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  1. #1
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    Commuting in Madison Wi

    Hello,

    I am looking to start biking to and from school (about a 5 mile commute). I live in Madison Wisconsin and I am not very knowledgable of all my options, and what would be my best choice for a bike. I am willing to spend up to $700 or so.

    Because of the 4 seasons, I was thinking that a hybrid would be best for me. I am pretty sure that I will be doing most of my riding in designated bike paths and side streets. So far I have looked at a Trek FX 7.5 (we found some new 2010 models for about $700) and a Giant Roam 2 which was going for about $500. At first I was leaning toward the Trek FX 7.5, but I started to get worried about how the Trek would hold up compared to the Giant during the winter with the snow on the ground. My basic understanding is that the Giant's wider wheels may be better suited for Madison winters.

    I really am at a lost when it comes to considering other models, and what other factors I should be considering. Any advice would be very much appreciated! Thank you!

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Winter biking is fairly hard on a bike because the salt on the roads gets all over your frame and drivetrain. Therefore I prefer a dedicated beater bike for winter with studded tires. An internal gear hub or fixie is also not a bad option to consider for winter. (Another option is a different wheel set for summer and winter that you can quickly swap depending on conditions.)

    $700 isn't going to go far if you are buying new, due to all the add-on bits that you need for commuting. The best option would probably be to get a vintage mountain bike with no suspension and purchase two new sets of tires, a Hakka W106 studded tire set for winter and a smooth puncture-proof tire set for summer. Attach fenders and some sort of rack, get a good flashlight and twofish flashlight holder, a Superflash blinky, and you are good to go. If you are handy, you can make your own set of panniers. I made a pair out of ginger buckets. It gets dark here by 4:30 in winter, so good lights are imperative for winter commuting.

    The tires are an often under-looked piece of the equation--don't scrimp there. You can start off with the conventional mountain bike drivetrain, but consider upgrading to an internal gear hub if you plan to use the bike in winter.

    I'm guessing on prices but here's what I'd budget if starting from scratch:

    Craigslist Mountain bike $120
    Hakka studded tires $160
    Summer tires $100
    Rack $50
    Fenders $40
    Superflash $25
    Twofish $15

    I guaranty that with awesome smooth summer tires plus awesome studded tires, an old mountain bike would blow away any 2010 models you are looking at in your price range.
    Last edited by IceNine; 06-05-11 at 02:08 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CPcyclist's Avatar
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    IceNine is right an old mountain bike with the proper tires will take you farther. Plus since you will be locking it up it will look like a less desirable taget for theft or vandalism.

  5. #5
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    You can bump some of those prices on accessories by shopping sales too. For example REI recently had 25% off all planet bike. I picked up the superflash for $18, rack for $25, and the fenders would have been about $30. I bought my panniers at a REI scratch & dent sale for $35, and my previous pair used for $20. I always figure $100 to do the basic set up for commuting accessories. pump, tool/spare tire bag, rack, minimal lighting.

    +1 on the used Mt. bike. Plenty of older lightly used Trek 700 and 800 series bombproof steel Mt/hybrids out there. Not to mention Gary Fishers and Giants. You might find a better deal on the Milwaukee Craigslist though.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  6. #6
    Is a real super guy. Henry III's Avatar
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    Go check out Dream Bikes and you could build or buy something up quite nice. I picked up my Bianchi Nyala MTB for $100 earlier this year. All tuned up and ready to go and wasn't beat to hell. Go check them out before shelling out some crazy money. They'd got a pretty decent selection of bikes...mtb,road, hybrid, older stuff all extremely reasonable and ready to ride. I built that up into my winter commuter and worked great. I actually still have and pulled off my studded tires, fenders and rear rack as I'm not commuting anymore(laid off). Even with riding it from the end of January till the last snowfall it still works great even with the salt and snow. I'd say check them out before finding some mystery bike on CL. Atleast they've been gone through and you know they work and if something goes wrong you can bring it back. Plus it's just a really cool place since it's nicely run Co-op as it's backed from Trek so their parts bins have alot of Bontrager parts to say the least. You able to go in and actually work on your own bike with their tools which I wish someplace around here had.

  7. #7
    Junior Member vanwormer's Avatar
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    Ahhhhh. . . . Madison: Beautiful!

  8. #8
    Senior Member jimbojonez's Avatar
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    I ride year around in Madison and i have 2 bikes

    -Marin 29er Hardtail mountain bike for the winter and mountain biking during the summer. Complete with disc brakes, spiked tires and fenders.

    -Trek 7.5 FX, this is my main bike for trail and occasional road riding depending on weather.

    I highly recommend a separate bike for the winter. IMO a mountain bike equipped with spiked tires and fenders is perfect. The disc brakes come in handy but you can get buy without them.

    I also recommend having access to a hose and buying a leaf blower for rinsing off and dry after wet rides in the winter. Assume anytime you bike gets wet in the winter that it has salt on it and rinse off regularly.

    If you ride in the winter, be sure to bike across the lakes (assuming we get a normal winter, last winter i only went across twice)

  9. #9
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    Madison is an awesome city. I went to school there. Great for biking as well. It's rated in the top 5 cities for biking lifestyle as well if I remember correctly.

  10. #10
    Senior Member CPcyclist's Avatar
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    I second Dream Bike... good for you good for the community...

  11. #11
    Senior Member ImChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CPcyclist View Post
    I second Dream Bike... good for you good for the community...

    Dream Bike is an amazing option! You can always find great stuff, with great help! Talk to the people there about what you are looking to accomplish with biking and they should be able to show you what they have that fits what you want.

    Have fun! Madison is an amazing place to commute by bike. I love it here!

    .Chris
    Central Michigan University Alum. I like to ride bikes with my friends.

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