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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 07-01-06, 02:22 PM   #1
marchingbando
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Newbie needs bike advise ASAP

Hi, I am going to go to UC Davis in the fall and for anyone not familiar with the campus it is very much a bike school. I did learn to ride a long time ago, but don't really remember how so I need to get a bike in the next week if possible, preferably if possible today. I looked at some bike shops and I loved the look of the Electra Cruisers, but I also looked at some hybrids/comfort bikes that might be better all around. I just plan on using the bike on campus and around the town, both of which are mostly flat and paved, since I am basically just learning. I am not looking particularly for speed, but am looking for comfort and ease of riding. If I got a cruiser I would definatly go with the three speed rather than the one speed and the hybrid I was looking at, I think it was a Trek or a Reighle was seven speeds. I really need some advise, my price point is definatly under $400 for the bike itself since I am going to need to add lights, a basket, ect. as well as a nice comfortable helmet. Any help will be greatly appriciated.
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Old 07-01-06, 02:47 PM   #2
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I think you have a good handle on it already. For the type of riding you want to do, I think either the Electra or any other cruiser/comfort bike would be suitable. I've never ridden an Electra, but it seems like the "flat foot technology" would be nice for a novice. But none of the bikes you're thinking about would be dificult to ride. If you really love cycling, you'll probably trade it in on something faster in a few months.

If Davis is like most campuses, you'll want to spend more on a good lock than on the other accessories. And don't park near the bars. Drunk kids love to kick in bicycle wheels, for some reason.
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Old 07-01-06, 02:49 PM   #3
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Oh--I think you could buy an adequate cruiser for a lot less than $400. Maybe 200-300? I saw some nice used ones with a 30 day guarantee in a pawn shop today--$60!
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Old 07-01-06, 03:54 PM   #4
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Thanks I will consider that, and the price range was just a max, not what I really want to spend.
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Old 07-01-06, 04:23 PM   #5
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UC Davis, congrats. Davis is a Great biking city. I wouldn't buy new, I would look used. Sacramento's craigslist has a bunch of bike for sale from Davis. A cruiser would be fine, either a SS or 3 speed, no need for more gears than that in Davis, veeeeerrrrryyyy flat
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Old 07-01-06, 04:33 PM   #6
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...CRAIGSLIST in your area...you got cash, right? You can get 3 times the bike you want for your price range...250 to 300 will get you a quality product and have money left over....also, check to see whats included in the bike if theyre selling it...they may throw in the lights and the lock for 10 bucks or something...Try to look for a hard tail, NO front suspension MTB(that's mountain bike), go to your bike shop and pick up the skinniest, hardest, smoothest tires that fit on the rims....this will give you a VERY versitale bike for cheap. I ride a touring bike, but I also do 125 miles a week commuting. If youre on or around campus mostly, this is the way I would go...and platform pedals if your longest ride will be less than 5 miles. Great for the stop and go, dont have to worry about what shoes youre wearing or none of that stuff...going over 5 miles at a time, you may want to think about clips(straps)....theyre like 20 bucks for the set and you can use them with about any shoe, though I prefer indoor soccer shoes(sambas).
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Old 07-01-06, 05:03 PM   #7
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YYour period as a novice will end fairly quickly. It is not hard to learn what is what with riding a bicycle.
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Old 07-01-06, 05:14 PM   #8
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Heh, I never learned how to ride a bike as a kid because I grew too fast to develop any sense of balance. Picked up one of those Raleigh 7-speeds you mentioned (the Venture, ~$250) and taught myself the basics in about two days, earlier this summer. You'll do fine.

One of the most difficult things for me, surprisingly, was figuring out how to lock my bike up on the variety of racks I've encountered. Make sure you try out your locking setup while you've got some free time to make sure that you can fully lock your frame AND both rims, especially if you get a bike with quick-release wheels. If you're rushing to get to class, you'll be tempted to just it locked somehow, and you'll end up having to ride it back home unicycle-style.

It's a tangent, but I once knew a guy who rode his bike exclusively on the back wheel. He could even take it up the spiraling ramps of a pedestrian overpass. Incredible.
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Old 07-02-06, 03:17 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by McB
Heh, I never learned how to ride a bike as a kid because I grew too fast to develop any sense of balance. Picked up one of those Raleigh 7-speeds you mentioned (the Venture, ~$250) and taught myself the basics in about two days, earlier this summer. You'll do fine.

One of the most difficult things for me, surprisingly, was figuring out how to lock my bike up on the variety of racks I've encountered. Make sure you try out your locking setup while you've got some free time to make sure that you can fully lock your frame AND both rims, especially if you get a bike with quick-release wheels. If you're rushing to get to class, you'll be tempted to just it locked somehow, and you'll end up having to ride it back home unicycle-style.

