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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 04-19-06, 03:15 PM   #1
yertsivad
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Best bike for college student

I am probably going to enroll at the University of Alabama. It is mostly flat land and nothing farther than two miles on campus. I'm probably going to want to carry books and a laptop and I may do some recreational riding (paved paths without a great deal of incline).
What bike is best for this if money is no factor?
What bike is best for this if I don't want to spend much more than $600?
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Old 04-19-06, 03:26 PM   #2
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I think a folding bicycle would be best. You would be able to bring it inside the dorm and not have to leave it on a bike rack at night. The trouble of course is bringing it inside class. If you can't take the folder inside, then you'll have to lock it outside.

You should put aside about $175.00 dollars for locks like the New York Chain or New York 3000 and bolt all quick releases levers. If you have to leave the bicycle outside, then make sure it's real old and scratch it up. Spend the same amount or more on locks. Remember to avoid bike racks and hide the bike when locking it outside.
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Old 04-19-06, 03:43 PM   #3
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If possible, get a good bike that is not flashy at all, perhaps like the Marin Muirwoods, or Marin Novato 9. If none of your local dealers carry Marin, try nearby cities. Those bikes are perfect urban commuters. Better yet, if you could build up a bike with decent mid-range components off an old quality steel frame (Trek 920, or 930? I don't remember), that would be the best way to go, because the old frame will act as camouflage nicely. Going with a rigid fork, and not front suspension, is also a must.

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Old 04-19-06, 03:45 PM   #4
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A fixed gear using a Cyclocross frame like the Surly Crosscheck...
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Old 04-19-06, 04:02 PM   #5
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If this poor bike is going to be locked outside all year I recommend finding a nice used touring bike. If $600 worth of new bike is really what you are after try and store it inside, as bike thievery and weather are serious concerns.
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Old 04-19-06, 04:30 PM   #6
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Single speed road bike, fixed gear, 100 gear inches.

You are young, and no one will be able to steal that thing for a joyride.
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Old 04-19-06, 04:52 PM   #7
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best piece of advice I can give you: don't live in the dorms. living in the dorms just sucks in general for a lot of reasons, such as noise (this is a big one if you like to go to sleep before 5AM), space, etc. and it's not very accomodating to cyclists. find a nice group house or apartment near campus that is on a good bike route to campus and is cool with you having bikes inside... your school, if it's anything like mine, should have an Off Campus Housing department that will help you with this.

if you are unable to do this or you absolutely have to live in the dorms for whatever reason, a folding bike (that you can bring inside) or any old beat-up-looking or otherwise not-flashy-looking bike (that you won't feel quite as bad about locking up outside - but get LOTS of locks, I recommend at least four and make sure one of them is a NY-style chain) will suit your needs best. also if you go the latter route, do the bike up with reflective tape so it will look even more unattractive to theives as well as more visible on night rides.
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Old 04-19-06, 05:34 PM   #8
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Get an old road bike that you don't mind leaving outside, that way you can still go on moderate rides, but it's not too big of a deal if something happens to it. It's not worth having a really nice bike until your second or third year when you move out of the dorms and have a place to put it inside. I encourage you to still go into the dorms though, it's a great (mostly non biking related) experience.
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Old 04-19-06, 05:50 PM   #9
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I had a KHS Brentwood hybrid and it was stolen. My suggestion would be to avoid leaving the bike outside overnight. Usually, campus thieves prey overnight; other than that, at least at the school I'm at with 30,000 others, during the day there isn't much of a problem with the entire bike being stolen; seats, wheels, etc. can be stolen.

With that said, after the KHS was stolen I put out $500 then $300 or so for accessories for a great road bike. I also use it as a commuter not only to and from school but to work about 9 miles away. My suggestion would be not to let the thieves scare you out of getting a good bike. Look on Ebay or locally for a used (possibly new if on Ebay) road bike. For $600 you can get a great bike all around and be prepared to shell out a good $75-100 on locks. My setup is a U-Lock and a thick cable that I route through my rear tire and seat rails then attach to the U-Lock. It's a pretty good system, but be weary of leaving it out overnight.

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Old 04-19-06, 06:05 PM   #10
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Convert an old steel framed road bike to single speed or fixed gear (they are really great for this sort of thing and require no maintenance). Get a yard sale special if you are really concerned about having it stolen. I like Peugeots. You can get them for $25-$50 if you look around.

Actually, that isn't exactly that good of advice. My yard sale-ish bike I bought specifically to use as a work/campus/errands runner that I wouldn't be as worried about getting stolen. Unfortunately, I have bonded with it and now worry about it every time I lock it up. I guess there is no good bike to get stolen.
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Old 04-19-06, 06:08 PM   #11
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Save that cash for Spring Break, beer and pizza

Go to school at the end of the year... June 30ish. The graduates and others will have garbage bicycles at the curb. Get two or three 10 speeds and swap parts until you get one working bike.

For two miles you could get away with a single speed cruiser in the $200 range and add a $100 lock/chain. Some people steal stuff just for kicks. I had 3 pairs of worn blue jeans stolen from the dorm dryer! They were worthless but I had to buy new clothes with my beer money.

