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  1. #1
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    Need a bike for school/work.

    Hi all,

    I live in Honolulu, HI and need a good bike to ride the roughly 5 miles to school and back again. I'm 5' 4", 200lbs, and wear 36 x 30 pants, with a bit of extra typically extending beneath my shoes from time to time, so I guess real size would be 36 x 28, but nobody has pants with those specs. I expect my briefcase(can be worn backpack style) to weigh anywhere from 10-20lbs depending on the amount of books, so maybe 220lbs the frame needs to carry.

    If you can't be bothered to read the monstrous wall of text, here's the short list of what I'm looking for:
    -Price: $1,000 for the bike alone(please don't have me buy just the frame)
    -Wheel diameter: 29"-ish
    -Thin wheels
    -6061-T6 Aluminum frame (must be able to handle at least 250lbs of weight for 6 years)
    -High speed.
    -No foreign or exotic brands, my bike shop needs to be able to get ahold of it.

    -And I need advice on locks to secure my pricey investment.


    I'm looking for a bike that can comfortably cover long distances quickly and easily so I'm not exhausted by the time I finish class and need to ride to work. The kindly bike shop attendant dropped the bomb that I've been doing things all wrong by buying mountain bikes when the tires would never once go off-road. I also had some bad experiences with rust as it would rain at least once a week, which ate through the coating on the handlebars and started rusting through them.

    With all that in mind, I would like to stick with an aluminum frame and hopefully aluminum handle bars/fork as well. I was directed to a Giant Cypress with suspension, though I didn't quite feel as though it was the best for what I was willing to pay(around $350 for the bike). I'm willing to invest $1,000 on the bike alone for a trusted brand with a frame that can handle my weight for at least 6 years, and give me the most mileage for my buck. I typically try to stay on the sidewalk, though cops are annoyingly persistent about keeping me on the road with all the road rage guys and the old asian ladies wearing dark dark sunglasses while keeping her chin no less than an inch away from the steering wheel. So I figure a faster moving bike might be desirable to let me ride on the road without pissing too many people off(I often see every single car on the right lane drive around the cyclist, and I'd rather not be that guy during rush hour traffic). I assume large diameter wheels would help in this regard? 26 felt too small, whereas 29 felt just right for me.

    As for the suspension, that isn't really necessary right? I've always felt the need for it given my weight and the fact that I typically drop from the curb of the sidewalk onto the road quite often instead of looking for a ramp. But I suppose it isn't too big of a pain to simply lift the bike on or off the sidewalk, as I normally have to do going from the road to the sidewalk, because I can't "jump" the bike back on like other people do. Plus, I always felt that put a lot of stress on the frame and probably shouldn't be done on an aluminum frame anyway.

    But yes, I need a brand/model with those things in mind, as my bike shop says that they can put in special orders.

    I was also planning to secure my bike with a combination of an Abus Granit U-Bar lock(the lvl 10 one), along with an Abus Granit City Chain(lvl 12). Might need 2 of the U-bars and 1 chain, though I'm not sure if that's overkill, too much weight would make it pointless for an aluminum frame and would add on another 20 lbs. I made the mistake of using the cable type locks once and that was cut through easily. Hawaii isn't a high crime state, but the bikes missing wheels on the college campus reminds me that it isn't exactly crime free either, and I'm not sure how sophisticated the thieves are. My last bike(which wasn't stolen), was typically secured using 2 plain Kryptonite U-bars, each one locking a wheel to the frame, with just barely enough room to secure it to the bike rack. Since the Granit U-Bars seem thicker and shorter, I figure I might need a chain on top of that. Or would it simply be more economical to buy 2 chains? I like the U-Bar because I can hang them off the frame, and I'm not sure I have enough space to cramp 2 chains in my briefcase, and upon further reflection the chain itself seems no longer than the bars, though it is more flexible. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    The Cannondale Quick CX 2 comes to mind. The MSRP is $1,100, but I believe you can get one for $1,000 or less if your LBS carries the model. One potential issue is size. I believe the smallest frame size for the Quick is 17-in. I'm 5' 5" myself, and I felt as if the 17-in. Quick CX was a little bit too big for me.

    I bought a Trek 7.5 FX last week - mainly for commuting, riding around the neighbourhood and single track trails, and occasional mid-distance cycling. They offer a 15-in. frame size, which I find to be perfect for me. The MSRP is $1,099.

    As for securing the bike, I use a combination of a U-lock (Kryptonite KryptoLok) and a cable.

    Hope this helps.
    It doesn't get any easier, you just get faster. - Greg LeMond

  3. #3
    Senior Member DiegoFrogs's Avatar
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    What brands does your local shop carry?

