Commuting - Best city bike for Los Angeles?
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Reviewing a lot of these threads to see how folks respond about great city bike experiences, I think something's missing. I can't compare experiences in NYC, London or Amsterdam - Los Angeles has a very different terrain. First off, we have *lousy* roads - and then there's the hills. Little ones, big ones, they're all over - so a one or three gear bike is probably not going to be a great solution. And, of course, there's the hostility of the drivers to the cyclists ... but that's a given.
So I've been looking at all sorts of city bikes, from Pashleys to Electras to Batavus, et al. I'm really not sure which one I want, but I do know I *have* to get one where I can stay upright, since I have AS (ankylosing spondylitis - degenerative spinal arthritis). In addition, I'm 6'2", long legs and built big - muscular - so I need a good frame size.
These days, I just want a bike that I can take for loads of local errands and possibly commuting to work every now and then (hills). I'll add rear panniers, of course, and a Brooks seat is a must - those springs will be a blessing to my back. Any guidance here on the right bike and maybe where to find it?
Big question, do you intend to park and lock this bike on the street or in front of stores? Most bikes that are U-locked to trees, poles or other sturdy objects in downtown + central parts of LA are not "high end" city bikes or road bikes, they are mostly "stripped down" frames with single speed / fixie. If you will typically have a more secure place to lock your bike, consider a bike with a Shimano internal gear 8 speed Alfine or Nexus hub. There are dozens of complete bikes sold with this hub option. I built up a Surly Crosscheck with Nexus 8 IGH and use it frequently for commuting and errands in Orange County, but if I lived in LA it would be a great bike around the city except for the security thing.
07-28-10, 11:14 PM
A friend of mine rides a bike a lot like this one (http://www.trekbikes.com/ca/en/bikes/bike_path/pure/puresport/) by Trek. He has some health issues and feels more comfortable being able to plant his feet while still seated. He tells me that he still gets a full pedal stroke, and therefore full power from the bikes pedal-forward design. Next time I talk to him I will find out exactly which brand/model his bike is and post it on your thread.
I ride both the bikes in my sig all over town. Jamis Aurora and Sputnik. I lock both all over town with no issues, although I haven't left it locked up for more than a few hours at a time.
From your description, these probably aren't for you.. although the Aurora started out as more of an upright bike...
As far as where to find it, there are a few options. What part of L.A. are you in?
07-28-10, 11:25 PM
Go with a Trek 7000 series. I ride around LA on my hybrid and feel it is the most suitable bike for whatever is out there.
07-29-10, 12:08 AM
After doing lots of short-distance bike commuting in LA, I'd agree that it's one of the environments where a hybrid actually does make sense. You'll want something that can hop onto curbs when necessary since there are almost no safe continuous bikeways that allow you to really get up to speed for more than a mile. A mtn bike is wayy too slow - I used one and it was quite painfully slow.
Roadbikes are fair game, but you will have to ride fast, and sometimes very fast to not annoy cars lining up behind you during rush hour on those streets without bike lanes and no shoulder due to parked vehicles. You can usually avoid this by riding the sidewalk in those areas - it's legal in LA to do this, and some bike lanes in LA actually are the sidewalk (parts of Ohio ave in West LA).
07-29-10, 12:28 PM
Rodeo Drive or Compton?
Big question, do you intend to park and lock this bike on the street or in front of stores?
Errands and commuting is perhaps surprisingly more about parking than riding...that is, if you want the bike still to be there when you get back.
Big fella, huh? I see the Trek Atwood (http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/urban/eco_design/atwood/) is available in a 25" frame.
Yeah, I get the security thing. I've had great luck for the last 25 years, riding around L.A. in all sorts of places, and locking the bike up - either with a U-lock or sometimes cable. Only once had a bike stolen - and they had to completely destroy the bike rack to do it.
I've got a Trek hybrid now, but the wrong type - it requires the usual touring position, which is killing me. That Atwood looks interesting - both of the Treks suggested are peaking my interest. A fixie just isn't for me - one accident, and I'm in big trouble (the medication for my spinal condition suppresses my immune system - it's a ***** to heal now, as I recently found out after a hiking accident). Yeah, I'm aware I'll have an accident sooner or later, but I'm not giving up my cycling. I'm under the impression that most Amsterdam type city bikes should be able to take all kinds of urban punishment - no? A hybrid swept back bars, allowing for easy upright posture sounds just about right. Add he rear rack and a couple of panniers, and I'm off to the races - metaphorically speaking.
And I'll be parking and locking mostly in front of store, but also on the street when visiting friends. I'm pretty street-smart about where and when to park my bike.
I'll still do some long rides, but very rarely. I just want to use my bike instead of my car for errands around my area of Silver Lake (near downtown L.A., adjacent to Glendale, Los Feliz and Echo Park). I'm going to check out Orange 20 and Flying Pigeon LA tomorrow. Anything else I should be looking for? All of your suggestions are on my list - y'all rock.
Oh, and I've pretty much got a crush on a Civia Loring - the 9 speed model. It seems to be rugged enough, but without a local dealer carrying the bike, I'd have to order it without a trial ride. Risky.
And, yes, I realize that I'll lose all street cred riding a bike like this. I might as well don tweeds, a wig and call myself Miss Marple. But it's surprising how little big guys get bugged about stuff like this - well, maybe behind our backs.
Orange 20 is my local shop. (I live up the street) They mostly cater to the fixed gear/singlespeed crowd, but they sell all types of bikes and have always been helpful and friendly to me. They tuned up my Aurora and it feels better now than when I bought it (from a different shop).
07-30-10, 05:22 AM
I wouldn't recommend the Civia. Not because it's not a great bike (it is), but because it's TOO nice for LA. I would not leave that locked anywhere public for more than an hour without starting to worry about it. Downtown LA is a high-theft bike area.
If you've got a very secure storage place though, go for it. But you'll realize quickly in LA how useful a "park-anywhere" bike is once you start cutting through the killer traffic at all hours.
Well, I did it today. I spent a great couple of hours at Flying Pigeon, riding everything from Pashleys to Batavas and Griffins. In the end, I fell in love with Pashley bikes all over again - it rode just like the one I had 20+ years ago in England. A real joy.
I special ordered a large frame, and it should be here in L.A. next week. Flying Pigeon is going to deliver it right to my home. By the way, I can't recommend FP enough - the owner has real passion for city bike culture and is determined to offer a great oasis for young folks in Highland Park. I hope more of you will give him your business.
Can't wait to get my bike and get that feeling of freedom again!
08-01-10, 10:41 PM
I searched for the perfect city bike for many months, and my solution for the SF bay area (more hilly than LA, but more bike lanes) is the Civia Loring. It's an extremely comfortable ride, and great for cargo.
Advantages of the Loring: It has a low stand-over height, but still has a relatively stiff frame unlike "step-thorugh" frames. This is a big advantage if you carry a rear load and don't always want to swing your leg over the back of the bike. It has an awesome custom front rack, perfect for your briefcase and/or a bag of groceries. It comes with a center stand and chain cover. It's the only US bike using the SRAM I-motion 9 speed internal gear hub. This hub is great for hills!
Disadvantages: Between the steel frame and the rear hub it's pretty heavy. I'm built like you and I don't find the extra weight a big deal. It would only be a problem if you need to carry the bike up and down stairs often.
The other bike I would suggest is the Globe Live 3, which has the alfine 8-speed hub and and belt drive. It's considerably lighter as well.
08-01-10, 11:32 PM
...Can't wait to get my bike and get that feeling of freedom again!
Congrats on the purchase! Make sure to post some pics so we can share that feeling.
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