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Hi!

So I'm still a relatively new cyclist and have been riding my hybrid Merida Crossway 20MD for a year now. While it's a great bike to ride round town and short rides, I've kind of caught the cycling bug and I'm looking for something a little more capable! 

My bike is my only form of transport and so I use it to carry my shopping home, cycle into the city and I occasionally cycle to work (15 miles each way). This is the main reason I want to upgrade as it's quite hard work at the moment on my hybrid especially when there is a strong SW wind and I'd like to commute by bike more.

Of course, the choices are absolutely vast these days so where better than here to get some advice from people who know their stuff! My bike knowledge is a lot better than a year ago, but still not perfect!

So my budget is between £800 to £1300and I think I'm looking for something a long the lines of a road plus or gravel bike.

Other requirements:

  • Able to fit full mudguards and rack
  • Easy maintenance and weather resistant
  • Focus more on comfort than speed.
  • Low key look (less likely to be stolen)

 

I'm looking to buy something maybe over the summer although I could wait till September.

In my research I have found a few models that look like they could meet the bill so any owners of these bikes I'd love to hear from!

 

Ribble CGR - seems to get great reviews everywhere I look and it is also very good value, I'm not a fan of the colour scheme though

Trek Crossrip 2 https://www.trekbikes.com/gb/en_GB/bikes/hybrid-bikes/urban-commuter-bik... Again seems a solid bike, but conspicuously no in depth reviews anywhere for it

Whyte Glencoe - Probably my favourite bike that I have seen on my internet searches. I like that it has wide tyres as potholes are a hazard on the countryside roads I prefer to cycle on. The 1x11 gearset also intrigues me! However, it's at the top end of my budget!

Lastly, the Kinesis Tripster AT sounds like it could potentially meet my needs (if I picked a cheaper groupset) However, this is complicated by the fact I would have no idea how to put it together!

 

Would love to hear people's thoughts on these bikes or any other suggestions you may have! 

19 comments

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ericf [7 posts] 5 months ago
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I have a Genesis Croix De Fer 20 with a pretty similar usage profile, and I love it. I rode it all through this past winter and I use it for daily commutes, errands, and longer rides (up to around 100k so far) on the weekends.

 

I did change out the wheels and tires on this bike -- first I replaced the front wheel with a custom built dynamo wheel, and I liked that so much that I also got a Velocity Aileron wheel for the back. That, and, smoother tires than the very gravel oriented ones it came with, did improve my ride and speed.

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Richbeck [29 posts] 5 months ago
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Pinnacle Arkose - I have 2017 Arkose 2 which is my everyday do anything bike - Arkose X 1x also looks good.

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Richbeck [29 posts] 5 months ago
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Out of budget but take a look at this too!

http://www.mossbikes.co.uk/bike/rolling-stone/

 

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DoctorFish [141 posts] 5 months ago
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Richbeck wrote:

Pinnacle Arkose - I have 2017 Arkose 2 which is my everyday do anything bike - Arkose X 1x also looks good.

+1  Really like mine (an Arkose 4).

 

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rdmp2 [52 posts] 5 months ago
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My commuter is also an Arkose- fitted with full mudguards and panniers. Good value, low key, easy maintenance. Cons- heavy, feels dull with marathons (but zero punctures in 4000 miles!). I really like the White bikes but quite spendy. The Glencoe looks fabulous but I can't figure out the geometry- stack and reach look more aggressive than eg Whyte Wessex? Semi-hydraulic brakes slight downgrade on full hydraulics. CrossRip looks like a nice frame but only get mechanical brakes not hydraulic. Ribble certainly not low key look! Kinesis also looks great if you can get it built up

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ClubSmed [701 posts] 5 months ago
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another +1 from me for the Arkose (I have a 2015 Arkose Three)

 

Of the bikes you listed I would either pick the Whyte Glencoe based on the excellent reviews if you want a pre-built bike. If however, you have a "fix your own bike" facility near you then I think the Tripster would be the better option. There are several "fix your own bike" facilities near me and they cost ~£4 an hour for use of tools, stands, grease/oil/lube and trained cycle mechanic knowledge. I built a bike from the frame using one of these services before I had the tools and stand. It is a great learning curve and invaluable as one of your requirements is about maintenance, if you can fully maintain it yourself then it is going to be easier to maintain.

