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17 bikes tested to find the top 2

July 5, 2010 5:28:09 PM PDT
With a tough economy and gas prices on the rise, it's no wonder bicycles are big business. The bicycle industry had more than $5 billion in sales in the U.S. alone last year.

Beyond recreation, people are also using them for transportation.

Robert Scott enjoys cycling so much that most days he rides his bike to work at a bike shop.

"It's the healthy way to get to work," Scott says. "You save money on gas, it's a lot of fun and I love it."

Consumer Reports tested 17 bikes that are good for commuting or just tooling around town. There were three types in all:

  • Fitness bikes are most like road bikes, with a small seat and narrow tires, but they're more comfortable because you sit semi-upright.
  • Hybrids are a cross between a road and a mountain bike. They have wider tires and can have front shocks and suspension seats, so they absorb more of the bumps for you.

  • Comfort bikes have an upright riding position, a wide seat and they're best for slower-paced, recreational rides.
  • Each bike was put through a series of tests.

    Rough road surfaces were used to measure shock absorption. A brake test determined how far it takes for a bike to stop. Testers also sized up the gears to see how easy they are to shift.

    When all the tests were done, Consumer Reports found two top-rated bikes.

    The Cannondale Comfort 4 at $580 has very good handling and is quite sporty for a comfort bike.

    If you're looking to bike longer distances or tackle more hills, the Fuji Absolute 3.0 fitness is a better bet. At 26 pounds, it's fairly lightweight and costs $480, which is less than many other fitness bikes.

    No matter what bicycle you choose, make sure you have a proper fit. Testers recommend buying at a bike shop, where you can get help from an experienced salesperson and actually take the bike for a ride to make sure it's right for you.


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