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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 02-27-09, 11:38 PM   #1
Libre
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New Bike? Steel or Aluminum?

I'm thinking about a new bike - I currently am riding a Trek 2000, with pretty worn out Shimano components - don't know which exactly, but mid-line.
One thought is to replace all components and get the thing rebuilt, but on the other hand, I got $2000 in a drawer. The frame is in fine shape - but it's sort of heavy.
I commute 3 days a week, 20 miles round trip. Sometimes I extend my ride coming home. I can do 40 miles without too much fanfare. More than that gets to be a bit much. I'm 57. I do the Montauk Century - not every year, but I've done it twice - most recently last year.
Well, anyway, I've always ridden a road bike. I like a light, responsive, and fast ride. Well, I'm no speed demon. Let's say I cruise at 18-20 mph on level ground, most of the time. I don't care about panniers, fenders, or other add ons. I just want a fast and light ride.
Also, my brother keeps telling me to get a steel bike, but I don't know what the difference is in the ride, over Alum. He says it's better, but he says a lot of things.
Recommendations?
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Old 02-28-09, 12:22 AM   #2
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If you are serious about fast, light and responsive, then stick with Al. I've got a Spec Allez Pro and my dad rides a Bianchi Veloce. There are some serious differences in how the two bikes feel when going over nasty road. Steel does feel nice and there are a ton of great makers out there. If you are looking in the $2k range you may even be able to get a custom built Cervelo (someone could correct me) or other awesome setup. By doing that, you would give up a bit on components at the same price.
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Old 02-28-09, 06:29 AM   #3
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The Trek 2000 isn't a bad bike. If it fits you and is comfortable to ride I'd consider a component refresh. It's amazing how new parts can make a familiar bike seem like a new one, and at a much lower cost. It seems by your post that you don't have an issue with the bike other than componentry. Couple hundred $ and that is a thing of the past, and keep your $ for a rainy day.

The $ that bought that Trek new won't buy a comparable bike at todays $. Just my thought.

-R
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Old 02-28-09, 08:03 AM   #4
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Aluminum or steel? $2000 would get you a Specialized Roubaix with full carbon fiber frame and fork.

Just a random thought.

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Old 02-28-09, 09:16 AM   #5
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For commuting either go with a nice steel frame or if you want aluminum make sure you get carbon seat post, carbon stays, carbon fork.... see where I'm going?

Steel is comfortable, durable, quiet, stronger so the frame tubes can be a smaller diameter... and if you lose a lb or two you'll make up for any weight savings you'll gain by going with aluminum. I've ridden both a lot and will never own an aluminum frame again.
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Old 02-28-09, 10:46 AM   #6
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Ah, contemplating a second bike. Beware that this could be the early signs of poly-bike-itis. In fact, 100% of all the confirmed, incurable, poly-bike-itis victims report the second bike purchase as the turning point in their lives. Many of them report that they bought their second bike becuase it was just a little bit better at one style of riding than their first bike. Once bike niche-ism appears, it is rare to recover, and riders succumb to a third , fourth, and sometimes more bikes becuase they are "just a little bit better" at certain things. While devastating to the bank account and credit cards, victims don't seem to mind when they are staring at a well stocked garage trying to decide which bike would be best today.
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Old 02-28-09, 10:55 AM   #7
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Thanks for the input.
Interesting diversion of opinions - of course, that's what I expected and as it should be - everyone has their own likes and priorities.
I forgot to mention that one of my priorities is a long-lasting, trouble free system. The Trek 2000 has been just that. I wonder if I'd really save that much by getting it rebuilt, though. The cost of the labor in the shop might make a whole new bike not that much more.
Again - thanks for the input. Any other thoughts?
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Old 02-28-09, 11:05 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by vegipowrd View Post
If you are serious about fast, light and responsive, then stick with Al. I've got a Spec Allez Pro and my dad rides a Bianchi Veloce. There are some serious differences in how the two bikes feel when going over nasty road. Steel does feel nice and there are a ton of great makers out there. If you are looking in the $2k range you may even be able to get a custom built Cervelo (someone could correct me) or other awesome setup. By doing that, you would give up a bit on components at the same price.
Absolutely true - you can get a 90s-era Colnago, Merckx or De Rosa for around $2k with good gruppo (Campy Chorus-ish) on the used market. Colnago still makes the Master X-Light, but the frames are around $1700 if I remember correctly.

