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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 08-30-10, 03:17 PM   #1
JeffSG
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Ideas for best full suspension commuter under $2k - It must be tough

What is the best rugged f/s mtn bike under $2k?

I currently have a hard tail Fisher Wahoo that I commute 35 miles round trip daily. I'm looking to find a bike that I can jump on and off curbs with. I am 210 pds and ride like a beast so the bike must be tough. I would like to be more like a ballerina but I am 53 yrs old and chances are I'm not going to change now...so learning to bunny hop is out of the question. I am hard on wheels and have broken spokes in the past. The f/s bike should prevent some of this. Do any of you commute on a f/s bike and can give me some ideas? Weight is not a problem. I may also post this under the mountain bike thread.

Many thanks in advance and ride safe!

Jeff
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Old 08-30-10, 03:47 PM   #2
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You don't need a full-suspension bike for commuting unless you are doing some serious trail riding. An occasional curb can be handled by simply upgrading to a tougher wheelset and probably wider tires at slightly reduced pressure. I think there is a subforum for heavier riders in BF, so you may want to post there for advice on an adequate wheelset.
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Old 08-30-10, 04:16 PM   #3
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I have a Giant Reign w/ 6+ inches of travel front and rear that I ride to work once in a while. It sure feels good to jump off/on curb but big knobby tires and flush suspension sucks a lot of your energy. Save all your free riding stuff for trail riding. I can still jump on/off curb using my commuter bike (TREK 4500 with semi-slick 2.1 semi slick tires). I ride 20 miles round trip 4-5 times/week.

Specialized, Giant and Trek has few FS model that are <2K.
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Old 08-30-10, 04:22 PM   #4
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It sounds like the Fisher is fine, you just need to upgrade your wheels. You will want heavy duty rims, tires, and wheels. Of critical importance is that they are built by a competent wheel builder.

If you want a new bike then I'd look at the various touring or cyclocross options out there... the frames will be beefy enough to withstand some punishment & most come with durable wheel sets. The full suspension bike will NOT resolve your spoke issues... a quality wheel -will-.
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Old 08-30-10, 04:33 PM   #5
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you should ride one of these I doubt anything shy of a nuke from orbit would damage those wheels.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:23 AM   #6
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Don't let people here tell you to avoid suspension. I cut through parking lots, drop curbs and roll through some pretty rough roads. My front suspension fork has really saved my wrists a lot of pain.

You can go either way with a full suspension MTB and slicks or go hybrid with front suspension and a suspension seat post. I saw a Mongoose crossway recently at a bike shop that had a front lockout suspension (hybrid). Pretty much any full suspension MTB from an LBS will work for you. In fact, the heavier the better (if you don't mind pushing the weight around). Heavy MTB also means cheap (er). If you want an ultralight MTB I would recommend the Zaskar elite.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:31 AM   #7
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Full suspension in the back will noticeably reduce your speed for the same effort unless it's really nice rear suspension. (I think the Specialized "brain" shock that prevents the suspension from eating your power in the back comes on bikes $3k and up, I'm sure other manufacturers make similar stuff that's similarly expensive). I've done it myself - had trouble keeping up with my dad (who I usually smoke by) on a casual ride on my full suspension mountain bike ($1300), I stopped and locked out the shock then I suddenly had no trouble keeping up with and passing him. Seriously, it was that big of a difference - I went from "worked really hard and barely kept up" to "kept up with middle effort, smoked past him with a lot of effort".

Full suspension is not the way to go for a commuter.

"Serious" mountain bikers - the kind who will bunny hop off a 5 foot ledge or plow over log piles - ride front suspension mountain bikes almost more than full suspension I think. Rear suspension has a big drawback - terrible efficiency without really expensive shocks - but not a lot of gain. And most of the gain is for people doing trails a lot more serious than curb hopping.

It sounds like what you need is a fat tire and front suspension. Front suspension will make getting over the curb pretty easy - a fat rear tire doesn't have trouble getting onto the curb after the front tire has already made it.

If you're really set on full suspension, from what I've read (and a little personal experience) maybe a $3,000 Specialized Stuntjumper FSR would do it - it's the cheapest model with the "Brain" shock that keeps the rear shock from moving until you hit a really big bump:
http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...nuItemId=14872
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Old 08-31-10, 11:35 AM   #8
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Don't let people here tell you to avoid suspension. I cut through parking lots, drop curbs and roll through some pretty rough roads. My front suspension fork has really saved my wrists a lot of pain.

