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  1. #1
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    Good entry level road bike for commuting

    I want to get a road bike for commuting. I'd prefer not to spend more than $800. I'd prefer a road bike with drop handlebars, since I like to vary my hand positions. Also, I want a bike that's not extremely heavy.

    On the other hand, I want relaxed geometry. I know a lot of people swear by the positions of conventional road bikes, but it doesn't work for me--I don't mind a reasonable forward lean at the waist, but I get a ton of pain if I have to actually bend my spine to reach the bars (I have scoliosis and some other problems). Even some "hybrid" bikes kill my spine if they're not altered in some way to get the handlebars up high.

    If the bike has a threadless stem, then I will use one of those stem risers to bring up the handlebars. if it has a threaded stem, I need one that can go up pretty high.

    I feel a lot of pressure at most bike shops to get a bike that has a much more aerodynamic position than I'm comfortable with, so I want to have some idea of some entry level road bike models that have a relaxed geometry (or can be inexpensively altered to that end) before I actually go into the shops to start looking around.

    Recommendations are much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    How fast do you ride, how long is your commute, do you need panniers or fenders?

    Personally, I found that a road oriented single speed worked for me - light and fast and could carry racks. the 23mm tires were not very practical though. Really, one of the first questions is speed vs comfort leading to what tire size you want. Some people like road bike size, some like mountain bike cush, some like something in between.

    From what you are describing, the trek FX seires sounds good. You can spend a couple hundred to well over a thousand $$$ depending on which version you get. Also - I like bull horns as they give me all of the hand positions without actually getting down in the drops (for what it is worth)

  3. #3
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    Maybe extend your budget a bit and look at touring bikes? Those are supposed to be a bit more relaxed, I think.

    But I'm a noob.

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    A Schwinn Super Sport DBX has now come up for sale on eBay. Its a country bike before the term was invented. I have one in medium size and its outfitted with a rack, full fenders and a headlight. It will take 35c tires under the fenders. It has disc brakes for stopping power in wet weather. Its an all-rounder bike that's equally at home on the trails as well as on the road. The sloping top tube fits more riders and gives the bike a very stable feel. It won't be as fast as a road bike but for me its been an excellent commuter bike. You can't go wrong with it.

  5. #5
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
    How fast do you ride, how long is your commute, do you need panniers or fenders?
    I ride slowly, but mostly because I'm pretty weak and out of shape and my current bike is really heavy. My commute is roughly 7 miles, give or take. I don't strictly need panniers or fenders, but they would be nice.

    Personally, I found that a road oriented single speed worked for me - light and fast and could carry racks. the 23mm tires were not very practical though. Really, one of the first questions is speed vs comfort leading to what tire size you want. Some people like road bike size, some like mountain bike cush, some like something in between.
    I didn't really think much about that. I definitely want to be able to go faster than I can on my current bike (a Raleigh Mojave 2.0--I've always had it outfitted with slicks, but that only helps so much). Even when I was in good shape, I found the slowness frustrating. I would be willing to sacrifice cushioning for speed; a rough or stiff ride doesn't really bother me. I just can't bend my spine much.

    From what you are describing, the trek FX seires sounds good. You can spend a couple hundred to well over a thousand $$$ depending on which version you get. Also - I like bull horns as they give me all of the hand positions without actually getting down in the drops (for what it is worth)
    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Here is one to think about:

    Breezer Bikes - Uptown EX - LS - Bike Overview

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  7. #7
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sullalto View Post
    Maybe extend your budget a bit and look at touring bikes? Those are supposed to be a bit more relaxed, I think.

    But I'm a noob.
    Really, $800 ~is~ an extension of my budget, haha.

    I've been looking at used bikes, but didn't really like the ones I saw, and I'd prefer to get a bike pretty soon rather than try to find the best deal on a used bike, since that could take a while.

    The only new touring bike within my budget is the one from Bikes Direct. But I'm not sure how I feel about buying a bike I can't see in person first.

  8. #8
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    Find Bikes, Cycling Clothing, Bike Parts & Bike Shoes Or Your Local Bike Store at Performance.

    The Fuji Sportif 2.1 at $800 - It's an "Endurance" bike...

    Just pick it up at your nearest "Performance" bike shop already assembled. If you don't like it after a test ride, you can get a refund!

