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I found out that a racing type road bike is hard to shift as hurts the arthritis in my fingers. And even the frame is harder on the hips. I need something more gentle, but fast enough to keep up with road riders.

I now ride a Trek Utopia on and off road and I do ride it hard. Can't keep up with road rider, but can fly on the dirt!

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Welcome to the community. What exactly is your question? –  thajigisup Jul 27 '11 at 13:24
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In general, a "touring" bike will have the basic attributes of a road bike, but will have a longer wheelbase (a bit more flex/spring in the frame) and a slightly more comfortable riding position. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 27 '11 at 18:25
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Please clarify your question--are you looking for a replacement for your Utopia--a single bike which can handle offroading but is also faster, or a second bike explicitly for road riding? –  STW Jul 27 '11 at 20:54
    
Many of the "touring" bikes also come with bar-end shifters, or you can add if after, which might be easier on you arthritis then the brifters you see on most road bikes. –  Kibbee Feb 21 '13 at 5:58
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4 Answers

If what you want is a true road bike, but without the pain, consider getting a Specialized Roubaix or a Scott CR1.

These are both excellent road bikes with a slightly more upright riding position, and a carbon fiber frame that is engineered with comfort and distance in mind, while maintaining the speed and agility of a road machine.

This is the nicest (and most expensive) of the Specialized Roubaix line up. I'm pointing out this one in particular, in spite of the cost, because it uses electronic shifting. The battery powered shifters and derailleurs are only currently available on Shimano's highest end group. But that will be changing next year, when they release the Ultegra Di2 kit, and they will remove the pain from shifting for you. A light touch with one finger produces the fastest, smoothest, and crispest shifts I've ever seen, and I think will eliminate the pain of shifting for you.

The Di2 kits also have the unique ability to have 2 sets of shifters operate the same derailleurs. Which means you can put a set of buttons on the flat part of the bar, as well as having the more traditional STI brake lever shaped set, with no loss regardless of the position you are riding in.

Specialized Roubaix SL3 Di2

The bike is amazingly light, and agile. But the best part is the smooth ride, and the comfort. It is a Centurion's bike.

The Scott CR1 SL is a similar design, my preference, actually. But they don't currently offer it with Di2 Electronic shifting. Again, it's on the horizon for next year.

Scott CR1 SL

These bikes are in no way intended for dirt, but no bike which is intended for dirt, even a cyclocross bike, is geared to stay in the pack with a true road machiine. You're better off keeping your current hybrid machine for when you go offroad, and buying a true road bike for the days on pavement with your buddies.

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+1 for mentioning electronic shifters –  Mac Jul 27 '11 at 23:19
    
@zenbike nice post and good points, but I disagree with 'in no way intended for dirt'. Road bikes generally provide excellent performance off road and only become more difficult to handle than an off-road bike if going fast around a tight turn, going through mud or sand, or when there are significant obstacles, like rocks. But they are fine on most trails and fire roads. Roubaix is designed to race over large cobblestones. –  David Jul 28 '11 at 13:18
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@David, Thank you for the nice comments. I do disagree with you regarding the intended use of a road bike. They are engineered to survive a punishing amount of abuse, yes. But they are not designed to handle well, or maintain traction off of pavement. And while you can ride them off road, that doesn't mean it's a good idea. You could also drive a Ferrari at a Moab Hill Climb. How much would the trip to the dealer cost afterwards, though? The Roubaix and the CR1 both would handle better than most road bikes off road, but that is still not what is made for. –  zenbike Jul 28 '11 at 13:57
    
@zenbike I am biased because most of my off-road riding has been on a road-bike. Still, I don't think a Ferrari at Moab is the proper comparison; I made an exception for 'significant obstacles, like rocks'. And I would argue that most off-road riding requires less from a bike than the Paris-Roubaix course. –  David Jul 28 '11 at 14:25
    
@David: I'm not trying to be contentious, but I disagree. Most of the off road riding in my home are around Seattle is wet, muddy, full of rocks and roots, and generally completely unsuited for a road bike. I've also ridden road bikes on fire roads and dirt roads. But again, my point is that they aren't designed for it. Your point about Paris-Roubaix is well made, but those are professional riders, on specially built up road bikes, with multiple bikes per rider, and generally the bikes from the Hell of the North never get ridden but the one day. Because they aren't considered safe. –  zenbike Jul 28 '11 at 14:31
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Cyclocross bikes are typically geared for this situation--they are essentially a road bike intended to handle some dirt, and typically are fitted with somewhat knobby tires (similar to your Fischer hybrid) and a lower gear range. These bikes can be considered hybrids with drop-bars in many ways, and will let you get close to the speed of a road-bike while being able to handle single-tracks, light sand and gravel, and other terrain a road bike couldn't touch.

Another option would be a more road-oriented hybrid. Your Utopia is more towards the mountain-bike side of the spectrum, and the front shock and disk brakes add quite a bit of weight. I'd recommend that if you're happy with the Utopia you should look at the Trek Fx line of hybrids. They're much faster than the Utopia, but extremely versatile. They won't be as fast as a road bike, but should be quite a bit faster than your Utopia.

Regarding your difficulty shifting, it sounds like it would be good for you to go to a bike shop and try test-riding a variety of bikes with different shifter styles. Some shifters (such as STI's) require strength of your index and middle finger; however flat-bar shifters often use your thumb for the harder shifting.

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Cyclocross bikes still are geared easier than a true road bike. He will still have a hard time staying with the pack on road bikes. They also use the same STI drop bar shift levers, which means he might as well have a true road bike, and stick with the hybrid he owns now when he goes off pavement. –  zenbike Jul 27 '11 at 18:07
    
An extra set of wheels, with road tires and a smaller cog-set would give a cyclocross bike pretty much the same functionality as a road bike. –  David Jul 28 '11 at 13:21
    
@David, it would get closer, but the front is usually (not always) geared smaller as well. A typical 34/48 up front on a cyclocross bike is very different from even a compact 50/34 on a road bike, much less the 53/39 that a standard road crank would be. –  zenbike Jul 28 '11 at 14:37
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I recommend that you get more than one bicycle. In that way you can keep the Trek for the trails and go out on something quicker when going on the roads with your 'roadie' friends.

Giant produce an excellent range of 'fitness' bikes that have the road frame, compact geometry and a flat bar. This last detail is important as retro-fitting a flat bar to a bike with drops is very expensive. Here is the link to the carbon-fibre 'Rapid Advanced':

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-gb/bikes/model/rapid.advanced/7843/45451/

Note that the ALUXX version will also be a very tidy bike, however, if you can treat yourself to carbon fibre then do so. The stem on this model is something you can sort out in the shop, even put some riser bars on there if you can. The shop should help you with making these changes for minimal cost if you are buying a premium machine such as the Rapid Advanced.

Regarding seat-comfort, consider investing in quality shorts, i.e. the ones that cost a small fortune. They are more comfy than any seat/suspension option and worth their weight in gold.

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dedicated bikes are a good option, if space and finances allow. I have two bikes, a hybrid with fenders and a rack for around-town commuting and casual rides; and a dedicated road-bike for long rides with little else than the bike, myself, and a small emergency kit. The combination works very well! –  STW Jul 28 '11 at 15:06
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Bike manufacturers are starting to design bikes built for dirt road riding - check out the dirt road bikes from Salsa or Kona. They typically have a touring setup - wide wheelbase, lower to the ground, upright position - and may have disc brakes. 1.5" tires. Gearing on the low end is close to 1:1 with a 50/32 compact up front and 30 large ring in back.

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