Buying a bike for paths/trails

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Buying a bike for paths/trails

Postby nandystam » Fri May 24, 2013 6:44 pm

Short term lurker, first time poster :D

I'm looking to purchase a new bike for riding on bike paths and trails, mainly for increasing fitness. I currently have a 2000 or 2001 Avanti Agressor Pro MTB (I can't remember the exact year) and whilst it does the job quite well, I feel it's a bit of overkill for the task, and it's a rather heavy bike which might be slowing me down a bit. Obviously rider weight plays a big impact too (I'm 5'8 and ~80kgs), but I can't help but feel frustrated climbing hills on the paths and watching everyone else whizz past! I am reasonably fit so I wouldn't say strength (or lack of) is the cause for this. My usual tracks are the Dandenong Creek, Ringwood-Belgrave, and Ferny / Blind Creek trails.

So I've been researching various options:

a) A flat-bar road bike (preferable to drop bars due to pre-existing back/neck injuries)
b) A hybrid bike with suspension
c) A lighter MTB

But I can't really figure out which would be the best option? Having ridden the Gardiner's Creek Trail, option a) or b) would be a no-brainer, as the path is nice and smooth. But my usual bike paths are not in the same shape, with cracks and other deformations scattered throughout the journey. I guess I've been lucky that having some suspension has smoothed out the bumps a bit. Although I've seen many road bikes use these paths, but I'm not sure how comfortable the ride would be in some places (particularly on gravel sections) with rigid forks?

I did go to the LBS to try and get some answers and maybe a test ride or two, but the only staff member I saw was too 'busy' doing whatever he was doing, and had no interest in serving me! So I walked out. Fortunately it's not the only one nearby, but in the meantime I thought I'd get some ideas as to what type of bike would be the best option. After that I could maybe drill down into specific bikes. I would like to spend no more than $1000.

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Buying a bike for paths/trails

Postby Paddles » Sun May 26, 2013 9:42 am

It sounds like you want something bigger wheeled and lighter. Are you usual trails and paths rough enough to make you need a front suspension fork? Do you prefer a disc brake or rim brake? If you've decided to stick with a flat or riser bar then the only real options are a 29er with pathway tyres for extra strength/durability or a 700C hybrid or flatbar road that will take nice wide tyres. Either way there's heaps out there and it all comes down to your budget and what feels right when you test ride it.

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Re: Buying a bike for paths/trails

Postby slidetaker » Mon May 27, 2013 1:15 pm

I am leading towards hybrid with front suspension..

For fitness and recreation on shared path (not so good surface conditions), why road bike? Your $1000 goes much further in a hybrid then a road bike..

Given you have some pre-existing injuries, a longer test ride and good fitment is especially important, that's where a good bike shop comes in.....

Invest in a good saddle or suspension seatpost and also consider frame clearance for the potential to run wider tyre and soften the ride..

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Re: Buying a bike for paths/trails

Postby clackers » Mon May 27, 2013 2:39 pm

Nandystam, climbing is more about the rider than the bike. Cadel is going to beat you up that next hill if he's got a DH MTB and you've got his BMC roadie!

But with the trails you ride, why not go with a hybrid/fitness bike without suspension (the point of front suspension on a MTB is to control steering after hitting an obstacle)?

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Re: Buying a bike for paths/trails

Postby nickdos » Mon May 27, 2013 9:17 pm

I've got the following bikes which all get ridden on bike paths from time to time:

Flat bar road bike
Hybrid 700c bike with front suspension
Mountain bike with dual suspension
Carbon road bike

I think the flat bar road bike is the best suited for bike paths and is much better on small hills than your other suggestions. You should be a ble to get one for less than $1000 (I paid $750 5 years ago for an Alu with carbon forks and Tiagra RD).

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Re: Buying a bike for paths/trails

Postby ShogunHy » Mon May 27, 2013 9:58 pm

I'm a newbie and about to start commuting to work (50 klm each way) and have been building up to this ride on a Shogun Metro SE flat bar - 21 speed + 700c's etc... Not sure what year model this bike is (how can i tell?) but it seems fine so far and has fixed front forks. About to fit panniers so will see how it goes fully's lighter than my 9yo's bike by a long way

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