Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    5

    Indecision on ~$500 Hybrid! Marin Fairfax v. Spcl Sirrus v. Gnt Rapid v. Jamis Coda

    I'm trying to decide among some hybrids or flat-bar road bikes at about $500, and would love some advice from the veterans.

    I'm a 28 year-old guy, 5'10", about 175, in decent shape, and have been putzing around on hybrids since college -- at least until I moved to L.A., and got in the awful habit of driving 2 blocks for coffee.

    Now I'm back in the Bay Area, and looking to get a solid bike to go for some weekend 10-30 mile rides around the Bay Area roads, both flat and hills. I'm not ready for a road bike, especially since I'll also be occasionally just riding around San Francisco, so I thought I'd get a hybrid geared more toward performance than comfort, or maybe what some salespeople have told me is a "flat bar road bike."

    There are four in particular I checked out and liked within my budget ($400-$600), and would appreciate any insight on them:

    2009 Marin Fairfax (19"). ($499 at Marin Factory store; aluminum frame w/ carbon fork; derailer: shimano sora; crankset: TruVativ Touro 3.0; rims: Alex DC-19 (28c)). I liked that this is (supposedly) a road bike with just a more comfortable flat bar. It seemed pretty light and put together.

    2010 Specialized Sirrus (54 cm). ($469 at LBS; aluminum frame; derailer: shimano altus; crankset: shimano FCM-191; rims: Alex S500 (32c)). Seems very light and comfortable, but I wonder what I'm losing with not getting the carbon fork of the Marin?

    2010 Giant Rapid 3 (medium). ($550 at LBS; aluminum frame; derailer: shimano sora; crankset: FSA Tempo; rims: Giant Sport Road (28c)). This was very comfortable, but I wasn't sure about the seat or the shifting.

    2009 Jamis Coda (19"). ($430 at Sports Basement; steel frame; derailer: shimano acera M360; crankset: FSA alloy triple; rims: Alex ID-19 (28c)). So everyone is doing the lighter aluminum in this price range it seems, but I have to say, I love the sturdiness of this bike, even if I pick up some weight. Felt very smooth.

    I also checked out a Gary Fisher Monona, but had to ride a 17" and didn't get a good idea about it, and the Raleigh FT1 Alysa, which was nice but I felt a little too upright.

    I read in one of the sticky posts that, at this price point, there's not going to be a lot of difference, so perhaps I should just figure out what feels best.

    Two other random questions: 1) Any way to get a "standard" weight on these bikes? Seems like the manufacturers zealously guard this since it varies so much with components. 2) Any good websites that offer some reviews on all these?

    I really appreciate the help. It's great to have experts here helping us newbies get introduced to the sport. Thanks again.

  2. #2
    Cycling induced anoesis
    Reputation: PJ352's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    12,252
    In this price range I think the bikes you've highlighted are all fine choices. Fit, and as you say, what feels best is important, so some assistance with sizing and fitting at the bike shops, then test rides will go a long way in helping you narrow the field.

    You're right that in this price range differences aren't great, but they do exist.

    Some highlights:
    The Jamis is a full steel frameset, which to some would be considered a plus (has that 'steel is real', lively ride) with 28c tires.

    The Sirrus uses a full alu frameset and Shimano crankset (a plus over the FSA's, IMO). Uses 32c tires (slightly smoother ride).

    The Giant uses an alu frame with chromoly fork. A little unusual, but not a bad combo. May help to smooth the ride a little, but that's conjecture on my part. Uses 28c tires.

    As you noted, the Marin has an alu frame with CF fork and 28c tires.

    All are 8 speed/ triple crankset drivetrains with varying length warranties, if that's a concern to you. Specialized, Jamis and Giant offer lifetime warranties. Marin (as far as I can tell) maxes out at 5 years for some frames.

    To answer your two questions... published weights are going to be hard to find on this type of bike. Jamis claims the Coda is about 26 lbs., so I'd guess you're going to be between 24 and 27 lbs., but bike weight (of this range) will have minimal impact on your performance, but the 'motor' will.

    Lastly, do a google search on the bikes of interest with the word review after them and/ or check out the Road Bike Reviews here.

  3. #3
    More Miles...
    Reputation: LMWEL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    292
    I'm partial because I have wanted one since I first saw it , but I would get the Rapid . Its really just a road bike with flat bars . SWEEET !!

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    5
    Thanks for the detailed info, PJ. I wonder if I should be a little way of the Giant -- thin 28c tires plus no carbon fork mean a lot of vibration and discomfort? My favorite rides are in the hills above Berkeley and Palo Alto, plus some SF city streets -- and none of those are particularly smooth. And I doubt given CA's current budget climate that we'll be seeing much repaving in the near future.

