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  1. #1
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    New to cycling and interested in commuting

    Hi,

    I am new to cycling and I need some advice. I am relocating to Phoenix, AZ and I will live a little less than a mile from work. I am very interested in commuting to work. I am also in desperate need of a new hobby and I have read/heard that Phoenix has some nice MTB trails. Considering that my commute will be very short, can I get a bike that performs well in both areas without making the commute too uncomfortable?? I don't want to spend more than $500. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Astacun

  2. #2
    Ferrous wheel
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    At less than a mile, you will not have time to get uncomfortable on your commute. Therefore, I recommend just getting a mountain bike.
    One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach -- all the damn vampires.

  3. #3
    Speed Demon *roll eyes*
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    I would suggest a bike that you dont mind locking up outside (go used, inexpensive if you can). This bike can be utilitarian since your commute is quite short. Make it fun though, and you might find yourself taking it other places.....

    For the trail riding, I would suggest visiting a LBS and asking them what is available in your price point. Try not to be seduced by fancy derailers etc. A bike company may install a nice drive train, but it may be at the expense of the headset and bottom bracket. As well, for that price, you might consider a bike with a nice frame and front suspension only. If you have a choice between a good frame and average componants, or fancy stuff on a cheap frame, go with the better frame everytime. (Please keep in mind I do not know what 500 buys you in the USA, up here in Canada, it does not get you much.....)

    Being a road nut and mtn bike nut, I personally find that bikes that claim to do both rarely succeed. However, since your commute is short, and if you have to get just one bike, go for a trail machine and ride it to work. What to do depends at least in part on how secure your bike lock up is at work. If it is outdoors, a cheap disposable bike might do the job, but if it is indoors, then a more expensive option might do the trick. (In my opinion, a better bike is one that is more suited to the job at hand: my mtn bike is NOT a better bike for commuting vs a single speed old ccm with a coaster brake, rack, and fenders. But is is much superior for carving up trails.)

    Good luck, and ask a local person as well what kind of bike would work best on the local trails.
    1998 Specialized S-works Hardtail - hotrodded
    2005 Kona Jake the Snake cyclocross

  4. #4
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    For a commute that short any bike will do. Hell, even no bike will do!

    If the only riding apart from your commute will be on trails, I'd recommend picking something that will work best for the trails - and I can assure you it'll be fine for your commute. I mean, it's a five-minute ride at a relaxed pace! In fact my biggest concern with the commute will be finding a secure place to store your brand new and beautiful machine. If you can't bring it inside with you or find some equally good accommodation, I suggest that you actually DON'T use a nice new ride for commuting to work. Instead get a "good bike" for the trails and a "beater" - a servicable but used and ultra-cheap clunker so that it's unlikely to get stolen in the first place and so that you don't miss it too much if it does disappear.

  5. #5
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    When do you arrive here?

    If you main focus is to get into MTB, get a MTB as a 1mi commute can be done on any bike.

    There are some nice trails, some easy, some as difficult as they come, many within ride distance (0-15mi) from homes, depending where you live. But none of these near Phx-metro are really rideable in the summer months, except early morning and just around sunset due to heat.

    Road biking is very popular here as well. You may want to give some time to find what cycling you really want to get into.

    If you can get a used bike you will be likely much better off than spending $500 on a new one.

    Al

  6. #6
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    If you can get a used bike you will be likely much better off than spending $500 on a new one.
    Well, if one doesn't know too much about bikes, it can be a lottery: might get a great deal or might end up with a bike in very poor condition.

  7. #7
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spider-man
    At less than a mile, you will not have time to get uncomfortable on your commute. Therefore, I recommend just getting a mountain bike.
    +1

    That is a short commute. You could commute on any bike. Buy whatever you want as long as you are comfortable with the parking situation at work/school/wherever you commute to.

    If it were me, I'd buy a 1980's vintage steel rigid MTB at a garage sale for $20 and ride that to work and on the trails until I formed a solid opinion on what bike I wanted.

    Edit: You'll probably find in the end that the old beater remains your commuter after you buy the ultimate cool MTB for the trails.

  8. #8
    One Hep Cat Joe Dog's Avatar
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    I agree - you COULD do a one mile commute on anything, but I suspect if you like to ride your bike, you will find ways to... extend that commute. Either by taking a meandering route home or by working in some errands. I would suggest you get a slightly better bike (but not a theft target) and get it outfitted as you like. That way you will be able to use one bike for more than if you just had a beater commuter.

  9. #9
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    The idea of buying a used/beater MTB of reasonable quality then seeing what happens is very sound.
    With used bikes it is better to buy one that was quite good when new.
    You may want to fix a rear luggage rack so make sure it has threaded eyelets on the frame.
    Be prepared to pay for upgrades to tyres/cables/chain and possibly cogs.
    Such a bike will be perfectly at home on trails and you will be able to perfect your riding position before splashing out on a more expensive play bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    The idea of buying a used/beater MTB of reasonable quality then seeing what happens is very sound.
    watch out though. . . look what happened to me i started out four years ago riding pretty much exactly the distance you plan, on pretty much exactly the kind of bike recommended here, and now it's 6 miles each way and a jamis coda. my car's neglected, my boss is a-skeered of me, and i've put-near forgotten how to pump gas.

    be warned! do you want this to happen to you?
    ain't no man can help being born average. but ain't no man got to be common - satchell paige

  11. #11
    All Weather Commuter Trek930's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice here. Depending on the trails around you, look into getting a tire that rolls well for the short ride in but gets you enough traction on the trails. Hutchinson Pythons roll very well and are great on packed dirt. Muddy no. But this will keep you from having to change tires for the trails and reduce the vibration from the normal big knobbies.

  12. #12
    yes
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    ^I was just thinking the same thing. If you go with only one bike, think about the pythons. Though they are expensive, it will be money well spent. I would ask the locals what very fast rolling tires work well on the local trails.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for all the info. I finally relocated to Phoenix, AZ 1 week ago. I visited a few of the Local Bike Shops and tested a few bikes. I had not ridden a bike since my teen years and I don't know much about bikes so I did my research. I sent a few emails, read posts on bike forums and read bike reviews. I weighted the pros and cons of a mountain bike and I decided to go with a bike that was more capable on the road, because it offers me more utility in the city. I bought a Jamis Coda. It was the one that I felt most comfortable and it was affordable ($399 new).

    I really liked the people over at Slippery Pig Bike Shop, they were very open to answer all of my beginner questions and were very helpful. I am very satisfied with the bike and how it feels. The commute takes only 6 minutes at a very relaxed pace and there is a secure place to lock my bike at work. I have ridden the bike on the road for short distances (4 miles) and so far I like it. I will venture further as I build up my endurance and get to know the city. If I keep it up I think I might end up like tokolosh.

    Astacun

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