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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 08-03-08, 10:00 AM   #1
jitubats
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Is this a Good Commute bike

I have a 10 mile commute ( from bethesda,md - tenleytown metro, dc ), mostly road and some on the trail.

I like something which I can put a rack on, and something which is going to be light and fast.

-I am 5'10, 180 pounds, medium built
-I am going to have my laptop and couple of books in my bookbag
-I will be locking my bike at my tenleytown office and taking shuttle to reston
-
I guess I need to get a bike ( commuter, preferbly ), a good lock. I have a good bookbag and would like to keep it.

Here are the ones I liked

-- 2007 Super Sport Ultra 2 - Great ride, I liked it and it was coming on a great sale on my LBS - close to $750 out of the door

-- Trek 7.5 - Close to 850 out of the door

Are these good bikes and which would you prefer ?

Thanks,
Jitesh
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Old 08-03-08, 10:14 AM   #2
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The Trek FX 7.5 looks great. it has a low spoke count, only 20. but i don't think that'd be a huge issue. i've personally ridden a Trek 7.2, the low end of that series, and liked it.

either way, you're gonna want drops in a few months (or maybe weeks, possibly days)
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Old 08-03-08, 10:38 AM   #3
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A good commuter bike should have a rack since it’s better to carry your luggage on the bike than on your body, and fenders, since you will inevitably be caught in the rain.

The Schwinn appears to have eyelets for attaching a rack, which is good, but I can’t tell if it also can handle fenders – that depends on how much space is in the forks and stays. The 25 mm wide tires (about 1 inch) are a bit narrow for trail riding, so they might skid a little bit on loose gravel or are slightly more likely to go flat if you go over a sharp rock, but these are rare occurrences, and they will be pretty fast on pavement.

The Trek has two eyelets on the rear dropouts, so clearly it can accommodate racks and fenders. The tires are 32 mm (about 1 1/3 inches) which is still pretty good for pavement and definitely better for the trails. However my daughter’s Trek 7000 has eyelets for fenders but the tires are a bit too fat and the fenders don’t fit. I’ll have to get her thinner tires when they wear out. So again you’ll need to double check on the possibility of adding fenders.

So the Trek looks slightly better for commuting, based on the two eyelets and the fatter stock tires. but the Schwinn would probably be ok and a tiny bit faster if you don't get a flat.

For a 10 mile ride (one way, right?), many people would prefer drop bars – they are slightly more comfortable for your hands than straight bars. They don’t have to be set up really low like for racing, they can be set up level with the seat, just like the flat bars on the bikes you are looking at. So a cyclocross or touring bike with drop bars would make a good commuter since they can accommodate racks and fenders and slightly wider tires.

Last edited by cooker; 08-03-08 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 08-03-08, 10:48 AM   #4
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One point here not mentioned.....Do you have any real experience bike communting?

I think not by your question. That said why spend $750 or more on an endevor that you
don't even know that you'll like or can do??

It would be better to find a used bike anyway (new bikes get stolen a LOT! ) to try this
idea on for size first. In the process you'll learn if you can,like to, commute by bike and what
it is YOU need on a commuter bike.

The truth is.....At this point you're so new to bike commuting that you don't what qustons
to ask yet. Give it some time.......on a good used bike.....even it it's the wrong bike!
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Old 08-03-08, 10:49 AM   #5
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^^good points.
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Old 08-03-08, 11:37 AM   #6
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^^good points.
Thanks for the response. I have not commuted before, but I used to have a mountain bike which I used to ride about 15 miles in couple of hours on one of the trails next to my house. I did get a good excercise out of it, but i thought it was too slow on the mountain bike. I just talked to my trek dealer and he said he sold his last 7.5 and does not know when the 2009's are coming out.

I looked around for a good used bike, but they are pretty hard to comeby ( I am from DC / MD area), I will keep looking and see if I can find something useful in the next few days.

I was also suggested the gary fisher mendota, and I liked driving it. But it was close to 900 and i thought that is a lot of money to spend on my first bike.

Any other suggestions would be welcome
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Old 08-03-08, 07:43 PM   #7
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I'd try to find something on craigslist before shelling out a lot of money on a new bike, ESPECIALLY if it's going to be sitting unattended at a metro station all-day. While I prefer a rack and panniers for a 10 mile ride, the BIG advantage of a pack in this situation is one less thing to remove from the bike. If there is someplace with more limited access by the public at your Tenleytown office where you can lock the bike, disregard comments about leaving a new bike outside. (Metro has bike lockers but there's probably a long waiting list for them.)

