The Chainlink

Buying my first "real" bike. Need help making final decision!

I've been lurking this great community for awhile and I look forward to being able to contribute! As I mentioned, I am a newbie and have so much to learn about bikes/biking. I've learned so much just from reading everyone's posts. I've narrowed my first "real" bike purchase to 3 different bikes and I don't understand all of the specs completely. I've ridden all 3 and really like them all. All are within $50 of each other. All are 2014 models and I'd love any help on telling the difference between certain specs and also which one is the most "future proof." Quick background, I won't be commuting daily with the bike. I live in Chicago and it will be all urban riding with minimal hills. I'm 5'9, 180lbs. Thanks in advance! Here are the final contenders.

1. Cannondale Quick 4
Cannondale Quick 4 (b2) - Kozy's Chicago Bike Shops | Chicago Bike ...

Specs
Frame - Cannondale 6061-aluminum
Fork - Cannondale Quick carbon blades
Rims/Wheels - Element Xero C3
Hubs See Rims/Wheels
Spokes See Rims/Wheels
Tires - Kenda KwickTrax, 700 x 32c
Crankset - Shimano
Chainrings - 48/38/28
Front Derailleur - Shimano Altus
Rear Derailleur - Shimano Alivio
Rear Cogs - SunRace, 8-speed: 11-32
Shifters - Shimano
Handlebars - Cannondale C4
Tape/Grips - Cannondale Ergo Performance lock-on
Stem - Cannondale C4
Brake Levers - Cannondale C3
Brakes - Cannondale C4 mini linear-pull
Pedals - Quick composite platform
Saddle - Cannondale Quick Ergo Performance
Seatpost - Cannondale C4 aluminum

2. Cannondale Bad Boy 9
Cannondale Bad Boy 9 - Kozy's Chicago Bike Shops | Chicago Bike Sto...

Specs
Frame - Cannondale Bad Boy aluminum
Fork - Cannondale Fatty
Rims/Wheels - Cannondale C3
Hubs - Cannondale C4 Disc
Spokes - Black stainless-steel, 15g
Tires - WTB Freedom ThickSlick, 700 x 28c
Crankset - Shimano
Chainrings - 48/38/28
Front Derailleur - Shimano Altus
Rear Derailleur - Shimano Alivio
Rear Cogs - SunRace, 8-speed: 11-32
Shifters - Shimano
Handlebars - Cannondale C4
Tape/Grips - Cannondale Luxe Leather, lock-on
Stem - Cannondale C4
Brake Levers - Cannondale C4
Brakes - Cannondale Mechanical Disc
Pedals - Platform
Saddle - Cannondale Bad Boy Urban
Seatpost - Cannondale C4

3. Raleigh Misceo 2.0
Raleigh 2014 Misceo 2.0 Cross Bike

Frame - AL-6061 Custom Formed Butted Aluminum Tubes
Fork - 4130 Chromoly w/Disc Tabs
Shifters - Shimano ST-M310 Rapidfire Plus 8spd
Front Derailleur - Shimano Acera
Rear Derailleur - Shimano Acera
Brakes - Tektro Novela Mechanical Disc, 160mm Rotors
Brake - Levers Shimano ST-M310
Cranks - Shimano FC-M311 28/38/48t w/Chainguard
Cassette - Shimano 8spd (11-32t)
Bottom Bracket Sealed Cartridge Square Taper
Chain - KMC 8spd
Hubs - Joytech Alloy Disc QR 32h
Spokes - 14g Stainless Steel
Rims - Weinmann XC260 Double Wall
Tires - Kenda K-192 w/PRC Antipuncture and K-Shield 700x38c
Headset - Ahead 1-1/8 inch
Stem - Raleigh 100 Series Alloy Ahead 4-Bolt 7 degrees
Handlebars - Raleigh Alloy Riser 640/15mm, 31.8
Grips - Raleigh MTB Grip
Saddle - Raleigh 200 Series w/Satin Steel Rails
Seat Post - Raleigh 100 Series 27.2x400mm

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Cdale BB9.

Stronger wheels, I wouldn't do the small spoke count on the Quick 4 for commuting or city riding (potholes). That and disc brakes are better than rim, not that rim can't do the job. BB9 over the Misceo due to curved frame. Can't mount stuff as well and will flex more, not that those are deal breakers.

Thanks for the thoughtful replies! This is the exact type of feedback I was hoping to get. Would have never known about the spoke issue otherwise. Any other bikes in that $600-$700 range I am missing. How important is the difference between acera and alivio?
Cannondale Quick 4 (b2) w/higher spoke count wheels & w/hi-vis trim. $620.50

Jeremy, hello and welcome to the Chainlink. Thank you for contributing to a discussion and being active here on the CL. Lurking is just no fun. As a fellow "lurker/newbie" myself, I've learned a few things here also.

I am a lifelong cyclist. All my life, every bike i've ever owned has been a "real" bike to me. From the Sears bike w/training wheels that my late father taught how to ride on, through the Huffys, Schwinns, Mongooses, Treks, etc. . . All of these bikes have been "real" bikes to me. Perhaps the term "upgraded" bike is more fitting.

