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  1. #1
    UCSD Student TXTBOOK's Avatar
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    Finding a Commuter in a College Environment

    Hi,

    I'm really glad to have found this resource as I have come to know that forums are one of the very best knowledge bases for any hobby.

    I'm completely new to biking. Besides riding a bike when I was in middle school (I'm 20 now) and riding a rusted out beach-cruiser to and from the library last year, I know nothing about bikes.

    This coming school year, I will be transferring to UCSD, and I plan on biking the short 3 or 4 miles to school every day. Not a tough ride by any means. I'm looking for something that is comfortable to ride with a backpack on, has room for maybe a basket and/or a rack on the back (I've seen some baskets and even racks that look very easy to take on and off, which would be ideal), and isn't going to be too much maintenance (if the bike is down, I can't get to school!). I'm also interested in using the bike recreationally to get into shape, but that is the secondary mission of the bike.

    I went to my LBS (I'm learning the lingo already) and was recommended a Giant Cypress (not the DX or anything). This seems like the perfect bike to my very inexperienced eyes. It is aluminum, so it's lightweight, it has 21 gears, has both the front and seat suspension, and it has the hybrid tires. They are asking $400, but they are doing a bike "Cash for Clunkers" program, where I can get 50 bucks off if I give them my old bike. So we're looking at $350 for the Giant Cypress.

    I'm also looking into getting a headlight, taillight, bike lock and explore my options for cargo (rack, basket) so I'd love to hear your suggestions on this. Bike shorts and some of the more sporty things will come later, I'm sure. Another thing that has crossed my mind is a rear fender to protect me and any cargo from getting too wet if I ride over water or I'm in the rain.

    I would love to hear your suggestions and comments about this bike, or any other that will fit my mission profile. I've read the reviews for the DX on this site, and they are all very favorable. I'm not sure how much height/weight matter at this stage, but I am abut 5'11" and ~170 lbs.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forums. I have done a reasonable amount of biking but only recently found these forums as I was researching my most recent bike purchase.

    Personally I am not a huge fan of the super-upright "comfort hybrid" geometery -- particularly over longer distances...a 4-mile ride is not peanuts. If that is 4 miles each way (i.e. 8 miles daily) I would almost certainly recommend a slightly more aggressive geometery. Staying within the Giant lineup, the lowest-end Seek model should be in about the same price range.

    Take a test ride of some of these and see what you prefer. Remember, though, you will be riding 4 miles, not around the block.

    This forum seems to have many Trek-biased folks (I am one of them), so you may get some recommendations for some Trek bikes. I'll pitch for the FX series (I own a 7.5, and the 7.1 and 7.2 should be in your price range) as well as the Valencia, which is about double your budget but probably what you need...I'm planning to buy one soon...

    Of all the accessories, what you REALLY need is a helmet, lock and rear blinky light. Fenders are also a great add and IMO mandatory if you intend to ride when the road is wet (even when not raining). I value a rack since I do not like to wear a backpack while riding.

    Let us know what you end up buying.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  3. #3
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    Since this is a bike for college I will recommend buying something used off of craigslist. Too many bikes get stolen on college campuses to buy new.
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right

  4. #4
    UCSD Student TXTBOOK's Avatar
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    Is there a way to make the Cypress a little more aggressive by customizing it later down the road?

    I'll look into the Cypress Seek, as well as the Trek 7.1. There are about 2 LBS in my town, one with Giant, and one with Trek.

    Thanks for the suggestion. It is 3-4 miles one way. Also, as for craigslist, I am keeping an eye on that. At night the bike will be in a locked garage in a very nice area, but obviously during the day the bike will be locked outside on campus. It will be locked on campus even during the rain... is that a problem as long as the bike is aluminum and I wipe it down each night? I can foresee buying a rack that has steel parts that begin to rust...
    Last edited by TXTBOOK; 08-23-09 at 06:47 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member sh00k's Avatar
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    i think a great commuter bike would be like an older trek with newer/ish components. that way you can still have a nice ride but physically the bike can be an eye sore. and i mean that. something that looks hideous will be less likely to get stolen than a gleaming new bike obviusly...
    2009 Trek FX 7.2 (Blue) -- SOLD!
    2010 Trek FX 7.7 (White) -- SOLD!
    2011 Trek FX 7.3 (White) -- Haven't sold it yet! haha

  6. #6
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    I have a Kryptonite NY 3000 lock, it is highly recommended for high-theft areas such as college campuses. For a while that lock cost more than my bike was worth.

