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  1. #1
    Senior Member rugerben's Avatar
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    Please advise on semi-car free.

    Ok, so I'll admit outright that I am not "car free." I do have a car, but like MANY, I want to begin using a bike for stuff like going to the super market, and running errands around town. Of all the forums, I trust that you guys will have better answers, and infinitely more experience with my predicament.

    I have an old solid frame MTB that I put hybrid tires on that I have been using, but honestly, it's uncomfortable, and the bike isn't even the correct size for me so it hurts my back (I'm primarily a roadie, so I neglect my MTBs). I have decided to sell it, and buy a hybrid for my purposes. I think I have decided on a Giant Cypress DX.
    See here's the thing. My best friend is the manager of the LBS. He bought a Giant FCR1 for just above store cost. He'd be willing to sell it to me at the end of the summer for $500. Now, for $500 I am getting a bike with composite fork and seat post, racy wheels, shimano 105 components, etc...and it would only be used by a guy who REALLY knows how to care for a bike. It's an insane deal.
    But, my line of thinking is that it's really just a road bike with an upright position. I already have good road bikes and the reason I'd want a hybrid is so that I can have something where I can bump up on a sidewalk, run over grass, or hit a pothole and not have to worry. I really feel like Id be just as limited with the FCR1 as I would with a road bike.
    So here comes the Cypress DX. Disk brakes, 700c wheels, and aluminum frame to help handling. As hard as I keep trying to justify the FCR because of the price, I really don't know that it would give me anything I don't already have. My buddy gives me 25% off anything in the store including bikes. This means I could have the Cypress DX for around $350. Not a bad deal.
    Can anyone here either confirm that this is a great bike, or recommend against it for use as a commuter and errands runner?

    My other important question has to do with theft. I'd love to get a Topeak quick release rack (claps to the seatpost) and panniers to hook to the bike for when I do shopping. But I'm afraid that if I leave the bike locked up outside the grocery store, someone could decide to take my panniers and rack. What do I do about leaving the bike around to protect against theft? I already have a great Kryptonite cable lock that is good and thick by the way.

    Thanks in advance for your advice. Please don't hate me because I want to be much less dependent on the car, but am not ready to make the jump to car-free yet.
    MOLON LABE

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mr York's Avatar
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    I have the Giant Cypress DX and use it for all my transportation needs. I have a kid trailer with a jogging bar at the end and I use it like a shopping cart in the grocery store. When I am doing little stuff I use a pannier and have just left it on the bike. Has not seemed to be a problem in my area. But they do detach and have a shoulder strap, so I can take them in with me and use it like a shopping bag. I want to get the arkel bug pannier backpack, I think that would work out well for me too.

    The bike itself has been a real joy for me. I use it in a hilly area that average 300 foot hills. I wouldn't mind a lower gear, but as is I have been able to use the bike with great success. I have been riding it now for about 6 months. The seat seems a little soft, but sitting back on it helps. I may replace the seat at some point.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Looking at the two bikes, both of them have their advantages. The FCR1 looks like something ideal for a commuting bike. The price is great and the bike seems like a better value than the Cypress DX, although I wouldn't want to write off the Cypress.

    As a bike for running errands in town, I'd probably want the FCR1, especially at the price you've been offered. It will get you around town in short order and the riding position is kinder than a traditional road bike. For trails or rough roads, I'd want something just a little more robust.

    The Cypress DX looks like it can handle rougher conditions, which makes it a better choice on trails and in winter cycling conditions. It also looks like it was designed to accommodate more weight. I'm not entirely sold on the geometry of the bike. It looks as if the riding position would be too upright. However, the only way to know for sure is to try it out and decide for yourself.

    There are a couple of questions you need to consider about both bikes.
    1. Can the each bike support a rear rack? You've suggested a quick release rear rack, but I've found the permanent racks are much more solid and are capable of a heavier load.
    2. Are the wheels on the FCR1 sturdy enough to use the bike for hauling? Think about the weight you'll be carrying, especially on your way back from the grocery store.

    For security, I'm using something similar to the Kryptonite cable lock. It's been working well. I prefer the permanent rack, but if you're worried about theft, I'd suggest you take the panniers with you.

    (Oh, and by the way, a bunch of us here, myself included, are car-light, not car-free. Welcome and enjoy your time here.)
    Life is good.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mr York's Avatar
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    The Giant Cypress bike has 32 spokes, and I am 250+ pounds right now. My rack can hold 100 pounds, but so far I have only loaded it with about 30 pounds. So the weight capacity of the Giant Cypress is pretty good.

