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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 06-24-09, 08:29 PM   #1
jitenshadds
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nyc commute on a big dummy

I'm considering becoming a bike commuter in NYC. I live in Forest Hills, Queens and attend NYU dental school on 1st ave 23rd street in Manhattan, about a 9 mile trip one way. I haven't really been on a bike in 10 years but used one exclusively for two years before that.

I'm really interested in the Big Dummy but have some doubts about the practicality of commuting 18 mi round trip in NYC on one. I have no car and a 5 year old boy at home and I am thinking we could have some fun on the weekends riding around on the BD. Any opinions on if this is practical? I'll probably get a LHT if I decide against the BD but if wouldn't afford me the same recreation options on the weekends.

I've also been looking at the stokemonkey (http://cleverchimp.com/products/stokemonkey/) to help us get out to some of the beaches in long island when we get the chance. Not sure if the roads are really bike friendly out that way though. I guess my concern about the stokemonkey is that it would become a crutch and I wouldn't get the fitness out of the commute that I want. Would love to hear from someone who has used one before.

For those familiar with the area, I live on Metropolitan ave so I would probably head straight down metro, cross on the Williamsburg bridge and head up 1st.

Thanks for any perspective you can give. The idea of the big dummy is really appealing, I'm just not sure if I will resent the slower speed during the commute.
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Old 06-24-09, 08:58 PM   #2
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Your idea seems perfectly reasonable, but perhaps a bit like driving a pickup truck to work every day in that you lose maneuverability and are less efficient.

You could always get a Kona Ute and something else to commute on for the same price, at least if you have the room, or get a trail-a-bike if you mainly want the long bike to ride with your son.
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Old 06-24-09, 09:18 PM   #3
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Hey jitenshadds, like you I am also looking into a utility bike and I live in queens. Currently, I commute about 10 miles a day and I have a single speed Bianchi Fremont fitted with a rack and panniers(mostly use 1). This keeps my commute light weight, Low maintenence and very fast. There are many times I would like the additional carrying capacity but I definitely would NOT trade my bike for a cargo bike. I recommend you get a commuter bike maybe even with gears in addition a hybrid or mountain bike with a xtracycle kit. I know it's actually two bikes but they will each do there job very efficiently. Metropolitan all the way down? watch the car doors! its not very wide and a bit of traffic in some parts. My commute is Queens blvd (aka boulevard of death) and that gets my adrenaline going for sure.


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Old 06-24-09, 10:26 PM   #4
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Would you be storing the Big Dummy in an apartment? It doesn't seem like an efficient commuter, especially on crowded city streets, and it would take up a lot of space at home. Stairs would be nearly impossible and it would probably only fit in most elevators sideways, unless you live on the ground floor. Leaving it locked up outside overnight doesn't seem like a good idea either, the thieves target Surly bikes where I live.
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Old 06-24-09, 11:42 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jitenshadds View Post
I'm considering becoming a bike commuter in NYC. I live in Forest Hills, Queens and attend NYU dental school on 1st ave 23rd street in Manhattan, about a 9 mile trip one way. I haven't really been on a bike in 10 years but used one exclusively for two years before that.

I'm really interested in the Big Dummy but have some doubts about the practicality of commuting 18 mi round trip in NYC on one. I have no car and a 5 year old boy at home and I am thinking we could have some fun on the weekends riding around on the BD. Any opinions on if this is practical? I'll probably get a LHT if I decide against the BD but if wouldn't afford me the same recreation options on the weekends.

... Would love to hear from someone who has used one before.
I commute some days twelve miles round-trip on a Big Dummy. It's a great commuter -- very practical and fun to ride. I regularly ride in traffic, in a bike lane, on a MUP, and in hilly terrain. Negotiating crowded sidewalks and MUPs is no problem. It's also great for running errands and fun weekend rides (+/- 50 miles). Some folks have certainly toured on them. I've hauled it up four flights of stairs in an office building and it fits in a regular-sized elevator at an angle (best if nobody else in the elevator). It handles much like a conventional bike, though I do feel the extra weight going up hill. It weighs 56 pounds including my U-lock, stainless water bottle, small messenger bag, and repair kit. Dual disc brakes stop it on a dime.

Since you don't own a car, I think a Big Dummy would serve you and your son quite well. Do some research about taking your son as a passenger, as I think there are various methods.

When I'm in traffic during the day, I feel like cars see me more easily than when I'm on a conventional bike, but that's subjective. I'm always running two Planet Bike Superflash tail lights. In low light or at night I add a flashing DiNotte tail light and a Lupine headlight. All are very bright. Several times at night I've had cars noticeably slow down and give me extra room when passing. The combination of my bright flashing tail lights and large visual footprint gives them pause -- and I think that's a good thing.

Last edited by Blue Roads; 06-25-09 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 06-25-09, 05:49 AM   #6
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compare the option of getting 2 bikes as opposed. It is also cheaper. For the price of a Big Dummy you can get both a nice commuter bike and another with an xtracycle kit. Why compromise when you can have both. Still not sure? consider getting a bike for the commute, then purchase an xtracycle kit and decide if you would rather commute on the bike before or after installing the kit. If you like the commute with the kit, don't change anything, (you've just solved your problems and saved some money). If on the other hand you prefer not to commute on the new equipped bike simply, get a commuter bike that you will be happy with for the 18mile trip and keep the new x set up for the weekends to the beach with your son.


Cheers,

Kelvin
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Old 06-25-09, 06:39 AM   #7
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Is there some specific reason why you are considering a BD for this commute, rather than a more responsive, lighter bike?

