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Thinking about a hybrid & need some advice!

irish_admiralirish_admiral Posts: 27
edited August 2012 in Commuting general
Hi there

Apologies - i'm sure this question has been asked a lot, but I'm thinking of picking up a new bike as my old mountain bike that I bought nearly a decade ago is getting a bit decrepit, and is beyond economical servicing & repair for a person of my inexperience.

I'm planning to use it for commuting (about 2.5 miles each way) and leisure riding mostly, with perhaps a little fitness thrown in. I tend to ride in to work most days, and throughout the year unless there's ice on the roads. I'm about 6'1" and 15 stone, so a fairly big lad. Ideally, i'd like to be able to fit mudguards to stop my legs getting sprayed on wet days... not to bothered about pannier racks as it's a fairly short distance. I've got up to £500 to spend, although I don't really want to go up to that unless the spec is worth it. I've been looking in the £350 - £500 range.

I've currently got an old Mongoose pro Rockadile ALX bike, so aluminium frame, (rubbish) front shocks, bog-standard 26" wheels, rapidfire shifters & V-brakes, Acera front & rear mechs. I'd fitted it with some 1.5" wide Schwalbe city jets to make it go a bit faster on the roads as I don't really do anything off-road.

So far, i've looked around at a couple of bikes like the Specialized Sirrus, Giant Rapid 2 (2011) and Boardman Hybrid Comp, but I get to the point where i'm not quite sure what the difference in some of the specs are. Eg. I know an Alivio rear mech is one step up from my existing Acera mech, but i'm not sure why, or what the practical difference is. Is it lighter / more durable / smoother shifting etc? It'd be good to hear from someone whether it's actually worth going for the better specced bike, or there is a minimum standard I should go for, bearing in mind my requirements!

Your advice would be greatly appreciated here... I've had a bit of a look around already, but if there's any good advice in other posts, please do point me in their direction too!


  • twist83twist83 Posts: 761
    Having just picked up a Boardman Hybrid Comp I can reccomend it whole heartedly for what you want to do. It is pretty fast and retains a slightly more upright position with the Flat bars. Kit spec IMO is very good for the £500 it costs (Go on Quidco they have a 10% off Bikes Code and 4% cashback as well!!!) so this would bring it down to £450 instantly and then £435 after cashback.

    It uses SRAM components for shifting dutys with an FSA compact chainring which is a pretty smooth shifting combination. For that price point BRAND NEW there isnt much that touches it (That I have found!) spec wise and it is even better with the cash off.

    You will see a massive difference moving to a 700c wheeled hybrid going from your MTB. However you may want to consider going straight to a road bike and buying second hand to make your £££ go further. Most people seem to do this, especially if you find yourself enjoying the riding.
  • Thanks Twist, that's a good recommendation... any idea if the Boardman can take mudguards?
  • If you are looking for a good mudguard for it, this is what I use, they are really good.

    They also should fit the Boardman.
    Trek Sl1000........................Ragley Mmmbop
    Voodoo Marasa....................Giant STP
    FCN: 7
  • Nice one, thanks mate.

    Should I be looking at any other bikes at that price point? I generally use the roads and paths down the side of the Taff river in Cardiff. It's mostly ok, although there are a few potholes and bumps. Will the Boardman comp be ok with those?

    Any other thoughts or considerations?
  • It really will depend on what you intend to use the said "hybrid" for - i.e. I cycle on the daily commute about 40 miles a day between Chesham and Northolt and I use one of 4 bikes:

    An old 1985 Raleigh Equipe racer
    A highly modified Marin Muirwoods 29'er - hybrid
    A customised Kona Dr Dew- hybrid
    A Kona Paddy Wagon single speeder

    So with two hybrids in the mix that are very different I'll try generalise - the Marin is a robust steel alloy framed beast that can and is thrown around a lot with big wheels and shock absorbing tyres and is good for a 50 mile ride as it eats up the road miles though the basic bike is a bit agricultural and is in need of improved components when the originals wear out.

    The Kona Dr Dew is a very different beast of a hybrid in comparison, it is a compact light weight aluminium bike and when fitted with slick tyres really does come in to its own even (or I'd say especially) on the streets of London, it does need a little customising to get the very best out of it but done right it is a joy to ride.

