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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 07-05-11, 12:19 PM   #1
Ira B
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Decent Commuter Bike For Under $500?

I ran a bike shop almost 30 years ago (Schwinn, Trek) and did most of the mechanic work so am no newbe to bikes. That said, I ride what are now considered "vintage" bikes and have little experience building or maintaining anything less than 15 years old. I also have not really bothered to keep up with all the latest, greatest widgets and dodads, model lines ups ect..
A co-worker who has some experience riding recently asked me for advice on a commute bike for under $500. His commute will be similar to mine. About 13 miles, almost all up or down hill, all weather, day and night, rural roads.
I ride an 18sp 82' Miyata Streetrunner frankenbikefenderbeast in bad weather that suits me to a tee but it is very old school. This guy is probably looking for something a bit more modern with indexed shifting ect...

Any recommendations on a new model or something to look for used but recent?
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Old 07-05-11, 01:49 PM   #2
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The mid 80's to 90's rigid Mountain Bikes make excellent commuters. Is the 13 miles round trip or each way? If its each way I would probably look at road bikes for the different hand positions or get some bar ends or trekking bars for the MTB.

Something like the mid 80's Schwinn World Sport would also work well.
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Old 07-05-11, 01:58 PM   #3
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The mid 80's to 90's rigid Mountain Bikes make excellent commuters. Is the 13 miles round trip or each way? If its each way I would probably look at road bikes for the different hand positions or get some bar ends or trekking bars for the MTB.

Something like the mid 80's Schwinn World Sport would also work well.
Thanks for the response.

That is 13 miles one way.
I make a slightly longer commute and for dark and bad weather prefer a 26x1.50 on pretty solid Mt. Bike wheels because the odds of hitting a chunk of firewood or dead deer are pretty high. I ride a road bike for daylight/clear weather use but this guy will only have one bike.
Also, the transit here has bike racks so he will probably ride the bus one way and ride back at night after the bus stops running.

What I had in mind is a med.fat tire fender type beast/touring bike??

Also, the kid is about 19 and in pretty good shape. If an old fart like me can hack it he should have no problem.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:01 PM   #4
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Was going to suggest the Nashbar FB-1 (flat bar road bike) but I believe the biggest tire it'll take is a 28.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:29 PM   #5
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If memory serves me correctly some of the mid 80's to 90's rigid mountain bikes were built around touring frames made to take 26 inch wheels. I have a 93 Giant Rincon that seems very similar to my LHT (26" version).

Basically it was a beefy frame, stable geometry, and ability to fit a variety of tires. Many had eyelets both front and rear for both racks and fenders.

Throw some slicks and maybe some bar ends or trekking bars and you have a pretty nice Urban commuter. Some posters like Sixty Fiver and I believe Monsterpile have put drop bars on some of their rigid mountain bikes as well.

Otherwise, some of those Mid 80's Schwinns, Panasonics, or Miyatas would also work well.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:45 PM   #6
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Check out bikesdirect.com. They have different models at different price ranges. They have some nice middle of the road bikes for under $500. At least that will give you something to look at and compare others to. Maybe you'll find something similar at home. If you want used. I wouldn't hesitate at all with buying something off of ebay. In fact I've bought two bikes there myself. If you know what to look for you can get a lot of bike for under $500 on ebay.
I got this Surly 1x1 for $370. I've added a few things, but I got the basic bike for that price.
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Old 07-05-11, 03:01 PM   #7
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13 mile commute each way with hills (and, I'm assuming, fenders, racks and panniers) says to me "touring bike." Miyata, Bridgestone, Schwinn, Trek, Centurion, Panasonic, etc, early to mid 80's (well, mid 80's and later for index shifting) - there are a million of these bikes out there, and you should be able to easily find one in good shape for well under $500 either on ebay or craigslist. Probably get one tuned up and outfitted with whatever gear needed for $500 total.

If your co-worker wants to go new, the Windsor Tourist from Bikes Direct is $600 and seems to be well regarded both for commuting and touring.
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Old 07-06-11, 10:54 AM   #8
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13 mile commute each way with hills (and, I'm assuming, fenders, racks and panniers) says to me "touring bike." Miyata, Bridgestone, Schwinn, Trek, Centurion, Panasonic, etc, early to mid 80's (well, mid 80's and later for index shifting) - there are a million of these bikes out there, and you should be able to easily find one in good shape for well under $500 either on ebay or craigslist. Probably get one tuned up and outfitted with whatever gear needed for $500 total.

If your co-worker wants to go new, the Windsor Tourist from Bikes Direct is $600 and seems to be well regarded both for commuting and touring.

I just checked out that Windsor Tourist. Looks like a lot of bike to the $$$.
Think I'll send my co-worker the link.
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Old 07-06-11, 11:16 AM   #9
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While he's at bikesdirect, might as well look at this too. It's $559.
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Old 07-10-11, 01:28 PM   #10
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My co-worker decided on one of these at the LBS.
Not a bad looking ride.....

http://www.torkerusa.com/bikes/commu...011-interurban
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Old 07-10-11, 04:10 PM   #11
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Nice looking bike. No triple, but that 34/26 low gear combo should get him up most hills. I like it.
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Old 07-10-11, 05:23 PM   #12
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Jamis Commuter 2
Kona Bike
Kona Dew
Giant Escape
Giant Revel(switch the tires)
Trek 7100
Trek 700
Trek Navigator
Trek 7.1 FX
Swobo Otis, I don't know the MSRP, but they can be found online <$500
Norco City Glide
Norco Corso 2
Norco Vermont
Norco VFR-3

^^New bikes to look at

Or do some research and find a deal on Craigslist or ebay. I've seen Giant Seeks, Salsa Casserolls, and Surly Crosschecks go on ebay for <$500, as well as other equally capable commuting bikes.
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Old 07-10-11, 07:40 PM   #13
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Um, the OP stated a bike was acquired back in post #10...
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Old 07-10-11, 10:14 PM   #14
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I am a huge fan of 80's Rockhoppers for 26 inch commuters. They are not hard to come by and are pretty bullet proof. That being said, I am currently riding a bike I built from used parts and a $99 touring frame from nashbar--it is working great and can accommodate bigger tires and all the fenders and racks I need for my commute. I think I've put about $150 into this bike.
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Old 07-10-11, 10:20 PM   #15
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I love my Giant Escape 2. paid $380 new at LBS. "MSRP is 410". I use it to commute 2-3 times a week about 13 miles each one, give or take.
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Old 07-10-11, 10:30 PM   #16
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Um, the OP stated a bike was acquired back in post #10...
Well I feel like a chode. I totally skipped that post.
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Old 07-10-11, 10:48 PM   #17
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Well I feel like a chode. I totally skipped that post.
No worries. Somebody may make good use of that list.
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Old 07-10-11, 11:56 PM   #18
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I'll tell you what I say to everyone, check out bikes in your local police auction (if there is one). I found my folding 20-inch bike for $80 bucks. Full-size bikes were selling for no more than $100.
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