Your opinions on these bikes, please!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New question here. Your opinions on these bikes, please!

    I've narrowed it down to a few bikes for my commute to work.

    Marin Bikes | Fairfax SC3 | Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, and City/Commuter Bicycles | us

    Indie - Urban - City - Bikes - Norco Bicycles

    Any opinions on these two bikes?



    Or should I look into getting nicer bikes like these?:

    Spot Brand Bicycles Product Page AJAX

    Cube Hyde Race black blue shinyblack 2015

    My commute is mostly pavement. I also plan to use it in Winter in snow.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    The Norco looks like it has beefier tires and maybe more tire clearance. It also looks like it has more mounts for fenders/racks if that is something you're interested in.

    Otherwise they look pretty similar, can you try the bikes out? That's the best way to figure out which one to get. I don't know about your area, but if you're locking the bike up I'd avoid the more expensive bikes.

  3. #3
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    That Spot is breathtaking and it has an Alfine 8 belt drive drivetrain.

    I always recommend buying a brand from the the bike store that makes you feel best. Most brands have bikes similar to the Norco and Marin. See what your favourite LBS can do. For example Cannondale's offering that is similar is:

    Quick CX 4 - QUICK CX - FITNESS - FITNESS & URBAN - BIKES - 2015

    The other factor that influences the decision on the Spot, aside from budget, is bike security. If you got mad stacks and a secure spot to park your bike at work, spend like there is no tomorrow.
    "I love being on a bike. It helps me feel free. I get it from my dad", by Guillaume Blanchet

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies so far! Yes, I do think the Spot is awesome and more unique than the Norco and the Marin. Plus it can be good for Winter as it has the IGH and belt drive. I have about $2000 to spend on a new bike. I was going to get a bike something like the Norco or Marin, and then buy a fat bike for my Winter commute. OR I can just get one bike that could do it all well, such as the Spot. Thoughts?

  5. #5
    Fat!Drunk!Slow!
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    Do you get enough snow to warrant a fat-bike? If not, get a do-all commuter?

  6. #6
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    I'm still curious as to how you'll be securing the Spot?
    "I love being on a bike. It helps me feel free. I get it from my dad", by Guillaume Blanchet

  7. #7
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    Oh yes, here in Alberta, Canada, we get snow about 6 months out if the year! However, some people have mentioned that a fat bike isn't necessary just so as long you have winter studded tires.


    Quote Originally Posted by JordyB View Post
    Do you get enough snow to warrant a fat-bike? If not, get a do-all commuter?

  8. #8
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    My workplace does have indoor secure storage with bike racks. I plan to use 2 good U-locks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggie View Post
    I'm still curious as to how you'll be securing the Spot?

  9. #9
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    Well, if you have a $2000 budget, I'd say go with the Spot. Scott also has a sexy belt drive commuter...let me see if I can find it...got it!

    SCOTT Sports - SCOTT SUB Speed 10 Bike

    Then again, a $2000 bike is expensive for winter commuting. Tough decision. LoL.
    "I love being on a bike. It helps me feel free. I get it from my dad", by Guillaume Blanchet

  10. #10
    Fat!Drunk!Slow!
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    For 6 months of winter, my vote is always a studded fat-bike, coming from personal use Alaska. ;p I also ride my fat-bike for more than just commuting so that helps too. All the winter riding we have really opens up the uses of a fat-bike.

  11. #11
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    I had once inquired once about IGH at my LBS, and was told shifting can get sluggish in temps below -20C. Also IGH probably has to be sent away if it ever breaks. Being a prairie winter cyclist I would choose a hardtail 29er for a do it all bike. You can have 2.35" studded tires for the nasty stuff and maybe a 1.75" slicker tire for the warmer months.

    I have a hybrid bike with 700X42 Continental Nordic Spikes and a 650b with 2.35" Schwabe Ice Spiker Pros. My 650b with the wider tires feels alot more confident in the snow.

    I suggest you also find a cheap bike on a local classified ad to ride on the slushy days so you don't corrode you expensive new ride. And save a few hundred bucks of your budget for lights, fenders, etc.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by webmonkey8 View Post
    Oh yes, here in Alberta, Canada, we get snow about 6 months out if the year! However, some people have mentioned that a fat bike isn't necessary just so as long you have winter studded tires.
    Well, now that I know you're in Alberta I just have to respond. I'm in Edmonton too, and there are a couple of commuting regulars from Calgary.

    For our conditions, I think studs are more important than fat. If you can do studs + fat that would be great, but if it's one or the other then go for studs.