You mentioned that from Tenleytown you head out to Reston. How far do you have to go to get from the bus to work? Does the shuttle have a rack, or is there space to put a bike? Just to toss out a few other options - you CAN take a folding bike onto Metro in rush hour, so you could bike to Metro, take metro to where you pick up the shuttle, then bus/bike to work. Also, all the Metro and Fairfax Connector buses have bike racks, so if there is a bus route that works for you, you could keep the bike with you, at least it may be safer locked in an office park in Reston. FINALLY (whew), it's about 19 miles from Key Bridge to Reston Town Center via the Custis trail and W&OD bike trails, if you're ever up for a LONG commute. If you'd like suggestions on bike/commute routes within Reston, send me a PM.
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Old 08-04-08, 05:25 AM   #8
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I would be parking in my office which is about half a mile ahead of Tenleytown, so the bike definitely would not be parked on the tenleytown metro. I will go and look where to park my bike today at work, so I would know if it would be safe or not. I am assuming it should be okay, but its better to be checking rather than assuming.

I am looking to commute to my tenleytown office for the first few days and then once I get comfortable try doing the reston commute 1-2 days a week. I have been trying to find a better route from Bethesda - REston and have not been able to find a decent one at the moment, can you suggest me a good way to go down.

Thanks for the wonderful advice.

-
J
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Old 08-04-08, 06:04 AM   #9
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A good commuter bike should have a rack since itís better to carry your luggage on the bike than on your body, and fenders, since you will inevitably be caught in the rain.

The Schwinn appears to have eyelets for attaching a rack, which is good, but I canít tell if it also can handle fenders Ė that depends on how much space is in the forks and stays. The 25 mm wide tires (about 1 inch) are a bit narrow for trail riding, so they might skid a little bit on loose gravel or are slightly more likely to go flat if you go over a sharp rock, but these are rare occurrences, and they will be pretty fast on pavement.

The Trek has two eyelets on the rear dropouts, so clearly it can accommodate racks and fenders. The tires are 32 mm (about 1 1/3 inches) which is still pretty good for pavement and definitely better for the trails. However my daughterís Trek 7000 has eyelets for fenders but the tires are a bit too fat and the fenders donít fit. Iíll have to get her thinner tires when they wear out. So again youíll need to double check on the possibility of adding fenders.

So the Trek looks slightly better for commuting, based on the two eyelets and the fatter stock tires. but the Schwinn would probably be ok and a tiny bit faster if you don't get a flat.

For a 10 mile ride (one way, right?), many people would prefer drop bars Ė they are slightly more comfortable for your hands than straight bars. They donít have to be set up really low like for racing, they can be set up level with the seat, just like the flat bars on the bikes you are looking at. So a cyclocross or touring bike with drop bars would make a good commuter since they can accommodate racks and fenders and slightly wider tires.
What's the big disadvantage to carry the luggage on your person?

I mean everyone has different stuff to carry, but in general, why?
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Old 08-04-08, 07:46 AM   #10
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What's the big disadvantage to carry the luggage on your person?

I mean everyone has different stuff to carry, but in general, why?

It is mainly a comfort and sweat thing, IME. I don't mind wearing a backpack when I ride, but it is going to get completely soaked with sweat, due to the climate and the pace I ride at. (I tend to try and turn every ride into a workout.) I prefer not having to dry out my pack when I get to work, so panniers are what I use. Also, I just feel a lot more comfortable without anything on my back. The only time that I put something on my back by choice is on my long weekend rides, when I use a Camelbak for hydration.

YMMV, of course...
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Old 08-04-08, 08:02 AM   #11
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It is mainly a comfort and sweat thing, IME. I don't mind wearing a backpack when I ride, but it is going to get completely soaked with sweat, due to the climate and the pace I ride at. (I tend to try and turn every ride into a workout.) I prefer not having to dry out my pack when I get to work, so panniers are what I use. Also, I just feel a lot more comfortable without anything on my back. The only time that I put something on my back by choice is on my long weekend rides, when I use a Camelbak for hydration.

YMMV, of course...
Preference I guess.

I like keeping my bike as light as I can. I use this bike for recreation rides as well, ones in which I don't need to carry anything with me, so rather than add a rack, and have to remove bags every recreational ride, I'd rather carry my bag on my back.

Now I currently have a canvas bag that is getting a bit annoying to carry, as it absorbs sweat too easily, but at least I can wash it.

Soon i'll be picking up a nice ballistic Nylon bag.
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Old 08-04-08, 08:07 AM   #12
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As for buying a bike?

Get a used bike, find out what you like and don't like and then after you've decided this is something you want to do, and you're going to do it every day.

Buy the best bike you can afford.

A lot of people on here seem to want to go completely utilitarian, which is fine, and they want to go pretty inexpensive. Which is also fine, but if I'm going to ride every day I want the bike to be as good as possible.

For me, that's Light, Fast, etc etc.

Just because it's expensive, doesn't mean it's the best bike for you.

Obviously there are boundaries, like spending 4000 dollars on a carbon road bike for commuting is a bit like buying a ferrari to pull your pop up camper.

But considering this is going to become a primary mode of transportation dropping some money on a nice bike isn't all that bad.

