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Test riding a bike

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Test riding a bike

Old 12-29-18, 11:51 AM
  #1  
NomarsGirl
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Test riding a bike

What is the best way to test out a new bike? I got a gift card to my LBS from Santa to get a new bike. I rode loops around the parking lot on a couple different models, but doesn't seem like much of a test. After all, the parking lot is perfectly flat. How do I test out the gearing when I only need one gear in the parking lot?

My husband expected that I would get a bike like his, so I'm going to borrow his and take it for a ride today since it's actually warm enough to go out for a while. But I already have a hybrid. His is just a newer and lighter version of mine. (With better shifters because I hate the twist-shifters on my bike). I want to ride longer distances, so I'm thinking drop-bar bike. It felt good in the parking lot, but you can't get much of a sense about comfort in a 10 minute ride. I don't want to make a mistake and buy an expensive bike I ultimately don't like.
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Old 12-29-18, 12:10 PM
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Most important thing is fit. If you're not comfortable, no bike will feel right. I've never not had a drop bar bike, so I don't know about the transition from hybrid, but a good fit will help. Once you decide, be sure you get the bike cheked over, before you ride. I tested a bike at Performance years ago. It felt good, so I bought it. First ride on my own, the stem bolts were loose, allowing the handle bars to loosen, without steering. Lucky I was going slowly uphill, and I had a wrench with me to fine tune the seat adjustment, which I used to tighten the stem bolts. Have fun on the new bike!
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Old 12-29-18, 12:23 PM
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Last time I test rode a bike was about 7 years ago, I told the guy at the shop that I was going to take it or a 30 minute test ride. He didn't want me to take a ride that long but the shop owner let me go for a long ride. I ended up buying it.
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Old 12-29-18, 12:24 PM
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After 2 miles on his bike, I know I don't want it. I had a terrible time putting air in the tires. He left it in the lowest gear and I can't figure out how to shift it.
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Old 12-29-18, 12:45 PM
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So you come here, instead of talking to the staff in the bike shop? 'We' try to be helpful to those un educated as to how modern bicycles work..

35 years ago,, as well as today..


....
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Old 12-29-18, 01:09 PM
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Ok figured out the shifters. The guy at the shop showed me how that bike worked but my husband's is different and he isn't here to show me.

From my test ride at the store, I did learn that my old bike is too small and my helmet much too large. They tried me out on two different size bikes with the smaller first. After a few laps around the parking lot on the smaller bike, he waved me in, put pedals on the larger one and sent me back out. I didn't notice much of a difference, but he said I looked much more natural on the bigger one. Then again, I've been riding a bike that was too small for years so what do I know?

I will have to look into a longer test ride before making a final decision. And I should ride one closer to my budget before committing to going over. The gift card is for $750. I have money or aside for a bike so I can go over budget for the right bike. I want to get a bike that will suit my needs. I currently ride about 25-35 miles each time I go out. I would like to be able to do a metric century and join some charity rides . This will be my first ever brand new bike. I want to choose wisely so I get something that I will be happy with for years to come but not far more bike than I will ever need. (He put me on a $2700 carbon bike first knowing perfectly well I had a $750 gift card.)
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Old 12-29-18, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by NomarsGirl View Post
After 2 miles on his bike, I know I don't want it. I had a terrible time putting air in the tires. He left it in the lowest gear and I can't figure out how to shift it.

A successful test ride!

Any other bikes that you can borrow?
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Old 12-29-18, 01:17 PM
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There are only two types of air valves, both are pretty simple to use once you learn them. The shop should be able to teach you how to do it, I wouldn't let it influence your decision.

We can't really tell you how to test ride a bike, though, that is going to vary by store. I know of shops that are on a rail trail that wouldn't care if you took the bike out for the entire day, I know shops in Detroit that are worried about theft that expect an ID and a credit card to hold as collateral and expect you back in five minutes. Some others have demo bikes that you can rent for the day or weekend, and if you end up buying any bike they will apply the rental price towards the purchase. You just have to talk to the people in charge about what you want to do, most will work with you if you are a serious buyer (and, as you have a gift card to their shop, they know you are).
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Old 12-29-18, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by NomarsGirl View Post
After 2 miles on his bike, I know I don't want it. I had a terrible time putting air in the tires. He left it in the lowest gear and I can't figure out how to shift it.
Not quite the reason to not like his bike, just that he didn't give you proper instruction before trying his bike.

are you the same size as your husband?
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Old 12-29-18, 02:57 PM
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A bike on the sales floor is built up from the parts supplied , as shipped from the factory , Now in the shop at point of sale ,

feel free to ask about changing the contact points saddle / pedals, and the fitting of alternate stems & handlebars

then adding mudguards, racks, bags , lights ... and those parts that make it practical for your needs


Oh and don't forget ... a secure lock to keep it...