    I'm on a studded 29er, and every year there are maybe 2 commutes where I think "Gee, a fatbike would probably be easier" but my 29er gets me through just fine. Same thing for the singletrack. There are a couple of trail rides a year where I might like to have a fatbike, but those are the bad days and I know fatbikes are struggling too.

    But there are weeks and weeks of polished roads and mups covered in ice.

    I'm central around downtown and the university where things tend to be pretty well packed down. But even on the outskirts we just don't get that much snow.


  13. #13
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    Oh, and since I didn't actually answer the question...

    All of the bikes you're asking about are urban-style bikes. Have you thought about 29ers?

    With a a 29er you can run skinny slicks (or giant slicks) if you want to in the summer, but you can also fit something a bit more meaty for winter.

    I've also got a fixie with "skinny" (~45mm) studded tires that I ride in the winter, but I only use it when conditions are nicely settled. If it's snowed recently then I'm taking the 29er.

    So I guess I'd say urban bike + fatbike, but if you want one bike to do it all well then maybe look at a 29er. (although you could also get a fatbike with a summer wheelset) Personally, I don't think the Spot would be a great year-round do-it-all bike.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by webmonkey8 View Post
    Oh yes, here in Alberta, Canada, we get snow about 6 months out if the year! However, some people have mentioned that a fat bike isn't necessary just so as long you have winter studded tires.
    I have cummuted year round in calgary for 10 years...no need for a fat bike, although lots more are appearing...they are just slow.

    I ride a 2005 Element Rocky Full Suspension (I have two bikes a 1990 Norco bush pilot). I ride the nOrco if the rocky is down.

    I have three wheels sets one on studs one on slicks and one on either 2.35 inch slicks or 2.4 inch knobbies. I can switch around in a couple of minutes.

    I ride studded tires from November through March mostly 6 months...

    I use the Nokian Mount and ground, but recently I wore them out..

    So now I have a Conti Spike claw got it at MEC (made in Finland) on the side.

    If you will be riding lots of car snot, then you might want a wider tire say 2.35 inch???

    Or just get used to it.

    Really all the IGH and belts ect, don't really help out a lot, salt gets everything in the end...

    Just a good wash and rinse about every three week is enough.

  15. #15
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    A customer at the shop where I work got a Spot Acme - gorgeous bike. I wouldn't trash it with winter riding.

    Yeah, an IGH and belt drive avoid the grime of lube and avoid external shifty bits that can ice up, but road salt kills bikes and bike parts and if any bike I had was going to see extensive winter use with road salt exposure, I wouldn't use anything that I could clean easily and potentially afford to replace on an annual basis. Belt drive components, sure, they're not going to get destroyed by road salt. But an IGH? It may not get destroyed (though it might - and that won't be an affordable fix if it happens), and it won't be nearly as easy to tear it down at the end of the season and give it new lube.

    For snowy roads, I'd also much rather have studs. Fat is cool and all, and certainly more capable when you're talking about off-road stuff in the snow, where you're more likely to encounter deeper snow, but on roads, you're more likely to encounter solid firn (heavily packed snow), ice, and slush.

    I have a fatbike, but I also have a commuter bike with room for studded commuter tires. I spent a good bit on the bike, but none of its components are terribly fancy. Good mid-level stuff that performs quite well, with an affordable replacement cost. Biggest thing I need to do is make sure the steel frame doesn't rust. That's not too big of a deal. I gave it a good coat of frame saver when I built it. Been thinking about tearing it down and giving it another coat, for prevention. Wipe any salt residue off on a regular basis keeps things up pretty well. But I don't ride pavement extensively in the winter. Not a fan of the howling winter winds. I prefer my winter riding in the woods, where the wind is blocked better.

    If I did do more extensive winter commuting, I'd consider a winter beater bike.

  16. #16
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    If your $2000 budget includes both rides, I don't even thing you can get a new fatbike. The cheapest I've seen is the KHS 4 Season which is $1999 Cdn + GST, $2140.

    I think your options should be getting a MTB and a commuter for $2000. Personally (this is MTBR), I'd buy a nice MTB and buy an economical commuter (think $750ish) that you won't leave sleep over when riding it in the winter. As several have mentioned add a pair of 700c studded tires for winter.

    If you act quick, there are LBS' filled with discounted 2014's, you should be able to buy a nice commuter and studded snows for $750 and you'll have budget left for a nice MTB.
    "I love being on a bike. It helps me feel free. I get it from my dad", by Guillaume Blanchet

  17. #17
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    The Norco looks like a solid bet, if a hybrid is what you are after. The Spot is a beauty, but there is something to be said for having two good bikes rather than one show stopper.

    What other bikes are in the stable already? How long is your commute? Is the bike your only means of transportation?