    I don't know anything about the FCR1

  5. #5
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Can you put fatter tires on the FCR1? That'll help when the surface gets rough.

    Still, I've got a voice in the back of my mind that says, "Don't bother with another flat bar bike unless it's an honest-to-God mountain bike." Now, to be fair, I've only had one road bike in my life, and it's still in the shop right now -- but I really miss having those handlebars. You say that you've got some nice road bikes already. Do you have, or have you had, other hybrid-type bikes?

    Drop bars and upright-ish riding positions shouldn't be mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, hardly anyone sells such a thing.

  6. #6
    Senior Member travelmama's Avatar
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    I don't have either bike but in doing some research for a friend, I think the Cypress is a good bike. You have durability and a smooth ride for next to nothing in cost. I do have panniers on the rear rack and have yet to have anyone attempt to take them or the contents. I use my hybrid for commuting and errands so I am not in one place long enough to be worried about theft but I know it is an issue. Being that theft is important to us all, I suggest you take the panniers in with you.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rugerben's Avatar
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    Wow, a lot to respond to!! thanks for all the tips guys.

    GOod idea about the jogging cart. I like that. I'd bet i could tow a whole mess of stuff home if I use one of those child bike stroller towing things!!! I'm glad to hear that theft has not been a problem. I live in a decent area, but hey, you know what they say about paranoia. You only have to be right once to make it all worth while.

    The reason I thought about an FCR1 in the first place is that I could have an upright position (better for looking around in traffic), and a very quick and nimble ride. I also have a tendency to like going fast, and the FRC1 does that. I don't need any reminder that the FCR1 is a great value at $500. I'd be getting A LOT for that kind of money. Definitely a better value than the Cypress.
    However, in terms of utility, I think the Cypress would better stand up to the rigors of daily use on less than ideal roads. I have road bikes already and I feel like even though the FCR1 is a great deal, it would be redundant. I still would need a bike that I wouldn't mind using as a "beater," and that sure as hell isn't a $900 bike! I just keep wanting to make the FCR a hybrid (so that i can justify the purchase) when it's not. It's really a road bike, just upright.

    Good point about the rear wheel strength!! At 6'0 and 165lbs, I am not used to having to take wheel strength into account, but you're right!!! If I am loaded down with groceries or books (I'm a law school student, so there are LOTS of books!), the weight would really add up. I don't that I'd trust those racy wheels on the FCR to hold up.

    I do have other road bikes. All older ones with CroMoly frames (As real road bikes ought to be!!!). I sure as heck don't want to ride my Specialized steel race frame around beating it up in "the daily grind." I even have an old Rampar with suicide bars, so I could ride in the upright position, but I really don't want to beat up that old guy either.
    I haven't owned a real hybrid yet, but have ridden my father's and I really like the feel.
    I can put fatter tires on the FCR. I think it'll accommodate anything up to 700cX32 or 35. I've thought of that, but I'm not sure it'll make it the right bike for this purpose.
    MOLON LABE

  8. #8
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    I'm using a bike with a very upright riding position right now (old hardtail MTB with road tires & riser handlebars), and it's a comfortable, practical ride, but right now I wish I had a nice, sturdy touring bike instead, especially on those days when I'm riding uphill against the wind. If you're set on the two bikes you mentioned, I'd go with the one with sturdier tires. A couple of panniers full of groceries and a stretch of broken pavement could get a little awkward if the tires are too skinny and/or the rims can't take a beating. Also, if I were you, I'd go ahead and put a permanent heavy-duty rack on the bike, whatever it turns out to be. You won't have to worry much about theft, and it will hold a lot more weight safely. My rack is made by Jandd Mountaineering, rated for 50 lbs, but I've carried more than that with no problems. And consider panniers that come on and off the rack easily, like Ortliebs (which are very nice, waterproof, but kind of expensive), or just go with a big messenger bag or backpack. (I like panniers, because the bike's supporting the weight and you don't get a sweaty back in warm weather.)

    Finally, get fenders, and not those silly snap-on ones, either. Except for racks, fenders are the best thing ever invented for utility bikes.

    BTW, don't sweat having a car. Most people here have cars, they just don't use them every time they have to go somewhere.
    Last edited by bragi; 05-04-08 at 07:42 PM.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  9. #9
    Senior Member rugerben's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tip with the rack and panniers. I think I'll just end up going with a permanent rack. I was going to go with a quick release rack if I went with the FCR because I'd want to take it off for speeeeeeeeeeed when just riding on MUPs or something. But i don't care about it on the hybrid.