    Call customer service for sizing suggestions

  9. #9
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    Find Bikes, Cycling Clothing, Bike Parts & Bike Shoes Or Your Local Bike Store at Performance.

    The Fuji Sportif 2.1 at $800 - It's an "Endurance" bike...

    Just pick it up at your nearest "Performance" bike shop already assembled. If you don't like it after a test ride, you can get a refund!

    Call customer service for sizing suggestions
    I would look into it, but there are no Performance bike shops in my area.

  10. #10
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    The problem is the tradeoffs - with your bad back, comfort comes at the expense of speed. Even more so when carrying a load.

    People equate heavy bicycles with so-called "gaspipe" bicycles. That isn't necessarily true. English roadsters like the Raleigh Tourist or the Dutch Opa fiet are built like tanks but due to their very slack frame geometry, they have a plush ride, an almost Cadillac feel on a bike. After a while, you'll forget you can't go very fast because the upright position is very forgiving on one's back and neck and the very weight of the bicycle contributes to a feeling of sure footed stability even under load.

    You can get a faster bike of course but it may not be as comfortable to ride on a commute.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph12 View Post
    I would look into it, but there are no Performance bike shops in my area.
    In which state do you reside?

  12. #12
    Yogi on Wheels schiiism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    Find Bikes, Cycling Clothing, Bike Parts & Bike Shoes Or Your Local Bike Store at Performance.

    The Fuji Sportif 2.1 at $800 - It's an "Endurance" bike...

    Just pick it up at your nearest "Performance" bike shop already assembled. If you don't like it after a test ride, you can get a refund!

    Call customer service for sizing suggestions
    +1, I ride a WSD version of exactly what you're describing from Fuji and I love it. It's ~23 lbs and has relaxed geometry. Performance has a good selection of them and you can occasionally find steals from old new stock.

    Here's one that might be good for you, it's from their endurance series and is in your price range - Fuji Bikes | ROAD | ENDURANCE SERIES | SPORTIF 2.3 C

  13. #13
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    In which state do you reside?
    Massachusetts.

  14. #14
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schiiism View Post
    +1, I ride a WSD version of exactly what you're describing from Fuji and I love it. It's ~23 lbs and has relaxed geometry. Performance has a good selection of them and you can occasionally find steals from old new stock.

    Here's one that might be good for you, it's from their endurance series and is in your price range - Fuji Bikes | ROAD | ENDURANCE SERIES | SPORTIF 2.3 C
    I'll look into it, thanks. Out of curiosity, does it have a threadless stem? I have never actually owned a bike with a threaded stem, so I don't know how adjustable they tend to be. But for every threadless-stem bike I've ridden, I've added a stem riser, which made them more comfortable.

    Edit: After looking at the Windsor Tourist (the touring bike on BD) again, I'm actually finding it somewhat tempting. It's really inexpensive and looks very comfortable. They don't have my size in stock though, so maybe I'll look into the Sportif first.
    Last edited by ralph12; 05-30-14 at 05:18 PM.

  15. #15
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
    A Schwinn Super Sport DBX has now come up for sale on eBay.
    Damn,if one of those was a L I'd be tempted to buy it as a spare.

    For the OP: how good of a mechanic are you(or do you have a good local shop),and how well do you know how bikes fit you? For a sub $1k budget,I think you'd do best going with Bikes Direct. Properly assembled,they have some really good deals.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Dahon Speed Pro TT,Brompton S6L

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    Wait a minute!

    This doesn't make any sense to me...

    You want drop handlebars, yet bending too much pains you. The whole entire purpose of drop bars, is to bend down and assume a more aerodynamic position. Having the need to raise the handlebars negates the whole purpose of drops. Perhaps a Performance hybrid with bar ends would be more conducive to your personal comfort and much less expensive as well.

    I think you should be looking at bikes like the Giant Escape, the Jamis Coda, the Cannondale Quick, the Trek FX, etc...

    Just install bar ends for more hand positions while cycling over greater distances. Since you'll being buying hybrids, you'll get much better componentry for the price paid.

    * I keep reading the OP, but nothing computes concerning the relaxed road geo vs the hybrid geo...
    Last edited by WestPablo; 05-30-14 at 05:23 PM.