    I have a touring/ cx bike set up with slicks and fenders for the good weather, and a 29er with studs and splash guards for the snow and mud, with about $2,000 spent between them. The combo has worked well here in Michigan, where I wanted wider, more aggressive snow and ice tires than I could squeeze onto the cx bike.

    Hybrids are a compromise by nature and could easily be $800 well spent for road and gravel duty. Once they exceed the cost of something like a Kona Rove, or the cost of a Rove AL and a Unit combined, I get very skeptical.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for much for the replies so far!

    I'm leaning more towards getting 2 bikes instead of one "do-it-all" bike. 2 bikes = I can pick the right tool for the job. One studded fat bike for the snowy Winters and the other bike would be the urban hybrid commuter. Actually, for the fat bike, I'm seriously considering the Norco 6.3 or 6.2. The 6.3 is a little over $1000 (Bigfoot - Fat Bike - Mountain - Bikes - Norco Bicycles). If I get that, plus some decent studded tires, that would leave me enough money to get a decent hybrid, like the Marin or Norco Indie I mentioned in my first post.

    I never thought about 29ers, but it does make sense if I plan to buy just one bike and have 2 sets of wheels for it. But like I said, I am inclined to by 2 bikes. Right now, I have an old mountain bike.

    My commute is about 13km using mostly service roads and bike paths on the River Valley trail (Edmonton) and will be biking everyday to and from work. Knowing that it doesn't get paved as often as main roads, a fat bike would be good. Is a fat bike so much slower than a 29er with Winter tires?

    Also, any comments on that Marin bike?

  19. #19
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    The Marin looks like a decent hybrid. Hard to see the fender and rack mounts in the pic, but the spec sheet says they are there. With some of the larger slick tires available, I'm not entirely sure what is gained from a hybrid over a rigid 29er. Test ride anything you can, buy the one that makes you smile.

    Can you rent or demo a fat-bike from your LBS while there is still some snow or slop on the ground? Can you rent or borrow an MTB with good studded snow tires, or tires for the MTB you have? For me, the experience was completely different between the two.

  20. #20
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    Not to throw another wrench in the works, but, if you are seriously looking at hybrids have you considered this:

    JAMIS BICYCLES

    The Reynolds 520 frame and nicer components might be worth a few extra dollars over longer rides on pavement.

  21. #21
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    I've always gone with the simplicity theory when it comes to my commuter. I ride a Fairdale Parser during all seasons. Its a SS cross bike and I've never had a problem with it in the snow, I generally just adjust my tire pressure based on what kind of snow we are getting here (its not always fluffy powder).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by webmonkey8 View Post
    My commute is about 13km using mostly service roads and bike paths on the River Valley trail (Edmonton) and will be biking everyday to and from work. Knowing that it doesn't get paved as often as main roads, a fat bike would be good. Is a fat bike so much slower than a 29er with Winter tires?
    One of the #yegbike twitter folks started Winter Biking this year. Anyone can update it, and it's pretty handy.

    edited to add:

    I'm not sure if you've ridden much in the winter? But when it snows the city's clearing is basically:

    • The High Level is #1 priority, and gets cleared at 4 or 5 am.
    • All of the paved mups will be done within 48 hours. So if we get a foot of snow today, tomorrow morning it will probably still be there, tomorrow night it might be cleared, and the next morning it should be gone.
    • Most of the gravel mups aren't officially cleared. The zoo one is, but keillor/hawrelak/capilano/goldbar are usually left alone, although occasionally the city feels pity and sends a snowmobile or something through.


    But in 6 years of riding, I can honestly say that I've never had more than 2 terrible commutes in a row. So maybe a terrible ride home and then a worse ride in the next morning, but by the second evening things have usually been packed down enough that you can find a workable mix of mups/roads/sidewalks.
    Last edited by newfangled; 03-05-2015 at 09:07 AM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JordyB View Post
    Do you get enough snow to warrant a fat-bike? If not, get a do-all commuter?
    Now Jordy... you and I both know that fat is where it is at even when there isn't snow... (Sigh)

  24. #24
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    Thanks for the suggestion on this bike, Rustedthrong! I haven't heard of this one, but that one does look good. I noticed that it's only available at Sport Chek, however, the price isn't listed. Does anyone know how much this one costs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rustedthrough View Post
    Not to throw another wrench in the works, but, if you are seriously looking at hybrids have you considered this:

    JAMIS BICYCLES

    The Reynolds 520 frame and nicer components might be worth a few extra dollars over longer rides on pavement.

  25. #25
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    Thanks for sharing your experience on that info, newfangled! Super useful for Winter commutes!