Check www.wrenchscience.com, which is a fun place to practice spending money quickly.

I'm looking for a road/race bike in the same price range from craigslist or ebay. If you're interested in used, get to know your measurements, size range and preferred geometry(s) real well to avoid wasting lots of time looking at bikes that won't work for you.
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Old 02-28-09, 11:05 AM   #9
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Any other thoughts?
With all the videos on youtube, the wealth of info here and the rest of the web, it's pretty easy to dismantle your bike and upgrade it yourself. The only thing I leave to the LBS is setting new headsets because I don't have the tools for that. This would save you a lot of money that would be better spent on upgraded components, fork and/or maybe a new paintjob. And some nifty new tools of course, which will pay for themselves many times over.
You could get a real nice steel frame/fork for $1000 and some sweet components with the rest.
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Old 02-28-09, 11:07 AM   #10
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Aluminum or steel? $2000 would get you a Specialized Roubaix with full carbon fiber frame and fork.

Just a random thought.

tcs
His location says NYC. I wouldn't ride a carbon bike on those streets, much less park one there.
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Old 02-28-09, 11:18 AM   #11
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I'm thinking that for $2000 you could build up a nice steel Soma Speedster:

http://www.somafab.com/speedster.html

I guess if you don't want to carry a bunch of gear and you only ride in good weather, then a full-on race bike would be fine. Frame material doesn't matter. Do you hae to lock your bike on the street, or do you have secure parking. That makes a big difference.

All my bikes are steel. They used to all be aluminum. I like the ride and aesthetics of steel better, and high end steel framesets can be built into very light bikes, if that's your thing.
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Old 02-28-09, 03:53 PM   #12
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http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...roraelite.html

I really like the Jamis Aurora Elite, which is a steel bike with carbon forks. It's good for touring or commuting, and it's very comfortable with its relaxed geometry

Plus, you can pocket $500 or more of your savings.
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Old 02-28-09, 05:08 PM   #13
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2k will buy you a really nice bike, especially if you buy a used one. I think Waterford makes a nice classic bicycle. I've got 15 bikes all-told, all of them steel. Read the riv website on steel vs. carbon. check out Vintage Bike Quarterly too.
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Old 02-28-09, 07:34 PM   #14
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I don't lock it up. I bring it in with me, where ever I'm going - or I don't go in. I can bring it inside at work. I carry a back pack, so I don't need a rack or panniers. I tend not to ride if the weather is threatening. I only have room for one bike in my apartment, so if a new bike comes in, the old one goes out.
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Old 03-01-09, 07:34 AM   #15
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With only one bike you need to figure out the worst case scenario for riding. Do you ride in heavy rain? Do you haul groceries? Will EVER need rack and fenders?
For a non-racing bike, my view is that the weight penalty for threaded eyelets is so minimal and the extra utility so great that you should always get them. My ideal fast commuter road bike would be in the mould of a Soma ES, Surley Pacer. I wouldnt get too hung up abut frame material, they both work well when done well.
It is surprising how much you can haul on the road bikes if needed. You dont have to go all the way to a stodgy touring bike to get utility.
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Old 03-01-09, 08:13 AM   #16
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Aluminum or steel? $2000 could get you a...
...new titanium bike.

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Old 03-01-09, 09:09 AM   #17
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I don't lock it up. I bring it in with me, where ever I'm going - or I don't go in. I can bring it inside at work. I carry a back pack, so I don't need a rack or panniers. I tend not to ride if the weather is threatening. I only have room for one bike in my apartment, so if a new bike comes in, the old one goes out.
Well, then you do have some thinking to do. While more expensive, it is ultimately easier to have a stable of bikes, each one being superior in some way to the others. For me, the one bike was a cyclocross bike, because it would be used for commuting and riding the many miles of crushed limestone rails to trails paths near my home. While that one bike (specialized tri-cross) was a fantastic all around bike for 90% of my riding, I had the resources to acquire other bikes to excel at aspects of the other 10% of riding. Then I found that I really liked rural road riding, and my 5% road only bike now gets a greater share of saddle time.