    I'm a bit lighter, and while I enjoy some "bombing around rides" on my Trek 29"er with front suspension only, it's way more tiring to ride to the trailhead than my old steel road bikes are. I really think that not many people need suspension on a commuting bike, although I've never been to Hawaii.

    What kind of bike do you ride now?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    You're working with the LBS and you still want recommendations on what they should order for you? Find out what brands they can, because there is no use in you reading names that the LBS can't order.

    Also, you could just swap out the knobby mtb tires for some road tires- they do come pretty wide (mine are 26x1.5). You might also think about swapping out your current fork for a 'suspension corrected' rigid fork.

    You mentioned a Giant comfort bike- I'd shy away from that one for your application. Look at the Giant Escape City, which is well under your budget.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  5. #5
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    Need a bike for school/work.

    1. Hawaii weather...it rains almost daily. Salt air is a pita when it comes to anything metal. Just wash the bike weekly and store it indoors. Trust me on this one, I lived a half block from the beach, I know what that air can do to a bike if not kept indoors and washed regularly. Paint chips...fix them. You will get them on your commuter. Get fenders. It protects your drive train as well as you, makes the bike easier to wash.

    2. Brief case backpack...get a rack and strap it on. Don't believe me? Go or a mile run with it on and feel your back.

    3. Aluminum vs steel I won't start on, but aluminum can rust too, and the tubes dent easier than steel. It is lighter, but Steel frames are not that much heavier and when adding all the other weight the weight argument goes out the window. If al, just make sure you can get racks and fenders mounted.

    3. Bike lock; there are anti theft devices to replace quick release everything including for your stem cap, look into those, then all you will need is a single d lock. Get one with the best warranty/insurance if bike gets jacked and register it.

    4. Wheels. Entry level road bikes/hybrid wheels may not be tough enough for your commuting. Use them at first, but if you see yourself dealing with getting wheels trued on a regular basis or busting spokes, consider stronger wheels. I'm 30 lbs lighter than you and I roll on 36 count spoke wheels. Especially if you can upgrade for cheaper than replacing later, i would get them right away.

    5. Ride in the street. Waikiki bvld sucks, hope you don't have to commute there, if you do own your lane, screw the cars. Follow the same traffic rules and let it be known you belong there too. They'll go around dont worry.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    1. Hawaii weather...it rains almost daily. Salt air is a pita when it comes to anything metal. Just wash the bike weekly and store it indoors. Trust me on this one, I lived a half block from the beach, I know what that air can do to a bike if not kept indoors and washed regularly. Paint chips...fix them. You will get them on your commuter. Get fenders. It protects your drive train as well as you, makes the bike easier to wash.
    Yeah, I made the mistake of keeping it outside on my last one. And would "washing" involve more WD-40 than water? Or would a damp rag be good enough? I try to stay away from WD-40 as it tends to gunk up a lot, though I can't think of anything else to flush the drive train and chains with. I assume "fix" = repaint?

    2. Brief case backpack...get a rack and strap it on. Don't believe me? Go or a mile run with it on and feel your back.
    Agreed, full grain leather is more brutal than nylon.

    3. Aluminum vs steel I won't start on, but aluminum can rust too, and the tubes dent easier than steel. It is lighter, but Steel frames are not that much heavier and when adding all the other weight the weight argument goes out the window. If al, just make sure you can get racks and fenders mounted.
    Hmm, depending on the handlebars and rims right? I'm not sure if there are aluminum rims, but if 99% of it is aluminum, it should be significantly lighter. I've had aluminum handled knives and flashlights, and I can tell you that aluminum is much lighter than everything other than carbon fiber. The few times I've noted a 30lbs aluminum bike, typically the handles are steel along with dual suspension. I know aluminum oxidizes, but I never observed it crusting up or being completely eaten away like steel does.

    3. Bike lock; there are anti theft devices to replace quick release everything including for your stem cap, look into those, then all you will need is a single d lock. Get one with the best warranty/insurance if bike gets jacked and register it.
    I'm mostly interested in the quick release seat. As for warranties, those are typically a legal nightmare, so I'd rather not have to use it.

    4. Wheels. Entry level road bikes/hybrid wheels may not be tough enough for your commuting. Use them at first, but if you see yourself dealing with getting wheels trued on a regular basis or busting spokes, consider stronger wheels. I'm 30 lbs lighter than you and I roll on 36 count spoke wheels. Especially if you can upgrade for cheaper than replacing later, i would get them right away.
    I'll certainly look into that for sure, though traditionally the only time my rims got damaged is if I run into something, or somebody full on tackles me off my bike trying to steal it(which he didn't).

    5. Ride in the street. Waikiki bvld sucks, hope you don't have to commute there, if you do own your lane, screw the cars. Follow the same traffic rules and let it be known you belong there too. They'll go around dont worry.
    Really my biggest concern is if I fall over for some reason and the car behind me doesn't stop in time. The helmet will protect my head from the ground, but not the car.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiegoFrogs View Post
    What brands does your local shop carry?