  5. #5
    Cycling induced anoesis
    Reputation: PJ352's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    12,252
    Quote Originally Posted by earlwarren
    Thanks for the detailed info, PJ. I wonder if I should be a little way of the Giant -- thin 28c tires plus no carbon fork mean a lot of vibration and discomfort? My favorite rides are in the hills above Berkeley and Palo Alto, plus some SF city streets -- and none of those are particularly smooth. And I doubt given CA's current budget climate that we'll be seeing much repaving in the near future.
    You're welcome!

    If comfort is a priority, I think the steel Coda should move up on your list, but if you prefer to run 32c tires, I think most if not all of these bikes can accomodate them, but check with the dealers to be sure.

    The Sirrus is spec'd with 32c tires and the Marin has a CF fork, so both of them would be second on my list. And yes, although the Giant uses a steel fork, the alu frame and 28c tires wouldn't put it at the top of a comfort list, but with 32c tires it might still be worth a look.

    Although hybrids are generally easier to size/ fit riders, I still urge you to visit some reputable LBS's, get sized/ fitted to some of these models and take them out on the roads for test rides. IME It's the best way to help you decide what fits and feels best.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    31
    My son and I shopped for similar bikes. He bought the Jamis Coda and I went with a Trek 7.3. We loved both of our bikes for different reasons. I was always impressed with how smooth the Coda felt. The Coda felt very stable and I love the looks of the thinner steel frame. I felt the Trek was lighter and more responsive. I have since sold my Trek and have purchased a road bike. Don't count out the road bike too fast.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    5
    Thanks for all the insight to everyone -- it's been very helpful.

    In the meantime, I've narrowed it down to two!

    I took each bike for about a 30m ride today. In case anyone had some last-minute thoughts, and in the interests of anyone else facing a similar decision in the future, I thought I'd share some brief conclusions. (Despite the colorful prose, all differences struck me as pretty minute).

    Giant Rapid 3. This is one fast bike. I rode around Golden Gate Park, and was blowing by cars (at least at stop signs). It felt very sleek and efficient. The problem is, every little bump in the road was like a dagger into my arms and nether regions. The steel fork doesn't seem to add anything but a pound or two of weight, and I got a little tingling in the hands on some downhills. The shifting was just OK, and the saddle was as rigid as a MUNI seat. It clocked in at 26 lbs on a bathroom scale.

    If my life depended on winning a race on a (recently) paved stretch of Grizzly Peak, I'd opt for this bike. But I'd probably need 3 ice packs afterward. Final grade: 7.4/10.

    Specialized Sirrus. This is one comfy bike. I like the grips, like the saddle, and the slightly wider 32c tires seem to smooth it out more. It felt a bit slower though -- maybe a combination of the tires and the more upright position? The shifting was just OK. The lack of bar ends and an adjustable stem was a bummer. It weighed 25 lbs. Final grade: 7.5/10.

    Marin Fairfax. This bike seemed to combine the best of the Rapid and the Sirrus. The solid build and the carbon fork sucked up a lot of the vibration, even going down a torn-up Folsom Street. It seemed like a perfect fit for my body geometry, and I like that I can adjust the stem. It shifted quite well (better than the same sora component on the Giant; strange), and felt pretty nimble and sleek. I like that Marin offers life-time free service for all tune-ups and gear upgrades, and the guys in the factory were super helpful and patient. It weighed a little under 25 lbs. Final grade: 7.8/10.

    If I had to pick among the prior three, I'd go Marin, easy. But then I rode....

    Jamis Coda. This bike is super sturdy and smoooooth....like Billy Dee Williams. The steel frame just feels so solid and put together, and I was cruising over parking-lot ruts out by the Marina without feeling much of anything. Had great geometry for me, and the shifting was like butter, maybe even a hair better than the Marin (Shimano Acera M360 rear derailer). However, the steel frame meant it weighed in at 29 lbs -- about 5 lbs heavier than the Fairfax. On a flat surface, I didn't notice (the momentum means you don't, I guess; it's been a while since college physics), but I could feel the weight a little when accelerating, when going uphill, and when going against the wind -- at least compared to the Marin. I'm bummed the stem isn't adjustable since I feel a little high, and no bar ends disappoints, plus the seat is a little stiff. I'm also not the biggest fan of Sports Basement, where I'd be buying it -- just b/c I feel like I'd get better service at the Marin Factory. But it is $70 cheaper than the Fairfax. Final grade: 7.8/10.

    I'm not sure how to choose between the two. Maybe I need one more ride on each. Or maybe I need to figure out what kind of riding I'll really be doing.

    It seems to me that, if I'm riding up on a nice secluded road in Tahoe or above Palo Alto or Berkeley, the Marin is the one that I want.

