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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 04-07-07, 01:11 AM   #1
ConstantinosYEA
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What type of bike would be best for my commute?

I am totally new to the world of bikes and i know there are many different types of bikes like mountain and road and hybrid and what not but i do not know exactly what is best for the conditions i will be riding in.

I go to school at Umass Amherst and it is a very VERY hilly campus, some hills which are actually very steep. Almost everything is paved though and there might be some dirt paths once in a while as a short cut or a badly paved road full of potholes and some gravel but mostly it is paved. Also back at home on Long Island it will be normal paved road which is basically flat the whole way.

I plan on riding to and from class at school (a little under a mile) and to other places around town (no more than 3 miles). At home i plan on riding it to the homes of my friends who live under 5 miles away, or else i would have to drive. The roads here on LI do not seem to be very bike friendly though since they lack bike lanes and some lack even a shoulder. I also plan on carrying my books and stuff on the bike with me to and from class so i would need one i could use a bungee cord or something to keep stuff on the back thing over the back wheel.

I see a lot of people up here at Amherst have bikes with those curved handle bars that look sort of like like a backwards "C" with the brakes being vertical. I believe those are road bikes?

For these types of conditions, what bike would be best? From what i see around here it seems like a road bike, or are those hybrids and i can not tell the difference since i am a noob.
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Old 04-07-07, 05:08 AM   #2
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A road bike would do you well. If you're going to be locking-up outside, something not too flashy.

Also: the nicer bike you get, the more you will use it.
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Old 04-07-07, 05:20 AM   #3
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Sounds like a cyclocross bike or a touring bike would be right up your alley. Both are "heavy duty" versions of road bikes. Road bikes are the kind with the curvy handlebars and skinny tires.

A cyclocross bike will be heavier duty. They're usually set up with the intention that they'll see some off-road use, but they're still geared to go fast, with narrower tires than you'd find on any mountain bike or most hybrids. Examples of a Cyclocross bike are Surly Crosscheck, Trek X0, Redline Conquest, and Cannondale Cyclocross. There are plenty of others, though.

A touring bike will basically be a road bike with better wheels, braze-ons (for installing racks and panniers to carry your stuff!) and maybe a little more comfortable geometry. They usually accept wider tires for stability on light gravel. Surly LHT (Long Haul Trucker), Trek 520, Cannondale T800, and Jamis Aurora are examples of touring bikes.

You'll find that mountain bikes and hybrids will be less efficient. If you don't need the ability to ride in really rough conditions (snow, mud, singletrack trails) then I'd suggest staying with a cyclocross or touring road bike.

Quick Edit:
When commuting, the main important factor is that it's a bike you like spending time riding. Take your time and ride a few bikes first. If the options seem a little pricy, just remember how much you're saving on gasoline and car problems, and maybe even gym membership!

Last edited by ax0n; 04-07-07 at 05:25 AM.
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Old 04-07-07, 05:57 AM   #4
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I used to live in Amherst, and damn those hills can get to you while commuting. But at the end of the ride they feel rewarding.

When I lived there I had a vintage road bike that worked ok. My roommate had a mountain bike that also worked ok. If I were looking for a new bike I'd probably with either a road bike or touring bike. But if you're looking for a used bike I'd go for the one that fits you the best.
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Old 04-07-07, 09:25 AM   #5
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The distance is pretty short. I wouldn't recommend a road bike or cyclocross if you have trouble negotiating the hills. Instead, I'd recommend a used hardtail, rigid fork, mountain bike (like from the early 1990's and below), except that you should switch the tires to slicks in order to make it easier to pedal on the pavement. Or a hybrid bike that's more mountain than road. Mountain bikes have low enough gears to help you cross any hill sitting down and without working up a sweat. Plus, you don't need a road bike if you aren't going to go more than 5 miles away from home. As much as I love my 'cross and touring bikes, I don't the OP needs something like those. For one thing, they might be too expensive for a college student (I'm a college student too, I sympathize). For another thing, they might attract thieves a lot more.

