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  1. #1
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    SF Commute Bike Recommendations

    I'm new to SF and have a 2 mile bike ride to Caltrain every morning and a 3 mile bike ride home. The morning ride is flat / downhill and through the city. The night ride back is mostly flat (taking the Embarcadero north) and then hilly at the end (would be fine just walking it up at that point since it's steep but short).

    I was hoping to keep the budget around $700 or less, but could be convinced of the merits of going a little beyond that if necessary.

    I don't know a ton about bikes, but am hoping to have this bike for a long time. I'd love some recommendations on a specific bike or type of bike that I should look at purchasing.

    Thanks everyone!

    - Andrew

  2. #2
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Here is my first suggestion:

    Fuji Bikes | LIFESTYLE | PAVEMENT - ALL-TERRAIN | TRAVERSE 1.7

    The fork has a lockout for when you don't need/want the suspension.

    Edit: You can also add fenders & racks.

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

  3. #3
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    You will see all sorts of bikes commuting in SF, from hipster fixies to $10k carbon road bikes.

    I would think about a few things

    1. would you want a rack or would you use a backpack? If yes, then you need a bike that can handle a rack0
    2. Will you do this ride when its raining or wet from fog? If so you might want a bike that can take fenders
    3. Will you use this bike for anything else? Longer rides around SF? A weekend ride to Sausalito? That may influence what you want.

    Ultimately, you want a bike that is comfortable for YOU. This is a short commute with limited hills, so anything with some gears will probably manage just fine.

    I suggest going around and trying multiple bikes at multiple bike shops. Find what is comfortable for you. If you are having trouble deciding between bikes at different shops, pick the shop you think will give you the best service.

    Finally, do you care about style or just practicality? Some people want to make a fashion statement with their bike in SF.

    There are a ton of bike shops in SF, many of which are walkable from Cal Train: Mikes bikes, Pacific bicycle, Marin factory store, etc.

    I would probably suggest a hybrid or "flat bar road bike" type bike for this. I know Marin has some nice bikes (Lombard, fairfax, etc) and you can often get a last year model cheap. Specialized Sirrus would be good for this too (Mikes bikes).

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Expensive + high theft area. buy strong expensive locks & dont turn your back on your unlocked bike for a second.

  5. #5
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    SF has a lot of bike theft. Where will you be locking the bike?
    http://treadrightly.blogspot.com/

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    OP said biking to and from caltrain, so assuming its kept securely indoors at night the bike will not be left alone in SF during the day. Not sure where OP is commuting to, but many offices along caltrain have secure bike parking options.

  7. #7
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    If you're going to be using a train for part of the commute,I'd suggest a folding bike. Much easier to take on the train,and you can prolly take it into your workplace so theft wouldn't be an issue. Lots of decent folders in your price range.

    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

  8. #8
    Portable Audio/Bike Lover tds101's Avatar
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    Dahon Jack, Tern Joe or the commuter ready Node D8, or a nice Montague folding bike would be sweet.
    Fitness is only a side effect,...I feel alive when I ride!!!

  9. #9
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    Mini-Velo?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    You will see all sorts of bikes commuting in SF, from hipster fixies to $10k carbon road bikes.

    I would think about a few things

    1. would you want a rack or would you use a backpack? If yes, then you need a bike that can handle a rack0
    2. Will you do this ride when its raining or wet from fog? If so you might want a bike that can take fenders
    3. Will you use this bike for anything else? Longer rides around SF? A weekend ride to Sausalito? That may influence what you want.

    Ultimately, you want a bike that is comfortable for YOU. This is a short commute with limited hills, so anything with some gears will probably manage just fine.

    I suggest going around and trying multiple bikes at multiple bike shops. Find what is comfortable for you. If you are having trouble deciding between bikes at different shops, pick the shop you think will give you the best service.

    Finally, do you care about style or just practicality? Some people want to make a fashion statement with their bike in SF.

    There are a ton of bike shops in SF, many of which are walkable from Cal Train: Mikes bikes, Pacific bicycle, Marin factory store, etc.

    I would probably suggest a hybrid or "flat bar road bike" type bike for this. I know Marin has some nice bikes (Lombard, fairfax, etc) and you can often get a last year model cheap. Specialized Sirrus would be good for this too (Mikes bikes).

    1) So I would use a backpack during my commute, but I want to get a rear rack so I can use the bike to do some quick grocery shopping at night or on weekends.

    2) I will probably do the ride when it's wet from fog. Probably not when it's raining though.

    3) I have no idea what the future holds, but probably not.

    I went to Citizen Chain in North Beach last weekend and they had some nice options, but they had a small selection I'd say (not sure if that's the average size inventory for a bike shop though).

    Also, I don't care about a fashion statement haha. I just want a bike that is comfortable, does the job, and will last.

  11. #11
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    Bike will be secure. At night it will be in my building, during the day it will be in the office or right outside our window locked up to a bike rack using a u-lock.

  12. #12
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    Expensive + high theft area. buy strong expensive locks & dont turn your back on your unlocked bike for a second.