....
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Old 12-29-18, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
Not quite the reason to not like his bike, just that he didn't give you proper instruction before trying his bike.

are you the same size as your husband?
I'm actually taller than he is. His bike may be too small - just like the hand-me-down I'm riding now is. (He bought it new 15 years ago and never liked it).

I figured out the shifters. Just didn't see the second set of levers because they were hidden. And I didn't feel them because I had gloves on. I will just have to get used to putting air in the tires. I'm sure anything new I get will have presta valves - and I do know about the little thingie you have to loosen at the top.

Did 12 miles on his Trek FX3. It was a good test because it was up and down hills along a route I am likely to ride many times (from my house to town). Definitely an upgrade over my current bike, but if I'm going to do an N+1, I want something different. Get the drop bar bike for the longer road rides I want to do and keep my hybrid to crash through the trails in the state park down the road.

I'm sure I can negotiate a longer test ride from the bike store. They can hold the gift card and put a hold on my credit card for the balance. If I don't come back - I bought a bike. I'd have to come back for my car anyway. It's worth more than the bike, but maybe not worth more than the carbon bike they had me try first.

I just don't think the parking lot is a good test for anything except size. I live in New England. We have rolling hills. I need to be able to go up and down them, unless I want to limit myself strictly to the rail trails.
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Old 12-29-18, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by NomarsGirl View Post
I'm sure I can negotiate a longer test ride from the bike store. They can hold the gift card and put a hold on my credit card for the balance. If I don't come back - I bought a bike. I'd have to come back for my car anyway. It's worth more than the bike, but maybe not worth more than the carbon bike they had me try first.

.
I'm sure you can get decent time for a proper test ride. I got my first "real" bike for my birthday many moons ago and had cash on me from my dishwasher job. The sales kid recommended a road that had some rolling hills and a flat stretch to try the bigger gears. This was in 1992 and I still shop at that store.
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Old 12-29-18, 03:33 PM
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Shops I've been in, your driver's licence / ID is the security for test rides..

The Gear sets are another point of sale thing that can be altered from the factory parts..

smaller granny gear on front, bigger one on back.. = easier , slower, hill climbing ...





..
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Old 12-29-18, 03:48 PM
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I think this is a great question. You got some interesting replies but nothing that really helps. I don't think you can get a good test ride so you have to trust your own sense. If the size is right, you will make a half dozen adjustments to the bike over the course of the first month to dial it in.
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Old 12-29-18, 04:37 PM
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My LBS will set up any bike that one might want to try. They put on the pedals I needed to match my shoes and let me take it for as long as I wanted. This is how it should be.
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Old 12-29-18, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
A successful test ride!

Any other bikes that you can borrow?
Nah. All my friends' bikes are motorcycles. I'll just have to get the bike shop to let me take a long test ride. I'm definitely buying a bike from them so they should be willing to work something out. The hard part will be finding a day warm enough for a good ride. The best day we are going to have is New Year's, but the shop is closed. Tomorrow will be much colder than today was. Then again, I don't need to buy the bike now since I probably won't ride it much until spring.

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Old 12-29-18, 05:16 PM
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I'd like say something about it in Turkey.I live in a small provience.There is no seller have a test bike or allow to test some bike in my provience.
But in İstanbul some seller have test bikes and allow to test them for limited time (example Decathlon)

Bikes are very expensive in Turkey and If I'd like to buy high level bicycle I gotta give a big money but I am not able to test them before buy them.It is a little risk for me and other bicycle buyer.Maybe I'll be satisfied or be disappointment
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Old 12-29-18, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by NomarsGirl View Post
Nah. All my friends' bikes are motorcycles. I'll just have to get the bike shop to let me take a long test ride. I'm definitely buying a bike from them so they should be willing to work something out.
They should be amenable if they know you're serious about buying. I've been on hilly club rides of over 60 miles and noticed that someone was riding a different bike than usual and it turned out he was just taking it out on a test ride from a local shop.
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Old 12-29-18, 05:30 PM
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Mike J. put together a good page on test riding a road bike at: How to evaluate a road bike on a test ride | Almost-Daily Diary

Now I know this is oriented towards op bar bikes, but if you're planning to ride a metric I think the same basics apply.

