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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 12-28-15, 09:46 AM   #1
azbean
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Commuting bike choice

Hello everybody! I have been commuting 3 miles to work each way via the local bikeshare program for a year and am looking to upgrade to a full-on commuter bike. I'm trying to decide what kind of bike to get. I'm looking at two bikes online:

1. Nashbar Flat Bar Road Bike
2. Diamondback Insight Flat Bar Road Bike

Any advice on which of these two bikes to select / thoughts on the frame and components? I would also purchase a rack, rack trunk, fenders, and peddles. I would pay the LBS for assembly and future tune-ups.

Alternatively, I could buy a bike at the LBS, but that would cost me at least $300 more to get the bike and all the parts, plus any labor. I'm not looking at used bikes because I want to buy something soon and don't want to wait for a good deal to pop up.

Please help me choose - thanks in advance for any advice!
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Old 12-28-15, 09:52 AM   #2
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Buy from a local friendly shop.

They will be soon be your best friend.
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Old 12-28-15, 10:00 AM   #3
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Unless you can setup and tune up the bike yourself, I agree with ten wheels. Entry level bike store bikes are just as nice as the bikes you are looking at, and you won't have to pay for setup/tune up labor. Have you visited any shops in your area?

The shop will also likely give you a discount on the accessories, and install them for you at no extra charge.

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Old 12-28-15, 10:03 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice guys! I have visited (and like!) two local shops. The issue is budget - between the new bike cost and cost of additional parts, I'm basically doubling a tight budget for the same bike. I'd have to count my pennies pretty carefully to make the LBS route work.
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Old 12-28-15, 10:06 AM   #5
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Then you have to learn to do your own labor. Are you handy with tools?

I like the Nashbar bike better than the Diamondback. 8 speed vs. 7, and less expensive too.
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Old 12-28-15, 10:13 AM   #6
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I don't know what your budget is but have you thought about IGH (internally geared hubs) for a commuter? 24 gears or more is overkill for most commuters and an IGH should give you long trouble free operation. Bikes direct sells 3 and 8 speed commuters that run more than the Nashbar but they do come with fenders and a rack:

City Bikes Save up to 60% off new Motobecane Bistro 7V Aluminum City Bikes from bikesdirect.com
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Old 12-28-15, 10:19 AM   #7
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AlmostTrick, I'm OK with tools. Would need to buy a full toolkit, which I should probably own anyways. Probably not going to buy the tools necessary to learn to true my wheels, though.

bikemig, I've considered, but feel like if I'm going to spend $500, I might as well bite the bullet and purchase through the LBS. As someone who has commuted on a heavy 3-speed bikeshare bike for the past year, though, I do agree that I would be a happy camper with far fewer than 21+ gears.
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Old 12-28-15, 10:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Unless you can setup and tune up the bike yourself, I agree with ten wheels. Entry level bike store bikes are just as nice as the bikes you are looking at, and you won't have to pay for setup/tune up labor. Have you visited any shops in your area?

The shop will also likely give you a discount on the accessories, and install them for you at no extra charge.
I agree with this, unless you can do all the install and set-up work yourself. The higher upfront cost of going to a LBS you are able to establish a relationship with can pay dividends and result in savings down the road.
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Old 12-28-15, 10:25 AM   #9
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You don't need to buy the racks, fenders etc. now. Those are nice to have, but not essential. For a 3 mile commute, any backpack will work fine until you save up the money for the accessories.
The advantages of buying your entry level commuter bike from a bike shop are that they already assembled it, and they usually offer free adjustments for life. That really helps out at first.
If you take your online bought bike to the shop, they will charge you full price for everything. Assembly will cost probably $100, tune-ups are about $100, flat repair about $10, etc.
That really adds up after a while, and makes your online purchase not as cost effective.
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Old 12-28-15, 11:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azbean View Post
...
Any advice on which of these two bikes to select / thoughts on the frame and components? I would also purchase a rack, rack trunk, fenders, and peddles. I would pay the LBS for assembly and future tune-ups.
...
As others have implied, that part is a deal-killer for the online route. You might not even come out ahead on the initial outlay when paying shop labor for setup, not even including future tune-ups.