  7. #7
    UCSD Student TXTBOOK's Avatar
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    I'll be sure to pick that lock up. My plan of action as far as security is to secure the rear tire and the frame with a good U Lock, and use a cable to secure the front tire to the frame.

  8. #8
    UCSD Student TXTBOOK's Avatar
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    How does the Cypress compare with the Trek 7000? I see the Trek 7000 doesn't have front suspension, and after looking at some posts on this forum, unless you're riding off road alot, you don't really need it, it just adds weight and something to break. It's cheaper, too.

    I'm also a little confused on the difference between the 7000 and the 7.1

  9. #9
    Pokemon Master Darth_Firebolt's Avatar
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    i'm going to plant the Specialized Sirrus seed in your head. It's $500 new, but it's pretty fast for a hybrid, and also has rack mounts front and rear. no suspension, but it's still a pretty comfy ride.
    also, an older mountain bike with slick tires on it will be MUCH less likely to be stolen than a new hybrid. pretty much any rigid or front suspension only mountain bike will ride great with 1.5 to 1.95 width tires on it, and still be pretty quick. you won't have to worry about going off curbs or down stairs, either.

  10. #10
    UCSD Student TXTBOOK's Avatar
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    I at on the Sirrus at the LBS and I did like it. It's 100 bucks more than I wnat to spend right now, but I'm going to give it a a second look.

    Thanks for the suggestion

  11. #11
    Blocking your fire exits coffeecake's Avatar
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    I have one of those upright comfort hybrids - aluminum frame, front shock - and after 2 summers of biking I'm ready to trade it in for something quicker and more aggressive. I don't know your riding style, but it is a good bike if you don't need to move as quickly as possible. The riding position is comfortable and easy on the arms (especially with front suspension) but air resistance and the movement of the suspension work against you when you need to pour on some speed. My commute is about 4-5 miles and I would prefer to have something faster and more durable - I destroyed the suspension seat post and have replaced a rim already in 2 summers of biking.

    That being said, a lot of people around here ride the Giant hybrids to uni. I guess you could start out with this and move onto a different frame if and when it starts limiting you, but I don't think you can modify it to be very "sporty" ride. I have found that Trek/Giant/Marin/Devinci - anything with splashy graphics and suspension is an immediate target for theft. Even crappy department store bikes with suspension get nabbed here. I had an older 1980's cro-mo Norco MTB and nobody touched it in four years - it was large and black and looked pretty lame. It was also indestructible. (I can't find a pic of it but it was the old fashioned MTB that was basically a road frame, not a BMX).

    As long as you keep the chain lubed up and ride it often you shouldn't have problems with rusting.

    Hope this helps.

  12. #12
    UCSD Student TXTBOOK's Avatar
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    The issue with the hybrid now that I've learned a little bit about the bike world, is that I may "outgrow" it in a couple years. I can't afford to get a new bike, especially a nicer/faster bike, in a few years. I've got to get it right this time. I don't really need a suspension... I've never had a bike with suspension so I'm not going to be missing anything. Plus, my ride will be 100% all on the road. I've got my old mountain bike if I want to ride over a trail or whatever.

    At Play it Again Sports, they have a really really nice Giant OCR 3 bike with a seatbag, multitool, bike computer, and a couple other little extras for 400 bucks. I'm leaning towards that now.

    I'm also going to look into what it takes to put some skinnier tires on my old mountain bike, and what it takes to give it a tuneup.

  13. #13
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    A sports hybrid is probably better than a standard one. If you want to go fast like on a road bike but don't care for the racing position, its possible to get a bike that will serve you for a long time. And don't forget to take into account you won't remain in supple condition forever. Good luck.

  14. #14
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    I have the base model of this bike http://www.rei.com/outlet/product/794876 and added a rack and fenders later. My commute to college was 5 miles each way with hills and this bike did a good job. I did replace the tires after 1000 miles for Schwalbe Marathons and the brakes for Kool Stop Salmons. It has been good for the regular commute and I have done weekend rides of 50 miles with no discomfort, although I am thinking about getting bar ends.

    I used an Onguard Pitbull Mini with cable and an Onguard Beast Chain lock. I kept the Beast chain lock around the rack where I parked my bike, but would change locations every few days. I left my bike out in the rain and have not had any problems so far, except some extra maintenance (cleaning/lubing the chain). My bike did not have a lot of upkeep, except for flats which occurred when I let my tires get too low in pressure.

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