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Old 06-05-12, 04:32 AM   #1
kookaburra1701
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Cheap Commuter/Utility bike

Right now I only have one bicycle, an 87 Schwinn Tempo. It's a racing bike, and that's what I intend to use it for (once I get in better shape) but I've been using it to commute as well, and it's not exactly suited for it. I'd like to get an inexpensive (<$600 USD) commuter that preferably comes equipped with a back rack and fenders already on, and a more upright posture. I'd use it mainly for my 3 mile commute (flat terrain) and sometimes going to the grocery store (3 miles, again flat terrain.)

Something like the Jamis Commuter series, or maybe Trek Bellevue. Does anyone have any recommendations/bad experiences with bikes in this category? Stuff I should look out for?
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Old 06-05-12, 11:04 AM   #2
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I've had few complaints with my Trek Allant. It comes with fenders and a rack already installed, but I think it's just over your $600 price limit. If you don't mind an internet bike, Bikesdirect has a few that look good - http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/city_bikes.htm
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Old 06-05-12, 11:38 AM   #3
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$600 is more a soft guideline. I was looking at the Allant on Trek's website, looked like a likely candidate, but I couldn't figure out if it offered more for the money than a Jamis Commuter.

How much technical know-how is required to assemble an internet bike? So far the most technical thing I've done is change my tires and pedals.
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Old 06-05-12, 12:52 PM   #4
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Your LBS sell Jamis and Trek?

Trek Navigator is a comfy casual bike, 2.0 fits a triple, 1.0 is an 8x1.

Typically rack and mudguards are a point of sale add-on,
so they will be added before you take it home..

Shops typically knock off 10% for all the accessories
bought with the bike , so load up on those.

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Old 06-05-12, 01:11 PM   #5
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$600 is more a soft guideline. I was looking at the Allant on Trek's website, looked like a likely candidate, but I couldn't figure out if it offered more for the money than a Jamis Commuter.

How much technical know-how is required to assemble an internet bike? So far the most technical thing I've done is change my tires and pedals.
When I bought a Windsor Oxford from Bikes Direct, I had to install the front fender and wheel, then install and adjust the handlebars, seat, and pedals. After that, it was a matter of adjusting brakes, shifter, etc. I found it to be pretty simple.
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Old 06-05-12, 08:49 PM   #6
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When I bought a Windsor Oxford from Bikes Direct, I had to install the front fender and wheel, then install and adjust the handlebars, seat, and pedals. After that, it was a matter of adjusting brakes, shifter, etc. I found it to be pretty simple.
With installing the handlebars, does that mean I'd have to completely install the brakes and shifters from scratch? Do instructions on how to do that come with the bike? The Windsor is actually the closest to what I had in my mind's eye for this bike. Looks like the first "adult" bicycle I had as a teen.

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Old 06-05-12, 08:52 PM   #7
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Your LBS sell Jamis and Trek?

Trek Navigator is a comfy casual bike, 2.0 fits a triple, 1.0 is an 8x1.

Typically rack and mudguards are a point of sale add-on,
so they will be added before you take it home..

Shops typically knock off 10% for all the accessories
bought with the bike , so load up on those.
The LBS sells some Trek stuff, I'd actually prefer to stay away from Trek-badged stuff because it's a theft magnet. Also the LBS doesn't do any sort of discounting. They're the only game for over 70 miles and I only really have confidence in two of people who work there.
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Old 06-05-12, 11:30 PM   #8
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http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/zilla.htm
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Old 06-06-12, 01:36 AM   #9
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ooooh. Like the disc brakes.
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Old 06-06-12, 07:06 AM   #10
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With installing the handlebars, does that mean I'd have to completely install the brakes and shifters from scratch? Do instructions on how to do that come with the bike? The Windsor is actually the closest to what I had in my mind's eye for this bike. Looks like the first "adult" bicycle I had as a teen.
The shifter and brakes were installed on the handlebars, along with the cables. I simply had to slide the quill stem into the headset, adjust the stem to my liking, and tighten with a hex key. There were basic instructions with the bike, and Bikes Direct sent me a PDF of the directions when they shipped the bike. I didn't find anything to be tricky, as the bike came needing only final assembly.
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Old 06-06-12, 08:26 AM   #11
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The Windsor is actually the closest to what I had in my mind's eye for this bike. Looks like the first "adult" bicycle I had as a teen.
A guy in my local club has one of those. I keep thinking he has a Surly LHT for some reason. Nice looking bike and seems like it would make a good commuter and do-everything bike.