I read an earlier version of this page before I bought my last bike shop bike. I left my daughter in the store and went for a 2-3 mile ride on each bike (she's almost as good as a credit card, apparently). I've done a couple test rides at a bike shop where they know me, and they were OK with me riding through the neighborhood behind the shop.

Insist on getting a decently long test ride and a good fit. Those are part of why you're often advised to buy the bike shop first, then the actual bike.
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Old 12-29-18, 05:49 PM
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This really is a good question. The more expensive the bike the more time you should take testing it. I've never spent more than $1600 on a bike but i took that bike for five miles, and if I were to spend several thousand next time around I might expect to take one or two of them on my 22 mile typical daily route.

My first hybrid (purchased in 2001) I took for a couple miles. My first road bike purchase (2008) got a five mile ride. My second hybrid (purchased in 2018) I didn't even test it first. I knew my fit well enough, and knew exactly what I was getting. But it was used, from a private seller, and inexpensive.

If you are currently doing 25+ miles per ride on a hybrid you are a good candidate for a road bike. Find the best components you can on a $999 road bike that fits you comfortably. You could find a well made aluminum frame with Tiagra components for that price. Be sure to do that test ride, and get instructions on how to shift it. Try riding on the tops, hoods, and drops.
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Old 12-29-18, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Mike J. put together a good page on test riding a road bike at: How to evaluate a road bike on a test ride | Almost-Daily Diary

Insist on getting a decently long test ride and a good fit. Those are part of why you're often advised to buy the bike shop first, then the actual bike.
Thank you! That was helpful. The salesman did spend time with me (there was no one else in the shop) getting the seat height right. It was dark, so he threw lights on the front and back. (More to be seen. I could see fine with the lights in the parking lot). The bikes didn't have pedals, so if I had brought my shoes, I'm sure he would have put on SPD pedals instead of platforms. I did have tights and a helmet. Learned that my helmet was much too large, so they lent me one that fit properly. Definitely buying that.

I think I"m mostly nervous about making the transition from a flat-bar hybrid to a drop-bar bike. I have very little experience with road bikes, but I think I have outgrown my hybrid (and I don't mean the frame size). I want to do more than ride the rail trail to the coffee shop, turn around and come back. Thanks to cycling, I'm probably in the best shape I've been in since college. But I'm 50. I'm not about to take up racing or triathlons. I envision long rides in scenic places with lots of interesting things to stop and see. It's fine if it takes all day (including the stops).
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Old 12-29-18, 08:13 PM
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OK, I have a few suggestions:

1.) What are your inseam measurement and what is your arm length?

2.) Whatever you buy make sure it has an ahead stem, not a quill stem. Much easier to get upgrades and tweak your forward fit.

3.) Make sure the seatpost has a tilt adjustment so that if you fit aftermarket saddles, you can angle for best fit. I am always amazed at how I need a couple of degrees of tweak when I raise my seatpost or move the saddle back a bit ...

4.) Share a picture of your existing hybrid bike and then explain what is wrong with it? I know your are tired of it, and it prolly has never been tweaked to fit you better ... And, I am not suggesting you spend your budget on the old one at all.

5.) But, based on your comments, I am suggesting that you might buy a new bike in the "gravel bike" genre. That is a highly efficient drop bar bike with some off road (off pavement) capability.

Maybe look up some YouTube videos on Gravel Bikes. They cover a range from nearly mountain bikes with drop bars, to mostly road frames with upgraded rims and tires. Get a good understanding of the direction folks are going in this genre and you will see your way clear to something that pleases you

And over time do a bit of "ruggedizing" on the old hybrid for more adventurous trail challenges ... Depending on how that one is constructed (we'll know from the picture), we can carry on the conversation.

Due to the slopes involved (climbing & descending) mountain bike frames are fitted slightly differently from pure road bike frames. They are listed in different units too. Inches for MTB's and cm for road bikes.

We can help you get this closer to "right". But, ultimately you will need to be "fitted" to what you finally decide to pursue
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Old 12-29-18, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by BrocLuno View Post
OK, I have a few suggestions:

1.) What are your inseam measurement and what is your arm length?

3.) Make sure the seatpost has a tilt adjustment so that if you fit aftermarket saddles, you can angle for best fit. I am always amazed at how I need a couple of degrees of tweak when I raise my seatpost or move the saddle back a bit ...

4.) Share a picture of your existing hybrid bike and then explain what is wrong with it? I know your are tired of it, and it prolly has never been tweaked to fit you better ... And, I am not suggesting you spend your budget on the old one at all.

