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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 03-25-14, 07:18 PM   #1
clockworkiwi
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First Post and First Commuter Bike

Hi! I'm planning on getting my first commuter bike to start commuting to grad school which is 3 miles each way (6 miles round trip) on mostly flat city roads with mild to moderate traffic. I am considering the Cannondale Quick 6, but before I splurge (yes, for this broke graduate student, $529 on a bike is a major investment!) I wanted to seek any input from more experienced bikers here who might have this bike or at least be able to offer some feedback on this plan. I initially was going to get something from BikeDirect, but I have heard good things about the Quick 6, and it also comes with free support and tune-ups/adjustments from the store which is right near where I live for a good period of time, and thus don't have to worry about assembly or anything as I would with an online vendor.

Any and all thoughts/comments would be tremendously appreciated!!! Thank you!
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Old 03-25-14, 07:25 PM   #2
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Your minimum cost of entry is a bit more than list price. You have to figure in tax and at least a few essentials such as a helmet and ulock and cable. Perhaps $600 or a bit more.

Then again, think about how much you'll save on bus fare and/or gas/car maintenance.

The bike you're interested in seems like a solid choice. Among many others. The proper fit and quality supporting shop are more important factors than the bike itself, as long as it's a reputable brand.
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Old 03-25-14, 07:42 PM   #3
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Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I own a helmet, and plan to purchase some led lights on Amazon, along with a ulock and cable which collectively should not be more than $35. I agree that the quality and proximity of the shop is key for me (it's a cannondale shop), and they seem to stand behind their bikes. Alternatively I would have gotten a ~$400 bike from BikeDirect, paid ~60 for assembly and tuneup, and not had the same type of longitudinal support. Just want to be sure that the Quick 6 is an quality bike for the type of commute I will be doing!
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Old 03-25-14, 08:07 PM   #4
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It should be a fine bike for what you are doing. The most important thing is to do a test ride and make sure its comfortable and a good fit. IN addition to maintenence buying from your LBSs, your LBS could probably help evaluate the fit, making sure you get the right size, saddle is adjusted right, etc. Common items to swap out are the saddle and stem to make the fit right and often your LBS will swap the stem for free when you buy the bike if needed.

If you do plan to lock your bike outside, make sure to get a good lock.

For lights, decide if you plan to ride at night at all. Some lights are to be seen and some are to see in the dark. Get a good tail light - there are many great options that are under $30.

If you have to carry a lot of weight you might think about a rack and panniers instead of a backpack, but that is also somewhat a personal preference.

Not sure where you are located or the weather, but also think about any rain gear, good windbreaker, etc if you plan to ride in bad weather. A bright jacket or vest with reflective elements can help increase your visibility and keep you comfortable when its cool or wet.
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Old 03-25-14, 08:09 PM   #5
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For a short commute like yours, that bike will be perfect
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Old 03-25-14, 08:24 PM   #6
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It should be a fine bike for what you are doing. The most important thing is to do a test ride and make sure its comfortable and a good fit. IN addition to maintenence buying from your LBSs, your LBS could probably help evaluate the fit, making sure you get the right size, saddle is adjusted right, etc. Common items to swap out are the saddle and stem to make the fit right and often your LBS will swap the stem for free when you buy the bike if needed.

If you do plan to lock your bike outside, make sure to get a good lock.

For lights, decide if you plan to ride at night at all. Some lights are to be seen and some are to see in the dark. Get a good tail light - there are many great options that are under $30.

If you have to carry a lot of weight you might think about a rack and panniers instead of a backpack, but that is also somewhat a personal preference.

Not sure where you are located or the weather, but also think about any rain gear, good windbreaker, etc if you plan to ride in bad weather. A bright jacket or vest with reflective elements can help increase your visibility and keep you comfortable when its cool or wet.
The costs do add up, don't they? Some of this stuff can be purchased down the road, but definitely not a ulock/cable and lights, with a nicer light set costing upwards of $100 to start. I would also say reflective materials are a must.

I would also say a rear view mirror is a safety necessity, not just a nicety.
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Old 03-25-14, 08:31 PM   #7
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I don't think BikesDirect would be a completely safe choice, given that you're newer to bicycling and wouldn't be able to test the fit.

The Quick is more than good enough for the job. It's a 3-mile commute, so you could use almost anything. I did thousands of miles on a $99 Walmart bike (which is still on the road in other hands now).

