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  1. #1
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    Newbie who wants to commute

    This seems the place to post my question. I am looking to start commuting. I live in Pittsburgh, PA so my commute will be rather hilly. I will be riding 13 miles each way what should I be looking for? Every LBS I go to is telling me to go to the hybrid / fitness / flat handle bar road bikes. Is this my best bet. I am on a tight budget.

    I kind of dig the looks of the road bikes they look fun and fast. I want something that is fast, and comfortable. I also want to ride on the weekends for fun. I have no idea what to look for please help.

    I found a great 2004 Schwinn Fastback Sport for cheap would that work for me?

  2. #2
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    You can pretty much commute on anything you desire. If you want a road bike then get one.
    However, a normal road bike may make things a bit difficult if you intend to haul items to and from work or commute in bad weather. You could try something like a touring or cyclocross bike.
    What is your budget? If limited you could look for a used bike in craiglist.

  3. #3
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    Ditto what DataJunkie said.

    Road bikes come in many flavors, so you want one that's configured and set up geometrically to not be a racing bike. Something along the touring line. Basically, handlebars level with the saddle, a sensible range of gears for climbing hills, mount points for a rack (and very likely fenders) and the spacing to mount thicker than "racing" tires. Looking for 25mm MINIMUM there, but probably in the range of 28 - 32.

    Remember: Your first commute will be the most difficult. Stick with it, and you'll find it just keeps getting easier, and more fun.
    Good night...and good luck

  4. #4
    Life is short Ride hard
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    Yeah, made the mistake of getting a road bike for commute no rackability to my current knowledge so I messenger it kinda pain in the butt on the plus side it is a bianchi forza it looks cool and goes fast

  5. #5
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    Read through these commuting threads. They will get you to thinking of what kind of bike you want and what kind of biker you want to be. All types of bikes have pros & cons. Make sure you know what they are before you buy. Selling bikes is not a profitable exercise.

    Realistically, more than 1 bike makes sense. One for commuting and one for the weekends. That way you have no compromises on either.

  6. #6
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    And again ...
    Data Junkie and Banzai F16 have a 3rd here. Although there are some hybrids, those of the more "fitnessbike" or "flat bar road bike" type, that are suitable commuters, most are awfully heavy and slow. In PBG, you absolutely must avoid suspension because of the hills. I would go for the drop bars. I ride an ancient lugged steel Bianchi Axis (cyclocross) and my girlfriend just picked up a Bianchi Volpe (cyclocross/touring). These bikes offer geometry that keeps you upright enough on the hoods or tops for good clear visibility in busy traffic, yet offer the option of drops when needed. I'd steer clear of getting too flatbacked a position for commuting in traffic unless you have a snakelike neck.

    Given the hills in your town, rivalled only by SF in my experience, you want touring bike type gearing if you carry baggage to and fro. I'd look at used touring bikes (with quill stems that you can adjust easily) or a Bianchi volpe or build up a Surly Crosscheck or Soma Double Cross depending on your budget.

    If you're not carrying baggage, then any good road bike that can take 28 (or at least 25) tire and has a triple or compact double crank should do. Just make sure you give yourself a bottom gear combo that's better for climbing than a 39/25.

  7. #7
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    Wow a lot of great advice thanks guys.

  8. #8
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    I just built up a touring bike for a commuter myself - check out the 'Schwinn Passage' link in my sig. I agree with the above that a cycolocross/touring bike makes the most sense. Most dedicated road bikes don't have clearances for wider tires that you'll want to take the bumps out of the roads. I ride 32mm wide tires and they do a great job compared to my 23mm's on my road bike at taking the roughness out of the route to and from work.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I looked up Schwinn fastbacks and found things from old sting rays to sub$1,000 racers. None looked like they would be good for commuting for the reasons given above. I loved my Bianchi Volpe for commuting until another rider wrecked it. It is early summer so just get something cheap with low gears and points to bolt on a rack. When/(if) you find yourself interested in commuting into the winter months then get a better commuter. After my Bianchi I went to a rebuilt Cannondale tourer, then a serious upgrade to a Bruce Gordon BLT.
    This space open

  10. #10
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    My all weather commuter/weekend fun/grocery bike is a tour-oriented road bike with all the features mentioned.
    One point to watch out is the tyre clearance and brake style. Loaded touring and cyclo-cross bikes use MTB style cantilever brakes. These offer loads of clearance and stopping power but the modulation or control can be a bit spongy and descending can be hard on your grip muscles. I use a bike designed to accept caliper brakes but with a longer drop than modern race bikes. Shimano make the best of these brakes and they can take 32mm tyres + fenders so are good for anything except sticky snow and mud.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Neist's Avatar
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    Just check for tire width if you want something reasonably comfortable. I know I ride on 700x23c (pretty dang skinny) tires, but I've gotten used to it. If theres any cracks of patched seams in the road, it can be a little bumpy with tires at 100psi.

    I say anything works, but if you want it careful and comfortable, get something with at least 700x32c tires (this is the standard cyclocross size).
    Quote Originally Posted by soze
    I would use something in addition to the U-lock. Like a guy named Tony with a baseball bat.

  12. #12
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I find the most important thing is the bike lets you attach a real rack. You never know what you'll need to carry with you. Maybe just some clothes. Maybe just some lunch. Maybe your laptop, clothes AND lunch.

    It's much easier to let the bike carry it than your back.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  13. #13
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    A flat bar has one advantage in traffic-congested areas, that your hands are always on the brakes for urgent stops. I suppose you could always add "cross brakes" to a road bar if you wanted that continuous access. It's a second set of brake levers that mount on the horizontal part of the handlebars, on both sides of the stem. (They're different from and superior to the brake extension levers seen on cheap 1970s road bikes).

    I'll echo others...the most important features of a commuting bike are the racks and fenders; and 700c slick tires (ie. little or no tread) are best for pavement commuting. Carrying your stuff on a rear rack is much more comfortable than in a back pack. The bike is more stable because the weight is lower, there's less back strain, and much less sweating.
    Last edited by cooker; 06-22-06 at 01:07 PM.

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