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  1. #1
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    Questions for a noob

    I have made the decision that I want to start commuting to work. I am a teacher and am forced to spend the majority of my day inside, and I thought it would be nice to get some exercise before work and save some emission pollution also. I don't mind if the bike is flashy because we don't have very careful drivers where I live and a friend was hit by a car and her riding partner killed just weeks ago. So I am in a visibility/safety first mindset right now. I am trying to find a bike.

    Here is the skinny: I am 6'4 290. 25 yo former college athlete that is not exactly in playing shape. I have a 33.5 inseam. My commute is only 2.5 mi each way but is very up and down and will be completed on paved roads only. I will never be off-road on my bike. I have looked at several bikes and have been tearing through the pages on here. I have deduced that I probably wanna stay away from the bbs bikes as with the added stress I will put on a bike they won't last. I want something multi speed with the trigger type shifters. Would like to be around 400 on the bike as I am not really sure if I will like it. I haven't been on one much in a long while.

    I was looking at something like a diamondback sorrento or insight but that is only because I rode one and thought it seemed fine.

    I am new to this so any advise would be welcome. I would check a local bike shop first but we don't have one where I live. If I had some idea what to look for before I travel to one it would be a good help. I don't want to get taken advantage of because I am clueless.

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  3. #3
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    A 2.5 mile commute will take a maximum time of 20 minutes, probably not enough time to really be sweaty enough to warrant a shower. I've been a teacher too, and commute as well. Unless you've managed to avoid working at home after work better than I, you'll be carrying papers, notebook, ect.. I'd suggest a bike (or one similar to) the Trek FX series. Plenty of gear for roads, upright position, flat bar, and racks can be attached.

    I'd go for that, and racks with either paniers or bag + bungie cords. I usually ride with a messenger bag with papers + clothes, sometimes taking in clothes in advance. The messenger bag gets old, especially in the summer heat.

    Edit: I don't ride in the rain, I drive instead. If you want to go the full distance with commuting no matter what, you'll want some fenders to to along with the bike too.

    Don't forget the accessories + tax when you're considering the cost. It easily adds $100.00 to the cost of the bike.

  4. #4
    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    Look for a used Trek or Specialized MTB or Hybrid, steel frame from the 1990's. Probably $75-$175.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
    2014 Additions: 1985 Trek 560, 1992 Trek Multitrack 700 (my 2nd), 1994 Trek Carbon 2200, Peugeot PX-10, 1981 Schwinn Voyageur 11.8, 1989 Bridgestone RB-1, Miyata 912

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
    I like the looks and how close it is parts wise to what I am looking for. Found a deal on a '13 model for 389 out the door. Probably a winner.

  6. #6
    bill nyecycles the sci guy's Avatar
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    trek 7.2 fx
    giant escape 3 / city
    specialized sirrus

    i was a teacher too for 6 years (elementary). rode to/from school - about 13 miles round trip. parked the bike in my big closet. changed in there too lol
    Twitter@theSurlyBiker

  7. #7
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    I'm a noob too and also recently started a short commute. I got a hybrid to leave the option open for riding on light trails with my family. I purchased a specialized crosstrail and would recomend it. I'm not skinny either and the bike is built very solid. Just wanted to throw out this suggestion.

    BTW- actual Bill Nye posting above? Awesome, Nye For President!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Shahmatt's Avatar
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    Budget for lights if you ride at night - one for the rear, one for the front, and if there are plenty of side roads and you are like me, one mounted in front facing backwards to illuminate you (on solid mode).

    Learn proper riding technique in traffic. Learn hand signals. Use a rear view mirror if it helps. Be more careful of vehicles coming from side roads than from behind. Apparently the odds of getting hit from the side are higher than getting hit from behind.

    Many cyclists stay nearer to the road edge at all times. I do not like this as some vehicles just overtake too close and then there is no room to adjust when that happens. So my personal technique is to occupy the middle of the lane until I see approaching traffic. Then I very deliberately move to the road edge in a gesture to give way. At the same time the traffic will have moved in the other direction to overtake. These simultaneous movements will have created a large enough gap for a safe overtake.

    I do not believe a helmet is essential, but I do wear one. Be aware though that the helmet makes you subconsciously take on more risk than if you were helmetless.

    A high-vis vest also helps.

  9. #9
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    Have you considered shopping out of town? That's how I bought my first bike-- none of the bike shops in my town carried my size, and I was feeling impatient. One should fit in your average medium-sized sedan. Look for a shop that's not smack in the center of town, one that has lots of safe room for a test ride.

    I bought my Raleigh Cadent for $450 on sale, but that was before taxes and accessories.

  10. #10
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuartnbowen View Post
    I like the looks and how close it is parts wise to what I am looking for. Found a deal on a '13 model for 389 out the door. Probably a winner.
    Nice!! I'd jump on that!

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

  11. #11
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    I am concerned about the giant e3 and breezer aluminum frames. Will I be okay or do I need to steer away from al?

