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  1. #1
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    Drop Bar Commuting Bike on a Budget?

    So the last time I bought a bike was ten years ago and I just went to Canadian Tire (think Wal-Mart) and bought a mountain bike. Well time passed, I got fat and stopped doing anything. Previously to that I road my Grandfathers old ten speed. I enjoyed that bike way more. Made some changes this year, lost 90lbs and started thinking about biking to work. Its about 12KM each way on mostly paved paths and some city streets. Started researching a bike to do just that and was surprised by both the variety and especially price of whats available. I quickly became overwhelmed by choice. So I decided to go to some LBSes and see what they had. I went to three and was given three different suggestions and test rides. I've test ridden a hybrid ($500), road bike ($750) and cyclocross bike ($820) based on their suggestions. Perhaps you get what you pay for but the one that put a smile on my face was of course the cyclocross bike. It felt great to ride, quick and easy to control. It was a Norco Threshold A3. Of course that was a little out of the budget range I originally set out (about $400) but I'm thinking now that is unrealistic. I've started looking used, but I have no idea what to look for.

    This is the long way of saying that I'm looking for advice. Here is what I liked about what I tried:

    1. Drop Bars - I found the hybrid seating position very uncomfortable, especially in the hands
    2. Weight (somewhat) - I need to carry it up two flights of stairs. Both the road and cyclocross bike were nice in this regard.
    3. Index shifters - This is where I'm having issues with used, since most are too old to feature this (that I've found so far)
    4. Fenders and a rack - I'm going to want to add both of these for my commute. I'll be carrying a laptop and cloths every day.

    Am I better off looking used and if so what should I be looking for? Any great deals on a road / cyclocross bikes I may be missing? Is it worth just saving up for a little longer and buying higher end? I know this is super vague but I'm really feeling overwhelmed by choice. Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Keep shopping. I found a cross type bike for $700 at my bike shop. Used is a good way to save some money but it can take a while to find what you want and cross bikes are popular. There are some web sites that sell new bikes like you want close to your budget but you don't get the service of a good bike shop.
    KHS Flite 500. Redline Metro Sport. 90s Schwinn Sidewinder SS.

  3. #3
    Dread Pirate Aerobeard RaleighSport's Avatar
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    If you're handy, look into a used bike on CL you'd probably want to start with a fairly cheap older road bike though so as to keep the cost of learning down for wrenching. But this is only if you even have the time/space.
    (Insert your favorite quote here)

  4. #4
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    Show-Your-Vintage-MTB-Drop-Bar-Conversions

    These make bomb-proof and comfortable city bikes with drop bars and street tires. The conversion is probably not a good newbie project, however. You have to know what works for you and even then they often require some experimentation with stems and bars.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  5. #5
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    The old classic bikes that are popular on the used market right now are often friction shifters. You can narrow down your search by ignoring anything described by vintage, lugged, classic, or any similar words. You'll have a hard time finding a used Cross bike, they became popular fairly recently. Used regular road bikes are moderately common, but might not fit the rack and fenders you want.

    In line with RaleighSport, if you are handy, keep an eye out for something you can modify. My commuter began life in the 80s as a MTB, but currently has drops, fenders, skinny tires and is a SS. If not very handy, see if there are LBSs in the area with used bikes, check out any co-ops nearby (although you are likely to get friction shifters there, but they might help you modify a bike you get elsewhere) and check clubs (or LBSs) to see if they know anyone selling used.

    Alternatively, reconsider the index shifter/friction shifter requirement. Combining cheap/racks/fenders/light/drops with index shifters that is sorta like a cross bike puts you in a pretty slim market. Removing the index shifter requirement will open up a _whole_ bunch of bikes.