You didn't (nor did anyone else) mention: lights, helmets or locks.  This is correct as you do not need any of those items at all.

Point taken Tom. My bike from target is real. It's just real hard to ride too. Looks like I have votes for all 3 "upgraded" bikes. That is part of what makes the decision difficult! @Haddon I don't think anyone mentioned accessories because I was asking about the actual bikes. To be fair, if I was asking about a car's engine, responding with "Don't forget the floor mats!" may be missing the point of the discussion.

Jeremy - Given the difficulty picking a bike, might I recommend a used beater for the time being? It will be a cheap way to learn what you like, what you don't, and give you a chance to learn some bicycle mechanics prior to your long time purchase. And when you buy new, you will have a beater spare for winter, rain, and leaving on the street. It is unlikely that this bike, whichever you choose, will be your last.

http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/bik/4865448307.html

Of the three I'd probably pick the Bad Boy.  I don't know anything about that model of brake, but discs are nice in that you avoid rim wear and brake rub if they go a bit out of true.  I would also avoid low spoke counts, especially on lower end wheels.  Components are pretty similar other than wheels, tires, and brakes. 28s on the BB should be lighter than the others, and should be fine for what you're planning.  The 38s on the Raleigh would probably be better for getting through road debris without punctures, but they weigh about 50% more than the WTBs on the BB.  It will be more fun to ride with lighter tires but flat protection is nice if you have to ride through a lot of junk.

I'd be patient and look for something used myself.  There's a virtually new Quick on craigslist for $400.  I think it's too big for you but if you're patient you can find what you want and let someone else eat 1/3 of the retail cost in initial depreciation.

 

For what it's worth - I'd eliminate the Quick due to the rim brakes and lower spoke count wheels.  Discs are better in all around weather, etc., and also more "future proof."  Between the Raleigh and The C'dale BB, personally I'd go with the the BB for the reasons Mark S gave, above.  Unless you'll be carrying heavy loads over severely rutted, pot-holed streets, the lighter wheels will hold up just fine as long as you keep the tires well inflated and make a decent effort to avoid the worst of the pot holes and broken pavement.  If you think you'll be an avid winter rider, check to see if the frame-brakes-rims set up will accept 32mm tires.

All three have more gear ratios than any Chicago commuter bike needs, but I'm guessing you'll be riding recreationally as well, and you never know what that will bring.   Which ever you pick, ride the wheels off it without regret.  Enjoy!

@Mark @Frank Thanks for the feedback. Hugely helpful! Sounds like the Bad Boy is the way to go. With all of the talk about gearing. Other than fixed gear bikes, what is most appropriate for city biking. I won't be riding up and down the great mountain ranges of Illinois with this thing. 

 What's appropriate for you will be different than for me, I'd guess.  My bikes are all over the place, anywhere from 1 to 20.  Commuting I usually ride my Gitane with flip flop one-speed / fixie rear wheel, but mostly because it's simple and has lights and fenders.  When it gets really windy, you'll appreciate the wide range - not that you'll use all the in betweens - but the lower and higher gears are better than on any internal hub.  And when the weather is really nice, I ride a regular road bike, take the long way home, actively try to catch a hill or two, and enjoy running through every gear at least once.

In short, I wouldn't worry about it at all.  Experiment and find what works best for you, then continue to play around when things are more casual.

Why buy new?

You're not commuting? What are you doing with the bike? Why a hybrid?

What I see happening a lot with newbs is they buy a new mountain or hybrid and really get into riding but then realize they want a road bike so they can do group rides and keep up.

You'd be better off buying an inexpensive used road or hybrid bike and getting into cycling and then figure out what you want.

Also, winter is a great time to buy used or new. I have two friends who scored $2k bikes new used for $500 and  $800. These are Dura Ace/Ultegra bikes. Great deals. Be patient grasshopper.

Do you have a knowledgeable friend who can help you shop used?

I love gears and use the heck out of all of them even on relatively flat ground. Gear haters are just "cork sniffers" more concerned with esthetics than performance. Will you NEVER engage a hill? Only ride one medium speed?

Personally I started out with a flat bar bike and quickly wanted (and moved to) a drop bar bike. For me, if I'm on the bike more than five minutes, I want to switch hand positions. You can always ride on the tops flat bar style but have so many other options. If you go with the flat bar you can add a set of nice grips to add another hand position I recommend these.

Fixed gears are only good for TRACK RACING and are not "good" for any thing but being "cool" when used in the city. One of the first technologies added to bicycles was the ability to coast. Do you see any one walking around in animal skins and claiming it's better than modern clothing?

Jeremy said:

@Mark @Frank Thanks for the feedback. Hugely helpful! Sounds like the Bad Boy is the way to go. With all of the talk about gearing. Other than fixed gear bikes, what is most appropriate for city biking. I won't be riding up and down the great mountain ranges of Illinois with this thing. 

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