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  1. #1
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    HELP! Hamburg, Germany Commuter Bike - Which One?

    So I might be going to work in Hamburg a for a couple of years. I would like to buy a bike in the UK and ride it around for a few months as opposed to buying it when I'm in Germany. (I can get it shipped over there with the rest of my belongings)

    The new bike would be intended for commuting around areas of dock/port (windy), in and amongst some heavy traffic areas. Not sure what the terrrain/hills are like there but I want a bike that will get me to work in under 40 minutes with ability to hold laptop and me against headwinds.

    Having a look around I am unashamedly a 'shallow' bike enthusiast, enjoying a bike not only for practical purposes but the aesthetics too.

    Which is the best and why? (looking beyond how attractive the bike is) I like the internal gear hubs and the mixte shape (semi-upright) of both but would be extremely grateful if you could all shed light on questions such as ' is 5 or 7 gears better', 'is the lightest bike the best', 'are they reputable bike manufacturers', 'which frame is sturdiest', what problems might I face with each'? Of course, it's a non-exhaustive list of questions.

    Quite importantly, I don't actually intend to fork out £900 for a bike but I want to get an idea of which of the two is better and which qualities can I live without if I went for a bike that costs less but still possesses some of the features of a higher-end bike.

    Beautiful Bike 1: http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...FanItAodTAUA3g

    Beautiful Bike 2:http://www.evanscycles.com/products/...-bike-ec033648

    Thanks kids, Katy xx

  2. #2
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    best German bikes for the money are VSF Fahrradmanufaktur (a few places near London sell them) ... personally, I wouldn't waste time with an English bike:

    http://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/

    their trekking bikes are great for everyday commuting use and start at €499 (£400). For €999 (£800), you'll get a bike that will destroy just about anything else in it's price range. this is a belt-driven 8-speed IGH ...

    http://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/bike...xus-8-gang-fl/

    they also make "pretty city" bikes, which are very high quality.

    http://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/bikes/city/

    finally, you get all bikes in with different frames ("mens", "womens" or a "mixtie/XXL type") in all colors.

    you should look at the catalog here, German only, which shouldn't be a problem if you're moving to Hamburg

    http://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/wp-c...og_2013_LR.pdf
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    Get a nice cheap bike in Germany, see what you like/dislike. The cheapest you can find.

    I don't like IGH because they are bother to change flat tyres. For me.

    I like bike where I lie low when there is wind. Upright position sucks in such conditions.

    Both those bikes are too laid back for my taste, for a 40 minute ride one way? Hmm...

    Make sure you have nice fenders, rear rack, lights. Gears, for a 40 minute ride in the wind, it would be nice to have some gears. Shimano Acera, no need to go higher. Or Sora if you go for road bike components. 8 or less sprockets in the back if you can choose.


    Nice one:
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=67796
    Last edited by Slaninar; 10-30-12 at 06:18 AM.
    Evviva il comunismo e la libertà.

  4. #4
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    Hello - thanks acidfast and slalinar for your fast replies! I had a quick look at the links you sent me. No doubt those suggestions are durable.

    I'm having a look and I'm thinking these bikes look very heavy (>15kg). Also, I'm only 5 ft 3, so I don't know if I can be bothered lifting it up many flights of stairs. But it must be better against winds?

    Do you advise then that I stay away from the lighter and more delicate frames, and opt for something sturdier?

    Thanks again

  5. #5
    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    Acidfast is in Germany and a very sensible man from what I've read. I't take his advice on bikes in Germany any day.

    Bikes can be two of the three: durable, cheap, light. For commuting, I go for cheap and durable. For sports I go for light and durable.


    I carry 10 kg of stuff, put heavy puncture proof tyres, carry some tools etc. It all adds. So paying 500 euros more for a few kg lighter bike for me is not good. I don't mind carrying heavy bike, what doesn't kill me makes me stronger.


    If roads are good, you could go for a lighter bike, with thin tyres and all. It will probably be a bit more expensive and you'll have to find a safe place to lock it up.
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  6. #6
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleMixte View Post
    Hello - thanks acidfast and slalinar for your fast replies! I had a quick look at the links you sent me. No doubt those suggestions are durable.

    I'm having a look and I'm thinking these bikes look very heavy (>15kg). Also, I'm only 5 ft 3, so I don't know if I can be bothered lifting it up many flights of stairs. But it must be better against winds?

    Do you advise then that I stay away from the lighter and more delicate frames, and opt for something sturdier?