    So rather than highlight a specific bike (though I would recommend the two above) look at what you want to do and fit that "idea" around the available bikes - look a weight, frame & wheel size and then components. Though this can be a little confusing as most bike manufacturers do mix up the components quite a lot (rarely do they use a complete chain set on a bike) so try not to go below Deore if using Shimano because it is usually pretty damn good cost/performance value for money...and pretty bomb proof.

    Also try to look at last years models (as long as they fit!!) because you can get some damn good deals on the previous years models, sometimes greater than 30% discount in some cases!
  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    I do 15 miles a day on a late nineties aluminium rigid MTB. It's far from uneconomically repairable. You'd be surprised how much is still available. Admittedly I'm a born tinkerer so swapping out bike parts is no big deal even jobs I'd never done before aren't that daunting and will help me keep repair costs down in future. So my advice would be to just buy a rigid carbon front fork with a disc mount, turn it into a proper Hybrid, replace what needs replacing and upgrade to a commuter friendly drive train.

    That said I'm after a new bike. Road or CX £700-£1k. n+1's an itch you have to scratch from time to time. For £500 you might be better off looking in the used market. Secretly want a Ti frame so might have to self build the whole thing.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • Hi Furry Mommy

    I was looking specifically towards the more lightweight hybrids with 700cc wheels. For £500 and below, i'm not sure i've seen anything with Deore components (and don't know how the Boardman hybrid comp SRAM components compare) so I don't know if i'm going to be able to get anything there. My upper limit is pretty strict...

    Useage will be pretty much as described above - a short daily(ish) commute on slightly potholed roads, and the odd bit of fitness and leisure riding.

    Hi Initialised

    I really have no idea how to make any significant changes on my existing bike other than tyres, inner tubes & brake pads... I costed the 'need to do' repairs at a shop recently, and it was going to cost the greater part of what the bike cost me new! So whilst I could have a go at doing some repairs, I just don't know enough and suspect i'd shell out for some components, and then end up taking it somewhere for them to rectify what i'd tried to bodge!

    I think it's probably more of a 'I want a new bike' itch, and once I have a new bike, I can then experiment on the old one a bit without any fear of being bike-less if it all goes Pete Tong!

    The only thing i'd be worried about in the used market is not knowing what sort of nick the bike was in as i'm too inexperienced...

    Any other thoughts on good alternatives to the Boardman at that price range, and whether the Boardman would be ok for a big lad like me?
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,307
    Iv'e got he basic Sirrus and cannot fault it other than i would have had the better spec comp or Elite if buying again. I cannot fault it it does a 20 mile daily commute on a mix of A and B roads with plenty of lumps / bumps and potholes, which you don't always remember. Take's mudguards if you want them and provides a more upright riding position. The various levels of gear train should all do what you ask them, i.e change easily if looked after and used properly. It never ceases to surprise me how many commuters on my route insist on changing their front rings at the traffic lights on a particular hill without turning their pedals then curse when they stand on the pedals to set off and it either comes off and drives into the crank or bangs and crunches no doubt damaging said gear train. Either way make sure whichever bike you choose fits you properly and enjoy.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • twist83twist83 Posts: 761
    Yes you can fit mudguards and also slightly wider/burly tyres as well there seems to be lots of clearance.

    I am a fan of SRAM. I run a 2X10 SRAM X9 setup on my Santa Cruz Blue which takes massive punishment at trail centres, off roads and even a small DH race or two. Never missed a beat.

    I have not put many miles into the Boardman yet however the X5 rear and shifters appear to be as good as the X9 stuff. The SRAM does feel 'different' to the Shimano kit. A more positive click can be felt which some may perceive as notchy. It isnt IMO.

    If you do not mind second hand then I have seen Boardman Comps go for £250-350 on Ebay with little miles on. As before you will certainly get better value second hand. Have you considered a road bike, there is a huge choice. Not all are completely race orientated.
  • Hi there

    I had a think about road bikes, and did used to own one many moons ago, but I generally feel more at home with the flat bar type bikes.

    Quick ask about the Quidco thing... how does it work? Do you have to order & pay online, or do you reserve it through the site and then go and pay in-store? I can get Halfords vouchers at an 8% discount through my work, so am potentially looking at getting the Boardman comp for a bit under £400 if I can use those to pay for it in store...
  • JoffffJoffff Posts: 26
    I went from the Mongoose Rockadile ALX (still in the garage!) to a Specialized Crosstrail and absolutely love it. My rides are a combination of road, cycle paths, loose gravel tracks etc and the Crosstrail copes with it all perfectly. It's now fully loaded with mudguards, panniers, etc.

