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  1. #1
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    Need commuter bike recommendation

    I'm 6'4" 225Lbs, 36" inseam, new to biking, have been using a rowing machine for the past 2 years (Concept II) and before that a long-time casual runner (15-20 miles/week).

    Due to some really interesting challenges at work, finding time to exercise is getting harder and harder.

    One way out of my dilemma is to bike to work--frees up a car for daughter #1 as an added bonus. Living in Orlando FL, I'd be hard-pressed to find a hill, the weather is bike-friendly, and there are shower facilities at work. My commute will be @ 15 miles each way. City roads with a bit of bike path (paved). I'd like to commute 3 times a week. Here are is what I'm looking for:

    1. Straight handlebars
    2. bike needs to accommodate fenders, rack, panniers
    3. Know I need a light
    4. While I don't plan to ride in the rain, once at work, I will need to ride home regardless, so I need something that can withstand the elements
    5. 36 spoke wheels (?)--am I correct in thinking this provides a bit more protection for the wheel & against flats?
    6. Price point under $1,000 with the goodies

    I understand that I will need to go to a local bike store to be measured, and that it's best to try the bike before one buys. While I am not opposed to buying a used bike, I simply don't have the time to invest in waiting and checking out what comes available. New is the way for me I think.

    From what I've read, I think I need at least a 62cm bike (25"?). I've looked at:

    • Trek
    • Cannondale
    • Breezer
    • Motobecane

    I'd appreciate feedback from this group as to general advice & bike specific recommendations. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    You have everything right.

    You might want drop bars sometime.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  3. #3
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    i have a giant rapid 3 that was only 549 bucks and is crazy fast flat bar bike. I don't know anything about ability to install panniers though. I'm 6'3" 245 lbs and live in nyc where our roads are terribly potholed. if you know your route will have decent quality roads that is a help. I'd be sure to outfit it with tires that can take 100psi of pressure vs 85psi which is what the stockers on my giant were. I replaced them with Cannondale Armadillo kevlar laced tires which were 50bucks a pop but the reviews for being "flat proof" were excellent for them. As for number of spokes on the wheels, many would say that 225 isn't all that heavy and that riding you'll drop some weight. At 6'4 and 225 it sounds like you really probably don't have much weight to lose though but stock wheels should treat you right. below is a pic of my bike. xl frame, very comfortable ride. I'm new to cycling and on week 2 I was taking it on 20+ mile rides for fun and had no issues with comfort. I will say that it is addicting and I'm already looking to get a dedicated road bike to really whip aorund on so I can put larger tires on my Giant and make it a bit more pothole proof.

  4. #4
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    There are many bikes that will fit your needs. My advice is to shop for a bikeshop that listens to you and give you a good feeling. You are going to need them many times after you buy your bike, and if they sold you the bike they won't mind helping you with it. Once you have found a shop you like, ask them for a recommendation. After you have talked to them, bring their info back here and double check that they are giving you the straight dope.
    __________________________________________________________________
    Shrinking steadily

  5. #5
    Member Creeze's Avatar
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    I have to agree that you should look at the Rapid 3. I just pulled the trigger on one yesterday (and I had racks put on for panniers). It was the most bike for the buck in the category. Also look at the Trek 7.3 and Specialized Sirrus.

    The Trek was comfy, but the rapid was fast...

    -C

  6. #6
    Senior Member spthealien's Avatar
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    I have the Giant Seek. It's got not a single piece of carbon on it--so I use it as my beater commuter. It has rack mounts on both the frame and the fork.

    I have installed panniers on the rear rack. What's nice about it are the hydraulic disc brakes--great for wet weather. It stops this 250 pound cyclist pretty quick--on a downhill with loaded panniers, even. It was a 2009, so I got it for about $560.


  7. #7
    Senior Member snowman40's Avatar
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    you can get a Fuji something with drops for around $500-$600. I'd give you a name but their site isn't loading....

    you could also get a Scott Speedster S50 FB which looks fast but is a little more expensive ($750).
    Quote Originally Posted by snowman40
    If you must speed up to pass me, you don't deserve to pass me
    Quote Originally Posted by abstractform20 View Post
    farts are greatly appreciated as long as the other riders are talented and experienced. at the precise moment of release, a vacuum is formed. this is the optimal time for the rider behind you to get as aero as possible and "ride the brown rhino". his face should be within 2-3mm of the anus to receive maximum benefit (reduced drag...duh, its in a vacuum). i have hit speeds of over 53mph in such conditions.

  8. #8
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    many will say that if your using it for commuting and have to deal with being in traffic you want to go the flat bar route, easier for you to see your surroundings. I've fallen in love with the bike but am also experiencing some of the pains of commuting. We've had a ridiculous amount of rain here and i'm not outfitted with fenders so I'm getting dirty as hell (i'm a personal trainer, so it's easy enough for me to change into a different pair of shorts when I get to my gym). NYC streets are also brutal. My plan is to invest in a dedicated road bike for serious riding and then outfit the rapid with slightly larger tires and some fenders to be my bike for whipping around the city.

  9. #9
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I'd like to encourage you to test ride some bikes before you make any purchase. I'm a big fan of comfort and ease of use. Meaning you will be happiest with a bike who's controls and mechanisms seem the most intuitive and comfortable for you. Your feet; your hands; your a*s, etc. If you're too busy figuring out what's going on with the bike you might get clipped by a somewhat moving city omnibus!

