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  1. #1
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    College student looking for entry-level commuter bike

    Hey all, I've been lurking in these forums for a little while now and finally registered to get some buying advice. I'm going into my junior year of college and I'm looking to get a bike. I typically ride to class and I'm also planning on riding for exercise around the lake that my campus is built on. I'm hoping to also eventually use the bike when i graduate for commuting through a city (such as Chicago) to get to work, and transport some groceries hopefully.

    I had a vintage Trek 501 for a while that I did some work on (replaced tubes & tires, bar tape, brake levers & cables, seat, touched up paint, etc) and tried to adjust for my size... However, I've now just placed it on Craigslist because despite lowering the seat post as far as I can and raising the handlebar stem, the frame is just too big for me (I'm about 5'8" and the frame is 64 cm ).

    Anyway, now I've been surfing through Craigslist to try to find a bike I like, but there are horribly slim pickings where I currently am (Orlando). That being said, I was hoping people could help me find a decent (entry-level, I'm not an elitist; I just want something that will ride nicely, stay together, and get me from point A to B while carrying a bit of cargo) commuter bike. I only have a couple criterion... My budget (college student) is about $500, and I love handlebars with drops.

    Someone pointed me to bikesdirect, but I've heard some pretty mixed reviews about the website, so I'm thinking "steer clear." Another, bike-savvy friend, told me to look at Jamis (said he'd be able to get me a 2010 Jamis model at a current 2009 model price at the shop he works at). Any other recommendations?

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    on your left.
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    cheap, used mountain bike that fits now. upgrade later. use extra money for food.
    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    I learned this the hard way. They say that experience is the best teacher, but I would have been preferred to just read about it on the internet.

  3. #3
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    If food money were a problem I wouldn't even be asking but I have a pretty steady job on campus right now that's earning decent cash, and my parents help me out with food. This is something that's coming strictly out of my money, which I've been saving up for an occasion such as this

  4. #4
    Senior Member teamontherun's Avatar
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    You will probably want something with a few gears since your just starting out. A single speed is less maintenance but more work as well. Here are a couple suggestions.
    First off I have this one with a few upgrades. I will post a pic of mine as well. (I only have about $120 in upgrades making it $400 total.)
    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes..._20000_1500505

    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...1_20000__61000
    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes..._20000_1500505

    A new road bike with drops and gears will most likely run you more than $500 when new. You could always convert a flat bar bike to drops.

  5. #5
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    Peruse post-Christmas dregs at Orange Cycles and watch semiannual sale around April there.

    LocoMotion - both locations.

    Kyle's Bike Shop is a decent place for used bikes, tons of advice and general gossip about town

    Good Luck
    I take great pride in my humility.

  6. #6
    Grillparzer Grillparzer's Avatar
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    People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    LocoMotion... I refuse to shop there... I went there once looking for a used bike because somebody told me they sold some. Walk in, find an employee and say, "Hey, I heard you sell some used bikes here?" The response I got from the employee was "What? Used bikes? No, we don't sell used bikes here! Who told you that!? DID MARTY TELL YOU THAT?!" Under normal circumstances this would be hilarious, but the tone he used with me was extremely unprofessional and rude. I've heard of other cases of bad service from this place, so I try to stay away.

    Thanks for all the replies so far, though! I'm looking up these bikes now.

  8. #8
    Who farted? Ka_Jun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveecee View Post
    LocoMotion... I refuse to shop there... I went there once looking for a used bike because somebody told me they sold some. Walk in, find an employee and say, "Hey, I heard you sell some used bikes here?" The response I got from the employee was "What? Used bikes? No, we don't sell used bikes here! Who told you that!? DID MARTY TELL YOU THAT?!" Under normal circumstances this would be hilarious, but the tone he used with me was extremely unprofessional and rude. I've heard of other cases of bad service from this place, so I try to stay away.

    Thanks for all the replies so far, though! I'm looking up these bikes now.
    Entry level? If you can find one, leftover Novara Buzz V is in your price range. Tight commuter package.

  9. #9
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    How safe is your college campus?

    That's something to consider before plunking down the cash for a nice bike. For college campuses where bike theft is rampant, you might want to consider a $100 piece-of-crap Walmart bike to tide you over until graduation, then get yourself a nice bike as a graduation present to yourself.

    Second day of classes during my freshman year, my roommate's $1000 bike lost its wheels and seatpost, because he was in a rush to get to class and didn't QR them to lock them up. My $100 POS Walmart bike on the other hand never got hit during my 4 years on campus even though I never bothered to QR the wheels to lock them up.

  10. #10
    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    Specialized Globe Series
    Giant FCR or Cypress
    Trek 7.3
    things like this. That fuji up there is nice. Remember, the less common the bike, the harder and more expensive it is to fix most of the time. As a commuter, you must take repairs into account.

