Author Topic: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike? (Read 7764 times)

alsoknownasDean

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Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« on: June 26, 2015, 04:41:12 AM »
I'm after a new bike. Some fucker pinched my old one the other day. I think that's a pretty good excuse to satisfy my n+1 urges. :)

However, I'm trying to work out what type of bike I should get. I bought my old hybrid bike almost four years ago with the intention to ride around my local area, and eventually ended up putting it to work on a 75km/week commute.

I guess I'm torn between a hybrid and a flat bar road bike (or a hipster style vintage bike), and was hoping for a bit of advice :)

My commute has some light hills, but nothing too serious. It's a mix of concrete bike trails, bike lanes on the side of roads (sometimes with a metal grate not far from the road), and roads themselves (and crosses a couple of sets of tram tracks). I'd need the ability to add a rack and stand as well. I'm not exactly a lightweight, so it can't be too delicate, especially if it's used as a commuter.

What does everyone think? Should I look at a faster flat bar road bike, or should I get another hybrid?

I'll keep on eye on Gumtree, but I'm open to buying new too (maybe up to $5-600AUD, my last bike was $350AUD). It's something I'm commuting in most days and compared to the tram it'll save me the cost of the bike in under six months, so I shouldn't cheap out too much.

Rollin

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2015, 05:16:18 AM »
Flat bar road bike and hybrid are very similiar, with the hybrid typically being more comfortable (longer wheelbase and wider tires) and the road bike being (or at least feeling) faster due to lighter weight.

Here's what I did - got a Velo Orange campeur, which is a light-ish touring frame and put hybrid-wide tires (35mm) on it. It is the best of both worlds. So I'd say find a touring style road bike and some nice upright bars.

Otherwise, I find a true road bike with flat bars to be too harsh of a ride, and it really is not faster than what I described. Your commute is longer than most and a little more comfort would probably be appreciated.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 04:25:50 PM by Rollin »
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alsoknownasDean

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2015, 12:47:08 AM »
I went to have a look at some bikes earlier.

I test rode a Kona (I think a Dew Plus), which wasn't a bad bike, but I felt I was leaning over too much and stretching too much for the handlebars. Probably not the right fit for me then.

I sat on a Trek 7.1FX, although I think they wanted to upsell me to the 7.2FX. Not sure if it's worth the extra $150AUD ($699 is pushing it if I need to add a rack, panniers, lock and helmet to the mix). My original budget was $5-600 all up.

All I can say is that there's a LOT of black and dark grey bikes around. I thought I'd get something different this time, but anything not in those colours is kinda rare unless it's a road bike.

Are disc brakes worth it?

Then again, after having my last bike stolen, part of me thinks I should just buy something reasonably cheap from Gumtree and then upgrade down the track rather than go looking for something in a rush.

I know this is really silly, but after having my last bike stolen, I'm kinda reluctant to buy something from Gumtree in case I inadvertently buy someone else's stolen bike.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2015, 01:50:14 AM by alsoknownasDean »

gooki

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2015, 01:09:55 AM »
Of all the bikes I've owned, I've settled on a flat bar road bike for my communt. It's a Corratec Shape Pro. The only mods are a set of mud guards and changing the flat bars for butterfly bars, extra hand positions helps with the comfort factor.

Most hybrid bikes in my price range had rubbish front suspension, and not so great gear components, and weighed a ton. So I was super happy when I found this bike.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2015, 01:11:56 AM by gooki »
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vhalros

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2015, 04:56:58 AM »
The biggest difference between the FX 7.1 and the FX 7.2 is that the 7.1 uses a freewheel, whereas the 7.2 uses a freehub/casette design. In the free wheel, the ratching mechanism that allows you to coast is incorporated into one unit with the cogs (the gears on the back). This means when those cogs wear out, you have to replace the whole thing. With the freewheel/casette design, the ratcheting mechanism is in the hub of the wheel, and can be replaced separately from the cogs (which are grouped together into a "casette"). Since the ratcheting mechanism lasts longer than the cogs, this will save you some money in the long run. You also get one more gear, which might be nice if there are any hills in your area.

