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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 01-23-10, 08:23 PM   #1
md20905
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What is the ideal bike for me?

I'm 5'7'' ~140 pounds. I'm looking at a 10.5 mile twice a day commute.

I am in no hurry to get a bike. I would like to build one because I believe that building something gives you a much better working knowledge of what you are using.

I'm hoping to keep the costs down but am not averse to spending money for quality. The road conditions are fair. While the whole county has many roads, there are always roads under going construction. There are several hills in my planned commute.

Any recommendations for parts or links to help me out?
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Old 01-23-10, 08:27 PM   #2
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Also, I'm commuting to school and then work afterwards. Work is maybe a mile or two away.
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Old 01-23-10, 08:44 PM   #3
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Do you prefer a road bike or "mountain bike" feel?
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Old 01-23-10, 09:00 PM   #4
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And what is your budget?
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Old 01-23-10, 09:01 PM   #5
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I have a 21 mile round trip on roads and bike paths (asphalt). I sometimes hit the trails for an extra 5 miles if I am to meet folks from work at the pubs.
IMO, a mountain bike would get old for me for 21 miles a day.
I bought a steel cyclocross bike. It's kind of a swiss army knife. Good commuter over any surface with the proper tires. And to boot it is used as my Sept-Dec cyclocross racer.
Getting a steel CX frame may be a good start - I'm sure there are deals to be found, especially now as CX season just ended.
As far as parts go, a solid wheelset and drivetrain goes a long way to minimize the repairs.
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Old 01-23-10, 10:20 PM   #6
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I've never ridden a road bike before. But I think the speed of a road bike is what I'm looking for. Also, my budget would be $1000 or less.
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Old 01-23-10, 11:17 PM   #7
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Go to as many LBSs and ride as many bikes as you can.

Our suggestions can't come close the help you'll get from finding a bike shop you can work with that will help you find the bike you need. (This may take a few visits so find a shop that feels right for you.)

Some people commute on race bikes because they want to go fast, some people want a touring bike that will hold more gear and be more comfortable to ride, some people want a cyclocross bike because it's rugged but still fast. Then there's the frame material, do you want steel, aluminum, carbon?
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Old 01-23-10, 11:22 PM   #8
md20905
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I don't think I can afford carbon. I'm thinking steel or aluminum.

I think I will be visiting some local bike shops next week. I just wanted some information before I go in, because information is money. I've been looking up things, but it's so broad, I was hoping the community could narrow it down a little for me so that it'd be easier when I go in.

I didn't want to have the people at the shops have me getting something I wouldn't benefit from having.
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Old 01-24-10, 12:00 AM   #9
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the problem with shopping only at local bike stores is that they will go out of their way to recommend that you buy only whatever they have in stock. for all the praises sung of the LBS, I must report that I have been underwhelmed by the disingenuous and even downright dishonest approach of many stores I've been to.

Although you may want to buy locally, I would recommend instead getting all the information online that you can before setting foot inside a store. In addition to the price/speed questions above, I would include the following:

* do you plan to frequently ride in the rain? (If so, you may want to consider a bike that doesn't use rim brakes.)
* Are there a number of intersections on your route, or do you find yourself needing to stop suddenly? (If so, you may want internal gears that let you shift while stopped.)
* How much of a maintenance guru do you want to be? (If "not much", consider internal gears/brakes as well as a chainless setup.)
* do you plan to ride at night a lot? (If so, you may want to consider a bike with a generator hub to power the lights.)
* is your commute "multi-modal" in that you mix it up with a bus/subway/train or drive partway? (If so, think seriously about a folding bike.)

good luck. there's also a good suggestion floating around to pick up a beater on craigslist and ride it for a few weeks - that'll help you get a sense for your route and which characteristics are important to you. I would've never known at the start that I wanted a bike with internal gears, internal brakes, and no chain--but I'm glad I waited and got one!
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Old 01-24-10, 06:55 AM   #10
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2x10.5 is not a short commute you want something efficient yet practical.
In my experience, the ideal tyre size for this kind of riding is about 28mm. You may want to go up a size in winter to 32mm. If you want to ride in icy conditions you may want studded winter tyres which need a whole lot more clearance ( or a winter bike) so I will assume no studded tyres for now.
My favourite style for 28mm clearance is a light-touring bike, basically a lightweight road bike with extra clearance and threaded eyelets for rack and fenders. Something like IF Club Racer, Soma ES, Gunnar road sport.

The frame material doesn't matter, Aluminium is just as good as steel for this job.

For everyday reliability and durability at a reasonable cost, you want something like Shimano Tiagra groupset as a minimum.

It is much cheaper to buy new bikes fully built-up rather than buy all the parts at retail cost but this style of bike is a bit niche and not so easy to find.
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Old 01-24-10, 07:24 AM   #11
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the problem with shopping only at local bike stores is that they will go out of their way to recommend that you buy only whatever they have in stock. for all the praises sung of the LBS, I must report that I have been underwhelmed by the disingenuous and even downright dishonest approach of many stores I've been to.
A crappy LBS will do this, but not a great one.