5.) But, based on your comments, I am suggesting that you might buy a new bike in the "gravel bike" genre. That is a highly efficient drop bar bike with some off road (off pavement) capability.

Maybe look up some YouTube videos on Gravel Bikes. They cover a range from nearly mountain bikes with drop bars, to mostly road frames with upgraded rims and tires. Get a good understanding of the direction folks are going in this genre and you will see your way clear to something that pleases you

And over time do a bit of "ruggedizing" on the old hybrid for more adventurous trail challenges ... Depending on how that one is constructed (we'll know from the picture), we can carry on the conversation.

Due to the slopes involved (climbing & descending) mountain bike frames are fitted slightly differently from pure road bike frames. They are listed in different units too. Inches for MTB's and cm for road bikes.

We can help you get this closer to "right". But, ultimately you will need to be "fitted" to what you finally decide to pursue
1- Inseam 33". Arm length 27" (from armpit to fingertip)
2 - current bike has no seatpost adjustment.
3 - Old bike. The biggest thing wrong with it is it was a hand-me-down. I'm the youngest of 11 and have NEVER in my life owned anything new. I'm 50. I have a good job. I want something brand-new.
Size is wrong. I have to raise the seat so high just so I can extend my legs. I don't like the twist shifters - can't shift at all if my hands get sweaty. Gloves help, but not great on a really not day. The bike weighs a ton. I can barely lift it. And it is hard to fit it on the bike rack on my car because the center triangle is so small. The cables are routed over the top tube so they get compressed when I strap it into the cradles. I can only mount one water bottle cage. No choice of hand positions with the straight bars. SLOW.


Shining Sea Bike Path

5. I did test ride a gravel bike at the store. I liked the brifters. The tires were about the same width as the old bike and it can handle up to 35 mm. The gravel bike had hydraulic disk brakes. Not a necessity in my book, but the husband seems to think I need disks because his FX3 has them and he feels more confident with them. It can mount 3 water bottles and there are mounts for fenders and racks. Tiagra groupset. Just couldn't get much sense of what it is capable of riding around in circles in a flat parking lot. Way over budget. That's not a deal breaker since I had money set aside for a bike and then got the gift card for Christmas. And I want this to be the last bike I ever need to buy. I think I should ride something closer to the target price and see how it compares (it won't have the disk brakes, but those aren't important to me -- maybe someone here can convince me I need them). The gravel bike is the Trek Checkpoint AL4. The salesperson said I was between the 52 cm and 54 cm and looked more natural on the larger bike. He and I were the about the same height, so my legs are probably longer.
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Old 12-29-18, 09:29 PM
  #24  
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What I hear you saying is
  • You want to take your riding up a notch, start doing longer rides,
  • You are drop-bar-curious, and have not been put off by them in your test rides.
  • You don't want to throw money at this unnecessarily, but are willing to spend more if you get a better bike that you will not outgrow.

So my $0.02 is.... get a drop bar bike, and do not be afraid to put $1500 into it (the cost of the Checkpoint). In the world of road and gravel bikes (especially the latter) this is a very reasonable price point for a bike that has what you want and is a long-time keeper. There is a difference between a $1000 and $1500 bike that you will notice and appreciate over time. It sounds like you are riding enough (even on a crappy bike that does not fit you) that there is little risk of this bike sitting in the garage collecting dust. You will get your money's worth.

As far as getting a gravel bike..... YES. A bike like the Checkpoint is IMO a great all-round road bike. Good for pavement, rails to trails, dirt/gravel roads, you name it. And it can take a rear rack. I know you were talking about n+1, but with a bike like this you will probably never ride the old one.

Regarding disc: I don't think they are a necessity in and of themselves. However, if you are looking at bikes that clear 35mm tires (which IMO is a good idea), disc is starting to become the default, though there are a few canti models out there if it is important to you.

Good luck!
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Old 12-30-18, 12:06 AM
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Bikes: K2 (Marzocchi/Fox), Trek 6000 (red) MARS Elite up front, Specialized Hardrock Sport -> eBike (R7 Elite up front), lastly TREK 820 loaner. Recently sold Peugeot du Monde Record and 1956 Schwinn (owned since new).

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Thanks for the picture. I can't really see the welds, but I think I see fatter beads, so I'm guessing aluminum frame ... I think that is good in the long run, if you keep it ... The cables run over the top on my Trek 6000 too. It is not uncommon ... Is there a sticker on the front of the seat tube above the bottom bracket/crankset stating a number like 17 or something?

