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Old 10-15-08, 02:26 PM   #1
switters
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Newbie looking for commuter bike

I'm looking for a new bike. I ride mostly short distances (i.e. <5 miles), but often several times a day. It is mostly flat where I live (Oakland, CA) and I ride year round which means some rain but no snow.

I almost never drive; I ride my bike to school, to the grocery store and everywhere else I go from day to day. This means that I often need to carry quite a bit of weight and bulk on local trips (bag of groceries, heavy books, etc.). On my current bike, which is an old beater that's falling apart, I have a rack on the back with a milk crate strapped to it with bungee cords. Low-tech, but gets the job done.

Everything I've written so far would suggest a commuter bike like the Jamis Coda, Trek Sirrus or Cannondale Bad Boy would be a good option for me. However, what I haven't said yet is that 1) I hate being in an upright position when I ride, and 2) I like to go fast and have fun when I ride. I've ridden the bikes listed above and I just can't stand their geometry. They're no fun at all.

I guess I'm looking for more of a "cyclocross" bike than a commuter.

Today I went to my local shop and rode a Rocky Mountain Boroughs, and a Langster. I absolutely fell in love with the RM Boroughs. Fast, handles like a dream, great geometry and beautiful simplicity. This only problem with this bike for me is that it's impossible to put a rack on it and I don't know if I can fit everything I need to carry in one backpack. The Langster felt pretty good too; it can accommodate a rack, and it has a one-speed option whereas the Boroughs does not. But I didn't like the geometry, it wasn't nearly as tight as the RM, and I hate the look of it.

With all of this in mind, what bike would you recommend for me? $800 is the general range... could do a little more if I was convinced the extra expense is worthwhile, but definitely no more than $1k.
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Old 10-15-08, 02:40 PM   #2
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Surly Crosscheck or Long Haul Trucker? you can put racks, etc. on them. You could also look at a fixed/single speed bike since it's flat. The advantage of that is that they are more realiable and are cheaper.

If you get really sold on a bike but can't put a rack/panniers on it Timbuk2 and Chrome both sell XL messenger bags that you can fit a ton in.
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Old 10-15-08, 02:50 PM   #3
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Surly Crosscheck or Long Haul Trucker? you can put racks, etc. on them. You could also look at a fixed/single speed bike since it's flat. The advantage of that is that they are more realiable and are cheaper.

If you get really sold on a bike but can't put a rack/panniers on it Timbuk2 and Chrome both sell XL messenger bags that you can fit a ton in.
Thanks nahh for your reply.

Funny that just as that email came through I was on Surly's website checking out the Cross Check, Long Haul Trucker and Steamroller. They all look great, but the Cross Check & LHT are close to $1100 which is a bit too much I think.

I definitely am considering a fixie. I rode the RM Boroughs today and fell in love with it. No rack mounts on that one, but perhaps I should check out the messenger bags you mention to see if they can do the job.
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Old 10-15-08, 02:50 PM   #4
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drop bar, discbrake, 700c, off the peg
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Recommended reading for all cyclists - Cyclecraft - Effective Cycling
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Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!
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Old 10-15-08, 03:03 PM   #5
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Thanks markhr for the great list. Many if not most are out of my price range, but I'll definitely do some research!
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Old 10-15-08, 03:24 PM   #6
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You should also check out the Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno. The thing's only $400 at Bikes Direct, it's a single speed that can be a fixie if you want, and it will take racks and fenders. It's a cross bike, so I'm sure it's a blast to ride. Just bought a Kona Jake the Snake for cyclocross or I'd be getting one myself (still might!). The Kona Jake may also be a good match for you as well.
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Old 10-15-08, 03:51 PM   #7
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You should also check out the Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno. The thing's only $400 at Bikes Direct, it's a single speed that can be a fixie if you want, and it will take racks and fenders. It's a cross bike, so I'm sure it's a blast to ride. Just bought a Kona Jake the Snake for cyclocross or I'd be getting one myself (still might!). The Kona Jake may also be a good match for you as well.
The Motobecane looks perfect, and what a price! I'd probably want to get some smooth tires instead of the knobbies that it comes with, but otherwise it's exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks again!
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Old 10-15-08, 05:27 PM   #8
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I ride the geared version of that Motobecane, the Fantom Cross. For under $600 I couldn't be happier. If you wanted to go up towards the hills, you might want to think about that one. I wish I'd had it when I lived across the bay from you.
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Old 10-15-08, 05:39 PM   #9
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Thanks for the heads-up on the Fantom Cross, BigDaddyPete. I never ride up in the hills at all (too lazy - just down in the flats. If I lived in San Francisco I wouldn't even consider a fixie! But over here in the East Bay, it's really flat.
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Old 10-15-08, 05:48 PM   #10
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I wish I never had to ride up into the hills. I have family in the Oakland hills and in the Hayward hills. It can be fun, but its also a lot of work.
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Old 10-15-08, 08:32 PM   #11
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I'd avoid a messenger bag for large loads, groceries especially. You have to pack them very carefully to avoid having your bananas stab you in your back.
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Old 10-15-08, 08:37 PM   #12
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I'd rec this backpack: http://www.ebags.com/ogio/mastermind...modelid=111106
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Old 10-15-08, 09:11 PM   #13
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Thanks guys. The great thing about the Motobecane is that it has rack mounts, so I'll probably just do that.

