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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 05-31-14, 11:34 PM   #1
justtheone23
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New to biking!

Hey there,

I just got a job a little closer to home and want to start biking to work! It will be about 12 miles each way, mostly pavement with some dirt and gravel. I want to get a bike I can also ride in the woods. I was told a good bike to get would be a mountain bike with 29er tires. I'm looking for a budget friendly bike as I don't want to spend too much on my first bike. Any advice or suggestions?

Thanks!
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Old 05-31-14, 11:59 PM   #2
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Welcome to the site!

Commuting & mountain bike combo is a tricky one. Offroad tires add weight and bumpy tread you do not want on a paved surface.

What is your budget, how long is your offroad route and what kind of things are along you route, is it cobbled streets, concrete, low or high speed paved etc etc?

- Andy

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Old 06-01-14, 12:51 AM   #3
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Here's my main commuter. It's an old mountain bike, no suspension, street slicks, fenders, lights, rack and panniers. It works well, is low cost and gets me where I need to go.




12 miles should be a good distance for you. Ride the route on a weekend before you try to commute so you have an accurate estimate of the time needed and things to watch for on your ride.
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Old 06-01-14, 08:07 AM   #4
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Not to discourage you, but 12 miles each way is a goodly distance for someone not used to it. I gather you're new not only to bike commuting but bicycling as well (since you don't seem to own a bike).

The specific bicycle is much less important than your ability to turn the pedals that far daily without becoming over tired o discouraged. I'm not saying it's too long in the big picture, as many here commute that far and farther. But biting off more than you can chew early on is a fast wy to become discouraged and quit entirely.

Whatever bike you get (I lean to a basic non suspension mtn or hybrid, using tires smooth in the center, with some tread to the sides) ride it for pleasure until your comfortable with the distance, then phase into the commute 3 days a week and work up to 5 days.
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Old 06-01-14, 08:10 AM   #5
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Here's my main commuter. It's an old mountain bike, no suspension, street slicks, fenders, lights, rack and panniers. It works well, is low cost and gets me where I need to go. 12 miles should be a good distance for you. Ride the route on a weekend before you try to commute so you have an accurate estimate of the time needed and things to watch for on your ride.
+1... Plus, if you are budget concious a more standard 26" bike with more standardized components will be less expensive to operate and maintain. Can't decide between road tires and knobbies? A pair of either can be had at Wal-Mart for under $30 for 26"...much less than 29-ers at an LBS. BTW...an LBS can be your best and least expensive option for gear and advice with more gear and advice than you'll find at a big box store.
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Old 06-01-14, 08:16 AM   #6
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Checkout the '13 Marin Muirwoods 29er from Amazon @ $450

The problem will be ordering the correct size...

How tall are you?
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Old 06-01-14, 10:40 AM   #7
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Thanks for the advice!

I know it's a lot to start out with that's why I was going to work up to it. The full route will have maybe 2 miles total of gravel/dirt. The rest will be paved in town with no fast paced hwy.

I'm 5'6. I'd like to stay under $600 for everything.

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Old 06-01-14, 01:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by justtheone23 View Post
Thanks for the advice!

I know it's a lot to start out with that's why I was going to work up to it. The full route will have maybe 2 miles total of gravel/dirt. The rest will be paved in town with no fast paced hwy.

I'm 5'6. I'd like to stay under $600 for everything.
Subtract $100-150 for helmet and incidentals leaving $450-500 for a bike. If you shop carefully, that actually buys a lot of bike compared to your needs. Stay with a rigid frame and fork (no front suspension) so your money can go into better basic stuff rather than a large chunk going for a lousy suspension fork.
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Old 06-01-14, 02:23 PM   #9
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Not a mountain bike, but for the commute and price range you have in mind, the Trek FX 7.1 ($459) or 7.2 ($549) might work out. If you have a Giant dealer in your area, their hybrids would be good too. I've been on a Giant Cypress DX for about ten years.

These bikes would leave you a little extra for a helmet, pump, and flat fix kit. If you will be commuting in the dark, be sure you save some money for good a headlight and tail light too.

It sounds like you have a good plan to build up to the full commute. Good luck!
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Old 06-01-14, 03:04 PM   #10
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Amazon has the Marin Muirwoods for sale @ $450...

It's a 26er in what should be near your size. It's 15 inches. That should be just about right for your height.

The Muirwoods is made of chromoly steel and has wide tires. You'll need the wide tires for those 2 miles of gravel...

The Muirwoods is part urban commuter and part mountain bike. If you want, you can install both rack & fenders.
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Old 06-01-14, 03:17 PM   #11
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Thanks for the advice!

I know it's a lot to start out with that's why I was going to work up to it. The full route will have maybe 2 miles total of gravel/dirt. The rest will be paved in town with no fast paced hwy.

I'm 5'6. I'd like to stay under $600 for everything.
Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't have the Muirwoods 29er in your size. However luckily, it does have the Muirwoods 26er in your size (Amazon only has 2 remaining in size 15"). The price remains $450...

The Muirwoods is made of chromoly steel and has wide tires for that 2 miles of gravel you'll have to traverse on your commute.
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Old 06-03-14, 09:23 AM   #12
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I'm kind of leaning more towards a mountain bike because I want to be able to use it on trails too. I would rather buy one in person so I can test ride. Do you think used bikes are okay to get?
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Old 06-03-14, 10:09 AM   #13
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Used bikes are a great idea, if you know what you're looking for and looking at, and have it checked by a good bike mechanic. But as has been said, for around $500 you should be able to get a decent entry level mountain bike if that's what you're set on.

I'll echo, however, the issue with knobby MTB tires on roads and commuting. I'd seriously getting some commuter tires instead of riding with the knobbies. You can swap out tires when you're trail riding.