    If I'm cruising SF city streets, or ducking into the Presidio or Golden Gate Park on some well-traveled roads, the Jamis Coda is my guy.

    Problem is, I expect to do be doing a little of all of that. That's the dilemma -- but I probably can't go wrong with either, can I?

    If anyone had some last-minute ideas on differences between the two, or what I should be thinking about, I'd love to hear it, but otherwise, thanks again for everything.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    31
    You've done some great comparison shopping, good job. Which bike do you like the looks of? IMO, I like the retro look of the Jamis and the special feel of steel. If it is $70 cheaper, then you will be able to purchase some accessories for your bike as well. Pull the trigger and start having some fun.

  9. #9
    Cycling induced anoesis
    Reputation: PJ352's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    12,252
    Quote Originally Posted by earlwarren
    Thanks for all the insight to everyone -- it's been very helpful.

    In the meantime, I've narrowed it down to two!

    I took each bike for about a 30m ride today. In case anyone had some last-minute thoughts, and in the interests of anyone else facing a similar decision in the future, I thought I'd share some brief conclusions. (Despite the colorful prose, all differences struck me as pretty minute).

    Giant Rapid 3. This is one fast bike. I rode around Golden Gate Park, and was blowing by cars (at least at stop signs). It felt very sleek and efficient. The problem is, every little bump in the road was like a dagger into my arms and nether regions. The steel fork doesn't seem to add anything but a pound or two of weight, and I got a little tingling in the hands on some downhills. The shifting was just OK, and the saddle was as rigid as a MUNI seat. It clocked in at 26 lbs on a bathroom scale.

    If my life depended on winning a race on a (recently) paved stretch of Grizzly Peak, I'd opt for this bike. But I'd probably need 3 ice packs afterward. Final grade: 7.4/10.

    Specialized Sirrus. This is one comfy bike. I like the grips, like the saddle, and the slightly wider 32c tires seem to smooth it out more. It felt a bit slower though -- maybe a combination of the tires and the more upright position? The shifting was just OK. The lack of bar ends and an adjustable stem was a bummer. It weighed 25 lbs. Final grade: 7.5/10.

    Marin Fairfax. This bike seemed to combine the best of the Rapid and the Sirrus. The solid build and the carbon fork sucked up a lot of the vibration, even going down a torn-up Folsom Street. It seemed like a perfect fit for my body geometry, and I like that I can adjust the stem. It shifted quite well (better than the same sora component on the Giant; strange), and felt pretty nimble and sleek. I like that Marin offers life-time free service for all tune-ups and gear upgrades, and the guys in the factory were super helpful and patient. It weighed a little under 25 lbs. Final grade: 7.8/10.

    If I had to pick among the prior three, I'd go Marin, easy. But then I rode....

    Jamis Coda. This bike is super sturdy and smoooooth....like Billy Dee Williams. The steel frame just feels so solid and put together, and I was cruising over parking-lot ruts out by the Marina without feeling much of anything. Had great geometry for me, and the shifting was like butter, maybe even a hair better than the Marin (Shimano Acera M360 rear derailer). However, the steel frame meant it weighed in at 29 lbs -- about 5 lbs heavier than the Fairfax. On a flat surface, I didn't notice (the momentum means you don't, I guess; it's been a while since college physics), but I could feel the weight a little when accelerating, when going uphill, and when going against the wind -- at least compared to the Marin. I'm bummed the stem isn't adjustable since I feel a little high, and no bar ends disappoints, plus the seat is a little stiff. I'm also not the biggest fan of Sports Basement, where I'd be buying it -- just b/c I feel like I'd get better service at the Marin Factory. But it is $70 cheaper than the Fairfax. Final grade: 7.8/10.

    I'm not sure how to choose between the two. Maybe I need one more ride on each. Or maybe I need to figure out what kind of riding I'll really be doing.

    It seems to me that, if I'm riding up on a nice secluded road in Tahoe or above Palo Alto or Berkeley, the Marin is the one that I want.

    If I'm cruising SF city streets, or ducking into the Presidio or Golden Gate Park on some well-traveled roads, the Jamis Coda is my guy.

    Problem is, I expect to do be doing a little of all of that. That's the dilemma -- but I probably can't go wrong with either, can I?

    If anyone had some last-minute ideas on differences between the two, or what I should be thinking about, I'd love to hear it, but otherwise, thanks again for everything.
    All in all I think you did a great job in narrowing your choices, but will offer what I hope assists you in narrowing the field further.

    While fit and feel are very important (and numbness is a sign of a fit issue), don't fret about a less than optimum saddle (easily swapped out), lack of bar ends (easily added), sub par shifting (99% chance it's a simple adjustment issue) and lack of an adjustable stem (also easily added). Most of these items can be addressed by your LBS for free or a minimal charge. Also, if the finalist ends up being a bike OEM'd with 28c tires - and that matters to you - there's a good chance it'll accomodate 32c's, but that has to be verified.

