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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 06-02-10, 10:57 AM   #1
Nathantaxel
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updating my trek 4500 alpha for commuting

I have a Trek 4500 Alpha that I got in high school (10 years ago) and am now using for commuting. I did not put too many miles on it back then and it spent a number of years in the basement. Everything works more or less, but I am looking for suggestions on updates/ modifications I can make to turn it into a better commuter. So far I have put road tires on it and installed a rack. What else can I do? Thanks for your help
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Old 06-02-10, 02:19 PM   #2
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I'd say you have the most important things covered, but here are some other options:
Lights, so cars can see you, and if you spend enough, so you can see at night.
Rigid Fork, less weight and no suspension to rob your power
Different handlebars, I love my Titec H-Bars, although they don't work too well with most shifters.
Road Crankset, higher gearing and might be less weight.
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Old 06-02-10, 02:30 PM   #3
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If I switch to a rigid fork, do I need to be concerned about damage to the wheel from going over curbs, pot holes, etc. ? My commute takes me through some pretty bad roads. Can you recommend a brand and model of fork that would be suitable? Thanks
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Old 06-02-10, 02:39 PM   #4
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As far as I know, the wheel should be fine. No matter what bike you have you should try and avoid curbs and potholes though. I've heard a lot of people like the Surly 1x1 fork, if that's too much I think there are cheaper ones on ebay.
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Old 06-02-10, 02:48 PM   #5
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Other than lights for riding in poor lighting/dark conditions, and some fenders (I HATE rain going up my back from the rear tire) you are well on you way. Some smooth tires are the #1 thing to do on mountain bikes to make them ride a whole lot more efficiently, but you already did that. Next you need to just start riding and figure out what works for you with regards to time schedule, clothing, food, drink, etc. I personally would not get too worked up about having a suspension fork up front. I have one on my hybrid commuter. Mine has the lockout feature. With it on or off I can't tell any difference in effort. I do notice a difference with with rough roads I experience here. I did set the preload on the suspension to its highest level so that the socks are as stiff as possible. Sure I'd save a few pounds by putting in a solid fork, but I can't justify the expense. Good wheels, good lighting, good rain gear, etc... that is worth spending money on.

Don't buy too much clothing up front. Try some stuff you might have in your closet and work from there. I have a bunch of Nike and other brand wicking T shirts that I've bought at Dicks Sporting Goods over the past few years for around $20 each. I like them a lot better than the $14 Champion shirt I bought at Target. You don't have to spend $70 for a nice jersey to get something that works well. For short rides I just use a set of swim trunks (5 miles each way on my commute) for longer rides I'll use cycling shorts. On two occasions ended up riding a lot more than expected with the shorts/normal underwear... I paid the price with some seriously raw skin on my inner tighs. Shorts are just much easier on my short commute so I can deal with it just fine in my climate zone. If it was hotter and more humid here that might be a problem. I have Shimano SPD clipless pedals and shoes. I realy like them, but you can definitely commute fine without them. For the 1st two years I used old fasion toe clips (I slipped off the pedals once a few years ago during some rain... so I now always preferr clips of some sort). It was a complete silly luxury till I got a road bike, now I could share the shoes between the bikes.

Don't go crazy buying all kinds of gear right away. Buy a little and experiment. Once you know what works well for you you can add more.

Happy riding,
André
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Old 06-02-10, 07:18 PM   #6
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I bought a Trek 4300 (I would assume a notch below the 4500) before I realized that there are no attachment points for front fenders. I had to make something out of metal pipe-hanging strap, which did work, but looks dorky.
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Old 06-02-10, 07:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swwhite View Post
I bought a Trek 4300 (I would assume a notch below the 4500) before I realized that there are no attachment points for front fenders. I had to make something out of metal pipe-hanging strap, which did work, but looks dorky.
Actually, Planet Bike makes a set of MTB fenders. The front attaches where you would put the brake calipers if it was a road bike. Unfortunately I can only attach the rear to my Trek 8000 with zip ties, and even that doesn't work well. And I don't think there is another way to get a fender on there that will allow me to have a rear rack. I sometimes wonder if I should just sell it and get a bike that is better suited to what I want....
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