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  1. #1
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    A Good Bike for College

    Hello everyone!
    I'm looking for a good bike to use to get around college this fall and the surrounding city area. It needs to be as inexpensive as possible, survive for (at least) four years, be innocuous enough to not get stolen, and have good performance on hills, as ALL of the science buildings are on a rather large hill, and I'm probably going to major in physics.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Also, can anyone advise a good way to keep my bike from getting stolen? Thanks very much for your time!

  2. #2
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I would look in craigslist, yardsales, and charity shops for an 80s or early 90s mountain bike. They're bombproof, have good clearance for fenders, attachment points for racks, and are so unsexy that no one is likely to steal it.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  3. #3
    Mooninite shakeNbake's Avatar
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    +1 on older bikes.

  4. #4
    Doomsled funbun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pallas42
    Hello everyone!
    I'm looking for a good bike to use to get around college this fall and the surrounding city area. It needs to be as inexpensive as possible, survive for (at least) four years, be innocuous enough to not get stolen, and have good performance on hills, as ALL of the science buildings are on a rather large hill, and I'm probably going to major in physics.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Also, can anyone advise a good way to keep my bike from getting stolen? Thanks very much for your time!
    Get a pawnshop special.
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  5. #5
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    Try to find the ****tiest looking Reynolds 531 bike you can. Avoid pipe steel like 1020. Sand/scrape off any logos or steel id tags. Use DT shifters, etc. You want it to look as generic as possible.

    I ride a circa 1970s matte teal motobecane with no discernable logos or features. Bike theives just chuckle at my bike and move on to the treks/specialized locked (improperly) beside mine.

  6. #6
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    Just to be on the safe side, get more than one lock, and NEVER underestimate the power of the desperate bike theif. I work at a university, and even the crap bikes get stolen when locked (or unlocked). I know on my campus that bike theft is the single largest crime.

    When I was a student, I remember coming out to my bike and seeing bike owners that hadn't locked up 1) Saddles, 2) Quick release front wheels. Nothing like seeing some fool scratching his head trying to figure out who stole his seat and front wheel.

  7. #7
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    Older bikes can be good esp mid-upper ranger model. Avoid low end used bikes.
    Go for current wheel sizes, 26" MTB or 700c, not 27".
    Non susension MTBs, hybrids or road/touring bikes can all do the job.
    Make sure the frames have threaded eyelets and clearance for rack and fenders and that you pick the correct size.
    You may want to budget for some kevlar-banded tyres and possible new transmission parts (chain/cogs) and cables.

  8. #8
    Last one to the top... Little Darwin's Avatar
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    When you say "good on the hills" most people assume you want to race up hills... some of the fators are helpful regardless of speed, but losing a few pounds on a bike will help... less mass to get up the hill.

    However, it sounds like you are talking generally about pretty short rides, and depending on the college campus a big hill is probably only a block long. First lesson in humility, it is OK to push up a hill (I know this is probably blasphemy on BFN, but I am a rebel.

    I would suggest an old solid (and unfortunately heavy) bike like a Schwinn Collegiate from the 70's. Virtually free (under $50), almost theft proof from the offset as long as you have a lock (nobody wants one) but it will survive anything short of a direct hit from an anti-tank gun.

    However, if you decide to go lighter, like has been mentioned, minimize the chance that anyone wil recognize it as a quality bike by removing stickers (or placing some misleading ones). Heck, buy a nice 531 lugged steel beauty, label it as a Schwinn Collegiate and then scuff it up...
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  9. #9
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    For what ever reason, my idea of a campus bike and my idea of my commuter bike are completely different. I'd go with a mt bike for campus. Your trips will be short and full of curb hopping and grass short cuts. You could even get an excelent bike at a bike shop for around 500 that will last you well past college (as long as you don't need full suspension). If you realy want to have fun, fix up an old one. Extras would be big bmx pedals, wide slick tires and a nice backpack (think 6 large books). As far as not getting it stole, a good lock and being smart will stop theives. On most campuses I beleive bikes get stolen out of boredom, not resale value. I could be wrong too. So lock up the frame and a wheel, prefereably the front. No comptuers, lights etc... they can be taken off too easily. Definately get a non quick release (bolt) for the seat post and if they are still available, the wheels.
    Does anybody know if they bolted skewers are still available??? In the early 90's they were marketed toward the gram weenies, but I haven't looked at a bike cataloge in years.
    Have fun, I recently graduated with my second degree... I'm glad its finally over.
    Scott

  10. #10
    Last one to the top... Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Go for current wheel sizes, 26" MTB or 700c, not 27".
    Unless you need to go for Kevlar tires etc like Michael W mentioned later in his message, I disagree with this statement.

    27" is still widely available as long as you don't need the latest high tech tires... and having them reduces the theft factor because some people see them as unavailable. The fact is, I can find 27" tires more places than I can find 700c tires where I live. All of the *Mart stores carry 27", and none carry 700c. Bike shops tend to carry both. You won't find many of the latest $80 tires in 27", but you will find plenty of sub-$20 tires for them.

    I would not suggest specifically going for 27", but don't bypass a bike that otherwise meets your needs if it has 27" tires. I just put some nice Continental tires on my 27" wheeled touring bike... and a set of 27" tires on a beater that cost $5 each.

    Oh, and if you do buy an old steel rimmed bike, I would suggest swapping the wheels for alloy rims for wet braking... If you get to that point and need a set, look at the thrift stores and buy a bike with the right wheels for $20 and swap them. Or ask in the Classic and Vintage forum here, someone may have a set they are willing to let go of in trade, or cheap... I bought a nice used set for a total of $40 (half of that was the shipping).
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  11. #11
    Last one to the top... Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncscott
    Does anybody know if they bolted skewers are still available??? In the early 90's they were marketed toward the gram weenies, but I haven't looked at a bike cataloge in years.
    Yes, they are still available. I think I got mine from Nashbar.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  12. #12
    hell's angels h/q e3st ny brunop's Avatar
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    fixed gear.

    chicks dig 'em!!
    ". . .a striped jersey under his jacket; bared calves (outside the bicycle track); cap pushed back; feet in a false position on the pedals; a barking horn, a disorderly appearance, an always-dry tongue, and a definite fondness for wine merchants. . ."

  13. #13
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    Here's a similar thread.

  14. #14
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    Get a serious lock. No cheapo combo cables. Campus is a magnet for both professional thieves and drunken idiots that will both take your bike. Bolt on skewers are available at Nashbar (they use a hex wrench) or they make QR skewers that have a locking mechanism. There is a myth (at least for me) that there is a beater out there you won’t be angry/depressed about getting stolen. Every time I get a “beater” I quickly fall in love with it, polish it up, adore it, declare it the best bike I have ever had, and grow paranoid about it being stolen.

    That said:

    You are in luck because it is yard sale season! I agree with everyone that says you want an oldie but goodie steel framed bicycle (that fits you). I picked up two lovely 531 framed Raleighs a month ago for ten bucks each, so there are deals to be had. Look for a sticker that says Reynolds anywhere on the frame (brand of steel).

    Once you have your bike, then you can make some decisions about what to do with it. It will likely need a tune up and possibly cables and a chain. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can think about stripping it down to a single speed or fixed gear (great for low maintenance and fun, but with a trade off in gear choices). As a matter of disclosure, I would go single speed for commuting if you don’t have any massive hills in your way. They are quite, light and don’t require futzing with derailleur and cables and whatnots.

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