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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 09-04-09, 12:53 AM   #1
saqer
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Looking for Tips on commuter bike

Hey all. I'm new to the forums and new to biking. I've decided to start commuting to school (~26 miles one way) using a combo of biking and public transportation. I know very little about bikes but I do know that I would like to get a hybrid bike this weekend from the LBS because they have a pretty big labor day sale. I'm willing to part no more than $450 for an entry type hybrid or mountain bike. I've been looking at the Trek 4300 and some other bikes but I would like some of your input for a first time buyer. Once the winter and snow comes in I will also need something that can travel in 2-6 inches of snow. Finally, I'm concerned about "that place down there" and have read about no-nose seats that shift pressure to sit bones. I'll be biking at least 80 miles a week and so would like a seat that won't mess up my junk. I read elsewhere that those no-nose seats make it harder to balance the bike, it's easier to fall off the seat / hard to sit back on, and more stress is placed on the arms. IS all this true for someone with a hybrid bike and a no-nose seat? I saw a whole bunch of those products and reviews here and there, but would like to learn more. Thanks!
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Old 09-04-09, 01:01 AM   #2
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If you're going to be carrying a bike on public transportation, you should consider a folding bike.
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Old 09-04-09, 01:03 AM   #3
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The buses I'll be riding all have racks in front of the bus like this http://www.indygo.net/images/bike2_sm.jpg
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Old 09-04-09, 01:23 AM   #4
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I cannot comment on your seat question as I ride a recumbent bike. However it sounds like for the rough weather you'll be facing, it might be worth looking for a bike that has disc brakes.
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Old 09-04-09, 07:16 AM   #5
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Just my opinion, I'd consider a cyclocross instead of a hybrid (faster and wears me out less at the end of the day, and can run wider tires) to me hybrids are pretty much mtn bikes that can't do as much.

Although, I'm not sure how they'd fair in 6" of snow (other than cut through it like a pizza wheel). I think in that weather I'd take my mtb (maybe the one with discs) in order to get real fat studded tires on it.
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Old 09-04-09, 07:35 AM   #6
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Tips on Commuter Bike

" I've been looking at the Trek 4300 and some other bikes but I would like some of your input for a first time buyer."

What bike did you ride that felt best to you? What is more comfortable? I personally do not like the Trek 7000 series, but that doesn't mean you won't. I found them way too heavy.

I have found that aside from components, what is best is purely subjective to the rider. I suspect the components will be very similar at this price point.

What other bikes are available from the LBS's? Why shop only one?
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Old 09-04-09, 07:40 AM   #7
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Almost forgot, you should have fenders to keep the wet stuff and melting snow off your back. You only make that mistake once!
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Old 09-04-09, 08:01 AM   #8
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I would stay away from the 4300, its a full on mountain bike. That will not do well for daily commuting, or at least not in its stock form. Mountain bikes make fine commuters with a few mods, but why not get a bike that you can ride right out of the gate without fooling with it. Hybrids are cheap, which means they will be in your price range, cyclocross bikes are pricey so you may be looking out of your price range unless you find a cheap used one.

Most bikes will handle snow fine, actually narrower tires handle snow better than wide tires because you can slip through the snow instead of trying to ride on top of it.

As for the saddle, there are noseless saddles out there, but most people who ride their bikes for any significant distance will tell you that you need a nose on a saddle. If you are just going to ride around the neighborhood a few miles a week with your kids, a noseless saddle will be fine, but if you are going to do 100 mi a week you need a saddle with real support. There are plenty of people who spend 6 to 8 hours a day in their saddles and I am sure that many of them would have quit by now if it were causing any significant discomfort or long lasting damage.
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Old 09-04-09, 08:24 AM   #9
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True, a cx would need to be craigslisted to meet your range (or by an old demo).