 

It may also be worth finding out if the company you work for has a cycle to work scheme and what is available on that to save a little money.

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rdmp2 [52 posts] 5 months ago
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Just noticed no rear seat stay bridge on the Glencoe- mudguards have to be cable tied onto the seat stay? Pinnacle Pyrolite another possiblility if you want road plus. However £950 for Sora plus cable discs seems pricey compared to hydraulic Arkose models

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oxford_cycling_newb [7 posts] 5 months ago
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Thanks for the feedback all, looks like I should definitely consider the Arkose!

And seems like while people like the Whyte Glencoe, it seems to have lots of quirks which seem to be confusing people. I guess I won't find out until I see it or try it out! And of course waiting for the review on here too!

@ClubSmed

It would be fun to build it myself and really understand how everything works! Getting the frame and all the bits to the closest place would be a pain for me though! Maybe I should speak to my local bike shop, whether they would help me.

Just to confuse things I see that there will be a review of the Boardman ASR 8.9 soon on here which adds another bike to the mix!

 

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Daveyraveygravey [611 posts] 5 months ago
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oxford_cycling_newb wrote:

Thanks for the feedback all, looks like I should definitely consider the Arkose!

And seems like while people like the Whyte Glencoe, it seems to have lots of quirks which seem to be confusing people. I guess I won't find out until I see it or try it out! And of course waiting for the review on here too!

@ClubSmed

It would be fun to build it myself and really understand how everything works! Getting the frame and all the bits to the closest place would be a pain for me though! Maybe I should speak to my local bike shop, whether they would help me.

Just to confuse things I see that there will be a review of the Boardman ASR 8.9 soon on here which adds another bike to the mix!

 

 

I think some Kinesis dealers will build up bikes for you. I looked at an Aithein a few years ago and my local shop had a couple of different build deals depending on how much you wanted to spend on wheels and groupset.  This will probably blow our budget though.

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John_S [66 posts] 5 months ago
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Hi oxford_cycling_newb,

Glad to hear that you've been enjoying your cycling and have well and truly caught the bug.

Reading your wish list the first bike on my shortlist would be the Fairlight Faran.  It's from a British company and it's built as a multi purpose, versatile, go anywhere bike which is built with comfort in mind.

http://fairlightcycles.com/faran/?v=79cba1185463

It features the mounting points for mudguards & rack plus I would say that it's designed for comfort not speed as it's not a race machice with aggressive geometry.

http://fairlightcycles.com/faran-concept-design-notes/?v=79cba1185463

It's also a bit more low key than some of the bigger brands and whilst every single bike out there is a potential target for thieves potentially with this not being from one of the big name brands it might fall a little bit more under the radar compared to some other bikes out there?

It may well be at the top end of your budget but you'd be buying a well thought out bike and if you read for example about the paint finish on the bike the do give the frame treatment to try and protect it which is done to varying levels by other compaies but sometimes falls short of the mark.

For me personally, and this is probably why my next bike will a Fairlight, one of the biggest appeals of their bikes is the fact that they provide two different sized versions of each frame offering both a regular and a tall version.  Now although I've been cycling for a long time I've not had many bikes in that time and so I didn't know lots about bike fit and geometries when I bought one of my bikes. Despite the bike shop recommending the size to me I've never got on with it and discomfort problems are exasperbated with the longer the ride.

 

I've since come to realise that for my body shape and style of riding (primarilily everyday type riding with commuting, getting to shops and then occaisional longer rides including audax) I'm not personally a fan of a long stretched out riding position with a stem slammed low on a short top tube becaue I personally find it uncomfortable.   Don't worry if much of what I've said doesn't make any sense because you don't have to be an expert in geometry and bike fit for this to be important.  What you do want though, especially when you're spendng a lot of money, is a bike which is comfortable and fits you well.

 

Fairlight have a principle called Fit Form Function but basically what the Fit part of it means is that they offer both a regular and tall version of each of their frames meaning that their bikes will provide a good fit to a greater number of people.  The following video does a far better explanation of the idea than I ever could:-

https://vimeo.com/180866780

http://fairlightcycles.com/why-fairlight/fit-function-form/?v=79cba1185463

 

And you don't have to be an expert in order to figure out which frame size and version (regular or tall) is correct for you because all you do is select the model of bike that you want from the Fairlight website and then you can enter both your height and inside leg measurement and it will recommend which frame is best for you.

