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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 10-04-04, 10:07 PM   #1
jeremy_t
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Just started commuting, need some bike advice...

Hi all, this is my first post

I'm a casual mountain biker who has just started commuting to work. While this is a short trip (only a little over 3 miles), I'd also like to use a bike for other errands, and occasionally ride it for up to 30 miles to visit people in neighboring towns.

Right now I'm using my mountain bike (Trek Singletrack 930) to get to work, but I'm worried that it won't cut it for longer trips. It's also a hassle switching out the panniers/racks/etc when I want to go on trails.

Given that I plan on going longer distances, I'm now tossing around the idea of getting my first road bike. I enjoy mountain biking, but I've always been a little jealous of the speed demons tearing up the asphalt I'm not looking to win races or anything, but I would definitely like to have something faster than a mountain bike that I could use on the roads.

So the big question I have is - do I need 3 bikes (one for commuting, one for recreation on the roads, and the one I already own for trails), or am I thinking of this the wrong way? Would a good touring bike of some sort work well for carrying stuff around as well as satisfy my need for speed? Since I'm new to both recreational road biking and commuting, I'm just not quite sure if I can get a single bike that does both.

I have about $1500 I can spend right now, and I'd like to spend it wisely. Any advice is appreciated!
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Old 10-04-04, 10:16 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy_t
Would a good touring bike of some sort work well for carrying stuff around as well as satisfy my need for speed? Since I'm new to both recreational road biking and commuting, I'm just not quite sure if I can get a single bike that does both.
For commuting, I'd prefer a touring bike. I can't speak for anything else.
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Old 10-05-04, 05:51 AM   #3
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you might want to keep your current bike as your commuter-errant bike, as you get used to commuting you'll start adding the accesories you need (fenders, lights, sleek tires, etc)
as for a new bike, $1500 gives you a lot of choices, if you happy with your trek, test their road bikes within your budget, main thing is fit. try to get the bike that has the handle bars at the same level or higher than the seat you don't want a handlebar that too low for comfort reasons.
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Old 10-05-04, 06:15 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by oaxacarider
you might want to keep your current bike as your commuter-errant bike, as you get used to commuting you'll start adding the accesories you need (fenders, lights, sleek tires, etc)
as for a new bike, $1500 gives you a lot of choices, if you happy with your trek, test their road bikes within your budget, main thing is fit. try to get the bike that has the handle bars at the same level or higher than the seat you don't want a handlebar that too low for comfort reasons.
What oaxacarider said. I'd get racks and panniers, ASAP before anything else. As for me, i'm saving up for them, backpack hurts my back :/

Your MTB is fine, about 95% of the people I see commuting are on mtb's. I ride a very old style road bike. That was bought for about $20. Don't really have to worry about it getting stolen (if it gets stolen). Rides like a dream.
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Old 10-05-04, 06:35 AM   #5
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It's better to have one good, fully-equipped bike than three mediocre ones. Take a look at cyclocross and touring bikes. I love my Surly Cross Check. It has road bike form but has a lot of mountain bike toughness. It can also take skinny road tires or fat off road tires, depending on the kind of riding you'lll be doing. Surly now has a touring bike, the Long Haul Trucker. I might have bought that over the Cross Check if it had been available. The LHT is designed to efficiently carry lots of stuff over long distances.

And oaxacarider is right, plan to put a good chunk of the $1500 toward the equipment you'll need during the commutes. There are plenty of old threads with this kind of advice.
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Old 10-05-04, 10:26 AM   #6
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A touring bike makes for a good all-rounder. The lighter versions eg day-touring rather than expedition bikes, with 25-28mm tyres, are quite speedy.
Drop bars are comfortable and practical, but touring bikes tend to have them set a little higher than race bikes. How you set up the bike in terms of position and gearing is entirely a personal choice.
If your budget is 1.5k, then either find a really good used tourer, or spend near enough the whole amount on a quality new machine. That budget wont split into two decent new bikes.
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Old 10-05-04, 10:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy_t
Hi all, this is my first post

I'm a casual mountain biker who has just started commuting to work. While this is a short trip (only a little over 3 miles), I'd also like to use a bike for other errands, and occasionally ride it for up to 30 miles to visit people in neighboring towns.

Right now I'm using my mountain bike (Trek Singletrack 930) to get to work, but I'm worried that it won't cut it for longer trips. It's also a hassle switching out the panniers/racks/etc when I want to go on trails.

