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  1. #1
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    $1000 Clydesdale Commuter

    I posted this on the "Commuter" forum, but I decided I'd also post it here since I am a Clyde at 6'0, 285 lbs. I figure that here I'd get some Clydesdale-specific advice. So, here goes:

    Hi all,

    After riding for one season (after too many off) I believe that I'm ready to step up to some nicer equipment. I've been riding my hybrid and have fallen out of love with it. I have an old steel Raleigh that I use to go back and forth to school and I still love that bike, but I want to replace my hybrid with a road bike.

    That being said, I don't want a rocket; I don't plan to race and I'm not built like Lance. I'm more of a Clydesdale and I'm thinking I'd like more of a touring-style bike. There are a lot of nice touring-specific models out there but I'd like to stay under $1000. I'd like a new bike for the warranty and because I don't want to buy someone else's problems. I have narrowed my choices to 2 bikes:

    Norco Fraser http://norco.com/bikes/road/touring/fraser/

    Kona Dew Drop http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=dewdrop

    The Norco is $985 CDN and the Kona is $899 CDN. The Norco seems more road specific. It sports the Shimano Sora group, which is for road bikes. It is also all steel. The Kona seems more like a mountain bike with drop bars. It has a MTB drivetrain, an aluminum frame, and steel forks. I did test drive the Kona (a 2009 model) and it rides nice. I like the disc brakes, especially for the fact that if I have an accident and bend the rim I should still be able to ride safely, albeit slowly. I haven't had a chance to ride the Norco yet as my LBS doesn't have any 2010 models in yet. I'm not in a hurry because I don't plan to buy it until the spring, but I'd like to put some careful thought into it which is why I'm posting this thread.

    Any thoughts? If you had $1000 and wanted a new commuting/light touring bike what would you consider? BTW I would only be interested in a cyclocross bike if it had provisions for racks and fenders.

  2. #2
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    I weighed in on the last post too. At 285, the Norco won't cut it. It's all about the wheels over 240. It also has a decidely light look to it. I know, I've been that heavy and heavier. The Kona seems nice though I 've never ridden it. The wheels are key as well as speaking to the bike's design overall. The Jamis seem in between, those I've ridden on tests but I'm hard-pressed to reccomend 'em as they're not one of your choices.

  3. #3
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    My heart certainly is not set on the 2 examples that I provided, but I would like to stay close to my $1K budget. I posted those links to give readers an idea of the sort of bikes that I'm considering. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hill-Pumper's Avatar
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    Since you are looking at Kona's, you might want to look at the Jake. It is a cyclocross bike that has provisions for a rack. I test rode the Dew Drop and the Jake and went with the Jake. It felt more like my road bike, so that could have been a factor.

  5. #5
    Perma-n00b Askel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hill-Pumper View Post
    Since you are looking at Kona's, you might want to look at the Jake. It is a cyclocross bike that has provisions for a rack. I test rode the Dew Drop and the Jake and went with the Jake. It felt more like my road bike, so that could have been a factor.
    Yep, Jake's a great bike. I seriously, seriously abuse mine- after a couple of seasons I've managed to crack the driveside eyelets on my rear wheel, but it hasn't failed. Having the wheels retensioned shortly after you buy it might avoid that problem.

    Here it is last weekend:


    And here it was last month (I still had the touring tires, racks and fenders on until just a couple hours before that race above ):


    I've never seen one or ridden one, but I gotta agree- that Dew Drop looks damn cool. I can take or leave disc brakes on a road bike, but when loaded down, MTB gearing would work a little better than the road bike gearing on my Jake.

  6. #6
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Thanks, Askel. Great pics, BTW. You are not the only one to advise me to try the Jake. I plan to go back to my LBS and check it out. The Dew Drop that they let me test drive is last year's model so the gearing is a little different and the rear brake caliper is mounted on the seatstay instead of the chainstay. I am curious to see if the 2010 model handles differently because Kona changed the geometry by adding a taller head tube. Perhaps the Dew Drop could be thought of as an intermediate step between a mountain bike and a road bike. In other words; a true hybrid.

  7. #7
    Triathlon in my future??? flip18436572's Avatar
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    I was hoping Askel would post up. I would have to go with a Jamis, but that is because of my LBS. I would be more concerned about the quality of support and treatment of the LBS compared to the brand name on the bike. That is just my opinion.

    I would look at a cyclocross bike for what you are wanting, but again, more what the LBS stocks and not the name on the frame.
    2007 Jamis Ventura Comp
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    Swim, Bike, Run and sounds like fun

  8. #8
    Rabbit Habbit! Jerry in So IL's Avatar
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    I like the Giant Transend series for a commuter. And it is Clyde friendly. Comes with rack and fender already. I'm going to get one for riding around town this fall. The DX model I'm looking at is around $650 OTD.

    Jerry
    I'll be needing that for squirels and such....

  9. #9
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    If it were not for the rims, I would have gone with the Norco. I've also heard lots of good things from local riders about the Kona Jake. Good bike. Another really popular bike with many of us bigger guys where I live is the Surly Lon Haul Trucker. All major brands make a similar bicycle these days, though. Just make sure that it feels right when you ride it, and that the rims are decent.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member EKW in DC's Avatar
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    ^^^
    Pinyon, you had to remind me that I don't have the bike I want, huh?

    When I hit MegaMillions tonight, that'll be my first purchase!

  11. #11
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I haven't ridden a modern touring bike, but I do have a 1986 Schwinn Voyageur that I had built up with modern 105 components... I love it.

    If I was buying new, I would look at the touring bikes sold at REI, the Novara Randonee... They seem to get good reviews for inexpensive touring bikes.

    I have also been intrigued by the Raleigh Sojourn, which I just noticed is also sold by REI. However, as I recall it has 32 spoke wheels, and I am more comfortable with 36... although 32 should be enough for most riders.
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  12. #12
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice, everybody. I don't know if I'd feel comfortable getting a bike by mail order sight unseen. I really feel the need to test drive one first. I've never even seen any Novara bikes around here, but I've read some good reviews on them.

    A number of people have mentioned the Surly LHT, but I've never seen a Surly bike around here, either. There are no dedicated Surly dealers close to me (unless I crossed the border, which I would consider for a great deal). Some more eclectic bike shops in Toronto carry less common brands, but you pay a premium.

    Ideally, I'd like to buy something from my LBS or have them bulild a bike for me. I'm going to ask if the Norco has room for bigger tires (it comes with 28s but I'd like 35s) mounted on some Velocity DeepV rims with 36 spokes. I am going to check out the Kona Jake and the Rocky Mountain Sherpa too. It's starting to cool off here and with the new models coming in I may find a deal.

    For now I'll just keep riding what I have and use the money that I'm saving by parking my car to save up for my dream bike. Thanks again!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    Some other bikes that I see people in our weight-range that also want rack-mounts around here include Giant OCR, Trek Pilot, and the Specialized Sequoia. I would ride a number of them, before you make up your mind which one to buy.


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  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    The Novara Randonee may be another option for under $1k.

    If you are going to do any overnight touring, be sure to test ride the bike -with- weighted panniers. Foot clearance and bike balance can be drastically effected once the bike is loaded down. Also ask the touring forum for $1k suggestions. Any decent touring bike will have bomb-proof wheels, lower gearing, and bigger brakes (all good things for clydes).

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