    Thanks again
    The bikes are super durable and in my neighborhood, where all buildings have a bike rack out front, they usually get locked up outside year-round. When the racks are full, they just get locked to the fence or a street post. There's really no reason to carry a city bike inside. Just keep the seat covered with a used supermarket plastic bag and you're good to go rain-or-shine.

    The VSF trekking bikes are really nice and can take a huge amount of abuse for the money. However, you can get a "slightly" lower quality bike from a German supermarket that would last 5 years locked up outside.

    This one is from the online shop of LIDL (you'll see it everywhere) and is 209€ (£150 or so).

    Picture 1.jpg

    http://www.lidl.de/de/Trekking-Raede...fahrrad-Climax

    700c wheels
    21-speed Shimano Tourney (which is more than enough)
    Racks
    Fenders
    Lights
    Dynamo in the front wheel

    You could do absolutely nothing to it (only air in the tyres) and it would probably make it 5 years locked up outside year round.

    The VSF Fahrradmanufaktur bikes are probably twice as much, but are twice as much bike as well. I wouldn't hesitate to put a front and rear childseat on the VSF bikes, I'd hesitate more with the LIDL bikes.

    Good luck!
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  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Or a pedal-electric.. help when those strong winds come off the North Atlantic
    in your face, a headwind .. the whole way..

  8. #8
    Senior Member Notso_fastLane's Avatar
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    I'll second what acidfast says. I lived in Hamburg in 2003-04, and most of the year, I commuted the 10k to work on a bike. It was a cheapy rigid mtn bike, with no fenders, but one of the other engineers had bought it used, and we just passed it to the next guy in the rotation (although I think I was the first one that did any service on it while I had it....). It rains a lot in Hamburg, but rarely gets below freezing temps, so it's feasible to ride all year. It's not that windy there, except on relatively rare occasions.

    There are bike racks every where, and most every building will have a cellar with a bike room, so you shouldn't have to worry about hauling it upstairs. Make sure you are aware of the bike regulations, though. Hamburg is very good with lots of bike lanes everywhere, and I think a bell/sound device of some kind is required.

  9. #9
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    When I commuted in Germany (Frankfurt), most people were riding fairly relaxed upright bikes at what I consider fairly low relaxed speeds. Keep in mind that there are lots of laws/regulations on everything in Germany, including bicycles. Make sure you understand those (lights, fenders, horn, etc) when purchasing your bike. Sounds like you have most of it covered though.


    Quote Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
    Bikes can be two of the three: durable, cheap, light. For commuting, I go for cheap and durable. For sports I go for light and durable.
    I don’t entirely agree with that. I got all 3: cheap, light, durable by getting a decent fixed gear bike. At 19lbs it is easy to carry and to ride. One gear means no drive train weight, cost, maintenance and issues.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all your replies! Excellent! You're all keen beans. I don't consider myself a serious cyclist (yet?) - I'm not a drop handlebar, hardcore dedicated road cyclist just yet, but having been travelling around Holland and Germany I agree with chas58 - I've seen lots of (mostly) urban city sit-up bikes dominating the cities and perhaps not so many aggressive bikes where you ride a little lower. I ride a little 3-speed Raleigh Caprice at the moment and I'd probably appear a bit wimpy if you overtook me in the street so not too confident about stepping right up to anything resembling a sleek and skinny road bike.

    So I want to fit in and I don't want to look like a plonker in Hamburg, or attract too much attention....is the kind of model below reasonable? And this bike can double as a touring bike on weekends to see the rest of the beautiful country, I guess?

    http://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/bikes/trekking/2013-t-100-shimano-nexus-8-gang-fl/


    Am I spending too much and is the bike above excessive? Or will I get thrown off a Lidl bike? Sorry for seeming so fussy.

    I think I've been convinced otherwise that the initial 2 bikes I was looking at are not great bang-for-the-buck.

    Happy Halloween, Katy

  11. #11
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleMixte View Post
    Thanks for all your replies! Excellent! You're all keen beans. I don't consider myself a serious cyclist (yet?) - I'm not a drop handlebar, hardcore dedicated road cyclist just yet, but having been travelling around Holland and Germany I agree with chas58 - I've seen lots of (mostly) urban city sit-up bikes dominating the cities and perhaps not so many aggressive bikes where you ride a little lower. I ride a little 3-speed Raleigh Caprice at the moment and I'd probably appear a bit wimpy if you overtook me in the street so not too confident about stepping right up to anything resembling a sleek and skinny road bike.