And as far as the 12 mile distance ... honestly I think between 10-15 miles one way is an ideal commute. Mine is 12 miles each way. Currently I'm riding three days a week, but looking to increase that to four days a week and do a few five day/week commutes over the summer. That said, if you're new to this, you'll need to work up to it. It can take quite a bit out of you, especially in the beginning.
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Old 06-03-14, 10:33 AM   #14
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I'm kind of leaning more towards a mountain bike because I want to be able to use it on trails too. I would rather buy one in person so I can test ride. Do you think used bikes are okay to get?
The Muirwoods IS a mountain bike for all intents and purposes! As already stated, it's part mtb and part commuter, as well...

The main difference between a mtb and a road bike, is tire width. The Muirwoods has a 40mm tire width.

40mm = 1.5in

There once was a time when we had no suspension forks and we called our steel bikes with wide tire clearance, "mountain bikes".

...Before that, we called them, "Cruisers"!

PS.

Unless you find a great deal on CL or used, a $500 mtb won't have a decent mtb fork. Many mtb forks cost well over $500...

* Try to avoid suspended forks!

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Old 06-03-14, 10:36 AM   #15
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I commuted on this for 2 years. Mostly in Frankfurt and rode in the mountains on the weekend.

I do think that people on BF exaggerate how horrible a MTB with front suspension is for commuting.

If one only has a single bike in the stable ... I think a bike like this makes an excellent start as it's very versatile. Especially if you also want to ride trails and single-tracks on the weekend.

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Old 06-03-14, 10:49 AM   #16
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I'm kind of leaning more towards a mountain bike because I want to be able to use it on trails too. I would rather buy one in person so I can test ride. Do you think used bikes are okay to get?
One recommendation: Trek 920/930/950/970/990 1997 or earlier, without front suspension. These are very light, very strong, and available for reasonable prices, leaving plenty of room for a thorough tune up, new tires, fenders, lights (tail lights are very important for others to see you, head lights are for you to see idiots wearing dark light absorbing clothing).

Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Amazon.com : Schwalbe Marathon GG RLX Wire Bead Tire (26X1.5) : Bike Tires : Sports & Outdoors
If you go with one of my recommendations above; the 26 x 1.75 size will work well on the street and limited trail use.

Go with thorn resistant tubes; I like Sunlite. I hate flat tires.....
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Old 06-03-14, 11:17 AM   #17
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I started my commuting on my old boyhood Schwinn Frontier GS (1995 model) that I bought with all my saved money when I was 15. I was so proud of that bike. I had the luxury of doing transit with cycling since my 12 mile one way commute seemed unbearable. But after a few weeks the transit was more of a hassle and I tried to cycle it all, and it was not bad. I eventually worked up to doing it four days a week. Five days a few times.

A mountain bike is fine, I started with generic Kenda knobby tires, eventually moved to Panaracer Crosstowns. Then to a hybrid bike then to a touring bike. I have always had a rack and panniers and sometimes fenders. I loved my Schwinn and miss it dearly after giving it away two years ago, served me very well for almost 20 years. Also I learned almost all my maintenance on it, easier and more forgiving than other bikes.

Anywho, a mountain bike is a great all around commuter to get you started and you will learn what else works for you.

What is your commute like in terms of hills? The hills are what killed me starting on my Schwinn, they get easier. It is loose gravel? That will make a difference in tires. I felt fine with my Panaracers on packed down crushed stone trails, loose gravel, not as nice.

A generic mountain bike with decent components will last years, it is versatile. Groceries, kid hauler, beater errand runner, loaner when friends visit, backup when a newer bike fails. It is always useful to have one kicking around.

They are also a great starter to cycle commuting.

Ultimately it is the engine, not the bike.
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Old 06-03-14, 11:20 AM   #18
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@acidfast7

I agree suspension forks are not the worst commuters, full suspension are and cheap full suspensions are even worse. Still better than walking most days though.

I had a guy drafting my at 41 km/h (~25 mph) with a front suspension fork yesterday. So not too slow I would say!

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Old 06-03-14, 11:30 AM   #19
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I commuted on this for 2 years. Mostly in Frankfurt and rode in the mountains on the weekend.

I do think that people on BF exaggerate how horrible a MTB with front suspension is for commuting.

If one only has a single bike in the stable ... I think a bike like this makes an excellent start as it's very versatile. Especially if you also want to ride trails and single-tracks on the weekend.

Nice bike, Acidfast7!

What kind of fork is on that Cube, anyway?
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Old 06-03-14, 11:54 AM   #20
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@acidfast7

I agree suspension forks are not the worst commuters, full suspension are and cheap full suspensions are even worse. Still better than walking most days thought.

I had a guy drafting my at 41 km/h (~25 mph) with a front suspension fork yesterday. So not too slow I would say!
Not at all. Especially with rebound adjust and a handlebar-mounted lockout.
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Old 06-03-14, 11:54 AM   #21
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Nice bike, Acidfast7!

What kind of fork is on that Cube, anyway?
A cheap 2010 Rock Shox DART 3 100mm.
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Old 06-03-14, 02:53 PM   #22
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A cheap 2010 Rock Shox DART 3 100mm.
Well, if it works for you, then que sera.. sera, my friend!
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Old 06-03-14, 03:30 PM   #23
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I agree with some of the folks above that unless you are riding really rough MTB terrain I would avoid a front suspension for commuting, just because of the extra weight. 29 inch tires are definitely faster than 26. I think any solid hybrid should work well. Within your budget maybe a Giant Escape 2, list price $420. 32 series tires should be more than enough for light trails.
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