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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 08-19-08, 09:36 AM   #1
unicedmeman
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Is this bike a good Deal/Fit?

Been reading this bored for the past week or so because I am going to start commuting to work (about 5 miles each way, sorta hilly, crappy baltimore streets). The only thing that I'm lacking is a bike. I've found a few good deals on craigslist and I'm going to look at this one tonight. Please let me know if it's a good deal for a new commuter (6'1", 210lbs Clydesdale status).

Short history on me. Grew up on mountain bikes and bmx bikes, stopped biking when I got a licence. I'm now 23, living and working in Baltimore. I need to get some routine exercise but I hate running and have bad knees. I figure I can ride to work and kill two birds with one stone. I think a mtb will suit my needs better than a road bike (for now) 1 because I'm on the bigger side of the bike population, 2 I have more experience on one than a road bike, 3 seems more comfy and safer (more upright) in traffic.

Anyway....
The Bike: 23" Red 1997 Specialized Hardrock GX Rigid Frame
The Price: $225
The Upgrades: Shimano Deore XTR rear dérailleur, Deore LX thumbshifters, Deore XT/LX brakes, Maxxis Overdrive's 26 x 1.75" semi-slicks, rear fender and Blackburn rack

Will this bike be reliable? What should I look for when I go to see it? Can I easily upgrade more components (fork, crankset, pedals, handlebars, brakes) if I see fit in the future? Price good? Good for a fattymcfats? (hopefully I'll creep back into the sub 200lb club after commuting for a few weeks).

Finally, what else will I need to get?
I'm thinking:
-2 spare tubes
-lighting
-reflective gear
-a helmet
-a multitool
-a pump
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Old 08-19-08, 09:43 AM   #2
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Sounds like that ride has been commuterized. How old are the upgraded components? At face value a 1997 hard rock for $225 is way high. However, if all the XTR/XT/LX stuff is pretty new it might just be worth it.

As far as fit, what is your inseam? How does it feel when you ride it, have you ridden it yet?
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Old 08-19-08, 09:45 AM   #3
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Sounds like that ride has been commuterized. How old are the upgraded components? At face value a 1997 hard rock for $225 is way high. However, if all the XTR/XT/LX stuff is pretty new it might just be worth it.

As far as fit, what is your inseam? How does it feel when you ride it, have you ridden it yet?
He said the components were recently upgraded. As far as the ride, I'm going to check it out tonight.
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Old 08-19-08, 09:48 AM   #4
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I don't think $225 is that out of line if the bike is in good condition and and fairly new stuff on it. My advice is not to get sucked in by all the fancy components and settle for a so-so fit. If it doesn't fit, wait you'll find another one. Besdies, you can probley get it for $200 or better!
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Old 08-19-08, 10:11 AM   #5
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+1 to what everyone else said about price. If the components are recently upgraded $225 is not too high. The price is way high for just an 11 year old Hardrock with no upgrades.

I would also add: check the frame carefully. Look carefully for dings, dents, and cracks. A bad frame makes a bike worthless. One place that is not obvious is to check underneath the bike where the down tub meets the head tube. If the bike has crashed into something, the down tube may be bent. If the bike frame has any cracks or serious dents, I would walk away. Some minor dings, paint chips, and rust is expected, but I wouldn't buy it if it has any signs of structural damage.
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Old 08-19-08, 10:20 AM   #6
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Also, you should get a road pump and set of tire levers for flat repairs. I'd suggest getting one spare tube and a patch kit rather than carrying two spare tubes. If you have one spare, you can swap out a flat and patch it later, then the patched tube will become your spare. Tubes are cheap though and some people just throw them out when they get punctured. It just seems wasteful to me.

A flat tire is most likely the only road repair you'll ever have to do.

I also carry a Park Tool MT-1 multitool and a spoke wrench, but I have never used them on the road.
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Old 08-19-08, 10:33 AM   #7
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Thanks for all of the great info. I will carefully examine the frame for any dents or cracks, minor paint chipping/rust is expected?

Anything else I should do when I go to check it out? Examine the wheels to make sure they spin true or close to true? Ride it and make sure it fits well/feels good/is comfortable?

I can't friggin wait to be free from my car to and from work.
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Old 08-19-08, 11:12 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of the great info. I will carefully examine the frame for any dents or cracks, minor paint chipping/rust is expected?

Anything else I should do when I go to check it out? Examine the wheels to make sure they spin true or close to true? Ride it and make sure it fits well/feels good/is comfortable?

I can't friggin wait to be free from my car to and from work.
As others have said, a good fit is paramount. You can't really change the fit of a bike easily. Also: make sure the gears shift as they should. Check that the wheels are close to true. Make sure the brakes work well.

As for the frame, any steel bike that has been ridden significantly will probably have minor rust from scratches or chipped paint in spots. Minor stuff like that isn't a big concern. What I was saying above is you don't want a frame that has been crashed or seriously abused. Frames with structural damage can be dangerous to ride and are usually beyond repair (or too costly to repair to make it worthwhile). It is just something to be careful about when looking at a used bike.
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Old 08-19-08, 12:01 PM   #9
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Been reading this bored for the past week or so ...
Are you making an editorial comment about this BOARD?
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Old 08-19-08, 12:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unicedmeman View Post
Finally, what else will I need to get?
I'm thinking:
-2 spare tubes
-lighting
-reflective gear
-a helmet
-a multitool
-a pump
Definitely add a good lock to that list.
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Old 08-20-08, 06:49 AM   #11
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Well, I went and saw it last night. Felt grate when I rode it and the guy selling it was very nice. He made me feel very comfortable giving him my monies. So long story short, I bought it. After a trip to the LBS for a quick tune-up and a few supplies I'll be commuting on Monday!

