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Getting Started Questions from the Chicago 'burbs(12 posts)

Getting Started Questions from the Chicago 'burbsjma24
Aug 25, 2003 10:50 AM
Hello, forum. First time poster here. My wife and I, having been inspired by a friend who recently completed the MS 150 here in Illinois, are bicycle shopping. We are fairly athletic folks, looking for another way to keep in shape during the volleyball offseason. Also looking for something to do as a family (we have two children, 19 months and 6 months).

I've been doing some research, reading reviews and looking over this site pretty thoroughly. We (wife and I) have spent a lot of time talking and debating about what kind of riding we are going to be doing. We figure on a weekly basis, weather permitting, we'll ride a time or three, probably averaging maybe 30 miles a week. In addition, we'd like to be able to undergo longer trips, say 50 miles or so, on an infrequent basis. The surfaces we'd be traversing include pavement and the limestone packed trails around the forest preserves in these parts. As such, we've settled on hybrids.

We test rode several models this past weekend, including the common hybrids from Giant (Cypress DX and LX) and Specialized. Didn't really care for the upright position of the Specialized, or the clunky drivetrain performance of the Giants. And I didn't like the plush, springy ride of any of those makes. Made me feel like I was driving a 1980's Lincoln Town Car.

Our last stop of the day, at the Geneva Bike Shop, included test rides of some Fujis. We rode the Sagres and Absolute, and those bikes come the closest to what I was looking for. So now it's just a question of when he can get the model in that we want.

Some general questions, first (this being long enough already):

1. Any comments on these Fuji's? The line is Forza, and the Sagres and Absolute are the two lowest of the four bikes in the line. We didn't want to spend more than $600.
2. Comparable Giant and Trek Models can be had. I wanted to try the Trek 7500 or the Giant Cyrpress SX, but none could be found on this particular day in the frame size we need. Nevertheless, those bikes represent a premium on the Fuji's we like. What am I getting for the extra money, and is it worth it?
3. The Geneva Bike shop is an interesting experience. More like a garage than a shop or showroom. I'll take any feedback on dealing with Elis (is that his name) that you can give me. He sure is passionate about cycling, that is for sure.
4. Is there anything I am missing here? Given what I've said, is a hybrid the way to go here? (I hesitate to ask this, given that many of you don't like hybrids, but in our situation, they seem the way to go.) Is there another maker we should be considering?

More questions later, but this will do for now. Answer any or all, I'll take whatever I can get. Thanks in advance.
What town?PEDDLEFOOT
Aug 25, 2003 11:19 AM
Where do you live? I'm from Streamwood in the NW suburbs.I may have a few suggestions depending upon what location you live in.
What town?jma24
Aug 25, 2003 11:32 AM
Roselle, right next door to you.

We went to Spokes in Wheaton, Spin Doctor in Bartlett, and the Geneva shop. We were most comfortable in the Bartlett store, but the bikes we rode there were our least favorites.
Another shop to check outKristin
Aug 25, 2003 11:37 AM
Check out Race Mill in St. Charles (Geneva?), and also The Bike Rack in St. Charles. I don't like to down-mouth businesses, but I'd avoid Spokes. You run the risk of over-paying at their shop unless you really do some advanced research. They are very nice there, but I've caught them quoting me way to much for bikes/parts/tools in the past.
To be clear...jma24
Aug 25, 2003 11:51 AM
... we will not buy from Spokes. I didn't get the feeling that we were their target clientele. We learned some good things there, but we won't be buying from them.
What town?PEDDLEFOOT
Aug 25, 2003 11:51 AM
Spin Doctors in Bartlett is the shop I've been going to since they opened.I've never had a bad experience there and I know the owners personally.You won't get a bad deal there.If you weren't happy with the selection perhaps they could give you other choices that weren't available at the time.I would also stay away from Spokes.I had a bad experince there and personally would not trust them.
The difference is in the componentsKristin
Aug 25, 2003 11:32 AM
Hello. I cycle in your neck of the woods. In the hybrid market, the biggest difference in bike price will be in the components. This confused me when I first began shopping. There are two component manufacturers that make parts for the bikes you are looking at. Shimano and SRAM. 99% of the components on the bikes you mentioned are varying quality Shimano parts. You should get a list of what components are on each bike and then do a little research. For instance, the Fuji Absolute comes with:

Front Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Sora
Rear Cogs: Shimano 8-speed 12-25
Shifters: Shimano Flatbar Rapidfire R-440

You can take that information and read reviews for those components on this site and MTBReview.com. You can also visit Shimano's site to see where the components are ranked. Basically, Shimano lists components with the best quality items at the top of the page and the lowest/cheapest at the bottom. Another way to compare component values is to use Froogle.com. For instance, do a search for "Shimano Tiagra front derailleur," and then for "Shimano 105 front derailluer." The cost of an individual component will reflect its rank in the food chain. The more expensive ones are better quality.

All the bikes you listed have okay to good components. I'm impressed with the mix of Tiagra/105 on the Giant Cypress; but I don't know much about the SRAM shifters and cassette that also come with it. I'd avoid grip shifters if you can, and stick with Shimano Rapid Fire or possiblity SRAM trigger. Just my $.02.
The difference is in the componentsjma24
Aug 25, 2003 11:48 AM
Thanks. Yeah, those grip shifters are annoying. I liked the responsiveness of the thumb shifter on the Fuji.
It sounds like you know which bike you want. ;-)Kristin
Aug 25, 2003 12:35 PM
It sounds like the Fuji is calling your name. Go for it. There is nothing wrong with that bike and the Shimano Rapid fire shifters are quite nice. If the shifters were the only thing you didn't like about the Giant, then you could ask the shop to upgrade them for you. The should be able to put on Deore shifters for an additional charge. Then you'd have a VERY nice bike.
You're probably rightjma24
Aug 25, 2003 1:49 PM
Guess I was fishing for any warnings about what I was getting into. Lacking any, away we go!
Touring bikes, or cyclocross entry-level...Spunout
Aug 25, 2003 11:42 AM
if you're athletic, you may find a hybrid doesn't do dirt like an MTB, and doesn't go on the road like a road bike. Meaning, it does neither.

Touring bikes can handle wider tires, comfortable in packed gravel, yet change the tires and you're ready for a century on the highway.

Fuji, Jamis have nice models.
Touring bikes, or cyclocross entry-level...jma24
Aug 25, 2003 1:43 PM
Spunout -

Agreed, but part of our thinking on the hybrids was financial. We figured we could get a mid-level hybrid for less than $600, but didn't think that was the case for Touring or Road bikes. Turns out, since we are willing to take 2003 or even 2002 models, maybe even less.

We figure if it turns out that we really like this, then we'll get a couple of nice road bikes later. Part of our problem is that, whatever we end up with, we have to buy two of. That makes it pricey very quickly.

Thanks for the feedback!