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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 06-28-07, 10:17 PM   #1
earthworm94
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Choice of bike

Hello fellow forum-ites, first post here.

I need an updated bike. My last bike is a Free Spirit I got 13 years ago as a 7th grader. For perspective purpose, now I TEACH 8th graders.

btw, I guess y'all can tell I am a newbie.

It will be used mostly as...

-commuter/alt. mode transportation bike for those short trips around town
-occassional trail/rides around local parks


Here are the features I wanted:
Aluminum frame
front suspension
disc brake
durable for casual riding. The bike will probably used as least once or twice per week during
price range about $500-$600

I did some research around some local bike shops and online, here are the few I see that fits the bill:
Trek 6000
Scott Reflex 45 (test rode it and I like it quite a bit but at about $550-600 range, the price/feature ratio is a bit stiff)
Giant Sedona Lx

More suggestion welcome,
Thank you
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Old 06-28-07, 10:25 PM   #2
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How long is your commute?

And, hopefully, what kind of riding will you be doing other than commuting? (i.e. long road rides, trips to the grocery store, etc).
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Old 06-28-07, 10:34 PM   #3
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Another alternative is the Specialized Hardrock: http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkM...sid=07Hardrock

The "Sport Disk" and "Comp Disk" models both meet your requirements, and are within your budget. The Comp has better components than the Sport, and is a pretty good value at $600. If your LBS still has the '06 models in stock, they might even cut you a deal.

If your commute is longer than 3-5 miles though, I'd urge you to consider an entry level road bike instead. Mountain bikes leave a lot to be desired when it comes to paved surfaces.

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Old 06-28-07, 10:39 PM   #4
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Commute distance

It's hilly where I live. Mostly for grocery stores, coffee shops, food take-outs, for which I can travel without losing my usually good parking spot since teachers get off work a bit earlier than most people

Most commute will probably within 2-5 miles. Any further my car would be a better choice.
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Old 06-29-07, 08:12 AM   #5
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I have a Garry Fischer Nirvana that is costs right around $500 that has almost all those features. It is a nice smooth riding bike that is still good and solid and can put up with my 230 lbs frame and extra 20 Lbs of stuff I take with me on my daily commute. IT does not have disk brakes, but my LBS told me that they are not fans of disk brakes on the sub $800 bikes. The sub $800 come with the lower end disk brakes, and their experience is that they are no better than the high quality brakes that come on $500 bikes. Once you get to around the $800 bikes, the disk brakes are upgraded and are a notch above traditional brakes. I came from a 26 year old bike using chomed rims and standard pull brakes. Now I have side pull brakes that actually center properly and press against aluminum rims. No more white knuckle ride when you apply the brakes and wait 30 seconds for brakes to finally grab. I can actually stop in the rain! I tried the Trek 7.2 as well when I was buying this bike and the Nirvanna just felt better. The roads around here get a lot of snow and freezing cycles in the winter so you never know what you will find along the way. I find the suspension very nice and smooths out a lot of the road irregularities. The front shocks on the Nirvanna also have a locking mode. I used this the other day on a long ride. I needed to get out of the saddle a bit and locked the front suspension while riding out of the saddle. This prevents a lot of lose energy being converted into up and down motion. Then I came accross some expansion joints that had opened up a bit on the MUP. I dit the first one and was shocked at how nasty and harsh the hit was... it didn't look like much. Within seconds I hit an other one. I mostly was able to jump over this one, but the landing was fairly hard as well. I quickly put my suspension back into normal working mode and the next few I was able to get over much more smoothly. With the hope, the front suspension nicely absorbs the stock of landing. Sure I've added 2 Lbs to my bike, but I don't intend to climb mountains so I don't care.

Happy riding,
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Old 06-29-07, 08:17 AM   #6
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Unless you are actually going to go mountain biking, I would STRONGLY suggest you get a road bike. I have both a mtb and a road bike, and I don't touch the mtb unless I am going to be riding over rocks and logs and such. On roads/paths/smooth trails, road bikes are much more fun.
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Old 06-29-07, 08:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by earthworm94
It's hilly where I live. Mostly for grocery stores, coffee shops, food take-outs, for which I can travel without losing my usually good parking spot since teachers get off work a bit earlier than most people

Most commute will probably within 2-5 miles. Any further my car would be a better choice.

I suggest a Hybrid bike, if you go with a full suspension mountian bike you won't be able to mount paniers on the back which means you'll have to put all of your groceries in your back pack.