    Mannie: yes! It's out of town or online only. No local bike shop here I am trying to get ideas before I drive to one. Might still buy online but I like to give a brick and mortar a shot first.

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    6'4". 290 lbs. Out of shape college athlete.

    Those are things to look at closely. Most bikes aren't made for guys your or my weight, let alone for people who have athletic backgrounds at those sizes. Your weight is gonna be hard on wheels, your strength will be hard on the drivetrain.

    I don't think a discount store bike would survive very long. Ignore all the problems with ill-fitting frames from department stores. You're gonna take out everything on the bike. A lot of lightweight, fancy race bikes wouldn't survive you either. But thankfully there are a lot of bikes that will work fine, though some of the stock components (wheels) may not last that long before you replace them with stronger ones.

    Spend some time in the Clydesdale forum. You'll get better advice there on a bike will handle your size. In the commuting forum we basically just argue about road bikes vs hybrids vs mountain bikes and push racks and fenders like we've invested our 401k entirely in Tubus.

  13. #13
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuartnbowen View Post
    I am concerned about the giant e3 and breezer aluminum frames. Will I be okay or do I need to steer away from al?

    Mannie: yes! It's out of town or online only. No local bike shop here I am trying to get ideas before I drive to one. Might still buy online but I like to give a brick and mortar a shot first.
    Im 6'5 225-240 (fluctuates) and bike frame is rock solid. I actually LOVE riding it compared to about 30 other bikes I've test rode in the last 4 years. It's lighter than it looks too.

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

  14. #14
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    congrats on making the move to bike commuting!

    At 6'4/290, I would not say you need to be terribly worried about the strength of the frame; just stay away from high-end supercarbon. Fortunately poverty is your friend, usually cheaper means heavier means stronger.

    You do want to make sure you have robust wheels, which mostly means high(er) spoke count. You want at least 32 spokes front and rear, it might be advisable to bump up to 36 in the rear, where more weight goes.

    But at 2.5mi each way, that is quite a short commute, and you don't need much of a bike to get that done, so good news you can do well with not much $$.

    I'm counting 36 spokes both front and rear on that breezer, if that is within your budget and you like it and you get one that fits, it will work very well for you; even better than you need, which just means you'll also be able to take it out for longer (enjoyable) recreational rides.

    However, since you are a man (at 6'4 290 I assume you are!), I would recommend to you instead the downtown EX, rather than the "EX-ST" (stepthrough), but really only "fashion" grounds, since stepthrough frames are usually for women. Although they can be useful also if you plan to ride in street/dress clothes rather than shorts/tshirt and shower/change at work(school). Depends on what facilities you have available.

    I took a peek at diamondback insight, that would do you well too, give you more of an athletic vibe than a professorial vibe, which you might prefer since you are a former college athlete.

  15. #15
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuartnbowen View Post
    I My commute is only 2.5 mi each way but is very up and down and will be completed on paved roads only.
    Biking is great, and if you are out of shape, and it is hilly there, you will probably get some initial benefit, but soon you will find the commute to be way too short to be of much exercise value (unless the hills are really big!). I think you will get far more health benefit out of walking to work. It's about four times as much exercise as biking the same distance. Should take you 40-45 minutes.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Shahmatt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuartnbowen View Post
    So I am in a visibility/safety first mindset right now. I am trying to find a bike.
    IMO vehicles don't "see" cyclists because they take them for granted. The best way to not be taken for granted is to ride something different. This is why I began riding a recumbent. I get a lot more respect from vehicles and I believe safety has improved.

  17. #17
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Buy New , and good brand, in a bike shop & the frames will usually have a lifetime warrantee.
    then Aluminum or Steel wont matter .

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saving Hawaii View Post
    6'4". 290 lbs. Out of shape college athlete.

    Those are things to look at closely. Most bikes aren't made for guys your or my weight, let alone for people who have athletic backgrounds at those sizes. Your weight is gonna be hard on wheels, your strength will be hard on the drivetrain.

    I don't think a discount store bike would survive very long. Ignore all the problems with ill-fitting frames from department stores. You're gonna take out everything on the bike. A lot of lightweight, fancy race bikes wouldn't survive you either. But thankfully there are a lot of bikes that will work fine, though some of the stock components (wheels) may not last that long before you replace them with stronger ones.

    Spend some time in the Clydesdale forum. You'll get better advice there on a bike will handle your size. In the commuting forum we basically just argue about road bikes vs hybrids vs mountain bikes and push racks and fenders like we've invested our 401k entirely in Tubus.
    you are wrong... I was much heavier and bought a bikes direct bike that worked for thousands of miles compared to a trek 7100 that had problems with spoke breakage... I actually would worry more about "low spoke count" wheels from an LBS myself... oh, by the way, I eventually solved the problem with the trek by buying a 36 spoke wheel... still have the bikes direct bike with 32 spoke wheels with no problem...

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