Looking for Advice: Selecting a New Bicycle

The reaction on the post about what to do with my aging bike appears to be strongly in favor of replacing it. So, I’ve been exploring possible replacements. The world of bicycles has changed drastically from when I last bought a bike in the 1970s. Back then, there were just a few manufacturers (Schwinn, Raleigh, Peuguot, Motobecane). There were just a few styles: the heavier steel road bikes (single or 3-speed) and the derailleurs (10-speeds). So, most of the adult bikes were the 10-speeds, with pull brakes and friction shifting. If you were looking for anything, you were looking for light—aluminum frames and such.

But today, oy, today! There are so many different styles and things to look for. Most of the manufacturers I knew are gone, and the ones that survived are the ones I wouldn’t use (Schwinn, Raleigh, (ahem) Huffy). I have some rough ideas what I want, but I have no idea what the style is called. Basically, I’m looking for a bike with a fair number of gears (to handle the hilly northern part of the San Fernando Valley), a decent suspension and tires (to handle Los Angeles’ poor quality street maintenance), good brakes, and upright riding position with straight handlebars (not the bend-over curved handlebars of the old 10-speeds). I’d like a comfortable seat, and the ability to add a rack.

Given we have an REI membership and they appear to have great prices, I’ve been doing some preliminary triage of what models they have available. The models that appear to be of interest are:

A second-tier possibility at REI is the Cannondale Bad Boy ($589.93). If I consider locally-based companies, I’d add the Giant Suede DX, as Giant is based in Newbery Park, CA—however Giant isn’t carried by REI.

ETA: Looking at the Marin line at REI, some possibilities are the Marin Fairfax ($593.93) or the Marin Lucas Valley ($719.93), although I don’t seem to see as glowing reviews for the Marins, and there are more reports of tire problems.

ETAA: Additional Giant possibilities: Giant Escape 1. Charlie rides a Trek 7000. In addition to REI, look at Bicycle Den on San Fernando Mission in GH (they carry Giant), and Reseda Bicycles on Reseda (they carry Trek)

Once I figure out the most likely models, I plan to go and do some test rides (perhaps Thursday after Rosh Hashana morning services). Once I decide on the model, I’ll probably add front and rear lights, a trip computer, and see if I can move my lock and water-bottle brackets over from my current bike.

So, here’s where I’d like some opinions:

  • Are there any current manufacturers you should recommend? Ones I should avoid?
  • Any comments on the models I’m considering?
  • Any models or particular bikes I should add to the short list?

Thanks in advance for any inputs you can provide.