I bike some 30 miles a week, mostly on the road, and Im tired of the thick tires and heaviness of my mountain bike. But Im not ready for a full-on road bike with downward handlebars. Can you point me to something in between thats affordable and will fit my five-foot-tall fre? Cindy Santa Rosa, California
No, you dont want a mountain bike for around-town riding. The thing probably weighs as much as you do. Fortunately there are lots of nice, fast hybrids out there.
Bianchi Boardwalk Bike
Marins Novato (marinbikes.com), for instance, has a light aluminum frame, fast tires mounted on 26-inch wheels, and smooth-shifting Shimano running gear. And its only $529. Its available in a 13-inch frame size, which should be about right for you.
Scotts Sub 30 Classic (scottusa.com) offers a very similar frame/running gear combination, for just a few bucks over $500. Its 700C wheels might offer a little less rolling resistance, although they might also be a little too tall for you. The Sub 30 comes in a small" frame size, plus larger ones.
Lastly, theres Bianchis spiffy Boardwalk ($500; bianchiusa.com). It opts for SRAM shifters, an increasingly popular and very functional choice. And while its frame is aluminum, the front fork is steel. That results in a smoother ride than the aluminum forks on the Marin and Scott bikes, although it also adds a touch of weight. Plus, I love to say Bianchi." Try it! Bee-awn-kee. Then say, Un bicicletta e molto favoloso!" Isnt that fun?
Anyway, try to find a shop that has at least two of these bikes (or something similarin this price range all hybrid bikes are very similar) and give them a spin. If you really intend to mostly ride around town, then ask the shop to swap out the tires for something a little skinnier. The Scott and Marin bikes both come with relatively chubby 700X32 tires. 700X28 would be better.
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