    You can find a touring/drop-commuter/cross bike with the features you want, but it may take some patience. Keep looking.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mr. Hairy Legs's Avatar
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    I've had the Threshold A3 for about 5 months now as my main commuter and I love it. You probably aren't going to find a much better deal than that, not for a new bike anyway.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wanderingstar0 View Post
    So the last time I bought a bike was ten years ago and I just went to Canadian Tire (think Wal-Mart) and bought a mountain bike. Well time passed, I got fat and stopped doing anything. Previously to that I road my Grandfathers old ten speed. I enjoyed that bike way more. Made some changes this year, lost 90lbs and started thinking about biking to work. Its about 12KM each way on mostly paved paths and some city streets. Started researching a bike to do just that and was surprised by both the variety and especially price of whats available. I quickly became overwhelmed by choice. So I decided to go to some LBSes and see what they had. I went to three and was given three different suggestions and test rides. I've test ridden a hybrid ($500), road bike ($750) and cyclocross bike ($820) based on their suggestions. Perhaps you get what you pay for but the one that put a smile on my face was of course the cyclocross bike. It felt great to ride, quick and easy to control. It was a Norco Threshold A3. Of course that was a little out of the budget range I originally set out (about $400) but I'm thinking now that is unrealistic. I've started looking used, but I have no idea what to look for.

    This is the long way of saying that I'm looking for advice. Here is what I liked about what I tried:

    1. Drop Bars - I found the hybrid seating position very uncomfortable, especially in the hands
    2. Weight (somewhat) - I need to carry it up two flights of stairs. Both the road and cyclocross bike were nice in this regard.
    3. Index shifters - This is where I'm having issues with used, since most are too old to feature this (that I've found so far)
    4. Fenders and a rack - I'm going to want to add both of these for my commute. I'll be carrying a laptop and cloths every day.

    Am I better off looking used and if so what should I be looking for? Any great deals on a road / cyclocross bikes I may be missing? Is it worth just saving up for a little longer and buying higher end? I know this is super vague but I'm really feeling overwhelmed by choice. Any advice would be appreciated.
    bikes direct... or go on ebay to a seller named chicabike and look at what she sells... there are some lower end road bikes (brand new too)... I bought a "dawes lightning sport" that I use, it also has eyelets for rack and fenders...

  8. #8
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    Wait 'til next summer. Save up and get either a Jamis Bosanova or a Raleigh Clubman!
    Last edited by WestPablo; 10-12-13 at 11:48 AM.

  9. #9
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    There are a few smaller bike manufacturers that have commuter-oriented road bikes. I just happened to look up one and saw this:
    http://www.torkerusa.com/bikes/commute/2012-u-3-


    This is a drop-bar 3 speed bike. Its not the "fastest" road bike (i.e. it does not have the bells and whistles that make it look fast), but its relatively cheap ($500 new), and the lack of external derailleurs might be a plus for negotiating it up narrow stairs. Its not quite as nice as some of the bikes at the $500 range on BD, but unless you know how to repack hubs and tension wheels, the support of actually buying it from a local shop might be worth it.

  10. #10
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    The fenders and the rack are accessories, generally, but they are discounted at point of sale, 10%.

    the LBS here, when a new bike is purchased, installs them too.

    there are lower price point bikes , most brands have a range of models for various budgets..

    Drop by your LBS and ask.

    the Torker 3 speed, bar end shifter is interesting .. Looks Good/ reasonable.. S-A3 speed

    you can always spring for a Shimano Alfine 8 0r 11 speed hub later..

    and a Versa Brifter, from the UK, to shift it.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-13-13 at 05:53 PM.

  11. #11
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by wanderingstar0 View Post
    This is the long way of saying that I'm looking for advice. Here is what I liked about what I tried:

    1. Drop Bars - I found the hybrid seating position very uncomfortable, especially in the hands
    2. Weight (somewhat) - I need to carry it up two flights of stairs. Both the road and cyclocross bike were nice in this regard.
    3. Index shifters - This is where I'm having issues with used, since most are too old to feature this (that I've found so far)
    4. Fenders and a rack - I'm going to want to add both of these for my commute. I'll be carrying a laptop and cloths every day.

    Am I better off looking used and if so what should I be looking for? Any great deals on a road / cyclocross bikes I may be missing? Is it worth just saving up for a little longer and buying higher end? I know this is super vague but I'm really feeling overwhelmed by choice. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Those are pretty much my requirements for a commuter as well. Only I live three flights up.

    As you're finding out, most used bikes are either too old for integrated levers, or are too high end for your budget. If you're patient, something will come along. But if your market is like mine, it could be a year or two.