Something along the lines of the Giant FCR series or the Trek 7.x series or the Marin ALP series

The trek bikes even have the option of disc brakes. Why do you want disc brakes?
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Old 06-29-07, 08:45 AM   #8
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Disc brakes seems a bit overkill on such a short commute. I'd aim for a road bike. Not only will the bike weigh a lot less, but the lower resistance in pushing the skinny tires will make you able to easily ride longer distances and faster speeds. You can still put a rack an panniers or whatever on it... even if it doesn't have the mounts you can buy adapters to mount em.
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Old 06-29-07, 09:56 AM   #9
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Last weekend, I found a Trek L200 at my LBS (Maplewood Bikes in STL) for $499. Monday, I rode it home.

It's great! Sometimes it seems a little slower than my old 97 HardRock GX with skinny 26x1.5 Michelin TransWorld City tires, but my overall times seem about the same. Even if it is slower, the Nexus 8 is worth it. Being able to shift at stoplights and stopsigns is priceless. The stock tires seem to have a relatively low rolling resistance and the ride over rough pavement doesn't seem any worse than my HardRock with the skinny tires. They also seem to do pretty well in the wet, too. The bottle dynamo does add some drag, about the difference between knobby and smoother tires. It is nice to just get on and go without worrying about batteries, though.

If you can find one, you might want to look into the L200.
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Old 06-29-07, 10:07 AM   #10
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What kind of "trail rides"? If it's pavement, don't bother with a mtb.

Why Aluminum?

Why disc brakes? Unless you're carrying a heavy load downhill, standard brakes are more than fine.

Don't fall for marketing.
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Old 06-29-07, 10:16 AM   #11
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Why do you need front suspension? Way overkill on pavement.
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Old 06-29-07, 11:35 AM   #12
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I had a Sedona LX. It was heavy and a bit slow,but I beat the crap out of it and it took it with zero problems. The Scott or Trek would be fine with street tires. So would any MTB in your price range.

Re: disc brakes. They aren't marketing hype. Yes,the lower end ones aren't as nice as say,a set of BB7's,but they still have many advantages over rim brakes. They don't care how true your rim is,they don't wear on your rims,the pads last longer and are usually easier to change/adjust,they don't junk up your wheels and bike with brake dust,you can't forget to reconnect them if you remove the front wheel,and of course they work much better in rain and snow.

Re: suspension. Not really necessary on a street bike,unless you have carpel tunnel or other problems. If you are going to do unpaved trails,then it might not be a bad idea,although wide tires may compensate enough if the trails are in good shape. If you do get suspension,it's best to have a fork that can be locked solid.
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Old 06-29-07, 11:55 AM   #13
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Why the suspension and disc brakes? Suspension just makes your bike heavier, and at your price range you're not getting fantastic suspension anyway. Have you considered an entry level road bike, perhaps something with room for fatter tires? The Surly Cross Check would be good, but the complete bike is almost a grand. That would give you a bike you could ride on the trails, commute on, and have the capacity for longer road rides if you desired.
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Old 06-30-07, 07:23 AM   #14
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Consider a folding bike. Downtube ($300) Xooter Swift ($700). They are more practical to store and transport.
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Old 06-30-07, 09:57 AM   #15
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Front suspension: You actually don't want this. Suspensions sap kinetic energy out of every pedal stroke, and rob you of efficiency, making your commute take a bit more effort for less speed. Plus, suspensions, even good ones, are HEAVY.

Disc Brakes: I'm going to sound like a hypocrite here, since I built a CX bike with discs...but you don't really need these. They drive the cost of the bike up for starters, and to be honest I haven't been wowed by the stopping power compared to rim brakes. Yes, in some conditions they grab a bit better, but I was expecting some bat-mobile type stopping. Unless you regularly ride in icing conditions, you don't really need these.

Aluminum: I ride and like aluminum. Don't make it an absolute qualifier though. Steel has many advantages of it's own, and rides very nicely. I at least use 4130 Cro-Moly steel forks. Steel that's not x-mart cheap steel isn't really heavier either.

To address the fact that "any further than 2-5 miles" your car would be a better choice. Anything inside of 10 in an urban/suburban area is easy biking territory. As you gain in strength you'll recongnize this as well. A bike suited to efficient miles will help you to see this, and gain in your performance as a cyclist.

I strongly recommend looking at some versions of road bikes. Road bikes aren't all super skinny tires (though skinny compared to an ATB's tires), and an inverted contorted butt-in-the-air riding position. Road bikes come in many flavors like "sport", touring, cyclocross (probably best!) and others. Most commuters here will recommend something similar.

