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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 04-16-07, 09:30 PM   #1
snapz
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Choosing a bike

I love riding my road bike, but recently, I visited China and saw all the people riding around on commuter bikes and now I have the bug to get a bike for running errands around the neighborhood (groceries, etc.). No, I don't want to outfit the road bike with rack and fenders.

I want to do something on the cheap, but can't really figure out what to do. The leading (cheapest) idea so far is to get the Gary Fisher mountain bike at the bike store that is $200 and add what I need to it. What do you guys think?

There's also a cruiser type bike at Costco for $100, but how good of a machine could that be?

Am I crazy?
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Old 04-16-07, 10:06 PM   #2
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I think you should keep looking till you find the utility bike that's perfect for you. There's no need to rush. You have a great excuse for looking at bikes and trying them out.
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Old 04-16-07, 10:18 PM   #3
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Craigslist. Cruisers and old mountain bikes can be had for $100 and less. Just bought the wife a Raleigh 3-speed with fenders/chainguard for $55.00. Added basket. Voila, grocery/errand bike.
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Old 04-17-07, 06:17 AM   #4
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I realize the Breezers cost more but I absolutely adore mine! It's perfect and very comfortable to ride - like a Buick

But honestly, it is SO comfortable that hopping on it to run errands is a pleasure. And not having to piece it all together... well for me that was priceless.
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Old 04-17-07, 07:10 AM   #5
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Which model of Breezer do you ride? Any pics? They look like really nice bikes that would be easy for riders who are getting back into riding.
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Old 04-17-07, 08:01 AM   #6
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Look for an old English 3 speed on eBay. That's favourite, I think.
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Old 04-17-07, 10:30 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sammyboy
Look for an old English 3 speed on eBay. That's favourite, I think.
Yes, the old reliable English Raleigh 3 speed is the bike that millions of people worldwide
still use to this day for transportation.
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Old 04-17-07, 11:49 AM   #8
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The 3 speed is a good idea, IMO. But I love an old MTB for urban riding, with slick tires and removable fenders. They're tough, reliable and CHEAP. And a lot of fun to ride. And you can quickly take off the fenders and put on knobbies or studded tires for rougher conditions.
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Old 04-17-07, 11:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snapz
I love riding my road bike, but recently, I visited China and saw all the people riding around on commuter bikes and now I have the bug to get a bike for running errands around the neighborhood (groceries, etc.). No, I don't want to outfit the road bike with rack and fenders.

I want to do something on the cheap, but can't really figure out what to do. The leading (cheapest) idea so far is to get the Gary Fisher mountain bike at the bike store that is $200 and add what I need to it. What do you guys think?

There's also a cruiser type bike at Costco for $100, but how good of a machine could that be?

Am I crazy?
You want your errand-running bike to have fenders, though, don't you?

I suggest you go to a local used-bike shop. You will probably be able to get a much better bike than you'll be able to find at Costco, for about the same price, and, if you go to the right place, you'll get much better advice. (Actually, the $200 Gary Fisher with road tires would probably work well, as long as it doesn't have shocks of any kind on it; if you're just going to ride on city streets, shocks are utterly useless.)
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Old 04-18-07, 02:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bragi
Y (Actually, the $200 Gary Fisher with road tires would probably work well, as long as it doesn't have shocks of any kind on it; if you're just going to ride on city streets, shocks are utterly useless.)
Maybe Seattle has smooth streets. Our road department is getting better about repairs but still has a long way to go. I prefer no shocks myself but in DC could understand that some bikers might prefer to reduce the jarring.

A friend's bike has really good brakes compared to mine. I feel like I have more control during those hard stops when I'm on his bike. So if you're shopping for a new bike pay attention to the brakes.
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Old 04-18-07, 03:28 PM   #11
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I have a Breezer Uptown 8 that I use as my primary utility bike, and I love it. It has so many nice features that you just don't find on most bikes in America, such as rack, fender, chainguard, generator headlight and taillight, and non-quick release wheels (harder to steal).

This model is probably outside the price range you are looking at, but the less expensive Breezer town bikes share many of the same features that make the Uptown 8 so great.

