But now, things are different. I've got the car and the tummy to go with it, so buying a bike becomes a sensible idea once more.
After talking to the two bicycling Chrises in my life I have come to the following conclusions:
- A recumbent is not suitable because I don't want to: a) break my legs; b) kill myself going up hills; and c) not see over the hedges
- Racing bikes are uncomfortable if you just want to toddle around like I do
- Touring bikes are probably in a similar class to racing bikes... on the plus side they have lots of storage space
- Mountain bikes are big, clunky and have unnecessary suspension (weight, effort up hills, etc.)
- Hybrid bikes... ah, I think we're onto something here
So, I want a hybrid bike. It'll hopefully be more practical for toddling around... I should be able to do tarmac and towpaths and the like.
So what do I want from a bike:
- Mostly on-road use (minor roads, country lanes, not the M3)
- Light off-road use (towpaths, well cycled paths and the like)
- Not getting covered in crap (also known as mudguards)
- Storage space (for cameras, lenses, film, waterproofs)
- Hopefully something that doesn't look like crap
(this is actually rather interesting as the last time I bought a bike my criteria where quite different. I wanted something to go off-road, that had no mudguards, no storage space, and *had* to look good)
Chris Gerhard ruled out a rather good looking Scott Sportster P1 I was eyeing up... it had front suspension. I was liking the fact I could lock or unlock it as required, but Chris convinced me it just adds weight. This got me thinking... logic tells me I want a nice light bike, but these days I doubt that the extra 2kg the suspension adds is really all that significant compared to putting me on top.
Anyway, since then I've decided to concentrate my research into a couple of different bikes. I basically picked a bike that looked suitable from a bunch of different manufacturers:
- Scott Sub 10 - looks nice, has all the spangly bits.
- Trek 7.5 FX (disc) - a little cheaper than the Sub 10, also with disc brakes. I don't know that these are really a plus or not.
- Dawes Discovery 601 - another nice looking bike, lots of people seem to say good things about Dawes. No disc brakes, but it specifically mentions mudguards and granny trolleys. I'm put off by the really low 'racer' rating Evans have given this bike. Sure, it's not a racing bike, but does a rating this low indicate I'm going to be achieving a maximum speed of 15mph? Probably not... from what I can tell, those Evans ratings are bollocks.
- Bianchi Camaleonte IV 105 - Evans gave this a way better racer rating; who knows why? I always found the tilty handlebars on my old bike quite comfortable for some things... not sure if this is a plus or not, does it indicate wider-than-average handlebars? Or the same size, but with less space for regular holding style?
This is about as complete as my list is so far. I just picked hybrid bikes that fit my price range. The next step is to go and pester Chrises and work from there.