As far as the junk damage, I haven't heard much about that since they start making anatomical saddles (ie there is different padding or a hole cut in the junkal/prostate region) Just make sure that you have a saddle that fits good if thats what you're worried about.
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Old 09-04-09, 09:50 AM   #10
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My commute consists of going over a bridge which is very very steep one way and only slightly steep the other way. So what do I do? I bike to a public bus stop in the morning, put my bike on the bus's rack (in front of the bus like you said). and go to work like that because my work badge gets me free bus fare. Then I bike home after work
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Old 09-04-09, 10:07 AM   #11
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Decent bang for the buck here http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=smoke

However, if you expand your budget a bit (say, to $1000), you can get bike with an 8-speed internally geared hub (IGH) that offers a more winter-worthy drivetrain.
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Old 09-04-09, 10:37 AM   #12
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For a 1st time bike purchase, here's what I recommend:

1. Ride every damn bike in the store that they have in your size. Ride the same test route. Shift through all the gears, etc.

2. Decide which STYLE of bike you liked best (road, cross, hybrid, mountain, track, cruiser, etc.).

3. Buy the least expensive bike they have in that STYLE so long as it meets your needs, i.e., fits fenders, takes wide enough tires for the winter, etc.

4. Ride your new bike for a month or more without making any significant changes.

5. Start making notes of what you like/don't like about your bike.

6. Once you have those notes either start tinkering with components or start saving for a new bike.

It was my experience, as well as the experience of many others that I've talked to, that the first bikes we purchased din't really meet our needs.

Why? Because there is only so much you can learn from a short test ride. Until you put 500+ miles on the bike, you're not really going to know what it is that like or dislike about the bike or even if this was the right bike or style of bike for you.

I spent way too much money on an aluminum Hybrid as my first commuter bike that really didn't fit my needs. From there, I went to steel utility bike, to a steel "touring" bike to now finally a steel single speed commuter, which I love. I know that I could have spent 1/2 of what I did on that first hybrid and come to the same conclusion.

As far as seats/saddles are concerned, I've generally found that the more uncomfortable they look, the more confrotable they'll actually be over a long ride. It's not a truism, but not bad for a rule of thumb. As far as your joint in concerned, don't worry about it -- it's in no danger on a standard sadddle.

Best of luck this weekend.

When you make a decision let us know and post some pics.
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Old 09-05-09, 05:47 PM   #13
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@Jay D. It appears as though disc brakes are more expensive than the standard linear brakes. Is this true? I'll probably be hitting between 22-25 mph on the bike, but mostly traveling on trails designated for bikers. Even our downtown has a lane dedicated for bikers. Can linear brakes fail me? Does it happen often?

@taildragger sounds like a good idea except it's still way out of my price range and it appears as though it tasks the rider with an aerodynamic sitting style which is not as comfortable, right? I am definitely looking for a used cx, though. I would rather the speed/performance over comfort.

@coachgeorge Several LBSs here. There isn't one that really carries commuter bikes. They have select varieties of cruisers and hybrids. Like none of these commuter bikes they carry come standard with fenders panniers.

@ryanwood. Thanks I'll definitely keep that in mind and even without trying it, it sounds like noseless seats can become uncomfortable. I'll just have to try different seats until I find something suitable.

@mattp105. Yeah it's really convenient, but they won't let you take it on the bus if the two racks are already full! I was considering a folding bike for that reason, but then again the disadvantages of getting a folding outweigh the advantages imho.

@canyoneagle. Thanks! I'll definitely look into that. Unfortunately, the closest carrier is 1.5 hours away and they only carry the Kona Dew which they claim is better. I'm afraid of buying online (which i don't think is even possible) without having tried the bike first.

@oldhoss. Thanks for the advice. That's what I'll definitely be doing. I can see it taking many miles to find out what works, what doesn't. That's why I'm committing a relatively low budget for my first bike.

I sort of already know the answer to this but can someone enlighten me on what the difference is between going to Walmart or Target and getting a Huffy bike or something similar than actually investing extra in "real bike." Like I know they use cheaper components and what not, but what else is do those "cheap" bikes not offer? Thanks
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Old 09-05-09, 05:54 PM   #14
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Buy a Brooks B17 from Wallbikes, if you don't like it they will take it back with minimal loss to you. there is a bout 80% chance you will like it.
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Old 09-06-09, 06:16 AM   #15
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Stay away from the 4300 for commuting. I just sold my 4300 because it was terrible on the streets. I worked twice as hard traveling on that thing.
I was in your shoes also, I only had so much money and didn't want to make the wrong choice. I went to craigslist and found a great bike there (bianchi castro valley).
Go to a local bike shop and test ride the different style bikes (mountain, hybrid, and road) see what one feels the best to you. A mountain bike might feel good right away but notice the way it is set up different from the others, off road for hills, stumps and stuff.

