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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 08-31-05, 06:46 PM   #1
sdsurfer
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Help me pick the best commuter bike

I'm sure many of you are sick of this classic question but I really would like your input on what would be the best commuter bike based on the following info? Basically I'll be commuting to work in San Diego (PB to North Park for any locals). My commute will be close to 20 miles each way. I would like a bike that is comfortable for long rides. They'll be some big hills along the way not to mention sand, etc. from the beach. If it makes any difference I'm about 6 ft tall and around 192 lbs.....
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Old 08-31-05, 07:06 PM   #2
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Since you've got no real weather concerns and will be going a pretty good ways you might start to look towards a classic touring rig.
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Old 08-31-05, 07:20 PM   #3
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I like to commute on a road bike. I have one that has relaxed geometry and an upright riding position, but still has drop handlebars. My commute is 15 miles each way and I'm quite comfortable. In my situation, I'm driving to work occassionally and dropping off supplies and clothes, so I don't have any loads to carry on my commute. I also don't commute in foul weather so I don't need fenders.

There's so many variables this is not an easy question to answer with little information to go on. What are the conditions of your roads? Do you plan on carrying loads to and from work, and if so how much and how heavy? Will you be commuting in the rain? Do you plan on using the bike for other purposes? How fast do you want to ride? Do you have many big hills or high winds to deal with?
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Old 08-31-05, 07:53 PM   #4
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I think the biggest thing you left out is your budget.
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Old 08-31-05, 08:24 PM   #5
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I'm in the process of constructing the best commuting bike (atleast according to me). Surly LHT, with a wheelset comprising of Mavic A719's, xt hubs, and double butted spokes, some sort of handlebar and stem from nashbar, chris king headset, aero bars with bar end shifters (incase theres a long car-free stretch of road), and some fenders, racks, cantilever brakes, gears ect, the type of which I have not decided yet.

In my mind the ideal commuter....
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Old 08-31-05, 09:22 PM   #6
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I agree on the suggestion of a tourer. It might be slightly more comfortable than a road racer and still faster or less effort than a hybrid or mtb. It can also carry more stuff. My objective going in to work is not to sweat too much, so I take it easy, and going home I get my exercise. I sweat a lot less on my touring bike than on my mountain bike.
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Old 08-31-05, 09:52 PM   #7
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I commuted from PB to SDSU for some time on a steel touring bike. I liked the comfort of steel and the geometry of the touring bike was very stable if a little boring. I don't think you could do much bettter for commuting. If your budget is high and you have a safe place for the bike at both ends, look at something upscale like a Rivendell Atlantis. If you need a more budget minded bike, consider the Surly LHT though you should be prepared for a build (sold as frame/fork only). If you really need a lower budget, find a bike w/ touring geometry that fits and w/ the right tires, you'll be fine.
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Old 09-01-05, 01:04 AM   #8
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single speed or xtracycle.

maybe a schwinn stingray with a lawn chair trailer...
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Old 09-01-05, 07:31 AM   #9
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If you haven't commuted before, check out the Koby swapmeet or Craigslist for a used bike. If you check around, you should be able to find a good quality bike for <$100. Clean it up, ride it for a few months and decide what qualities you want/need before investing in a new bike.
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Old 09-01-05, 09:12 AM   #10
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I tell everyone I know that my Fuji Absolute was the best purchase I ever made. I also got it a while back from the bike shop guy on a combination deal of "year end clearance/your best friend from high school is one of my buddies and co-workers and sent me in for a killer price" discount. Best purchase I ever made. Year close-outs are happening right now, though, for whatever you purchase. Now is a good time to get a bike for as much as 1/3 off.
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Old 09-01-05, 09:25 AM   #11
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A lightweight day-touring bike is good for long commutes. These are about the same weight as a (same priced) race bike but have more generous clearance for tyres and fenders + rack and fender threaded eyelets. You dont need an expedition tourer like the Surley LHT.
The Soma ES is a nice example of the style:
http://www.somafab.com/extrasmoothie.html
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Old 09-01-05, 09:29 AM   #12
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If you look at the Fuji, and there are clearance sales right now, consider this:

http://fujibikes.com/2005/bikes.asp?id=20

It has top brake bars like a touring bike but takes larger tires because it's a cyclocross.

Of course, I don't know how much you want to spend.
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Old 09-01-05, 09:32 AM   #13
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Here's what I want to do for my "best" commuter:
Surly CrossCheck cyclocross frame with horizontal dropouts
fenders, rack
Fixed fear with two wheel sets:
one with 28+mm kevlar slick tires
one with studded tires and a larger cog for bad conditions

Should provide a comfy ride, be very flexible and be able to handle the worst that Cleveland winters can dish out. Ofcourse a SoCal climate may allow for a different selection. I'd still stick with a touring or cyclocross frame to allow for more flexibility in configuring the accessories. I find that road frames make using fat tires, fenders and racks difficult.
Craig

Last edited by CBBaron; 09-01-05 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 09-01-05, 12:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfw
I like to commute on a road bike. I have one that has relaxed geometry and an upright riding position, but still has drop handlebars. My commute is 15 miles each way and I'm quite comfortable. In my situation, I'm driving to work occassionally and dropping off supplies and clothes, so I don't have any loads to carry on my commute. I also don't commute in foul weather so I don't need fenders.

