While I am MOST excited about something of this kind of gloriousness, it's actually kinda more practical to be thinking more about a commuter hybrid bike first. The XC/downhill bike is akin to a Lamborghini or convertible sports car -- you only take it out once or twice a month at most, but when you do, you drive like hell and are grinning like a friggin' cheshire cat. Also, it looks so sexy it may as well be an Italian sports car. Looking at one like this: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/mountain/trail/remedy/remedy_7_27/
So obviously that is the most awesome thing ever. And I am way excited at the possibility of a MAJOR upgrade from my current bike to one of these beautiful beasts.
But, my bike-commute to work is going to be even more uphill-feeling with this bike, I suspect. I currently have 27 gears on my Gary Fisher, which is great for the crazy San Francisco hills. This Trek is not exactly made for commuting, has only 12 gears or so, and I am gonna have to ride a bunch of the commute with the shocks "locked off". Also, since there is mostly road (with some rocks and bumpy sidewalk) on my commute, it doesn't make sense to really have any off-road ability on the commute. Ergo: maybe I ought to think about trading in my current bike for 2 bikes. Crazy, I know, but I think this makes some sense. I may be able to get the commuter one on Craiglist for next-to-nothing, which would be nice.
So... the hybrid bike.
First off, I don't want something like this, because it's not really going to be for "touring". This is your classic "hybrid" as I think of it. Nice bike, but not the style I'm going for. Also, I don't really need any shock absorption, since if I am gonna need any of that for a ride, I'll take my (current, or eventually future) mountain bike instead. It's going to be for hauling my butt to work quickly, or for booting it around the city on weekends to get some exercise. I don't want the casual upwards-facing handlebars because of the commuting goal.
|Cannondale Adventure 1|
Moving on, I also do not want a Road Bike. San Francisco can have rainy days and slick roads, and tons of potholes and other annoying cracks in the sidewalk and so on. A road bike has super thin tires and I have little-to-no interest in the racing or long-distance biking (100 miles+) vibe. I have been on a few 30 miles+ rides in a day, but it's more casual or just for fun. I don't think I'll be getting into super long rides any time soon, and speed is important, but racing is definitely not. I have also never ridden a road bike, so it would be brand new for me.
So, what else is there? Well, my buddy Nick from work pointed me towards something called a "Cyclocross" bike. This is very interesting. It's sortof like a "durable road bike" -- it's got (or can have) slightly more knobbly and thicker tires than a road, and also comes with disc brakes, which is pretty sweet. You get the "drop bars" at the front for when you want to book it, but you can also hold it up top normally and there are extra brakes up there so you can ride more upright.
|Cannondale Caadx Sora Disc|
So that's quite enticing. I like the idea of the speed, but the durability and more flexibility that a normal hybrid offers.
What I think I might actually end up with is something like the Cannondale Quick. Given it's name, it's so obviously made with the commuter in mind :)
They are marketing this one in the "Urban/Fitness" section, which I suppose is what I am going for. So, something like this or the Cyclocross one would probably do the trick. They are pretty similar, and I bet would give me a lot more speed than I have at the moment with bike-commuting up San Francisco hills with my hardtail mountain bike and big tires.
The Quick has a geometry a bit more like what I am used to, I think, but looks like it probably doesn't come with Disc Brakes (mostly due to the low cost, I suspect). This is pretty sweet though and probably the perfect commuting companion.
A variant of the Quick is one called the Quick Speed, which I should really check out. It seems pretty interesting and has slightly larger tires which means it would prob bit a bit of a quicker ride to work. Cool idea.
|Cannondale Quick Speed|
This research is all super fun and I am having a great time checking out what is available. I am gonna try out a few of these types on a weekend soon, and it's fun to know that there is a difference between a Cyclocross and a Commuter Hybrid, and what those differences are. I think I'd like to try a few out and get an idea of how they feel on the road. What I should really do is borrow one and then borrow the other, and actually try my actual commute with it. :)
Anyhow, not sure when I will go for it, but it's exciting to start thinking about this.