    On the basis that you're sticking to decent road surfaces (well, as good as a road surface can be...) I'd go for the Sirrus purely on the basis that I've got on so well with the Crosstrail. Not really a selling point when you're handing over £400+ I know... try and take both the Sirrus and a Boardman for a spin around the car park to see how they feel.
  • cookeeemonstercookeeemonster Posts: 1,988

    Although I've been intending to register here for a few weeks I saw this thread and thought I might be able to give some (limited) advice.

    I bought a Specialized Sirrus Sport 3 weeks ago for £405 from cyclesurgery (got 10% off because a new store opened, its normally £450). Also my brother bought the Boardman Hybrid Comp about a week before that (they are currently £100 off - £500 instead of £600)

    Anyway...the differences we've found.

    The Sirrus is more upright and more comfortable - my brother keeps getting neck pain because of his boardman's more forward leaning riding position (he's 28 and has no history of this and yes, he's adjusted it as much as it'll go, though he says you cant adjust the handlebars on the boardman) and he couldn't believe how much more comfortable the Sirrus was. Also he said the gears on the Sirrus are smoother - though I've got more to say on that in a bit.

    I found the Boardman to be quicker than the Sirrus - it just seemed to move from standstill faster, and the more forward leaning position gives it more of a racing feel (though it would do my neck in too). It has 28c tyres which are thinner than the Sirrus's 32c tyres, which may explain why it is easier to get up to speed etc (less rolling resistance) I didn't like the gear selectors on the Boardman, though that might just be me and its a minor point.

    The boardman does look great and it has rave reviews for a reason, but for comfort reasons and the fact I love it :) I'm very happy with the Sirrus.

    Also both bikes have the fitting for mudguards/racks etc - you really need mudguards in this weather!!

    And there's another thing to consider - Halfords....its the only place you can buy a new boardman...and if you search these or other bike forums you'll find many people unhappy with their expertise with bikes...and a few that are happy - it's pot luck whether you get a store with someone who knows what they are doing when assembling the bike and whether or not they are on duty at the time your bike is being assembled.

    I told my brother 5 times not to get a bike from halfords, he didn't listen because he had his heart set on the boardman (it is a great bike when set up properly)

    Anyway, the bloke who sold him it seemed to know what he was talking about. The 16 year he picked it up from scratched the seat post when adjusting it on the day of the pick up, and my brothers been back twice to sort out the badly set up gears - they are still not set up properly, and the crank? is scratched up because of this. He found out the other day the specialist mechanic is only available on certain days despite this being a big store (thurrock lakeside) and so he's gonna take it for its six week service on one of those days and hope.

    My advice if you went for the boardman - take it to a local bike shop and pay them to set it up...or find out which halfords are good and bad etc etc etc.

    What else can I say? Try a few bikes if you can and see what suits you.
  • Cool.

    I know the Boardman's gears tend to be more 'clicky' than the Specialized as they use SRAM rather than Shimano, and think that's just a quirk.

    I'm going to go and have a ride around as the ride position might sway it for me...
  • twist83twist83 Posts: 761
    Hi there

    I had a think about road bikes, and did used to own one many moons ago, but I generally feel more at home with the flat bar type bikes.

    Quick ask about the Quidco thing... how does it work? Do you have to order & pay online, or do you reserve it through the site and then go and pay in-store? I can get Halfords vouchers at an 8% discount through my work, so am potentially looking at getting the Boardman comp for a bit under £400 if I can use those to pay for it in store...

    Yep sign up to Quidco. Click through to the Halfords site from there. Put bike in Basket, apply 10% code and Reserve at Store. Take that in and then pay with your vouchers you have obtained. After a couple of months the Cashback will drop into your account :)
  • twist83twist83 Posts: 761
    I echo the comment about the Pot luck Halfords Mech. Hence I bought mine boxed. Out the box I only had to put bars, pedals on. Small tweak to the rear mech to get shifting sweet and the most fiddly part setting up the BB5 brakes front and rear.

    A LBS should be able to do that all for you for a few pounds if you dont trust Halfords. Or if you do go Boardman then simply get them to build and if not happy take it for final tweeks elsewhere
  • Ok, well no luck getting a test ride at Halfords! "Sorry sir, it's our insurance policy..."

