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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 08-20-10, 07:41 AM   #1
tigerlily
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Which is the better bike for commuting?

Before I get into my question, my apologies if there is a better place to put this. I have been reading over the forums and posts but didn't see a good spot. Plus I am so not a forums girl! Can't even figure out how to find what I searched for! So without further ado, here is my question:

Which is the better bike to use for my commute and to add on to or upgrade? I have two bikes, one is a 1993 or 1994 Raleigh M50 and the other, a 2007 Trek 3700. Both bikes were purchased brand new and neither has been ridden more than 10 times and pretty much just stored in the basement. Pretty pathetic, I know. So I have moved closer to work and want to ride in--tired of working out at the gym...need something else! It's about 10 miles each way, no dedicated bike paths, street riding only. The Raleigh is a bit heavier than the Trek, not sure how much that will play a part in my ease in commuting. The Trek has the front suspension. I was thinking that the Trek, being a) newer and b) lighter would make it the better choice, but I have read somewhere that front suspension is not good for a commuting bike. Along with commuting this bike is going to help me go car-free (or at least car-light!), so I want racks on both the front and back. Can you put a rack on the front if it has suspension?

I am taking my Trek in for a tune up today and will ask the guys at the bike shop as well, but they may not be commuters and because of that, I am posting this here to get advice from experienced commuters. Thanks everyone!
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Old 08-20-10, 08:24 AM   #2
trekker pete
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IMO, suspensions, front or rear are horrible on pavement. They just sap too much energy. If you like the trek that much more, you might consider a change to a rigid fork. perhaps the raleigh's fork will work.

Personally, I think ten miles is a bit long of a ride on a MTB, which I assume these both are. I suggest you look into a roadie. CLis a great place to look. You might even find someone out there that is a little roadie heavy and in the market for a MTB and work out a trade.

The bottom line here is the "best" commuter is the one that gets used. if 10 miles on a slower bike wears you down more, and ends up sitting more than a faster bike would, then it is the wrong bike.
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Old 08-20-10, 09:13 AM   #3
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Like Trekker said above, I'm not a fan of suspension for anything that isn't technical Mt. biking. It's extra weight, it sucks energy and it's another (expensive) part that can break. A lot of this is taste and personal preference...and it depends on your preferred riding style and things you need in your bike (will you be carring anything? will there be dirt or gravel portions of your commute? how are the streets there, how are the hills?).

I like drop bars (many don't), 28c tires and fender clearance on my commuters. I want something reasonably light weight (under 28 LBS) so that I can carry it in and out of my house easily. My favorite commuter is thus my Raleigh International...it's perfect for my needs. I also have an internally geared Surly Cross Monkey I use depending on weather conditions. I'm less crazy about the KM because I really like drops, and that has mustache bars...also it doesn;t take fenders.

I think a lot of the time the most cost effective and practical way to go for many riders is a rigid steel mtb with braze ons for fenders and racks. I had a bike like that and LOVED it as a winter rider...I would have gone over to drops and used it as my main commuter, except the internal geared thing won me over and I replaced it with the Surly. In retrospect, I'm not sure that I made the right move.

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Old 08-20-10, 09:52 AM   #4
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Check to see if the Trek's front suspension fork has a lock-out ...otherwise you might consider swapping it out for a rigid fork.
If you can lock-out the front suspension, the suspension fork won't be as much of a PIA.

Old Man Mountain makes front racks that work on suspension forks just fine...and there are lots of options you can go with for a rear rack.

A far as weight...I am perfectly comfortable on my flat-barred Big Dummy (50lbs or so not including any load I might have) for 20+ miles. Unless you have some long and/or steep climbs (and not enough gearing to compensate), weight should not be one of your critical factors - so don't rule out that M50!.
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Old 08-20-10, 10:26 AM   #5
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Rode a 94 Fuji Discovery mtb for the better part of 5 years 10 miles/urban each way. Rigid frame and fork. Took the knobby tires off in exchange for street tires. Rear racks w/a waterproof set of panniers and a trunk bag should give you plenty of room for anything you would want to carry. Depending on your job you may want to get a Commuter Garment Bag from www.nashbar.com. It's not waterproof, though. Plastic bags would solve that problem.

You'll need fenders, lights, frame pump, tools, etc. Best to go to your lbs and have them help you set up your bike for commuting. Just making the decision to go car-light is a big step. The key to riding in traffic is to not panic, be assertive and point clearly where you're going. As you get to know your commute things will become more automatic. Anyway, congrats! Post back on how you're progressing.
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Old 08-20-10, 11:52 AM   #6
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I ride a Trek 8000 MTB from about 15 years ago as my commuter. This is a rigid fork bike. The only modification I made to the original was to replace the knobby tires with slicks. When the bike was new I had put a baby carrier on the rear that came with a Blackburn rack as part of the system. The rack is still there, the baby is now 17 and taller than I am. He also has adopted one of my bikes as his own.

My commute is 10 miles of Brooklyn and Manhattan riding on rural country roads - NOT. Actually it is 10 miles almost entirely on bike lanes, just the first few blocks in my very quiet neighborhood and the last 8 blocks in midtown Manhattan. The half upright position is perfect for the kind of riding it is. Weight only matters if you can't lift it. On a commuter with your stuff it'll weigh a lot anyway. I carry a laptop and clothes and whatever else I need, but no chain and lock. I keep the chain tied to the pole outside my office and have a U-Lock at home for when I want to lock up the bike otherwise.

Changing out the fork on your Trek is probably not something you were considering. The Raleigh is probably a better choice from that standpoint, but at least put decent lightweight slick tires on whichever you use. Leave the knobbies for the trails.

10 miles will seem like a long ride the first time you do it. Do it a few times on the weekend before you commit. Since you have both bikes, try it on each. It'll feel like nothing after the 3rd or 4th ride (unless there's a killer hill, then it will always be a killer hill)
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Old 08-20-10, 12:51 PM   #7
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As to Can I fit a front rack on if it has suspension ,,
Old Man Mountain makes a rack uses axle QR and V brake bosses to attach, to the bottom slider.

Tubus has a suspension rack that hangs off the fork crown and a strut attached to the top of the steerer tube,
sits higher..
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Old 08-20-10, 08:59 PM   #8
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Just to be clear, though - it's rear suspension that's really, really, really not recommended for commuting (unless you have really pricey rear suspension, but then you'd be unlikely to ride it to work...). Rear suspension is really terrible for you efficiency. Front suspension isn't nearly as bad.

Another thing to do is to put "slicks" on the bike. Knobby tires are slower, a rougher ride, and counter-intuitively, less grippy than slicks when you're on the road. The knobby part works on dirt by digging into the dirt to give you more traction. On pavement, it's solid and it can't dig into it. All that happens is that the space between the knobs is space where the tire has less contact with the road. I like the Panaracer Pasela tires, myself - $30/tire and puncture resistant, they're the cheapest good puncture-resistant tires I know of.
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Old 08-20-10, 11:51 PM   #9
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I *LOVE* my Trek 3700 and commute on it every day. My commute is only a couple of miles, but I've ridden 30+ miles on that bike and love love love it!

I've thought about slicks, but i like the extra work from riding the trail tires they shipped it with -- i need it
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