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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 08-20-09, 03:32 PM   #1
grumpy606
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Most practical bike

Hi

If u live car free, what type of bike, or combination of, do u have?

I have just bought a folder, and it feels good to be able to cycle more, with a little box on the back rack. And when I think about being car free and would a three wheeler bike be better for a mixed shopping and child combination?
Trailers and child buggies seem to be trendy, but I have only seen one tricycle; I live in the UK, Leeds.

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Old 08-20-09, 06:22 PM   #2
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I think it really depends on local conditions. Around here, a lot of commuters and tranportational cyclists use heavier road bikes, like cross bikes, tourers, even heaver, older bikes. My son lives in a city in Canada where for, for reasons of climate, availability and road conditions, the mountain bike rules supreme. If you only have to carry food for yourself, a trailer may be overkill. For a family, it might be essential. If you travel on train or bus, a folder might be useful. Around here, the buses have racks, so I wouldn't need a folder.
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Old 08-20-09, 06:38 PM   #3
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Around here, a lot of commuters and tranportational cyclists use heavier road bikes, like cross bikes, tourers, even heaver, older bikes.
Cyclo-cross bikes are not road bikes. And, some are lighter than 'road' bikes. OP, I say get a touring bike.
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Old 08-20-09, 07:00 PM   #4
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I'm car-free in the sense that I don't have a car, but my parents do. I would be fine with just using my MTB that has tires with not very aggressive tread, rear rack with Wald folding baskets and fenders, but sometimes it's nice to go faster, so I have a road bike. I like my MTB, and want to to keep it in nice shape, so I just got a 3-speed to use in the winter.

I'd say it depends on your situation. A road bike would be fine for me in the summer, but with the way the streets are plowed in the winter, would be terrible to use.
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Old 08-20-09, 07:21 PM   #5
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would a three wheeler bike be better for a mixed shopping and child combination?
The right bike for you is the one that does what you need it to do and fits with your way of thinking and riding.

I don't have children, so what I ride wouldn't be helpful for you. I do know that a trike of any sort wouldn't work for me, considering I have no ground-floor space to keep a bike. I have to carry mine up the stairs to my apartment.
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Old 08-21-09, 04:26 PM   #6
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Some of my criteria for "most practical bike":

-has tires that are not too prone to flats
-rarely needs repairs, adjustments, or replacement parts
-has a riding position that's comfortable enough that you don't mind riding often
-has a place to carry stuff. even better if it's a waterproof place to carry stuff
-can safely and comfortably go over any bumps you encounter in a normal day
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Old 08-21-09, 04:50 PM   #7
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Some of my criteria for "most practical bike":

-has tires that are not too prone to flats
-rarely needs repairs, adjustments, or replacement parts
-has a riding position that's comfortable enough that you don't mind riding often
-has a place to carry stuff. even better if it's a waterproof place to carry stuff
-can safely and comfortably go over any bumps you encounter in a normal day
Sounds good. I am to assume you have a touring bike?
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Old 08-22-09, 11:41 AM   #8
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As tsl said, the right bike is the one that fits your particular needs. Everyone is different.

I have an old hard-tailed MTB that for several years served as my do everything bike with slick tires, fenders, racks, lights and toe clips. It got me through some tight financial times with very solid and dependable service.

Things have changed and I have a long commute. My recumbent seems to be the best bike for that job, though the mtb has been upgraded with a new rack and panniers for an amplified shopping and errands role. It also is used when I need to go somewhere where I would need to lock up the bike and feel it presents a minimal target for thieves. And I've put a trailer hitch on it to pull my Bikes At Work utility trailer.

I also have a couple of 10 speeds for light duty riding, where it's nice to have a change of pace and serve as possible back-up bikes, and a chopper that I use to ride in parades.
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Old 08-22-09, 12:42 PM   #9
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If you're looking for a lot of hauling capacity and carrying children, I'd personally look into a trailer rather than a trike. The trailer will give you a lot of capacity, but you can ride without it if you're not hauling anything.

As to the bicycle, it depends on your riding conditions. I'm not familiar with Leeds so I don't know if you have to contend with wind, hills or snow. If you have wind or hills, you'll want something with a good range of gearing for climbing. I'd be most interested in a touring bike since it has the gearing and the durability. If you have a lot of snow or on rough roads, look for something with wider tires and good tread. An older mountain bike without suspension or a hybrid would be ideal if you need the wider tires.
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Old 08-22-09, 02:40 PM   #10
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Personally, I've always gotten most use out of hardtail MTBs. They're tough, comfortable, and can handle the varieties of conditions that I ride in. Even on my commute to work, I sometimes like to go on a little singletrack or gravel roads.

