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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 08-24-05, 04:20 PM   #1
inbrooklyn
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good bike for city commuting?

Hi

I'm looking to replace my heavy mountain bike with a fast, lightweight bike for commuting in NYC (8 miles each way) and the occasional long ride. I've been looking at road bikes, but someone recently suggested a lightweight hybrid with thin tires. I'd prefer to get a road bike but don't know how practical it would be for errand-running etc. Any suggestions (under $1000)?
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Old 08-24-05, 10:34 PM   #2
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Moved for obvious reasons.

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Old 08-24-05, 10:43 PM   #3
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I just got a Trek 1000C...it's been treating me great. It has a longer wheelbase so it rides like a cadillac. I paid $699.99 for it.
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Old 08-25-05, 12:02 AM   #4
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since you said 'occasional long ride', i think you should get a cyclocross bike. Faster and more comfortable for longer rides than a hybrid, and the cx's clearance for wider tires are better on bad city roads than a road bike
then get 2 wheelsets
700x23 for fast road riding
700x32(or 28) for rough city roads
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Old 08-25-05, 04:10 AM   #5
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A flat-bar road bike such as the Specialized Sirrus is ideal. This is more of a light-touring style of bike (minus the drop bars).
If drop bars dont scare you, then a light touring bike is good. You do need to ensure adaquate tyre clearance. Mine has room for 32mm tyres + fenders and is fitted with Shimano long-drop caliper brakes rather than the racing style short calipers. With rack, lights and fenders it is a perfectly practical utility bike. I keep the same tyres for utility and leisure use, but try to use 28mm in summer and heavier duty 32 in winter.
Cyclo-cross bikes are another good alternative with even more clearance.
Jamis make some good models.
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Old 08-25-05, 06:54 PM   #6
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Have you looked at some of the Euro-style "city bikes" out there, such as the Breezer Uptown 8? I'm thinking of ditching my MTB for such a bike, for my 8 mile commute.
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Old 08-26-05, 08:13 AM   #7
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I agree - cyclocross or faster hybrid. I lived in for Brooklyn quite a while and owned several different bikes while I was there. If you can afford and have space for multiple bikes, it's nice to have a pretty road bike for long rides. But if you're primarily commuting, running errands and riding locally in the Fourth Largest City in America, you are going to be nagged with tires & wheels problems with a road bike. I also found that toe clips set loose enough to slip in and out made the best pedals for these purposes.
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Old 08-26-05, 12:44 PM   #8
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A flat-bar roadbike should do the trick nicely. You want aggressive roadbike geometry for speed and weight, and you want flat handlebars for low speed control. There are numerous examples of this design. I would recommend a Giant FCR (which I ride) or a Specialized Sirrus (which my fiancé rides).

My personal recommendation would be the FCR 2 ($770). The Sirrus Sport ($800) has inferior parts and has disc brakes, which are a bit overkill for city braking (basically, a waste). The Sirrus Elite ($900) has comparable parts (Shimano on the Sirrus vs SRAM on the FCR), but is a bit more expensive and has toe-straps (the FCR has clipless peddles). In short, the FCR 2 is the best deal.
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Old 08-26-05, 02:34 PM   #9
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My Kona Dew Deluxe would fit the bill. I commute with my Sirrus on fairly smooth roads,but if I had to go through downtown,I'd want the 37's on my Kona.

Krazy Koz: disc brakes work better in the rain and waay better in the snow,they don't wear your rims,and the pads last much longer. After last winter,I'll never commute on rim brakes again. If fact,the only downside I can think of is having to MacGuyver fenders/racks to mount them.
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Old 08-26-05, 03:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s_bachmeier
Have you looked at some of the Euro-style "city bikes" out there, such as the Breezer Uptown 8? I'm thinking of ditching my MTB for such a bike, for my 8 mile commute.
I have a Trek L200 which is like this Breezer uptown 8 but with a horizontal top tube. It works for 10 mile trips. I've had it for almost a year and use it most days. The rear transmission is heavy but works VERY well compared with Nexus 7 and even Sachs 7. But, it reads like the original poster isn't thinking "utility bike".
What I like about the style is that it comes as an integrated package you don't have to fit aftermarket mudgaurds, lights and luggage racks.
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Old 08-26-05, 10:32 PM   #11
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I've got a Breezer citizen I ride around Philadelphia. I am used to riding mountain bikes and road bikes that are built a little more for speed, but I am rather pleased with this bike. It's just a three speed, but I am rather impressed with its speed capabilities. I also find the geometry ideal for city riding where I have to make a number of stops and be able to look around to see traffic, I can stay pretty well stopped on a dime and clear and intersection with my eyes without having to get off the bike. And it's easy to get off and on when I have to.
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Old 08-27-05, 11:46 AM   #12
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Dynarider: I know what disc brakes are for and what there particular advantages are. However, the person who started this thread wouldn't from the content of my post. So, kudos to you.

