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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 05-15-11, 08:59 AM   #1
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Newbie needs advice please!!

Hiya I am a complete newbie to cycling and will be moving to a city in a few weeks and not taking my car, so I am going to be cycling to and from work (approx 4 miles each way) and around the town, but not planning any regular long distance cycling. I am so confused over which sort of bike to go for. I've been advised to go for a road bike/tourer with high speed. Can anyone give me any advice please on the types of bike that would be suitable? I have seen some nice vintage road bikes but they only have 6 speeds....will this be enough for going up hills etc? Bearing in mind I'm not concerned about riding as fast as poss, as long as I keep up a decent speed.

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

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Old 05-15-11, 09:02 AM   #2
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you can get any bike that has gears =) Who do you live in a hilly area ???
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Old 05-15-11, 09:03 AM   #3
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and also how much are you looking to spend ??? Welcome to the forums as well =D
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Old 05-15-11, 09:43 AM   #4
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A few things to keep in mind:
  • When you live the in the city, speed means nothing when you have stop for a red light every block.
  • If the city has lots of potholes, go for wider mountain bike width tires, to help soak up the bumps.
  • If your routes have no appreciable hills, you don't need tons of gears.
  • If you plan on leaving the bike chained up outside, nice bikes are first to be stolen in the city. It's better to use a crappy old looking bike, and let the thief steal somebody else's nice new bike.
  • If you lock it up outside, invest in good locks, and learn the best way to lock your bike up.
  • Don't go crazy with the bike accessories. Don't leave anything on the bike that you don't mind being stolen.
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Old 05-15-11, 09:44 AM   #5
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City cyclists can ride at an easy 12mph pace with no sweat. You can cover 4 miles in 20mins. Going a little faster will get you there a little quicker but you will have to wait to cool down so there is no gain.

You can use almost any bike for easy-paced city riding, road, hybrid, MTB, utility/commuter, folding.
Make sure the bike has enough clearance to fit wide-enough tyres and if it gets wet, fenders. You will want fittings (threaded eyelets) for a rear luggage rack and fenders. Even if you dont fit them , eventually you will so its better to have the eyelets.
You dont need suspension but most mass-market everyday bikes come with suspension forks.

If your city has steep hills you need low gears.
Where will you store or secure the bike? Do you need something to carry up to an apartment and small enough to keep inside?

I would suggest an entry-level hybrid style bike from a respected brand, these are cheap, easy to find and can do everything you need. If you get more ambitious then you can get a higher performance play bike for the weekend.
Road bikes often lack the lower gears, they have high ones for racing. Some do have lower gears and are OK to use but lack wide tyre clearance.
Touring bikes are excellent doitall bikes but you dont get cheap ones, they are harder to find than hybrids. Some of the modern cyclo-cross bikes are more like tourers with useful eyelets and features.
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Old 05-16-11, 05:04 PM   #6
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You can go to and look at different model bikes there. Look for something similar in your local bike shop. Decide between drop handlebars or flat handlebars. Going used or brand new ? Craiglist ? Ebay ? I would think for the kind of riding your talking about I'd probably steer you toward a Hybrid or a Commuter style bike. They'll have plenty of gears, and lots of eyelets to attach fenders or a rack. If you do go the road bike route make sure it has eyelets to mount stuff. Keep reading posts here on Bike Forums. Read older posts.
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Old 05-16-11, 05:50 PM   #7
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For that distance, as others have said. Any bike will do. Find what you are comfortable with. Usually for commuting you avoid the LA look, but please, please don't do this:

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Old 05-16-11, 05:53 PM   #8
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You may find that you prefer a road/touring bike, but for an 8 mile round trip, they really aren't at all necessary, and you'll be fine with something more comfortable if you prefer. You might want to test ride some different bikes (particularly different kinds of bikes at a local bike shop and decide what's right for you--as I said, with the distance you're talking about, there really shouldn't be much trouble riding it no matter what type of bike you prefer).

Six gears is probably fine for most commuting, depending on how hilly your area is.
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Old 05-16-11, 05:57 PM   #9
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Most older road bikes do not have low gearing and are not easy to climb up steep hills. The road bikes are generally meant for going fast (i.e. high gear range). Mountain bikes or hybrids tend to have lower gears and wider range of gears. A touring bike has some similarities to a road bike (drop handlebars, narrower tires than a mountain bike) but have the lower gearing range of mountain bikes.

Four miles isn't too far. You can start on any type of bike and decide what you need to change or upgrade after you've commuted a while. If you are buying used, try to get a decent idea of the size bike you need first. The most important thing to start is having a bike that fits reasonably well.
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Old 05-16-11, 06:55 PM   #10
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If you want to avoid a sweaty back, don't use a backpack. Having said that, you'll need a bike that can accomodate a rear rack or a front basket, or both. A hybrid can do that plus give you a more upright riding position so you're not putting too much weight on your wrists. A touring bike will also give you that, but you'll be bent forward more. Both can be fitted with fenders so you can safely ride through puddles with a minimum of mess.
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Old 05-16-11, 07:05 PM   #11
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Anything you pick will work. Don't sweat it. My advice is to not spend a whole lot on your first bike. Maybe $400 max for a new one. Used if Craigslist is good in your area, or there are other choices (it's a good garage sale time). Don't buy crap from a department store.

I've got > 24000 miles on a $320 hybrid from a bike shop (though I have replaced wheels twice now) so don't feel like you MUST spend a ton. Even if you only ride your first bike for the first year, after a few months you'll have a much better ability to pick your next bike with better knowledge of what matters to YOU, and the first bike will make a good backup/beater.
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
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