Given that I plan on going longer distances, I'm now tossing around the idea of getting my first road bike. I enjoy mountain biking, but I've always been a little jealous of the speed demons tearing up the asphalt I'm not looking to win races or anything, but I would definitely like to have something faster than a mountain bike that I could use on the roads.

So the big question I have is - do I need 3 bikes (one for commuting, one for recreation on the roads, and the one I already own for trails), or am I thinking of this the wrong way? Would a good touring bike of some sort work well for carrying stuff around as well as satisfy my need for speed? Since I'm new to both recreational road biking and commuting, I'm just not quite sure if I can get a single bike that does both.

I have about $1500 I can spend right now, and I'd like to spend it wisely. Any advice is appreciated!

I too have a 930. I keep two otherwise identical sets of wheels... Hubs, rims, gears. The trail tires are on one set, and on the other, I have a set of Continental Town & Country tires (great for commuting and general rides). I can put on or take off a rear rack in less than 5 minutes. 30+ miles? a breeze at a reasonable average speed of 18.5mph.
Would a road bike be nice? You bet!!!!! Do I need a separate commuter and trail bike? It would be nice, but no, I don't.
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Old 10-05-04, 02:17 PM   #8
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I do already have panniers/racks/lights and such on the mountain bike, really about the only things I'm lacking are fenders and maybe a chain guard to let me wear nice pants on the bike. Since my daily commute is so short I think I could get away with wearing my work clothes (business casual, khakis and button downs) if I was able to keep them off the chain. I still plan on using this bike on trails, and I can only add on so much stuff before it becomes a major issue to regularly switch out the wheels and such.

It does sound like a decent touring bike is a nice idea and probably within my budget. Thanks for the suggestions
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Old 10-05-04, 02:23 PM   #9
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Have you looked at a hybrid? That would do your for commuting and doing longer rides, and with bar ends, you'd have more options for hand positions, while maintaining an upright posture for seeing traffic well. I'm a big fan of straight handlebars, though.

Trek makes good looking hybrids.
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Old 10-05-04, 05:56 PM   #10
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I second the touring bike option. As for the nice pants getting in the chain, just roll up the cuff or tuck it into your sock.
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Old 10-06-04, 07:14 AM   #11
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I used to have slicks on a mountain bike for commuting, but I just finished building my first fixed-gear bike, and it's so ideal I can't even tell you. You don't really need gears to get to and from work-- even through hills-- and simple bikes mean less things to worry about. Plus, it's a great chance to work on your cadence as you commute.

Check the single speed/fixed gear forum for more info, but I'd recommend a fixed with a brake. (I ride brakeless, but it's a liability, you know.) Or even a singlespeed.
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Old 10-06-04, 08:41 AM   #12
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I bought a Specialized Sequoia about a month ago, upgrading from a Trek 700 hybrid. It's somewhat sportier than the touring bikes I tried (Cannondale T800/2000), but you can still fit a back rack and fenders. Also, the stem is adjustable so you can position the handlebars at whatever height you want.

I'm very happy with it. I've had no trouble with it on rough/wet roads (though I haven't had the chance to try it in snow yet). It seems to do fine with a load of groceries in the panniers, too.

I have the "Elite" model which ran about $1300 with rack/fenders, but there's a cheaper model with Sora components that's about $800, which would leave plenty of budget for lights, etc.
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Old 10-06-04, 10:09 AM   #13
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Having to remove the fenders, rack, etc. to go trail riding sounds like a real hassle. Are those trails so extreme that this is required? If they are, then maybe you should keep your existing bike as a trails bike.

I ride a ten mile daily round trip in a suit and tie, using a bike with fenders and chainguard. Chainguards are good to have -- however, I did commute for three years on a bike without them. I just wore rubber bands on my leg. If I forgot my rubber band, I would just tuck my pants cuff into my socks. It was a bother -- especially when running short errands -- but it worked.

Chainguards are something of a problem to fit. They are most commonly fitted to internally geard bikes, or bikes with a single chainging up front. This could be a problem if you need a wide spread of gear rations due to hills.

I'm not sure if I consider something to be a bike if it lacks fenders A rack is good to have, even if all it does is carry raingear and the occasional bag from the grocery store. A small amount of cargo capability can make your life much easier.

Paul
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Old 10-06-04, 12:24 PM   #14
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It sounds like you want to get into road riding. My vote is for the best road bike you can get. Good equipment will last longer and perform better. You will be happier… trust me! If that means getting a $50 bike and a tune (so you can get a good road bike) for a commute bike… It's only three miles! The more you ride it… the better you want it to be.
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Old 10-06-04, 02:00 PM   #15
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I don't *have* to remove the fenders and racks to ride trails, but I really like to be as efficient as possible. I'm not the most technical rider out there and weighing the bike down with a bunch of accessories will only make riding on rough terrain more difficult for me.