I've found the bigger problem at many shops is that they consider a trek 1500 with low spoke count wheels and 21mm tires to be a nice "commuter bike".

For commuting look for something with fenders, a rack, larger tires, maybe even a chain guard. For $800 you can get an extremely nice internal geared bike like a Jamis Villager or Uptown, which are great commuters.

It just depends upon how you intend to ride. If you want a bike that you can ride to work but also ride in roadie group-rides occasionally, you may want to look at road bikes. I personally like touring bikes, cyclocross bikes, and actual "commuter" bikes for my riding.
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Old 01-24-10, 07:53 AM   #12
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while it may be true that you want to build your bike in order to gain experience, it will be much more cost effective to buy a bike that is ready to ride. I would suggest getting out to as many shops as you can find and riding every bike that you think you might like, and don't decide based on what the bike looks like or some preconceived notion of what you think you might want to ride.

10.5 miles each way is a long enough distance that you will either learn to love your bike or learn to hate your bike, so make your choice wisely and carefully.

most bike shops are reasonable and they will let you test ride any bikes they have in stock, in fact before I bought my bike the mechanic at the local shop let me ride his personal bike because they didn't have any in stock my size. Test ride them several times too, you will be spending a lot of time on this commuter bike so sleep on it a few times, put some significant distance on a bike before you buy it.
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Old 01-24-10, 08:06 AM   #13
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Take a look at what Breezer has to offer. My wife has a Villager that she rode to work on for about a year 2.5 miles one way with hills. She loves it. Joe Breeze designs his bikes for use in town. The geometry of these bikes sit you upright which is comfortable and improves visibility. That may seem like a strange thing to say but on a roadbike your are hunched over for areodynamic advantage and you have to look around your shoulders to see behind you. With thoughtful features like a very low maintenance internal gearing, dynamo powered lighting systems, fenders, an excellent chain guard to protect your pants (and keep your chain clean), and a terriffic rear rack it makes for a versatile bike. These bikes are not cheap starting at around $500 and topping out at just under $1000 but they provide an excellent value.

I personally think the Uptown 8 model may be the perfect town/commuter bike. It has all the features of the other town bikes with a slick dynamo hub in the front wheel that powers the lights. The other models use a side wheel dynamo that is powered by rubbing against the rear tire (much like the ones that kids put on their bikes. Only this one is much, much better). The hub dynamo does the same thing with hardly any drag. I put one on my own bike and love it.

If you really want to ride fast Breezer makes a hy-bred bike called the Finesse. It is killer.

I think Gene2308 was refering to the Breezer Villager and Uptown in his previous post. Jamis doesn't make models by those names.

Last edited by Slimskies; 01-24-10 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 01-24-10, 08:18 AM   #14
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You may be able to build a Salsa Casseroll for $1000 or less because several on-line dealers are selling the frame/forks right now for less than $400. This is an excellent all-around frame for commuting. It is a road bike with room for larger tires (32 mm w/ fenders) and mounts for fenders and racks.
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Old 01-24-10, 08:47 AM   #15
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Whoops, yeah good call. I meant "Breezer" not Jamis.

Jamis makes a good commuter bike, the commuter 3.0 and 4.0 are good bikes too.
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Old 01-24-10, 09:38 AM   #16
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Hvae you loooked at the Surly Crosscheck? It is a versatile bike that can fill a lot of needs. The problem is finding one to ride as not many shops stock them. http://surlybikes.com/bikes/cross_check_complete/
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Old 01-24-10, 10:10 AM   #17
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If you're in Silver Spring, I suggest you head north to Mt. Airy Bicycles, probably the single best bike shop in the DC area. Mt. Airy is very good with commuter issues and has a ton of stuff for you to try out. College Park Bicycles is their sister shop but doesn't have remotely as much stuff.

If the roads are really bad, it's probably time for a sport hybrid. But in Silver Spring? A wealthy bedroom suburb county of DC? Come on, the roads are pretty good.

I'm in a similar situation in DC but also needed some mixed-mode commuting (Metro) and tight storage requirements (I'm in Old Town Alexandria). This may or may not be your situation. This led me to get a folding bike (Metro lets folding bikes on at all times if they're "in a bag", loosely defined). But I needed one which could still handle long commutes without many compromises. In that subcategory there's really one standout: the Bike Friday Tikit (which I bought). Mt. Airy, College Park, and Bikes@Vienna all have a large number of folders, including Tikits.

People here mentioned Breezers. I can't speak to Breezer's other bikes, but their folding bikes are just low-end rebadged Dahons. I would not recommend them.

