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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 02-24-08, 08:19 PM   #1
Schwinnrider
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Bike lust

Manufacturers have my number, I guess. I already have too many bikes for a one bedroom apartment, but Raleigh, Fisher, and Surly are tempting me.

1) Gary Fisher Simple City. Wow. I realize it's probably overpriced, and probably doesn't carry a front load nearly as well as a Kogswell, but the price on the SC is much lower than a P/R, and I wouldn't have to deal with the hassle of picking each component. The SC looks to be a turnkey solution, and would be an IDEAL shopping bike. Finally, a bike I can get 21 pound cat litter container home with.

2)Raleigh One Way, 2008 model. You have to give Raleigh credit on this one. Singlespeed with a Brooks saddle, Brooks bar tape, and fenders for $750 or so. I think a single speed would be a lot of fun, and since it comes with a flip flop hub I could try riding fixed(but I really have no interest in fixed). No derailleurs means simple to deal with. Plus I think it's close to the color of my Gunnar. All I would need to add to it is a Carradice bag and my light and it could even be a backup commuter.

3) Raleigh Sojourn. I've had a jones for a full-on touring bike, and I was considering the Surly Long Haul Trucker, but the Sojourn appears to be a better deal. Yes, I know the component spec on the Raleigh may be lacking, but for a bike with this spec to be prices at 1100 dollars is pretty decent. It comes with a B17, Brooks bar tape, WTB dirt drop bars, and what appears to be a Tubus Cargo(or knockoff) rack. I like the disc brake spec---this would make an excellent rain bike.

4) Surly Long Haul Trucker. By all accounts this is the best touring bike on the market. Very good parts spec and low price(Jenson sells them for $900 with free shipping) but I would still have to buy a rack, bags, fenders, and a Brooks B17. So by the time I did that it would be more expensive than the Sojourn. The Surly does have one thing in its favor----my size LHT comes with 26 inch wheels. Like that a lot, and would open up some new commuting routes for me.

ARRGH. I'm not super concerned with money, because I would likely sell my Surly Pacer to partially finance the purchase of one or two of these. The Simple City, Sojourn, or LHT would be pressed into grocery bike status, but I could also commute on the Sojourn or LHT. My route is very long and drop bars would be a necessity. The One Way could do it too, but some hills would kick my butt on a single speed.

It's really cool that these manufacturers are putting R & D money into something besides ultra light race bikes.
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Old 02-24-08, 08:58 PM   #2
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I have a 28 mile each way on a fixed gear with about a 1000 feet of climbing mostly in the last 10 miles.
It is doable but it definitely kicks your rear.

I'm a bit entranced with the LHT as well. However, I would build up a frame.
Since I do not haul much of anything, something like a sport road frame with a rack would work for me. Ex: soma smoothie es.
Then again a touring bike may work better on long distance cycling events.
Oh the horror. Choices after choices after choices!
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Old 02-24-08, 09:15 PM   #3
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I commute with a Surly LHT. I bought it last June as a complete bike, and have put just under 5,000 miles on it so far.

You are correct that once you add a brooks saddle, racks, pedals, and fenders, the price gets pretty high. I have just under 2 grand invested in my LHT, but I have swapped out some parts and I went for front and rear Surly Nice Racks with Ortlieb Back Roller Plus panniers.

The Surly makes a great commuter if you have a long distance commute (mine is 40-miles, RT) and need to haul a lot of stuff. It's wonderfully sturdy and stiff, yet it has a supple ride. I've been happy with most of the stock components, though the wheel build was suspect (spoke tension all over the map) and I wasn't too happy with the stock stem, seatpost, and brakes. I also didn't need the triple, so I took off the little ring and adjusted the front derauiller to run as a double.

The Surly does have some down-sides. First and foremost, it's heavy. 28lbs in stock trim, and with front and rear racks and bags, SKS fenders, brooks saddle, esge double kickstand; etc mine weighs in at just under 34 lbs. It's really hilly here near Bloomington Indiana and I sure can feel that extra weight on the hills.

Another downside of the LHT is an attribute most tourers would consider a plus - slow steering. Bikes set up to accommodate a front rack typically have "slow" steering geometry to provide for predictable handling with a front load. The LHT is no exception. I actually like the slow handling whether I have a load or not because it helps the bike track better when riding alongside busy highways with crosswinds; etc. But it's not the bike I'd go to for club rides, and it's definitely not suited for racing.

Another thing to consider it the LHT sort of "sticks out from the crowd" when locked to a bike rack. I'm worried about theft when I leave it locked around town, so I typically use another bike when doing short trips when the bike is going to be locked up for a while.