If I want to use the mountain bike on longer trips I'd definitely need slicks, as the knobby tires which are so great on roots and rocks seem to be sapping my momentum on the asphalt. I'd have to change those wheels out whenever I'd go riding trails, which is again something I'd rather avoid.

Hybrids seem like an intriguing option and are much cheaper, but I must confess that the more I think about touring bikes the more I like the idea. I live in central North Carolina and it's about 150-200 miles by road from here to the beach, and the more I consider the possibility the more I like the idea of making that trip by bike some day.
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Old 10-06-04, 10:15 PM   #16
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Century rides!... you better get the road bike. I can not imagine riding 100+ miles on a hybrid. Good Luck
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Old 10-10-04, 11:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy_t
Hi all, this is my first post

So the big question I have is - do I need 3 bikes (one for commuting, one for recreation on the roads, and the one I already own for trails), or am I thinking of this the wrong way? Would a good touring bike of some sort work well for carrying stuff around as well as satisfy my need for speed? Since I'm new to both recreational road biking and commuting, I'm just not quite sure if I can get a single bike that does both.!
It does not seem like you want a full touring bike: touring bikes have much heavier tubing to allow carrying weight up to hundred pounds. The heavier tubing and longer wheelbase will make it stable, but less responsive for quick speed outbursts needed for sprinting or training in road rides. I would recommend a light touring bike (a.k.a. randonneur). A good one is the Rambouillet sold by Rivendell bicycles in California. It is fast and responsive; yet allows room for panniers in the back, wide tires. Rivendell is a no nonsense type of company which simplifies bike riding into what works (they sell steel lugged frames constructed meticoously in Japan). Sheldon Brown of Harris Cyclery and Peter White Cycles both carry Rivendell frames, so to have these two knowledgeable folks selling these frames is the highest honor one can get in the bike industry I think. A Rambouillet will cost about 2500 with parts; but for considerably less you can get a Romulus also by Rivendell and will ride very much like the Rambouillet.

Regards,
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Old 10-11-04, 01:24 AM   #18
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You are a casual mountain biker that just started commuting, my advice is don't buy another bike, don't spend 1500 dollars. Get u some 1.5 inch tires and tubes and ride with that for awhile.

Where do u live, is crime going to be a problem? Would a 1500 dollar commute bike be wise?

If you keep up the commuting and find you need another bike for commuting my advice is if you buy a roadbike make sure it has 28c or bigger tires WITH room for fenders.

If you just want a bike for commuting you can pickup all sorts of decent choices on the cheap. I have 3 bikes myself, a ss mountain bike, a fixed gear road and a geared road.

95% of the time i ride the ss mountain bike.

Here's a link to a commute bike page:
http://www.nordicgroup.us/commutebike/
And one straight to the globe which looks kewl.
http://www.specialized.com/SBCBkMode...0080&spid=6769

Last edited by kurremkarm; 10-11-04 at 01:30 AM.
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Old 10-11-04, 01:33 AM   #19
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second on the rivendell
OR get a lugged steel frame good used whatever and build it up with what you want. this is cheaper than you might think as long as you don't get caught up in whats best right now and get something that's proven its worth(NOS).
but really get the rivendell
http://rivendellbicycles.com
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Old 10-11-04, 01:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chimblysweep
(I ride brakeless, but it's a liability, you know.)
No brakes?! Cue impressed look from me, with a slight edge of fear.

Off topic, but for some reason, the building I work in seems to attract fixed-gears like flies. The racks out front are filled with them, and it's really cool to compare them. Sometimes I have an urge to leave a note on the most pared-down ones, saying, Dear Obsessed Fixie -- After a certain point, it's called "running"!
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Old 10-14-04, 12:44 AM   #21
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I have 3 bikes. One mountain and two road. Like you I don't want to remove a bunch of stuff to ride my MTB off road. Hence I don't commute on my MTB. I have one road bike that is nice (and a bit more high tech than the other) with modern components etc. I can still commute on it in fair weather with panniers as I have an old Blackburn rack on it with a single rail that mounts under the rear brake. The newer Blackburn racks have two rails that mount to the brazeons.

My other road bike is an old Centurion and I've added fenders and racks. It has sealed hubs, headset, and bottom bracket so it works good in the wet. Minimal investment too as I probably don't have more than $150 total into it and it works great.
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