Last edited by feijai; 01-24-10 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 01-24-10, 12:09 PM   #18
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Hvae you loooked at the Surly Crosscheck? It is a versatile bike that can fill a lot of needs. The problem is finding one to ride as not many shops stock them. http://surlybikes.com/bikes/cross_check_complete/
I'm riding a Motobecane Fantom CX from bikes direct. I love it, but if I had it to do again, I may have gone with the Crosscheck. I'm currently building a Pacer up as a fairweather commuter.
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Old 01-24-10, 02:05 PM   #19
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I've commuted over 3 mile distances and 12 miles. A good short-hop urban runaround is really not suited to a longer ride. Breeze Village would get a bit tiresome over 2x10 miles. The longest I have ridden on my Dahon Candeza 8 urban commuter bike is about 30 miles and I wouldnt want to go much further.
The upright riding position of city bikes is not suited to 10 miles. The light-touring bikes I suggested are not "crouched over" time trial road bikes, they are usually setup for all day comfort.
You can get hub-geared bikes that are suitable (eg Giant Seek 0).
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Old 01-24-10, 03:07 PM   #20
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If you have a Performance store near you, they have a nice deal on their Cyclo cross bike. I think Cross bikes are about the best bang for the buck. They can do it all.

Performance has their house brand on sale for $849.00. Its a very light, nice bike. Made by Fuji I believe. I almost got one instead of the Sixty Five I bought. Im not convinced I shouldnt have gotten the cross.
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Old 01-24-10, 05:45 PM   #21
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I prefer efficiency and lightness. Therefore I err towards a 20lb-ish road bike. Put on 28mm tires & rear rack. Good to go.
However you may want to try different type of bikes like hybrids, roadie, cx or hardtails just so you can gather what you prefer.
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Old 01-24-10, 08:10 PM   #22
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cyclocross bike. they make awesome commuter bikes for most people's commutes.
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Old 01-24-10, 09:16 PM   #23
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Anything with braze ons for racks, fenders, and widish tires would cover most bases and road types.
If ya want sporty, and expensive there's many cyclocross frames around.

Another route is taking a hybrid that makes a great commuter bike and has a road frames geometry, and put drop bars on it.
A 7.3fx can fit 38C tires, has a semi aggressive fit, front and rear rack mounts, fender eyelets, and reasonable parts. Many other hybrids also have these build specs.

Touring frames make great commuters, sport touring would be less of an overkill.

If you're dropping around $1000 on a bike, it's likely to be stolen if left outside regularly. Hopefully your school and work have indoor storage.

Still another route, buying a used bike and doing upgrades/overhauling would be far cheaper, and give you the knowledge you're seeking.
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Old 01-24-10, 10:14 PM   #24
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cyclocross bike. they make awesome commuter bikes for most people's commutes.
Agree with Nahh
md20905 should check out a few of the Cyclocross bikes available online ...

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


2009 Motobecane Fantom Cross PRO Shimano Ultegra 6600 $999.99
Carbon Fiber Cross Fork, External Bearing Crank, Aluminum Frame+Rear Rack mounts
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...oss_pro_IX.htm
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Old 01-24-10, 11:30 PM   #25
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I'm 5'7'' ~140 pounds. I'm looking at a 10.5 mile twice a day commute.

I am in no hurry to get a bike. I would like to build one because I believe that building something gives you a much better working knowledge of what you are using.

I'm hoping to keep the costs down but am not averse to spending money for quality. The road conditions are fair. While the whole county has many roads, there are always roads under going construction. There are several hills in my planned commute.

Any recommendations for parts or links to help me out?

I'm going to take a different approach than other people here have taken in giving you suggestions..

My first suggestion is to read and familiarize yourself what others have decided upon for themselves here on bike forums. Secondly, investigate what your local bike shops have available. With that being said, if I had to do it all over again going back to the first bike I bought I would've bought either a cycle cross bike (such as a surly crosscheck) or a touring bike (long-haul trucker, etc.). I would also ensure that it was equipped off the rack for commuting.

The reason being is by doing so I would've bought something a little more versatile instead of the Specialized Sirrus (which at the time was more of a pure road racing bike). To my credit the second bike I bought was my Alpine Monitor Pass MTB which is my most ridden bike to date; however, if I had bought either a cross or touring bike I would've avoided the N+1 syndrome of multiple bikes and the expense of outfitting them to be commuters.

My commute is a little over 15 miles one-way and I use two bikes to make this commute. My hybridized Alpine Monitor Pass which is the most comfortable of the two, but not the fastest and my '07 Specialized Sirrus. Both do acceptably well; however, both were designed more with a "sports" mentality of design. Which means that neither one came with lights, racks, or fenders. Adding these items require some compromise compared to a bike that was designed specifically for commuting.

if I had to start over again tomorrow I would probably go with a Raleigh SOJOURN or Detour Deluxe or I would second the recommendation for a Breezer. Either the Finesse or the Uptown 8. Why? All these bikes have dyno-lighting off the rack which is expensive to retrofit later on.
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