Other significant differences include metal pedals (or at least, no 100% plastic), and puncture reistent tires. The pedals will last longer, and the tires also probably last longer and save you some tubes and also hassle.

I think in purely monetary terms, you'd make up the difference in price in a few years. I think the upgrade from 7.1 to 7.2 is worth it, 7.2 to 7.3 not so much. However, if you don't want to out lay that much, the difference is not that huge in their day-to-day performance. You can always replace the tires and pedals as necessary (switching to a freehub later is also possible, but requires replacing the entire rear wheel, and probably shifters).

As far as disc brakes, they can be useful if you have to deal with lots of rain and other adverse weather conditions, but they aren't really necessary.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2015, 04:59:56 AM by vhalros »

GuitarStv

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2015, 10:00:31 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what do you dislike about drop bars?

Ricky

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2015, 10:46:55 AM »
For longer rides, drop bars are more comfortable actually (IMO, because less drag and can go farther distances) - especially with a backpack. For anything < 20 miles, I prefer a more upright stance.

I have disc brakes but for my uses I think rim brakes would have been just fine. Disc is only better for increased stopping power and in wet weather (I don't really need either of those). Rim brakes are lighter and easier to work on.

I ride a Trek 8.5DS FWIW. It has good front suspension and an "in-frame" suspension in the rear. Most of the bumps definitely get soaked up very well.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2015, 10:51:00 AM by Ricky »

hyla

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2015, 02:58:24 PM »
I think a flatbar roadbike would be better than a hybrid if you are doing slightly longer rides, as long as you find one you feel comfortable on. All the excessive suspension and smooshy seats on hybrids makes them less efficient than flatbar roadbikes, and if you feel like the ride quality of the flatbar roadbike is slightly harsher than you prefer, a super easy fix is to just put slightly wider tires on it. That would also help with the grates and train tracks on your commute you mention.

I don't think disc brakes are necessary unless you plan to ride in super muddy/wet/snowy conditions or carry a lot of weight. I have them on my cargo bike, which is also my winter bike, and they are fabulous for stopping when it's all slushy and my bike is loaded down with ski gear, but I think they are probably overkill for your situation. My other two bikes (vintage upright commuter and road bike) have rim brakes that work fine, even on rainy days.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2015, 09:25:14 PM »
Just out of curiosity, what do you dislike about drop bars?

I've got nothing against them, but I'd rather something more upright for my daily commute. Most of the pure road bikes I've seen have skinny 23mm tyres, I think I'd rather something in the 28-35mm range for a commuter.

Part of me thinks 'if it's pouring rain in winter and blowing a gale, would I want to ride a no-compromises road bike?'.

I think a flatbar roadbike would be better than a hybrid if you are doing slightly longer rides, as long as you find one you feel comfortable on. All the excessive suspension and smooshy seats on hybrids makes them less efficient than flatbar roadbikes, and if you feel like the ride quality of the flatbar roadbike is slightly harsher than you prefer, a super easy fix is to just put slightly wider tires on it. That would also help with the grates and train tracks on your commute you mention.

I don't think disc brakes are necessary unless you plan to ride in super muddy/wet/snowy conditions or carry a lot of weight. I have them on my cargo bike, which is also my winter bike, and they are fabulous for stopping when it's all slushy and my bike is loaded down with ski gear, but I think they are probably overkill for your situation. My other two bikes (vintage upright commuter and road bike) have rim brakes that work fine, even on rainy days.

I figure that I could do without suspension on a bike.

I've managed fine with rim brakes with my last bike. They were squealing quite a bit in the wet, but that's more a human error than anything. They still stopped fine.

I've decided that I'd rather stick to $600AUD all up if possible, including helmet/lock and possibly rack/panniers. Kinda reluctant to spend big money on a bike after someone helping themselves to my last one. That and it'll be stored outside.

I'm surprised that there's not that many sales around given that it's winter here, at the end of the financial year and new bike models are due soon.