    Meanwhile, until the past year or two, all the entry-level road bikes from the the big four--Giant, Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale, included eyelets for a rack and fenders. Trek dropped the chainstay bridge on the 1.X models, so there's nothing to anchor the front of the rear fender to any more. I haven't looked at the 13s and 14s of the other three.

    As you've found, CX bikes are another notch up the pricing scale.

    You seem to have a good grip on your choices, though. Wait for a second-hand bike to show up, pick up something new for about twice your original budget, or order something online that you haven't been able to test ride or check for sizing. Each one has its benefits, and each one has its drawbacks. Only you can decide how the plusses and minuses weigh out.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  12. #12
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    Get one that put a smile on your face, budget overage notwithstanding. It will pay for itself in the long run - you will love it better, maintain it better, enjoy every ride more, all the intangibles have to be included in the picture.

    If you feel as if you are overbying your ability - it is OK, you will catch up with the machine, and upgradeitis is real and really painful.

    Good luck
    I take great pride in my humility.

  13. #13
    cat
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    I think the bike I bought recently would meet most of your requirements. It's the Schwinn Slicker from Nashbar. I got it shipped for $425. Nashbar seems to run about 20% off on Sundays, so check tomorrow and the price will likely be about $375 or so. I'm pretty happy with mine so far, but keep in mind that some assembly is required. Take a look an see what you think.

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...58_-1___202339

  14. #14
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    I see you mentioned Canadian Tire - are you in Canada? If so, Mountain Equipment Coop might have something you could use.
    This one is currently on sale:
    http://www.mec.ca/product/5027-245/m...10+50002+50208
    This one is not on sale, but has rack and fender eyelets:
    http://www.mec.ca/product/5031-880/m...icycle-unisex/
    e.t.a.: you are unlikely to find a new road bike for $400. If the cyclocross bike was the one you liked best, buy it. It's less than $100 more, not much when you spread it out over several years of ownership.
    Last edited by Rhodabike; 10-12-13 at 06:48 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cat View Post
    I think the bike I bought recently would meet most of your requirements. It's the Schwinn Slicker from Nashbar. I got it shipped for $425. Nashbar seems to run about 20% off on Sundays, so check tomorrow and the price will likely be about $375 or so. I'm pretty happy with mine so far, but keep in mind that some assembly is required. Take a look an see what you think.

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...58_-1___202339
    Upon reading this I switch my vote from the Torker to the "sylish" bicycle referenced in above member's post. Same caveats about buying from BD/online apply: know how to repack hubs.

  16. #16
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    Someone mentioned bikesdirect. I've never bought anything from them, but the prices sure are enticing! The comments I've read seem to suggest that people are usually happy with the purchase, and when things go wrong the customer service is good. For your purposes, I'd say go to road bikes, and then the sub group cyclocross. Here's a nice looking budget model I noticed with an aluminum frame and steel fork:
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...liberty_cx.htm


    By the way, I wouldn't worry too much if you find a bike you like without rack mounts. It's easy enough to mount a rack with little p-clamps, and it works fine.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    You seem to have a good grip on your choices, though. Wait for a second-hand bike to show up, pick up something new for about twice your original budget, or order something online that you haven't been able to test ride or check for sizing. Each one has its benefits, and each one has its drawbacks. Only you can decide how the plusses and minuses weigh out.
    I'm in Vancouver - shopped around a bit for my new bike in July, including south of the border and online to see what sorts of deals shook out. I was also just getting back into cycling as a way to lose weight, and knew close to nothing about bikes, bike components, or any of that when I started shopping. (Full disclosure: I still know little, but am learning fast, thanks in large part to this board).

    Given my lack of knowledge, I ruled out Craigslist or used bikes; didn't want to end up with a lemon that I'd spend a fortune repairing or that wouldn't ride well. Also had little way of comparing to new bikes for pricing. Ended up checking out LBSes around town, and test rode at a few. Ended up buying from one down the street from my office as they had the best service. Bike includes 2 years of free unlimited service at the shop, which is quite nice. Also included a basic bike fitting, and discount on a full pro fit if I chose to go that route. 15% off all accessories for 2 years also. The mechanics there are super friendly and are teaching me something new every time I'm in. Gradually I'm learning to take better care of my bike myself.