I sounds like your 90% or greater bike is a road bike, no fenders or racks needed. Decide how wide you want your tires to go up to, then buy the best bike you can find with the best fit for you. Spend all your money, since this is your ONE bike, and saving money will cause you to second guess your decision later on. If, however, you do find that ONE bike and have something left over, then blow it on neato gadgets and accessories that you otherwise wouldn't acquire. No frame material or brand name recommendations from me, savor the hunt, and you will know when you find THE ONE. Heck, you may already be riding it.

Last edited by Hot Potato; 03-01-09 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 03-22-09, 12:43 AM   #18
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The Trek 2000 isn't a bad bike. If it fits you and is comfortable to ride I'd consider a component refresh. It's amazing how new parts can make a familiar bike seem like a new one, and at a much lower cost. It seems by your post that you don't have an issue with the bike other than componentry. Couple hundred $ and that is a thing of the past, and keep your $ for a rainy day.

The $ that bought that Trek new won't buy a comparable bike at todays $. Just my thought.

-R
This is the advice I went with.
Brought it in today to the local BS. We looked it over, and here's what I'm getting:
New Brake levers, 6 speed freewheel, chain, handlebar tape, brake shoes, cables, rear derailler, and an ULTRA tune up (complete disassembly, cleaning, lubing, and repacking of all bearings and other parts - bottom bracket, cones, wheel truing - the works).
Bottom line for all parts a labor (incl sales tax):
$342.17

So if I was going to spend $2K then I figure I saved $1658 and my trusty Trek 2000 bike.
I'm really glad I went this way. A new bike is nice, but preserving and refreshing something you already own has it's own pleasures, beyond the money savings. A lot of times I traded "up" on something, and missed the old one immediately.
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Old 03-22-09, 01:04 AM   #19
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2 grand in a draw? i hope that isn't your retirement money. 57 with 2grand to blow on a bike, think of the furture. if, howver, you are well off and own a house, in good health ect i say treat yourself. you can buy a nice Caad 9 with 105 all around. its a bit over 1 grand at any lbs, very light alum with cf fork, and extremly comfertable. best part you will have money left over for upgrades, new pedals, lights, helmet, a rack to fit to a road bike, light aero wheels(say soul 4.0 or williams 30s) ect.

you could also spend 2 grand on a decent carbon fiber bike or ti, or if you buy online you can get a better deal with better compoents. say from bikesdirect, neuvation, pb groupbuys. but do you really want to commute on a bike that screams "steal me?"
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Old 03-22-09, 04:56 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by vegipowrd View Post
If you are serious about fast, light and responsive, then stick with Al. I've got a Spec Allez Pro and my dad rides a Bianchi Veloce. There are some serious differences in how the two bikes feel when going over nasty road. Steel does feel nice and there are a ton of great makers out there. If you are looking in the $2k range you may even be able to get a custom built Cervelo (someone could correct me) or other awesome setup. By doing that, you would give up a bit on components at the same price.

Steel bikes can be built really light. The new steels are amazing and thin-walled.

But you're going to be WAY over the 2 grand range.
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Old 03-22-09, 07:55 AM   #21
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And, uh, in which drawer did you say you kept that cash you just saved???
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Old 03-22-09, 08:08 AM   #22
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I wish my rat hole was that big right now!!!! LOL
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Old 03-22-09, 03:07 PM   #23
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And, uh, in which drawer did you say you kept that cash you just saved???
uh...well..actually...it wasn't in a drawer - I had it invested with Madoff and I just saw my statement!
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Old 03-22-09, 03:36 PM   #24
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Steel is real.

That said, it sounds like upgrading the components on your Trek 2000 might be your best bet.
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Old 03-22-09, 03:50 PM   #25
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Gawd, not this again...
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