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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 03-05-07, 12:57 PM   #1
Highcyclist
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Hello, all...first post.

I've been lurking here for awhile, really appreciate the immense treasure trove of info built up on this forum, and I'm looking for advice on selecting a new bike. I haven't even owned a bike in five years, but I used to commute off and on, and I definitely want to get back into it. I've been test riding bikes at different shops for the past week, have determined a few top contenders, and would appreciate your comments. I have never been comfortable with drops, but would ideally like to be able to take the bike out of town for longer day rides. However, this would not be it's primary purpose. It will most likely be my only bike for the forseeable future. The commute will be no longer than 10 mi. one way, at least partially over rough city streets, with some hills and lots of rain. I'll defintely be adding rack and fenders. I'm not firm on the budget, but I suppose I'd like to keep it under $700.


KHS Urban Xpress
http://www.khsbicycles.com/06_urban_xpress_07.htm

I've never owned a steel frame bike, but I love the idea of a smoother ride. After testing both aluminum and steel frames though, I honestly think the comfort of the ride has more to do with tire width and pressure. I'm pretty sure I want a minimum of 32mm tire width. I like the presumably stronger 36 spoke wheels and the apparently great value. Seems to be overall designed as a commuter as well. Has a threaded headset, though. Many of the people on this forum see that as a serious disadvantage.


Marin Larkspur
http://www.marinbikes.com/bicycles_2..._larkspur.html

I did notice more vibration through the aluminum frame, but also more responsive and zippy. Fun to ride. 36 spoke rims. Frame perhaps a little larger than perfect fit. Seems a good value, and Marin has solid reputation.


Kona Dew Deluxe
http://www.konaworld.com/bikes/2k7/DEWDELUXE/index.html

Another fun bike to ride. Felt surprisingly good over rough road. I've never had disc brakes before, and was initially leery of the apparent increased complexity over rim brakes. After reading up a bit on this forum however, I see many advantages: much improved rain performance and less adjustment. I used to suck at adjusting my rim brakes, and they seemed to go out of adjustment way too fast. Another thing I like about the Kona (based on some other posters' experiences), is it's ability (perhaps with a wheel/tire change) to handle non-technical off road, or at least dirt road, sufficiently well.

Sorry this is so long winded. I appreciate any advice you have, including experience with the above bikes.

Thanks.
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Old 03-05-07, 03:41 PM   #2
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Those all look like good bikes...and good to get into commuting. I bet with you going 10 miles, if you stick with it, you are going to want something faster with drops in about a year. I'll be interested to read what others say, but you should go with the one that feels best to you. Oh, I'm a fan of disc brakes. They're great in the rain. Whatever you pick, happy riding.
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Old 03-05-07, 03:54 PM   #3
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KONA!!

the discs ARE a sweet feature to have, and they're pretty user-friendly. looking at the other two, i discounted the marin right away, as i'm not a fan of adjustable stems, but that's me.

the khs had no glaring shortcomings, but nothing to rave about, either.

the more you ride, the more you'll want to ride, and sooner or later, there's going to be times when you want to ride "for fun", and that's where the kona will show its pedigree.
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Old 03-05-07, 04:10 PM   #4
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I like the speed I get with the dropped bar/thin tire road bike. Once you know your hazards on your commute it's a much nicer ride. I picked up about 3-4 mph. Have you tried a cycle-cross bike? I know it's uncomfortable at first but you'll get adapted. Enjoy the ride! CURB
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Old 03-05-07, 04:26 PM   #5
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My .02...

For a daily commuter, you'll want to add fenders to any of the bikes you select.... You'll learn quickly how bad it sucks to have water sprayed all over you when the road is just mildly wet... forget about rain !!!! LOL
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Old 03-05-07, 05:30 PM   #6
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To really confuse the issue -- drop into the Touring forum and learn about road bikes that are made to keep you in the saddle all day. I made the move from a hybrid to a touring bike after six months of commuting. It's been fantastic. Also, if you want to get a great deal, everyone's heading to REI in March to get 20% off. (No, I don't work for them -- they just have great bikes at great prices this month, so you can get a lot more for your $700 budget.)
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Old 03-05-07, 05:50 PM   #7
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I have an '05 larkspur, and have been very happy with it. I've put on about 3500 km on it so far (I split my time between Calgary and Toronto these days, and I only ride the larkspur three seasons, so that's why I have the low mileage). I've even ridden on it for a century . It's the first Al frame I've owned, and I have noticed that it is a bit harsh (I tried swapping out the suspension post - bad idea), but the suspension post seems to work for me.

In terms of components - I've worn out a chain and a set of brake pads (I ride rain or shine, in a city where going downhill is a regular occurance). I've also loaded it up with 50 lbs on the rear rack, with no major handling problems. It's given good service on good pavement, bad pavement, dirt, mud, sand and gravel - with no problems. Only freezing rain, snow and ice have me switching to my MTB. Bottom line is that it is a pleasant bike to ride with the ability to take just about any conditions - though I prefer a smaller, more MTB frame for riding on snow and ice.

