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  1. #1
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    need advice on getting a commuter.

    Hello everyone, I hope this is the correct forum (if not let me apologize up front).

    I am looking for a used bike (budget is $400 max) that I can commute to work (daily at just under 10 miles round trip and a few times a month at 23 miles round trip). I am in California so I don't have to worry about a real winter but there is rain (well most years anyway). I've been lurking on these (and a few other forums) and have some up with a few options and just wanted to get some feedback on the quality of the bike. I have visited a number of LBS and either I don't like what is in my range or if I do like it it's out of my range.

    I will be making some changes to make it a more comfortable upright commuter (spare my back). I do tend to like the '80's lugged steel but I'm open. Anyways here are the ones I am considering (all of these are in very good condition):

    Trek 400 Elance
    Schwinn Tempo (upgraded to Shimano 105)
    Schwinn Super Sport
    Trek 510
    Raleigh Competition
    Cannondale M500 (cheapest option)

    Any feedback will be greatly appreciated (thank you in advance).

  2. #2
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Those will all do the job well. Fit is crucial to how efficient and pleasant it is. A lot of upgrades are BS. Tires make a difference, though.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  3. #3
    Fork and spoon operator
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    Those look nice. Are you planning to switch out the handlebars, or just lift them up a bit? I assume those can all take at least 28 mm tires, but I'd make sure. To me, there's a big comfort difference between 25 mm and 28 mm.

  4. #4
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    I'm partial to MTBs for commuters myself. I ride a 1990 Trek 7000 as a commuter. But I've also commuted on my carbon road bike when I wanted to take it with me for a long weekend. Either works, but it is easier to carry a laptop on the mtb with the rack.

  5. #5
    Rogue Cyclist RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nnyan View Post
    Hello everyone, I hope this is the correct forum (if not let me apologize up front).

    I am looking for a used bike (budget is $400 max) that I can commute to work (daily at just under 10 miles round trip and a few times a month at 23 miles round trip). I am in California so I don't have to worry about a real winter but there is rain (well most years anyway). I've been lurking on these (and a few other forums) and have some up with a few options and just wanted to get some feedback on the quality of the bike. I have visited a number of LBS and either I don't like what is in my range or if I do like it it's out of my range.

    I will be making some changes to make it a more comfortable upright commuter (spare my back). I do tend to like the '80's lugged steel but I'm open. Anyways here are the ones I am considering (all of these are in very good condition):

    Trek 400 Elance
    Schwinn Tempo (upgraded to Shimano 105)
    Schwinn Super Sport
    Trek 510
    Raleigh Competition
    Cannondale M500 (cheapest option)

    Any feedback will be greatly appreciated (thank you in advance).
    Confused here.. if that's a Tenax Tempo it should be stock 105..
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

  6. #6
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nnyan View Post
    I have visited a number of LBS and either I don't like what is in my range or if I do like it it's out of my range.
    I sympathize with you. I also have little desire to be a member of a club that would have me as one of its own.

    If you haven't check the sticky at the top of the forum.

    My vote would be a rigid MTB with street tires for starters.

    I bought a very slightly used Trek 7200 hybrid off CL for $200. The guy I flipped it to is still riding it and loves it.

    Don't get hung up on component levels right now. It's more important to get something to ride. $400 doesn't buy a lot in a new bike---you're in the ballpark for a good fork.
    Disclaimer: It's just an opinion that I have. It works for me. I am not the forum "Police (Of Anything)". Others may disagree. And....YMMV.
    Don't use up any brain cells thinking that I care, you don't like anything anyway.

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  7. #7
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    You are right I just cut and pasted what the seller had in his ad.

  8. #8
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    I'm learning to not be too concerned about groups, I currently have an 88 Miyata Trail Runner (splined triple butted CrMo for whatever that's worth) that I got for $25 bucks but while I like it it's a bit too long to get a good upright position even with a stem extension and some nice comfort handlebars. I just had a friend of mine tell me someone they know is selling a 2011 Felt F95 specs are:

    Microshift 9sp shifters
    Tiagra RD, Sora Front
    FSA Tempo Compact Crank
    Alex R500 wheels on Felt hubs
    12-25 Sun Race cassette

    (edit Oh and she has a Cannondale M700 for $150 too. Seems like average wear and tear on both bikes.

    That may as well be chinese to me but it's a good looking bike. I'm going to see it tomorrow and ride it around a bit.
    Last edited by Nnyan; 02-20-14 at 01:57 AM.

  9. #9
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    This is a commuter? With occasional longer weekend rides for recreation? You'd better lay out your very specific needs for the bike before considering this model and that. You'll be in a tail chase that will result in a bike that's unlikely to be ideal for your purposes.

    1) Fenders/Mudguards - you'll be riding regularly in rain
    2) Eyelet Mounts for Rear Rack - you want to wear a backpack in Summer? panniers are a better option.
    3) Frame Clearance For Tires - in addition to the fenders, you'll want tires at 28mm minimum, more like 32mm
    4) Upright or Relaxed Ride - so not a sport/racing type bike, but rather sport/touring, touring, cyclocross, etc.
    5) Gearing - depending on your terrain, you'll at least want the gear range that you can use, particularly carrying a light load
    6) Hand Position - do you want drop bars? could you use flat bars, or would you convert if the bike you found needed changing.

