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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-07-15, 08:54 PM   #1
Commuter Newby
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New to Commuting

Greetings everyone. I'm new to this forum.

I live (Sunnyvale) and work (Palo Alto) in Silicon Valley. I've decided to start commuting to work. From my house the trip is 10 miles each way with about 80% of the trip on dirt/gravel back roads. My budget is $1,000 max. I've been researching online and there are so many options out there today. It can be overwhelming. What are some important factors I should pay attention to? Some of the bikes I've looked at are:

Cannondale Quick Speed 2
Cannondale Bad Boy 4
Trek X-Caliber 7
Specialized Sirrus Elite

I used to ride a lot in the 1990's (still have my Cannondale R1000 I bought in '98) but not much since then. I noticed most of the big bike companies now make urban/city/lifestyle/commuter bikes. I'm trying to determine if these are a good fit for me or should I get a more traditional mountain bike? I would like to take the bike on an occasional trail ride as well.
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Old 09-08-15, 03:50 AM   #2
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Welcome!

a lot of choices within your budget. I wouldn't worry about what brand as they all are pretty nice. I would go with 700c wheels and maybe a little wider tire like a 35 if riding gravel ect. I would also consider disc brakes and something that has rack mounts for carrying your stuff. You may want to look into cross bikes as well.

keep us posted on your purchase and have fun commuting.

KF
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Old 09-08-15, 06:32 AM   #3
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There is a very active cycling and commuting culture in Palo Alto - Sunnyvale; if area residents on this list can suggest a few good commuter-oriented bike shops, then you should be able to work with a shop and get good advice. (The shops I know there are racing and fitness oriented, so try to avoid shops like that.)
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Old 09-08-15, 08:38 AM   #4
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Welcome! I started commuting by bike too, just this past June. Learned to ride in May.

I do like my bike, but now I desire a road bike for the varying hand positions and greater acceleration for riding on the streets. My commute is 12-13 miles each way. I start experiencing hand fatigue from having only one grip just before halfway through the ride. I deal with it by "palming" the grips on my handlebar, shaking my hands out, etc.

There are relatively new types of road bike that are designed for rough surfaces - these are marketed as "adventure" or "gravel" road bikes. They are designed to take wider tires than classic road bikes and have geometries for all-day riding or riding on gravel - usually both. One such bike that I tried sells for well under $1000 - it's the Charge Plug. There are several models that are priced differently depending on quality of components, but they're all affordable and ride reasonably well. The Fuji Tread is another good one that I tried - some Performance Bike shops might still have the Tread 1.0 in stock - at $1099 it is a steal because it comes with Shimano 105 components and disc brakes. Cyclocross bikes may also be an option, but pure 'cross bikes are designed more for cyclocross racing than adventure road bikes - give those a try though as maybe you will like one.

If on the other hand you can ride for hours on a flat bar bike with no hand fatigue then I guess a mountain bike or hybrid would be fine.

Last edited by GovernorSilver; 09-08-15 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 09-08-15, 08:38 AM   #5
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I have nothing to add to this thread but a big WELCOME to commuting. It's such a great avenue to have fun, get exercise, see sites, and pedal off work frustrations.
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Old 09-08-15, 10:59 AM   #6
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Welcome to the forum! It's great that you're planning to join in on bike commuting. It's awesome. My guess is that if 8 of your 10 mile commute is on dirt and gravel, you'll be happiest with either a hardtail mountain bike or a cross bike. The Bianchi Lupo is $1050 (you might get an older one for less) and looks good to me. It comes with 32 mm tires and will take fenders and racks: Lupo | Bianchi USA. (Full disclosure: I ride a Bianchi Volpe and love it. I've got a thing for steel frames.)

I would definitely be sure that whatever bike you get will accept fenders.
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Old 09-08-15, 11:25 AM   #7
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80% of a 10mi ride on dirt/gravel sounds like a blast!

I think some of the biggest considerations you should be looking at are:

Fork: If you get a shock, make sure it can lock-out because rigidity is needed for climbing efficiency and you don't need a shock on the road anyways, but you can turn it on for rough trails when it makes sense

Tires: the wider the tires you can get on there, the lower the pressure you can run them, so the more you can perhaps not need a fork. But you also want a tire that has a slick-ish center profile so they don't eat up your energy on the road.

Mounting options: most people don't like to ride long distances with backpacks because of sweat/discomfort. So you want a bike that has rack mounts. Depending on whether you plan to ever ride in the rain, you might want fenders, but maybe not if you're mostly off-road, because it could be rattly.

Bars: you linked four different flatbar bikes. But the cyclocross/gravel-grinder 'style' of bike typically has a drop bar. As noted above, you do get more hand positions that way, which is good for hand fatigue and also getting low out of the wind. If a flat bar is what you want, it can certainly work fine for you, but maybe consider drops too.

In addition to the bikes you linked, if you can tolerate a small amount of assembly (screw in pedals, rotate&tighten stem), consider options from bikesdirect.com, you may well be able to shave a few hundred off and still be able to kit up with rack, lights etc within your budget.