    "So you expect me to spend £500 without having tried the bike?"

    I did however try out a Trek 7.2 at another local place (who had no such qualms about letting me test-ride) which seemed decent enough. I think I could get a Trek 7.3 disc model for £500, or perhaps last year's model without disc brakes for £425. I'm not really that fussed whether it has disc brakes or not, so what do you guys reckon? Is that a decent deal?
  • Right, I think the ride position on the Boardman was ok enough for me, so it comes down to...

    Boardman hybrid comp - £430ish
    Trek 7.3 FX (2011) - £400ish
    Trek 7.3 FX disc (2012) - £500
    Specialised Sirrus Comp (2011) - £500

    What do we reckon's best?
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,532
    I think that depends on the definition of 'best'... Its hard for someone else to know what is best for you.

    I cant comment on the Trek but test rode both the Sirrus Comp and Boardman Hybrid Team. VERY different bikes to ride. The Sirrus is very 'sit up and beg' although this can be compensated for to a degree with the very adjustable stem but it cant overcome the lazy, relaxed cruiser nature of the frame and geometry. That might or might not be for you.

    The Boardman is a much more racey, agressive geometry and is more like a road bike with flat bars. Your body will be lower, more stretched out and more aero and this makes you want to push harder and faster without even realising it.

    In terms of spec of the kit on them, the Sirrus is very poor for the money, the Boardmans are exceptionally good for the money. But that doesnt mean they are better for you if you want a more relaxed ride.
  • Just to add a bike to consider, I've just bought a Felt Qx90D from wiggle that is on offer for £570 at the moment and I'm very pleased with it.
    I thought the spec sounded good, and it seems more rugged than the boardman as I want to use mine for some light offroad as well as a 9 mile commute.
    It is SO much quicker on the road than my late 90s mountain bike.
    I also looked at a Trek and the Felt seems better built, but I'm no expert!
  • Looks good - don't want the front shocks though...

    I went for the Trek 7.3 in the end as I found one for £400, and the specs looked decent enough for the money I wanted to pay. Having considered it, I don't think I wanted a bike quite as sporty as the Boardman.

    Will let you know how it goes...
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,532
    Anyone looking at the Felt and not wanting the suspension, the QX85 is the same bike without them (I think). I almost bought a QX85 for a stupidly low price last year, but went to see it in the flesh and they are HEAVY, must be even more so with the suspension. Nice and strong, but my Boardman feels like it is half the weight!
  • Hi

    Thought i'd come back to this now i've got the Trek and have been using it for a bit.

    I'm pretty happy with it - it's quite a bit faster & stiffer than my old Mongoose (unsurprisingly) and has coped quite well with all the bumps in the road that I was worried about. The ride position is pretty much bang on for me as I can use it to pootle, or bang around a bit faster if I needed.

    Deore mech is nice & solid, the front bog-standard Shimano mech is a bit more rattley, but does the job. Shifters feel decent, brakes feel decent. I don't particularly like the strange flared grips that Trek have put on, so I think i'll be losing those in favour of some bar ends at some point.

    Fitted it with some SKS mudguards and i'm good to go for year-round riding now, I think.

    Happy buyer - good bike for £400 new.
  • One caveat - the adjustable saddle needs to be fastened really tightly. I've had the tilt suddenly disappear backwards on me a couple of times, and I was caught without an allen key. Wasn't very comfy!
  • And an additional thing... some of the Treks have these Satellite Isozone handlebars which you can't fit bar ends to unless you get a little kit from Bontrager for it. Only costs a tenner, but is worth bearing in mind.

    The process is quite easy to fit the Bontrager Satellite Isozone bar end adapter... here goes:

    - Loosen screws on either end of the existing grips, and slide the grip off the handlebar. It comes off easily.
    - Take a sharp blade and slice roughly 1/2 inch of the white rubber off. It is adhesive-backed, so you will need to peel it off the bar.
    - Loosen the brake & gear bracket, and slide it inwards along the handlebar.
    - Slide the grip back onto the handlebar.
    - Slide the bar end of your choice onto the handlebar.
    - Position the metal bar end plugs from the adapter kit onto the end of the handlebar. The existing handlebar has a wedge cut from it to accommodate the white rubber which runs along it. The new metal bar end plugs are shaped to sit in this.
    - Position your new bar ends where you want them, then tighten. Do the same with the grips and brake/gears.
    - Job done.
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