For around town commuting, I wouldn't even consider the LHT. My fixed gear bikes are better suited for these sorts of commutes. They're low maintenance, and I love the control that fixed gear gives me in traffic, snow, and general urban situations.

I'm probably going to be getting a OneWay soon and am really looking forward to that. I just wish it would have come a few months earlier when the roads were all salty and sandy... had to do a lot of additional maintenance to the LHT due to demanding winter conditions.

The Sojurn looks like a good bike, but I'd be worried about the JoyTech hubs. I've had bad luck with off-market hubs, and prefer Shimano. The LHT has top-of-the-line Shimano XT hubs. The disc brakes of the Sojurn are a plus, but selecting a front rack might be a bit difficult if you go that route. I hear that Old Man Mountain makes a front rack for bikes with disc brakes.

Good luck, whichever bike you choose!


Edit: Regardless of which bike you get, be sure to treat the frame with Framesaver (if it's steel), make sure all threaded interfaces are greased, and get some Kool Stop brake pads and keep them clean. You'll thank me!

Last edited by matthew_deaner; 02-24-08 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 02-24-08, 09:23 PM   #4
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I have a 28 mile each way on a fixed gear with about a 1000 feet of climbing mostly in the last 10 miles.
It is doable but it definitely kicks your rear.
That's a killer commute! You put me to shame... How often do you do this commute round trip?
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Old 02-25-08, 06:04 AM   #5
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In winter it is anything from 10 each way a minimum of 3 days a week to 23 each way 3 days a week.
Lately it has been 46 RT twice a week, 20 once a week, a couple 20-40 mile training rides, and my once a month century.
It has taken me a few years to work up to this. However, last year I accumulated 95% of my miles commuting. This year I am downshifting the commuting miles in favor of more centuries, organized rides, group rides, and so forth.
Once or twice a year I ride the entire commute 5 days a week just for the heck of it. Very tiring and I eat everything in sight.
I will have a 1000 mile month in June and plan on doing that again at that time.

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Old 02-25-08, 07:03 AM   #6
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Several of the bikes the OP listed are on my "Want" list.

Raleigh One Way
G.F. Simple City (8 speed w/ basket)
Surly LHT or Raleigh Sojurn (I love me some disc brakes)

Also on my list is a Trek Portland

When I saw the Raleigh Detour Deluxe on their website last year I knew I had to have one so I only lusted after it for about 3 hours before going down to my local raleigh dealer and putting a down payment to order one. I've had it for a several months now and I love it. The dynamo lighting is fantastic and the rack/fenders/disc brakes make it a "do anything" kind of bike. Weight weenies need not apply but it is a schweeeeeeet bike.
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Old 02-25-08, 08:33 AM   #7
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Also on my list is a Trek Portland
Since I got mine, everything else on my want list disappeared. Still things on the "like to try" list, but the want list is empty.

But that doesn't change that the bikes the OP is lusting after are all nice bikes.
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Old 02-26-08, 02:17 AM   #8
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Depends on how and where you want to ride it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwinnrider View Post
Manufacturers have my number, I guess. I already have too many bikes for a one bedroom apartment, but Raleigh, Fisher, and Surly are tempting me.

It's really cool that these manufacturers are putting R & D money into something besides ultra light race bikes.
Absolutely. Practical bicycles have made a big comeback in the USA... and that's long overdue. About the Surly LHT: It's a similar frame to my Rivendell Atlantis (which I use for commuting as well as all kinds of other rides). I've ridden racing bikes (been riding the same lugged steel Pinarello for 20 years now), mountain bikes, and lots of stuff in between. The Atlantis is my first real touring/all-rounder, and it's without a doubt the most versatile bike I've ever ridden. The LHT is the same idea: A frame built to take anything you throw at it, and you can build it up any number of ways to make it anything from an upright cruiser to a drop-bar fast tourer. I like it because I often find myself riding on paved roads, gravel paths, trails, and fire roads in a single ride. And it handles heavy loads well. I've loaded mine up for bicycle camping, groceries, whatever. If I had to have one bike, it would be this kind. And for many years I lived in an apartment and really could have only a couple of bikes.

Now that I have more room I'd like to retire the Pinarello (well... maybe after another year or two) and get a more slack performance road bike that is less aggressive... as well as a mountain bike (haven't had one in years). I'd like a fixie as well, but it's just so darned hilly around here that it's lower on my priority list. I think I'd still ride the all-rounder most of the time anyway.

