I am planning to buy a hybrid bike and have been evaluating a few geometries.

  1. Merida Speeder 100 Juliet 2018
  2. Cannondale Quick 5 Disc Women's 2018
  3. Marin Terra Linda 2 2019
  4. Trek Zektor 2 2018
  5. Specialized Sirrus Disc Women's 2018

Components wise, Merida seems to be the best value for money as only it has carbon forks while others have alloy forks. It is the lightest bike too (10.24 kg (S(47) frame size)).

However, the geometry of Merida is slightly tricky to understand. It has a very high stack (566 mm for Size 47) resulting in a very high standover height (745 mm) leaving a very small gap when I stand over the bike (inseam length 710mm). Rest of its features are closer to a road bike (wheelbase: 1018 mm for 47 size, reach: 368 for 47 size etc) but the stack or the height of the bike is too high. Its stack to reach ratio is 1.53 which is generally for endurance road bikes which would have larger wheelbase. Is there any stack to wheelbase ratio to check if the stack is not too high for the wheelbase?

Whereas for Cannondale, the stack reach and standover are better but the wheelbase is slightly higher. (Stack: 554 Reach: 388 StacktoReachRatio: 1.427 Wheelbase: 1053 Standover height: 690). Given that the other geometry numbers are more performance oriented, does the higher wheelbase make the bike less performance oriented (Cannondale)?

Which among the two is a more performance oriented geometry and which one is more comfortable?
I had almost finalized on the Merida but then I started with a detailed understanding of the geometry and am still evaluating the best geometry. Any comments/insights in the geometry of the Merida vs Cannondale? Or if any other bikes in the list have a better geometry?

My main requirements are that the bike be really light weight, can run through bad roads (pavements, potholes etc.) during the daily commute around the city and can be quick enough for decent rides during the weekends.

Any help would be very appreciated. :)

  • 2
    Comparing wheelbase in a vacuum on bikes this size doesn't work the way you're wanting it to. Small hybrids ask the designer to decide how much toe overlap is acceptable and what combination of top tube length and slackened head tube angle is going to be used to get there. Different bikes of roughly the same size and genre answer differently. Also with standover and stack you need to make a determination how much YOU need and want and go from there. – Nathan Knutson Oct 10 at 17:12

I think you are totally over-thinking the geometry. Don't look at the numbers, go test ride the bikes.

First make sure you are looking at the correct size in each model for you. If you don't have enough stand over, either go a size smaller of rule that bike out.

Consider the riding position of each bike, get a feel for what you want in terms of aggressive vs. relaxed riding position (i.e. how lent forward you are, how far away from the seat the bars are.)

Next, consider the steering: quick steering vs stable. If you want to traverse poor surfaces you probably want a more stable bike.

Additionally, look at the tire width. A wider tire will handle poor surfaces better and be more comfortable.

  • Thanks a lot! Unfortunately, I can't differentiate the subtle differences within various bike geometries in the small test ride that is generally taken, so I thought some basic understanding would be handy in making a good decision. Thanks for your input! :) – noddy157 Oct 11 at 18:17

TLDR; Essentially the same answer as Argenti Apparatus, but with more background explanations.


Which among the two is a more performance oriented geometry and which one is more comfortable?

It depends what you mean by "comfortable", if you are referring to fit then geometry that works well for one body proportions may not work well for another. I would be careful at interpreting stack:reach ratios as there isn't a single golden ratio, its really person specific. For example, individuals with long legs will want a frame with a taller stack and shorter reach (long legs implies a shorter torso and therefore shorter reach). People with flexibility issues will also want a taller stack. People with shorter legs (and long torso) will want a less stack and more reach to get ideal weight distribution and fit.

I would also be careful about comparing reach numbers between hybrid and endurance road bikes. Road bikes use drop handle bars necessitates a shorter reach compared to a flatbar hybrid (what you are looking at) which will have a longer reach for the same final body position.

Finally, because the head tube is angled reach changes with stack, therefore when comparing two bikes with the same reach numbers, the bike with the higher stack would have a longer effective top tube. That is, to get the same final body position on both frames you would need a shorter stem on the bike with the higher stack numbers. Note differences in effective top tube length impact weight distribution which impacts handling, it also impacts stem length which also affects steering response (see below).

Which among the two is a more performance oriented geometry and which one is more comfortable?

Wheelbase is one indicator, but it is not the indicator, as indicated above there are many factors in balance that predict handling. The Cannondales have longer top tubes (and a shorter stem), more front wheel offset, which contributes to the longer wheelbase numbers you are seeing. Interestingly both the Merida and Cannondale have the same chainstay lengths, which is much longer than road bike or even an endurance road bike chainstays. Both also have similar similar bottom bracket drop, as such the only real difference is in the front end geometry, Merida has a steeper head tube and shorter front end, while the Cannondale a shallower head angle, but more fork offset.

Longer front centers tend to handle rougher conditions a bit better, so I would hazard a guess that the Cannondate would be better here. There will also be less toe overlap with the front wheel which can mean easier low speed handling and better accommodation of fenders (Who hates hitting a fender when turning? I do!), The shorter sharper approach of the Merida would likely be better suited to smoother roads. That said the Merida will also have a longer stem which can also calm down handling, as longer stems tend to subtle the steering response, which then can be used offset or to tune other geometry decisions (like fork offset and head tube angle).

How does stem length affect a bike’s steering and handling? Image Source: How does stem length affect a bike’s steering and handling?

What should you do?

In the end both will probably handle similarly. Also neither have the chainstays or headtube angles of a road bike so they will be a bit more toned down compared to a dedicated road bike.

In practice there probably won't be much practical day-to-day differences between the bikes. Ultimately, I would go with what fits best as my primary criteria, as this will likely be the biggest predictor of whether or not you will like the bike. After that I would other things like slight geometry differences or components, even then these are only minor considerations.

Over the years I found it is really hard to get a feel for how a bike will be by comparing geometry numbers. There are so many different inputs that are balanced together to produce the final feel of a bicycle (even frame tubing selection, a basic unknown, can have a huge impact). Even then, I find it often takes extended time riding (e.g., months) on a bicycle before I really get understand its characteristics. My best advice follows others: Go out and ride them.

  • Wow. Thanks so much for the detailed response. I got to know a few new things. Just as you mentioned, in the short test ride that I take when trying a new bike, it is hard to notice the smaller differences of geometry so I thought I would probably look at the numbers to take a more detailed decision. I will make some final thoughts and choose one bike. Thanks again! – noddy157 Oct 11 at 18:14
  • @noddy157 it’s hard to notice small difference, because they are small. In practical terms the difference in toe overlap will be the most noticeable in daily use, especially if you ever plan on fenders. The rest are academics. You will need to purchase both, ride them back to back for six months, then write an dissertation to really understand any remaining differences. Sometimes good enough, really is good enough. – Rider_X Oct 11 at 18:21

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