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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 02-25-12, 05:17 PM   #1
antoneln
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What type of bike should I get? $400

So I am new to bicycling. I rode target bmx and mountain bikes as a kid all of the time and had a great time. Now that I'm a little older, I want to start riding again as my primary means of transportation and want to get a decent bike. Right now I am riding what appears to be Schwinn's lowest-end road bike from the 80's. It's fun, but doesn't really seem to be a practical commuter. I want to get a decent bike in the $350-400 range.

I would probably be riding this bike no more than 8 miles at a time. My usual trip would be about 4-6 miles. On an average week I'd probably ride about 25-30 miles.

My riding would be to school, the grocery store, and recreational rides. I'd like to be able to add a basket or panniers to carry groceries and such.

I do not know what type of bike I should get for my purposes. I really dig the aesthetics of vintage lugged steel frames, but CL doesn't really seem to have much in that price range in my area. There's stuff for 100-200 (only a slight upgrade to the bike I'm riding now), then 600+(out of my budget).

So I'd prefer to get a vintage lugged steel road bike, but I'm thinking for my purposes and budget a newer hybrid commuter style bike might be more practical.

Should I sacrifice aesthetics in the name of practicality? Also considering getting a bikesdirect road bike in my price range, ride it for a couple months and save up a little more money, then buy a vintage frame and put the BD components on it. I don't really know if most of them would be compatible. Maybe I should just wait the few extra months without getting a bike saving up $ so I can get something that is both practical and meets my aesthetic preferences? Any advice?
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Old 02-25-12, 05:46 PM   #2
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Last year I picked up a Kona Dew. It is a hybrid bike that retails for $489. I highly recommend it. I have had no problems whatever. It is smooth shifting, even with the low-end Shimano Altus drivetrain. Plenty of gearing range for my needs, plus it has all the necessary fender and rack mounts, should you need that. For a new, practical rig, it was about the best I could find at the time.


http://konaworld.com/asphalt_commuter.cfm?content=dew
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Old 02-25-12, 05:52 PM   #3
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What model of old Schwinn do you have?

Do you have any hills?
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Old 02-25-12, 06:01 PM   #4
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I have a Trek 7100 that would suit you.
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Old 02-25-12, 07:01 PM   #5
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Not great components, but KHS has a urban bike for $419: http://www.khsbicycles.com/06_urban_xcape_m_12.htm

Bikes Direct also has a lot of road bike options around $400 and below. None lugged steel (of course), but so it goes: http://bikesdirect.com/products/road_bikes.htm

Depending how much work you'd be willing to put in, you may want to start cruising around on Saturdays and check out garage sales. A lot of people don't realize what they have in their "old 10 speeds"--you may be able to find one that's been sitting in a garage could use a tune-up and probably a new seat and bar tape but a frame in good shape.
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Old 02-25-12, 07:11 PM   #6
antoneln
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I have an 83' world. It is not even included in the catalog for that year. Haha. Everything is original other than the tires, pads, cables/housing, and bar tape. It rides pretty nice for being a 30 year old low end bike though.

There are hills in areas, but most of the places I would be riding are fairly flat. I like the idea of having some gears, but it's not necessary.
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Old 02-25-12, 07:17 PM   #7
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What is wrong with your current bike?
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Old 02-25-12, 07:31 PM   #8
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I'm not going to tell you what bike to get since that is like telling you what kind of shoes you should buy.

It's a personal choice and best if you ride the one you are interested in.

Do some research on this forum by checking out the other forums like Hybrid and some of the topics on this forum and read some of the reviews of guys/gals that have bought bikes and have made reviews on them and then check your local bike shops to get fitted for the correct size you need.

Good luck with your choice.
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Old 02-25-12, 07:48 PM   #9
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No, I had the lowest end Schwinn road bike of about that vintage (I got it new). It was called a Sprint or something like that. The World was a step or two up. Still, not a great bike. I think if keep searching the garage sales and so forth you will find something better. If you find another old bike that looks like a keeper, you should take it to a LBS for full rebuilding of bottom bracket, hubs, and headset (unless you're inclined to do it yourself).
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Old 02-25-12, 08:12 PM   #10
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Look at the Giant Escape 2, which has a retail cost of about $420. You may be able to get it for a slight discount: http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/....2/8910/48614/

If you want to stretch the budget a bit, the Giant Escape City comes basically optimized for 'commuting' with fenders, a rear rack with bungees and puncture resistant tires with a reflective sidewall. That one has a retail cost of about $570: http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/...ty/8910/48611/
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Old 02-25-12, 08:38 PM   #11
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I got a World Sport new in 84 and rode the hell out of it for about 7 years until I got married and it got stolen. I don't think I ever had any problems with it. Just the other day I found pictures of it. From Schwinn's online archive catalog I saw that it weighed 34lbs. I just got back into riding a few months ago. You can find good deals on 2011 closeout bikes. In December I picked up a 2011 Kona Dr. Fine MSRP $1100 for $500. I just had a Trek Dealer order me a 2011 Trek Sawyer Mt Bike for 1/3 off. Found my wife a nice bike on CL. Just keep looking. With a little patience you will find a good bike.
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Old 02-26-12, 12:53 AM   #12
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I got a World Sport new in 84 and rode the hell out of it for about 7 years until I got married and it got stolen. I don't think I ever had any problems with it. Just the other day I found pictures of it. From Schwinn's online archive catalog I saw that it weighed 34lbs. I just got back into riding a few months ago. You can find good deals on 2011 closeout bikes. In December I picked up a 2011 Kona Dr. Fine MSRP $1100 for $500. I just had a Trek Dealer order me a 2011 Trek Sawyer Mt Bike for 1/3 off. Found my wife a nice bike on CL. Just keep looking. With a little patience you will find a good bike.
That sounds like a great idea. I'm actually thinking I might wait till next winter though. My bike should be fine for the spring and summer and it gives me more time to save up for something better.
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Old 02-26-12, 02:00 AM   #13
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Ask at the bike shop,, pick one that will take care of you after the sale..
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Old 02-26-12, 11:45 AM   #14
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Dear Anton:

