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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 07-22-08, 12:39 AM   #1
newbbee
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Commuting on a Wal-Goose BMX?

So I decided earlier this summer, that next school year (im a grad student) im gonna ride a bike to school. I dont know why the thought didn't come to me earlier (it costs 5 dollars a day to park there and its only 3 miles away).

I had no bike, so I decided to go buy one. I go to the LBS and tell them I want a BMX. I look at what they have and they seem nice and reasonably priced (239-499) so I go home and talk it over with my fiancee (who I was getting a bike for too).

When I bring my fiancee with me (as I do for any large purchase) I notice that they aren't really trying to help us. They are more interested in the older couple (at least... the guy was older) buying a more expensive road bike to be bothered by the younger couple looking at BMXes. When we finally did get helped they tried to convince us we didn't want BMXes (despite me telling them repeatedly that I didn't want a mountain bike or a road bike.. they're just TOO practical it doesn't seem fun). When they let me test ride the bike outside, according to my fiancee they were joking around at my crappy riding and made some joke when I got inside about whether I "broke the bike or not." I laughed and thought they were just joking around (I didn't detect it being anything more than good-natured joking). However, my fiancee took it personally and refused to let me buy bikes for us there. So thanks to the bike shop guys not helping us for a long time and (according to my fiancee) being rude.. they lost two sales of up to 400 apiece.

So we went off to Target to drop 250 bux and walked out with two Wal-Goose BMXes (mine was 150 hers was 100).

Ive been riding mine daily for about 10 miles and taken the route to my school a couple of times. I ride at a VERY leisurely pace and have been enjoying the hell out of it. My odo is about to turn over to 300miles (yeah I put an odo on a bmx) and I have yet to have any problem with the bike whatsoever. People would act like a BSO will fall apart and injure you just by looking at it. I know 300 miles is nothing compared to what bike enthusiasts put on their bikes, however the bike shows no signs of deterioration.

My first question is, why doesn't anybody commute on a BMX? Im 6'2 and I still dont have any soreness from riding and it seems really comfy to me. Plus due to its size it is superbly easy to take up and down stairs and store.

My second question is, would there be any point in eventually upgrading to a LBS BMX if I am just gonna commute and the Wal-Goose is in good shape? I really liked the Haros and probably would've gotten one of those if the LBS hadn't made my fiancee mad. If not, would it be worth replacing parts on the walgoose *frame, fork, rims, etc etc.
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Old 07-22-08, 12:50 AM   #2
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Mainly it's weight, I think. BMX bikes seem to be relatively heavy for their size. Otherwise, it's just a tweaky flat-bar single speed.

But if it works for you, so be it. Generally they're simple enough that even the WalGooses will take a bit of abuse before they fall apart on you. What kills it for the other bikes is that cheap derailleurs & brakes go to hell in a handbasket and they never seem to work right off the showroom floor. But no gears and a coaster brake is hard to f'up.
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Old 07-22-08, 01:28 AM   #3
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Hey, ride whatever works. I'm starting grad school in the fall, and if I get to bring it with me, I'll be rocking out on a 31-year old Schwinn Varsity. It's rusty (chain, sprockets, brakes, bars) and I can't push it past gear five, but it's fun to ride around town, and it's less likely to get stolen.

As long as your ride does what you need it to do, keep it. Don't get pulled into the expensive=essential vortex.

With regard to your questions, BMX bikes look too small to me; I prefer something larger and less blocky. Secondly, yes, it should last for a while. And if/when it breaks down, it won't be too hard to buy another. It will also be an advantage on campus, as the one thing you don't want is a bike that stands out in a rack.