    I'm a bit lighter, and while I enjoy some "bombing around rides" on my Trek 29"er with front suspension only, it's way more tiring to ride to the trailhead than my old steel road bikes are. I really think that not many people need suspension on a commuting bike, although I've never been to Hawaii.


    What kind of bike do you ride now?
    I used to ride a Schwinn I got from the same shop, but sold it about 3 years ago when I never used it. Only recently I went back into school for my Bachelor's degree. Never really could drive though, plus I have no sense of direction even on this tiny island. Took a wrong turn once and ended up at the airport 5 miles away.

    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    You're working with the LBS and you still want recommendations on what they should order for you? Find out what brands they can, because there is no use in you reading names that the LBS can't order.


    Also, you could just swap out the knobby mtb tires for some road tires- they do come pretty wide (mine are 26x1.5). You might also think about swapping out your current fork for a 'suspension corrected' rigid fork.


    You mentioned a Giant comfort bike- I'd shy away from that one for your application. Look at the Giant Escape City, which is well under your budget.
    Granted, I didn't do enough research, with the size being the most important thing, would be a bummer to order a thousand dollar bike and it ends up too big for me. But I was just stopping by after a long day of jumping between the University and the community college trying to find out what classes I need to take and when.


    As for brands, I didn't look too closely at the mountain bikes, though I did notice Schwinn was still prominent there. As for road bikes, the Giant brand seemed to comprise over half their selection, though again I didn't take too close a look particularly since the other bikes were either too big or too small.


    The one I was looking at was a Giant Cypress, which was essentially a road bike with suspension. I'll look into the Giant Escape City, though I have to admit that I have a little obsession about getting the "best of the best", or the upper end of what I'm willing to pay most of the time.


    Another thing too I'm curious about would be these "disk brakes" I've been seeing, and whether or not they're better than the usual ones with two pieces of rubber on the side of the wheels. I find those need constant tightening, reattachment, and indeed flat out broke on my last bike before I sold it.

  7. #7
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    Also, if Giant is a good and popular name brand, I'm considering painting over the brand to keep it subtle from thieves.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Germany_chris's Avatar
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    There's 2 shops on Oahu I like. The first is in the little strip mall as you come into the north shore in Waialua. It's sorta bike and surf but the owner is a cool dude and about patiently honest as you're going to get. In Honolulu I like Eki but have had good experiences at The Bike Shop.

    The bike factory in Waipio was a pretty big Specialized dealer and they're flexible on prices
    I'm an angry angst ridden anarcho-punk socialist you should just generally disregard my posts--Germany_chris

  9. #9
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    Need a bike for school/work.

    When I mentioned steel, was talking frame only. Aluminum wheels are far superior, same with stems, seat posts, handlebars, etc. aluminum will turn to a white powder when it corrodes. Steel frame vs al frame once all bult up with the same components is mot much lighter and the percentage on a commuter doesnt mean much, but aluminum is fine as long as you can mount racks fenders. I like aluminum frames for climbing hills. i like steel frames for everything else, comfort, durability, but thats just me. When I mentioned wash I do mean with soap and water. Corrosion happens from electrolysis, not water alone. Water will wash away the salt particles. Don't use high pressure by bearings but your bike will be able to handle it. Paint I mean touchup paint, nail polish will do the trick too. Primer and Paint is your first and best line of defense from corrosion. Some ideas for keeping paint from chipping, scratching; use a kickstand. Keep it away from sharp objects like the end of the bike rack. I use close to matching color duct tape and put it on the frame under the cables, and in a few other spots where chipping paint is prone. I get lost too. Made an iPhone mount on my handlebars and use GPS. Google maps bike directions actually, keeps me off the freeway.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    When I mentioned steel, was talking frame only. Aluminum wheels are far superior, same with stems, seat posts, handlebars, etc. aluminum will turn to a white powder when it corrodes. Steel frame vs al frame once all bult up with the same components is mot much lighter and the percentage on a commuter doesnt mean much, but aluminum is fine as long as you can mount racks fenders. I like aluminum frames for climbing hills. i like steel frames for everything else, comfort, durability, but thats just me. When I mentioned wash I do mean with soap and water. Corrosion happens from electrolysis, not water alone. Water will wash away the salt particles. Don't use high pressure by bearings but your bike will be able to handle it. Paint I mean touchup paint, nail polish will do the trick too. Primer and Paint is your first and best line of defense from corrosion. Some ideas for keeping paint from chipping, scratching; use a kickstand. Keep it away from sharp objects like the end of the bike rack. I use close to matching color duct tape and put it on the frame under the cables, and in a few other spots where chipping paint is prone. I get lost too. Made an iPhone mount on my handlebars and use GPS. Google maps bike directions actually, keeps me off the freeway.
    I see, though nail polish tends to get rubbed off pretty easily. I'd probably look for some paint specifically for metallic surfaces, though I've never had much issue with chipping paint. The last part I had rust was on the cassette and handlebars, and it seemed more like a type of black oxide coating rather than paint. I'm not entirely sure duct tape would be a good water barrier, though I've got 2 cans of NeverWet that I bought, but wasn't sure what I'd use on(spur of the moment purchase).

