I'm looking for a bike to do a bit of everything: commuting year round, several short rides in spring, and some off-road racing in early fall. What's your opinion of the Gary Fisher 29er bicycles, and how exactly do they differ from other high-end hybrids (for exple, the Cannondale Bad Boy HeadShok or the Kona Dr Dew)? I currently own a Trek 1200 road bike for racing and a worn hybrid for commuting and bad-weather training, but would like something fast, comfortable, and durable for all-around use. Can one bike do it all? Jarle Bergen, Norway
In the Fisher lineup, you might look into the Dual Sport 129 ($1,430; www.fisherbikes.com). This bike is designed to really bridge the gap between road and trails, and does seem equipped to do both. Nice mix of Shimano components, disc brakes, Manitou front fork. By comparison, the Cannondale Bad Boy is very similar in features and price ($1,500; www.cannondale.com), without the 29-inch wheels. Cannondale also uses a proprietary integrated shock. It works well, but upgrading in the future poses a challenge. The Kona Dr Dew ($999; www.konaworld.com) seems a little more skewed toward roads, but also manages that pavement-to-dirt transition.
If you can, the best bet is of course to test-ride all these bikes at the same sitting so you can get a real feel for what fits and rides the best. But, my vote is for the Fisher. I think you'd really enjoy that bike.