Now, allow me to rebut your point. While discs are more responsive than rim brakes, I don't think that a person riding in the city needs that much braking power. They are very helpful on a mountain bike path, where you may have to suddenly brake or ride your brakes when going down hill while they're wet. I have ridden bikes with disc brakes in the exact same conditions that you describe and found that the only advantages they provide is shorter braking time. In the city, almost all the stops you come across are planned (stop lights, signs, ect.), and therefore any reasonably attentive rider can compensate and start braking a little earlier. Having made a ten mile commute 2 to 3 times a week for about six months now, I can safely say that I have never been in a situation where I needed (or even wanted) disc brakes.

Additionally, I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone using them so much that they damage or wear their rims to any meaningful extent. While they do wear quicker, the frequency with which you would change either type is pretty infrequent.

Ergo, I will stand by my earlier statement: for city riding, disc brakes are overkill. I would not recommend that Inbrooklyn make them a priority while shopping for a good commuting bike.
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Old 08-27-05, 10:19 PM   #13
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On a $700 bike, I'd rather have rim brakes and better components than disc brakes and inferior components. Kool Stops are cheap. If money were no object (only the foolish would buy an expensive commuter given all the excellent used bikes out there, and all the rain, snow, etc. that takes it's toll on the mechanicals, not to mention thieves) I guess I'd go with one of the $1k flat bar bikes. But fact is, my wife's 1995ish unsuspended Specialized Rock Hopper with skinny tires is a better commuter than my 2004 Giant Cypress SX. And, now that I know about craigslist (ebay too expensive), I have seen literally dozens of bikes I'd rather have than what I've got.

There is something to be said about buying a new bike. It usually works perfectly. But a simple tune up on a $100 craigslist bike nets you the same, but is usually a better bike. They just don't make them like they used to.
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Old 08-27-05, 10:52 PM   #14
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Cyclecross or something like a Giant FCR.

And also get a bike with road gears. you'll appreciate it on long rides if you want to ride fast.
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Old 08-27-05, 11:39 PM   #15
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Lots of options, but I'll throw in some props for a Bianchi Volpe. Love mine. LOVE it. Very versatile and affordable w/ patient shopping. 700x32 wheels. Fenders. Eyelets for racks on the rear and front. If you can score a used one around 1999-2000 in decent shape, the stays are slightly longer for a more stable ride and room for panniers. The plush ride of steel. It's a great all-arounder.
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Old 08-28-05, 06:54 AM   #16
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The Surly Cross Check complete usually goes for $850 (without pedals). I love mine. It has close to roadbike geometry (it's a little more upright) but it will take thin or thick tires + fenders.
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Old 08-28-05, 08:07 AM   #17
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I wouldn't ride drop bars in the city. With all of the looking around you're going to have to do to avoid cars, and with all the maneuvering, flat bars make more sense. But, try both. One good thing about buying a Surly or Soma, is that you can convert the drops to flat bars if desired. You'll just have to change out the brifters for cheap shifters and brakes. And the Surly & Soma will still look good.
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Old 08-28-05, 08:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsyptak
I wouldn't ride drop bars in the city. With all of the looking around you're going to have to do to avoid cars, and with all the maneuvering, flat bars make more sense. But, try both. One good thing about buying a Surly or Soma, is that you can convert the drops to flat bars if desired. You'll just have to change out the brifters for cheap shifters and brakes. And the Surly & Soma will still look good.
I have drop bars (Salsa "Short & Shallow") on my Soma Doublecross and left the steering tube the full length as supplied by Soma. As a result, the bars are at the same height as the saddle, so I get a relatively upright position when my hands are next to the stem, or down a little farther on the hoods, or down even farther in the drops (almost never, for me). I do like the variety of hand positions available from this setup.

I wish I'd gone with barcons instead of the 105 brifters though.
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Old 08-28-05, 10:13 PM   #19
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Well I recently bought a Trek 7500fx for commuting in NYC, and I love it. I was shopping in the same price range as you and this one hit the sweet spot for me in terms of price and quality. The bike itself was about $650, but don't forget the cost of any secondary items you will need such as fenders, rack, lights, locks, etc etc.

Regarding the disc brake sub-thread: when I started shopping for my bike, disc brakes were on my short list of required features. And the 7500fx is available with disc brakes as an option. But the added cost convinced me not to get discs, plus the LBS salesman's conviction that they would interfere with installing both a rack and fenders.

That being said, I would like to counter-rebut the idea that city cycling does not require immediate braking. I suspect that the different perspectives shown in this thread have a lot to do with the relative density and bike-friendliness of the cities in which the posters reside. In NYC, immediate braking is far from rare. In case anyone doesn't know, NYC is a city of inveterate and unobservant jaywalking pedestrians, aggressive and incompetent cab drivers, and extremely crowded streets. IMO the items in the 'against' column for getting discs on a commuter bike in NYC are price and making your bike less attractive to thieves. IMO there's no question they would be useful.
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Old 08-29-05, 12:42 PM   #20
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Krazy Koz: I assumed from the OP's username and posting that he would be riding year-round in NYC. NYC can get quite alot of snow. After my experiences from last winter in DC's comparatively few snow days,there's no way I wouldn't at least have one disc-equipped bike in my stable. I only rode in actual snow fall three times,but that was enough to convince me of the short-comings of rim brakes in snow. Even if I only really need them for one ride,I don't want to bounce off another car.
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