  17. #17
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    Wait a minute!

    This doesn't make any sense to me...

    You want drop handlebars, yet bending too much pains you. The whole entire purpose of drop bars, is to bend down and assume a more aerodynamic position. Having the need to raise the handlebars negates the whole purpose of drops. Perhaps a Performance hybrid with bar ends would be more conducive to your personal comfort and much less expensive as well.

    I think you should be looking at bikes like the Giant Escape, the Jamis Coda, the Cannondale Quick, the Trek FX, etc...

    Just install bar ends for more hand positions while cycling over greater distances. Since you'll being buying hybrids, you'll get much better componentry for the price paid.
    Thank you for the information. I like the varying hand positions available with drop bars, but I didn't give bar ends a thought. I'll look into some hybrids.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    Wait a minute!

    This doesn't make any sense to me...

    You want drop handlebars, yet bending too much pains you. The whole entire purpose of drop bars, is to bend down and assume a more aerodynamic position. Having the need to raise the handlebars negates the whole purpose of drops. Perhaps a Performance hybrid with bar ends would be more conducive to your personal comfort and much less expensive as well.

    I think you should be looking at bikes like the Giant Escape, the Jamis Coda, the Cannondale Quick, the Trek FX, etc...

    Just install bar ends for more hand positions while cycling over greater distances. Since you'll being buying hybrids, you'll get much better componentry for the price paid.

    * I keep reading the OP, but nothing computes concerning the relaxed road geo vs the hybrid geo...
    As someone with hand/wrist problems, I wish I had drop bars solely for the more varied hand positions available. And yes, I have bar ends. Still not as many options.

  19. #19
    Yogi on Wheels schiiism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph12 View Post
    I'll look into it, thanks. Out of curiosity, does it have a threadless stem? I have never actually owned a bike with a threaded stem, so I don't know how adjustable they tend to be. But for every threadless-stem bike I've ridden, I've added a stem riser, which made them more comfortable.

    Edit: After looking at the Windsor Tourist (the touring bike on BD) again, I'm actually finding it somewhat tempting. It's really inexpensive and looks very comfortable. They don't have my size in stock though, so maybe I'll look into the Sportif first.
    It's threadless. My Univega is threaded and is able to make more finely tuned adjustments. The Univega's frame is also too small for me so I had to have the bars raised, so it's at the very top limit that you can safely adjust it to. My Fuji is pretty high too, honestly it just came that way and I haven't bothered to change it.

    Fuji Finest Stem.jpg

    My Fuji happens to be in the warehouse lol so here's the stem
    Last edited by schiiism; 05-30-14 at 05:39 PM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sullalto View Post
    As someone with hand/wrist problems, I wish I had drop bars solely for the more varied hand positions available. And yes, I have bar ends. Still not as many options.
    Hands and wrists are your main problems, but the OP's back is his primary problem. IMO, having to bend less, with more available hand positions, is a more equitable trade-off.

  21. #21
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    is there an appreciable difference between hybrids and flat bar road bikes? Obviously I'm assuming the latter will probably be lighter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph12 View Post
    is there an appreciable difference between hybrids and flat bar road bikes? Obviously I'm assuming the latter will probably be lighter.
    It all depends upon which hybrid and which road bike. In general, the fundamental differences lie in both the geometry and the handlebars.

  23. #23
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Fuji makes a touring bike for $800: http://www.adventurecycling.org/defa...est_Pelkey.pdf

    That's what I'd get for $800 if looking for a commuter with drop bars. The other bike I'd consider costs $1250: Surly Cross Check Bike - 2013 at REI.com

  24. #24
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    A few bikes you might consider: Giant Defy 5, Redline Metro Sport, Specialized Secteur Compact.

  25. #25
    Senior Member andyprough's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schiiism View Post
    +1, I ride a WSD version of exactly what you're describing from Fuji and I love it. It's ~23 lbs and has relaxed geometry. Performance has a good selection of them and you can occasionally find steals from old new stock.

    Here's one that might be good for you, it's from their endurance series and is in your price range - Fuji Bikes | ROAD | ENDURANCE SERIES | SPORTIF 2.3 C
    Yup - hard to go wrong with the Fuji Sportif. That will probably be my next bike.

    Absolutely beautiful bike, and so comfortable and quick.

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