    So it looks like there's a general consensus that even though the FCR is a really great deal and a really hot bike, I'll find the Cypress more useful. ugh. Looks like I have to be practical and responsible again.

    This just leaves me with one question:
    Where did Ben go and when did he become his father?
    MOLON LABE

  10. #10
    Senior Member rugerben's Avatar
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    BTW, don't sweat having a car. Most people here have cars, they just don't use them every time they have to go somewhere.
    I've already started using my bikes to ride to school (backpack full of books gets HEAVY on a bike!), and riding to friends' houses. I began that about a year ago. I just want to up the ante a bit and really scale back now because a)I can get in better shape b) I LOVE to ride and it's a good excuse c) no reason to support terrorist countries if I don't have to d)it costs $75.30 to fill my gas tank e) the environment (even though Al Gore is a nut, he may be on to something).
    MOLON LABE

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mr York's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugerben View Post
    I also have a tendency to like going fast, and the FRC1 does that
    Whatever you decide to get, just remember you won't be going fast with a load of groceries no matter what the bike is ;-)

  12. #12
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Just wondering if you could get somehow make the best of both worlds here. Could you get the FCR1 and put on cyclocross wheels and touring tires? If you can, you'll have a cool bike that can handle all your errands and grocery hauling needs. Put the original wheels back on if you're feeling the need for speed.

    As for the permanent rack, it won't slow you down noticeably. A good rack is light and won't have much if any impact on your aerodynamics.
    Life is good.

  13. #13
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugerben View Post
    c) no reason to support terrorist countries if I don't have to
    I have a non-politically-correct "terrorist hunting permit" sticker on the downtube, right by the bike shop sticker near the bottom bracket...

    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    As for the permanent rack, it won't slow you down noticeably. A good rack is light and won't have much if any impact on your aerodynamics.
    Plus, it'll stiffen the rear for better power transfer..

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr York View Post
    Whatever you decide to get, just remember you won't be going fast with a load of groceries no matter what the bike is ;-)
    Sure you can. Step 1: find a big hill...

    (oddly enough, my favorite grocery store is uphill from me... makes getting home fast very easy)

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mr York's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torrilin View Post
    Sure you can. Step 1: find a big hill...

    (oddly enough, my favorite grocery store is uphill from me... makes getting home fast very easy)
    I happily stand corrected ;-)

  16. #16
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugerben View Post
    Thanks for the tip with the rack and panniers. I think I'll just end up going with a permanent rack. I was going to go with a quick release rack if I went with the FCR because I'd want to take it off for speeeeeeeeeeed when just riding on MUPs or something. But i don't care about it on the hybrid.

    So it looks like there's a general consensus that even though the FCR is a really great deal and a really hot bike, I'll find the Cypress more useful. ugh. Looks like I have to be practical and responsible again.
    That's why some people have more than one bike. When I first started bicycling, it was purely a practical thing; I'd ditched the car, and I just wanted a way to get to work or around town, and bikes proved to be a no-brainer. Now, though, since I've discovered (or rather, remembered) how fun they are, I kind of want a fast road bike just for weekend rides. (I probably won't do it, though, because, honestly, I go on beer runs on weekends way more often than I do centuries.)
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  17. #17
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr York View Post
    Whatever you decide to get, just remember you won't be going fast with a load of groceries no matter what the bike is ;-)
    It's not the bike, it's the engine. And I suppose it depends on one's definition of fast. Are the mid-20s okay?

    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=411182
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  18. #18
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    I am semi-car free and a bit lazy, so I confess I use the car for some of my errands and shopping. However I use the bike some of the time too, and I bike to work.

    My solution to the theft problem is to ride second hand bikes. I bought both my current commuters for under $250, but they both needed about $100 in repairs and upgrades (eg. both needed a new bottom bracket soon after I started riding).

    A proper rear rack is the most important utility upgrade, followed by fenders. If you don't want to buy panniers you could always tie a milk crate to the rack for shopping trips. Seat post racks are not a good idea for heavy hauling. They sway a lot, and the one I had broke after about a year. If I shop for heavy or bulky items I use the rear rack, and if that can't carry it all, I add a messenger style bag rather than a backpack, since one strap is easier to get over your shoulder than two straps when it's loaded.

