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Old 02-10-17, 05:34 AM   #1
zeppinger
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Need advice on a new city commuter. Linus vs Windsor

Hey all,

I am moving to Chicago in a few months and starting to do some research on what bike I will get. I will be going car-free there after having to own one for the last several years living in the countryside. I REALLY want a dutch style commuter with integrated lights and full chain case but I cant afford anything I have look at. The choice I keep coming down to are the Windsor Oxford/Kensington and the Linus Roadster Sport 3/8.

City bikes, vintage bicycles, european bicycles, retro bikes, linus bike, commuter bikes, vintage bikes, city bikes, european bikes, retro bicycles, commuter bicycles, roadster - Linus Bike

Save Up To 60% Off Town Bikes | Classic, Stylish Three Speed City Bikes | Urban Bikes | Commuter Road Bikes | Windsor Oxford from bikesdirect.com

Both bikes are available with either a 3 or 8 speed internal hub which would be nice for city/winter riding. I am not sure how many gears I should have in Chicago which is mostly flat so I am open to suggestions on that. It seems that either way, the Linus bikes price out to be about 3x the price of the Windors. What do you think you get for that increase in price? Higher quality frame and wheels? Both bikes get good reviews online and I am also an at-home bike mechanic so I can fix just about anything if it brakes. I am just confused since a lot of the parts on the bikes are the same so.... is it just marketing and a hip brand name? Anything else I should consider looking at?
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Old 02-10-17, 12:33 PM   #2
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Mail order bikes require assembly, and while assembly isn't hard, it's easy to mess up which affects the performance and durability of the bike. If you're not already good with bikes, this is not a good place to start.

When you buy a bike at a bike shop, you can be sure you're getting the right size. The shop will assemble the bike, and it will service it if there are problems in the assembly or manufacture of the bike. You get none of these with a mail order bike.

Those bikes from bikesdirect are generally of lower quality than bike shop bikes. That's fine if you know what you're getting, but you need to understand that you are getting what you pay for, not some amazingly hard-to-believe bargain.
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Old 02-10-17, 01:31 PM   #3
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I don't find a lot to choose between the "deluxe" 3-speed Oxford for $400 and the Linus Roadster Sport at $600. The former has all possible discounts "baked out" and the latter has all possible markups "baked in." The latter will have been through the hands of a bike shop who assembled it and might have done some extra work on it.
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Old 02-10-17, 04:05 PM   #4
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Modern utility bikes are an update of the classic English three speed bike.

The one most of us rode on from the 1930s through the 1980s. They're practical transportation and represent the quintessential city bike.

3 speeds is the minimum though if you can afford it, go with 8. You can never have too many gears.
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Old 02-10-17, 05:36 PM   #5
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I have only seen the two bikes being compared one time each. I was not able to compare them side by side either; however, it really looked like they were made on the same line.

I would consider having the BD bike shipped directly to a bike shop that will assemble. Then use the money saved to have the shop put some lights, and upgraded brake pads on it before you ever ride it. You will still come out money ahead.
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Old 02-10-17, 05:47 PM   #6
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One of the controversies that divides the cycling community is whether 3 speeds is too few... or too many.

I live in Madison WI, and use a 3-speed for commuting, shopping, and getting around town. It's my favorite setup for city riding. The gear spacing is pretty wide, so I'm rarely in the "right" gear for any particular conditions -- wind, grade, and load -- but I'm seldom in such a hurry that I need to ride at the fastest possible speed.

Do either of the bikes have enough frame clearance for studded tires? I prefer studs during the winter.
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Old 02-10-17, 05:51 PM   #7
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I have only seen the two bikes being compared one time each. I was not able to compare them side by side either; however, it really looked like they were made on the same line.

I would consider having the BD bike shipped directly to a bike shop that will assemble. Then use the money saved to have the shop put some lights, and upgraded brake pads on it before you ever ride it. You will still come out money ahead.
+1 My sister has an 8 speed mixte Windsor. Its an excellent bike. It does need assembly. The wheels needed truing and the brakes adjustment. Other than that it as perfect.

If I was in the market for this type of bike I wouldn't hesitate to get a Windsor. If a lbs charges 100.00 to assemble it your still ahead.
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Old 02-10-17, 05:56 PM   #8
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I would start by reading: City Bikes | LocalMile

Then visit: https://jclindbikes.com

And for a bit on biking Chicago read: https://letsgorideabike.com

And maybe keep up with these fine folks: http://chi.streetsblog.org

My most used bike in The Netherlands is a single speed and the other is 3-speed. Both work well. I also have a 3-speed in Minneapolis and one in Florida that work well. If you're in a relatively flat area a single or 3-speed will be fine. If you have hills to climb then you'll want to consider an 8-speed or perhaps a Nuvinci variable.

