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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 03-06-11, 02:38 AM   #1
evil_lies
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what to do (bike-wise)?

Alright, here's my predicament. I would like to start commuting to work most of the time. I am just getting back into cycling however. I have an old Specialized Hardrock that's been in storage and could use a tune up. It is kind of ugly though and part of me wants a nice shiny new bike. I think I would be ok if I just got the tune up and threw some slicks on the Hardrock, but the gleam of a new ride still intices me. My budget would be about $500. There is also a charity bike ride this summer I would like to participate in. If I were to buy a new(er) bike, what is best for commuting? A road bike? I really have started to like the idea of a road bike, but don't know if that would be the best setup for commuting. Oh, my ride would be a bout 6 miles each way, with one major hill (uphill on the way home). A good portion of it is on a busy road with construction. I have no option but to go through it. However, it is a fairly rural road that they have built a nice sidewalk that no one uses. I am thinking about riding on that until the road conditions are better. If a cop stops me, I'll point out the safety hazard of being in the street So my main question is, if you were me would you fix the bike you have, or get something new(er)? if so, what would you pick with a $500 limit?
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Old 03-06-11, 02:54 AM   #2
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If the bike is comfortable and you can get where you want at an acceptable speed, I would just slap some slicks on and fix up your current bike, but I'm also a cheap-o.

But since talking about bikes is fun, if you do decide to get a new bike, consider what kind of riding you may use it for outside of commuting. I opted for a used craigslist touring bike; touring frames are generally touted as a good option for commuters since they are a road-style bikes that are generally meant to be comfortable for long hours in the saddle and rugged. I went with this option because it's good for commuting, and I planned on doing some touring later. If you're interested in cyclocross or mountain biking or road racing at a later time, consider getting one of those, etc.

Pretty much any bike is suited to commuting. Consider what your priorities are: Do you want to get there fast? Load the bike with all your stuff? How much maintenance are you wanting to put in? Reliability? Comfort?; and act accordingly. Also consider if you'll want a rack and panniers, backpack, or if you're going to just store everything at work and carry nothing (except emergency stuff).

Again, I'm a fan of touring bikes, but you've got lots of options, and pretty much anything will work, probably including what you've got.

Last edited by sudo bike; 03-06-11 at 02:58 AM.
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Old 03-06-11, 02:57 AM   #3
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What year model is the Hardrock, out of curiosity?
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Old 03-06-11, 03:06 AM   #4
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don't know exactly somewhere in the 1990's. I picked up off a guy that wanted to sell it to a pawn shop. I've had it in storage about 8 years. The Hardrock is fine I guess, but is a little big. Not extremely uncomfortable, but I'd kind of like a better fit. Very recently i've been attracted to vintage road bikes. Maybe I could pick up one of them cheap and leave the Hardrock for dirt play? I was looking hard at the GT Roam 1. It seems like a great do it all bike, but I keep getting sucked into road bikes even though I would like to play in the dirt occasionally. Maybe the vintage route would be good, so I can get something in the $100-150 range and try it out.
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Old 03-06-11, 03:20 AM   #5
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If you like more road style bikes and playing in the dirt sometimes, maybe you should look into cyclocross bikes?
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Old 03-06-11, 03:31 AM   #6
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a cyclocross was my original thought, but I can't find anything that fits my budget...
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Old 03-06-11, 04:12 AM   #7
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Hardrocks are great for general commuting duty and esp as winter commuters. Fit some narrow slicks, a rear rack and fenders and you are good to go.
Its always good to have an additional bike but since you already have a good bike, you can take your time. If you wanted something faster and sportier but still practical enough for commuting, then a road/sport bike will do the job. Look for sufficient clearance for the tyres you want and possibly for fenders. You probably want some threaded eyelets for rack and fenders. Within your $500 budget you are probably better off getting something in the used market, either fairly new and little used or something old but very good.
If you want to do some loaded touring you will need something heavier duty such as a classic touring bike. Its always a debate how heavy you need to go.
Also budget for luggage, lighting and any upgrades you need.
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Old 03-06-11, 04:51 AM   #8
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I would suggest putting slicks on your current bike and tring that out. $500 doesnt do much towards buying a new road bike. If you start saving now, you should be able to get a roadie in a few months. If you want brand new from a shop, $1500 gives you a few options. yes you can get one for less but you're sacrificing quality and performance.
on a seperate note, if your hardrock needs an overhaul, why not try it yourself. there are numerous how to videos on utube, and search out sheldon brown. It would be great practice before you get that shiney new rocket. its cheaper and more rewarding to self wrench your ride. if you get stuck then bring it in, they love that.
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Old 03-06-11, 08:00 AM   #9
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You have alot of options even in the $500 price range. Here are a few I can think of.

1. If your hard rock is too big you could try and put up a Craigslist listing wanting to trade for something a size smaller. In my experience there are always a shortage of bigger frames so this might work out pretty quickly. If you decide you want something more road oriented then you will have a fun bike to play around on trails too.
2. Vintage road bikes can be awesome commuters and you can get nice ones. How much do you know about bikes and are you willing to do some work yourself? Buying used can be great, btu if you don't know much the savings of buying used can get eaten up quickly with a bad purchase.
3. Look for a new bike from a online source. Bikesdirect.com is a great place to look. http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/road_bikes.htm
4. Look for a used modern bike including hybrids. Once again a word of caution here, but there are deals.
5. Buy a hybrid at a bike shop. You could get one in your price range. Sometimes you can get lightly almost un-used hybrids on craiglist for fantastic prices.