Thanks for the help all!
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Old 08-20-08, 08:37 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by unicedmeman View Post
Well, I went and saw it last night. Felt grate when I rode it and the guy selling it was very nice. He made me feel very comfortable giving him my monies. So long story short, I bought it. After a trip to the LBS for a quick tune-up and a few supplies I'll be commuting on Monday!

Thanks for the help all!

I'd add 2 things to your list -

For the helmet, get one with a visor. Sure it might be Fred-like, but if your commute is heading into the sun, you'll appreciate it.

Second, I always wear glasses on the commute - I have a set of clear glasses, and sunglasses. I think the eye protection is good, and some days, it's just very bright. Some riders have photochromic (lenses that darken in bright light), but you don't NEED those.
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Old 08-20-08, 01:23 PM   #13
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Good for you! ave fun with it and post a picture!

BTW- I'm really liking my Performance sunglasses with interchangable lenses. They are as good as any set of Oakleys I have and only cost $30.
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Old 08-20-08, 04:27 PM   #14
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Good for you! ave fun with it and post a picture!

BTW- I'm really liking my Performance sunglasses with interchangable lenses. They are as good as any set of Oakleys I have and only cost $30.
+1

I have a performance store in my hood and found them for $24 during one of their many, constant sales. Comfy, durable, no nonsense. Years ago I had (still have, actually) a very similar 3-lens set with Smith frame. Pretty sure I paid a lot more for it, but I like the Performance ones better.
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Old 09-26-08, 03:00 PM   #15
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Commuting has been sweet on this thing so far. I bought a bottle cage and a cateye computer. I think I will install the computer tonight and maybe the blackburn rack that came with the bike. I'm thinking about buying an axiom trunk bag.

I would really like to put drop bars on the bike, would that be too hard to be worth it?
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Old 09-26-08, 03:27 PM   #16
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...I would really like to put drop bars on the bike, would that be too hard to be worth it?
Probably not. It would cost a lot, be a major hassle, and the bike wouldn't fit the same as it does now. In addition to buying the handlebars, you need new brake levers, shifters, cable, cable housing, and a new stem to get the bike fit correct (and also fit the new handlebars). You would also probably need to go with bar end friction shifting, as it may not be possible to get index shifting with a mismash of components in the drivetrain.

I switched from brifters to bar ends when my brifters broke. At the same time, I bought a new stem and handlebars. My costs were:

Shimano Bar End shifters: $62 (on Ebay)
Nitto Noodle Handlebars: $35 (on Ebay)
Nitto Technomic Stem: $31 (on Ebay)
Tektro Road levers + handlebar tape: $36 (jensonusa)
Cable + housing: $22 (from LBS)

I paid nearly $200 total just for used parts. It would be more for new, and much more if you pay someone else to do the work.
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Old 10-21-08, 01:43 PM   #17
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and the bike wouldn't fit the same as it does now.
This is somewhat desirable, I want the bike to fit a little differently. I see that putting drops on the Hardrock will require lots of work and money, is this the same with other bars like mustache or trecking bars?
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Old 10-21-08, 02:39 PM   #18
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This is somewhat desirable, I want the bike to fit a little differently. I see that putting drops on the Hardrock will require lots of work and money, is this the same with other bars like mustache or trecking bars?
I don't think it would be as much, because you could probably use your existing shifters and stem on trekking bars. Sheldon Brown has a useful resource on this subject: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/deakins/handlebars.html He claims that the brake and shift components on a straight mountain bar can be transferred to a trekking bar.
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Old 10-24-08, 08:11 AM   #19
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Yea.... nix that idea, if it ain't broke don't fix it right?

Now my new question for you guys-

I installed the blackburn rack that came with the bike but haven't purchased a trunk bag or panniers yet. I'm ruling out panniers because I'm not planning on doing any touring soon and my commute is around 5 miles or so. I'm trying to decide between a trunk bag or a handle bar bag at this point. My thoughts are that a handle bar bag will able me to ditch the rack and some added weight there but may be more akward when riding? I'd like to be able to carry a lunch, my keys, cell, wallet, notepad, camera, maybe a jacket in this bag.

I'd also like a smaller bag to stay attached at all times carrying a spare tube, patch kit, quick tire tool and my wallet, keys, cell on shorter rides when the above bag isn't necessary.

Any ideas? Things that work well for you guys?
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Old 10-24-08, 09:05 AM   #20
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I carry all my stuff in a trunk bag on the top of the rack - tube, lunch, patch kit, tools, shirt & underwear. Handlebar bags are good for things you may want to reach while riding, but are bad for the bike handling if you have too much weight in them. Small wedge bags under the seat are good for emergency repair stuff, but cant be left on the bike unless you have a real safe place to park it.
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