Last edited by uke; 07-22-08 at 01:34 AM.
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Old 07-22-08, 04:46 AM   #4
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I have been riding a Diamondback Viper BMX bike that i got when i was 15, to work and it was fine. I was living about 6 miles, all downhill, from work, so id ride down and throw the bike on the bus to go home. I recently moved about 9 miles from work, so i got a more comfortable bike. If you are comfortable on the bike and you arent in a huge hurry then a bmx bike is great! Some days when i need my car, i throw the bmx in the trunk and "park and ride" to work rather than pay $8.50 to park in a stupid parking lot. I am doing that today in fact, and will enjoy it!
BMX bikes are relatively light just because it is small, but theyre built to be really durable. Ive easily ridden the bike over 500 miles and have yet to require any repairs. Of course now that i say that...
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Old 07-22-08, 05:20 AM   #5
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College as a grad student... you need to carry stuff. A road bike is probably not right for your application. You're probably best off with what you have. From your description, I'd look for a different LBS. They seem to value the big sale over long term customer commitment. My area has about ten bike shops... so maybe the competition keeps them all pretty good. There really isn't a clunker in my area.
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Old 07-22-08, 05:54 AM   #6
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But no gears and a coaster brake is hard to f'up.

Coaster Brake hub from an X-mart bike. I used it cause I had it when I built the wheel for my single speed. Lucky for me I was climbing when the drive side flange tore loose from the hub. If I had been descending a steep hill I'm not sure I would have survived.
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Old 07-22-08, 06:06 AM   #7
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My first question is, why doesn't anybody commute on a BMX? Im 6'2
Dude, you are my new hero!

First on the agenda.. we need to start a club for over 6' BMX enthusiasts.

Makes me wish I still owned my old GT Pro-Feestyle-Tour bike!
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Old 07-22-08, 06:34 AM   #8
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BMX sacrifice the sitting position in order to be small for tricks. It's not a comfortable position for most of us to spend hours in.
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Old 07-22-08, 08:06 AM   #9
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I see a few kids here in Redmond doing their school commute (less than 10 miles, though) on BMX, and singlespeed dirt-jumpers so they can go hit the skate/bike park after school. What I've noticed about them is that every one of them has the seat slammed all the way down for tricks, so when they sit down to coast, their knees are sticking out up near their chest and they look like they're going to catch their pants on the top of the back wheel.

I suppose if you don't have the seat slammed down, it could be comfortable. I used to ride all over the place on a Murray X-24 cruiser BMX bike, and a Redline RL800 flatland bike after that.
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Old 07-22-08, 09:01 AM   #10
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Coaster Brake hub from an X-mart bike. I used it cause I had it when I built the wheel for my single speed. Lucky for me I was climbing when the drive side flange tore loose from the hub. If I had been descending a steep hill I'm not sure I would have survived.
No, yeah don't get me wrong. It's still dirt cheap components and eventually it'll go out on you. What I was meaning was that much of whats "wrong" with dirt cheap dept. store bikes are components (drivetrain, brakes) that aren't properly installed/tuned on assembly, and that a BMX avoids a lot of that from being a simpler design.
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Old 07-22-08, 10:48 AM   #11
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Coaster Brake hub from an X-mart bike. I used it cause I had it when I built the wheel for my single speed. Lucky for me I was climbing when the drive side flange tore loose from the hub. If I had been descending a steep hill I'm not sure I would have survived.

How many miles did you put on that hub?
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Old 07-22-08, 11:56 AM   #12
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I'm sure the reason most people don't commute on a BMX bike is comfort and the ability to carry stuff (i.e. attach a rack easily). For the bulk of my time in grad school, I commuted on my main road bike after getting rid of my other bikes when I moved (the commute is about 3 miles each way). I only recently got a commuter bike because I was sick of trying to jam everything into my backpack. I've come to really embrace racks and panniers (I wasn't going to put a rack on my road bike that I actually use for road biking). Panniers are great and help to avoid cases of "sweatyback" that can be triggered by backpacks.

Every once in a while I ride my fiancee's mountain bike around town, which is way too small for me, and think "wow, this is just like riding a bmx bike as a kid." It's fine for a short period of time, but I think since I'm used to riding on a road bike geometry, it gets uncomfortable fast.

Geometry and cargo space aside, the only reason not to ride a wal-goose is the quality and assembly (covered a ton in the Walmart bike thread What's wrong with a Walmart bike?). But I agree with wyeast, there is probably less that can go wrong on a bike without many gears, derailleurs, rim brakes, etc. To oversimplify for a moment...to get to the same $150 pricepoint on a mountain bike, each component has to be substantially crappier, since there are more components. I would just go over every nut and bolt on the bike to make sure they are actually tight and get some lube for the chain.
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Old 07-22-08, 04:38 PM   #13
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I inspected the bike fully before I rode it (tightened a few things, but otherwise it was decently built). It isn't a coaster break bike it has front and back squeeze breaks, but all the parts are metal. I would've preferred a coaster break, but oh well.