IIRC the Larkspur is cheaper than some of the other options - the Dew Deluxe is definitely prettier - but theft can be a concern depending on where you live...
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Old 03-05-07, 08:24 PM   #8
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Check out Ibex. They are a company out of Atlanta, GA. They make great bikes at a great price. I love all the bikes you mentioned. Actually it looks about like the same bikes I was looking at when I got into bike commuting. I have the Ibex Corrida. You can find it at www.ibexbikes.com Check em out at the least. Most importantly get the bike that fits you right and feels good when riding. Good luck.
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Old 03-05-07, 08:35 PM   #9
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If you haven't cycled in 5 years, I wouldn't jump into a $600 bike.
But that's just me.
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Old 03-06-07, 07:56 AM   #10
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Welcome - and to share my experience with commuting since last November:

I didn't really know about or understand what riding my bike every day meant until I started. My 03 steel MTB had been upgraded with road slicks, barends, etc. and I rode it for about a month until I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to invest in for a 'long term riding machine'. Reading BF helped immensely along with hanging around my LBS asking questions.

Someone has suggested not spending a whole bunch of money until you've tested your route, your motivation, your riding style. THEN spend the bucks.

FWIW, I think that becoming a cycle commuter is as much as a process for achieving a frame of mind as it is any equipment or technical who-ha. Steady commuting has as much to do with attitude (which can't be bought) as it does with equipment (that is simply a purchase). The maintenance of the former requires more attention than the latter. Folks commute on just about anything just as they tour on just about everything.
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Old 03-12-07, 12:14 PM   #11
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Kona. Great all-rounder and discs rock.
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Old 03-12-07, 12:27 PM   #12
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Why even buy a new bike?
Unless you're an unusually large or small size or in a real small town there are enough good quality bikes at
pawn shops, thrift stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army stores, etc.) or on Craigslist or in the classifieds in the newspaper that only require a little buffing
and tweaking to get going at their full potential. I don't know how many times I've seen bikes only ridden a couple times or a few hundred miles advertised on Craigslist. Granted, those are usually weekend warrior type road bikes.

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Old 03-13-07, 08:40 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by centexwoody
FWIW, I think that becoming a cycle commuter is as much as a process for achieving a frame of mind as it is any equipment or technical who-ha. Steady commuting has as much to do with attitude (which can't be bought) as it does with equipment (that is simply a purchase). The maintenance of the former requires more attention than the latter. Folks commute on just about anything just as they tour on just about everything.
I agree, but I can also say from experience that a good bike can make the difference between really wanting to commute and just doing it because it's the most practical mode of transport. That said, you don't need to spend a lot to find a bike that's good for you: my Dahon folder cost me US$130, and I am constantly surprised by how capable and fun it is: I took it on a ride just shy of a metric century the other day, with nary a complaint from the bike. It has helped to reinvigorate my interest in bikes, which had been severely tested by a terrible Chinese road bike that I bought when I first arrived.

To the OP, my advice would be to go for the bike that you found most fun to ride, because that's what's going to be pushing you to ride more!
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Old 03-13-07, 12:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbojeff
I bet with you going 10 miles, if you stick with it, you are going to want something faster with drops in about a year.
Maybe, maybe not. I've known people who had slightly longer commutes and never wanted to switch out of their "sporty" hybrids (as opposed to "comfort" hybrids), for various reasons.

Out of the three, I'd go with the Kona as the other two seem a bit too upright to me. I've had a Marin San Anselmo hybrid for a few years myself, which is similar to the Larkspur, and while it was definitely a very smooth ride and a very beautiful and well-engineered machine, it had serious speed limitations and unnecessary suspension (forks and seatpost). I did lots of fun stuff on it including 22 mile RT commutes, centuries and multiday tours, but eventually I gave it away to my mother who rides it occasionally in fair weather. A little too much on the "comfort" side.

One concern I always have about commuting bikes is whether you'll have to lock them up outside for the duration of the work day. And if you do, I would strongly advise against an expensive and new bike, unless you live in some unusually tame area and can see the bike right out the window and could travel from your desk to your bike in under ten seconds - or something like that.
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Old 03-13-07, 12:24 PM   #15
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While there are a lot of good options listed (I love the looks of the Kona )for that ride, I'd at least consider the Breezer Liberty. It looks like a good value to me and is all decked out for regular commuting.

http://www.breezerbikes.com/bike_det...e&bike=liberty
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Old 03-13-07, 12:54 PM   #16
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Thanks everybody for your suggestions! I had given up this thread for dead, and was surprised to find it revived. I've test-ridden many other bikes sinces my first post, and things have changed a lot. I recently had the pleausre to ride a Surly Cross Check, and it's changed my mind about drop bars and forced me to expand my budget gbcb's point about wanting to ride a bike because it's fun is well taken; I've never had so much fun riding as on the XC. Also, the lbs that stocks the surly has a deal whereby they'll switch the drops to a flat bar up to a couple of weeks after purchase, if you like...but, I find myself liking the drops the more I ride them. Love the bar end shifters, too. I also enjoyed testing the Novara Randonee, but it wasn't quite as much fun as the XC. The only thing stopping me from buying it now, is the possibility that the Surly LHT might be even better, but I'd have to wait 'til they ship in April to find out. Thanks again everyone for the advice.
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Old 03-13-07, 01:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highcyclist
I recently had the pleausre to ride a Surly Cross Check, and it's changed my mind about drop bars and forced me to expand my budget
Woo-hoo! Cool! Drop bars aren't so bad after all. Surly Crosscheck and LHT are among the best all-around bikes you can get.
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Old 03-13-07, 01:19 PM   #18
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" I've never had so much fun riding"

This is why always tell people to spend a fair amount a a bike. If not they buy some cheap bike and do not ride it. Why? it is not that much fun to ride. Also, when comparing bikes, it personal, always get the one that fits, not the one that everyone likes.
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