Universities are hotspots for bike theft, so I hope your grad school is in a safe neighborhood or you lock the heck out of it. Make sure to use the locks correctly. Granted, he's in NYC which has very high bike theft, but the technique ideas still stand. Don't be that guy who U-locked a wheel to a rack and had a thief detach the wheel and take everything else.

Some will argue, but I believe the higher-quality (i.e. stronger, tougher to break) U-locks or chains start around $50. This also brings up the question of what level of security you'll need at your grad school.

BikeRegistry.com costs a buck and may deter theft to boot.

If you had a knowledgeable bike buddy, you could surf Craigslist and possibly get a great deal for $100-$150. Less theft risk, less loss in the case of theft, resell it for almost as much, and it gives you a chance to test-ride a particular bike. Newer bicyclists are more likely to have buyer's remorse ("wish I had bought a road bike"). You could test-ride a used steed, figure out what you do/don't like about it, and upgrade models down the road when you have a better idea of exactly what you want.
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Old 03-25-14, 08:57 PM   #8
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For lights, decide if you plan to ride at night at all. Some lights are to be seen and some are to see in the dark. Get a good tail light - there are many great options that are under $30.

If you have to carry a lot of weight you might think about a rack and panniers instead of a backpack, but that is also somewhat a personal preference.
I will be locking it outside at work (daytime) but inside at night. You mention great light options for less than $30 -- can you give me particular examples or suggestions?

In response to some other comments, I toyed with the idea of getting a used/craigslist bike, but can't seem to find anything suitable for my height and preferences. The closest I found was around $300, but for me it seems like $250 more is worth it for a brand new bike with the support of a shop down the street - am I mistaken in thinking this? Also the shop has interest free 10 month financing, so I factor in the interest accrued on savings over that time period.
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Old 03-25-14, 09:30 PM   #9
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The bike will be great. Buying from a shop is a good idea. They will fit you and there is always service. For lights something like the Planet Bike Blaze and Super Flash combo package which should be less than forty is a good deal. Decent lights, especially the rear. Your choice of lock is my biggest concern. Cable locks in many places are useless. A good quality U lock is the way I would go.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:19 AM   #10
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I will be locking it outside at work (daytime) but inside at night. You mention great light options for less than $30 -- can you give me particular examples or suggestions?

In response to some other comments, I toyed with the idea of getting a used/craigslist bike, but can't seem to find anything suitable for my height and preferences. The closest I found was around $300, but for me it seems like $250 more is worth it for a brand new bike with the support of a shop down the street - am I mistaken in thinking this? Also the shop has interest free 10 month financing, so I factor in the interest accrued on savings over that time period.
I think success on craigslist depends a bit on where you are, how much you know, and getting luckily. I have found near me its hard to find a good deal on Craigslist, but your mileage could vary. You also don't have help of the LBS on fit and the service your LBS will give you with a new bike.

As for lights, you will probably get a ton of opinions around here. Based on reviews, personal experience, and others comments, you might consider the following tail lights: Cygolite Hotshot, Planet Bike Superflash Turbo, Portland Design Works Radbot 1000, Portand Design Works Danger Zone, or NiteRider Cherry Bomb - You should be able to get any of them for under $30 online and they all give very good rear.

There are a ton of headlight options depending on how much light you want and what you want to spend.. Nite rider makes some great headlights and Luina lights have a great mount that is easy to remove - you can find some deals online. Cygolite Metro lights (300, 360, 500) are a great value and work well. Light and motion are great lights, but pricey. Many people on this forum love the CREE Magicshine clones from amazon/ebay.

You may be able to get a package with headlight tail light, such as
Amazon.com: Cygolite Metro 360/Hotshot 2W Combo Light Set: Sports & Outdoors

If it is mostly to be seen, you could get away with a less expensive/bright headlight, but I would still make sure you get a good tail light.
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Old 03-26-14, 04:31 AM   #11
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+1 for the Cygolite set mentioned above. Have been very happy with mine.
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Old 03-26-14, 08:11 AM   #12
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Before we get too hyped on the equipment - and yes it's all great to have - it makes more sense to establish a baseline. It is three miles, mostly flat and moderate traffic.


The Cannondale would be great for this. A decent quality racing bike might gain you five minutes on the trip, optimistically. On the other side of the coin a stove-pipe comfort bike might cost you five minutes. So best to worst, timewise the range from bikes is no more than ten minutes. The bike for this commute primarily needs to be reliable and an enjoyable ride. Everything else about the bike itself depends on whatever else you want to do with it.

