Bicycle enthusiasts of the Dope--please help

I have lightly killed my old bike for the last time, don’t want to fix it, have the money for a shiny new one. (I fall off with some frequency, once a year or so) Couple questions, please. FTR, I am a hybrid rider due to neck issues, daily commuter about 8 mikes total, occasional longer rides. Looking for a new high-end hybrid.

Test ride will be the ultimate decision maker, but are there any review sites that make sense to you? Got my eye on on a Trek 7.6 FX at a nice markdown, but there is a Giant Escape with a small dent on the part of the frame that rises from the pedals to the handlebars that is also a significant markdown? Is that dent going to compromise structural integrity? Anyone have either of these two bikes? Thanking you for your help, good Dopers.

PS–I have no understanding of what components are better, how one tells which are better, and so on. Some advice there would be appreciated as well.

Regarding the dent in the frame, a friend of mine had one on the top bar (the one that runs from the seat to the handlebars) due to a fall and the handlebars swinging around and hitting the frame (drop bars, road bike). It was there for a few years thru all kinds of rides, until one day, he heard this grinding and clanking sound, looked down and saw a fracture nearly clean thru at that spot. Aluminum frame – must have been the fatigue eventually causing the issue. Bike no longer safe to ride. Just one experience here, but I would not buy a bike if the frame has been compromised in any way.

Regarding the components, generally, the higher end ones will have better materials and bearings, and will generally last longer than some of the cheaper sets and have less issues in terms of maintenance and adjustment. This is what you are paying for. For the average rider, however, you will likely not be able to tell the difference between, say, Ultegra and 105 from Shimano (except in your wallet), and both will last a long time. However, I am not sure what shifters they are putting on hybrids these days, but I assume most of them are probably “trigger” type (using your pointer and thumb to shift) - these are good IMHO. Stay away from “grip” type of shifters (hold and twist) as they tend to sieze-up after some time.

There are a lot of views on components and I am sure someone will be along here shortly to contest this post.

I have a Specialized Crosstrail that I have been very pleased with. They come in several grades/prices. The low bars may or may not work with your neck issue. I like the larger tires and front suspension for rough pavement and gravel roads and trails.

Impossible to say if the dent is bad or not without seeing it - depends on its size and position on the downtube. You’d trust a good bike shop not to sell you something structurally questionable. I ride mountain bikes and dents are part and parcel of the sport - very common to have a small dent in a tube that is completely fine. So I’d certainly consider it for a bargain price.

Only hybrid I know anything about is the cannondale bad boy - that’s a great bike and one to look at. V light frame and stiff as a board. Might be at the pricier end.

Another area to consider is the big box sport stores - I don’t know how things are in the US, but here in the UK a couple of them have finally figured out how to source a quality bicycle. Both decathlon and Halfords have v respectable ranges of entry to mid-level bikes that cannot be beaten for value. If there is a similar set of stores in the US then you might find some good stuff there.

Not here in the US. Pretty much rubbish.

The Giant Escape is a good bike. The Trek is better, but that’s why it costs so much more.

Fit is the first, foremost consideration. If one fits you better than the other, go for the one with the best fit.

Next is the local bike shop (LBS). If the bikes are being sold at two different LBS’s, give some consideration to which one you like the best.

While this thread’s here, could anyone give me an idea of what to check or look for when buying a second hand bike?

I haven’t had one since I was a wee kiddie, so I’m utterly clueless, but I’ve recently moved right next to a major cycle path, so now I have somewhere fairly safe to get in practice that can actually take me somewhere useful, and I think it’d be a good plan.

Hopefully I can find a bike person to come with me when I go shopping, but just in case I find what looks like a bargain at short notice, and can’t get a friend to come, a few hints of what to look for would be great!

Rusty, unlubed chain-neglected bike.
Loose spokes, untrued wheels.
Grab the wheels at opposite sides and twist, you can feel loose bearings.
Spin wheels, touch hub. Bad bearings you can feel a grinding/vibration. Also, the wheel will stop fairly quickly.
Gouged rims from worn brake pads.

Just wanted to add that many (maybe most?) bikes that you will see are aluminum, and it has the reputation of being difficult or impossible to repair by welding. If the frame is CroMo steel, there is a better chance of having it repaired.

  • try the shifters - easy or hard to shift, do they work thru the full range of gears?

Spin the wheels and pedals with your hand - do they spin easily for a few more seconds, or do they stop abruptly? Could mean old, dirty lube (or none at all), or other issues with the bearings.

Do the wheels rub the brakes? Do the cables seem to stick in the housings? DO you see rust? All potentially bad signs.

If it has a flat, or worn-out tires, I would not immediately discount - as those are easily replaceable for small cost.

Generally, the newer the bike, the less problems you may have, and you can probably get a decent 2nd hand bike. A good test ride where you try each and every gear combination, and hit the brakes hard, will tell you if it is worthwhile.

Thanks all for your prompt and thoughtful responses. Fit is another term I hear that I don’t understand. Could someone talk about fit? Thanks. Both bikes are in LBS’s. I live in the Bay Area where LBS’s are the norm.

Fit is simply how far the reach is to pedals, bar, how high the seat is, etc.
Example, correct seat height is when, with the ball of your foot on the pedal and the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke, your leg should have a slight bend.
You want weight evenly distributed between butt, hands and feet.

Think in a car, you don’t want the steering wheel pressed against your chest with the pedals too far too reach. and your head pressed against the roof.

[quote=“snowthx, post:2, topic:678166”]

Stay away from “grip” type of shifters (hold and twist) as they tend to sieze-up after some time.


Interesting, as my old bike has the grip shifters and I’ve not experienced this phenomena. I remember hating them at first as I was used to the other kind and now I feel the opposite, love the grips, struggle with the others. Anyone had seizing problems with grip shifters?

Thanks :slight_smile:

Hopefully I can find something decent fast, my area’s very big on cycling.

I picked up a used Gary Fisher hybrid many years ago. It had grip shifters that I had absolutely no problem at all with. Even when I replaced the OEM handlebars for some higher ones.

With the fit, it’s the size and geometry of the frame that is key, with fine tuning done by adjusting the contact points on the bike (stem, handlebar change, height of saddle etc). Fit is obv important for any bike, but especially so for a road or a hybrid bike as your ride position doesn’t really change that much.

First impressions are telling here. If you go for a test ride and it feels too big, then it probably is. The lbs can give important advice in this regard, like if the bike feels ok but a little stretched, then maybe a shorter stem would make it feel awesome. Or maybe not. They should be able to give insight either way.

The frame geometry will speak to what you have in mind for your riding. Do you want to bimble along, taking in the Pacific air, or are you planning on scorching it up Lombard St, showing everyone who’s boss? Different geometries required in each case.

Yeah, YMMV with regard to the grip shifters. I have seen a few of them really tough to shift, but if well-maintained, perhaps they would be OK.

On fit, it has become kinda sciency, in that you can have a “professional” fit done by forking-over a few greenbacks. If you purchase a bike from your LBS, they will (should) provide a basic fit for you at no cost, and they will be willing to make a few adjustments as needed, and maybe sell you a shorter stem, etc. Just ask when you make the purchase.

Some of the fit techniques I have seen, altho not sure if current, involve plumb-bob from the center of your knee to the pedal spindle (adjust the seat height, angle, and mount to ensure proper leg extension), for example. A good fit will help prevent injury, improve your mileage, and elevate your cycling, no matter how many miles you plan to ride.

Thanks for the fit advice. I will need that. I have always slid to the very end of my seat on this bike, for instance. I would like to not do that with the next one.