Now i'm not trying to be a hypocrite, one of my commuter bikes is a mountain bike but I only use that for bad weather, snow and ice.

Good luck to you
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Old 09-06-09, 10:47 PM   #16
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Hey everyone I think I've narrowed down the list to the following. I would love to get your opinions as I'm making a decision tomorrow!

1. Trek Allant
2. Kona Dew
3. Schwinn World Street Commuter
4. '09 GT Transeo 3.0 Disc Comfort Bike ('08 available for less) - Inclined towards this one because of disc brakes and price.
5. Gravity Dutch Hybrid ( http://bikesdirect.com/products/grav...utch.htm#specs ) - Any thoughts on this one? Doesn't seem very popular but all the parts seem pretty high quality.
6. Schwinn World Street commuter - Inclined towards this one because it comes fully loaded with commuting accessories - http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...00_20000_28506
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Old 09-06-09, 11:08 PM   #17
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First off, don't worry about the goods with a regular saddle. You can minimize perineum pressure by adjusting the saddle correctly; 80 miles a week of moderate commuting won't put you in the danger zone. If you're planning on making babies at some point in the future, and are still worried, you can just lay off the cycling for three months. More reading here: http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2428.html

I noticed you're in the $539 price range with the Trek Allant. I would say for another ten bucks, you might want to seriously consider the Kona Dew Plus: it's a formidable upgrade over the Dew, including mechanical disc brakes, a Deore rear derailleur, and upgraded Shimano freehub. I bought my girlfriend a Dew Plus for her birthday and a Dr. Dew for myself. Her needs and riding are similar to yours, and she's been ecstatic with the bike's performance. The disc brakes alone provide very competent stopping power in all conditions and I highly recommend them.

Given 2009s are on their way out, you might even be able to haggle a $50 discount on the 2009 Dew Plus. The Dew series bikes are quick, durable, and comfortable bikes for sure. If you go with a Dew, the one thing I would suggest is a tire credit and swap out to a 32mm tire for better rolling on your commutes.

Good luck and let us know how your test rides go!

**BTW, I took a look at the Gravity Dutch, and you'll probably want to steer clear of this bad boy unless you're just looking for a short-term starter bike to get you rolling and as a basis for deciding your future bike purchase preferences. Lower quality components and needless suspension seat post & fork will give you a heavier less enjoyable bike. Also keep in mind, that your LBS provides a value-add since they usually will help you get fitted and tune-up/service your bike if any problems occur for a period of time after you purchase.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by DigiK; 09-06-09 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 09-06-09, 11:31 PM   #18
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Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, Kona Dew Plus isn't sold anywhere locally. Closest place is 1.5 hours away and I just don't have that kind of time to go that far. I can't find any online retailers selling kona bikes except REI which only ships to authorized REI dealerships none of which are located in my state. Do you think it's possible to have them ship it to an authorized Bike dealer where I am?
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Old 09-06-09, 11:39 PM   #19
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Yeah it's tough--I had the same problem buying the Dew for my g/f out in Los Angeles. You'd have to check with your local bike shop--some will do a direct buy, even if they don't normally carry a particular brand. The odds are higher that they'll just try to steer you to something they have in stock.

Sorry, where did you say you're located? You MIGHT want to check REI out, as they have the Dew Plus reduced to $459. Each store is hit and miss, though, so go to the website and see if there's a Kona authorized REI near you. Dew Plus: http://www.rei.com/product/784945

**Ah sorry-I saw you said there are no REI locations in your state. At the very least, the sale price might give you a little bit of haggling room if you can manage to find a shop that has one or can order it for you.

Last edited by DigiK; 09-06-09 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 09-06-09, 11:48 PM   #20
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True that. There's one local retailer that carries Kona Mtn bikes only, but I'll see what they can do. What do you think of this ebay listing? The frame size is right and everything looks good except the shipping charges! Yikes! Even if it comes to like ~300 altogether you think that would be a good deal? http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...nk:top:en#shId
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Old 09-07-09, 12:25 AM   #21
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Yeah it's a good deal as long as you're not going over the price of a new Dew Plus for the 2008 shipped with the extras thrown in. Unfortunately, some suckers will probably bid early and overbid. (Tangential Rant: People on ebay only decrease their odds of winning if they bid early--it artificially drives up the price of the item and biases bidders' judgment since they get emotionally involved. Of course this is good for sellers and ebay but not for buyers.)