    So I want to fit in and I don't want to look like a plonker in Hamburg, or attract too much attention....is the kind of model below reasonable? And this bike can double as a touring bike on weekends to see the rest of the beautiful country, I guess?

    http://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/bikes/trekking/2013-t-100-shimano-nexus-8-gang-fl/


    Am I spending too much and is the bike above excessive? Or will I get thrown off a Lidl bike? Sorry for seeming so fussy.

    I think I've been convinced otherwise that the initial 2 bikes I was looking at are not great bang-for-the-buck.

    Happy Halloween, Katy
    good choice and it will hold it's value on the used market if you want to exchange. personally speaking, you should go to a shop and get it professionally fit as well.

    as far as i can tell, this is the best place in england to buy one or at least to get fitted before germany ... plus, they're just cool to look at:

    http://www.chrisbikes.co.uk/

    good luck

    no one in germany commutes on a road bike ... they're not so good for euro in-city commuting.
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  12. #12
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    Hamburg is mostly flat, but is a large city (second largest in Germany), so there are probably local variations. A 7 or 8 gear Shimano IGH would be reasonable choice since the price difference down to 5 speed is very little.

    Hub dynamo and StZVO approved light is more or less a must in Germany. Rack and Ortlieb panniers is a good choice for transporting your laptop etc. The Ortlieb "Back-Rollers" are versatile and good for shopping groceries too, the Ortlieb "Office Bag L" is good if you want your pannier to look "professional".

    I would suggest to buy the bike in Germany too. You will get a lot more for your money, and it will be cheaper and easier to service at the local bike shop where you bought it, and the bike will have legal lights installed from the start.
    If you buy a nice bike, get a U-lock for it. Abus is a good lock brand and is cheap (ish) in Germany.

    Be aware that "Mixte" in Germany doesn't all ways suggest a double tube frame. True mixte frames are rather rare these days except on "retro" bikes. But they can be had, like this
    http://www.pantherbike.com/bikes/col...b-1-mixte.html
    The same bike can also be had with the more common "Trapez" frame.

    There are many German brands to choose from, but you won't go wrong with a "VSF Fahrradmanuktur" bike as "acidfast7" suggested. Their bikes look much better "live" than on photos. The VSF hallmark are "well designed bikes" that are made for being used daily. They are not the cheapest brand, but unlike some other brands, they don't use cheap and nasty parts, like paper thin tyres, to keep the cost down.

    I would suggest: 7-8 speed IGH, "Trapez" semi-upright frame (or mixte), but not a step through sit-up-and-beg "Granny" bike. Full fenders, rear rack, hub dynamo, StZVO approved light front and rear (B&M are a good brand), Abus frame lock and U-lock. Lots of German bikes have suspension forks, but avoid them. Cheap suspension forks sucks, they add weight and maintenance, and makes the bike "floppy" to ride.

  13. #13
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by interested View Post
    Hamburg is mostly flat, but is a large city (second largest in Germany), so there are probably local variations. A 7 or 8 gear Shimano IGH would be reasonable choice since the price difference down to 5 speed is very little.

    Hub dynamo and StZVO approved light is more or less a must in Germany. Rack and Ortlieb panniers is a good choice for transporting your laptop etc. The Ortlieb "Back-Rollers" are versatile and good for shopping groceries too, the Ortlieb "Office Bag L" is good if you want your pannier to look "professional".

    I would suggest to buy the bike in Germany too. You will get a lot more for your money, and it will be cheaper and easier to service at the local bike shop where you bought it, and the bike will have legal lights installed from the start.
    If you buy a nice bike, get a U-lock for it. Abus is a good lock brand and is cheap (ish) in Germany.

    Be aware that "Mixte" in Germany doesn't all ways suggest a double tube frame. True mixte frames are rather rare these days except on "retro" bikes. But they can be had, like this
    http://www.pantherbike.com/bikes/col...b-1-mixte.html
    The same bike can also be had with the more common "Trapez" frame.

    There are many German brands to choose from, but you won't go wrong with a "VSF Fahrradmanuktur" bike as "acidfast7" suggested. Their bikes look much better "live" than on photos. The VSF hallmark are "well designed bikes" that are made for being used daily. They are not the cheapest brand, but unlike some other brands, they don't use cheap and nasty parts, like paper thin tyres, to keep the cost down.

