General Cycling Discussion - Low-end bike for commutes
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Due to the fact that I live in one of the cities with a high bike theft rate, I'm looking to purchase a "beater" bike, that is intended for being roadworthy for small commutes, but won't sting that much if it (or parts from it) get stolen.
Any suggestions of finding a decent bike for riding, but not something expensive enough where the bike locks I have to lug weigh more than the bike itself?
The options I'm looking at:
1: Purchasing a new hybrid or low-end MTB like a Garry Fisher Mako or Advance. A definite known quantity, and though it doesn't handle near as well as my other steed, a professional thief will pass it by (assuming I have it locked up), and if a crackhead takes it, it will sting in the pocketbook, but not as badly as if my real bike gets snarfed.
2: Purchasing a used bike from a known good LBS (not a pawn shop, but a LBS who makes their income from bikes, values their reputation, and can show the purchase history of what is consigned), expecting to pay $200-$400 for it, depending on quality, and parts.
3: Buying a used bike from Craigslist or a garage sale, for $50-$200. Its a risk to take, but the loss of the bike won't be much. This option is one I don't like much (except for the price and the disposability of the bike), because I don't like being a "shabe" (shop here and buy elsewhere.) Call me sentimental, but I don't mind buying components mail-order, but I just can't bear to buy a bike from anywhere but a LBS. Its an option, but not a good one.
I'm looking to pay enough for a decent and safe ride, but not too much, where if it gets stolen, it will make a major dent in my wallet (which isn't that big, due to being in college.)
I don't think there's anything wrong with buying a craigslist or garage sale bike as a beater or commuter. Many folks on this board, myself included, have done just that. Think of it as giving new life to a bike that would otherwise hang unridden in someone's garage or, worse, be pitched into the landfill.
My everyday commuter/kid-trailer-hauler is an 80s vintage Specialized Hard Rock. I bought it from a neighbor's yard sale for the outrageous sum of $40.
08-30-06, 08:54 PM
I bought a used old school mt. bike for $25, changed my mind about it, and decided to sell it. Then I changed my mind again because I needed a beater that wouldn't sting if stolen. Then I got a cromo mt. bike-- a better bike for a better price-- free! But I still want to use the beater as a beater. I'm going to get it into good running condition, with new parts, for not much money, and if it does get stolen, no major loss.
Anyway, my point is you can find great used bikes for very little money (remember, I got that cromo mt. bike free) and they can still be great running bikes but will be less of a blow if stolen.
Don't pass up garage sales and craigslist for a cheap commuter: I converted a garage sale 10-speed into a fixed gear I use for commuting and bad weather riding. The winners included: - the seller (made some $), myself (got what I wanted), the LBS that helped me with the conversion (they got some business for the flip/flop hub, cog, wheels), and my lovely wife (happy I spent less $$).
08-30-06, 10:06 PM
To the OP: Unless you find a used bargain, may I recommend a Kona Dew hybrid? You can find cheaper bikes, but none so well made for the price (frame AND components).
08-30-06, 10:27 PM
I like your number two option. I can trust MY lbs. A shop manager sold me a used Cannondale touring frame he had taken as a security deposit. I paid $60.00 and he assembled a usable bike for free from two old bikes I had broken. I can still ride it.
The Kona Smoke is also a good commuter. It also comes with fenders, which is good for the commuter. And it's in your price range.
08-31-06, 05:29 AM
If you go for a used bike, get one of reasonable quality. There is no point riding a used bike that was low grade when it was new.
I bought an old racer about 10 years ago and still ride it today. It has had quite a few upgrades over the years yet looks more weatherbeaten and shoddy then ever.
Old school MTBs, touring bikes, old style racers all make excelent everyday commuter bikes.
08-31-06, 07:05 AM
Depends on where your at too. A drop bar road bike will NOT get stolen here. Nobody wants them except for roadies. Also, bolt on wheels, ridgid fork, and single speed drivetrain keep part theft to a minimum.
08-31-06, 07:43 AM
Sounds like you should look in the paper or Craigs List. I'd recommend finding a bike with attachment points for fenders if they don't already have them. Good Luck!
08-31-06, 08:02 AM
My bestest ever commuter was a Raleigh 3sp that I bought back in 1982 as a commuter from the thrift shop for $20. I still have that bike and it is still rideable (well it would be if the tires would hold air:rolleyes: ) I commuted on it for 5 years, my brother used it for 3 years, I got it back and used it for 4 more before it went into retirement. Best money I ever spent!
Thanks for the help, everyone (especially Ziemas for recommending Kona as a brand). I decided to hit a LBS , pick up a new Kona Lana'i , mainly because they had an outstanding deal going on it. I don't want to consider this a "beater" bike (as it is quite well made especially considering its price range ), but it should do everything I need. Its doesn't sport the latest Shimano XTR powertrain, but on the other hand, the bike is likely going to remain where I put it especially on a college campus.
: Its always interesting hitting a good LBS. Mainly because people there for the most part are "real", and not trying to put on some facade. I try to never leave a LBS I'm browsing in without buying *something*, even if its another package of Nuun  for the water bottle or some random bike accessory.
: URL here -- http://tinyurl.com/k2z2a
: Must resist temptation to, once I get next paycheck, toss some M324 pedals on it...
: www.nuun.com -- a nice tablet that you chuck into your water bottle, let fizz. Now only if places stocked more than the lemon-lime tablets, I'd be in business.
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