Not that the following article is a review of the Fairlight Faran model but it's a Road.cc review of their Strael bike and it will give you a flavour of what Fairlight bikes are about.

http://road.cc/content/review/240016-fairlight-cycles-strael-20

The reason that I've recommended their bikes is because for me personally rather than the particular specs of a bike including the groupset, finishing kit etc., or discount percentage available the most important thing for me with a bike (which I've discovered over time) is the fit and geometry of a bike as well as the functionaility in terms of will it do what you want of it without being a hassle.  For example is it easy to fit mudguards and racks to, does it take the tyre widths that I want to use etc..

http://www.cyclist.co.uk/reviews/2117/fairlight-faran-review

http://www.headsetpress.co.uk/fairlight-cycles-faran/

 

However if the Faran either does not appeal or does end up just over budget then here are some other options for consideration:-

 

Pinnacle Pyrolite:-

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jan/21/pinnacle-pyrolite-bike-review-a-frame-to-tame-the-wildest-yips-650b-adventure

http://www.sportive.com/cycling-reviews/536537/pinnacle-pyrolite-adventure-bike-review

 

The Kona Rove ST or DL models:-

http://www.konaworld.com/platform_rove.cfm

http://road.cc/content/tech-news/227994-kona-goes-650b-2018-rove-adventure-bike-choice-steel-or-aluminium

http://off.road.cc/content/news/first-look-kona-rove-dl-1552

 

The Lightblue Robinson:-

http://road.cc/content/review/174276-light-blue-robinson-rival-1x

http://www.thelightblue.co.uk/Sport/complete-bikes

 

Condor Fratello (this might fit your requirements but would probably be over budget by the time you get a complete bike)

https://www.condorcycles.com/collections/audax-commute-touring-bikes/products/condor-fratello-disc-frameset

 

Orro Terra:-

https://www.orrobikes.com/bikes/road/terra-gravel-road

 

Bombtrack Bikes

THis might be making too much of an assumption but given that your user name includes Oxford I wonder if you're from around that area.  If so the reason I mention it becuase one of Bombtrack's bikes might suit you and tehy're not widely available but there is a stockist in Oxford according to the distributors website:-

Bike Zone in Oxford:-

https://www.lyon.co.uk/outdoor/sobipro/4618-bike-zone-1

Bombtrack seem to be making a variety of bikes that include some all rounders but I'm not sure what they cost in the UK because they're not on sale from many places.

http://bombtrack.com/all-bikes/

 

Like you the forthcoming Boardman ASR 8.9 has caught my eye.  I think that it looks like a lovely bike.  However whether it will work for you or not may depend on the geometry of the bike and whether or not it's right for you.  Take for example the comments below this Road.cc article:-

http://road.cc/content/tech-news/229848-boardmans-new-urb-and-asr-commuter-bikes-now-shipping-out

If you take a look at some of the posts such as from Simon E they say:-

"ASR sizing is odd, a Small supposedly fits 5'8" to 5'10". That's even worse for shorter people than the other models in the Boardman range."

and javi_polo responded by saying:-

"I have been reviewing the geometry in Boardman's website and found that the stack-to-reach ratio is around 1.45/1.50 in all sizes. I kind of expected a more relaxed geometry from the press release."

I've since looked at the geomtry chart for the Boardman ASR 8.9 and for me personally the bike is a bit too racey in terms of it's geomtry and the position you'd have on it.

Sorry for all of the talk of geometry but I'd hate for anyone to be in a similar position that I found myself in a few years ago having spent quite a bit of money on a bike which in hindsight wasn't the right geomtry or fit for me based on my body shape and my style of riding.

 

Going back to the begginning if you're in London at all then I think that Swift Cyles sell Fairlight bikes:-

https://www.swiftcycles.co.uk

 

On of the best things that you can do is to get to as many bike shops as you can and try as many things as you can.  However that's not to say that a 15 minute test ride can tell you everything that you'd need to know about how a bike will feel over longer rides.

