Hey y'all! I'm pretty new to riding anything other than cheap Walmart bikes, and I'm looking into getting a new bike. I'd appreciate any advice you could give me! TL;DR at the bottom :)
Background: I currently have a Trek 7100 WSD which I've used to go to and from class (I'm in college). I live on campus so the distance is pretty insignificant. It does its job and is faster than walking, but it's also clunky, slow, and heavy. I don't feel comfortable using it for anything other than the 5 minute ride to class.
What I want: I'm looking for an entry-level bike for the purpose of commuting, fitness, and the occasional weekend adventure. Hopefully I'll be in nursing school in the fall, and the apartments are only a couple miles away from the school. I like to ride on park trails and on roads so I need something suitable for both. I'm not rough on my bike, but I do have to go off of curbs and on grass/mud/gravel to avoid people walking to class. So I need something that can handle off road as well. I'd also like something that would give me a decent road workout! I've only ever had the flat bar handlebars, but I'd like to upgrade to drop bar. I'm not really interested in racing so it doesn't have to be the best or fastest bike out there, just the best for me. I'm also small, about 5'1 and 105 lbs. My inseam is a little bit under 29 inches I think, but I don't know how accurately I measured that. So I need a bike that's available in a smaller size. I'd also like it to last a while so that I don't need to get another bike for a long time.
What I've looked at: I'm primarily looking at the Giant Invite 2 (Invite 2 (2014) - Bikes | Giant Bicycles | United States). From what I understand, it's a cyclocross bike so it can handle roads and off roads. It's available in both a S and XS size, and at $1150 it's probably the most that I could spend on a bike right now. I think it's on the cheaper end of quality bikes. And apparently it's pretty easy to get a set of road tires (slicks?) and put them on a cx bike, but it's not so easy to put thicker tires on a road bike. I also love the way it looks :) I'm not sure what all of the measurements mean for each of the sizes, but I think I'm leaning toward the XS just because I'm shorter than average.
Advice: Really anything that you could tell me would be appreciated. Does a cyclocross bike seem like a good fit for what I want? Is the Invite 2 a decent bike? Based on my measurements and the table given on the website, do you think a S or XS would fit me better? Are there any other bikes you would recommend for me? What are your opinions on clip less pedals (I've heard both great and not great things)?
Sorry this is pretty long, but I'd appreciate the help :)
TL;DR: I need a do anything bike for commuting, fitness, and adventure. Is a cyclocross bike, specifically the Giant Invite 2, a good fit for me?
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