Between the two bikes, the Nashbar flat bar is spec'ed better in my opinion although I question the "road bike" designation. It would be a fine bike for your commute, especially at that price, but only if you're willing to do the setup and maintenance. It's fortunately not that hard if you decide to go that route.
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Old 12-28-15, 11:18 AM   #11
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Thanks for the useful advice, everyone! Seems like the LBS is only slightly more expensive but significantly more convenient and safer (warranty).

Advantage of purchasing online is marginal cost savings and learning some handy bike fixing skills.
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Old 12-28-15, 11:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azbean View Post
AlmostTrick, I'm OK with tools. Would need to buy a full toolkit, which I should probably own anyways. Probably not going to buy the tools necessary to learn to true my wheels, though.

bikemig, I've considered, but feel like if I'm going to spend $500, I might as well bite the bullet and purchase through the LBS. As someone who has commuted on a heavy 3-speed bikeshare bike for the past year, though, I do agree that I would be a happy camper with far fewer than 21+ gears.
No need; just buy the tools you need as you need them.

This is especially true with a new bike since there will be several items you will not need for a while (like a chain breaker)...
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Old 12-28-15, 02:16 PM   #13
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If you buy the nashbar bike you'll have to take it to the LBS to have it assembled anyway - unless you think you can do it. So there's an additional cost as well.
I would just buy the cheapest model the LBS has and at least you'll be able to take it there for service if needed.
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Old 12-28-15, 02:41 PM   #14
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$360. Rack and fender mounts. Nice commuter from the LBS


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Old 12-29-15, 07:25 PM   #15
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The Giant Escape 3, the bike in the post above, is a good commuter. Fast, nimble, great breaks, and mounts for fenders and rack. The only downside I can think of is if your used to 26" tires and not 700c is that it can be a rougher ride in comparison. But to be fair that's probably just a 26" vs 700c issue in general.

oh, one other thing, 26" tires are better in snow than 700c, at least that has been my experience so far.

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Old 12-29-15, 08:09 PM   #16
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Azbean,
Are your 3 miles relatively flat? If you were doing fine on a three speed that maybe wasn't even your size or adjusted to fit you, you should consider a coaster brake single speed. Sounds like you like the idea of bicycles and a bike like this-

will serve you while you contemplate a "nice" bike. Zero maintenance. This is at City Grounds in Long Beach CA. But they are everywhere. It reminds me of my Western Flyer after I took the fenders and chain guard off in 1969. Wish I still had it.
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Old 12-29-15, 08:14 PM   #17
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What's the rationale for ditching the bikeshare? Those bikes are just about perfect for a 3 mile commute and ZERO maintenance.
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Old 12-30-15, 12:10 AM   #18
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Thanks again to all for the thoughtful input. I'll definitely check out that Giant bike series.

Classtime, I'm not totally against a single speed, but was thinking of turning the commute home into an occasional longer workout.

Incidentally, kingston, that's one of the reasons I'm planning to ditch bikeshare. The others being annual cost that could go toward a nicer bike; inconvenience when running errands on the way home away from docking stations; and lights being inadequate during the winter months on the bike path. I'm a huge booster for the comfortable/bombproof bikeshare bikes, and their racks, fenders, and lights!! But I think it's time to upgrade.
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Old 12-30-15, 02:34 PM   #19
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If you are indeed up for learning to do some basic mechanical work, you could probably buy a nice '90s hybrid bike and set it up with skinny tires and full commuter gear for less than the price of the Nashbar bike. That's what I'd do. Honestly, if you were covering the 3 miles on bikeshare, you could probably do it on any vintage bike -- a Raleigh Sports can be a great commuter, for instance. Bikes from the '60s-'80s are cheaper and often better quality than what you'd get now.

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