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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 06-30-07, 07:02 PM   #1
genespleen
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Rumpelstiltskin wakes up

Hi folks,

I am currently commuting--and simply using--my 1985 Trek 510 all over town. But I've landed a new job (making the step from visiting prof. to tenure-track prof.--which you academics will know is significant), and I am finding myself drawn to the idea of A New Bike.

This post is not about What Bike I Should Buy, but rather about what I should expect to experience in leaping from 1985 to 2007, in a typical 500-600 road bike. What are the most dramatic differences I may feel in terms of The Ride? (What technological developments have made the most difference, what have been more like wallet-candy, etc.?)

Seriously, I have next to no saddle time on anything newer than what I currently have. So I would be making a 20-year-leap in this.

best,
R Stiltskin
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Old 06-30-07, 07:17 PM   #2
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I think disc brakes are more common now then many years ago so that's one thing. V-brakes I think have been around 1992ish (if my memory is correct and the library books I borrowed show the publication date as then).

They have removeable brakes for the V-brakes now which means yo don't have to take the whole shoe pad off and put a new one. You just slip off the old brake pad and put a new one in and use the pin to hold the brake in place. Also makes carrying spare brake pads light weight and space saving.

That's all I know right now. I still consider myself rather new to the biking thing dispite having close to 5000km.
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Old 06-30-07, 08:07 PM   #3
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Read through some issues of Bicycling magazine, and go to your local shop, look around, and ask lots of questions. If they persist in trying to tell you what you want and steering toward only high end bikes, go to another shop. Do lots of window shopping and test riding before you buy.
BTW, I still commute on my 1985 Raleigh Wyoming. I'm also about to inherit a 1977 Schwinn Traveller from my older brother.
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Old 06-30-07, 08:09 PM   #4
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A lot. Congratulations.
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Old 06-30-07, 08:26 PM   #5
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Shifting has probably changed the most. Now road bikes normally come with shifters built into the brake levers, and indexed, so you just push either the brake lever or a little paddle next to it until the mechanism clicks, and the chain falls nicely onto the next gear.
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Old 06-30-07, 08:34 PM   #6
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Lighter, stiffer, and faster, although none of those are really all that important for commuting.

Shifting and braking technology has come a long, long way since 85'. Obviously carbon fiber (although a bit overkill for a commuter).

In terms of ride, well, that depends. Newer decent carbon bikes are simply amazingly fast. The combination of stiffness yet compliance makes them energy efficient, and comfortable (something aluminum isn't accused of often). You might find that aggresize geometry aluminum frames are also fast, but they might be a bit to rigid to be comfortable. I assume in commuting, comfort is something of a factor (it is with me, at least).

Major tech advances are clipless pedals (I don't leave home without them, my Bianchi Milano has combo platform/clipless), compact geometry, and as I mentioned, shifting. Shifting is also smoother and much faster than it used to be. Most road bikes have integrated shifters built into the brake levers.While this isn't really critical, its still nice to have. Tire technology has also come a long, long way. The only problem now is there are so many choices, you'll have to be careful on which to settle on.
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Old 06-30-07, 08:53 PM   #7
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Hmm that trek 510 is probably a sweet ride. Consider upgrading the components
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Old 06-30-07, 09:08 PM   #8
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I really haven't noticed a huge comfort problem with my Aluminum Trek 1200, and this is my first road bike since my old steel Schwinn World Sport (probably older than your 510) that I rode around in high school 12 or 13 years ago. I came to the Trek from late-90's steel mountain bikes as commuter bikes.

As already mentioned, Braking is superior now, with high-mechanical-advanage levers that you can use over the hoods or in the drops.

Shifting with Shimano STI levers (Tiagra, 105, or Ultegra level) allow you to shift without pulling your hands from the brakes. The lower-end Sora levers still have integrated brakes and shifters, but shifting "in" (lower front gear, higher rear) requires you to be on the hoods and use a thumb button.

I also would never run a road bike without clipless pedals. To solve the shoe problem, I just leave a dedicated pair of black business-casual shoes at work, locked in my filing cabinet.

You probably already know this, but just get out and ride some bikes! Don't buy the first one that tickles your fancy, either. Bikes have come so far that you're probably going to be impressed on your first or second bike.

Don't be afraid to go low-end, either. The Trek 1200 isn't made anymore, but it's basically the frame of Trek's lowest-end road bike (1000) with some better components on it. Upgraded shifters, derailleurs, 9 speed instead of 8 speed on the rear, and stuff like that. It's for all intents and purposes an entry-level road bike. Unlike some of Trek's middle-of-the-line road bikes (like the 1500), my 1200 (and the 1000 it shares frames with) have braze-ons for front and rear racks.