    Giants are probably the most bang for the buck and easily have the most accessible parts for repair as they are the largest frame maker in the world, there are lots of parts for them as well.
    -X
    12' SuperiorLite SL Pro w/ Sram Rival | 10' SuperiorLite SL Club w/ Sram Force | 06' Giant FCR (Dropbar) w/ Shimano 5700 | 10' GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc

  11. #11
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    it seems like the market of entry level road bikes that can take fenders and tires close to 32mm was replaced by mtn bikes and hybrids. If you're near a large metropolitan area you should be able to find a used bike for a few hundred dollars.


    If this kind of stuff shows up it looks like there's a deal there

    http://orlando.craigslist.org/bik/1537225308.html
    Last edited by LeeG; 01-04-10 at 08:17 PM.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Just over your budget by $50: http://khsbicycles.com/05_flit_220_10.htm. To my knowledge, the lowest MSRP of any drop bar bike available at the LBS
    , not BD.

    Keep in mind a couple of things- 1)Drop bar bikes cost more than their flat bar brethren, yet cheaper to buy up front than converting from flat to drop later (generally). 2) Most drop bar bikes are geared for racing, with geometry to match. It will be more difficult to attach a rack. Not necessarily impossible, just not very practical. 3) Thieves like road bikes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
    Community guidelines

  13. #13
    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    Daveecee, based on your requirements, I think you should consider a commuter bike.
    I have pointed many friends to BD and they have been very satisfied with the value received.
    As long as you have the basic bike assembly skills, take a look at these options:

    Shimano Tiagra/Deore, 27 Speed Touring 2009 Windsor Tourist $599.95
    Windsor custom butted 4130 Cro-Moly + Free Rear Rack, Touring Tires
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm



    Shimano 105, 27 Speed Bike 2009 Motobecane Cafe Noir $699.95
    Reynolds 520DB Chromoly frame and Kinesis Comp Carbon Fiber Fork
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/.../cafe_noir.htm



    Shimano Tiagra/Sora, 27 Speed CycloCross 2010 Motobecane Fantom CX $559.79
    CrMo Cross Fork, Triple Crank Aluminum Frame+Rear Rack mounts, Ritchey Stem, R500 Wheels
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx3.htm


  14. #14
    Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    it seems like the market of entry level road bikes that can take fenders and tires close to 32mm was replaced by mtn bikes and hybrids. If you're near a large metropolitan area you should be able to find a used bike for a few hundred dollars.


    If this kind of stuff shows up it looks like there's a deal there

    http://orlando.craigslist.org/bik/1537225308.html
    I saw that pop up earlier today, actually. It's a shame, because I'm not actually going to be back in Orlando from my vacation until this weekend, and the bike will probably be gone by then. I'll check when I get back, though.

    My campus is relatively safe, although bikes sometimes do get stolen. These are bikes that are nice looking and locked only with a cable lock, however. I have a U-lock, and there has not been one reported attempt at a U-lock theft.

  15. #15
    Papaya King waynesworld's Avatar
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    If you're set on drop bars, I'm thinking a cyclocross bike of some sort. But, as others have said, drop bar bikes aren't cheap. That is where bikes direct comes in. I've never purchased from them, but many have, with varied experience it seems. They have a pretty decent looking cross bike for around your price range.

    This thread reminds me of what a fool I was to ever sell my Kona Jake The Snake. The 2010 model lists at about $1400 now. I paid, I think, $850 shipped for my 2005 model, very slightly used. In brand new condition. Sold it to a college student who had it for about a year or so, then locked it to a wooden porch and got it stolen. Don't get your bike stolen.

    Honestly, I'd probably take your friend up on his offer, if that gets you the bike you want.
    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    walk right in and punch the first guy you meet in the head
    2011 BMC SR02, 2010 Kona Jake, 2009 Felt X City D, 1984 (?) Trek 400, 1995 Trek 850

  16. #16
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    Turns out that my friend would be able to pick up that Sekai bike ( http://orlando.craigslist.org/bik/1537225308.html ) for me. $100 seems a steal for that, but I can't find much out about the bike through google, so I'm a little hesitant to have him grab it for me and end up paying $100 for what is actually a piece of junk that I didn't get to try first.

    At least I know the frame size is about right though, 21" for someone my height (5'8")?

  17. #17
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    The Sekai has signs of being a better bike of its era:
    -downtube, as opposed to stem, shifters
    -quick release 700c wheels
    -looks like a forged crank
    -hoods & quick-adjusts on the levers

    As long as it fits you and it's not covered in rust it's worth the money. Might be worthwhile to check a few basic things like that the stem and seat aren't stuck in the frame.

    But you're a college student. That means you should be riding a fixie, preferably one with deep-V rims in a color complementing that of the frame.

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