Value for money
Trek 7.2 €550
THIS IS a fitness bike and Trek’s most popular bike. The company says it is popular among “roadies, commuters, fitness freaks, errand runners, Sunday riders”. Apparently “everyone loves the FX”. Not everyone, Trek. We were a little disappointed. Maybe it is because we were spoiled by the suspension forks on two of its rivals, but we found cycling this to be just a little jarring. It is not a bad bike by any means – hardly a surprise when you look at the price – but it is not in any way special, and we struggled to see how the company could justify the price. It does come with puncture-resistant tyres and it has an aluminium frame, which makes it more lightweight than some of its rivals. We still reckon it is too dear, though. It also looks very flash, which is not exactly what you might be looking for in a commuting bike.
Verdict:A little disappointing
Star rating: **
Dawes X02 €579
YOU WAIT years for a bike with front suspension forks to come along and then two come at once. This is very similar to the Gary Fisher bike we tried and equally comfortable dealing with unexpected bumps and holes in the road, but it has the edge because it costs €120 less. It is a hybrid but is probably best used as a city commuting bike as opposed to on some kind of mad rocky terrain. It is very comfortable to cycle, slips from high to low gears and back again effortlessly, the brakes are very sharp and it looks more expensive than it is – but who wants their bike to look expensive when having a cheap and cheerful appearance is one of the best ways to protect against bike theft?
Verdict:The one for us
Star rating: ****
Jupiter Tuscan €295
THIS IS absolutely grand without being in any way special. It has alloy forks and a lightweight alloy hybrid frame, which makes it an ideal commuter bike. It is not the most comfortable bike when dealing with rough terrain and it turned into a bit of a bone-shaker on the cobblestones of Temple Bar. It uses the Shimano Tourney gear mechanism, which is supposed to be ultra-reliable. Not knowing a whole lot about gear mechanisms, we have to take the experts’ word for that – but we can say the gear changes were very efficient.
Verdict: Good value
Star rating: ****
Rothar reconditioned bike €179
THIS LOOKS so tatty that it will be less attractive to bike thieves. The positioning of the handlebars and the saddle force you into an upright position, which we were not keen on, but it’s tough and will keep you moving for a long time. It lacks all the bells and whistles to be found elsewhere, however and is nowhere near as comfortable to cycle. At just €179 it is the cheapest bike we tried. If you are going to commute on your bike and park it in public places, then a second-hand number from Rothar might just be the way to go.
Verdict:Very good value
Star rating: ****
Gary Fisher 8.3 Dual Sport €699
THIS WAS our very first experience of a front-suspension hybrid bicycle and we have to say we were most impressed. It made mounting kerbs (not that we would ever do such a thing, no siree Bob) and dealing with potholes a delight or, if not a delight, at least not a bone-shuddering experience. The disc brakes performed admirably well when we had to stop suddenly while barrelling down Dublin’s Gardiner Street in the lashing rain and the gear changing was effortless, even when we were moving at a snail’s pace up the same hill hours later. The suspension forks do add some weight to the bike and are another thing that can potentially go wrong with it. At €700 it is not cheap and when we checked the US price we were somewhat miffed to see it cost $700, or about €150 less than the Irish price.
Verdict:Comfortable, sturdy, dear
Star rating: ***