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  1. #1
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    (Update: RIP Cross Check) Recommend me a bike for commuting

    Hi there,

    I'm looking for a bike to commute to work and would love some suggestions. My commute will be 7 miles each way, with 150 feet of ascent on the morning trip. (If there are any locals: I live in Malden, MA near the Malden Center T station and commute to the Financial District in Boston). The roads are not the best where I live, with quite a lot of potholes. I'm about 5'5" and weights 140 lbs. My stand over height is about 30". I usually carry 10 to 15 lbs, and would like to put my luggage in some rear panniers. I would also want to put on some fenders. My budget is $600 - $1200. The bike would be stored indoor both at home and at work; theft (hopefully!) should not be a problem.

    I rode a bike a lot when I was a kid, but hasn't rode one for the last 15 years; I'm also totally new to road riding. I plan to learn how to service my bike in the future, and am currently undecided on whether to buy from a LBS or online.

    Some ideas I have from reading the forum:

    Janis Satellite: There's a 51 cm the EMS can ship to a local store. But I'm not sure if this can fit a pannier, or if it's too "roady" for some of the punishing roads I have around here.

    Janis Aurora.

    Anything else?

    Big thanks for any suggestions!
    Last edited by Commuter16; 08-23-13 at 08:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Velocommuter Commando Sirrus Rider's Avatar
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    Surly Crosscheck in Hospital Foam green.
    Riding 19 Years of Specialized Sirrus Tradition.
    Live in Houston? Come to http://bicyclecommutehouston.blogspot.com/
    1988 Specialized Sirrus, 1989 Alpine Monitor Pass MTB, 2007 Specialized Sirrus 700C hybrid, 2007 Schwinn Town & Country trike, 1970 "Resto-Improved" Raleigh 20, 1970 "WIP" Raleigh 20, and 1980 "WIP" Schwinn Town & Country trike

  3. #3
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirrus Rider View Post
    Surly Crosscheck in Hospital Foam green.
    I work in a hospital. What does that look like?

    As for the bike, I recommend something with disc brakes.
    Last edited by DVC45; 06-05-13 at 01:17 AM. Reason: Never mind. I Googled it. Weird name for a color.

  4. #4
    Fork and spoon operator
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    I bought a Surly Cross Check in February, and I love it. I ride it every day with panniers. At that time I was also looking at a Jamis Aurora. It's a similar idea, and it looks perfect for commuting. It looks like the price of the Aurora includes a rack and fenders. That's nice, because you'd want those anyways (although I've seen some complaints about the Aurora's stock fenders).

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the suggestions! I tried a 2012 Cross Check 46 cm at the shop today, along with a 2012 Bianchi Volpe 51 cm, and a 2013 Masi CX Comp (49 or 51 cm?)

    The Volpe's seatpost was too tall even at the lowest setting. I'm going to go back on the weekend and they will swap in a shorter seatpost for me. I really like the fact that this bike has brake levers both at the flatbar and at the drop bar (4 levers in total). That would come in handy when I'm riding in traffic in the upright position. However, the bike felt big overall, this probably have to do with the seatpost though. I should have a better idea next time when I try it with the shorter seatpost.

    The Cross Check probably gave me the best feel of all 3. I just felt more in control when riding it - until I need to change gears or brake! The bar-end shifter seems really inconvenient to use. And I miss the brake levers on the flatbar.

    The Masi CX Comp; I don't know. It was getting late so I didn't really test this one out as much. I can say this, I'm not a big fan of the color!

    When I got home, I looked up the "geometry" of the Volpe 51 cm and the Cross Check 46 cm, and was surprised to find that they are very similar in size (effective top tube length, etc.).

    The LBS I went to didn't carry Jamis, so I didn't have a chance to try out the Aurora or Satellite. ... Although they do have a few other brands like Raleigh, Yeti, Cannondale (sp?).

  6. #6
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    I just got a 2012 Volpe at JRA Cycles in Medford yesterday...it's great for this area. I live in Somerville, and used to live in Malden for a few years, also near the Malden Center T. Knowing the route you're likely to take, a cross bike is definitely a good option. I used to do it on an old Columbia 3-speed when I lived in Malden, though!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commuter16 View Post
    The Cross Check probably gave me the best feel of all 3. I just felt more in control when riding it - until I need to change gears or brake! The bar-end shifter seems really inconvenient to use. And I miss the brake levers on the flatbar.
    Yeah, I don't recommend the Crosscheck to anyone for commuting or general riding, just because of that reason. I can't stand having to take my hands off the brakes and handlebars to shift. If the bike was free I might do it, but paying for it?...