    I would suggest: 7-8 speed IGH, "Trapez" semi-upright frame (or mixte), but not a step through sit-up-and-beg "Granny" bike. Full fenders, rear rack, hub dynamo, StZVO approved light front and rear (B&M are a good brand), Abus frame lock and U-lock. Lots of German bikes have suspension forks, but avoid them. Cheap suspension forks sucks, they add weight and maintenance, and makes the bike "floppy" to ride.


    gotta agree with ABUS as well. the Bordo lock seems exceedingly popular because it folds. i don't what that really says about the quality, but i use one daily.

    interested, we're considering moving to CPH as my gf has a position at KU lined up. Could you post/pm me a link to the mandatory magnet driving flashing light required in CPH?
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  14. #14
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    The German market for good urban commuter bikes is much better than in the UK.
    Giant, the bike maker, only makes its really nice commuter models for this market.
    Ligero CS1 STA

    I would query the use of Magura hydraulic rim brakes rather than discs, but the Maguras are good.
    You may also prefer a bike based on 26" MT wheels for a more compact ride, easier to haul upstairs.

  15. #15
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    I would query the use of Magura hydraulic rim brakes rather than discs, but the Maguras are good.
    You know, I'm not why this is. The German commuter market really loves hydraulic rim brakes instead discs and I'm totally at a loss to why that is. Any ideas?
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  16. #16
    Je pose, donc je suis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post

    interested, we're considering moving to CPH as my gf has a position at KU lined up. Could you post/pm me a link to the mandatory magnet driving flashing light required in CPH?
    There's no requirement for magnet driving flashing lights in Denmark. The requirement is for lights; you can use battery powered, generator hub, or the magnet driven ones that you find at most any discount or grocery store (Bilka, Kvickly, osv.).

  17. #17
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedaleur View Post
    There's no requirement for magnet driving flashing lights in Denmark. The requirement is for lights; you can use battery powered, generator hub, or the magnet driven ones that you find at most any discount or grocery store (Bilka, Kvickly, osv.).
    ah, OK. i just saw a large proportion of people with the magnet driven ones. my Danish colleagues stated that they were new and mandatory (maybe they meant the lights and not the magnet driven models). they also stated that the Danish inventors made a killing with the magnet driven idea.

    i miss REMA 1000, what a cool name.
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  18. #18
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    One note about geared hubs for OP: if you're concerned about how adequate they are for your use, don't focus on number of gears only. It plays a role, but for example in the two bikes you linked to, the 5 speed Sturmey Archer hub actually covers more range than the 7 speed Shimano Nexus (about 260% vs 240% respectively, or thereabouts, too lazy to Google the exact figures). Less gears with the SA hub just means the 5 gears are spread further apart to achieve that range.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    ah, OK. i just saw a large proportion of people with the magnet driven ones. my Danish colleagues stated that they were new and mandatory (maybe they meant the lights and not the magnet driven models). they also stated that the Danish inventors made a killing with the magnet driven idea.

    i miss REMA 1000, what a cool name.
    I think the confusing is caused by a new bicycle light law taking effect these days (yesterday in fact). The law is aimed at banning the tiny LED lights that people had dangling from the rear rack. A quick glance at the new law could lead one to believe that permanent lights, like the "Reelight"s are a requirement, but they aren't.

    The Reelights are popular because for several reasons; The LBS can retro fit them for a good mark up, they are convenient. The stupid thing however is that it would have been cheaper to have proper hub dynamos and lights on the bike to start with.

    The original inventor (a LBS mechanic) didn't make much money on his invention, he sold the idea early because he didn't have the capital to develop and manufacture the lights.

  20. #20
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    You know, I'm not why this is. The German commuter market really loves hydraulic rim brakes instead discs and I'm totally at a loss to why that is. Any ideas?
    Last time I observed the German commuter bicycling market, 10 years ago when I lived in Heidelberg, the market loved coaster brakes on the rear one speed or 3 - 7 speed IGH wheel, (maybe) cable operated rim brakes on front wheel. Has that changed?

  21. #21
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Last time I observed the German commuter bicycling market, 10 years ago when I lived in Heidelberg, the market loved coaster brakes on the rear one speed or 3 - 7 speed IGH wheel, (maybe) cable operated rim brakes on front wheel. Has that changed?
    I would say the most bicycles specifically made for commuting seem to employ hydraulic rim brakes. I'm not talking the Aldi/Lidl/Netto/Penny/Hit supermarket specials. I'm also not referring to companies like CUBE and Stevens that make MTBs also. Companies like Centurion, VSF Fahrradmanufaktur and Gudereit. Take a quick look and they seem to love the hydraulic rim brakes/IGH/dynamo set-ups.