Anyway, its great you are joining the ranks fo commuters and you will get lots of great info here.
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Old 03-06-11, 08:10 AM   #10
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As others have said, you'll need money for extras when you start commuting -- lights, helmet, panniers, a good lock.

Use the hardrock for a few months and see how it goes. Then when you buy the perfect bike you've got the accessories already, and can spend all you've can spare on the bike itself. And of course a 1990s Hardrock is less likely to take a bike thief's fancy than a fancy new bike.

How far is the commute? What sort of roads?
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Old 03-06-11, 11:20 AM   #11
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I really do want to do my own maintenence, but my hardrock is riding kinda rough and my LBS will do a tune up for $45 or so. I think that's fair to get a clean slate and a professional once over, then I'll pick up the work with any problems that pop up. That's part of my interest in vintage vs. new... with an older bike I won't feel too intimidated to screw up a brand new bike.
Thanks,
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Old 03-06-11, 11:23 AM   #12
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Oh, will these tires do well with commuting on my Hardrock?
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...5_10000_202470
thanks,
Brandon
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Old 03-06-11, 11:32 AM   #13
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Oh, will these tires do well with commuting on my Hardrock?
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...5_10000_202470
thanks,
Brandon
Those should do fine. I've got a 2000 Hardrock with similar tires that I use for a commuter and both the tires and bike work great for me. But the bike fits me - you're not going to be happy if whatever you ride doesn't fit. If it fits, I'd recommend riding the Hardrock for a while and then seeing what you might want in a new bike. Don't forget to allow for lights, a lock,a helmet and riding clothes in your budget.
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Old 03-06-11, 11:53 AM   #14
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It fits ok, but isn't a perfect fit. I can use it for a while I guess. I have a basic light (cateye), but don't anticipate riding in the dark. As far as clothes, I'm not too picky. Its only about 6 miles each way. I'll probably just wear shorts soon and change at work. No shower there though... we have a sink though
On a seperate note, has anyone painted a bike? Is it terribly difficult? I was just going to use a paint remover/stripper, and repaint. Will the paint remover get off the majority of the old paint decently?
Thanks,
Brandon
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Old 03-06-11, 12:01 PM   #15
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I'd recommend using your curent bike and, in doing so, finding out whether another one would better suit your needs.

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Old 03-06-11, 12:23 PM   #16
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Those tires should work fine. If you start having lots of flats you can upgrade. If the fit doesn't seem perfect you could try some different stems and handlebars and that might dial it in alot better. A shorter stem or a swept back bar might make the bike fit a whole lot better.

Post up some pics of the bike. Some people repaint bikes, but I kinda like the vintage look. Alot of times cleaning up the frame and using some wax on the paint can really shine up an old bike. If you want to touch up a couple spots get some cheap nail polish (I would just take the bike into the drugstore Walgreens etc with the best selection) and this can really work wonders for the look as well. Having a bike that has some general ugliness makes it less liekly to get stolen and you don't have to worry about it getting scratched up if you lock it up somewhere.
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Old 03-06-11, 01:48 PM   #17
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Lots of good advice in this thread, I think you're on the right track with giving the Hardrock a shot until something better comes along. Ultimately though, the size will be an issue and I think you'll pass this bike along or keep it as a backup. It may be more of a problem to ride a too-large bike off road than on your commute, but that depends on the difficulty of the trails you'll be riding.

I wouldn't bother with painting it, it's a lot of work and mess, and it probably won't help the resale value of the bike. Ride it in the meantime, and you'll get a better understanding of what you want to ride next.
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Old 03-06-11, 04:22 PM   #18
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Alright, here's my predicament......
You're pretty much in the same spot I was in a couple years ago. When I started commuting I put some slick mountain bike tires on my '91 Park Pre Hammer and commuted on that for a few months before making a decision as to what exactly I wanted and also using it to learn basic maintenance.

If I were looking again right now and knowing what I have learned, I would be looking at this:

Motobecane Fantom Cross

It's a little over your budget but seems to be a cool bike for commuting and long rides.

As others have said, try riding what you have and get a feel for what you want to do.
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Old 03-07-11, 12:38 AM   #19
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What's funny is i found a motobecane fantom on craigslist last week, but let it slide between my fingers. I wasn't sure if it was what i was interested in, and it was 45 minutes away... stoopid me. he was only asking $350, but I think bikesdirect has them starting at $499.
they also have
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...r/aquila_x.htm
and
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...tte_x_disc.htm
that look interesting, but I think if I were to buy a hybrid it would be the Giant Roam 1 (which i've found locally for $550 out the door).
http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/...am/7507/44080/

a local pawn shop had a Schwinn Le Tour GS for $250. It looked to be a 2007. I should have grabbed it but it was gone the next day.
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Old 03-07-11, 01:44 AM   #20
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Stick with the hardrock, at least for now. I know guys that would kill for a so,I'd example of that bike. If the size of the bike simply intolerable, look for something lightly used. Please don't buy something new and cheap, as the components and such will be of such poor quality that you may end up with more problems that you could ever anticipate.
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Old 03-07-11, 08:21 AM   #21
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It looks liek you have been able to find some deals, but were not ready to pull the trigger. There will be more.
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