FWBA casual ride 3-17-12 by Yo Spiff, on Flickr
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Old 06-06-12, 08:41 AM   #12
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I'd actually prefer to stay away from Trek-badged stuff because it's a theft magnet.
Interesting how that works. The thieves just know "Trek is a good bike", even though many of them are fairly inexpensive. I think bike shop bikes in the $100-200 range are probably quick turnarounds with decent sale prices, so that's what they look for. Mart junk is harder to move and high end bikes raise peoples suspicions.
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Old 06-06-12, 09:16 AM   #13
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A guy in my local club has one of those. I keep thinking he has a Surly LHT for some reason. Nice looking bike and seems like it would make a good commuter and do-everything bike.

FWBA casual ride 3-17-12 by Yo Spiff, on Flickr
An LHT was actually my first choice but it's just too much money to risk keeping locked up outside while I go shopping/am at work. I do contribute $100 to my "LHT Fund" every paycheck though. I figure by the time I have enough saved up I'll be in good enough shape to actually do some touring.
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Old 06-06-12, 09:47 AM   #14
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Check out the Giant Escape City.
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Old 06-06-12, 09:57 AM   #15
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Check out the Giant Escape City.
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Old 06-06-12, 12:43 PM   #16
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This is nice too, but I still like the Zilla better.

If a folder is an option....

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Old 06-06-12, 12:59 PM   #17
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Psst read: requirement was <$600
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Old 06-06-12, 01:11 PM   #18
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Ok, I pulled the trigger on the Windsor Kensington, one is on its way to me now.

Also thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Pretty much every bike has been saved to my "wishlist" folder in my favorites, because I can think of a use I'd have for each. This is how N+1 syndrome starts, isn't it? Is there any hope?
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Old 06-06-12, 01:51 PM   #19
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KHS Green? It's a three speed with fenders. I had it now for a few years. It's pretty good deal at under $400
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Old 06-06-12, 03:35 PM   #20
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Interesting how that works. The thieves just know "Trek is a good bike", even though many of them are fairly inexpensive. I think bike shop bikes in the $100-200 range are probably quick turnarounds with decent sale prices, so that's what they look for. Mart junk is harder to move and high end bikes raise peoples suspicions.
Aside from protecting my bike from small chips and dings, this is one reason I wrap my frame with electrical tape. It's not so much 'uglifying' the bike, but making it more discreet. I pulled the tape off the other day, and all my co-workers had the same reaction... "Your bike is yellow??"

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Ok, I pulled the trigger on the Windsor Kensington, one is on its way to me now.
That's a good choice! As the others have mentioned, the setup required with buying an online bike should be fairly minimal, and as you stated you've already changed tires and pedals, it shouldn't be too difficult for you. Let us know how it works out when you get it all put together
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Old 06-06-12, 03:53 PM   #21
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Ok, I pulled the trigger on the Windsor Kensington, one is on its way to me now.

Also thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Pretty much every bike has been saved to my "wishlist" folder in my favorites, because I can think of a use I'd have for each. This is how N+1 syndrome starts, isn't it? Is there any hope?
Not really...
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Old 06-06-12, 03:59 PM   #22
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Ok, I pulled the trigger on the Windsor Kensington, one is on its way to me now.

Also thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Pretty much every bike has been saved to my "wishlist" folder in my favorites, because I can think of a use I'd have for each. This is how N+1 syndrome starts, isn't it? Is there any hope?
Good choice!
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Old 06-06-12, 04:09 PM   #23
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Right now I only have one bicycle, an 87 Schwinn Tempo. It's a racing bike, and that's what I intend to use it for (once I get in better shape) but I've been using it to commute as well, and it's not exactly suited for it.
Why? I've been commuting with a racing bike for the last 2 years. I modified it to fit a rear rack and homemade fenders so it's quite ugly but I prefer a faster bike so the commute is quicker/shorter.
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Old 06-07-12, 01:09 AM   #24
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Why? I've been commuting with a racing bike for the last 2 years. I modified it to fit a rear rack and homemade fenders so it's quite ugly but I prefer a faster bike so the commute is quicker/shorter.
A few reasons. 1) I don't want to break it hauling heavy loads. 2) The kludges I worked out for fitting fenders and racks to it when it has no mounts for either make me nervous. 3) I do actually want to race it at some point. 4) When I've got a load on the back, the aggressive racing position really makes it hard to maneuver and makes my back ache. When I'm not moving lots of mass (other than my fat butt, ha ha) the aggressive position is nice. 5) Having a back up bike for insurance in case something goes wrong gives me some peace of mind.
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Old 06-07-12, 03:55 AM   #25
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Also thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Pretty much every bike has been saved to my "wishlist" folder in my favorites, because I can think of a use I'd have for each. This is how N+1 syndrome starts, isn't it? Is there any hope?
Yeah, not really. Not unless your spouse really, really enjoys cycling.
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