I would definitely recommend staying clear of cheap department store bicycles from Costco, Walmart or the the like. You would be much better off get a slightly more expensive model from a local bike shop, or a used bike in good condition from Craigslist or eBay.
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Old 04-18-07, 04:32 PM   #12
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I bought a 3 speed schwinn traveler for $30 that I use for my shopping bike and it fits the bill perfectly. SA 3 speed hubs have a surprisingly wide gear range, at least I think so. For just going to the market, nothing else makes more sense.
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Old 04-19-07, 06:12 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosie8
Which model of Breezer do you ride? Any pics? They look like really nice bikes that would be easy for riders who are getting back into riding.
I have the Villager. And sadly, I have no pictures of her... I really need to schedule a photo session!

ps: I pine for an Uptown but don't tell my Villager! I don't need it - I just love that ruby red color
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Old 04-19-07, 07:19 AM   #14
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Try police auctions. My department sells about one hundred bikes a year and we're a small city and most can be had for between $20 and $50.
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Old 04-19-07, 07:49 AM   #15
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I'd find something cheap that fits you well enough and then spend a little on an internal gear hub. I just hate hate hate hate hate doing derailleur adjustements on a bike I ride EVERY DAY. that or go FG/SS
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Old 04-19-07, 11:37 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krazygluon
I'd find something cheap that fits you well enough and then spend a little on an internal gear hub. I just hate hate hate hate hate doing derailleur adjustements on a bike I ride EVERY DAY. that or go FG/SS
You know, in several years of riding every day, I don't believe I've ever had to adjust a derailleur.

(Now I probably jinxed myself and I'll be tuning them up all the time! )
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Old 04-19-07, 06:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
You know, in several years of riding every day, I don't believe I've ever had to adjust a derailleur.

(Now I probably jinxed myself and I'll be tuning them up all the time! )
I find it's something I do about once a year, fine tuning usually, they do wander off a little over time, tuning them up once a year, when you do your regular annual bike tuneup, will usually keep them close enough for union work.
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Old 04-19-07, 10:53 PM   #18
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I'm like Roody. I've had my current bike for almost three years (unlike others, I only have one), I ride it every day, I've never adjusted my derailleur, and it shifts as well today as the day I bought it. I mean, it's only got a few parts; there's not a whole lot that can go wrong.
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Old 04-19-07, 11:12 PM   #19
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If a derailer needs constant adjustment, something is wrong. That's a good question to take to the bicycle mechanics sub forum.

If it doesn't hold the adjustment, something might be loose. If the chain keeps falling off, could be a problem with one of the limit screws. Maybe there's an incompatible component in the shifting system - indexed shifters have to match the derailer, etc. Shifter cables may need cleaning and lubrication. Does the front derailer match the front crank, i.e., triple crank needs long cage front derailer? Is the front derailer mounted at the right height above the crank? Is there a chainline problem due to using the wrong bottom bracket? Is the chain stretched or worn, and is it the right kind of chain and the right length? The deal is, when everything is correct the shifting should be near perfect.
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Old 04-21-07, 09:08 PM   #20
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Platy, my experience has been similar. A lot of shifting problems are due to the chain rather than the ders. Chains do "stretch" with wear, and this can cause them to jump a gear, especially under force. Sometimes you can remove a link as a temporary fix until you can get a new chain.

As for shocks, I was against them until I tried them. My latest commuter bike has front suspension and they really smooth out the ride. My poor injured wrists appreciate them too. And they're nice when you get off the road to take a scenic shortcut.
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Old 04-22-07, 06:54 AM   #21
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Several options come to mind. A good used anything with a Sturmey Archer hub is great for cruising to the corner store. I would suggest a quick trip to Sheldon Brown's Gear Calculator you may need to use a larger cog to get some decent gears. But it is a relatively inexpensive upgrade. FWIW for several years my only bike was a Giant Iguana rigid frame MTB. I had two sets of wheels for it, knobbies and slicks. It was fully rigged with fenders and racks. I rode some pretty rough trails even with the fenders I think your money would be well spent buying a decent quality used bike for your errand runner. I looked at a Road King ladies 3 speed yesterday that had a Shimano 3 speed, fenders, racks and generator. I am guessing it was from the late 70's, everything worked just needed a bit of TLC. Price $15. I passed because I don't need another bike like that at the moment. YMMV.

I do dearly love the Breezers but they are out of my price range at the moment for what I need. I do have a Staiger (German commuter) that I am planning on adding the Xtracycle kit to in the near future. It was a $650 bike new, I found it at my LBS for $180. It is fully equipped with lights, generator hub, racks, fenders and a 21 speed drive train. Good deals can be found everyday without buying new.

As far as Ebay is concerned unless it is local I would avoid it, the shipping will negate the savings...I know I've been there.

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