    So, maybe none of the bikes you listed meet this set of needs. Are each in a size that can be adapted to fit you properly?

    A rigid fork steel MTB is a great idea, but maybe a steel cyclocross bike or tourer would be a better starting point. Do you have someone close by who is mechanically adept with bikes, and/or has a stash of parts to make some simple swaps for you?

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    look up bikes direct... they have good commuter style and road bikes that are a bit cheaper than an LBS

  11. #11
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nnyan View Post
    while I like it it's a bit too long to get a good upright position even with a stem extension and some nice comfort handlebars. I just had a friend of mine tell me someone they know is selling a 2011 Felt F95.................she has a Cannondale M700 for $150 too. Seems like average wear and tear on both bikes..............That may as well be chinese to me but it's a good looking bike. I'm going to see it tomorrow and ride it around a bit.
    All might be well and good, but you need to make sure it's the correct size for you.

    Riding an ill fitting bike as a commuter will cause discomforts that don't surface when you "ride it around a bit".

    As you found out with your current bike, bolt on parts can't make up for a drastically misfit ride.
    Disclaimer: It's just an opinion that I have. It works for me. I am not the forum "Police (Of Anything)". Others may disagree. And....YMMV.
    Don't use up any brain cells thinking that I care, you don't like anything anyway.

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  12. #12
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Here's more on that Cannon.

    That would be a perfect starter for you and a super find. Buck for buck the amount of bike that you get can't be touched with a new one.

    If it fits.
    Disclaimer: It's just an opinion that I have. It works for me. I am not the forum "Police (Of Anything)". Others may disagree. And....YMMV.
    Don't use up any brain cells thinking that I care, you don't like anything anyway.

    Click PR Logo
    PedalRoom

  13. #13
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    My single commuters are an early '80s Schwinn World Tourist (made by Giant) and an early '80's SR Sierra Sport. This year, usually I am commuting on our Trek T50 tandem - which is a LOT faster than a single. Commuting bikes, like touring bikes, need to be able to haul stuff. Reliability trumps all, followed by comfort. Speed is dead last in the equation. The WT, SR and T50 have flat bars, saddles that I find very comfortable, puncture resistant tire, thorn resistant tubes and tire liners. I do 18 miles round trip. All have panniers to carry stuff; and this time of year, often my jacket in the afternoon. The all have water bottle holders, excellent brakes, SRAM grip shifters and fenders.

    The WT, I purchased new in 1984. The paint frame, fork and headset are original - and that is it. It is equipped with a 50-34 crankset, 13-25 7 speed freewheel. It is equipped with 32-630 tires. The SR I built up a few years ago from an ebay frame and fork. The SR has a 52-39 crankset, same 13-25 7 speed freewheel and 37-590 tires. The overall gearing (rings & tire diameter) in the big ring of the two bikes is almost identical. I target cruising in the big ring and 5th at the back; giving me two gears up left for downhills and a bunch of gears down for going up hill. For traffic lights on the flat, I am starting off in the big ring at the front and big cog at the back. Setting up both bikes with identical gearing make things easier - less thought involved, especially with the irresponsible motor vehicle operators on the road.

    I have a '95 Trek 930 and '85 Schwinn Cimarron in the works that will may also be used for commuting. The will get 40-559 tires, and drop bars with 3x8 brifters.
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

  14. #14
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    A note about being upright... when I first got back into cycling in 2012 I tried my hardest to get my MTB to have a more upright position. It originally had a slammed 130mm stem. I switched out the fork with a rigid fork with spacers under the stem, tried a shorter adjustable stem adjusted as high as it would go, even super-riser handlebars. But then later I realized that somewhat leaned forward is actually better, for me anyway. When I get a new 31.8 mm flat handlebar I will be using a 100mm 6 stem with only a couple of small spacers underneath it.
    2011 Felt Z85 105 | Ultegra | KMC | Selle Italia | Vuelta | Topeak
    90's-ish KHS Alite 1000 MTB, *hybridized*

  15. #15
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    The best bike for you will depend a lot on personal preference. For what it's worth, my favorite commuter bike ever is a 70's girls Schwinn varsity converted to single speed. Old schwinns are very nice bikes, even the lower end models. They're very reliable, solid, comfortable, and not too flashy. IMO one of the best things about them for a daily commuter is the ease of maintenance. I can literally fix anything on my bike in ten minutes with a screwdriver and a crescent wrench... which is really great when you need to fix something by 6 am tomorrow!

    Either buy a bike that already has fenders and lights installed or budget to buy them separately. Same goes for a rack if you'll need to carry stuff. Most older bikes will take a rear rack and fenders, you may need to get creative with some p-clamps to make it work.

  16. #16
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    quick update, so I've actually purchased the Tempo and a 1985 Raleigh Olympian (Midnight Blue/Crimson, 555SL tube, everything is original including tires best looking used frame that I've run into looks near new). Not a high end bike for sure but around mid-range I think. I got these very inexpensively so I figure whichever one I liked best I would keep and re-sell the other. I do like both of these but the Tempo is just a touch too big for me (I did the sizing website and went to a LBS to get sized). Both bikes are getting tune ups/clean-ups/etc... at a small LBS near my work. The Raleigh will get a vintage rear rack, lights, fenders, new stem and Nitto upright handlebars, seat, tires/tubes/cables. I'll post some pics as soon as it's done.

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