    Bottom line, IMO focus on fit/ feel, ride and handling because although fit can be tweaked, the geometry of the frameset isn't going to change. And I know you'd want to combine all the attributes of the bikes into one, but I think you're down to the Marin and Coda, just gotta fall on one side or the other.

    HTH.

  10. #10
    Low rep power
    Reputation: saf-t's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    6,192
    Picked up a Sirrus on CL for Kid # 2 a couple of weeks ago, and was impressed at how nice it seems for a mid-range hybrid. Just sayin'.

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    5
    Thanks. I understand the Marin can accommodate 23c to 40c tires. So does that mean if it's a little bumpy for my taste, I can just go to 32c and that'll lead to a perceptible difference? I guess I'm wondering how important each "level" of tire is to the overall feel as you go from narrower to wider.

    Also, SAF-T, no knock on the Sirrus! I'd be happy to get it as a gift. This is all minor stuff. I really liked it -- particularly more than the Trek FX line, which the same LBS shop carrier.

    Finally, CO-Pedaler, it's interesting about the looks! I've heard a couple people say that looks matter -- which I find strange, although it makes sense from a psychological perspective. I actually like the sleek look of the Marin.

    It's kind of interesting along those lines -- I had a Marin several years ago that I loved, plus they're a local company which I like, so I wonder if that means I need to be wary of being "biased" toward them based on non-riding factors....or I should just embrace what my inner irrational psyche is saying?

  12. #12
    Cycling induced anoesis
    Reputation: PJ352's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    12,252
    Quote Originally Posted by earlwarren
    Thanks. I understand the Marin can accommodate 23c to 40c tires. So does that mean if it's a little bumpy for my taste, I can just go to 32c and that'll lead to a perceptible difference? I guess I'm wondering how important each "level" of tire is to the overall feel as you go from narrower to wider.

    Also, SAF-T, no knock on the Sirrus! I'd be happy to get it as a gift. This is all minor stuff. I really liked it -- particularly more than the Trek FX line, which the same LBS shop carrier.

    Finally, CO-Pedaler, it's interesting about the looks! I've heard a couple people say that looks matter -- which I find strange, although it makes sense from a psychological perspective. I actually like the sleek look of the Marin.

    It's kind of interesting along those lines -- I had a Marin several years ago that I loved, plus they're a local company which I like, so I wonder if that means I need to be wary of being "biased" toward them based on non-riding factors....or I should just embrace what my inner irrational psyche is saying?
    If you find that 28c tires transmit just a little too much road feedback, all you need do is drop the tire pressure by about 5-10%. Most riders find the difference perceptible. Also, Michelin publishes a chart that you can use as a guideline to properly inflate your tires based on weight. The moral of this story is that you have some options open to you before swapping out the OEM 28c's for 32c's. And if the drop in pressure isn't enough, then consider going to 32c's.

    I've found that most posters here on the forum have their preferences of brands/ models, mostly because those particular bikes work well for them. IMO there's nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as there remains a level of objectivity that enables a buyer to see some good in other brands. I think you've demonstrated a willingness to be open to many brands, so if in the end you go with Marin, you'll at least be doing so with eyes wide open (to what else was 'out there').

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    5
    Made a decision! Went with the Marin Fairfax after a final (long) test ride. It edged out the Jamis because it felt just a little more nimble and fitted to my geometry -- and the carbon fork made it awfully (though not quite) comparable to the Jamis in the smooth/sturdy department.

    I'm stoked about the new bike -- I just wish we weren't dealing with rain and tsunamis in the Bay Area otherwise I'd take it for a ride right now around the Bay.

    Thanks to everybody for your generous help and advice. It really helped me understand not only the differences among the bikes, but exactly what I'm getting with the Marin. I feel like I'll go into my next bike purchase 10x wiser already. Thanks again.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    29
    very good choice. i also have the marin fairfax 2008 model and previously had a highway 1, and am satisfied with their performance. you can also upgrade components later on. happy riding

  15. #15
    Resident Curmudgeon
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    14,094
    You did a great job of shopping. Many folks just buy the 1st bike they see, or buy the color they like. You took your time, rode each a couple of times, and went with your feelings. Good on you.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  16. #16
    Cycling induced anoesis
    Reputation: PJ352's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    12,252
    Congrats on the new bike, earl!!

    I agree that you did a good job researching, asking questions, test riding (and keeping an open mind). I think it paid dividends because you ended up with the best bike for you!!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Sea Otter Classic

Hot Deals

Contest


Latest RoadBike Articles


Latest Videos

RoadbikeReview on Facebook