Journeyman Bike Commuter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alexandria, VA
Bikes: '88 Fuji Saratoga, '12 Jamis Sputnik, '13 Motobecane Fantom29 HT, '16 Motobecane Turino Pro Disc, '16 Motobecane Gran Premio Elite
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Figure out exactly what you need your bike to do:
- get me to work in rain, snow, cold weather
- carry 25 lbs of groceries
- be safe at night or in darkness
- be able to be locked outside in the weather
- be comfortable for ~30 miles or 2 hours continuous riding
Next, figure out what features, parts will be needed to accomplish these:
- rear rack
- pannier bags or more structured containers
- studded tires
- disc brakes
- headlight/tail light of x lumens
- lock/locking system
- whatever else (clothing a bit later)
Then, figure out how you'll apportion your budget to these items and when you'll need them over time (lights before studs, for example).
Figure out what's left for the bike itself. Then visit your LBS and begin asking questions. It may be that an upright riding style, rigid fork, disc brake bike, with internal gear rear hub is the way to go for you.
Ride something comparable in your price range. Will this work? Is it reasonably comfortable?
Next, identify and budget for clothing necessities for your climate. Boots you can ride in? Outer layers? Water resistant layer? Windbreaker? Pants. Cycling specific gear? Gloves/Mittens? Helmet? Headwear for warmth? etc.
Figure these costs in, too, as a function of time.