Also, consider buying a used, rigid MTB for ~200 from your local craigslist to try out your ride, get familiar with the terrain, buy yourself some time to buy the 'right' bike. There's another user around here 'tsl' that often gives the good advice that the purpose of your 1st bike is to learn what you want in your 2nd bike.
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Old 09-08-15, 11:56 AM   #8
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Take a look at the Jamis Nova Sport. I am just getting into commuting as well and will be picking this bike up soon. I think it's the perfect mix of affordability and preformance. It's a cyclocross bike, built for trial riding, and it has disk brakes which was an important factor for me so I can commute year round in Minnesota. It takes both racks and fenders. It accepts tires up to 40c, and comes stock with 32c tires.

I would post a link but it looks like their updating their website.... I'll update this when it comes available. For now, here's the product page from a UK retailer
Jamis Nova Sport 2015 Cyclocross Bike | Evans Cycles
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Old 09-08-15, 12:33 PM   #9
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I would post a link but it looks like their updating their website....
Looks like they've finished updating - it now shows the new steel Renegade models - the Exploit, Expat, and Exile! I notice they separated these bikes into the Adventure category, instead of listing them under Road as before.

I test-rode a Renegade Expert (105 carbon version) this past Saturday and was impressed. It was one of my top two favorites (the other being a Volagi Viaje XL) among the adventure road bikes I tried out. Those two were both smooth rides over rough surfaces, and were just fun to ride in general. Can't wait until one of the LBS' around here gets the new models in stock!
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Old 09-08-15, 12:43 PM   #10
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Nice to hear a positive review of the Viaje, as that's one of the options I'm considering for my N+1...
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Old 09-08-15, 01:36 PM   #11
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if your budget is $1K then really it might be only $500 cuz you'll spend money over the next year in gear
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Old 09-08-15, 02:07 PM   #12
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if your budget is $1K then really it might be only $500 cuz you'll spend money over the next year in gear
Not far from the truth, actually. The cost of add-ons like lights (a must-have if you're going to be commuting, unless you get to ride home at 3pm or something), fenders, waterproof backpack or pannier, etc. does add up.
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Old 09-08-15, 02:30 PM   #13
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Nice to hear a positive review of the Viaje, as that's one of the options I'm considering for my N+1...
When Volagi was still based in CA, the company owner stopped by Bikenetic, the shop where I test-rode the Viaje, and dropped off several bikes and frames. Bikenetic thus became a Volagi dealer. Every Viaje owner i've heard from has given an enthusiastic review. It was one of the Bikenetic guys who suggested a test ride on the one in-stock Viaje, even though it was a size 57, which in theory should have been oversized for me. I was surprised how comfortable I was on this bike - I should have, in theory, been stretched out over the top tube, but this wasn't the case. At my level of cycling experience, I figured all these road bikes would ride about the same for me, but the Viaje and the Renegade were clearly a step up from the others. I would have loved to try one my size (should be closer to 54 cm), wider tires like the ones on the Renegade, and Shimano 105 components and shifting (like the Renegade). The in-stock Viaje was configured with SRAM Apex components and double-tap shifting, which killed my initial test climb when I accidentally shifted in the wrong direction.

The Bikenetic guy's personal Viaje is set up with 40mm ( I think ) tires, and quite muddy from regular cyclocross training and off-road joyrides. It's got the California badge on it.

I love to travel, so Volagi's current offer appeals to me, all the more because the bike is such a great ride - buy a bike direct from them, they help with the flight cost to fly over to their HQ in Utah, put you through a pro fitting, let you ride the bike wherever you want over there, take you out to dinner, and put you up in a hotel for one night. Then you can either take the bike home with you or they'll ship it for free. The Bikenetic guy said if I buy it through the shop instead, I get free warranty service from the shop, in exchange for giving up the trip to UT and the red carpet treatment.

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Old 09-09-15, 10:38 AM   #14
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Consider the coastal weather. Are you going to ride on muddy or just damp dirt trails? If so you will want full length fenders, so you want a bike that will take fenders.

I don't think you need a mountain bike unless you're mountain biking, and such a bike would be about ten or fifteen minutes slower over an hour commute than a road bike.
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Old 09-09-15, 10:50 AM   #15
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I love to travel, so Volagi's current offer appeals to me, all the more because the bike is such a great ride - buy a bike direct from them, they help with the flight cost to fly over to their HQ in Utah, put you through a pro fitting, let you ride the bike wherever you want over there, take you out to dinner, and put you up in a hotel for one night. Then you can either take the bike home with you or they'll ship it for free. The Bikenetic guy said if I buy it through the shop instead, I get free warranty service from the shop, in exchange for giving up the trip to UT and the red carpet treatment.
Wow, that's pretty awesome! Looks like they totally revamped their website over the last month or two, good resources on fitting as well.
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Old 09-09-15, 10:18 PM   #16
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Ride your cannondale. Try the route on a weekend when there is no pressure to be on time or anything. Some of us are doing some dirt road single track and gravel on 23 and 25mm tires on regular road racing bikes. Get some Gatorskins in size 25 and check it out. Plus, riding your current bike will be fun. Put some new tires and bar tape. Adjust brakes and shifting and check it out. Don't buy any thing yet.
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