    Ha, great advice!

  13. #13
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Do it the European way and get two crap bikes.

    Ride one from home to train and leave it locked outside. Ride other from train to work and leave it locked outside.

    Both bikes should cost under 100 (insert local currency here) and be heavily used.
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
    Rohloffs seen on the commute: 3

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    Do it the European way and get two crap bikes.

    Ride one from home to train and leave it locked outside. Ride other from train to work and leave it locked outside.

    Both bikes should cost under 100 (insert local currency here) and be heavily used.
    While generally a good plan, I don't know if all areas along Caltrain have a place you can leave a bike, particularly overnight.

    Leaving a bike at caltrain in SF for the day is definitely possible, the small bike shop in the caltrain station does off secure bike storage and I think it may even be free or very cheap (part of the lease agreement).

    Not sure if other posters are familiar with Caltrain, but its probably the easiest train to bring bikes on I have ever seen. They have entire bike cars. Many of my coworkers do this and it works very well for them.

  15. #15
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    5 miles round trip each day? You could purchase pretty much any bike and it'd work for you. Also considering the theft probability in SF, you'd probably be better off buying a $200 beater off of craigslist (or even a WalMart) bike.

    That way when it gets stolen you're not out $700 and you probably wouldn't be on the bike long enough to use all of the bells and whistles on the more expensive bike.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewkv19 View Post
    1) So I would use a backpack during my commute, but I want to get a rear rack so I can use the bike to do some quick grocery shopping at night or on weekends.

    2) I will probably do the ride when it's wet from fog. Probably not when it's raining though.

    3) I have no idea what the future holds, but probably not.

    I went to Citizen Chain in North Beach last weekend and they had some nice options, but they had a small selection I'd say (not sure if that's the average size inventory for a bike shop though).

    Also, I don't care about a fashion statement haha. I just want a bike that is comfortable, does the job, and will last.
    Spend a few hours checking out some shops in SOMA and you will get to try a number of bikes in relatively close proximity. Many of them are larger than Citizen Chain will be.

  17. #17
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    While generally a good plan, I don't know if all areas along Caltrain have a place you can leave a bike, particularly overnight.

    Leaving a bike at caltrain in SF for the day is definitely possible, the small bike shop in the caltrain station does off secure bike storage and I think it may even be free or very cheap (part of the lease agreement).

    Not sure if other posters are familiar with Caltrain, but its probably the easiest train to bring bikes on I have ever seen. They have entire bike cars. Many of my coworkers do this and it works very well for them.
    I didn't know that.

    This is what I'm used to and assume that CalTrain isn't as good, but maybe I'm wrong?

    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
    Rohloffs seen on the commute: 3

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    I didn't know that.

    This is what I'm used to and assume that CalTrain isn't as good, but maybe I'm wrong?

    Similar idea, but not that nice looking.

    Caltrain trains have two bike cars each, and there is advocacy pushing for more as they popular times often fill up. I think regular trains hold 80 bikes and baby bullets hold 48.


    There are a few stops along the route with bike storage facilities as well, including secure bike lockers that you can rent (I think for 6-month periods).

    Overall much better capacity than our other region rail/subway, BART.

  19. #19
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    Similar idea, but not that nice looking.

    Caltrain trains have two bike cars each, and there is advocacy pushing for more as they popular times often fill up. I think regular trains hold 80 bikes and baby bullets hold 48.


    There are a few stops along the route with bike storage facilities as well, including secure bike lockers that you can rent (I think for 6-month periods).

    Overall much better capacity than our other region rail/subway, BART.
    cool!
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
    Rohloffs seen on the commute: 3

  20. #20
    Junior Member dandypony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewkv19 View Post
    I'm new to SF and have a 2 mile bike ride to Caltrain every morning and a 3 mile bike ride home. The morning ride is flat / downhill and through the city. The night ride back is mostly flat (taking the Embarcadero north) and then hilly at the end (would be fine just walking it up at that point since it's steep but short).

    I was hoping to keep the budget around $700 or less, but could be convinced of the merits of going a little beyond that if necessary.

    I don't know a ton about bikes, but am hoping to have this bike for a long time. I'd love some recommendations on a specific bike or type of bike that I should look at purchasing.

    Thanks everyone!

    - Andrew
    Have you looked at Linus?

    This is a great affordable model: http://www.linusbike.com/products/roadster-sport

    but they have a few other options as well. When you say you want a bike that you hope to have for a long time, my guess is that you want something that is nice, functional, and affordable. When I first started biking I got a low-end aluminum mountain bike and really did not enjoy riding it, then I ended up with a steel bike and it was a completely different experience, so much more comfortable and fun. Hence, I always recommend steel bikes to people new to the sport. The Linus line are getting good reviews. I know one person who has the Gaston model and he uses it for commuting and is pretty pleased with it.
    Last edited by dandypony; 07-30-14 at 09:32 PM.

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Only out $99 if they steal one of these .. 700c Thruster Fixie Men's Bicycle, Blue - Walmart.com

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