I agree with much of what Kapusta says. But I don't know how hard $1,500 would hit the family budget ...

So the bike you currently have is an older design (nothing wrong there) with a stem quill for the steering and handle bar mount (not good). It has seriously low rent RST forks that make it heavy along with other parts. But they are the biggie. And because you have a 1" steer tube (that the quill fits into on top), it is not easy to swap on a better fork Also your seatpost is small on the old bike (1" ?). And that makes it hard to get good firm support for saddle mount in the extended position, plus it's heavy too.

As an example, I'm building a Specialized Hardrock Sport into an eBike. So I wanted a cheap durable frame (mission accomplished). I bought it off Craigs List (CL) for $80. When I got it home, it had cabling issues, cracked derailleur, and a stuck RST fork. I went looking for another. Fortunately it had 1-1/8" steer tube so forks are readily available (new or used). I got a used Manitou R7 Elite off eBay. The difference in weight was astonishing. 2785 grams for the old RST w/o dampening adjustment, 1625 grams for the R7 with full adjustability. That's like 2 1/2 lbs off the front end of the bike. Nearly a magic transformation. Prolly not really doable to yours with a 1" steer tube. Older high quality forks that fit 1" steer are hard to come by, and are usually beat ...

So what to do? I suggest selling your current bike to a woman/girl somewhat smaller than you are. It's still a nice frame with good stand-over for skirts, etc. I suggest buying a nice used mountain bike or good hybrid in an appropriate frame size for you, for your more adventurous outings on the local trails. Take your time and look hard. You'll find something good for pretty inexpensive. Especially if you can handle a mens frame with higher top tube for these outings?

I suggest pursuing that drop bar gravel bike. It could also be a used frame off CL with appropriate upgrades. But, I get wanting new. You do deserve it. Middle age has it's pluses, and one is being able to afford nicer things

I would likely build one out of a used chassis. But you are prolly not interested in tinkering ... So then it becomes a process of finding the right features at the right price ...

Features for me do not necessarily include disk brakes. I have them on my motorcycle, but that weighs a LOT more and goes way faster (all the time). Good V brakes with good pads, and rims with well pred'd braking surfaces, will stop 99% of the time plenty fast. And they are lighter - yeah!! Downhill mountain bikers need disks because they are using them a lot, and V brakes fade with a lot of repeated use in short amount of time. So you make that decision based on how often you brake and how hard ... If you are on/off the brakes every 100 ft at 30 mph, yeah - discs. If you brake every 500 feet and only go 20 mph most of the time, V brakes are fine. Race pace needs race level braking. Cruiser speeds do not.

A bike with a good standover and 1-1/8" steer is top of the list. 27.5 wheels are nice, but 26" will do too. I see no need for 29" on either bike. I'd prefer an aluminum frame (lightness and easily welded if needing repair) and there are plenty of hydro-formed aluminum frames out there (variable tube diameter/shape) which gives the designers some advantages in component loading. I would prolly look for a 1x11 gearset. No front derailleur, all shifting done out back. But I would not kick a 1x9 out of the tent. I would be looking for 30.9mm seatpost diameter, or larger. Many options in materials and offsets in that size. I would prolly start with a ridged front fork. It's light and strong. But if it turns out to be too rough, you can swap it for a good air fork in nearly the same weight somewhere down the road ...

For tires I'd be shooting for 2.1 out back and 1.75 up front. Maybe Schwalbe Marathons with the reflective white side stripes for much added visibility at dawn and dusk. They do work well on trails and gravel at 45 psi, and at higher nominal pressures will not detract from your road ride. I hope your new bike has double walled rims ... target weight 25 lbs, or less. That is not that easy a target to hit at your budget point, but prudent shopping will get you there

Watch this video for fitting: seat height

The reach can be adjusted with stem length and drop or rise

Over time, you can swap on carbon bars, a carbon ahead stem, carbon seatpost to take your 25# bike down to 23#, or below - and lower the center of gravity (very good). No need to specify all those things up front. If they come along, great. If not, so be it. You will want to tweak your bike as you grow into it, especially if you start going faster on average. It's normal. Everyone does it.

You can see a picture of my wife's new (used) hybrid that I will pick up in a few days here: Novara It will get an air fork (en route) and a changed ahead stem (in stock), then we'll go from there

It has many of the features I listed (not the modern 1x drivetrain ...) and it will become her new pedal only bike. Going to convert her old steel framed bike to eBike, if she likes the way my project comes out

Last edited by BrocLuno; 12-30-18 at 12:22 AM.
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