    Also, since you have an actual budget you should add up the cost of the "goodies" and subtract that from your budget so you will know that perhaps you are looking for a $500. bike and not a $1,000 bike. The "goodies" add up.

    strobes
    clothes
    tools, etc

    Keep an open mind! :-)
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  10. #10
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    As other pointed out you are on the right path. Be sure to ride various bikes. What fits one person nicely may not fit an other. I have an '08 Garry Fisher Nirvanna as my year round commuter. Some things I found that I realy appreciate is that the cables all run on the top tube. Riding here in the frozen North all winter long, this design has helped the cables stay a lot cleaner. This is clearly a carry-over from the off-road bike experience that Garry Fisher has. If I were to get a replacement bike today I'd definitely look for disk brakes.

    You would difinitely want to get some fenders. Rain can come quickly and frequently depending on the season when I've visted FL.

    A simple but sturdy rack is easily found. You will have to figure out what kind of bags you want to use. I started with a cheapy set of Axiom Appalachia bags. I paid under $30 for the bags and they are completing their 3rd full year of commuting. I spray them liberally with fabric water blocking about once a year. The bags are not 100% water proof, but remarkably close. I carry rain gear with me all the time and also take with me food, drink and clean clothing. There are loads of bags that are "nicer," but I have been shocked at how good these cheap bags have been.

    When it comes to wheels you are right that more spokes is generally better. My 1st OEM (Bontrager Camino) started blowing spokes badly around 800 miles. I got a 2nd wheel under warrentee. The 2nd wheel started to get bad around 4000 miles. I had a new front wheel built by Peter White early on as I wanted a generator hub. That wheel has only 32 spokes, but that is plenty for a front wheel. That wheel after nearly 5000 miles of use is still spot on perfect and has never been adjusted since I got it. When the 2nd rear wheel started acting up I had Peter build me a 36 spoke rear wheel. About 1000 miles in, it is holding up perfectly.

    You should be able to find a perfectly good commuter bike for around $600 to $800. That leaves some money for the extras. Don't forget about a good pump (Topeak Road Morph G is my personal favorite). Lights are a must for riding at night. Do some searches on older posts as there have been lots of discussions in this in the recent past. Some good moisture wicking clothing will be very helpful. I personally have bought the majortity of my shirts on sale at Dicks Sporting Goods for around $10. Sure cyling jerseys are nice, but I just can't justify spending $60 on a single shirt.

    Happy riding!
    André

  11. #11
    Senior Member wirehead's Avatar
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    Also, a good place might cut you a deal on replacing your stock wheels with 36 spoke sturdy wheels. Same goes for tires.. you might like a mountain bike with the knobly tires swapped for slick tires.

  12. #12
    Senior Member vger285's Avatar
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    Check out the Country Road Bob from Van Dessel,i got one last year,its the coolest bike going bar none, and i have several, but the bob is special,just give it a look (www.vandesselsports.com)

  13. #13
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    Thank you everyone for the terrific "feed forward"--it is very helpful.

    I have been to one bike shop locally, and will stop at a couple more within the next couple of weeks (dang work getting in the way of play!). One thing that your responses (along with a reading of lots of similar posts) made me re-think is the straight vs. drop handlebars. So...a friend has a Cannondale road bike w/drop handlebars sitting in his garage--62cm and he's agreed to let me have it for a weekend or two to "test-ride". I'm looking forward to this!

    All the tips on the gear are very helpful as well...

    I'll be back...thanks again!

  14. #14
    Señor Member atoms's Avatar
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    If you are an REI member you might want to consider this:

    http://www.rei.com/product/791145 Novara Transfer

    (or even if you are not a member), that looks it has everything you are asking for in one convenient inexpensive package.
    GiggleBop my iPhone app

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  15. #15
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    I'd be sure to outfit it with tires that can take 100psi of pressure vs 85psi which is what the stockers on my giant were
    High pressure does not equal 'great tire'. Wider width tires tend to have a max PSI lower than narrow racing tires. For example, my Conti Contacts have a max of 85psi (but are 36mm wide) and are made for traveling many miles over rough pavement.

    Jake, I would look at bikes with wider road tires (30mm+). These will not affect your top speed an will be much more comfortable on rough pavement. Narrow tires are lighter and are worth it for acceleration and climbing (you don't care about either). Regarding 'drops', know that you can ride along with your hands on the tops (crossbar or the hoods) and that should be comfortable depending on the bar height.

    With a 15mi commute, you will likely need/want more goodies than someone who is doing a 1-2mi commute. Some things you'll want immediately, others you can get as needs dictate. I started out doing 9-10mi each way until I moved; now I have a 1.3mi commute. Below is what I used (before and after):

    Long commute:
    - Higher end lighting system (busier roads, I like having something bright & noticeable)
    - Quality saddle (most saddles that come with <$1k bikes are junk)
    - clipless pedals & shoes (once your cadence gets up you will find that these are a plus)
    - bike clothing or dryfit clothing (bike shorts, wicking shirt and socks)
    - Extra water bottle (during hot summer days)
    - Rack and pannier (sweat soaks through a backpack)
    - Change of clothes & shower gear at work
    - spare tube & tools to repair bike
    - bike lock (kept at work)
    - Full size pump (top off my tires each morning)
    - travel pump (carry in bag in case of flats)

    Short commute:
    - some form of flasher and front light for night visibility
    - backpack to carry laptop, spare tube, & tire levers
    - travel pump (pump and tube could be ditched if you don't mind walking or had a cell phone for a ride)
    - full size pump (top off tires at home)

    The first list is at least a couple hundred bucks, the 2nd list is ~$100 (for stuff that works).

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