But make sure when you make the decision, you're pretty sure, because being uncomfortable on a $2k is just sad an unfortunate.
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Old 08-13-08, 01:43 PM   #13
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I finally went ahead and decided to get a Marin lucas valley. Its nice, however after driving it for almost a week, I have the following observtations :

The Seat is very uncomfortable ( and I have bike shorts )
The handlebar seems to be narrow for me ( It is a 19")

Does any one has opinions on the bike, any long term reviews. I am thinking of getting exchanged this for a 20.5, thinking that the handlebar may be too small from me. Apart from that the bike is pretty light, goes fast and I am doing a 10 mile commute in 40-45 minutes on a road / trail commute. Mostly roads as I cannot figure out any trails between my house ( Rockville, MD - Tenleytown, DC )

J
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Old 08-14-08, 05:41 AM   #14
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well, they do make these cool things called handlebar extenders, so if all else fails, you can get those and you'll not have to make serious modifications to the bike.

Secondly, if the seat is uncomfortable, there are a few things you should check. First off, did the LBS go through a "fitting" with you? Some shops will do this for free when you buy a bike, others charge for it. But it may be worth asking about. Discomfort on the saddle can be a number of things, steering stem angle, handlebar height, Saddle height, Saddle angle.

There are a lot of things to look at before blaming the saddle itself. It may very well be the saddle, but no sense in getting a new bike/saddle simply because of a fitting issue.

Also, I am not sure how much time you've spent riding recently, but it can take a little while for your tush to toughen up. Many people find that those thin hard ass seats (no pun intended) are actually more comfortable in the long rides.

What it comes down to is, do whatever is best for you, it's important to be comfortable. If you're uncomfortable, then you simply won't ride, and that's a bad thing. So do whatever you need to be comfortable. But even if you are thinking of exchanging it, or getting a new saddle, explain the situation to the LBS employees and perhaps they can give you a fitting session, or at least make suggestions as to what the problem is, and whether or not you'd be better off with a new bike.
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Old 08-14-08, 06:28 AM   #15
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I finally went ahead and decided to get a Marin lucas valley. Its nice, however after driving it for almost a week, I have the following observtations :

The Seat is very uncomfortable ( and I have bike shorts )
The handlebar seems to be narrow for me ( It is a 19")
You can swap out the saddle. Stock saddles are often quite inexpensive, and they don't suit everyone. There are a lot of different kinds of aftermarket saddles, and one of them may work better for you. You can swap out the bars, put bar ends on and swap grips. Very few manufacturers use different size bars on different bikes, and I don't remember Marin being one of the exceptions.

Before you do any swaps tho, make sure you've got a decent position on the bike. If the saddle is in the wrong position, you might be riding too far forward on the nose... and that's pretty uncomfortable. Changing just one bit of your position affects everything else, so don't make a ton of changes all at once.

FWIW, if the shorts are very padded, they may be part of the problem. My body is not real keen on padding because it compresses soft tissue after a while and then I hurt worse. So most of the time I ride in unpadded clothing. I know a lot of people swear by padding too, so try it both ways and see if one is better.
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Old 08-14-08, 07:44 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by jitubats View Post
I finally went ahead and decided to get a Marin lucas valley. Its nice, however after driving it for almost a week, I have the following observtations :

The Seat is very uncomfortable ( and I have bike shorts )
The handlebar seems to be narrow for me ( It is a 19")

Does any one has opinions on the bike, any long term reviews. I am thinking of getting exchanged this for a 20.5, thinking that the handlebar may be too small from me. Apart from that the bike is pretty light, goes fast and I am doing a 10 mile commute in 40-45 minutes on a road / trail commute. Mostly roads as I cannot figure out any trails between my house ( Rockville, MD - Tenleytown, DC )

J
I've encountered the same issue w/handlebar. I put bar ends on, but...

I've decided (after much searching of the forums) to order one of those trekking bars from nashbar.
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Old 08-14-08, 08:18 AM   #17
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I will go down to the bikeshop(REI) and see if they can do some adjustments for me. I will also try biking without the shiorts and see if that helps my position.

First thing I will do is to ask them if they can measure me to see if this position is good enough for me, else I will swap out the seat and see it that makes a difference.

I have to still get some commuter friendly stuff for the bike, like rack and fenders, was holding out till I can be comfortable on the bike.

Will keep you guys posted. I also mapped out my route on bikely, it was a little shorter than what I had predicted, but just a mile short .
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Old 08-14-08, 08:48 AM   #18
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What's the big disadvantage to carry the luggage on your person?

I mean everyone has different stuff to carry, but in general, why?
If you're carrying a larger, heavier load carrying it on your back will move the bike's centre of gravity higher, which is less than ideal. Also, if you've got a laptop it'll be easier to protect it from damage in the event of a spill if it's on a rear rack in well protected case. You'll also have more room for a change of clothes, foul weather gear etc.
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