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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 04-15-08, 07:56 AM   #1
quackquack
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For versatile urban bike - 29er or hybrid?

Hi everyone,

I'm in the market for a $400-600 bike to commute to work (short- 2 or 3 miles) and ride around in an urban setting. I'd like something that's quick but can still handle potholes, sidewalks, etc. Does anyone have an opinion on 29ers in this setting? Are they quick enough? Specifically I've been looking at the Marin Muirwoods 29er. From what I've read it's definitely burly enough to handle the potholes, I'm just a little worried that it will be sluggish. Does anyone have experience with this bike? Is the cromoly frame much heavier than an aluminum equivalent?

The other option is to go with some sort of 700c hybrid. The Marin San Rafael looks pretty nice. It seems like this would be lighter and quicker than the Muirwoods 29er, but at the expense of comfort. Which would you get?

Both bikes have mounts for fenders, but is it difficult to find a 29er fender? Will a fender fit as well on the 29er as on the hybrid?

Please help! I've been going over this endlessly for days now. Also, I'm open to suggestions of other brands/models that I should be looking at. Thanks in advance.

- Matt
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Old 04-15-08, 09:03 AM   #2
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Go with a SS 29er, you get several advantages, no gears to go bad, fat tires for off road, and urban fun. If for example you bought a monocog 29er it has the holes for fenders and rear rack if you choose, and can be upgraded to disk. I got mine for just onder $400 online. A 700C touring fender fits just fine.
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Old 04-15-08, 10:59 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input. I was looking at the tire widths and the Muirwoods 29er tire is 1.6 in while the San Rafael's is 1.38 in - not a huge difference, maybe I should just go with the 29er. I think I want to get something geared, however, rather than fixed or SS. I should mention that this will be my *only* bike (selling my current), so I need something pretty versatile.
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Old 04-15-08, 11:36 AM   #4
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29er, and I highly endorse the Monocog. While SS might sound scary, you'll soon love it. Lack of maintenance on lower end deraileurs + lighter weight + well, fun! If I only could have one bike, it would likely be a single speed 29er.

Plus, the Monocog is steel, so it rides smooth. A+++!
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Old 04-15-08, 11:49 AM   #5
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I thought the monocog was aluminum with a steel fork. Undoubtedly a great bike regardless.

The 29er you mentioned is basically set up as a hybrid with the tires it has. the difference is you know it's tough, being a mountain bike at heart, and you can fit some really wide tires if you ever choose to do so. I vote 29er. In that price range I'd probably go singlespeed, but that's up to you.
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Old 04-15-08, 11:55 AM   #6
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Not sure why you want such a bike for 2-3 miles of urban riding. Why do you need 24+ gears?

I think 26" wheels are good for city riding--you're close to the ground and it's easier to put your foot down. I'd look at a Breezer or the like (electra Amsterdam and others). Or get a cruiser bike. Or a used one. Theft rates are high and you're buying too much bike, imo, for such riding.
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Old 04-15-08, 12:44 PM   #7
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I'm heading over to my LBS today so maybe I'll give a SS a try... I'm skeptical b/c I'm in Boston and there are a fair number of hills throughout the city. The Hamilton 29er (SS version of the Muirwoods 29er) is 400 instead of 550, but also lacks disc brakes. Still a pretty significant drop in cost. How much weight savings are we talking about with SS?
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Old 04-16-08, 08:26 AM   #8
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Weight savings is probably less than 4lbs total cranks, front cogs, cassette, front and rear derailleur, cables, shifters. Maintenance savings is considerable. But if you don't want SS try 1X9.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by quackquack View Post
I'm heading over to my LBS today so maybe I'll give a SS a try... I'm skeptical b/c I'm in Boston and there are a fair number of hills throughout the city. The Hamilton 29er (SS version of the Muirwoods 29er) is 400 instead of 550, but also lacks disc brakes. Still a pretty significant drop in cost. How much weight savings are we talking about with SS?
keep in mind when you go to purchase, everyone i personally know who rides in boston has had some part of their bike stolen if not the whole thing. (maybe that says something about my friends... )
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Old 04-16-08, 01:19 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice everyone. Just to give an update - Test-rode the Hamilton 29er and Muirwoods 29er today. I think the Hamilton is geared more to be a SS mountain bike, as it was difficult to get up to a decent speed. The Muirwoods 29er was nice, but a lot wider and bigger than I expected- the thing is a tank! I can see it being a great option for a huge mountain man, but I'm a pretty skinny guy and it's just too much bike. I test-rode the Gary Fisher Wingra, and I loved it. It's probably more fragile w/ its 32 mm wheels and alu frame, but it felt great on the rode. It's also cheaper, I may go with this.

Everyone I know in Boston has had stuff stolen too. My plan is to use a U-lock with a cable threaded through the front tire, and to remove all quick-releases.

Thanks again for your help everyone.
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Old 04-16-08, 01:26 PM   #11
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You can alter a 29er to ride well on the street, but you can never turn a hybrid into a full-bore dirt bike. I've commuted many happy miles on a Fisher Supercaliber 29er with cyclocross tires on it. It's neither heavy, nor slow - nor expensive, since I got it used, but in new condition, for a song, off eBay.