I don't know how close you are to Harrogate but even if you're not it could be well worth you giving Spa Cyles a call and describing to them your needs and your budget and they may well be able to recommend things to you to make a journey to visit them worthwhile:-

https://www.spacycles.co.uk

 

Good luck finding the right bike for you!

John

 

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jterrier [210 posts] 5 months ago
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Cant go wrong with an arkose, given all your criteria. The boardman asr also looks a bargain as you would expect. The glencoe looks great but is slightly leftfield tbh and may not have the broader range of abilities you require.

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zero_trooper [268 posts] 5 months ago
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The Pyrolite is nice, but you're paying a premium for 650b wheels methinks.

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oxford_cycling_newb [7 posts] 5 months ago
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@John_S Thanks that was quite a read!! Really grateful for the time you've put into it!!

And more support for the Pinnacle Arkose I see. At 10kg it's not really that much heavier than the competition from what I've seen.

I also spied the Pinnacle Dolomite range. Seems slightly less Road Plus, any experience of these from people?

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John_S [66 posts] 5 months ago
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Hi oxford_cycling_newb,

It's no problem at all becasue I'm happy to help if I can.  Also in the past I made the change from a flat bar hybrid bike to a drop bar bike and it felt very strange at first and I thought it would just take a bit of getting used to but over time I realised that in hindsight the geometry of the bike that I bought did not suit me at all especially on longer rides and I wish I'd of had a crystal ball to look into so that I could have bought a different bike.  If I had of known what I was getting myself in the first place I could have saved both time & money spent on trying to get a bike to fit/work for me if I'd have only known a bit more about geometry/bike fit at the time before buying it.

Anyway with you making a similar switch if you're considering a Pinnacle bike then I'd definitely get along to an Evans Cycles because they do have a fairly wide selction of bikes and I think that they're meant to be pretty good at letting you test ride them.  I'd test as many as you can to see how you get on with them and which ones you like.  However it is difficult to know what a bike will feel like after many hours riding compared to a quick 15 minute spin.  Having said that the test rides can't do any harm.

 

Regarding your current Merrida Crossway 20MD what size frame do you currently ride and what do you or don't you like about your position on the bike and is it comfortable?  Is it a position which you're looking to sort of replicate with something similar (however taking account of the change from flat bars to drops) or are you looking to get a more aggressive race orientated position on your next bike.  If it were me I'd recomend against jumping from a flat bar bike to a drop bar bike which has an aggressive race orientated position and I'd look at bikes with a more relaxed geometry.

Details on the geometry charts that you want to pay attention to are Reach (essentially how far you're going to have the reach for the bars) and the stack (now someone else will have a more factually correct and a much better definition than me but it's essentially related to the height of the bike at the front) plus it's also worth paying attention to the head tube length.

If for example you have the 52cm Merida Crossway 20MD that has the following:-

Reach = 397mm

Stack = 611mm

Head Tube Length = 135mm

Seat Tube Length = 520mm

 

If you look at the Arknose and the Medium frame it has:-

Reach = 387mm

Stack = 589.5mm

Head Tube Length = 155mm

Seat Tube Length = 510mm

 

If you look at the Boardman 8.9 ASR and the medium frame it has:-

Reach  = 397mm

Stack = 572mm

Head Tube Length = 160mm

Seat Tube Length = 530mm

 

Happy hunting for your next bike and if you can definitely try to get along to several local bikes shops and try as many as you can to see what feels right for you.

Good luck!

John

 

 

 

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Daveyraveygravey [611 posts] 5 months ago
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Definitely go to Evans if you have one nearby.  When I was looking two years ago they had the best demo system of any retailer.  They stock a wide range of brands too, a lot of local bike shops are dealers for one make only, and even though you can't go far wrong with any of the big brands, you want some choice.  Also a lot of the smaller bike shops only have demo models of the high end, £2.5k and up versions in the range.  I had a budget of £1600, and the £2.5k demo bike I rode was by far the best thing I had ever ridden, and very nearly had me justifying the extra spend! 

Evans will ask for your details and a deposit, to stop you riding off with whatever you try, but they can get anything they stock from their Gatwick warehouse in a few days, if they don't have a specific thing in the store.   A possible problem is Pinncale is their brand so they may try to convince you that is the only thing worth trying...