There's so many variables this is not an easy question to answer with little information to go on. What are the conditions of your roads? Do you plan on carrying loads to and from work, and if so how much and how heavy? Will you be commuting in the rain? Do you plan on using the bike for other purposes? How fast do you want to ride? Do you have many big hills or high winds to deal with?
Wow! Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Let me try to answer some of the quetions asked of me....

1) What are the conditions of your roads?
I would say the roads will be good to fair condition. I plan to completely avoid traffic as much as possible so this will mean riding along the boardwalk at the beach, riding on the bike path along the San Diego river (both of which are paved but will most likely have dirt and sand here and there).

2) Do you plan on carrying loads to and from work, and if so how much and how heavy?
This is likely. I doubt I would be carrying things with me everyday but I would like that as an option. It could get somewhat heavy as well. An example could be a couple books, gym clothes, lunch, drinks, etc.

3) Will you be commuting in the rain?
I live in San Diego so that pretty much means no.

4) Do you plan on using the bike for other purposes?
I would love to use my bike all the time but I really just have to get over riding in traffic. The last thing on people's minds are someone on a bike. If I can become familiar with routes to avoid traffic than I will ride more.

5) How fast do you want to ride?
Saftey and comfort are more important than speed. If I can have all 3 then I'll take it.

6) Do you have many big hills or high winds to deal with?
Not high winds but there will be some pretty major hills along the way.

7) Budget?
Hopefully under $2K.
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Old 09-01-05, 12:37 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by CPW
I commuted from PB to SDSU for some time on a steel touring bike. I liked the comfort of steel and the geometry of the touring bike was very stable if a little boring. I don't think you could do much bettter for commuting. If your budget is high and you have a safe place for the bike at both ends, look at something upscale like a Rivendell Atlantis. If you need a more budget minded bike, consider the Surly LHT though you should be prepared for a build (sold as frame/fork only). If you really need a lower budget, find a bike w/ touring geometry that fits and w/ the right tires, you'll be fine.
CPW
That is an awesome commute! Maybe a touring bike is the way to go. I'll be able to keep the bike inside at both ends so it will be in a safe place. Did you use many secluded bike trails to get their or mostly ride in busy traffic?
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Old 09-01-05, 01:43 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdsurfer
I plan to completely avoid traffic as much as possible so this will mean riding along the boardwalk at the beach, riding on the bike path along the San Diego river (both of which are paved but will most likely have dirt and sand here and there).
Will there be other users on the boardwalk, esp. pedestrians/runners? That may slow you down a lot and not offer advantages over the roads. In fact it can be dangerous for them as well as you.
Robert
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Old 09-01-05, 02:23 PM   #17
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touring bike sounds perfect, and maybe a used 'sports' road bike - essentially a bargain tourer, which may be better for commuting than a 'real' dedicated tourer. If you'd be locking up on the street at all I'd definitely go with the sports bike - will have much of the same geometry, pannier eyelets, etc. without the expense.

My mid 80s trek 500 with sports geometery has a nice smooth ride and a good gear range. I prefer that to a Bianchi hybrid I bought new in the 90s for longer commutes, touring etc. Lighter quicker and lower uppper body to cut wind drag. The bianchi had a lower granny (triple crank) but no contest in which was faster or more fun to ride......

You could also go with a rigid mtb (1" slicks) or a hybrid for stability but a tourer or road bike would be nicer over that distance!
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Old 09-01-05, 02:59 PM   #18
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Hi,
I know exactly what you want. You want classic road geometry (often called relaxed geometry) in a bike that can handle a little dirt.
It's funny this type of bike has no name, it should.
http://www.sjscycles.com/thornwebsite/xtc.html
(you'd want the short or medium top tube, they'd help you pick which)
http://www.gaansari.com/stclair.htm
http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/htm...tisframes.html
http://www.heronbicycles.com/frames.html

Some other options...
http://www.gunnarbikes.com/sport.php
I ride a Sport, nice bike.
http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkM...?sid=05Sequoia
http://www.lemondbikes.com/2005_bikes/big_sky_slt.shtml
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Old 09-01-05, 03:34 PM   #19
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Will there be other users on the boardwalk, esp. pedestrians/runners? That may slow you down a lot and not offer advantages over the roads. In fact it can be dangerous for them as well as you.
Robert
There are seperate lanes for anyone on wheels (bikers, skaters, rollerbladers, etc.). Plus that early in the morning the boardwalk's pretty empty.

Last edited by sdsurfer; 09-01-05 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 09-01-05, 10:21 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
A lightweight day-touring bike is good for long commutes. These are about the same weight as a (same priced) race bike but have more generous clearance for tyres and fenders + rack and fender threaded eyelets. You dont need an expedition tourer like the Surley LHT.
The Soma ES is a nice example of the style:
http://www.somafab.com/extrasmoothie.html
Looks like a great bike. I'd like to support a smaller/indie company over one of the big corp. if I can. I also like the fact that Soma is a CA company. Anyone have anything to say about Soma bikes?
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Old 09-02-05, 10:36 PM   #21
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I don't know about the Soma bikes but I see that Pacific Coast Cycles is on their dealer list. He also sells Surleys. It's a great shop.
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Old 09-04-05, 04:10 AM   #22
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After speaking with a few bike shops it sounds like Surly may be the bike to go for (probably the LHT). Some people I've spoken with have mentioned their Soma frames breaking.
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