Choosing My First Bicycle

This, my 45th year, is the year I learn to ride a bike. After months of research and consultation, I’ve narrowed it down to Trek’s Navigator series. So, it’s time to pick one and get on my bike.

Why learn now? It’s pretty simple: To get around town more, enjoy city sights like Schuylkill Banks and the Ben Franklin Bridge, and find a form of exercise I don’t hate. Philadelphia is an up-and-coming bike town thanks to groups like the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and it would be crazy not to take advantage of the cross-town bike lanes a block from my home.

This time I overcame the previous week’s GPS FAIL. Turns out that Valley Forge BikeLine inhabits what was once my favorite suburban Chinese (with dumplings!) buffet joint. The real-life intel I gathered was great thanks to the very helpful Joel, but he raised some interesting points, and I headed back to the Internet for more research.

At first I liked the 1.0’s basic feature set and not-overwhelming 8 speeds. Joe the Realtor made a good argument as we stuffed ourselves at Percy Street Barbecue: The best bike is just a few more billable hours; more gadgets and more comfort will probably encourage me to ride more. Plus those unforgiving Philly streets make the 1.0’s lack of suspension much less appealing. Sometimes simpler isn’t better.

And then there were two. The 2.0 and 3.0 use the same frame, but most of the 3.0’s components are a step up from the 2.0’s. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s demonstrably better for a newbie like me. I can’t appreciate the subtleties of tires, cranks, and derailleurs yet. Here’s where I am right now:

  • The 3.0 MSRP is $130 more than the 2.0.
  • The 2.0’s Satin Evergreen is my favorite color, but the 3.0’s blue resembles my CRX. *sigh*
  • The 3.0 can lock its suspension; the 2.0 can only adjust the stiffness. Ahem.
  • The 3.0 shifters are levers instead of the twist shifters on the 2.0.
  • The 3.0 handlebars have something like palm rests; the 2.0 has simple tubes.

Right now the 3.0 is winning, but who knows what will happen when I hit BikeLine this Wednesday or Thursday. Comments are welcome, but the clock is definitely ticking!

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