cycling magazine called Cycling Active, which has reviews of all sorts of different kinds of bikes every month. We enjoy reading it even here in Saskatchewan, where many of the bikes featured aren't even sold. You might find it a valuable resource in choosing which kind of bike to get.
    http://www.cyclingactive.com/categor...-reviews-bikes
    Queen of the sea beasts

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713
    Quote Originally Posted by bellaonline View Post
    Thanks everyone!
    I'm 5'8 with normal proportions for a girl though possibly slightly long in the body. I shouldn't have to carry the bike much but you never know where you'll end up. I have also been considering the Specialized Vita Sport but you can go on for years testing all the different brands and models and I think I just need to make a decision now!
    Get whatever fits your budget and makes you smile.
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
    http://wholecog.wordpress.com/

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva


    Saving for the next one...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,083
    I would get the lightest bike I could afford that I felt really comfortable on. A light bike is a joy to ride and handle, if it fits otherwise. But lightweight costs. Personally I don't care much about colour - I have had bikes I adored the colour of, and I've had bikes that are ugly as sin. The ones that rode best were the ones I ended up using most. And you can always paint it yourself if the colour really annoys you.

    Don't worry too much about steel making your bike too heavy. There are many things that can make a bike heavy, and a steel frame is just one of them. If you're considering adding a rack, panniers etc, that will make much more of a difference than steel vs alu, especially if it's just a fork. Steel does ride well, but alu rides fine too, especially if you don't have much weight on your hands.

    My everyday bike for the uses you're suggesting is an ancient Kona Cinder Cone mountain bike, thin steel frame, flat bars slightly lower than the seat, no suspension, not very knobby mtb tires with a smooth strip down the middle, fenders and lights but no rack or support. It's lighter and faster than many hybrid bikes out there. My road bike is of course a lot lighter and more nimble, but nowhere near as comfortable for all-round use and duelling with the local bus traffic.

    PS. I would never buy a low step-through, not for an experienced rider wanting a quick bike. The design of the frame makes the bike a lot heavier and the brakes softer.
    Last edited by lph; 09-23-2013 at 02:28 AM.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Saskatoon, Sask.
    Posts
    345
    Quote Originally Posted by lph View Post
    ...I would never buy a low step-through, not for an experienced rider wanting a quick bike. The design of the frame makes the bike a lot heavier and the brakes softer.
    A mixte (preferable) or step-through should not be more than 1 pound heavier than it's diamond frame equivalent. If it is, that usually means the manufacturer went cheap on the materials and swapped out straight gauge tubing for butted, or hi-tensile for chrome-moly. Braking shouldn't be any different, if it is that means a poor design.
    Nowadays a lot of compact frames are almost as sloped in the top tube as mixtes. I can get my leg over the top tube of my commuting bike if I stand on a curb next to it. Someone much younger and more agile might even be able to do it without the curb.
    Queen of the sea beasts

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,083
    Quote Originally Posted by nuliajuk View Post
    A mixte (preferable) or step-through should not be more than 1 pound heavier than it's diamond frame equivalent. If it is, that usually means the manufacturer went cheap on the materials and swapped out straight gauge tubing for butted, or hi-tensile for chrome-moly. Braking shouldn't be any different, if it is that means a poor design.
    Nowadays a lot of compact frames are almost as sloped in the top tube as mixtes. I can get my leg over the top tube of my commuting bike if I stand on a curb next to it. Someone much younger and more agile might even be able to do it without the curb.
    Ok, I guess I was thinking of poor quality step-throughs. I wasn't thinking of a angled top-tube, more of a low, downswept one. And on those that I have tried the braking has always been really mushy since the brake cable is longer and changes direction more.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Saskatoon, Sask.
    Posts
    345
    Here's a review of the Specialized Sirrus Elite. I think the Vita is the wsd equivalent. If you're long in the torso the Sirrus might be a better fit.
    http://www.cyclingactive.com/bikesge...s-elite-549-99
    Queen of the sea beasts

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    240
    Is the 7.3 you are looking at white?

    Just curious

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rowland Hts, CA
    Posts
    473
    Quote Originally Posted by bellaonline View Post
    Thanks everyone!
    I'm 5'8 with normal proportions for a girl though possibly slightly long in the body. I shouldn't have to carry the bike much but you never know where you'll end up. I have also been considering the Specialized Vita Sport but you can go on for years testing all the different brands and models and I think I just need to make a decision now!
    I have to disagree with NOT testing the bike choices in your budget if the bikes are available for you to test.

    I wouldn't want you to have buyer's remorse and then wish that you had tested more bikes BEFORE you spent your hard-earned money.

    You are lucky that you have so many choices at 5ft 8in.

    I was stuck with less than 5 choices since I am only 5ft 1in.
    2014 Liv Lust
    2013 Specialized Fate Expert with carbon wheelset (sold)
    2012 Specialized Amira Elite
    2010 Santa Cruz Juliana with R kit and Crampon pedals (sold)

    2011 Specialized Ariel Sport,suspension post,Serfas Rx Women's Microfiber saddle (sold)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    101
    I owned a Specialized Vita Elite at one point and really loved it for the all around bike. I commuted on that bike and also used it in 30-40 mile charity ride/races. Great overall bike for comfort and style. I don't think you can go wrong with it. It doesn't matter that someone thinks you are "picky" or "tedious" if you don't find a comfortable bike then you won't be happy riding.

 

 

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