You can go either way with a full suspension MTB and slicks or go hybrid with front suspension and a suspension seat post. I saw a Mongoose crossway recently at a bike shop that had a front lockout suspension (hybrid). Pretty much any full suspension MTB from an LBS will work for you. In fact, the heavier the better (if you don't mind pushing the weight around). Heavy MTB also means cheap (er). If you want an ultralight MTB I would recommend the Zaskar elite.
..but it sounds like you have front suspension, not rear suspension, on the bike you actually ride, right?
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Old 08-31-10, 12:11 PM   #9
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If you're set on getting a suspension but aren't planning on doing any tough mountain biking then getting a front suspension bike and slapping on some slicks would be the best solution in my eyes.
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Old 08-31-10, 08:54 PM   #10
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Full suspension is a complete waste of money on a commuter bike. I used to weigh 210lbs and commuted for years on a weight weenie road bike...we have bike lanes and relatively good roads though so jumping off curbs isn't something I've done much of.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:06 PM   #11
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What you need is one of these:



As a bonus, you never have to true the rear wheel. On the other hand, I hear disc wheels can be hard to ride in a crosswind - you'll have to let us know.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:28 PM   #12
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you should ride one of these I doubt anything shy of a nuke from orbit would damage those wheels.
What is THAT?!! I may get one of those wheels for the rear on mine. And get a 29in road bike wheel and tire for the front. Go go chopper look!
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Old 08-31-10, 11:42 PM   #13
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You don't need suspension for a commuter bike, unless you are commuting down a mountain. From the sound of it you are riding in the city, all suspension does on asphalt is rob you of power. I weigh the same as you do, and commute on a track frame (obviuosly, no suspension on that).
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Old 09-01-10, 12:02 AM   #14
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What is THAT?!! I may get one of those wheels for the rear on mine. And get a 29in road bike wheel and tire for the front. Go go chopper look!
That's a Surly Pugsley. Not many frames can take those tires.
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Old 09-01-10, 12:40 AM   #15
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You don't need suspension for a commuter bike, unless you are commuting down a mountain. From the sound of it you are riding in the city, all suspension does on asphalt is rob you of power. I weigh the same as you do, and commute on a track frame (obviuosly, no suspension on that).
...if the OP wants to ride on and off curbs, and doesn't want to bunny hop to do it, I think suspension might be needed. Sure you don't usually need to bunny hop for a commute, but who's to say the OP doesn't have a route where it would be way more fun to do it that way? :-)
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Old 09-01-10, 01:20 AM   #16
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That's a Surly Pugsley. Not many frames can take those tires.
The surly pugsley has a special front fork to handle the 4" wide tires/rims.

http://www.surlybikes.com/frames/pugsley_frame/

More info for it here
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Old 09-01-10, 04:48 AM   #17
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Don't let anyone convince you that front suspension or full will save you any pain. It will just add weight, add another expensive part that wears out, and suck energy. There is plenty of suspension for any pot hole or curb in a 2 inch MTB tire.
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Old 09-01-10, 10:21 AM   #18
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The surly pugsley has a special front fork to handle the 4" wide tires/rims.

http://www.surlybikes.com/frames/pugsley_frame/

More info for it here
...do note that while it's a pretty cool looking bike, and while it's the only design that lets you ride on sand on a bike, or loose snow easily, that even the Pugsley enthusiasts seem to think it's kind of a terrible ride on pavement, with the super-wide tire constantly pulling every which way because of it's size. I'd definitely ride one myself before investing in one that's going to be used on-road much...
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Old 09-01-10, 01:53 PM   #19
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Don't let people here tell you to avoid suspension. I cut through parking lots, drop curbs and roll through some pretty rough roads. My front suspension fork has really saved my wrists a lot of pain.

You can go either way with a full suspension MTB and slicks or go hybrid with front suspension and a suspension seat post. I saw a Mongoose crossway recently at a bike shop that had a front lockout suspension (hybrid). Pretty much any full suspension MTB from an LBS will work for you. In fact, the heavier the better (if you don't mind pushing the weight around). Heavy MTB also means cheap (er). If you want an ultralight MTB I would recommend the Zaskar elite.