Sean
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Old 02-26-08, 03:42 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Schwinnrider View Post

4) Surly Long Haul Trucker. By all accounts this is the best touring bike on the market. Very good parts spec and low price(Jenson sells them for $900 with free shipping) but I would still have to buy a rack, bags, fenders, and a Brooks B17. So by the time I did that it would be more expensive than the Sojourn. The Surly does have one thing in its favor----my size LHT comes with 26 inch wheels. Like that a lot, and would open up some new commuting routes for me.
by all accounts?? It's a good bike... but by no means the best. I might say that it's the best for under $1000. However, I've ridden the LHT and several other touring bikes. For me.. .I went with one that fit my needs as a commuter better than the LHT. I went with a Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30. I prefer the 700c wheels. I prefer STI shifting over bar-cons. I prefer the reynolds 853 steel frame over the Surly steel frame. If you go over to the touring forum, you'll see many alternatives to the Surly. If quality, durability, and comfort are your main concerns, then a complete bike surly LHT isn't your answer. If value and price are number 1, then... Surly just might be the bike. Others you might consider - Jamis Aurora, Novara Randonee, Fuji Touring, & Cannondale touring models.

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Old 02-26-08, 11:07 AM   #10
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by all accounts?? It's a good bike... but by no means the best. I might say that it's the best for under $1000. However, I've ridden the LHT and several other touring bikes. For me.. .I went with one that fit my needs as a commuter better than the LHT. I went with a Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30. I prefer the 700c wheels. I prefer STI shifting over bar-cons. I prefer the reynolds 853 steel frame over the Surly steel frame. If you go over to the commuting forum, you'll see many alternatives to the Surly. If quality, durability, and comfort are your main concerns, then a complete bike surly LHT isn't your answer. If value and price are number 1, then... Surly just might be the bike. Others you might consider - Jamis Aurora, Novara Randonee, Fuji Touring, & Cannondale touring models.
I thought that was a bit of hyperbole, but since I've never owned or ridden a Surly I didn't want to discount what might be a good frame for the money. The nice thing is that you can purchase just the frame and then build it up any way you want. That said it's usually cheaper to buy a complete bicycle.

One relatively inexpensive frame in the touring/all-rounder genre that I've read good things about is the Kogswell. Even Rivendell now offers a frame for $750... I've seen it for sale as low as $650. It's called the Bleriot and it takes 650B wheels (which are a nice compromise between 26" and 700c... my wife's bike has them). Still, a $600-$700 frame isn't going to be up to the same quality and materials as a frame costing two or three times as much.

Since the original poster wants to spend under $1,000; I think he should go with your suggestions and look at some complete bikes with good reputations/reviews for this price range. I would still consider the LHT if it is possible to build it up in a configuration the rider wants for not too much money. It might be a great beater bike that one wouldn't need to worry about locking up all day. The one problem with riding an expensive commuter like my Rivendell Atlantis is that you hate locking it up outside. Fortunately I can store it in my office, so I only need to lock it up for short periods of time.

Sean
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Old 02-26-08, 12:33 PM   #11
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Schwinnrider,
Do you happen to be my long lost twin brother?
- Surly LHT: Check. I do own a 2007 model setup as a tourer. Most components are one step up from the standard spec, but I would agree with what matthew-deaner said about the LHT
- Raleigh OneWay. Check. I am convincing myself that it will be a good entry into SS. Although I am looking at the 2007 model. My LBS still has them in stock. They are cheaper, and less theft prone (no Brooks saddle and bar tape). I may test ride one as soon as the weather gets a little better.
-Fisher Simple City. Check. My wife told me (only half jokingly) that she would like one for her birthday, which is conveniently on April 2nd, the day after they go on sale......
-Raleigh Sojourn. Oops. Nicely spec'd bike, but I have no need for it since I already have the Surly

Duppie
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Old 02-27-08, 04:49 AM   #12
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by all accounts?? It's a good bike... but by no means the best. I might say that it's the best for under $1000. However, I've ridden the LHT and several other touring bikes. For me.. .I went with one that fit my needs as a commuter better than the LHT. I went with a Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30. I prefer the 700c wheels. I prefer STI shifting over bar-cons. I prefer the reynolds 853 steel frame over the Surly steel frame. If you go over to the touring forum, you'll see many alternatives to the Surly. If quality, durability, and comfort are your main concerns, then a complete bike surly LHT isn't your answer. If value and price are number 1, then... Surly just might be the bike. Others you might consider - Jamis Aurora, Novara Randonee, Fuji Touring, & Cannondale touring models.
Well, for a complete touring bike under a grand, the LHT is the best choice. I wasn't specific. That being said, there's a reason touring bikes are specced with barcons. Two, actually. The first is durability. In the event something breaks, barcons will work in friction mode. Second, handlebar bags work better with barcons.
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