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Old 01-26-19, 12:19 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2016
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Bikes: Masi Giramondo, Trek 830 monstercross build, Raleigh Gran Sport, Lemond Tourmalet

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A lot of what you get depends on the conditions you'll encounter. Hybrids are a good choice if you have dependable paved surfaces and plan to more or less stick to them. The downside to a lot of hybrids is they still tend to have relatively skinny tires (32/35c or so) and many won't accommodate more than a 40c or so. Roadies will think that's a big tire, but for anything other than smooth pavement or well maintained fine crushed limestone types of trails, you may want more. If you live in a place with lots of unpaved sections, or badly maintained roads, and/or it rains a lot (e.g. the unpaved stuff gets or stays a little squishy), you want to be able to take up to 2in or 50mm wide tires so your ride aren't limited to the driest days. The Trek FX and Specialized Crosstrail bikes are nice, but they have shocks. If you don't plan to ride offroad, shocks are pretty useless deadweight, especially if you have wider tires. So if you can find a flatbar bike without suspension, but that fits you, takes wider tires, and has decent gearing so you can hit the hills which most new non-pure-road bikes will have anyway.

If you have local Craigslist and have some mechanical inclination, you can usually find old rigid mountain bikes from the 90s that sat in someone's garage for $100 or less. Just stick with Trek 800, 900 series stuff, Specialized Hardrock/Sportrock and the like, and you'll have a great do-anything bike that weighs in the upper 20#'s. They'll probably have dumb overly knobby tires, so get a set of Continental Double Fighter III's for another $50 online. Most of these bikes take racks too, so if you find yourself wanting to tour, you can do that.

Here's an example:

If you just want it ready to go or aren't mechanically inclined, something like this is a great do-all beginner option that checks all the boxes above and will be ready for most conditions:

If you consistently have terrible streets full of seams, potholes, and lots of cobblestone where you live, then shocks may be warranted, in which case you go for the Trek FX or Specialized Crosstrail - just make sure it's a model you can lock the shock to rigid if you want.
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