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Old 02-10-17, 08:22 PM   #9
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Mail order bikes require assembly, and while assembly isn't hard, it's easy to mess up which affects the performance and durability of the bike. If you're not already good with bikes, this is not a good place to start.

When you buy a bike at a bike shop, you can be sure you're getting the right size. The shop will assemble the bike, and it will service it if there are problems in the assembly or manufacture of the bike. You get none of these with a mail order bike.

Those bikes from bikesdirect are generally of lower quality than bike shop bikes. That's fine if you know what you're getting, but you need to understand that you are getting what you pay for, not some amazingly hard-to-believe bargain.
As I said before, I have a lot of experience as a bike mechanic and am completely comfortable assembling the bike and truing. I do all my own repairs at home and dont need to establish a relationship with an LBS.
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Old 02-10-17, 10:15 PM   #10
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I would pay extra and get the Gaston with cromo frame and better Sturmey Archer 3sp. Start in 1st gear and cruise in 2nd, Nothing easier. It comes with a good gear ratio.
I have seen a bunch of commuting Linus bikes here. Including our civic bike lane and issues rep, his is an 8 sp I think. The handlebars are real nice. I love my SA 5w, city or highway.

The Windsor will be a cheap inferior bike.
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Old 02-11-17, 07:22 AM   #11
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I would pay extra and get the Gaston with cromo frame and better Sturmey Archer 3sp. Start in 1st gear and cruise in 2nd, Nothing easier. It comes with a good gear ratio.
I have seen a bunch of commuting Linus bikes here. Including our civic bike lane and issues rep, his is an 8 sp I think. The handlebars are real nice. I love my SA 5w, city or highway.

The Windsor will be a cheap inferior bike.
What makes the Sturmey Archer hub better? Just that its not a twist shift?
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Old 02-11-17, 07:59 AM   #12
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I have only seen the two bikes being compared one time each. I was not able to compare them side by side either; however, it really looked like they were made on the same line.

I would consider having the BD bike shipped directly to a bike shop that will assemble. Then use the money saved to have the shop put some lights, and upgraded brake pads on it before you ever ride it. You will still come out money ahead.
I've seen the Linus and it has much better parts overall. Having said that, I own the Windsor and it's not that bad. I would take it to a LBS and have them strengthen the rear wheel. After three years, I was breaking rear spokes and had to have all of the them replaced with better ones. Other than that, get a set of Mr. Tuffy tire lines to avoid getting flats.
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Old 02-11-17, 08:02 AM   #13
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I'm not going to give specific advice because I don't know any of the bikes. But in general I believe it's much nicer to work on a high quality bike than on a poor one. I think you should rethink your assumption that you could buy a bike of lesser quality because you're a competent home mechanic. That's only a good reason when it comes to the assembly part.

Quality can vary in all components, the steel used for the frame, handlebars, fenders and the wheels, the paint job and other rust proofing, the barings, the plastics, the tolerances. But that's more relevant at both extremes of the spectrum and when it comes to durability. Probably both bikes won't make it into the next century, and the Windsor doesn't strike me as particularly bad made bike either. I don't expect a big difference, but aren't there any reviews of people who used bikes of those brands for years?

I have a Sturmey Archer 3-speed and it has enough gears for the windy but flat surroundings here. 1st is just for getting up to speed or very strong head wind, I often skip second because I like the slow torquey cadence of 3rd so much, but that's personal and physical. I would like the same ratio's and a 4th gear.