I'm a little nervous about buying a bike that I haven't ridden though! I'm wondering if anyone here has ridden a Langster or Rocky Mountain Boroughs? Those are the two fixies I've ridden, and it would be helpful if someone could compare the three.

If I understand correctly, the Motobecanes aren't in stores anywhere - right?
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Old 10-16-08, 05:35 AM   #14
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consider a rack like one of these:

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_id=2325

I have one attached to my seat post with sides to keep panniers from hitting spokes and hang my panniers from that. Only issue that I can see with this is carbon fiber seat posts. Not compatible. Otherwise I could not be happier with my rack/pannier setup. I commute and have to remove my seat (it's quick release). Racks and seat come right out. I pickup the pannier and carry the rack/seat and away I go. For me this is very handy. Others have built their own containers to attach to racks. If you are handy that way it might be a fun project.
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Old 10-16-08, 07:10 AM   #15
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I ride a Jamis Aurora... it's an older version ('03? '02?). Anyway... over the last couple years of consistent, daily commuting, it has been bulletproof. Racks front and back. MIne is set up with bar-end shifters, Deore drive chain, fenders, Brooks saddle. And it won't cost you 800 bucks.
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Old 10-16-08, 07:43 AM   #16
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consider a rack like one of these:

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_id=2325

I have one attached to my seat post with sides to keep panniers from hitting spokes and hang my panniers from that. Only issue that I can see with this is carbon fiber seat posts. Not compatible. Otherwise I could not be happier with my rack/pannier setup. I commute and have to remove my seat (it's quick release). Racks and seat come right out. I pickup the pannier and carry the rack/seat and away I go. For me this is very handy. Others have built their own containers to attach to racks. If you are handy that way it might be a fun project.
I had the Performance seat post rack for panniers and the Performance Metro bag on my road bike when I commuted in the Bay Area, it works fairly well, but isn't very large and there is a 25lb weight limit on that rack. Just so you know.
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Old 10-16-08, 08:15 AM   #17
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Switters, if you get the Motobecane or are able to ride one let me know! It has been a struggle every day for me not to get one for that price. I know I'll eventually break down.
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Old 10-16-08, 09:47 AM   #18
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Switters, if you get the Motobecane or are able to ride one let me know! It has been a struggle every day for me not to get one for that price. I know I'll eventually break down.
I just ordered it. Figured I couldn't go wrong with the price; even if I end up replacing the wheels and some other components I'll still come out ahead, since all of the other bikes I was considering are in the $800 range.

Right away I'm going to put different wheels and some slicks on it. Then I'll ride it for a while and see if any other changes need to be made. I'll probably get a powdercoat on it as well, because I think the decals are kind of obnoxious.

Once I get it and have ridden it a bit I'll report back.
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