Remember-$300 buys 30 six packs of good beer or 200 slices of pizza.
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Old 04-19-06, 06:16 PM   #12
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See if you can find a '85 Schwinn World Sport in ice blue. That was my college bike and I still miss it. Seriously, get an 80s-90s steel road frame and convert it to ss or fixed. No hassles, no thief-attractiveness. Save your money for beer and pizza.
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Old 04-19-06, 06:19 PM   #13
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College campuses are dens o' thieves. Cheap is good.
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Old 04-19-06, 06:35 PM   #14
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do the dorms. It takes the work out of meeting new people, and it's easy to get laid when you're surrounded by freshman girls. (or boys too I suppose?).
Check out the dorm you'll be living in, see if they have a bike locker or a security area just for bikes like my dorm did.
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Old 04-19-06, 06:59 PM   #15
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I don't know about the University of Alabama, but University Of Maryland has neither. nothing but bike racks right out in the open. since most of the kids don't even take care of their bikes (I see a lot of chains/gears that are literally orange-brown from rust on bikes around campus) let alone would give a crap if they were stolen or messed with (the fact that most of em don't value their stuff at all comes into play here), there isn't really a demand for lockers or secure bikeparks. sucks, I wish there was because I'd really rather have a locker than be forced to lock up on a rack everyday.
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Old 04-19-06, 08:43 PM   #16
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Listen to what everyone is basically saying. Don't get anything valuable for your first year(s). Get a POS walmart bike or old road bike and be done with it until later. Then with a suitable place to store your trusty steed, spring for a decent one worth worrying about.

I just realized, however, if your dorm allows it (probably won't) and if your roommate doesn't mind (probably won't), then you might be able to store the bike in your room (which probably doesn't have enough space). And if you did (which you shouldn't), you would still have to keep it locked just as well there, since there are just as many thieves inside the dorm as there are out. Good luck!

Last edited by anonymouse99; 04-20-06 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 04-19-06, 09:18 PM   #17
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Get an old beater at a garage sale. 1980's rigid MTB would be my pick. Make sure it has horizontal dropouts. Take it to the bike store at campus. Pay them to convert it to a single speed with coaster brake. 26 inch (MTB) steel rear wheels with coaster brakes are $30. Buy a good lock. Leave it out in the rain. Don't worry.
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Old 04-19-06, 09:45 PM   #18
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if you do end up having to lock it up outside....don't always lock up in the same place... I agree with the single speed as being the best bike for a college town that is relatively flat....I ride a fixed gear here at the U of I and it works great
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Old 04-20-06, 01:53 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caloso
See if you can find a '85 Schwinn World Sport in ice blue. That was my college bike and I still miss it. Seriously, get an 80s-90s steel road frame and convert it to ss or fixed. No hassles, no thief-attractiveness. Save your money for beer and pizza.
Mine was a Schwinn Traveller II. Good bike. I miss that one.

But I agree with the others on the basic keep-it-simple rule and that you should save part of your budget for good locks. I'm not sold on the idea of fixies for anything but track racing, but it's an interesting idea. Before buying or making a fixie, try riding one at the bike shop to see if you like it. The freewheel was a wonderfully useful invention, so I think a single speed makes more sense, but that's just me.

Last edited by Daily Commute; 04-20-06 at 02:45 AM.
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Old 04-20-06, 04:43 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barba
I like Peugeots
Spring is here and I am off to scavenging.
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Old 04-20-06, 04:45 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeakywheel
Get an old beater at a garage sale. 1980's rigid MTB would be my pick. Make sure it has horizontal dropouts. Take it to the bike store at campus. Pay them to convert it to a single speed with coaster brake. 26 inch (MTB) steel rear wheels with coaster brakes are $30. Buy a good lock. Leave it out in the rain. Don't worry.
Bingo!
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Old 04-20-06, 04:50 AM   #22
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If you go the beater bike route, aim for something which was fairly good when new.
Make sure that you have clearance for medium size tyres.
Look for threaded eyelets so that you can use a bolt-on luggage rack and fenders.
Pretty much any style of bike with those features will do the job. Old, ridgid MTBs, 3-speed city bikes, tourers, hybrids, folders, some road bikes.
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Old 04-20-06, 06:23 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huhenio
Spring is here and I am off to scavenging.
I was really looking forward to the 2006 garage sale circuit. I had my success almost too early. Got my $15 project bike from the free classified ads in my credit union news letter. I feel like the guy who got his deer on opening day of hunting season. Bitter sweet.
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Old 04-20-06, 08:15 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoridog
Go to school at the end of the year... June 30ish. The graduates and others will have garbage bicycles at the curb. Get two or three 10 speeds and swap parts until you get one working bike.

For two miles you could get away with a single speed cruiser in the $200 range and add a $100 lock/chain.
Go for the first $25 or less bike, single speed bike with coaster, or 3 speed bike at Goodwill or Salvation Army that is reasonably comfortable and has fenders. A Huffy, Murray or any other brand or dept store bike will serve your stated purpose with no fuss and no muss. But it will earn you no points from Cycling Style Men.

If youalso have a need/desire to be trendy or wish to complicate your short commute, pay attention to those looking for converts to the fixed gear cult. Or spend $600 at an LBS.
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Old 04-20-06, 09:31 AM   #25
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Just to be clear...You would be completely and totally off the scale nuts if you took a new $600 bike to college. Stolen or vandalized for sure. Furthermore, during the short time you own the bike, you'll have to get used to your new nickname "cake eater".
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