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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 07-26-08, 09:40 PM   #1
cod.peace
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I have a bike at last!

In my, oh, 6-week hunt for a bike for mostly commuting purposes (12.5 miles each way, suburban/urban roads), I've ridden several bikes, read "Effective Cycling" and "Bicycling Science" cover-to-cover, read John Allen's bike safety booklet, and browsed countless of bikeforums.net posts. Here's my extremely brief impressions of each test tide. I was looking for either a cyclocross or touring bike for maximum flexibility.

Giant OCR3: The first bike I've ridden in 17 years (can you guess my age?). Jittery ride, I was counting my fillings afterwards. 30 seconds into this test ride and I wanted off, although I stuck it out for 10 minutes.
Fuji Cross Pro: Out of my price range, but a very nice ride indeed. Very smooth and comfortable. Ultegra components shift so nicely.
Trek XO-1: This seemed very, well, vanilla. No real impression, good or bad. The particular bike I rode had very sloppy welds with gobs of aluminum sticking out everywhere.
Lemond Poprad: Now we're talking. Also too much $, but this was the 1st bike I test-rode that made me want to just keep on riding. My favorite of all the bikes I rode. Since the immediate future looks grim for Lemond bikes, I may look into a similar quality frame like the Soma Double Cross in the somewhat distant future.
Bianchi Volpe: The frame size I rode was a size too big since that was all that was on hand at the LBS. It seemed a bit twitchy, but I can't say much since it didn't fit too well.
Surly Cross Check: Except for the bar-end shifters, I loved this bike.
Masi Speciale CX: Unfortunately, the LBS didn't get this in stock before I found the bike I bought. Looks really nice in the pictures though.

Finally, the winner: A 1995 Trek 520 from a local LBS (completely tuned up), complete with fenders, the Trek rack, a pump, 2 water bottle cages, 700x35 Bontrager slicks, a cycle computer, underseat bag, steel tire levers, Tiagra STI-style shifters, and a very comfy Avocet saddle. $500, how could I go wrong? I added bar-top brakes for $75. All I need to do is touch up a quarter-sized spot of surface rust on the top tube and maybe get a computer that'll display cadence. Oh, and exchange the Giro Atlas II helmet for a Bell Triton to better fit my pumpkin head. The 520 definitely doesn't have the same sports-car feel of the Fuji or Lemond, but it will be a sturdy and reliable steed. And this price was tough to beat!

In addition I picked up a bright yellow wicking fabric shirt from the New Balance factory outlet ($13 - 20% off sale!), a pair of lightweight gloves, and a basic cable lock. I plan on lunchtime bike rides to build up my endurance and re-learn some cycling skills (like dealing with cars) for a few weeks before buying a pannier or two and moving up to a bike commute or three per week. Ideally I'll be up to 5 days sometime in September, which will see me DIY-ing a light system.

The final piece of the puzzle are bike shoes. I am halfway through a rebuild of some Speedplay Frogs, but can't invest in the shoes until my wife recovers from the bike purchase price. 'Til then I'll just use the toeclips and platform pedals already on the bike.

Many thanks to all who've answered my questions!
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Old 07-26-08, 10:01 PM   #2
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Congrats and great buy! I don't think you can go wrong with that bike, they make great commuters and are pretty tough.
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Old 07-26-08, 10:02 PM   #3
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Awesome, great job. Take your time and that 12 miles wil be no problem. It's probably an hour tops, and you will get in shape really quickly.
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Old 07-27-08, 12:00 AM   #4
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pics
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Old 07-27-08, 12:32 PM   #5
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pics
Forthcoming, as soon as I borrow the company digital camera tomorrow.
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Old 07-27-08, 12:36 PM   #6
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Awesome, great job. Take your time and that 12 miles wil be no problem. It's probably an hour tops, and you will get in shape really quickly.
Hour tops for 12 miles... aha... i do 8 miles and i take a little over an hour...
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Old 07-27-08, 01:30 PM   #7
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I'd use more than a basic cable lock if I were you.

I just bought a Kryptonite New York 3000 from Performance for around $55.
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Old 07-29-08, 12:53 PM   #8
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The bike:

and the rusty spot on the top tube, which will get touched up shortly:
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Old 07-29-08, 12:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by cod.peace View Post
In my, oh, 6-week hunt for a bike for mostly commuting purposes (12.5 miles each way, suburban/urban roads), I've ridden several bikes, read "Effective Cycling" and "Bicycling Science" cover-to-cover,
Wait, you read Bicycling Science cover to cover? You're crazy. I got halfway through (into the braking chapter) and gave up because I decided I'd rather be riding than reading about riding.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:26 PM   #10
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Wait, you read Bicycling Science cover to cover? You're crazy. I got halfway through (into the braking chapter) and gave up because I decided I'd rather be riding than reading about riding.
I didn't have a bike yet, I was on a beach on Cape Cod, and sometimes it's fun to put that PhD in physics to good use once in a while
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Old 07-29-08, 01:39 PM   #11
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I didn't have a bike yet, I was on a beach on Cape Cod, and sometimes it's fun to put that PhD in physics to good use once in a while
Oh, a PhD in physics. Okay, that explains it.

(Only a BS in Materials Engineering here... and I ended up working in IT, so that explains THAT.)
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Old 07-29-08, 01:40 PM   #12
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Great bike! Congrats! A little off-topic, but I love the New Balance Factory Outlet. I used to live in Brighton and would go there from time to time. Now I stop by whenever I'm in Boston. I have a similar bright yellow shirt made by Asics. (I found it online and wear the same Asics shirts in darker colors when I run.) Being as visible as possible while cycling is my top priority.

I agree with the comment about using more than just a cable lock. I have an OnGuard Bulldog mini-lock. Here's a short article by Sheldon Brown on lock strategy. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html
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Old 07-29-08, 01:40 PM   #13
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Nice ride!


ps-> I would like to use a mini-U but I don't think one would be able to reach around my big apple + fender (that's not a euphemism)
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Old 07-29-08, 01:42 PM   #14
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That is a useful, great looking bike. Have fun!
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Old 07-29-08, 01:55 PM   #15
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Oh, a PhD in physics. Okay, that explains it.

(Only a BS in Materials Engineering here... and I ended up working in IT, so that explains THAT.)
Well, there are some interesting mods that can be made using liquid metal cooling systems . . .
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Old 07-29-08, 02:12 PM   #16
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Well, there are some interesting mods that can be made using liquid metal cooling systems . . .
All I've done to my cheap Nashbar frame+fork so far is to hack off the disc brake tabs and liberally rustproof the whole thing. Does that count?
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Old 07-29-08, 02:24 PM   #17
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All I've done to my cheap Nashbar frame+fork so far is to hack off the disc brake tabs and liberally rustproof the whole thing. Does that count?
I'd call that a "hack(saw)".
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