Here's what you do: Go here http://www.gixen.com/index.php and get a sniping account setup. Set your max bid and forget about it. If you're lucky, no one will be too interested and you'll zing a winning bid in the last seconds of the auction. Keep in mind that ebay will increment your maximum bid to the MINIMUM required to win the auction, so in a hypothetical auction where you set a snipe bid of 100 dollars but the last bid before your snipe is $75, your winning bid will be incremented to $76 or the nearest allowable value by ebay's auction increments.

Good luck!
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Old 09-07-09, 06:05 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by DigiK View Post
Yeah it's a good deal as long as you're not going over the price of a new Dew Plus for the 2008 shipped with the extras thrown in. Unfortunately, some suckers will probably bid early and overbid. (Tangential Rant: People on ebay only decrease their odds of winning if they bid early--it artificially drives up the price of the item and biases bidders' judgment since they get emotionally involved. Of course this is good for sellers and ebay but not for buyers.)

Here's what you do: Go here http://www.gixen.com/index.php and get a sniping account setup. Set your max bid and forget about it. If you're lucky, no one will be too interested and you'll zing a winning bid in the last seconds of the auction. Keep in mind that ebay will increment your maximum bid to the MINIMUM required to win the auction, so in a hypothetical auction where you set a snipe bid of 100 dollars but the last bid before your snipe is $75, your winning bid will be incremented to $76 or the nearest allowable value by ebay's auction increments.

Good luck!
The other option is to use Ebay's Free Countdown utility. "http://countdown.ebay.com/start_continue.jsp?r=119497769755". Don't enter the quotes when you copy and past this into your browser.
I am always afraid to enter my ebay credentials to non Ebay utilities. Accounts get hijacked all the time. The logon's need to come from some-ware. Whether you are sniping, entering a bid early or using Ebay Countdown the winner will be the one with the highest "Max Bid" offering. IMO, stay away from the "sniping" programs. You never know who you are giving your logon and pw to.
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Old 09-07-09, 06:13 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saqer View Post
Hey everyone I think I've narrowed down the list to the following. I would love to get your opinions as I'm making a decision tomorrow!

6. Schwinn World Street commuter - Inclined towards this one because it comes fully loaded with commuting accessories - http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...00_20000_28506
I noticed the Alevia components on the Schwinn. Good "entry level components". Much better than what I saw on the $400.00 bikes. If you are riding eveyday, this becomes important.
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Old 09-07-09, 06:21 AM   #24
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True that. There's one local retailer that carries Kona Mtn bikes only, but I'll see what they can do. What do you think of this ebay listing? The frame size is right and everything looks good except the shipping charges! Yikes! Even if it comes to like ~300 altogether you think that would be a good deal? http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...nk:top:en#shId
Notice the "Reserve Not Met"? IMO, you could be wasting your time with this auction.
"Any winning bid of $549 or more gets free shipping to anywhere in the continental United States"
If you wait for this auction, you could lose out on a "labor day" sale at an online retailer or bike store.

Last edited by coachgeorge; 09-07-09 at 06:27 AM.
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Old 09-07-09, 06:40 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by saqer View Post
True that. There's one local retailer that carries Kona Mtn bikes only, but I'll see what they can do. What do you think of this ebay listing? The frame size is right and everything looks good except the shipping charges! Yikes! Even if it comes to like ~300 altogether you think that would be a good deal? http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...nk:top:en#shId
This seller has not done anything on ebay since 2007. Personally I do not buy items over $50.00 from Ebayers that are new to selling or have not had any activity for several years. It is just too risky. There isn't any recent history for this seller. Combine that with his Very High Delivery Charges, the fact that it is a reserve auction, he threatens that he can sell privately unless the reserve is made, he will not let anyone know what the reserve is and the auction is not up until tomorrow after the sales..........................Too MANY RED FLAGS for me.
Good Luck.
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