    Quote Originally Posted by Germany_chris View Post
    There's 2 shops on Oahu I like. The first is in the little strip mall as you come into the north shore in Waialua. It's sorta bike and surf but the owner is a cool dude and about patiently honest as you're going to get. In Honolulu I like Eki but have had good experiences at The Bike Shop.

    The bike factory in Waipio was a pretty big Specialized dealer and they're flexible on prices
    Waipio is a little far for me, and the shop in Honolulu seems like half the size of the Mccully Bike Shop that I go to right now.

    Still, I'm starting to wonder if Giant was the brand of bikes I see HPD officers riding on.

  11. #11
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    Need a bike for school/work.

    Sorry should've been more clear; duct tape bits is to prevent scratching and chipping, not to waterproof anything. Nail polish is in fact, super tough, easy to apply, dries fast, cheap and available in an insane amount of colors. It does work, and if you commuted and don't have to worry too much about paint chips, or scratches you are probably a lot nicer to your bike than I am to mine. I don't throw it on the ground and kick it or anything, but it does have to put up with a lot.

  12. #12
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    One thing I'll mention ... regarding aluminum forks ... I'd consider a carbon fiber fork.

    It mitigates SO much road buzz from your hands. My road bike has a CF fork and my commuter, a CX bike has an AL fork and the difference is pretty dramatic.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ill.clyde View Post
    One thing I'll mention ... regarding aluminum forks ... I'd consider a carbon fiber fork.

    It mitigates SO much road buzz from your hands. My road bike has a CF fork and my commuter, a CX bike has an AL fork and the difference is pretty dramatic.
    Sounds good. I've got my eye on the Giant Escape RX which has a composite fork and seatpost, and it seems like even the pedals are a lightweight alloy. Only reason I was weary about the brand was because they neglect to mention the weight, which I figure would be relatively easy to find out by putting it on a scale.

  14. #14
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Giant is a respectable brand ... no worries there.

    Re: weight ... that seems to be something many brands have gotten away from listing, for whatever reasons.

    For me personally, the weight of the bike when I buy it isn't all that important. Components are more important, and higher quality components are generally lighter weight. Looking briefly at the specs on the Giant you like, the components are a nice mix of good stuff. It's a very nice bike

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    Went down to the LBS today with the intent of grabbing the Giant Escape RX, unfortunately it was a 2014 model I was looking at and they didn't know when they would get one in.

    So I walked out with a rough equivalent they had in stock: a Cannondale Bad Boy 5.

    It certainly does everything I want it to, and very light too. After loading it up with my briefcase and lock, I can certainly see the point about the weight not being too important, though I'd imagine it would be pretty tough to lift up with even more weight on.

    But there's a definite night and day difference between this and the mountain bikes I used to ride, and that's raw speed. It goes faster easier and seems to roll 3 times as far without the need to pedal. I did need to ride a distance with the loaded briefcase on my back, which wasn't bad at all for my back, because my butt took all the beatings. Riding uphill is still a chore though, but I can see road riding being a breeze, and at high enough speeds to match the traffic. I'd expect recreational riding would be an even better experience without all the weight though.

    Any tips for road riding? I've seen some cars drive inches away from some cyclists, which makes me a little twitchy. Though on the other hand, there are some pretty slow riders I still see on the road for a few years, so I assume no one ran them over.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Mr. Hairy Legs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noctis3880 View Post
    Any tips for road riding? I've seen some cars drive inches away from some cyclists, which makes me a little twitchy. Though on the other hand, there are some pretty slow riders I still see on the road for a few years, so I assume no one ran them over.
    Don't ride too close to the curb - stay at least 3 feet away. Drivers will be forced to wake up and alter their path in order to pass you rather than whizzing by as though you weren't there. As long as you don't push your luck (i.e. riding in the middle of the lane) nobody will get too mad at you.

  17. #17
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Agreed with Mr. Hairy Legs ... don't ride in the gutter.

    The other thing I'll say is this, and it's tough if you're not confident yet, but BE DECISIVE. If you need to turn left, signal that way and put your butt out into the lane when it's safe to do so. That's not to say to be an "offensive" rider ... but be decisive and don't be timid. Timidity leads to accidents.

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