I really like having a rack on a commuter, but again strictly optional. Backpack is fine. Without carrying a full change of clothes and shoes, you can bundle it in a seat back, tie the bundle to the handlebars, hang the bag on the top tube. I've tried all of these, all work OK, and for 3 miles I'd probably just carry the backpack. Unless it was hot or I had a rack. I'm just saying, not having that equipment or even the mounting eyelets for it isn't that big of a factor. My advice is simply, choose the bike that you want to ride and I'm certain that you'll make it work for the commute.
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Old 03-26-14, 08:24 AM   #13
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I would opt for a used bike. If you can find something for $100-$200 and expect to spend another $100 on repairs and upgrades, you will come out ahead. Mind you, I don't know any good used bike shops in New Zealand.
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Old 03-26-14, 08:53 AM   #14
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Hi! I'm planning on getting my first commuter bike to start commuting to grad school which is 3 miles each way (6 miles round trip) on mostly flat city roads with mild to moderate traffic. I am considering the Cannondale Quick 6, but before I splurge (yes, for this broke graduate student, $529 on a bike is a major investment!) I wanted to seek any input from more experienced bikers here who might have this bike or at least be able to offer some feedback on this plan. I initially was going to get something from BikeDirect, but I have heard good things about the Quick 6, and it also comes with free support and tune-ups/adjustments from the store which is right near where I live for a good period of time, and thus don't have to worry about assembly or anything as I would with an online vendor.
Just saying... my main commuter is nicer looking (to my eyes) than your choice, but only cost $150 from a co-op. But it isn't new. I have owned new bikes I know the feeling. So go for the new bike if you can swing it. There are more models of bike than a Quick 6, and more brands than Cannondale. I LOVED Cannondale's of ~20 years ago. They've kind of lost me in the enusing decades. Specialized and Trek and even Giant have bike models in the price range of a Quick 6 that you should look at. I did some quick (get it?) Googling on your behalf, and I've just pulled up a Trek Allant. Tell me that that bike isn't better looking, better equipped (for commuting) than a Quick 6. I'd sooner take a Trek FX7.5 or something in the FX line and put fenders and a rack on it (another poster mentioned racks and fenders and he is correct, you want these). Whether I've paid $30 or $1500 (tandem) all my bikes are regarded as various adjectives known to be affirming of attractiveness by those who see them, in and out of the biking community. I cannot let you plunk down $500 large for a bike as lacking in character as that Q6 that you are smitten by. It's only because you haven't been around the block enough. Don't do it. Take some more time. Get a second opinion. Find another bike shop that sells different product lines. Its your street cred on the line here. FWIW.

H
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Old 03-26-14, 11:33 AM   #15
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A good point brought up in another post you need a plan if you get a flat tire on your commute - you will probably need a mini pump, spare tube, etc and maybe a saddle bag to hold them. Alternatively some really good flat resistant tires, and a backup plan if you do get a flat (for example if you ride along a bus route and you can just put your bike on the bus if you get a flat). You can start with the backup plan and get your own stuff to deal with it later.

You are getting a lot of opinions on what bike to get, new and used, etc. Remember, this is your bike, so ultimately its up to you what bike you get, the cannonade, another brand of bike, a used bike, etc. A used bike might save some money, but you will have to do maintenance yourself or pay the shop. If you get free maintenance on a new bike, that could be a good deal if you don't want to learn to do it yourself. As for Cannondale vs Trek vs Giant vs Specialized - everyone has an opinion, but at the end of the day, ALL of these brands have a similarly priced and equipped bike that will be fine for you. It really comes down to two things 1) the bike YOU like best - fit, feel, looks, etc. and 2) a SHOP you like working with and will give you good service, is convenient, etc. I have learned that it can be very nice to get a good relationship with a local shop.
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Old 03-26-14, 11:41 AM   #16
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I do as much work on my bikes myself as I can for 3 reasons, in order of importance:

1. I love tinkering and working on stuff, i.e. DIY pretty much anything.
2. I don't want to spend the money to pay someone to do it.
3. It's less hassle for me if I can just go ahead and do it, rather than having to drop the bike off, leave it, be without the bike for what could be days, then have to go back and pick it up. Thankfully my favorite LBS just opened a new location a couple miles from my house. Before, it was at least a 25 mile round trip from my house to visit the LBS - major pain when I only needed a tube or something.