Hang onto your vintage bike aesthetic! I also like the "old" look of bikes and do not see many on Craigslist. I find them really cheap at yard sales. Last summer I got a 1970's French 10 speed for $ 5.00. I don't use it as my commuter because it is a wonderful powder blue and I am afraid my u lock will give it lock rash. I have picked up great steel commuter bikes at yard sales for under $ 20. John
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Old 02-26-12, 12:11 PM   #15
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If your bike is made of chromoly steel, I'd keep it, sand it down, powdercoat it, upgrade it, acessorize it, and ride it for another decade or so...

PS.

Yep! I can just see all right it now...

Glossy black & silver colored components and perhaps a chrome-plated fork, too!

Last edited by SlimRider; 02-26-12 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 02-26-12, 12:56 PM   #16
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Not an old steel lugged bike but bikesdirect has a ton of steel SS/Fixed gears in that price range.
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/trackbikes.htm

The kilo TT is a standard nowdays, if you can spend a bit more there's the Kilo TT WT that'll fit large tires. I ultimately went with the Fantom Cross Uno for my commuter, steel frame cross bike and I have 700x40c on it, very versatile and is just at your budget. Honestly for that price range I'd go SS/FG, a lot more bang for your buck.
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Old 02-26-12, 01:05 PM   #17
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If you only have $400 to spend and need to get racks, bags, and probably lights, pedals, etc well that's going to eat up the bulk of that budget. If I were you and the Schwinn is still functional then I'd spend the dough on all the accessories to do what you need to do with it now and maybe a new saddle too. In the meantime keep saving, scouring Craigslist and going to garage/estate sales. Eventually your dream bike will drop into your lap, perhaps for as little as $10. When it does, you'll already have the bags, racks, and lights you need to set up your new find, and hopefully some cash left for new cables, housings, brake pads, tires, etc that your score will likely need.

I found my commuter for $10 off Craigslist, borrowed wheels, seat, pedals, from my tourer that needed an overhaul and started rolling it. Over the past six months I've probably dumped at least another $600 in parts and accessories into it, but it's almost perfect now. In the meantime I've been able to roll it almost everyday as my ride to school and work and back.
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Old 02-26-12, 01:24 PM   #18
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I'm guessing this one is not chromoly. I remember I had a Sprint, then got Schwinn's next step up (can't remember the model offhand, but probably similar to the OP's bike) when I outgrew the Sprint. Then I got a 1984 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe with lugged chromoly frame and all alloy components. The Le Tour Luxe was a huge improvement over those other bikes in *every* respect, and I think if I was going to sink substantial money and effort into an old frame, I would want at least that level of quality. It was a $300 bike when I got it.

I still have the Le Tour Luxe by the way, and it works as well as it ever did (but aesthetically challenged by now). I'll be selling it this year - I just have other bikes that I prefer.

On the other hand, if I had a Schwinn World and a limited amount of money to buy something better, I wouldn't hesitate to spend a few bucks here and there for cables, brake pads, or whatever it needed to be reliable and safe. To OP: keep your eyes and ears open. You just might find a 1980s lugged steel chromoly bike at a fair price. If I was in the market, I would even spend $100 - 150 on one in good condition. That would leave plenty left for tuning up and buying whatever accessories you need.
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Old 02-26-12, 01:31 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phx1973 View Post
Last year I picked up a Kona Dew. It is a hybrid bike that retails for $489. I highly recommend it. I have had no problems whatever. It is smooth shifting, even with the low-end Shimano Altus drivetrain. Plenty of gearing range for my needs, plus it has all the necessary fender and rack mounts, should you need that. For a new, practical rig, it was about the best I could find at the time.


http://konaworld.com/asphalt_commuter.cfm?content=dew
Seconded. I have delivered tons of punishment to the Dew that I bought a few years back, which has put in service as my transportation method and grocery hauler. I only recently went for a lighter drop-bar bike once I caught the CX bug and decided that 50 mile-rides on a commuter bike aren't where it's at. My Dew currently needs fixing after a derailleur-hanger mishap, but I have definitely gotten my money's worth and more out of it.

At your budget, OP, it sounds like your best bet would be to find a good used bike. Any decent shop that sells used will guarantee used bikes and components.
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Old 02-26-12, 02:13 PM   #20
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If you have the skills and tools and shop judiciously you can build a very nice bike on an old frame. Find the bike with a frame you like (and fits) then start looking for a donor bike for parts or slowly getting new parts on sale .
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...STI-s-or-Ergos

I built this Sprint for my daughter (#01) from a good donor bike.
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...entries-are-in

Built my commuter form a C/L bike BUT have more than $400 into it.
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Old 02-26-12, 06:44 PM   #21
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Not great components, but KHS has a urban bike for $419: http://www.khsbicycles.com/06_urban_xcape_m_12.htm
This looks like a nice bike. 4130 frame and hi-ten fork. I suspect the wheels and tires wouldn't last me too long, but the rest of it... probably OK.
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Old 02-26-12, 08:26 PM   #22
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Not sure if you live in a bigger city but I just found out that where I live (denver) there are bicycle auctions. I am going to my first one in march and have heard they get some pretty nice stuff and that they sell at a good price. So what I did is google city of Denver bicycle autions. Be sure that you have an idea of what kind of bike you might want and know your bike size and how much you would be willing to spend.
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