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Old 04-16-08, 11:51 PM   #12
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I think I may be one of the few to actually own a '29er', particularly the Muirwoods.

I'll also agree with the OP in the fact that the bike is rather large. Fortunately I'm a pretty big guy (6' 230) so it works out nicely for me.

The bike is pretty agile at higher speeds, but to me it feels almost unstable at lower speeds. Maybe not unstable but more of just not being at home. It seems to be very quick and easily maintains high speeds. Due to it being a hybrid though it also seems sort of confused, do you want to kind of tuck and hammer down? or do you want to sit upright and comfortably cruise? Either way it seems to just require more work. Either I'm off the bars pedaling with my hands of my thighs or just in other places, or just tucking really forcing concentration on my 'core' to maintain proper posture.

I also agree with the 'dirt' bike conversion. I'm also a owner of a cannondale Super V that I really love for single track... but not so much for cross country or a friendly tool along some of the awesome trails in my area. I'm going to pickup some larger tires next week to take the Muirwoods out for a spin on the dirt.

Probably the only valuable advice I have though is that if you don't feel like riding aggressively is that the Muirwoods29er probably isn't really for you. It doesn't really feel all that great just poking along, but maybe thats just me. I do though really like the idea of a larger wheel on a mountain bike.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:51 AM   #13
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Hey for the money I am really digging the Motobecane Outcast. I ride the Fly Team and am very happy with it, I can only assume this is a nice bike also. I tested it out at a Jacksonville store but only in the parking lot but it rode very nice.

Serge
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Old 04-17-08, 11:02 AM   #14
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I guess I'll be the only vote for a hybrid. Unless you want to do lots of off road riding, a mountain bike is way too much bike for exclusively urban riding. Also, a hybrid won't give you any problems with fenders. I use the planet bike "touring" size fenders and they fit comfortably over tires up to 700x38-ish.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:15 AM   #15
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700c hybrid, which can take tires from 28 to 38 mm. Fine for hopping curbs and potholes. This is for commuting not off-road.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:25 AM   #16
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I think a 29er is too much bike for urban commuting, too. I have a hybrid with 700x38c tires and that provides a very versatile bike for urban commuting and the occasional offroad ride.

You might also consider a cyclocross bike. You might prefer the dropdown bars for windy days and longer rides.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:53 AM   #17
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Try a 29er SS, particularly the Redline MonoCog. You'll have to drop a few teeth on the rear cog for street use. If you don't dig the SS in Boston, Redline makes a 8-speed version of the same bike, called the D440.
I found the the right handlebar and tires made one helluva good commuter that I can use to plow over potholes, over curbs, and jump off curbs.

This is my SS MonoCog on fat slicks, with Origin8 Space bar and Nuvinci CVT hub. Actually, the only stock parts left are the frame, fork, and seatpost. It worked fine for commuting when it was a singlespeed...


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Old 04-17-08, 01:12 PM   #18
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That's a great looking bike - looks like it could handle just about anything.

I'm still leaning towards hybrid though. I doubt I'll ever really take it off road, and I think with my size I don't need to worry too much about wrecking the frame/fork on curbs, etc. I like the idea of having something nimble for dodging cars and light for carrying up stairs. Fender capability is another plus (although I think planet bike is making a fat fender for 29ers now.

On Friday I'll probably be coming back w/ either the Gary Fisher Wingra or the Trek 7.3 FX - if I can't tell the difference at the shop I'm going w/ the Wingra because it's cheaper.
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Old 04-17-08, 01:27 PM   #19
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Not sure why you want such a bike for 2-3 miles of urban riding. Why do you need 24+ gears?

I think 26" wheels are good for city riding--you're close to the ground and it's easier to put your foot down. .....
While I agree that there's nothing wrong with 26 inch tires this statement you made about being closer to the ground just doesn't hold water.

The pedals at the bottom of their stroke are as high off the ground for a 26 inch wheel bike as they are for a 29'er. From there your leg length determines where the seat ends up. So regardless of wheel size you're the same height from the ground. And you're not supposed to be able to touch the road while seated anyway. If you can then your legs are too bent while pedalling.

Back to the OP. It's a toss up but if you're into hopping off curbs or riding up over them then I'd suggest the greater burliness of the 29'er frame and build. The rims should be a little stronger as well.

There's also that elusive feel thing. Ride them both and see which one puts the bigger grin on your face. You're going to put a lot of time in the saddle so you want to make sure it's good quality time. Bicycles, like many other things, are more than just the sum of their specs.
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Old 04-17-08, 02:51 PM   #20
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One thing to keep in mind is that a 29er rim has the same BSD (bead seat diameter) as a 700c rim. In other words they're one and the same. Any tires you can put on a 700c hybrid could be mounted on a 29er provided they're not too narrow for the rim.
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Old 04-17-08, 03:40 PM   #21
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Kona Smoke 2-9 $369
http://www.bikecommuters.com/2008/03...ke-2-9-review/
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