The welds are fairly significant and the components are all metal (except for the tubing for the break wiring and the rubber break pads). The only problem is that it is heavy as @#$* (40+ lbs).

The point about the mt bikes is valid. Tho I had BSO mountain bikes throughout my childhood and I rode the crap outta them with no problems (my dad assembled them all tho, he didn't trust the store assembly with his children's lives), I look suspiciously at the dual suspension mt bikes and wonder where they cut the costs, tho there were a lot of sub 400 dollar mt/commuting bikes at my LBS with suspension and disc breaks and such, so you wonder if those could really be better quality (considering the LBS has to up the price to make up for smaller purchases and the cost of an "expert set up") than the 250+ dollar wal-goose mt bike. Flame if you must, but I suspect the components of the lower end Treks and such are built in the same chinese factories that build the higher end wal-gooses. All the components are surely contracted anyway.

I also thought about putting a small rack on the back of the BMX, but figured that would look TOO stupid.
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Old 07-22-08, 05:09 PM   #14
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How many miles did you put on that hub?
Around 600 miles, 10 mile round trip commute 5 days a week for almost 3 months. The tire slammed into the chain stay and seat bridge as I was climbing a hill. I have since replaced it with a Shimano HUH204 and added a front brake.
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Old 07-22-08, 05:16 PM   #15
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I also thought about putting a small rack on the back of the BMX, but figured that would look TOO stupid.
It wouldn't be stupid if you:
a) got a chromed rack and
b) learned to do some tricks involving the rack. Rack-stands anyone?
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Old 07-22-08, 08:21 PM   #16
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Ultimately, we ride the bike we have, rather than the bike we wish we had...

BMX bikes are specialty bikes made for either sprinting at bicycle motocross ("BMX"), or trick riding sort of in the same manner as a skateboard with pedals. In both cases the rider is usually standing on the pedals all the time. Consequently BMX bikes have very short seatposts and a very low saddle height, so that the saddle doesn't get all tangled up in your business while you're sprinting out of the gate, laying the bike over in a turn, or jumping. While the sprint bikes are comparatively light, the stunt bikes are made like a tank, and weigh about the same.

The too-short saddle height makes BMXes uncomfortable for distance or utility riding. Without the proper leg extension, you don't get the optimum power from your legs to the pedals, and after you've ridden one of these any sort of distance, your knees are going to be giving you a lot of grief.

I teach the Cycling merit badge class to the Boy Scouts from time to time, and often a young fellow will show up with a BMX. The merit badge requires that you ride some 200 miles, the longest 50 miles in an 8-hour period, and they soon find out that BMXes aren't the ideal touring bikes...

Be scrupulous about your pre-ride checks and maintenance on your Wal-Mart bike, particularly with your brake adjustment and keeping all the fasteners appropriately tight. They are widely known for their shoddy assembly, and quite often aren't ridable directly off the floor, if for no other reason than that Wal-Mart doesn't even air up the tires.
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Old 07-22-08, 09:51 PM   #17
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Have you gotten chased by a motorcycle cop through the lumberyard on your way home from school yet?

(I'm sure someone out there has to know what I'm talking about http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091817/ )
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Old 07-22-08, 10:27 PM   #18
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well Ive ridden the BMX for almost 300 miles so far, and had no problems. I know its not optimal, and if I had to ride for 20 miles to work, Id def get something else.
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Old 07-23-08, 06:02 PM   #19
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well Ive ridden the BMX for almost 300 miles so far, and had no problems. I know its not optimal, and if I had to ride for 20 miles to work, Id def get something else.
That's exactly what I mean... The cheaper bikes that Pacific makes and sells under the Schwinn and Mongoose name are cheaper because they use inexpensive, less durable components, so they won't stand up to wear as well and the higher end bikes. Keep a sharp eye on your running gear and keep it tuned. This not only keeps you safer from not getting balled up in a mechanical failure, but the care and attention will hopefully make the bike last longer.

Tom
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