My next new bike will probably be a light hybrid--one of the ones that are basically a road bike with flat bars. Possibly a Specialized Sirrus.
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Old 08-25-09, 05:21 AM   #11
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for me a practical bike has
1- a rack to haul groceries and stuff

2- a saddle bag for my flat tire equipment

3- is dirt cheap so there is no big loss in money if it is stolen

4- a chainguard to keep my pants clean

5- a kickstand

6- reliable gears that don't go out of adjustment. (to me 21 gears is ******** but might be needed for hilly regions)

7- virtually flatproof tires such a panaracer tourguide with kevlar lining

8- easy parts availabiltiy

9- simple brakes, not disc brakes and simple suspension, not shock absorbers.
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Old 08-25-09, 10:22 AM   #12
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I really like the Surly LHT, but I know it sounds like a lot of bandwagon retoric. Its fast enough, comfortable enough, can carry panniers or a trailer or both, and also can take fat enough tires that you can take on pretty much any kind of terrain with the exception of true singletrack. I take mine on fire roads all the time even fully loaded and it is great.
Also, it does not look expensive, which means a lot in a high petty crime area.
Of course, there are many equally suitable bikes out there, just voicing my preference.
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Old 08-25-09, 11:57 AM   #13
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My "perfect" bike would look a lot like the old Raleigh 3speed with a few modern bits and pieces. The old steel mtb with something other than flat bars and an IGH would work well.

I refuse to have a utility bike without fenders, generator lights and racks. Prefer the simplicity of the internal geared hubs, and also prefer hub brakes. The current generation of Shimano rollers IM-70+ are very good and stop well in all weather conditions.

I do some riding where a folder would be preferable, in that case the above still applies but in a folding package. The BF Season Tikit would come close to what I would purchase.

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Old 08-25-09, 04:29 PM   #14
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I refuse to have a utility bike without fenders, generator lights and racks.
Fenders would make sense, particularly if I lived in a wetter area. Racks make sense too. But why generator lights? Why not a good light running on rechargeable batteries?
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Old 08-25-09, 04:54 PM   #15
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I am to assume you have a touring bike?
Nope, I have a mountain bike with no suspension, beefy wheels and tires (offroad-ish tires, but at least they don't flat!) and a light frame.

But I put aero bars on it, and a plastic rubbermaid type bin on top of the rear rack.
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Old 08-25-09, 05:29 PM   #16
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I used to think a three wheeler would be good, but in practice they're a pretty limited animal. Best used for commercial applications. With BOB trailers and stretched frame bikes available now you can haul an enormous amount of cargo.

My rig for two years now has been a Kona Hoss, a beefy alloy frame beast. I attach a BOB for carrying loads around town and can haul about 75 lbs. without much trouble. Experience has taught me not to be cheap on the saddle (Brooks!) or the tires (Michelin for summer, Nokian for winter).

For me at least, 50 miles is about the limit I can tolerate in a single haul with a mountain bike geometry. I start getting a lot of pain when I get near the half century mark. For longer distances I think the road bikes are the way to go.
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Old 08-25-09, 08:20 PM   #17
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Fenders would make sense, particularly if I lived in a wetter area. Racks make sense too. But why generator lights? Why not a good light running on rechargeable batteries?
I have never had good luck with battery lights. With rechargeable you have to remember to A) keep the batteries charged B)Take them with you (been there done that and had to ride home in the dark) and C) keep up with the lights. I have had battery lights turn themselves on when in my bag, I didn't want to leave them on the bike when it was parked. You also have the environmental considerations of the battery disposal at the end of their lifespan. I have nothing against rechargeable batteries and do use them in some applications. I do use battery powered flashers as backups and attention getters. My flasher of choice is the Planet Bike Superflash.

With the generator hub and installed lights they are always there and always ready to go. With the newest generation of LED's you don't even have to worry about spare bulbs anymore

I put a Lumotec IQ Fly on my city bike it is LED and lights up at a walking pace well enough to see where you are going, at road speeds (12mph-16mph) I can ride safely on an unlit country road. It also has a stand light feature that keeps it on at low power for 4-5 minutes when you come to a stop. The IQ Fly also has a senso feature where it will turn itself on automatically when it gets dark. I use an LED taillight, it is switched from the headlight and has the stand light feature also.

I quite often use my bike in lieu of a car so in my mind there is no reason it should not be similarly equipped and ready to go at a moments notice.


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Old 08-25-09, 09:12 PM   #18
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I have never had good luck with battery lights. With rechargeable you have to remember to A) keep the batteries charged B)Take them with you (been there done that and had to ride home in the dark) and C) keep up with the lights. I have had battery lights turn themselves on when in my bag, I didn't want to leave them on the bike when it was parked. You also have the environmental considerations of the battery disposal at the end of their lifespan. I have nothing against rechargeable batteries and do use them in some applications. I do use battery powered flashers as backups and attention getters. My flasher of choice is the Planet Bike Superflash.