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John_S [66 posts] 5 months ago
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I'm not sure if Evans do the following but if they do here are a few more bikes that you could consider:-

Marin Gestalt 2:-

https://www.marinbikes.com/gb/bike-archive/bikes/2017-gestalt-2

http://off.road.cc/content/review/bikes/marin-gestalt-2-822

 

Surly Disc Trucker:-

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/disc_trucker

http://road.cc/content/review/66658-surly-disc-trucker

 

Surly Midnight Special:-

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/midnight_special

https://www.bikeradar.com/road/news/article/surly-midnight-special-pricing-details-availability-51760/

http://theradavist.com/2018/02/the-surly-midnight-special-is-truly-a-fat-tire-road-bike-morgan-taylor/#1

 

Sonder Camino (although they might possibly be direct sales only):-

https://www.alpkit.com/sonder/bikes/sonder-camino-al-sram-apex1-mechanical

http://off.road.cc/content/review/bikes/sonder-camino-al-apex-1-hydraulic-v2-gravel-adventure-bike-1304-review

 

If you want to read anymore (and my apologies if it's too much info so I understand if you don't) the following link to another forum post shows how another person found out how important the geometry and the reach & stack on a bike is to the comfort on the bike.

https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/endurance-gravel-cx-bike-reach-and-stack.229963/

 

Enjoy if you can get out there to some bike shops to try as many as you can!

John

 

 

 

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bigshape [183 posts] 5 months ago
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i have a dolomite - i think it can fit 32mm without guards, but deffo more of a road than all-road bike.

arkose is probably your best bet - better tyre clearance with guards so more options if you want to go into the wild.

maybe worth a look at charge bikes  plug as well? http://www.chargebikes.com/plug/ 

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John_S [66 posts] 5 months ago
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Hi,

Whilst thinking of the title of your post being "Do-Everything Bike Recommendations" I thought about having seen this video of people doing a bike tour of the Western Isles in Scotland whilst towing surf boards on trailers using their Fairlight Faran bikes.  The short film can be seen here:-

https://www.pannier.cc/journal/beyond-the-north-wind-tour-headwindhaters-film-bikesurfing

If that doesn't show a bike being capable of anything then I don't know what does because I'd certainly not seen someone towing a surfboard on a bike before but then maybe I'm living in the wrong place.

Or to see Fairlight Faran's being used in many more everday sort of bike tasks you can look here for plenty of examples or by searching #faran on Instagram as well.

https://www.instagram.com/fairlightcycles/?hl=en

Sorry for mentioing this bike again but I just think that the Fairlight bikes look great and in terms of functionaility they tick a lot of your wish list.

 

Alternatively if you want a relatively low maintenance bike (given that unfortunately no bike is 'no maintenance') have you considered a bike with an Internal Gear Hub (IGH) which means that you don't have to look after & clean the derailleur gears which, for example, can be an advantage if you do use the bike all year around in all weathers because in winter your gears are to some extent protected from the elements.  If you do look at IGH bikes you'll find lots more options on flat bar bikes than with drop bars.

Examples:-

Marin Nicasio RC:-

https://www.marinbikes.com/gb/bikes/nicasio-rc

Cube Travel SL:-

https://www.cube.eu/en/2018/bikes/trekking/tour/travel/cube-travel-sl-blacknblack-2018/

VSF T-500:-

https://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/en/katalog/trekking-2018/t-500-shimano-alfine-8-gang-disc-778

Some Canyon's:-

https://www.canyon.com/en-gb/urban/urban/#commuter

https://www.canyon.com/en-gb/urban/urban/#urban

Bombtrack Arise Geared:-

http://bombtrack.com/urban-2/arise-geared/

Genesis Day One:-

https://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/urban/urban-and-cross-utility/day-one/day-one-ltd

 

Or back to derailleur bikes I'll mention this one just because it's something that Evans will probably stock it:-

http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/auroraelite.html

 

Happy hunting!

John

 

 

 

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oxford_cycling_newb [7 posts] 5 months ago
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Thanks for the input, lots for me to look at  1 

You are doing a great job of selling the Fairlight!  3