Can one have too many gears? Not if the number of gears doesn't increase the internal resistance of the mechanism, unlike the mentioned NuVinci (too expensive anyway). Shimano7 had a resistance issue also, but the Shimano8 doesn't. But I don't think the exact ratios are that important, you'll get used it, you don't have to adapt the bike exactly to the muscles, the muscles will adapt to the bike in about 20 rides.
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Old 02-11-17, 08:08 AM   #14
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As I said before, I have a lot of experience as a bike mechanic and am completely comfortable assembling the bike and truing. I do all my own repairs at home and dont need to establish a relationship with an LBS.
With this being said, I would not hesitate recommending the BD bike.
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Old 02-11-17, 08:59 AM   #15
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The bd bike was as nice as the treks and giants I used to sell. Way better for the money.
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Old 02-11-17, 09:00 AM   #16
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What makes the Sturmey Archer hub better? Just that its not a twist shift?
The SA 3 has the proven better design. It has a proper direct drive in 2nd, so the same as a 98% efficient SS. It feels VERY solid, compared to derailleurs. I don't think the Shimano has this. Yes, I think a twist shifter is a horrible idea, mostly because of how it interferes with the proper placement and use of the brake lever. My shifter is on the TT, so the cable is way shorter and doesn't clutter the front and steering. The Gaston is similar with placement on the DT. Down shifting will be mostly when coasting or stopped anyway, IME. The shift speed will be around 13 mph, mine is a notch higher at 14. Top speed is over 30 mph, with 46/18T at 92.5 GI. You will NOT miss your stupid deraillers, especially if comparing the same GIs. Your natural cadence tends to encourage you to the higher end of the gear's range, which is GOOD.

One other thing to consider, is that the dropout is 120 mm. Switching to more gears later could be limiting.

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Old 02-11-17, 09:16 AM   #17
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Here is my semi-solicited advice: Wait until you get to Chicago to decide. There will be bike shops that carry each brand. You will be able to inspect and ride each brand. In fact, you will be overwhelmed by bike brands and choices, both new and used.

You don't say where in "Chicagoland" you will be living, and whether or not you will need the bike to commute. If for commuting, I would wait to see what kind of parking situation you will have: Indoor, outdoor protected, unprotected, etc. The same for your living situation as it would not be prudent to leave a desirable, new bike on the street, no matter how well locked up.

Also if you will be car free, what is the public transportation situation? My brother, who lives 25 miles from downtown walks 3/4 of a mile to the train which takes him a couple of blocks from his office. Growing up in Chicago, we were able to take the bus to almost anywhere in the city we wanted to go, Cubs games, museums, work, school.

If you need a bike immediately, I'd spend 50 or a hundred bucks on an "craigslist commuter". This will give you time to research in person the bike you want and get the right fit, which is also important. Then you will have a back-up bike for your main ride is in need of repair, or if your commuting situation is less than secure for your "good" bike.

Even if your bike is mostly for pleasure, I would wait until Chicago to choose and purchase. Again you will have greater choices and better be able to inspect and size your bike...and also you have a better chance of finding a great Local Bike Shop which will make your Chicago cycling experience even better.

It's been many (many!) years since I cycled in Chicago, but from what I read here on bikeforums, and see on my visits, it should be amazing! Good luck!
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Old 02-11-17, 09:56 AM   #18
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IGH whether SA or Shimano, are reliable and bombproof. Their main advantage over derailleur mech is that you can shift gears even when stopped, like in typical city riding.
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Old 02-11-17, 10:35 AM   #19
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I would pay extra and get the Gaston with cromo frame and better Sturmey Archer 3sp.
+1

I think it's worth the $70 jump from the Roadster 3-speed, and comes out $160 cheaper than the Roadster 8-speed. Even if they were priced the same, I'd still choose the Sturmey 3-sp with shift lever over the 8-sp Nexus with twist shift because I have a strong personal preference there, and since I am in my late 40s and still riding a single speed in the SF bay area, I think a 3-sp is all I would ever need in a place like Chicago.
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Old 02-11-17, 01:44 PM   #20
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Sorry I didn't notice your original mention of your skills.

I bought a mail order bike once, and the experience was good. The price was insanely low, so I couldn't resist. Workmanship on the partial assembly at the factory was bad, and I had to correct everything. All bearings were too tight and under-greased. The rims were disappointingly heavy, but hey, I saved money. The pedals were super uncomfortable, but I have plenty of spares. The spokes were under-tensioned. Worse than all of that, the quality of the nuts and bolts etc, were substandard. This is a quality that is rarely measured or mentioned, and in the end, it does affect the overall experience.

But truly, I was satisfied. I expected substandard at that price. It was a fixed gear bike, so there was less to go wrong on the road. I could easily have replaced the crappy brake pads, but I did half of my braking with my legs, so they didn't matter. I had fun with the bike until it was stolen. The theft didn't hurt much because the investment had been so low.

So if you're up for an experience like mine, enjoy it, and enjoy your savings of money. Just don't fool yourself into believing the chief difference between a Windsor and a Linus are price.