    A tour bike, cyclocross bike, hybrid, or rigid mountain bike would all work.

  19. #19
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    (I probably won't do it, though, because, honestly, I go on beer runs on weekends way more often than I do centuries.)
    Beer run centuries FTW.

  20. #20
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    Beer run centuries FTW.
    That would take me a week...depending on the distance between beers

    Aaron
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  21. #21
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    Beer run century is out. Shortest path to beer is about 400 yards, max and it also has many of the household's preferred beers. Brewery tours? *That* I can get behind. Tho I must avoid shortest path routes, as a friend homebrews, and there are several breweries downtown. Perhaps a maximum breweries in 100 miles route?

  22. #22
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    That would take me a week...depending on the distance between beers

    Aaron
    Annnnd this is a problem how...?


  23. #23
    Senior Member rugerben's Avatar
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    LOL. And the thread has officially been derailed!!!

    Just to reply to a few points:
    Just wondering if you could get somehow make the best of both worlds here. Could you get the FCR1 and put on cyclocross wheels and touring tires? If you can, you'll have a cool bike that can handle all your errands and grocery hauling needs. Put the original wheels back on if you're feeling the need for speed.
    That's a really cool idea. Although I think getting another set of wheels may drive the price WAY out of my price range. the $500 for the bike would already be stretching the budget as far as it'll go.

    I have a non-politically-correct "terrorist hunting permit" sticker on the downtube, right by the bike shop sticker near the bottom bracket...
    Well, you know what they say: "Political Correctness" is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical, liberal minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

    That's why some people have more than one bike.
    I have 3 road bikes, one of which is a CroMo race frame Specialized with a 54t large chainring and 13t gear in the back. I can ride fast pace and loooooow cadence on that sucker all day long on that thing. I LOVE that bike.

    If you don't want to buy panniers you could always tie a milk crate to the rack for shopping trips.
    Now THAT is a great idea. I'm totally going to do that.

    And here is another question. I went to my LBS and found out that for not very much more than the Cypress DX, I can have The TransSend DX.

    With the trans-send I would lose the disk brakes, and I lose the shocks up front, and in the seat. But honestly, I'm not a huge fan of shocks anyway. Although, it would be nice of when I have to bump off a sidewalk or run over a pothole, or something.

    To me, the biggest loss is the brakes. But in exchange for disk brakes, I'd be getting a rack already (I checked one out, seemed pretty sturdy), and fenders. It also has trigger shifters rather than twist-grip types, and is geared a little higher (which i like). The TransSend is also about $30 more with my discount.

    Would it be a big deal to lose the disk brakes? Do you think the TransSend will be built "tougher?"

    Edit to add:
    By the way, distance between beers is not so much of a factor as beers between distance!!! It's all about how many you can throw back before riding, not how long you ride before you can throw 'em back!
    By the way
    MOLON LABE

  24. #24
    everyone has a plan... sleazy's Avatar
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    if you're looking at going car-light or car free... check out the extra cycle. it is truly an incredible machine.

    you start with an old mountain bike... cruiser... whatever you've lying around. install the extension- and off you go. it uses both the original wheels- and comes with the deck, and soft panniers. (foot pads are a little extra)

    seats two comfortably (i take my kid to school on it most mornings)

    and will haul anything. ive carried four gallons of paint and all accompanying hardware stuff... groceries, gallons of milk, cases of beer... tools, even baseboard strips

    ive yet to run out of room.

    i live within 5 miles of my kids school, a hardward store and grocery store and it's cut my motor vehicular traffic by 80%


    instead of a "normal" bike, that requires a trailer... or a back pack...

    think about the xtracycle. its simple, and amazingly effective.



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  25. #25
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I've been thinking about the same questions as the OP, rugerben. My main bike now is a hardtail MTB with slicks (in the summer). I like that I can comibine rough streeets, trails and gravel roads on the same ride--even on my daily commute.

    The big problem with the MTB is that I sometimes max out the gears as I've become a stronger and faster rider. I do want a bike that's a little faster. I've thought about regearing a MTB, but, like rugerben, I'm tempted by a "hybrid" that's actually more of a flat-bar road bike than a comfort bike. The FCR is one of the models I'm looking at, although at the moment I'm leaning more toward the Specialized Sirrus. If I could get the FCR with the comp fork for $500 I'd probably jump on it and ride away.

    Of course I'm not going to throw away my MTB. I'll just put the knobbies back on it and use it when I want to do that kind of riding.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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