MY BD is fine for my commutes on country roads, but it isn't my first choice for commuting on busy urban roads unless I have a need for its load capacity.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:10 AM   #8
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Seems to me that unless you have a VERY secure location (like next to you all the time) at NYU, the BD would become a Big Target for professional bike thieves. There are plenty of people who ride in NYC and there are plenty of people who commute on Big Dummies, but I don't know that there is a lot of overlap. My thoughts would be to get a moderately priced sprot touring bike for the commute (along with several U locks) and a separate mtn bike+ extracycle for weekend fun.
Just my $0.02
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Old 06-25-09, 10:05 AM   #9
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I own three bikes, I ride my Xracycle almost exclusively (commuting and recreational riding). I plan to upgrade to a Dummy eventually.
I have been riding it almost daily for over a year,no complaints. I added e-assist (E-Zee front hub) this spring, I have found that instead of it becoming a crutch I feel that it has made me stronger. It helps me and I help it. I am using higher gears since I added it. I hadn't really noticed that until two weeks ago when I developed battery issues. Sent the battery back, still rode the bike. Realized that I am using higher gears.YMMV.
I have no knowledge about NY.
If you are interested in a BD and Stokemonkey I am fair certain that you wouldn't regret getting one.
I find that my average speed runs around 10.5 mph with out using the e-assist.
BTW my bike averages about 112 pounds. I weigh about 145-150, 5'6"
That is me and my X in my avatar.
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Old 06-25-09, 10:07 AM   #10
jitenshadds
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Thanks for all of the great responses. I appreciate the perspectives and they have really given me some things to think about.

I have a garage on the ground level that locks and a radiator inside that I can lock the bike to. The dental school (its over by bellvue on 1st ave, not the washington square campus) has a semi-enclosed bike rack that I am moderately comfortable with but the big dummy would still be a very expensive target.

I'm definitely listening to the comments about two bikes still costing less. There isn't much I haul, I would just like to be able to get around better with my son. An 8 mile trip to pick him up can take an hour and a half if the buses don't serve the area well. As it is, he can't really join a soccer team, or take weekend trips farther than the immediate neighborhood if there isn't good public transport. So you can use, say, the family van kit on the free radical? If that is the case, I might have to go this route as it is cheaper. The BD, despite being a great idea, is marketed very well and that might have something to do with my interest.
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Old 06-25-09, 10:51 AM   #11
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To the best of my knowledge,the family van kit will work on/with the Free Radical.
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Old 06-25-09, 10:54 AM   #12
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heres a Dumb thread:
http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=391518
&
http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=519016
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Old 06-25-09, 11:17 AM   #13
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hmm... bd vs... say lht+t-a-b... well, I have the latter setup. I would like a bd for cargo purposes and it might be an easier solution to move 2 kids at closer to my speed than theirs (big bro on snapdeck, li'l sis in trailer). However, the lht is also designed to be loaded down w/ cargo (I swear it rides better w/ 4 loaded panniers plus bar bag than unloaded), though not as much as the bd. And while I do load it down all the way 1-2 x/month, right now my commute load is less than 1 pannier so I am travelling pretty light most of the time. Although light is relative, the bike is still closer to 40 than 30# the way I have it set up, I think...

I guess the question is, where do you want your flexibility? Do you prefer the option of (relatively) unlimited cargo capacity? Or the option of easier storage/physical manhandling of the bike. Person-handling, whatever.

I suspect a 5-8 yr old on a bd would be a more stable load than the one I am currently tugging on a trail-a-bike. My almost-8-yr-old w/ his backpack + t-a-b total ~80# and he does not pedal his own weight.
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Old 06-29-09, 12:47 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jitenshadds View Post
I'm considering becoming a bike commuter in NYC. I live in Forest Hills, Queens and attend NYU dental school on 1st ave 23rd street in Manhattan, about a 9 mile trip one way. I haven't really been on a bike in 10 years but used one exclusively for two years before that.

I'm really interested in the Big Dummy but have some doubts about the practicality of commuting 18 mi round trip in NYC on one. I have no car and a 5 year old boy at home and I am thinking we could have some fun on the weekends riding around on the BD. Any opinions on if this is practical? I'll probably get a LHT if I decide against the BD but if wouldn't afford me the same recreation options on the weekends.

I've also been looking at the stokemonkey (http://cleverchimp.com/products/stokemonkey/) to help us get out to some of the beaches in long island when we get the chance. Not sure if the roads are really bike friendly out that way though. I guess my concern about the stokemonkey is that it would become a crutch and I wouldn't get the fitness out of the commute that I want. Would love to hear from someone who has used one before.

For those familiar with the area, I live on Metropolitan ave so I would probably head straight down metro, cross on the Williamsburg bridge and head up 1st.

Thanks for any perspective you can give. The idea of the big dummy is really appealing, I'm just not sure if I will resent the slower speed during the commute.


Hi. I live in the Bronx and ride my bike around in traffic several times a week. I haven't started commuting yet because I work in Queens and there's no way to get across the bridge on my bike, but I'll be moving to Astoria this year. Once I move I plan to start riding to school and then to work everyday. As a fellow NY'er I don't think that a BD would the best idea to ride to Manhattan. Some other people have given you great advice already. I currently ride a Hybrid Trek 7.2 FX and it's great.

If I was in your position I would probably end up getting a comfortable bike for urban riding, and a trailer bike.

http://www.bencycle.ca/images/trail-a-bike.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...le_trailer.jpg

TB come in a lot of different models and give you more flexibility IMHO.

As far as the route your taking I did a quick research on google maps, and the NYC bike map and it seems like taking Metropolitan is the most efficient way to ride west towards Manhattan from your location. Like somebody else said, just be careful. Give yourself enough space so that you don't get doored.

Good luck
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