After 3 years of year-round commuting, I'm leaning the other way. My worst weather bike used to have a perfectly serviceable '94 Rock Shox Quadra 10 fork (hardtail chro-moly frame, BTW). I thought for years that it had just the perfect amount of shock absorption for commuting for the exact same conditions you mention. I switched it out 6 months ago for a rigid Kona Project 2 suspension adjusted fork and am simply amazed by the increase in efficiency and riding pleasure. I still classify that bike as my "truck" and can drop off curbs and pop up them just the same, but the ride is so much better now. The bike now tracks perfectly straight and you can coast or pedal no-hands (which I mostly don't, I'm just amazed that I can on this bike now). I feel like I bought a brand new bike for only $30.
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Old 09-01-10, 03:32 PM   #20
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...if the OP wants to ride on and off curbs, and doesn't want to bunny hop to do it, I think suspension might be needed.
I completely disagree.

I weigh about 200 pounds and did short track MTB races this summer on a fully rigid 29er with wheels I built myself (my first), and I don't bunny hop.

If better made wheels don't fix the problem, better riding technique would. Bunny hopping just isn't necessary for curbs. Getting onto a curb will be more comfortable if you can lift the front wheel a little (regardless of whether or not you have suspension). For getting off a curb, get out of the saddle and let your arms and legs absorb any impact. This will also help with getting on the curb if you're dead set against lifting the wheel. Arms and legs are the best suspension devices available.
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Old 09-01-10, 03:42 PM   #21
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Full suspension in the back will noticeably reduce your speed for the same effort unless it's really nice rear suspension. (I think the Specialized "brain" shock that prevents the suspension from eating your power in the back comes on bikes $3k and up, I'm sure other manufacturers make similar stuff that's similarly expensive). I've done it myself - had trouble keeping up with my dad (who I usually smoke by) on a casual ride on my full suspension mountain bike ($1300), I stopped and locked out the shock then I suddenly had no trouble keeping up with and passing him. Seriously, it was that big of a difference - I went from "worked really hard and barely kept up" to "kept up with middle effort, smoked past him with a lot of effort".

Full suspension is not the way to go for a commuter.

"Serious" mountain bikers - the kind who will bunny hop off a 5 foot ledge or plow over log piles - ride front suspension mountain bikes almost more than full suspension I think. Rear suspension has a big drawback - terrible efficiency without really expensive shocks - but not a lot of gain. And most of the gain is for people doing trails a lot more serious than curb hopping.

It sounds like what you need is a fat tire and front suspension. Front suspension will make getting over the curb pretty easy - a fat rear tire doesn't have trouble getting onto the curb after the front tire has already made it.

If you're really set on full suspension, from what I've read (and a little personal experience) maybe a $3,000 Specialized Stuntjumper FSR would do it - it's the cheapest model with the "Brain" shock that keeps the rear shock from moving until you hit a really big bump:
http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...nuItemId=14872
+1
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Old 09-01-10, 03:44 PM   #22
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Man, with a 17 mile commute I'd probably be on a road bike (an LHT or other touring rig would easily accommodate your weight) and avoid the urban assault riding.

Sure would be easier than dragging 30lbs of full suspension MTB with me.
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Old 09-01-10, 04:15 PM   #23
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IMHO- something like a Surly Karate Monkey set up as a 1x9 with 60-622 Big Apple tires mounted on some stout wheels would be "tough" enough ?
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Old 09-01-10, 05:23 PM   #24
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IMHO- something like a Surly Karate Monkey set up as a 1x9 with 60-622 Big Apple tires mounted on some stout wheels would be "tough" enough ?
I would say my Surly Karate Monkey is a flaming piece of poo, at least as a commuter how I use it, and would only recommend it to foreign insurgents. It is most definitely not a bike I'd want to commute any distance on. My tolerance for it is about 5 miles.

I'd probably go with a cross bike or sport touring bike...which is still plenty rugged for pot holes and curbs. If it were me, and I wanted a newer bike, I'd be looking at the Kona Jake, or Jake the Snake, the Bianchi Volpe, the Jamis Aurora, those bikes direct bikes (I think the motobecane fantoms?) and a redline conquest.

If you know a little about bikes, I'd definitely buy an older Japanese 80s sports tourer...they're great value.

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