Whilst I'd rather buy a bike from a local shop than online, I'd consider online (or in a different part of town) if the price was right.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2015, 09:27:08 PM by alsoknownasDean »

alsoknownasDean

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Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2015, 12:11:25 AM »
OK, a bit of a change of plans.

I'm going to have a look at a used mountain bike on Gumtree this evening. The reason is I'd rather not rush a $500+ purchase, so I decided to get something cheaper that'll do as a commuter for the short term, and I can buy another bike in a couple of months (and keep the MTB as I kinda wanted one anyway).

Maybe later I'll decide to go used for my commuter bike as well.

Hamster

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2015, 12:55:36 AM »
Maybe too late to add to this discussion, but if you are just going to have one bike to do it all, I would echo getting a touring (road) bike, with wider tires - my Surly Long haul trucker fits up to 42mm tires plus fenders (muidguards) or 45 mm without. That is quite fat, and makes suspension completely unnecessary on a bike you are riding on the road and relatively smooth trails. It gives a much faster commute than a mountain bike or hybrid would, and I have ridden it 200 miles over 2 days with 35mm tires. I also ride it on packed gravel all the time.

For handlebars, you can get wider drop bars, and risers to make them as upright as you want. Most touring bikes are much more upright than a road 'racing' bike. It will be very hard to find a new touring bike in your price range, however, but look for used ones - I forget models, but Surly, Trek, Fuji, and others have popular touring bikes in steel or aluminum that would fit this description.

I would not spend money on disk brakes or suspension for your purposes. Properly adjusted rim brakes should be able to completely lock up your wheels when dry. Disc brakes don't give you more power than that. They will work much better wet, but add costs and complexity. In my case, in the wet pacific northwest, I wish my commuter had disc brakes since 9 months out of the year my rims are wet. I still stop fine, but grinding that grime into my rims constantly makes them harsh, noisy, and wear out fast. For dry weather commuting, I see no point in disc brakes.

alsoknownasDean

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Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2015, 02:15:59 AM »
Maybe too late to add to this discussion, but if you are just going to have one bike to do it all, I would echo getting a touring (road) bike, with wider tires - my Surly Long haul trucker fits up to 42mm tires plus fenders (muidguards) or 45 mm without. That is quite fat, and makes suspension completely unnecessary on a bike you are riding on the road and relatively smooth trails. It gives a much faster commute than a mountain bike or hybrid would, and I have ridden it 200 miles over 2 days with 35mm tires. I also ride it on packed gravel all the time.

For handlebars, you can get wider drop bars, and risers to make them as upright as you want. Most touring bikes are much more upright than a road 'racing' bike. It will be very hard to find a new touring bike in your price range, however, but look for used ones - I forget models, but Surly, Trek, Fuji, and others have popular touring bikes in steel or aluminum that would fit this description.

I would not spend money on disk brakes or suspension for your purposes. Properly adjusted rim brakes should be able to completely lock up your wheels when dry. Disc brakes don't give you more power than that. They will work much better wet, but add costs and complexity. In my case, in the wet pacific northwest, I wish my commuter had disc brakes since 9 months out of the year my rims are wet. I still stop fine, but grinding that grime into my rims constantly makes them harsh, noisy, and wear out fast. For dry weather commuting, I see no point in disc brakes.

Yeah I decided that I've managed fine with rim brakes for this long, they should be OK for the next bike. It can get wet here, especially in the winter and spring.

I'm looking at getting two bikes now. One that I can chuck on a bike rack or on the roof of my car and head to the mountains for some riding around bush trails (and a backup commuter), and another bike that's better suited to road riding.

Not being in a rush to buy a brand new replacement means I can take my time and check out the used market for a road bike and save some $$$.

EDIT: But not that mountain bike. It was too big.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 03:53:34 AM by alsoknownasDean »

GuitarStv

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2015, 08:39:01 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what do you dislike about drop bars?

I've got nothing against them, but I'd rather something more upright for my daily commute. Most of the pure road bikes I've seen have skinny 23mm tyres, I think I'd rather something in the 28-35mm range for a commuter.