Luckily I have a pretty good amount of tools accumulated over the years from DIY auto and home work. I've only had to buy a few specialized tools like a chain whip, cassette tool, crank arm remover, etc. My next purchase will be a cable/housing cutter tool because trying to cut that stuff with regular pliers is a major PITA. I just replaced all the cables and housing on my KHS bike last week and it took me forever!

When I started into cycling 2 years ago I didn't know much at all about working on bikes. I could change a tire but that was about it. This forum has been a huge help for me.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:15 PM   #17
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Kevlar reinforced cable locks can be found in bike shops for thirty dollars and significantly increase difficulty in cutting, and tools required to do so. We carry Blackburn. For instance, the other day I cut a standard cable lock with nothing but a small pair of worn out diagonal cutters. Took maybe ten snips to get through. And those cutters fit in my pocket.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:51 PM   #18
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That would be a pretty good bike. But there are a few other options. I personally just chose a Trek 7.1FX for $430 as my main commuter and it's been very reliable and has had some serious miles put in it which includes my first century a couple weeks back. But if you really don't mind spending the kind of money on the Cannondale, there's no reason you shouldn't. However, you're gonna wanna think about things like a rack, fenders, a good lock, and some lights.

I'd also recommend checking out the Trek 7.2FX for a bit less.
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Old 03-26-14, 01:03 PM   #19
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I don't trust cable locks for the frame, only for the other parts. The frame needs a ulock, and the thickness is commensurate with the newness and worth of the bike.
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Old 03-26-14, 01:14 PM   #20
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Either a U-lock with a square cross-section, or a square-link chain (also square cross-section) I think are the best defense against bolt cutters. Tests I've seen show them nearly impervious to bolt cutters. However nothing really will stand up to an angle grinder attack. Also square-section U-locks and chains can be quite heavy and expensive.
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Old 03-26-14, 01:57 PM   #21
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My next purchase will be a cable/housing cutter tool . . . I just replaced all the cables and housing
Sounds like you don't need a cable/housing cutter any more . Of course, I would never try to talk someone from buying their next tool .
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Old 03-27-14, 09:55 AM   #22
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All you need on flat terrain is a single speed. Just go to www.bikesdirect.com and order the Dawes SST single speed Track bike for $250.

Single speeds are both inexpensive and low maintenance.

Call their customer service department for sizing tips, before you actually order the bike. Not much will be required to assemble the bike, as single speeds are 90% assembled upon delivery. Whatever you don't feel comfortable with in assembly, you can easily refer to their website for further instructions.

How to assemble a bicycle | Road Bike assembly | Mountain bike assembly | bikesdirect.com instruction sheet

Get a Solid U-Lock!

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Old 03-28-14, 02:59 PM   #23
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Thanks to all for the amazing advise! Wow. You guys are awesome.

Anyway -- I figured I'd update all of you with a HUGE TURN OF EVENTS:

Well -- I got a bike!! However, it was not the one I was thinking of when I first posted here.

I stopped into a tiny little used bike shop that I hadn't noticed before on a whim, and fell in love with a (circa?) 1980's Motobecane Mirage (made in france)! My only reservation was the 'racing style' drop handlebars, which I had never used before, and I was concerned about their safety (relative to flat bars), but after taking it for a spin, my fears were partially allayed (still lightly on-edge about them though but equally enthusiastic!).

The super-nice mechanic there installed all new brake pads and tuned it up to my liking. I bought a u-lock there which he mounted and he also threw in a free pair of lights.

What I paid for bike and accessories: $279

It's not new, but I think it will suit me well! It is super-light and sleek. Cost less than expected, so maybe now I can use what I saved on sprucing up what I think is already a pretty good ride. My #1 concern is safety, so at this point I think I will get a vest+vest-light to improve my visibility, and a bell to alert others that I'm around, on Amazon or something. Is there anything else I should consider?

Attached Images
File Type: jpg motobecane.jpg (99.7 KB, 29 views)

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Old 03-28-14, 03:11 PM   #24
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My #1 concern is safety, so at this point I think I will get a vest+vest-light to improve my visibility, and a bell to alert others that I'm around, on Amazon or something. Is there anything else I should consider?

Helmet.
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Old 03-28-14, 03:14 PM   #25
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Had one already! On that note though -- are certain helmets categorically safer than others?
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