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My Dilemma: Road Bike or Hybrid?

So I’ve been seriously, seriously considering buying a bike. I thought I’d maybe blogged about this before, but a quick search of my blog tells me that I’ve only made very brief mention of it. I guess I’ve just been chatting with peeps about it IRL. Imagine that.

Anyway, I finally progressed past the Contemplation Phase and actually went to check out some bikes this weekend. I had gone to a bike shop a few weeks ago, but the salespeople there were talking *waaay* over my head, even though I’d told them that I knew pretty much nothing about bikes. This time, on the advice of my friend Danielle, I went to Dunbar Cycles1, back in my old ‘hood. I walked into the store and said, “I want to buy a bike and I know nothing about bikes” and the salespeople there were super helpful and patiently explained ever little detail to me, without even laughing when I asked really basic questions. They even let me test drive a few AND took the wheels off them to see if they would fit in the trunk of my Smart car! Which was my big exciting discovery today – rather than having to pay $1000 for a freaking bike rack on my Smart car, I can actually fit a bike into my trunk! I have to take the tires off, but I can get “quick release” tires that pop off and on in a few seconds. Of course, if I were bigger than 5 ft tall and thus needed a bigger bike, I’d be hooped with trying to put it into a Smart car trunk, but I am, in fact, 5 ft tall and thus only need a teeny tiny bike. Being short FTW!

But I digress. The point of this blog posting is actually to solicit your opinion on what type of bike I should get: road bike or hybrid?

My problem is that I want to do a few different things with my bike. Namely, I want to:

  • bike around for fun
  • bike to work on days I don’t need my car to get to meetings
  • do a triathlon

A hybrid bike would be good for commuting to work (whereas with a road bike, you aren’t going to want to, say, put a rack and panniers on it) and riding around for fun, say, on the Stanley Park seawall. But a road bike would be better for triathlons. Then again, I don’t want to buy a road bike just because they are good for triathlons, in case it turns out that I don’t really like triathlons. But then the road bike I tried out felt really good and would go faster – and faster is always better, right? But the hybrid bike I looked at is ~$250 cheaper! See why I’m having such a hard time choosing?

Here are the two bikes I liked the most:

1. Hybrid Bike: Norco Indie 2

Norco Indie 2

2. Road Bike: Giant Avail 3

I’ve asked Dunbar Cycles to get the Norco Indie 2 in a small size for me to test ride, as the only one they had was a medium, so I couldn’t get a true sense of what riding it woud be like. I mean, it felt good to ride, but it was definitely too big so I wanted to see what it would feel like to ride the proper size. As well, I need to make sure that it will fit in the trunk of my car! Norco is a local company, so it will only take a few days to get in. Conveniently, this also gives me a few days to think about which to buy. Because I really am torn about which way to go!

Tell me what to do, Internet!

  1. as per usual, I have no vested interest in this company. They didn’t pay me to blog about them or anything. I’m not nearly important enough for that sort of thing! []

21 Responses to My Dilemma: Road Bike or Hybrid?

  1. Rachel says:

    In a word HYBRID. Call me later and we can chat about it. Happy bike shopping.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Hybrid! It has the flexibility of being something you can use for a triathlon and still use for fun if it turns out you don’t like triathlons.

  3. Hybrid! That’s what I ride – a road bike would be faster and lighter, but wouldn’t be able to handle the potholes, wet hills, and slippery wet leaves I encounter on my commute. And it is SOOO much better to have panniers than a backpack in summer – no sweaty back!

  4. Beth says:

    I think I’m seeing a trend here….

    At this point in time, I’m leaning towards the hybrid, assuming that it ends up fitting in my trunk. Because if it doesn’t, I’ll have to go with the road bike, which does fit. Saving me $1000 by not needing a bike rack on my Smart car is pretty good incentive!

  5. Linda says:

    Hybrid! Unless you only want to ride on roads and other nice pavement surfaces – no shortcuts through the urban trails (assuming they have those in Surrey) or crappy, potholed Vancouver side streets on a road bike.

    The other consideration is how you like to ride – hunched over (ala road bike) or more upright i.e. what most people are used to. If you plan to have a heavy backpack on you don’t really want to be on a road bike….unless you want to finance your chiropractor’s second home (all the weight will be on your back not on your shoulders due to your riding position).

    However it depends on how serious you are about triathalons as a road bike is the only way to go for a real triathalon (i.e. long distance riding) as you want to be hunched over and more aerodynamic. Casey says your three goals are unfortunately not really consistent with owning a single bike. If you discover that you love triathalons he recommends buying a road bike on Craigslist at a later date. He has seen lots of awesome bikes (i.e. Cervelo) in small sizes for good prices. If you are most likely to use your bike for uses 1 and 2 get the hybrid.

  6. Beth says:

    I think Casey has hit the nail on the head here – I have conflicting goals for a single bike! It’s like saying “Well, I love savoury foods for dinner and sweet foods for dessert – why can’t I have that all in one??”

  7. NB I did the 250km Vancouver – Seattle cancer research ride on my hybrid last year, but speed was not of the essence as it would be on a triathlon!

  8. Beth says:

    @Cath – Out of curiosity, what brand/model is your hybrid?

  9. It’s a Da Vinci (local manufacturer), and I think the model is St Tropez. It’s, let’s see, 4 years old and they’ve brought out new (lighter) models since then. I like it and would definitely buy another one, but I don’t know if it would fit in your car!

  10. Oops – forgot – my first bike in Vancouver was a Norco mountain bike. It was the absolute cheapest model they make (I’d just finished my PhD and had zero money) but it was decent, if a little heavy. I still have it but hardly ever ride it any more because the gnarliest terrain I ever ride on is potholes or gravel, and the hybrid’s so much lighter and faster.

  11. Linda says:

    I have a Devinci too but a different model which I can’t recall right now….the Stockholm I think. If I recall both tires are quick release (I haven’t been able to use it for a long time thanks to my stupid hip), although I find taking off the back wheel a pain in the ass even with quick release.

  12. Jens says:

    You could also look at a touring bike, such as the Devinci Caribou- http://devinci.com/bikes/browse_6#6_23_87 . More relaxed geometry than a road bike and a sturdier frame for more relaxed long rides (and fenders for the rain!), but generally faster than a hybrid. You should be able to find the Caribou locally for $999.

  13. Beth says:

    @Jens – Does “relaxed” geometry mean “bigger”? If so, that won’t work for me, because the road bikes I’ve tried so far don’t fit in my trunk, which is kind of a deal breaker for me. (See this posting.)

  14. Jens says:

    Some touring bikes are longer, but the Caribou is fairly compact. They should have them at Dunbar Cycles, or at Rocky Cycles in Surrey, and hopefully they’d fit in your trunk.

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