Part of me thinks 'if it's pouring rain in winter and blowing a gale, would I want to ride a no-compromises road bike?'.

If you get an older style road bike with a quill stem, it's pretty straightforward raise the bars. Many of your older road bikes will come with cantilever brakes which give lots of room for fenders and wider tires. Newer touring or cross style bikes are set up like this. Personally I find drop bars are much more comfortable to commute around in, and you have the option in heavy wind to tuck down lower which is great.

darkadams00

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2015, 06:03:28 AM »
My utility and main commuting bike is a cyclocross bike with a flat bar just because I'm more comfortable cruising on ped-filled greenways, pulling my trailer, or just cruising with my wife with a flat bar (I tend to ride faster on drops almost automatically). I ride 18+ miles/day on my commute, and a flat bar is fine for that. I've also ridden the same bike for more than 60 miles on weekends with no issue, but it's not my preference if I have a drop-bar bike available. However, some folks actually prefer flat bars for long-distance touring.

My rain bike is a cyclocross bike with drop bars. Since it's ridden mostly in inclement weather, I'm not dealing with pedestrians in close quarters or pulling my trailer. It does tend to be faster due to the drops, and it is a pound and a half lighter.

All in all, bar selection is a personal preference. I would definitely lean towards a cyclocross/touring-style frame if you envisioned one-way trips beyond 10 miles. The choice of handlebars comes afterwards in my opinion. For me, short/medium-distance utility = flat bar and longer-distance road riding = drop bars. These two bikes work perfectly for me, and I ride almost daily to do whatever I need to do. Tires on both of my bikes and two of our other three bikes are 28s, so no skinny tires here.

I'm not a fan of hybrids for commutes more than 5 miles, especially if hills are involved, mainly due to positioning on the bike. With that said, there are several folks on this forum who ride hybrids consistently and without complaint. My wife actually rides a Trek 7.5FX, but again, she rides primarily 2-5 miles with an occasional longer ride (once or twice per month).

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2015, 06:09:49 AM »
I ended up getting a decent used hybrid bike from Gumtree. All it needs is a new chain (and probably brake blocks to be sure) and a little clean up and it's good to go.

My skill in badassity has increased by 1 point :)

Maybe down the track I'll get a road bike, but I guess now I just wanted to get back on the bike ASAP.

My utility and main commuting bike is a cyclocross bike with a flat bar just because I'm more comfortable cruising on ped-filled greenways, pulling my trailer, or just cruising with my wife with a flat bar (I tend to ride faster on drops almost automatically). I ride 18+ miles/day on my commute, and a flat bar is fine for that. I've also ridden the same bike for more than 60 miles on weekends with no issue, but it's not my preference if I have a drop-bar bike available. However, some folks actually prefer flat bars for long-distance touring.

My rain bike is a cyclocross bike with drop bars. Since it's ridden mostly in inclement weather, I'm not dealing with pedestrians in close quarters or pulling my trailer. It does tend to be faster due to the drops, and it is a pound and a half lighter.

All in all, bar selection is a personal preference. I would definitely lean towards a cyclocross/touring-style frame if you envisioned one-way trips beyond 10 miles. The choice of handlebars comes afterwards in my opinion. For me, short/medium-distance utility = flat bar and longer-distance road riding = drop bars. These two bikes work perfectly for me, and I ride almost daily to do whatever I need to do. Tires on both of my bikes and two of our other three bikes are 28s, so no skinny tires here.

I'm not a fan of hybrids for commutes more than 5 miles, especially if hills are involved, mainly due to positioning on the bike. With that said, there are several folks on this forum who ride hybrids consistently and without complaint. My wife actually rides a Trek 7.5FX, but again, she rides primarily 2-5 miles with an occasional longer ride (once or twice per month).

