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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 01-02-08, 05:43 PM   #1
donrhummy
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Best commuter bike? ($150-200)

I'm looking for a really good commuter bike that:

1. Is very durable
2. Good for bad weather riding (so, not steel)
3. Costs less than $200 or so

Any suggestions?
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Old 01-02-08, 06:07 PM   #2
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My vote goes to a used mountain bike. Maybe a Specialized Hardrock? I turned one of those into a commuter with a rigid fork and slicks. I loved it but ended up giving it to a friend which is a shame because he barely uses it.
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Old 01-02-08, 06:55 PM   #3
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http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=3050

That bike is the best new bike I have ever seen for less than $200. You would do well to get slick tires to replace the knobbies.
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Old 01-02-08, 06:55 PM   #4
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I'll put my vote in for a clean, used, no-suspension hybrid, just add a rear carrier and good set of mudguards (the same conversion on a hardtail/hardnose MTB comes a very close second). The price is usually right: I got my GT when my wife stopped a guy from tossing one into the dump at the local transfer station, and got him to put it in the back of her car. Four evenings of elbow grease, $30.00 for new tyres, and another $15.00 for a rack and I was all ready to go.

You have to get within a foot of the frame to notice the few scratches. I still couldn't believe he was about to throw it out.

Don't underestimate steel. As long as it's got a good paint job, bad weather riding is not an issue. Just think of all those Brits and what they rode to work back before the Mini.
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Old 01-03-08, 01:41 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. I'll check those bikes out.

I'm still not too keen on steel but if that's the only way to get a quality but inexpensive bike, i'll go that route.

Am I better off going to craig's list for a used $150 bike than a new $200? Or are the new/cheap bikes of good quality?
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Old 01-03-08, 02:10 PM   #6
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Get a used MTB with an aluminum frame then. They're not too hard to find in the $150 range. Just keep looking and don't get discouraged. Besides craigslist, try pawn shops and the want ads. The LBS might have one too.
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Old 01-03-08, 03:53 PM   #7
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Have a look at the bicycles at Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Sears. I commuted for 5 years on a Walmart mtn bike with no problems at all.
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Old 01-03-08, 06:41 PM   #8
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Have a look at the bicycles at Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Sears. I commuted for 5 years on a Walmart mtn bike with no problems at all.
I honestly don't think the ones they sell today are as good a quality as they were even 5 years ago. I have (tried) to help a couple of people that bought bikes at the local WM recently and they were junk. One poor guy is trying to use his to commute on, that one was returned 3 times and exchanged. After the 3rd time I convinced him to take the money and go to my LBS and get a good used Giant MTB from mid 90's for $150. He couldn't believe the difference and is still riding 12 miles round trip to work every day, and talking about getting another "racier" bike

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Old 01-03-08, 07:18 PM   #9
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Have a look at the bicycles at Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Sears. I commuted for 5 years on a Walmart mtn bike with no problems at all.
My 7 year old daughter broke the rear axle on a wal-mart in 30 seconds of use.

I say look used $200 will buy a decent bike. I have a trek 1000 in fine condition for sale/rent now that I'd let go less than $200, so look around some, and find a decent bike.
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Old 01-03-08, 10:02 PM   #10
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Thanks for the responses. I'll check those bikes out.

I'm still not too keen on steel but if that's the only way to get a quality but inexpensive bike, i'll go that route.

Am I better off going to craig's list for a used $150 bike than a new $200? Or are the new/cheap bikes of good quality?
Craigslist usually has some very good choices, however, if you don't know bikes all that well get together with someone who does. Cheap bikes look just as flashy and nice as good bikes if you don't know what you're looking for.

There's a lot of people out there, like me, who gather old bikes, tear them down, regrease, refurbish, rebuild and retune old bikes, then sell them on Craigslist, usually for $100 or less. And we do it because we enjoy doing it - after all, our garages are limited and we can only keep so many bikes in the permanent collection.

The prior suggestion for an aluminum mountain bike to convert is a good one. However, I will suggest that if you're going to be using it just for street riding, don't bother with suspension, either front or rear. It does scrub off some of your effort pedaling, and it's overkill for street use. Fitting the bike to your size is important. If you're just going to ride street, buy a mountain bike that is one size larger than you'd get if you were going to actually ride wooded trails.
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Old 01-03-08, 10:54 PM   #11
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I agree with the others and think a used bike in that price range would be much better than anything new you could be. Check out CL. I just got a bike worth 500$ for 100$ and no it wasn't stolen! Some people just don't car about money and want the space in the garage!
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Old 01-03-08, 11:50 PM   #12
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A couple of years back I found a Trek 970 (mtn bike) on Craigslist that looked a bit ratty but cleaned up well. Cost me $150, plus street tires and a couple minor things. My investment was only $200 for an excellent commuter rig which sold for for $1200 new. It has a steel frame with lugs, light weight, excellent components. Will last a very long time and is a lot of fun to ride. Way better than a low-end bike from Walmart.
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Old 01-04-08, 12:00 AM   #13
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I'd also stay away from a department store bike, again because of the quality issues. You're much better off going to a sporting goods consignment shop and seeing what they have. Also, check the listings in your local paper and have a look at thrift shops and pawn shops.