It's a tangent, but I once knew a guy who rode his bike exclusively on the back wheel. He could even take it up the spiraling ramps of a pedestrian overpass. Incredible.
Agreed... riding was easy to get back into the habit for after 8 years of nothing but my god... why the hell are there so many different rack types around?! When going up to a rack I can see im not the only one who hasnt figured it out right because every single bike there has found as equally a strange way to lock up their bike. You end up just saying "ahh chuff it!... it aint moving" and leaving it locked up in whatever way you manage it.

After reading Sheldon Brown's website its helped me a bit, if ever im stuck for understanding how the hell to use a rack I just lock the rear rim of my bike to it, and use a cable to lock the front rim ( just a cable with loops in to run back to the lock locking my rear rim to the post/rack). My quick release saddle is constantly locked to my bike with a cheap cable lock and under the top/cross bar.

Never realised that it was bloody impossible to cut a rim with a tyre in pressure on it, and then after they've cut it... they have to front wheelie it or just carry it anyway! no bloody point in doing that for a cheap beater bike

For added security I lock the chain too (just shove one end of the D-lock through it).

If its a biking city/campus then surely they have a nice number of bike shops around, where I live in the UK its not that big a biking place (pedestrianised city centre streets some of them but bikes are banned from them apparantly [yet to see someone get arrested for riding in them though]) but we still have a fair share of bike shops. Check them out, they often buy a bunch of second hand beaters, give em a service then flog em for anything around 50 downwards.. ($100ish). If all your doing is riding city streets and its flat, its all you need! And you can do what I did if you dislike the stickers, debadge them and you'll be left with a sleek looking stealth beater lol.
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Old 07-02-06, 04:25 AM   #10
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I live in Davis. Just buy a bike when you get here. There are tons of used bikes around for cheap, you can save money by getting one of them -- lots are listed on Craigslist Sacramento. Most people ride cheapie wal-mart type bikes, but you might want something nicer. I personally would hate to be riding a wal-mart peice of junk. Bike theft isn't really a problem unless you're careless. Lock your bike up when you're not riding it, and don't leave it out overnight in dark places that are unattended, and you'll probably be fine.

If you have any questions about the city, let me know.
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Old 07-02-06, 07:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dietrologia
If UCD is anything like UCSB, I would advise buying a cheapie beater bike. My bikes got stolen 3 times and they were hunks of junk.

Anything not bolted down will get jacked too. Lights, seats, quick-release tires, you name it. Groups of jackasses would go around late at night, steal a couple of bikes, strip it, swap out the parts and repaint it for a quick sale.
I also would recommend getting a used piece of junk. Drunken students love to trash bikes (particularly the wheels) and any decent parts will get stripped. Replace any quick release mechanisms on your bike with bolts, and lock down everything. Remove your light whenever your are not using it. Between the thieves and the vandals, no decent bike has a chance.

After you graduate and your bikes won't have to spend so much time on the racks, you can get a nice one. I think a cruiser is probably a good style of bike for the type of riding you describe.
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Old 07-02-06, 05:43 PM   #12
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First, I want to say that I've got no advice as I just learned to ride, too.

But congrats on going to UCD! My younger sister will be starting there this fall, too. Like you, she knows how to ride, but hasn't had a bike in a long time. We'll be getting her one in the next few weeks, so all this info will be very helpful in choosing a bike.

I hope your first year goes well, bike and all!
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Old 07-14-06, 06:17 PM   #13
marchingbando
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Thanks everyone for all of your posts and advise. My parents insisted on getting me a brand-new bike and I decided on the Electra Cruiser. I really like it and am riding decently already and am having a lot of fun. I hope to be able to explore this awesome website that you guys have here though I am very busy this summer. Thanks again.
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Old 07-15-06, 10:33 AM   #14
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If you are able to, keep the bike in your dorm room/apartment. I did that freshman year, and never had to worry at night about it getting stolen. I had a relatively large single though, so work it out with your roommate. If you have to park it outside, make sure it's in a well-lit, high traffic area. That might mean parking it somewhere other than right outside your dorm room. Had I not parked my bike inside, I would have parked it at the dorm across the street. There, the bike rack was right by the entrance to a food court and computer lab, which got a lot of traffic, even fairly late into the night. At my dorm, the bike rack was behind the dorm, next to a parking lot, then an empty field, and few people walked there.

Get a solid U-Lock, and a chain to lock down the wheels. If the seat is quick-release, get a small chain or steel wire and a small padlock, and lock down the seat. Check with the campus about bicycle parking permits. My school had one, it cost $5 and registered you with a national bike registry. Also make sure you know where you can lock up. A lot of campuses will impound bikes if you don't use racks. Don't just lock to any three or sign you find.

And finally, college town drivers are some of the worst. The small streets, quirky one-way routes, and transplanting of city drivers to more relaxed country makes for unpredictable results. Keep your head up and assume the worst. Like, never assume that a one-way street won't be traveled the wrong way. Never assume people know how to work a four-way stop.
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