With the generator hub and installed lights they are always there and always ready to go. With the newest generation of LED's you don't even have to worry about spare bulbs anymore

I put a Lumotec IQ Fly on my city bike it is LED and lights up at a walking pace well enough to see where you are going, at road speeds (12mph-16mph) I can ride safely on an unlit country road. It also has a stand light feature that keeps it on at low power for 4-5 minutes when you come to a stop. The IQ Fly also has a senso feature where it will turn itself on automatically when it gets dark. I use an LED taillight, it is switched from the headlight and has the stand light feature also.

I quite often use my bike in lieu of a car so in my mind there is no reason it should not be similarly equipped and ready to go at a moments notice.


Aaron
Yes. I bought my friend a bike last winter with the shimano generator hub and the LED Lumotec lights. My old 2000 setup has the halogen light which isn't as bright but still nice. The battery light systems seem like a scam. The bike shops around here push the battery light systems, they've got a number of suburban commuters to buy into the obnoxious bright helmet mounted lights that blind their fellow bikers. A few of the bike shops refuse to carry generator hubs claiming its "Obsolete Technology".
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Old 08-25-09, 09:38 PM   #19
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Nope, I have a mountain bike with no suspension, beefy wheels and tires (offroad-ish tires, but at least they don't flat!) and a light frame.

But I put aero bars on it, and a plastic rubbermaid type bin on top of the rear rack.
Cool. I've owned a couple mountain bikes with rigid forks. What kind you have? A 90's steel frame?
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Old 08-25-09, 09:41 PM   #20
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Yes. I bought my friend a bike last winter with the shimano generator hub and the LED Lumotec lights. My old 2000 setup has the halogen light which isn't as bright but still nice. The battery light systems seem like a scam. The bike shops around here push the battery light systems, they've got a number of suburban commuters to buy into the obnoxious bright helmet mounted lights that blind their fellow bikers. A few of the bike shops refuse to carry generator hubs claiming its "Obsolete Technology".
I still have a couple of bikes with halogens and one with the old 50's vintage bulbs (regular glow worm that one) I haven't seen a generator equipped bike in a shop since I bought my Giant Excursion way back in 1989. The shops around here only sell the battery lights. Funny thing is there are quite a few Rannendours and the ones I have seen are running generator hubs for the most part, a couple even have the Schmidt SON hubs which are very pricey starting around $250 and heading up from there, but they are the top of the line and have a life expectancy of over 50,000km! The Shimano hubs run ~$120 and if they would export the ones they sell in the EU it would drop a bit more.

I don't feel the helmet lights are appropriate for normal road use, I know plenty of guys with big hunting trucks that get tickets for improper lights when they run their bar mounted driving lights on the roads.

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Old 08-26-09, 10:33 AM   #21
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I am car-lite. My wife has a car, I do not, I use a bike to commute to/from work, as well as to run errands. I have four bikes (sounds like a confession of an AA member). One is a fast, fun bike, doesn't count as a utility bike. One is a folding bike which I bring with me when I am on business trips. It has fenders and a rear rack which is too small to be of much use, and battery powered lights. The other two bikes are very similar to one another - both are touring bike frames, fenders, rear racks, generator lights, sturdy tires. If I lived closer to work or town, I would consider a more upright cruiser style bike to make quick, short runs to the grocery store or something, but work is a 15 mile ride, and the nearest grocery store is 6 miles, so I prefer the touring bikes with drop bars. I have two utility bikes so that if one has an issue, it is easy for me to ride the other until I can repair the first.
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Old 08-26-09, 11:53 AM   #22
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No matter what kind you ride, I think a good backup bike is a good idea. Not only for breakdowns, but for friends to ride with me when they visit.
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Old 08-26-09, 11:56 AM   #23
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Cool. I've owned a couple mountain bikes with rigid forks. What kind you have? A 90's steel frame?
Personally, I have nothing against a decent suspension fork on a city bike. I have hand and wrist problems, and the fork helps out a bit. The newer forks are light, and they can be locked out if you don't want to use them. I have never had problems with fork reliability, but I rarely keep a bike more than two or three years.
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Old 08-27-09, 08:21 AM   #24
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Cool. I've owned a couple mountain bikes with rigid forks. What kind you have? A 90's steel frame?
It's steel. (magnets stick to it.) The frame is lighter than other steel frames I've encountered. I don't know when it was made, but 1990's is probably a good guess. It's a "Research Dynamics" brand, "Coyote" model. It has center pull cantilever brakes.
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Old 08-27-09, 08:24 AM   #25
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Personally, I have nothing against a decent suspension fork on a city bike.
For me, a city bike needs to put my hands in a position other than the "straight bar"/"MTB bar" position or my wrists will hurt. I also prefer fat tires (1.5" or more) for comfort reasons, but with tires that size I don't mind having a hard seat and no suspension.
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