    I didn't find it much cheaper online or in the USA, plus I wanted to test ride some bikes here. If you go that route, be sure to factor in how much free servicing and a local opinion is to you. 20% off that $820 Cyclocross bike would be $164. Tune-ups can easily be $65 at the LBS, and fittings go a long way to helping you enjoy your bike. Final thought: small LBSes may mark up service costs or be less helpful if you roll in with a bike that you didn't buy from them.

  18. #18
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    Thank you all so much for the feedback - its invaluable. I spent a chunk of the day yesterday looking around at LBSes. I swear the nicest people in the world work at these stores.

    I do live in Canada, so Bikes Direct is more of a pain than I want to worry about. Plus I generally like to buy local.

    The bike at MEC seems interesting. I'm just going to stretch the budget and get what made me happy. I'll test ride the MEC bike today and compare. So, I guess its down to three readily available in my area around that price range. So between these three are there any "gotchas" that I might be missing:

    Norco Threshold a3 2013 - http://99bikes.com.au/norco-threshol...ilver-red-2013
    Mec Col Ltd - http://www.mec.ca/product/5027-245/m...10+50002+50208
    and the Trek 1.1c 2014 - http://shop.bushtukah.com/product/14...m#.UlqIQRYT_0c

    I'm sure its a bit Apples to Oranges, but I want to make sure I have not overlooked anything more than which one is better. Although I welcome opinions on that as well.

    Thanks again!

  19. #19
    Senior Member Mr. Hairy Legs's Avatar
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    For adding fenders and rack, the Norco is the best option by far. MEC has something similar called the Cote, but it is quite a bit more expensive.

    I was able to get a rear fender on my Trek 1.5 without difficulty, but the front fender was just too close to the tire and was constantly trapping little bits of junk and making noise, so I removed it. The greater clearance of the CX along with its wider tires just makes for a more practical commuter bike.

  20. #20
    Senior Member BobbyG's Avatar
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    Buy used and get two bikes to rotate, maybe a mountain bike/drop conversion with fenders for serious commuting, and then an old road bike for fun. Drop bars are great for providing multiple hand positions. If you're like me I ride to try to stay fit, so a heavy commuter bike just means more exercise.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by PennyTheDog View Post
    Someone mentioned bikesdirect. I've never bought anything from them, but the prices sure are enticing! The comments I've read seem to suggest that people are usually happy with the purchase, and when things go wrong the customer service is good. For your purposes, I'd say go to road bikes, and then the sub group cyclocross. Here's a nice looking budget model I noticed with an aluminum frame and steel fork:
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...liberty_cx.htm


    By the way, I wouldn't worry too much if you find a bike you like without rack mounts. It's easy enough to mount a rack with little p-clamps, and it works fine.
    I have a bikesdirect bike and I bought one for my wife and I've been very happy with the quaility and components for the money. But they don't ship to Canada. OP would have to ship to someplace along the boarder and drive down and pick it up and then pay duty bringing it back to Canada. Most of the Canadians in other threads about BD said it's not worth it because it's not as a good a deal once you factor in additional costs
    http://www.pedalroom.com/members/rms13

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
    Drop bars are great for providing multiple hand positions. If you're like me I ride to try to stay fit, so a heavy commuter bike just means more exercise.
    Drop bars also allow you to 'put your back into it' and apply more oomph to the pedals than sitting bolt upright. Good for a gear or two higher level ground cruising gear. That in turn means lower ETA. Works for me. My commuter and my road racer are both lugged steel frames. Both aluminum wheels. They have the same bars, brake levers and shifters. They probably weigh within a pound of each other before the commuter puts on its gear.The fenders, rack, rack trunk, two headlights, battery pack, kickstand weigh a couple or three pounds easy. When the rack-trunk is loaded with chargers for the battery packs, lunch, hydration, extra layer, etc.. the commuter is going to weigh possibly 10lbs. more than the road racer.
    That's as much extra weight as I want to carry.

    H

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