    Someone else I know was looking at the Jamis Bosanova, similar to the Cross Check but with normal shifting/brakes on the lever -
    http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik..._bosanova.html

  8. #8
    bill nyecycles the sci guy's Avatar
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    the surly crosscheck does indeed look like an awesome commuter bike. it's on my list of possibles (towards the top!) for when I get a new commuter hopefully in the next year.
    only thing is there are no prices on the surly website, or on the dealer website we have here.

    what did y'all pay for your crosscheck (if you don't mind my asking) ?

  9. #9
    friction shifter
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    All the bikes you're looking at are nice bikes. The main thing is fit, fit, fit. Do not compromise on fit. Then make sure the gearing matches your needs. Also, consider putting at least some of your load up front. Bikes vary a lot on how they feel with the load fore or aft. I highly recommend that you simply work closely with your LBS to find the bike for you. They certainly have a selection, it seems. For commuting, I would advise that you select a bike that is no more complex than you need. The number of gears is not as important as how they are spaced and how they match your needs. Also, if you're dealing with potholes and plan to ride year-round, I would hesitate using any tire smaller than a 32. 35 would be better.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by agmetal View Post
    I just got a 2012 Volpe at JRA Cycles in Medford yesterday...it's great for this area. I live in Somerville, and used to live in Malden for a few years, also near the Malden Center T. Knowing the route you're likely to take, a cross bike is definitely a good option. I used to do it on an old Columbia 3-speed when I lived in Malden, though!
    What a coincidence! I was at JRA Cycles, and testing out what looks like their last 2012 Volpe! Congrats on the new bike!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by the sci guy View Post
    the surly crosscheck does indeed look like an awesome commuter bike. it's on my list of possibles (towards the top!) for when I get a new commuter hopefully in the next year.
    only thing is there are no prices on the surly website, or on the dealer website we have here.

    what did y'all pay for your crosscheck (if you don't mind my asking) ?
    It is listed at 1250.

  12. #12
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Regardless of the brand, if the roads are rough with lots of potholes get something with 34c to 38c tires. If that commute is all you plan on doing a "compact" groupset is all you'll need. A lot of the bikes you're looking at will have triple cranksets. This isn't a bad thing, but not really necessary for your situation. If you are pretty fit and so inclined even a single speed would work. My work side commute is about like yours distance/climb wise. Around my home is pretty hilly, so single speed isn't appropriate for me.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I like My Rohloff bike .. pick your wheel type I have a 20 & a 26" wheel..
    53t chainwheel on the 20" 38t on the 26"
    ends up about the same range..

    thinner say a 37-700c wheel; 42: 16t is a bit higher range..

  14. #14
    Ride On. Underground's Avatar
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    I've been eying the Trek CrossRip Elite lately. Fender and rack ready, comes with 32c's as well. Just not a fan of the Sora shifters.
    '10 Trek 1.5; '10 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29er; '12 Trek Transport; '11 Gary Fisher/Trek HiFi Plus 29er; '96 Cannondale M400 - Sold = Regret
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  15. #15
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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  16. #16
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    There's another bike that I liked, since it felt smaller than I expected it to (in a good way), which is the Specialized Tricross Sport Disc. I think it might be slightly above the price range you're looking at, but it may be worth checking out. JRA doesn't have, but check Ace Wheelworks in Somerville.

  17. #17
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    Trek Allant. I've been riding one since December on my 7 mile, hilly commute and it is perfect.

    It comes with a rack and fenders, has a nice upright position, and has comfortable grips and saddle.

    My only complaints are that it is a bit heavy and the upright position is not nice on windy days (20+mph).

  18. #18
    Ride On. Underground's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
    My only complaints are that it is a bit heavy and the upright position is not nice on windy days (20+mph).
    That is why I am so afraid of those bikes. Being in Texas, we have a ton of long flats. Even my Trek Transport cargo bike is set up for a more aero position than upright. If I had nothing but <5-mile rides, I'd be all over the Allant.
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  19. #19
    friction shifter
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    The Specialized Tricross, Trek CrossRip and Jamis Bossanova are all the same sort of next-gen all-rounder, with the disks and the cross geometry and such. The Tricross comes in a steel version, which is interesting. I know that's what they all want me to buy. I'm just not sure I want to play along.