Road bikes: Yes, the ones with the inverted C handlebars and vertical-mounted brakes are ROAD bikes.

Mountain bikes: straight handlebars, knobby tires for off-road riding. You know the type, I'm sure. Mountain bikes are the most common types out there nowadays.

Hybrid bikes: A hybrid is a mix between a road bike and a mountain bike. Sometimes they are road bikes with mountain bike handlebars, and sometimes they are mountain bikes with road bike tires. If you will be looking at hybrids, I'd suggest you look at the latter more if you're afraid of hills.
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Old 04-07-07, 09:53 AM   #6
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I have several bikes to choose from including Mountain, Road, and Hybrid, bikes. I put most of my miles on a Specialized CrossRoads hybrid. It's nowhere near as fast as one of my road bikes nor will it take abuse as one of my Mountain bikes can but for everyday use as well as a tour every now and then its perfect. I do camping, fishing, and grocery runs on it. Fenders help keep road crud off me. Racks front and rear allow me to haul my stuff easily. Here is a photo of my favorite bike.
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Old 04-07-07, 11:22 AM   #7
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Kona Smoke?
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Old 04-07-07, 03:12 PM   #8
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I went to a bike shop today (Brands on Sunrise for anybody on LI) and i looked around and asked the people that worked there a few questions. They fitted me and i need a 17.5 inch bike. They also reccomended the Trek bikes, the lower end ones starting at $280 and going up to $400. I think they look good but what do you guys think of them? He said the Trek 7000, 7100 or 7200 would be good for me since they have many gears so i can go up and down hills easily. Are those good models? I am looking to spend $300-$400 anyway so they fit perfectly into my price range. I think i could probably find a used one up at school at the bike co-op too if i am lucky.

Another thing i was wondering about was transporting these the 180 miles from home to school. I usually drive to school and i drive a Toyota Avalon. What type of rack or something is best? I think the ones that hook to the back or good. Is there any way i can transport it without a rack? Could i take off the wheels and just put the frame in the trunk? My trunk is rather wide and deep so i think it could fit. I could throw the tires in the trunk or the back seat too.

Thanks for your replies guys.
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Old 04-07-07, 03:51 PM   #9
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Those are good bikes, but they're hybrids. You can do a bit to make them a little more "roady" or a little more "off-roady". They should last quite a while though.

The bikes I was talking about ('cross bikes and touring bikes) will almost assuredly be way outside your price range. My suggestion is to take the 7200 out for a test spin, put a few miles on it if they'll let you, or even put a deposit down and see if you can borrow it for a day or two. Some shops are cool that way.

The main thing is to see if you like it or not. You can't determine that by doing circles in a parking lot.

Then, start looking at used ones if you feel like saving some cash.
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Old 04-07-07, 04:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ax0n
The main thing is to see if you like it or not. You can't determine that by doing circles in a parking lot.
+1

The most important thing about a bike is whether you like to ride it or not. It can be the best bike in the world for everyone else, but if you don't like it, it's the worst bike in the world for you.

Make sure you like the bike you'll be riding, so the poor thing doesn't end up sitting in the garage collecting dust on it like so many bikes selling on craigslist and garage sales.
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Old 04-07-07, 05:20 PM   #11
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If I were considering using a bike on a college campus I would think hard about a cheap used bike. Something form E-Bay or Craigslist. Being in the northeast I would think that there are many to choose from.

If you want a new bike and like the Trek brand, here is a pretty good commuter, but the front suspension is unnecessary.

http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...d=1010600&f=19

Here is a bike I am considering using as a commuter, and remember that there are several different models of 'Coda', in case this is too much to spend.

http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/bikes/...codasport.html

