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  1. #1
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    Seattle Folks - Suggestions for a commuter bike?

    Hi all,

    I'll be moving to Seattle in the fall, and I'm trying to figure out what commuter bike to get or, alternatively, where to go to look for a commuter bike once I get there. I have a nice road bike, but I'll save that for the longer recreational rides. I also have a five speed 70's Schwinn Collegiate, but I'm concerned that it's going to be too heavy with too little gears for the hills in Seattle. I do looooove vintage bikes, so feel free to suggest something along the old steel lines too (mmmmm Peugeot Mixte... want).

    The factors for me are:
    * The ability to have racks and fenders is a must
    * I'm a 5'2" female so I need something smaller
    * I love old steel frames, but I'd need one that's not too heavy
    * I'm pretty handy so I can do a good bit of the maintenance myself
    * I prefer going faster - I would typically shy away from a mountain bike for commuting purposes

    Thanks in advance for all the help. I'm super excited about the move and hope that once I get there I can be as car free as possible!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Buzzatronic's Avatar
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    I've been loving the 2012 Jamis Bosanova for my 11mi each way commute on the east side. Built in fenders, great rack mounts (front and back), steel frame for absorbing bumps, wide frame for larger tires (stock are 700cx28 but it can take up to 32's I think). I suspect the base Aurora would also do nicely around Seattle but I haven't ridden one. It does look good tho.

    The only problem so far is it's kinda heavy, 27lbs stock and after my rack, bags and other gizmos I'm sure it's well over 32lbs. That may be too heavy for you, not sure.

    The key things I would make sure you consider for Seattle commuting are:

    - Fender mounts, front and back and mud/buddy flaps if you plan to ride with others, it's nice not to be spraying people behind you with your rooster tail.
    - Low gearing if climbs are on your commute. We have some pretty good hills around here depending on where you're riding
    - Tires that are good in the wet AND poor pavement. Some of our trails and roads are nice, some are just awful and you can go from perfect to war torn roads in a single block.
    - Brakes that work well in the wet. One of the reasons I went with the Jamis was for the disc brakes but of course, other road bikes have disc as well.
    - Water proof bags. I went with a Timbuk2 trunk bag and some Transit panniers from Performance Bike, but Ortleib are the most common I see on commuters around here. I hear they are insanely good if you're willing to pay the price.
    - If you plan on riding on multi-use trails, get a bell ... that's what we do around here.

  3. #3
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    For what its worth, I lived in Seattle pretty much all my life including Oregon so if you need any help with anything, please feel free to reach out.

    And of course, I would plug Marathon Supreme Plus for tires. Rock solid especially for Seattle. I would also consider making sure you have some climbing gears. Its not flat
    Feel free to visit my blog www.chefonabicycle.com

  4. #4
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smills518 View Post
    The factors for me are:
    * The ability to have racks and fenders is a must
    * I'm a 5'2" female so I need something smaller
    * I love old steel frames, but I'd need one that's not too heavy
    * I'm pretty handy so I can do a good bit of the maintenance myself
    * I prefer going faster - I would typically shy away from a mountain bike for commuting purposes
    Get a race grade 90s all rigid MTB and set it up courier style with slicks and a long stem - or even put drop bars on it. It's the classic San Francisco courier answer, so Seatle will be no problem. The geomtery of a Zaskar, Kona or Stump Jumper of this period is faster on the road and lower than modern MTBs. The 26s will fit you better than 700c, you'll find these bikes easy to repair, they climb like crazy, super tough, agile, and they have very safe handling on downhills - because they were built race offroad and the designers spent years tweaking geometry to get them right. Plus they just have soul, and $200-500 can get you a very nice bike.

    Eg something like this:



    Look for old Stumpjumers, Lava Domes, Explosifs, Cindercones and GT's - the Avalanche and Outpost were chromo, but especially look for the Zaskar, which isn't chromo but has a special heat treat on the 7005 alu that makes it feel super springy and very tough while being light - if you can find a small Zaskar (which is hard!) you should be able to manage a 7kg ish road build. This is a Zaskar built up with drops:



    ..If you decide to go this way, the best place for help is retrobike.co.uk
    Last edited by meanwhile; 06-18-13 at 05:42 PM.

  5. #5
    Fork and spoon operator
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    I think the Raleigh Clubman looks like a pretty nice steel road-y commuter bike. It can fit up to 28mm tires with fenders, and has rack mounts. The review I linked below says 24 lbs, which I think is pretty light for a steel bike. I've never ridden one, but I was considering when I got my current bike: a Surly Cross Check (which I love).

    Raleigh's clubman page:
    http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/stee...ng/clubman-13/

    A review:
    http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/ra...n-bike-review/

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by smills518 View Post
    \I do looooove vintage bikes, so feel free to suggest something along the old steel lines too...
    * I love old steel frames, but I'd need one that's not too heavy...
    * I'm pretty handy so I can do a good bit of the maintenance myself
    If you're serious about this old steel frame thing, take a look at this: http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpe..._2_FINDING.htm
    With a bit of work, you can find yourself a gem!

  7. #7
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    Thanks everyone. All of those suggestions are really helpful. I didn't even think about making sure the fenders don't spray people behind me (instead of just protecting me). That would certainly be no way to make friends ;-). Both the Raleigh and the Jamis bikes are really gorgeous! Gonna take a look at all of the suggestions and see where we come out. Thanks again!

  8. #8
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    I think Buzzatronic's advice above is pretty good. I think if you find a bike that you speaks to you that has fender mounts, the rest will fall into place. I don't know of any frame that has fender mounts that can't take at least a 25c tire. While I have nothing against disc brakes, I have never had them on any of my bikes and I can stop just fine in our wet weather. My biggest problem with disc brakes is that you really only find them on heavy commuter/touring bicycles or cyclocross bikes. The only production road bikes that I know of that have disc brakes and fender mounts are Volagi, Specialized Secteur Disc, and BMC Grandfondo GF02 Disc. As a transplant to Seattle myself, I would say that our wet weather generally gets blown out of proportion. It actually rarely ever rains for any significant amount of time, it is mostly just misty all of the time. My personal commute is relatively flat, but there are some pretty impressive hills especially downtown. You should be able to have your rear derailleur swapped out for a medium-pull derailleur or even a mountain derailleur and a larger cassette. I wouldn't let the stock gearing on the bike turn you away.

    I have not visited all of the bike shops in town. I was not very impressed with Greg's Cycles. My favorites have been BikeSport, Montlake Bike Shop, Counterbalance Bicycles and FreeRange Cycles.

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