Best of luck to you, and welcome to the club!!!
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Old 06-30-07, 03:55 PM   #16
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Went bike shopping today, didn't buy anything yet

First, thank you very much for all your comments and advice, I really appreciate the help.

Here are my findings...

Bikes I tried:

-Specialized Globe
-GF Wingra
-GF Wahoo Disc
-Cannondale F5

I definitely like the mountain style frame better. The riding position is more comfortable for me and I feel like I can make tighter turns.

As for the V vs. Disc brake, I think I definitely would get disc because I feel like have more "feather" control on disc. I afraid if I have a panic stop, the front V brake would lock too easily, and I might flip. The disc gives me better control and trim the downhill speed better.

As for the front suspension, I probably would prefer a bike w/o it becuase I don't feel too much of a difference when I ride on grass, gravel, or trail with whole bunch of pine branch and cones.

I'm now more leaning toward the GF Wahoo Disc or Cannondale F5.

The Genesis geometry on the Wahoo is very comfortable and I feel well balanced. It's very nimble and the disc brake allow me good control on braking forces.

Now for the Cannondale. The frame feels incredible stiff and the steering is the most responsive of all bikes tested. I wear tennis shoes and I could quite get my feet into the feet holding net thingie, so I didn't get to push the bike to its full potential. I also heard many good things about the Cannondale name and the component on it is more than adequent for my need.

I actually get to try the a folding bike as well, it's a Dehon (can't remember the model). They ride just like normal bikes but even when it's folded up, it doesn't quite as conveniently sized as I would expect.

Questions:
1. It's about $600 for the Cannondale, is it a decent price? Would it be better if I wait a little till 2008 models coming out so I can get a better deal?

2. I'm a small frame (5' 5, 120 lbs) male, which also means I have very little butt, if you know what I mean. Anyone have similar physique as I do that can recommend a more comfortable seat? I feel like all bikes I rode doesn't have quite a comfortable seat.

Comments:
I have to commend the cycling world for their outstanding customer service. Although I know very little about biking, I don't feel one bit intimidated anywhere I went. All the shop folks seems knowledgable and very willing to help and let me try new things. It isn't necessarily the case for other specialized hobby shops I went to.

Input are welcome as always.
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Old 06-30-07, 04:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banzai
Front suspension: You actually don't want this. Suspensions sap kinetic energy out of every pedal stroke, and rob you of efficiency, making your commute take a bit more effort for less speed. Plus, suspensions, even good ones, are HEAVY.

Disc Brakes: I'm going to sound like a hypocrite here, since I built a CX bike with discs...but you don't really need these. They drive the cost of the bike up for starters, and to be honest I haven't been wowed by the stopping power compared to rim brakes. Yes, in some conditions they grab a bit better, but I was expecting some bat-mobile type stopping. Unless you regularly ride in icing conditions, you don't really need these.

Aluminum: I ride and like aluminum. Don't make it an absolute qualifier though. Steel has many advantages of it's own, and rides very nicely. I at least use 4130 Cro-Moly steel forks. Steel that's not x-mart cheap steel isn't really heavier either.

To address the fact that "any further than 2-5 miles" your car would be a better choice. Anything inside of 10 in an urban/suburban area is easy biking territory. As you gain in strength you'll recongnize this as well. A bike suited to efficient miles will help you to see this, and gain in your performance as a cyclist.

I strongly recommend looking at some versions of road bikes. Road bikes aren't all super skinny tires (though skinny compared to an ATB's tires), and an inverted contorted butt-in-the-air riding position. Road bikes come in many flavors like "sport", touring, cyclocross (probably best!) and others. Most commuters here will recommend something similar.

Best of luck to you, and welcome to the club!!!
I understand advantage of suspension vs. none. After today, you have a point.

Steel have many advantage over Aluminum. For background information, I have a BS Mechanical Engineering (though I never, have yet use it). Therefore, I understand the pros/cons of Aluminum. I just think Aluminum is lighter and stronger pound for pound vs. steel. Also, Aluminum is more corrosion resistent than steel as far as I know. Steel is probably more durable of the two mat'l compare to Aluminum.

Recently, I rode about 10-12 miles around Center Island in Toronto, Ont. It's a wonderful place to ride if anyone is around there. The air is good, scenary is great and the it's very flat. I'm on a rental single speed friction brake cruiser bike and I can finish all that in about 2 hrs (I stop very frequently for pictures). I'm in decent physical shape. It's a different story for where I live. If I commute on bike, it's all downhill on my way (and all uphill back from work). I also live in a rather hilly, suburb area. Therefore, there's not much use for a bike.