Definitely look around at several different brands, too. You probably won't find a brand new touring bike for the price point you're looking at, but you'll probably find something really nice.

Also, I think it's about time for the '08 models to be sliding into the shops. You can probably catch some good deals on 2007 bikes, and really good deals on any 2006 stuff left. I got about $250 off MSRP for my '06 1200 back at the beginning of May.
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Old 06-30-07, 09:54 PM   #9
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I'd stick with the classic and upgrade components if you really wanted to do anything, especially if the frame is still a perfect fit.
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Old 07-01-07, 07:39 AM   #10
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Can't speak to your equipment issues, but I think you meant Rip van Winkle, not Rumplestiltskin.
Of course all those fictitious R characters are basically the same anyway...
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Old 07-01-07, 10:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genespleen
a typical 500-600 road bike.
(Almost) does not exist. There are very few road bikes sold new under $700. Unless you go with GMC Denali. (Please don't.)
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Old 07-01-07, 01:23 PM   #12
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In the last 20 years, racing bikes have gotten lighter and are now made of more exotic materials. I am a bit dubious that that really translates into "stiffer and faster" in any meaningful way. Most mainstream bikes have gotten less practical and more like racing bikes. If you want to buy a new sport bike, it will be lighter and sportier than the equivalent from the 80's.

For the commuter, the biggest changes since the 80's are good 7, 8, and 14 speed internal-gear hubs; the availibility of good-quality big (wider than 32 mm) tires with anti-puncture belts; modern dynohubs and associated lights; and some real commuting bikes that use these improvements.

I tend to agree with the previous posters who suggested upgrading the Trek. If the frame is not bent up and it fits you, a full refitting (in the nautical sense) may be in order.
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Old 07-01-07, 01:46 PM   #13
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The changes in bikes at your price level since the '80s are not much, although advertisers would like you to believe otherwise. If you want to pay lots more you can get the exotic materials mentioned by sluggo, and lighter does really mean faster on uphills and in stop-and-go situations.

If you pick bikes that are equal in terms of inflation-adjusted price, 80s bikes and modern bikes are pretty similar in terms of speed/usefulness/convenience.
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Old 07-01-07, 02:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chephy
(Almost) does not exist. There are very few road bikes sold new under $700. Unless you go with GMC Denali. (Please don't.)
Yeah. If 5-600 is your price range, stick with a bike that has mainly mountain bike components (this could mean basically a flat bar road bike, or something else). You get a much better bang for your buck as far as mountain bike components are concerned, probably due mainly to the huge technological advances made over the last 20 years, and the sheer volume of mountain bikes sold.
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Old 07-01-07, 02:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMacFU
I'd stick with the classic and upgrade components if you really wanted to do anything, especially if the frame is still a perfect fit.
+1. There's nothing wrong with buying a new bike but if the Trek is in good shape and fits well, you might be better off upgrading.

In your price range, you'll probably find some decent hybrids but not much in the way of good road bikes.

As a commuter, you might find something like: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ke#post3242258 more useful.

If you decide to buy new, I'd suggest that you look for a Jamis dealer and take a look at the Quest, Aurora and Coda models (the Fuji Touring would also be worth looking at). They're probably a little above your price range but they cover a decent range of "road", "touring" and "flat bar road" bikes and test riding them will give you a good idea of what current bikes are like (but I am admittedly biased in favor of steel frames).

By the way, congrats on the new position. I was fortunate enough to start my career on tenure track but I've seen plenty of folks struggle through various mixes of adjunct/visiting/contract/etc.

Tom
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Old 07-01-07, 02:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cerewa
If you pick bikes that are equal in terms of inflation-adjusted price, 80s bikes and modern bikes are pretty similar in terms of speed/usefulness/convenience.
I think on average road bikes became more racing- and less commuter-oriented. Clearances are pretty tight, limiting the choice of tire width, and racks + fenders may be difficult to mount. If you want these features, don't get a "road" bike (unless it's a Salsa Cassaroll ). Go with a cyclocross or touring bike such as Surly Cross-Check (an all-arounder with a cult built around it ).
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Old 07-01-07, 04:10 PM   #17
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Rumplestiltskin? I thought it was Rip Van Winkle (Rumplestiltskin was the gnome who did the straw into gold thing, right?)

Anyway - if you're bike commuting, get something that has stays for front/rear fenders and a rack. That would put you into the 'touring bike' category - I outfitted a cyclocross bike as a commuter, and love it. It'll take all the abuse I can throw at it, and it's still reasonably light.
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