You should also consider Biria bikes. They look like Linus bikes, but their build quality is even higher. My LBS guy sold both. In fact, he was the biggest Linus dealer in the US for a while. He said the paint on the Biria was noticeably better. But they cost more and may be beyond your budget.

Another problem I have with mail order bikes is that you can get something better for the same or less money in a used bike. Used bikes are never perfect, but you can compensate for that with your skill and some money to replace the problem components. The downside is that it takes time to find the right used bike.
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Old 02-11-17, 03:52 PM   #21
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Would you consider a used bike? You're likely to get better quality at a lower price than with any new bike under 1.5k.

I bought a blue Linus Roadster 8 for $300 on Craigslist a few years ago and it's been fine.

I'm only riding it now because my normal commuter, a red '87 Peugeot Orient Express had a frame failure

The Linus is fine, some people love the internal hub, especially the 8 speed -- apparently it's an expensive component.

I prefer lever shifting, which for me is much more responsive.

I think for $500 or less you could find a used bike of much better quality than either the new Linus or Windsor -- not to mention the possibility of lugs!

Though I get that there is a following for this type of new bike, and with Linus (and maybe Windsor), there are many options for factory accessories.

I've heard for this style people like Pashley, though I think they may be costly?

Pashley Cycles | Classic Ladies & Mens Bikes UK

I suppose there's more risk and fewer (if any) warranties when buying used. I seem to remember reading of people having minor issues with the shipping of Windsors (but it could've been a similar brand), so if it's between them, go Linus, though it definitely wouldn't be my first choice given the variety of used available.

For you I might recommend something like either of these:

Bridgestone XO-5 Vintage 20" Hybrid Commuter Bike 4130 CroMo Excellent | eBay

Bridgestone MB-4 mounatin bike, Original Suntour components. 56cm x 56cm | eBay
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Old 02-12-17, 02:38 AM   #22
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Worse than all of that, the quality of the nuts and bolts etc, were substandard. This is a quality that is rarely measured or mentioned, and in the end, it does affect the overall experience.
True, I tried to use a nut from probably an inferior children's bike on the axle of an early 80's Gazelle (which were still very well build), without paying much attention to it because a nut is a nut. It was going on well so I used more and more force until it started turning more smoothly but still a lot of force was required. After about 5 turns I saw that there were curls of iron coming out of the nut. It was the wrong thread and I was cutting a fresh one, once I realized that I feared I had wrecked the axle. I cleaned the thread of the axle, got the right nut and it went on smoothly and there was hardly any noticeable damage to the thread of the axle when turning the right nut.

This had nothing to do with my strength, I was about 13 years old and small for my age, so I learned about significant differences in steel quality at a young age. I've worked on a few bikes since, and in general it's nicer to work on a rusty 50 year old good quality bike than on a 5 year old inferior bike.
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Old 02-12-17, 08:37 AM   #23
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True, I tried to use a nut from probably an inferior children's bike on the axle of an early 80's Gazelle (which were still very well build), without paying much attention to it because a nut is a nut. It was going on well so I used more and more force until it started turning more smoothly but still a lot of force was required. After about 5 turns I saw that there were curls of iron coming out of the nut. It was the wrong thread and I was cutting a fresh one, once I realized that I feared I had wrecked the axle. I cleaned the thread of the axle, got the right nut and it went on smoothly and there was hardly any noticeable damage to the thread of the axle when turning the right nut.

This had nothing to do with my strength, I was about 13 years old and small for my age, so I learned about significant differences in steel quality at a young age. I've worked on a few bikes since, and in general it's nicer to work on a rusty 50 year old good quality bike than on a 5 year old inferior bike.
Your lack of paying attention and using the wrong sized nut was the cause of your problem, not the alleged quality of the bicycle that was the source of the nut. A wrong sized, high quality nut taken from the highest quality bicycle would have produced the same result.
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Old 02-12-17, 09:34 AM   #24
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Your lack of paying attention and using the wrong sized nut was the cause of your problem, not the alleged quality of the bicycle that was the source of the nut. A wrong sized, high quality nut taken from the highest quality bicycle would have produced the same result.
It would probably have ruined the thread on the axle.
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Old 02-12-17, 10:13 AM   #25
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It would probably have ruined the thread on the axle.
The "correct" high quality nuts for S-A IGH axles (presumably the wheel in question on your Gazelle bike) will always strip the threads off the nut, rather than the axle when over torqued or cross threaded on to an S-A axle, they are designed and manufactured that way.

The point remains - your anecdote of youthful blunder in hardware selection proves nothing about bicycle quality.
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