As to the kind of bike, that depends on your route and your climate. If you're going to ride on rough roads, hills or on snow, get an older mountain bike without a suspension system. If cared for, these bikes can last a long, long time.
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Old 01-04-08, 02:37 PM   #14
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I honestly don't think the ones they sell today are as good a quality as they were even 5 years ago. I have (tried) to help a couple of people that bought bikes at the local WM recently and they were junk. One poor guy is trying to use his to commute on, that one was returned 3 times and exchanged. After the 3rd time I convinced him to take the money and go to my LBS and get a good used Giant MTB from mid 90's for $150. He couldn't believe the difference and is still riding 12 miles round trip to work every day, and talking about getting another "racier" bike

Aaron
Yes, that is my fear. I'd rather get a used/scratched bike and have it be very durable than a shiny new one that's going to fall apart on me.

I'm getting this for street commuting, but will ride it in snow, rain, etc.

Any brands you guys would particularly recommend?
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Old 01-04-08, 08:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy View Post
Yes, that is my fear. I'd rather get a used/scratched bike and have it be very durable than a shiny new one that's going to fall apart on me.

I'm getting this for street commuting, but will ride it in snow, rain, etc.

Any brands you guys would particularly recommend?
KHS, Giant, Redline, and Specialized are all decent. Schwinn, GT and Mongoose if you can find the early ones that were built prior the brands being sold at WM. Those are just the ones that come to mind. I would look for a rigid frame in steel but that is my personal preference. To me the suspension is added weight and complexity.

Aaron
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ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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Old 01-05-08, 09:37 PM   #16
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KHS, Giant, Redline, and Specialized are all decent. Schwinn, GT and Mongoose if you can find the early ones that were built prior the brands being sold at WM. Those are just the ones that come to mind. I would look for a rigid frame in steel but that is my personal preference. To me the suspension is added weight and complexity.

Aaron
You can buy a Bianchi Avenue for about $300. It's a steel frame with a steel fork. Gearing is very low (22/32/42T). Tires are about 38c.

I bought one 3 years ago and have been transporting myself with it over the period. I swapped out the handle bar with a Nitto albatross bar (like the English 3-speed handlebar...) and have had to replace a rear wheel.

But you should realize that all the bikes in this price range have some fairly low-end parts that you will have to replace if you are riding daily.

However, in all, I've been happy with it.
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Old 01-06-08, 09:22 AM   #17
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I found a Giant Boulder (steel, no suspension) in the used bike room of a local bike co-op for $100. Add $60 for a tune up and I was commuting on it the next day. I've since added fenders, front & rear racks, a high-power DIY light system and studded tires. 2000+ miles later (and on the second winter of commuting) it's a little rusty in spots, but still rides fine.
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Old 01-06-08, 08:08 PM   #18
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I found a Giant Boulder (steel, no suspension) in the used bike room of a local bike co-op for $100. Add $60 for a tune up and I was commuting on it the next day. I've since added fenders, front & rear racks, a high-power DIY light system and studded tires. 2000+ miles later (and on the second winter of commuting) it's a little rusty in spots, but still rides fine.


I think that Giant was one of the most underrated bike values on the market for a long time. I have a 1991? Giant Iguana that has been thru the wringer and is still chugging along. Currently it is being rebuilt as an Expedition Tour bike. I hope to have it back on the road this spring.

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ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

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RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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Old 01-07-08, 01:48 PM   #19
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I think that Giant was one of the most underrated bike values on the market for a long time. I have a 1991? Giant Iguana that has been thru the wringer and is still chugging along. Currently it is being rebuilt as an Expedition Tour bike. I hope to have it back on the road this spring.

Aaron
I agree. I had a Giant Rincon--one of their cheapest MTBs--and that was a nice ride. But then, comparaboe bikes from Specialized and Trek are also nice.
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Old 01-08-08, 12:47 PM   #20
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I agree that Giant bikes tend to be a good deal, but all the retailers near here only sell Giant road bikes which are $800+. I'm going to have to find some of the non-road bike retailers and see what they offer.

The problem with craig's list so far is that every bike (and I mean every bike) under $200 has been way too small. I'm getting the feeling that it's because people are selling the bikes they had as kids which are now too small for them.
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Old 01-08-08, 01:02 PM   #21
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Anyone know if GMC Denali Road Bikes are any good? If I buy online am I likely to get a faulty bike?
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Old 01-08-08, 04:13 PM   #22
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Anyone know if GMC Denali Road Bikes are any good? If I buy online am I likely to get a faulty bike?
No personal experience, so check the BF archives!
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