  20. #20
    Ride On. Underground's Avatar
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    Steel is nice for comfort, but some don't like having to check for rust spots and use touch up paint.

    Aluminum is more worry free, lighter, but has a more harsh ride. In the end it is really up to what you prefer. The bike is for you, not them; so get what you like. If it looks good to you, feels right, and has everything you want in a bike, go with it.
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  21. #21
    friction shifter
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    You know, I've never had an issue with my 20-year-old steel frame that I've ridden in all kinds of weather for years in terms of rust. And I'm not the most fastidious. I did give it a powdercoat recently, but that was more aesthetic. I wipe the bike down occasionally. The rust danger has always been more theoretical. The main thing I like about my alu frame, though, is acceleration at intersections.

  22. #22
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    I'm a fan of the Bianchi Volpe. I've test ridden a 55 and a 49 (my size is 53) and based on those rides, I'm planning to order a 53 in the next week or two.
    Its a super smooth ride (although a tad heavy). I also like the interrupter brake levers on the handlebar tops for when i'll be riding more upright with my
    wife.

  23. #23
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    You might also want to test a Kona Jake. Its got disc brakes, tiagra shifters, aluminum. I've read that its a great deal but it felt a bit more cramped compared to the Volpe. I went to the shop expecting to fall in love with the Kona Jake and wound up really preferring the steel ride.

  24. #24
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    I'll give my 2 cents - for commuting, I really prefer a mountain bike, with flat bars and a more upright riding position. I know opinions on this vary, but I really did not like riding my trek 412 700c bike in downtown Minneapolis. Even after I put flat bars on it.

    I've ridden thousands of miles on drop bars before I ever even rode a mountain bike, so it's not that I'm not comfortable on drops. I guess I just feel more confident if I need to bail out of a situation when I'm riding a mountain bike - jump a curb, ride on the grass or whatever. And commuting, sooner or later, you will need to bail out. There are countless old steel MTB bikes on Craigslist. My commuter is a crappy Bianchi Nyala - I literally pulled it out of the neighbors trash. I have nashbar 1.25" slicks (4000 miles for $10) http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...39_-1___202472 and I just got my christmas present installed:http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...30_-1___202477,

    Disk brakes would be nice, but I've got too many wheelsets to justify the switchover. Plus, I subscribe to the KISS principle. Why stick an additional disk on your bike, when you already have one (your rims)?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by loky1179 View Post
    I'll give my 2 cents - for commuting, I really prefer a mountain bike, with flat bars and a more upright riding position. I know opinions on this vary, but I really did not like riding my trek 412 700c bike in downtown Minneapolis. Even after I put flat bars on it.

    I've ridden thousands of miles on drop bars before I ever even rode a mountain bike, so it's not that I'm not comfortable on drops. I guess I just feel more confident if I need to bail out of a situation when I'm riding a mountain bike - jump a curb, ride on the grass or whatever. And commuting, sooner or later, you will need to bail out. There are countless old steel MTB bikes on Craigslist. My commuter is a crappy Bianchi Nyala - I literally pulled it out of the neighbors trash. I have nashbar 1.25" slicks (4000 miles for $10) http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...39_-1___202472 and I just got my christmas present installed:http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...30_-1___202477,

    Disk brakes would be nice, but I've got too many wheelsets to justify the switchover. Plus, I subscribe to the KISS principle. Why stick an additional disk on your bike, when you already have one (your rims)?
    I also live in Minneapolis.

    I totally hear where you're coming from. For me, with a 55 minute commute to work (or a hour 15 minutes the other way), and a commute that doesn't involve downtown, I prefer a relatively-upright road bike. If it's windy going home, it's a real p.i.t.a. with an upright handlebar bike. To be *able* to ride down in the drops for a lot of the ride is a big plus for me, and while I prefer a more upright style of road bike I still prefer the road bike.

    I think there's pluses and minuses for **both**, and there's no clear cut "one is better than the other" call to make. Another advantage of a flat bar is that it's easier for most people to find a comfortable riding position. Just been my experience...

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