Advice for first time commuter / light off road?

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Tolk, 15 Jul 2012.

  1. Tolk

    Tolk New Member

    Just read andyfromotley post for newbies, was very useful for deciding what sort of bike I need but would like to get some advice on specific models.

    I want to get a bike for commuting to work (its a relatively short commute) and for using off road on relatively nice terrain (canal paths, trails etc.). As such I've been looking in the hybrid category. Went to Evans cycles and the guy there pointed out a few different models; the one I had seen before and was most interested in was the Specialized Crosstrail (£350) but he was definitely trying to pull me toward some of the more expensive models (£400-£600) - to be fair he was being very helpful and took us through the different brakes, front forks etc. and their effect on the weight and ride vs the utility they add.

    I don't really want to spend too much as trying to save money atm, but would if there is going to be a significant difference between the tiers, so my questions are:

    Is the Specialized Crosstrail any good?
    Are there other "better" bikes in this price bracket?
    Do I need to spend more, am I likely to notice the difference?

    Cheers all, sorry for the longish post.
  2. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    The advantage the more expensive Crosstrails give you is the lockout fork which is certainly of benefit for road use. The question is given your off road is light only, do you need suspension forks and the fat (45mm IIRC) tyres on the Crosstrail - I had a sport a few years ago - nice bike generally, comfortable but heavy and tiring on the road.

    I'd take a look at one of the Trek 7.x bikes myself - decent tyres, not as smooth and skinny as say the Spec Sirrus models (which are more road going flat bar bikes, still fine on paths though)

    If you can push the budget, the 7.3 is a very good bike - here is the 2011 at a decent discount if your size

    Otherwise for £350, here is the 7.1, or for £400 the 7.2 is a rather spiffing green
  3. OP

    Tolk New Member

    Another question; would it be worth considering a cyclocross bike. Reading around I've heard people mentioning that these are what hybrid bikes should have been, is that true? The only one anywhere near my budget I could find is Norco CCX3 Compact for £500, but I couldn't find any reviews of the bike? Anyone know much about it or the make?
  4. If you are planning longer rides IMO they are better than a flat a flat bar due to the multiple hand positions of a drop bar. I don't really know much about Norco, I believe they are a Canadian brand but I could be wrong.
  5. mcshroom

    mcshroom Bionic Subsonic

    Egremont, Cumbria
    For that sort of riding you don't really need suspension. I'd look at decent tourers, CX bikes and hybrids.

    The Treks are nice, something like this Dawes Discovery would work as well.

    Edinburgh Bicycle Coop do a tourer for about £425 which gets decent reviews - link

    The Carrera Subway isn't a bad choice either - link
  6. MrJamie

    MrJamie Oaf on a Bike

    I think there have been a couple of threads asking about the Crosstrail recently. IMHO its a good all-rounder bike, but like Vickster said the suspension fork is personal preference based on the extra weight it adds, I like mine from a comfort point of view and im way too heavy to be worrying about saving a kg or two on my bike :smile: What you want to do cycling is likely to change too, you might find you pretty much always stick to the roads once you get confident with them or you might end up preferring riding trails, through woods etc depending on whats near you.

    My bikes nearly identical to the crosstrail and although I probably ride mostly on the road I love that I can ride well on pretty much anything. Normally I go for a simple 20-30mile road route, but today for example I was out on muddy trail type riding and despite full mudguards got home with mud on my face. :smile: Sometimes I wish I had drop bars and a more roadish bike, but equally sometimes i wish i had a mountain bike with wide knobbly tyres, but its amazingly versatile and keeps it interesting. So far the main thing ive noticed is its all about compromise, until you end up getting addicted and buying a different bike for every occasion :smile:
    vickster likes this.
  7. OP

    Tolk New Member

    What kind of terrain could I expect to handle on a touring bike? The EBC one for example looks more road bikey to me (though I don't know what i'm looking at) - this is probably hard to answer cause it depends on tyres etc. but and "on average" answer would be good.

    I think i'm swinging more towards one of the touring (especially as they seem to come pre-equipped with guards etc.) or cyclo cross bikes at the moment. I did like the Crosstrail originally but it comes with some fairly wide tyres, little worried it might make the commute unnecessarily difficult (esp. given my weight), I guess I could get a second set though.
  8. mcshroom

    mcshroom Bionic Subsonic

    Egremont, Cumbria
    Touring bikes are pretty rugged. They tend to have wide clearances and low gearing. I've taken my Vantage on gravel canal tracks, grassy off road and stoney/muddy forestry tracks. without problems. This one along the side of Loch Lochy in the Great Glen I cycled with 4 panniers of luggage on it.


    It depends on what tyres you out on them as you say (I tend to use Schwalbe Marathons in either 32 or 35mm widths) but in general tourers and rigid hybrids are very similar strength (and weight) wise.
  9. OP

    Tolk New Member

    Ok, getting there. I like the look of the EBC cyclocross bike, and for the price it seems very good:
    I like the look of their tourers as well but I'm still a bit worried about how much of a trashing they will take as the frames don't look as sturdy as the cyclocross, though maybe I'm being stupid.

    Unfortunately I don't have an EBC near me as I live in the south, is buying a bike from them remotely a good idea? or should it be avoided in case of difficulties and warranty issues?
    Nearest bike shop to me is an Evan's cycle, but they don't have anything that comes close to either of the EBC bikes in terms of the price/component quality ratio (especially in the tourer category, nearest in cyclocross is:, but its considerably more expensive).

    If you were me what would you do?
  10. benb

    benb Evidence based cyclist

    I've got the 2010 Crosstrail (Expert, I think, with hydro disc brakes). It's a nice bike to ride, but it is a bit on the heavy side.
  11. Nebulous

    Nebulous Veteran

    I bought the EBC tourer about 3 weeks ago, and I'm very happy so far. I bought it as a sensible travel to work bike with a set of panniers Looking at that cyclocross bike I would say it's pretty much the same frame!

    I don't know how you would get on buying it online. I have one of their shops locally and am finding myself buying more and more stuff there, rather than online, despite paying slightly more.
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