    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    One of the #yegbike twitter folks started Winter Biking this year. Anyone can update it, and it's pretty handy.

    edited to add:

    I'm not sure if you've ridden much in the winter? But when it snows the city's clearing is basically:

    • The High Level is #1 priority, and gets cleared at 4 or 5 am.
    • All of the paved mups will be done within 48 hours. So if we get a foot of snow today, tomorrow morning it will probably still be there, tomorrow night it might be cleared, and the next morning it should be gone.
    • Most of the gravel mups aren't officially cleared. The zoo one is, but keillor/hawrelak/capilano/goldbar are usually left alone, although occasionally the city feels pity and sends a snowmobile or something through.


    But in 6 years of riding, I can honestly say that I've never had more than 2 terrible commutes in a row. So maybe a terrible ride home and then a worse ride in the next morning, but by the second evening things have usually been packed down enough that you can find a workable mix of mups/roads/sidewalks.

  26. #26
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    Just to add a little more confusion , if I were in the market for a new commuter I would be giving a good hard look to the Breezer Beltway Elite.

    Breezer Bikes - Beltway Elite - Bike Overview

  27. #27
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    I think Jamis is weird in canada. Since they don't have a real dealer network you're probably stuck with whatever sportchek thinks will sell.

    Breezers are probably actually the same, since I don't think I've ever seen one in the wild here. Although an LBS might be able to get one if one of the 2 Canadian distributors carry Breezer.

    For all you 'mericans, Canada is really the backwoods for bikes. (and the exchange rate currently sucks)

  28. #28
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    Ok, so I test-rode the Marin Fairfax over the weekend. Not as good as expected. The Norco Indie wasn't in stock either.

    However, after going to several LBS and seeing they had sales on last year's models, the ones that caught my attentions were:

    1) Giant Seek 1/2 (2014) $899/$799
    2) Scott Sub 10 (2014) $1099 (this one has a belt-drive, but not the Center Track version)
    3) Specialized Sirrus Comp (2014) $999 (I realized this is a bit different than the other 2 above, but it can be a great commuter, as well).

    Which of the 3 would be your choice and why?

    Thanks thanks!

  29. #29
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    Thanks for the tip, Kleeps! Awesome bike, especially for year-round commuting! However, I could not find any of those here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kleebs View Post
    Just to add a little more confusion , if I were in the market for a new commuter I would be giving a good hard look to the Breezer Beltway Elite.

    Breezer Bikes - Beltway Elite - Bike Overview

  30. #30
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    My vote would be for the seek 1 (IGHs are awesome) with only one real caveat (that applies to IGH bikes in general): you have a minimum input ratio that the hub can handle, and if you exceed it, you can break it. The "safe" low gear that the Alfine can handle is not much lower than a road bike with a 26t sprocket in back. I admit that I'm a sucker for the way the Seek 1 looked in 2014, and the fact that it's specced with Shimano hydros and a hub that I really like (not to mention great tires) is all icing on the cake.

    Specifically re: the Scott...stay away from trying to run Shimano IGHs with the first generation (mudport) gates belt. They required higher tension, and the hubs don't like that. The centertrack is a better option, but would require ponying up a few hundred dollars right out of the gate to convert it.

    As far as the Specialized goes...I never really liked their designs or their business practices, so I'll just pass on that one.

  31. #31
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    wschruba - thanks for your input! Great info.

    Ok, I will most likely go with the Seek 1, as I think that would be the best type of bike for me.
    It's too bad that it doesn't come in black, like the lowest end, Seek 3.


    Quote Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
    My vote would be for the seek 1 (IGHs are awesome) with only one real caveat (that applies to IGH bikes in general): you have a minimum input ratio that the hub can handle, and if you exceed it, you can break it. The "safe" low gear that the Alfine can handle is not much lower than a road bike with a 26t sprocket in back. I admit that I'm a sucker for the way the Seek 1 looked in 2014, and the fact that it's specced with Shimano hydros and a hub that I really like (not to mention great tires) is all icing on the cake.

    Specifically re: the Scott...stay away from trying to run Shimano IGHs with the first generation (mudport) gates belt. They required higher tension, and the hubs don't like that. The centertrack is a better option, but would require ponying up a few hundred dollars right out of the gate to convert it.

    As far as the Specialized goes...I never really liked their designs or their business practices, so I'll just pass on that one.

  32. #32
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    +1 for the Seek 1/ 2. Big Apples are good commuter tires, and big enough to suggest you could get some real studded winter wonders on the bike next year.

    I'm not sold on the IGH, but have no solid argument against it. The best I can offer is that there are a lot of fat bikes and year round commuters out there with rear derailleurs.

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