    Another difference may be that the "trekking" bike and "commuter" bikes have really began to blend. Much more than the mixing of MTN or road bikes and commuting bikes, like has happened in the US.
    Last edited by acidfast7; 11-01-12 at 07:29 AM.
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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    I would say the most bicycles specifically made for commuting seem to employ hydraulic rim brakes. I'm not talking the Aldi/Lidl/Netto/Penny/Hit supermarket specials.
    But aren't those "supermarket specials" or the old bike that's been around the house/apartment forever, the bicycle of choice for most German commuters, especially in the big cities of Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg or noted cycling cities of Freiburg and Münster? Aren't the far more expensive "commuter bikes" with the latest "improvements" made for a distinctly smaller enthusiast/boutique market, and are bikes usually only seen underneath weekend riders?

  23. #23
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    But aren't those "supermarket specials" or the old bike that's been around the house/apartment forever, the bicycle of choice for most German commuters, especially in the big cities of Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg or noted cycling cities of Freiburg and Münster? Aren't the far more expensive "commuter bikes" with the latest "improvements" made for a distinctly smaller enthusiast/boutique market, and are bikes usually only seen underneath weekend riders?
    Most students (no income / no tuition payments) roll with supermarket specials. Most people with a reasonable wage, spend between €400-€600 on a commuter bike, which in Germany, would come with hydraulic rim brakes. Maybe I'm biased because I live right in the middle of Frankfurt (which tends to be quite wealthy as I ride directly through the banking district on the way to work.)
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  24. #24
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    Most students (no income / no tuition payments) roll with supermarket specials. Most people with a reasonable wage, spend between €400-€600 on a commuter bike, which in Germany, would come with hydraulic rim brakes. Maybe I'm biased because I live right in the middle of Frankfurt (which tends to be quite wealthy as I ride directly through the banking district on the way to work.)
    I suggest you look a little farther than your immediate neighborhood or cycling club to see what German people ride for everyday transportation.
    Attached are pictures of my Raggazi bought in 2000 for DM268 at the REAL supermarket in Hockenheim. It is a seven speed Sachs IGH with and now has over 40,000 miles on it. Still use it daily. Also attached are pictures of three bikes I bought from the local Opel Car dealer- a three Speed Vaterland (DM400), 3 speed Calvin made by Bria, (approx.350 €) and a seven speed IGH Zero Seven (approx. 550€) They are typical of the bikes I saw in use throughout my 10 years in Germany, (1986-1991, 1997-2002) though the 7 speed IGH at the time was uncommon.

    I believe this kind of simple and reliable, relatively inexpensive bike would serve the OP's need for daily bicycle transportation in Hamburg, or anywhere else, for urban commuting and provide the most value for her money. Just as it does for many, if not most, German commuters.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  25. #25
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    I suggest you look a little farther than your immediate neighborhood or cycling club to see what German people ride for everyday transportation.
    Attached are pictures of my Raggazi bought in 2000 for DM268 at the REAL supermarket in Hockenheim. It is a seven speed Sachs IGH with and now has over 40,000 miles on it. Still use it daily. Also attached are pictures of three bikes I bought from the local Opel Car dealer- a three Speed Vaterland (DM400), 3 speed Calvin made by Bria, (approx.350 €) and a seven speed IGH Zero Seven (approx. 550€) They are typical of the bikes I saw in use throughout my 10 years in Germany, (1986-1991, 1997-2002) though the 7 speed IGH at the time was uncommon.

    I believe this kind of simple and reliable, relatively inexpensive bike would serve the OP's need for daily bicycle transportation in Hamburg, or anywhere else, for urban commuting and provide the most value for her money. Just as it does for many, if not most, German commuters.
    Sorry man, but I don't see how a 10-year old supermarket bike is helpful to the OP. I'm simply stating that in the €350-€550 commuter bike pricepoint one would expect a 7-speed IGH, front wheel dynamo, fenders, racks, LED lights, bell and hydraulic disc/rim brakes. As for people currently riding a 10-year old bike, it definitely happens, but isn't useful for the non-bicycle-mechanic OP.

    Also, most German do scrap their bikes after 10 years, especially if they live in an urban area where the bike goes unprotected. In a village, sure they'd keep it.
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
    Rohloffs seen on the commute: 3

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