If you are careful, you can put a bike in the trunk of a car, but you might have to loosen the handlebar on a flat barred mountain bike,as the bars can be a bit wider than some road bars. Not always, but sometimes.
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Old 04-07-07, 05:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConstantinosYEA
Another thing i was wondering about was transporting these the 180 miles from home to school. I usually drive to school and i drive a Toyota Avalon. What type of rack or something is best? I think the ones that hook to the back or good. Is there any way i can transport it without a rack? Could i take off the wheels and just put the frame in the trunk? My trunk is rather wide and deep so i think it could fit. I could throw the tires in the trunk or the back seat too.
If your car has a big trunk, it's pretty easy to get a bike in there. Most bikes have quick release wheels, that mean that wheels can be taken off by hand. Often it's enough to just take the front wheel off, and they will fit in a trunk.
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Old 04-07-07, 05:41 PM   #13
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I'll second LastPlace's recommendation on the Codas, though I believe the basic model Coda is 450, which may be pushing your price range. I think you'll like the Codas however as they will feel nice and fast, but the steel frame will be durable and with the right tires you can easily take it off road, as long as it isn't intense singletrack or something. Kona also makes great bikes. The Kona Smoke would be a great starter bike, and it already comes with fenders. For a little bit more you could get a Kona Dew, which will be fairly similar to the Smoke, but with slightly better parts. If you come down to deciding between the Coda and the Dew, for instance, the Coda will be a little better on the roads and the Dew will be better off-road.

Used can also be nice, but for a beginner, there are a lot of advantages in buying new: free fittings, the bike should be tuned up nicely, andd it's a place you can easily go for advice on maintenance.

Good luck! : )
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Old 04-07-07, 05:46 PM   #14
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Whatever bike you get, it shouldn't be too flashy and expensive if you'll be leaving it around campus, especially if you do it overnight. Also get a good lock or two and learn how to lock your bike properly.
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Old 04-07-07, 08:00 PM   #15
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I have always wondered about NYC Bikes. I hear lots of good, but haven't ridden one myself. You'd have to factor in the extra cost of the LBS assembling, and adjusting it for you.
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Old 04-07-07, 09:05 PM   #16
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The thing about bike shops, is that they will try to push whatever brand they have. For college I agree with some other posters. Get something used, invest in a good lock and learn how to lock properly. Sounds silly but I have seen tons of bikes that only have wheel locked to a bike rack.
As for type... Well ride different bikes and see what you like. As a general rule road bikes have a more "aggressive" position then say a hybrid or a mountain bike. They are durable enough. I wouldn't take them on a single track, but they will do fine on roads that are "bumpy", or packed dirt trail. Heck I put my road bike through more abuse then some people put on their mountain bikes. Nothing exploding yet.
One thing about road bikes is that they usually don't have eyelets to attach panniers. So you probably will end up having to carry all the stuff on your back. Either in a back pack, or in a messenger bag. Which shouldn't be too much of a problem since you mentioned it will be under a mile (personally I would have just walked the distance).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConstantinosYEA
I went to a bike shop today (Brands on Sunrise for anybody on LI) and i looked around and asked the people that worked there a few questions. They fitted me and i need a 17.5 inch bike. They also reccomended the Trek bikes, the lower end ones starting at $280 and going up to $400. I think they look good but what do you guys think of them? He said the Trek 7000, 7100 or 7200 would be good for me since they have many gears so i can go up and down hills easily. Are those good models? I am looking to spend $300-$400 anyway so they fit perfectly into my price range. I think i could probably find a used one up at school at the bike co-op too if i am lucky.

Another thing i was wondering about was transporting these the 180 miles from home to school. I usually drive to school and i drive a Toyota Avalon. What type of rack or something is best? I think the ones that hook to the back or good. Is there any way i can transport it without a rack? Could i take off the wheels and just put the frame in the trunk? My trunk is rather wide and deep so i think it could fit. I could throw the tires in the trunk or the back seat too.

Thanks for your replies guys.
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Old 04-08-07, 07:47 AM   #17
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You need a full carbon racing bike and a messenger bag.

Seriously, if I was in your situation I would purchase an old road bike. Consequently, if it was stolen you would only be out a minimum of $$. You could also purchase a used MTB and put slicks on it. It really is up to you. Most bikes would work.
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