I am struggling with my bike buying decision, as I'm sure all of us have at one time or another. I realize I may be asking for too much, trying to find one bike to do it all, so I understand there will likely be some compromise here somewhere.
Here is the LONG version:
6 feet tall, 270 lbs. and out of shape (normally somewhere 230-240).
I will commute to work, currently 12 miles total, plan to work up to 18, then 25 miles total. The ride is hilly with 2 big hill challenges that I will work up to (Jamboree and Bake in Orange County, CA), but I'm not riding up them yet.
This is where I complicate things. I am a big guy and I kinda want something a little burley. AND, I live across the street from Peter's Canyon Park and 2 miles from Irvine Park - both have off road trails where many "mountain bikers" ride. Plus, I have a travel trailer I tow out camping about once-a-month and would like to ride my new bike around campgrounds and hard dirt bike/walking trails.
I will not do any "mountain biking." No jumps, tricks, mud, rain, downhill or anything too serious.
I currently have a Nirve Fifty-Three 3 speed Cruiser which I started commuting with. Now I'm borrowing an old mountain bike with 700c tires from a friend (early '90s GT Timberline.) I am learning a lot about comfort and I am NOT comfortable on the GT. It's very difficult to ride because of it. I am leaning too far forward on this bike, the old style mtb.
My budget is low, $500. After riding my cruiser and realizing I needed a new bike I stumbled by the bikes in Target. Hey, I can get a cool mtb for $100. Then I started doing some research and realized I didn't want to go the $100 route but I'm still looking for an entry level, quality bike with more gears than my cruiser and a comfort level (riding position) somewhere between my cruiser and the old GT.
12 mile commute on the street
Twice per month on hard dirt bike trails
Once per month on easy campground trails
Of course I started with the Specialized CrossTrail (http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkM...d=08Crosstrail) but the price creeps up to $699 at my lbs. And the feedback from the sales guy, and even hidden in their own sales copy, is that this is for a casual rider - not necessarily for an every day rider/commuter - only one mans opinion. I also liked the Specialized Globe and Globe City, then found the Giant bikes at another lbs and realized they're better priced for me right now.
I rode the Giant Rincon (http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/...in/1260/29302/) and liked it's tough look. It comes equipped with less knobby tires to handle the street and trail. Forum guys like this bike but don't like the tires because they are less knobby for off-road riding but they may be perfect for me. The riding position is more aggressive and the handlebar more straight.
I also rode the Giant Tran Send DX (http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/...le/1436/29313/) and really liked it's big city style. Like the Specialized Globe City, this is geared towards commuters and I like the look and style - this bike has drifted to the top for me - I only wish my new bike COULD go off the roads occasionally.
I am also considering the Specialized Globe (http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=33079) as what I would consider "in the middle" of the other two bikes as far as on road vs. off road.
Tell me if I'm right about this - The Giant Tran Send DX would suit my commuting needs but will NOT go off road at all. The Giant Rincon will take to the easy hard dirt trails but as a mountain bike will not be as good on my daily commute (26" tires, heavier, etc.) Is the Specialized Globe something that would suit my needs for commuting and will still handle the challenges of hard dirt trails a few times a month?
I've also looked at the Gary Fisher bikes online, and I liked that I could get a front shock with 700c tires however, the lbs that is a distributer only had 2 models, no catalog and no customer service.
Giant Rincon is more mountain bike.
Giant Tran Send is more street.
Specialized globe is somewhere between the two ? ? ?
And if I go one way or the other (mountain/street) is there something else I should be considering in my price range?
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