A bike would be great for commuting around big college campuses and downtown areas where traveling distance is about 2-3 mile. That distance would be overkill for cars and little too far and slow for walking. Also, anyone been to college would understands car parking sucks around campus.
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Old 06-30-07, 04:36 PM   #18
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When I was in the bike market a couple months ago, I was looking at hybrids that were more mountain bikish. Suspension, disc brakes, etc. I got talked out of both by reading and feedback to my posts in this forum. Disc brakes got nixed, mainly because it would have made it difficult to mount a rear rack (could always put disc brakes just on the front wheel sometime, if I ever decide that I want/need that). Suspension for the reasons mentioned here. Ended up with a Trek FX. Am very happy with it, have it set up for commuting with fenders, rear rack and panniers, its a fun and easy bike to ride. Saddle is the only beef I have with it, but it seems like the majority of posters here end up replacing the saddles that came with their bike. It seems like a universal thing, that bikes come with crappy saddles.

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Old 06-30-07, 04:39 PM   #19
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If you find a mountain bike comfortable, then get one.

I recommend a bike with no suspension, though. One type of bike that you might like a lot is a non-suspension hybrid bike with relatively wide tires. I ride on roads with lots of cracks and bumps in the pavement, and I really like that my bike has wide MTB tires. Most bumps don't bother me at all since I got the wide tires so I don't have any use for suspension.

I also ride an Aluminum-framed bike and I agree that it's a good frame material.
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Old 06-30-07, 04:42 PM   #20
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It seems like a universal thing, that bikes come with crappy saddles.
I dunno, different saddles work with different bottoms, I think. I tend to prefer the narrow, cheap saddles that come stock with a lot of mid or low-end bikes. Most aftermarket saddles look like the ones I've tried and hated.
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Old 06-30-07, 04:50 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cerewa
I dunno, different saddles work with different bottoms, I think. I tend to prefer the narrow, cheap saddles that come stock with a lot of mid or low-end bikes. Most aftermarket saddles look like the ones I've tried and hated.
Perhaps I should have said "near-universal" thing. I think people who like the saddle that came with their bike tend to be in the minority.
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Old 06-30-07, 04:58 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by earthworm94

A bike would be great for commuting around big college campuses and downtown areas where traveling distance is about 2-3 mile. That distance would be overkill for cars and little too far and slow for walking. Also, anyone been to college would understands car parking sucks around campus.
I live in a college town. My biggest moment of terror on a bicycle, was when I found myself riding on the street between a loooooooooooooooooong row of parked cars and traffic, by the frat houses. Was just waiting for a door to open suddenly in front of me. But I won't go down roads like that anymore when there are students in town
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Old 06-30-07, 08:58 PM   #23
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I ordered a gary fisher cronus for my commute this week. I'm going to commute on it to keep from abusing my delicate road bike while not having to lug my mtb around. It looks like it meets your criteria pretty well. I think of it as a high performance cruiser
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Old 06-30-07, 10:18 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by earthworm94
Most commute will probably within 2-5 miles. Any further my car would be a better choice.
This mindset can change surprisingly quickly once you start riding.... I've seen it happen.
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Old 06-30-07, 10:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by earthworm94
Recently, I rode about 10-12 miles around Center Island in Toronto, Ont. It's a wonderful place to ride if anyone is around there. The air is good, scenary is great and the it's very flat. I'm on a rental single speed friction brake cruiser bike and I can finish all that in about 2 hrs (I stop very frequently for pictures).
That's a very strange statement. 2 hrs to finish 10 miles is nothing to brag about even if you take a lot of pictures. In fact, it's kind of laughable. Of course if 2/3th of those 2 hours is spent taking pictures, that's a different story, but then your statement makes no sense. It's like biking a mile, then having a supper for two hours, then biking another mile and saying that it took you a bit over two hours to ride two miles.

I'm not trying to say you're an out-of-shape wussie. I merely say you might not even realize at this point how easy and fast biking can be because you probably don't know the basics of bike fit and riding technique. Once you do realize that, your assessment of what is a reasonable biking distance may change very quickly.

But then, of course, it might not. There is nothing wrong with riding 2 or 3 miles (in fact, THANK YOU for riding a bike for those 2 or 3 miles instead of driving as a frightening number of North Americans would). But then I say the bikes you're considering are an overkill for your purposes. All you need for that kind of distance is a dependable "beater" - an inexpensive used bike from Craigslist. No suspension or disk brakes necessary, and if it happens to be steel, that's actually good (smoother ride). Plus you don't have to worry too much about having the bike vandalized or stolen.
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