My commute is about 4.5 miles each way. The hybrid's been fine for the last few months.

poorboyrichman

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2015, 06:24:05 AM »
The term hybrid is a bit contrived as they vary so much, no two hybrids are the same. You need to tailor your choice to the type of riding you are doing. I.e. off road needs big stubby tyres, on road, skinny wheels are preferred.

Because I'm a massive fan, a road bike is worth every penny. Flat bar is great for hauling stuff like shopping in trailer and having a better view of traffic in front, drops for speed and reduced wind resistance. Quick away at the lights and makes riding into the wind a breeze, excuse the pun.

Hybrids air towards jack of all traders and master of none, which can be very disappointing if you do a lot of any one type of journey. But makes sense if you only have room to store one bike.

If I could have only one, it would be a bomb proof steel touring bike with drop handle bars and racks. Lucky for me I have a huge garage and have a hard tail mountain bike, which I put road tyres on for hauling shopping. A quick road bike for the commute when the weather is good. Having a MTB and Road bike means I can alternate between off and on road and have a backup in case of mechanical failure.

A cyclocross bikes are great alternative although harder to get hold of, a spare set of wheels so you can switch between knobbly and skinny tyres is a great option. Get one with a rack and your good to go for shopping and commuting on any terrain.

grantmeaname

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2015, 06:45:58 AM »
What is the appeal of flat bars compared to drops? If you have drops can't you just put your hands on the tops of the bars? Look, it's like a built-in flat bar!

poorboyrichman

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2015, 06:56:04 AM »
They tend to be a tad higher so you have a better view over the cars ahead, technically stronger and lighter than drops. Better for newbies really. I wouldn't entertain one on a "fast bike".


grantmeaname

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2015, 07:21:02 AM »
They tend to be a tad higher
That's like saying they tend to come on bikes with wider tires. The height of the bars is easily changed and has nothing at all to do with the shape of the bars.

poorboyrichman

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2015, 08:14:48 AM »
They're also wider which helps with balance...

Hamster

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2015, 09:16:23 AM »
They're also wider which helps with balance...

This. The width is nice when hauling loads, trailers, squirmy kids, etc. when I pull my kids on a trail-a-bike I wish I had wider bars than the drops on my touring bike. For unladen riding I like the drops.

grantmeaname

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2015, 09:32:54 AM »
That's actually good point I hadn't thought of.

Does anyone on the forum ride a cargo bike/pull squirmy kids with drops? Is it just hard to get used to at first or is it hard forever?

GuitarStv

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2015, 10:02:18 AM »
I pull my squirmy kid in a trailer with my touring bike. I've also brought back 60+ lbs of groceries in panniers on it. No issue at all. I think that preference for flat bars comes down to what you're used to . . . most of us grew up in the 80s and 90s with a mountain bike, so we learned on flat bars.

I had found that using drop bars was more difficult for the first couple rides. After a few years of getting used to it, they're my preference.

darkadams00

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #23 on: June 29, 2015, 04:33:55 PM »
When I ride with drops, I prefer to ride on the hoods, not across the top. The bike feels more squirrelly with my hands on the top since my hands don't have as much leverage as they do on the hoods. And even the hoods aren't as good as flats if I'm weaving around peds, trikes, and dogs on the greenway/MUP. Brakes and gearing are also more accessible on the flats. Finally, there's riding with someone. If we're all spinning along on the road, then I like drops. If I'm riding with slower riders, especially if they're on a hybrid or city bike, then it's flats. I could make either set work for almost any purpose, but I choose what feels most appropriate for the situation. That's why I started with a flat bar bike first and then added a drop bar bike later. Get a bike that suits your preferences for 80+% of your riding. Then add an n+1 to add a little more specificity.

bicycleriders

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2017, 08:00:43 AM »
I think you should get another hybrid bike. The budget you mentioned which is 600 AUD is good enough I think.

bicycleriders

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Re: Bikes: Hybrid or flat-bar road bike?
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2017, 10:30:45 AM »
Its a great idea of assembling the parts of the two bike to one bike which is mixing a light-ish touring frame of Velo Orange campeur with hybrid-wide tires of 35mm. Its a well done job.