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  1. #1
    Senior Member meangreen's Avatar
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    Help choosing bike. Commuter and living with out a car. Salsa, Raleigh, Kona????

    Hey Everyone,

    I just posted on the commuter forum, but I need some advice from fellow car-frees. If you get a chance please leave me some advice on good all around bikes for commuting and hauling.

    Thanks,
    Casey

    PS - If it is inappropriate for me to put a notice on this forum, I will gladly take it down.

  2. #2
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    I would shoot for a bike that is comfortable and can haul a few things. Quite a few people around here use either touring bikes or mountain bikes with slicks. I have a Bianchi Volpe which is about 5 or 6 years old now and it has been a very dependable, pleasant ride. I know Salsa, Raleigh and Kona has similar equipment. The only thing that scares me a bit with newer bikes is that you need really good locks for when you lock up.

  3. #3
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meangreen View Post
    Hey Everyone,

    I just posted on the commuter forum, but I need some advice from fellow car-frees. If you get a chance please leave me some advice on good all around bikes for commuting and hauling.

    Thanks,
    Casey

    PS - If it is inappropriate for me to put a notice on this forum, I will gladly take it down.
    It all depends on what you want from your commute. Me, I ride a touring bike with panniers at 6-25 mph, depending on terrain. My average speed on flat terrain is about 15-18 mph. I carry quite a few things with me when I ride: rain gear, books, sometimes a laptop, etc. More often than not, I'm riding to get somewhere; the riding experience is important to me, but it's not the only consideration.

    If you ride like me, I'd recommend the Surly LHT or Cross Check, or the Jamis Aurora, or an old Trek 520, or the Bianchi Volpe. But ultimately, you need to decide for yourself, based on how you ride, where you ride, and what your riding environment is like.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  4. #4
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    I recommend the Long Haul Trucker as well. It is tough to put another new model up against it for the money, considering what you will want/need it to do. It's a good start for comparisons, anyway. It can haul a lot, yet it's not super slow, and it's very rugged and well equipped.

    An older touring bike might be a good choice if you are on a tight budget or have to leave it where it might get stolen. Some older mountain bikes can be good bargains, too, but you may find it hard to put racks on the front.

    From what I have seen, you could not pick a much better spot than Gainesville to ride. They have bike lanes and trails everywhere. There are great country roads just outside the city,too. And, of course, you can ride all year. Good luck and have fun.
    Campione Del Mondo Immaginario

  5. #5
    Senior Member meangreen's Avatar
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    bragi, I appreciate your response. i am similar to you, I love the ride and I dont want to be slowed down with a heavy bike all of the time, but want to freedom to lug stuff either across town or 100 miles (or 300 miles). Maybe that is impossible? I am going to try as many fits as I can and see what feels the most comfortable. How big of a factor is bike weight vs. wheel/tire size?

  6. #6
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Bike weight? When you are dragging 30-50 pounds of food from the grocery store, an extra few pounds doesn't seem that important. Wider tires, however, are nice for the load.

  7. #7
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meangreen View Post
    bragi, I appreciate your response. i am similar to you, I love the ride and I dont want to be slowed down with a heavy bike all of the time, but want to freedom to lug stuff either across town or 100 miles (or 300 miles). Maybe that is impossible? I am going to try as many fits as I can and see what feels the most comfortable. How big of a factor is bike weight vs. wheel/tire size?
    I agree with gerv: if you're using your bike to haul stuff, the weight of the bike isn't crucial. As for tire width, I'm not sure it's all that important, either. I recently switched from 37 mm to 28 mm tires, and I gained maybe 1-2 mph in speed, and noticed no difference in comfort. Skinnier, higher-pressure tires probably have lower rolling resistance, but again, if you're using your bike to haul beer or buy dog food, it's kind of a non-issue. Maybe you need two bikes, one for riding, and one for running errands...

    By the way, the Surly LHT, which I ride and love, is a tank. It's well made, looks nice once you remove the decals, durable, has nice components, an awesome bike for the money, but it's NOT speedy. It's not a total sluggard like a Dutch bike or something similar, but if you're interested in riding fast, it's not what you're looking for.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    I'd suggest a touring bike or an older mountain bike from the 1980s. The touring bike is going to be able to handle the loads admirably and it can also move fairly quickly. The mountain bike, a choice among some touring cyclists, has many of the advantages found in a touring bike.

    There are two drawbacks to a mountain bike. First, the wider tires may be a disadvantage (or an advantage if the roads in your area are bad.) Second, some parts you need might be discontinued. I went through a rather extensive search before finding a part for a headset on a vintage mountain bike.

    Alternately, if you are mostly commuting and hauling gear only occasionally, get whatever bike you want and then spring for a trailer. You can mount the trailer on almost any bike for those times when you need it.
    Life is good.

  9. #9
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I just serviced an LHT and took it out for a shakedown ride... on higher pressure road tyres with no load it is a pretty stiff bike which is what one should expect from a well built touring bike. It felt very much like my own touring bike which is a 1987 Kuwahara Cascade that is unbelievably stiff and not the best bike for light travelling but when you load it down for touring it is like riding on a cloud with a rocket engine.

    The LHT really needs some higher volume tyres and if you are riding unloaded dropping the tyre pressure will make a huge difference in ride quality and the bike is a tank... and I mean that in a good way.

    For light to medium touring and general riding and commuting I really like my Trek 7500 hybrid which I have modified a great deal to improve on the original parts spec and it too is a very stiff bike but has a delightful ride when it is fitted with 700:35 cross tyres at 80 psi. It might be one of the smoothest riding bikes I have ever owned and it is no slouch in the speed department either.

  10. #10
    Senior Member meangreen's Avatar
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    I guess I should clairfy the bike weight thing. I definitely am not one of those people who really counts the grams (or even pounds - I have to loose way more before that should start mattering). I mean if I am loading the bike up with 50 lbs, should i make get a bike that is a bit heavier? Is beefy tires enough to counter a 25-50 lbs load?

  11. #11
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Bike weight is something people obsess over way too much and if a bike is going be be used for transportation and utilitarian purposes it should be built to some higher standards to ensure longevity and to ensure it can handle whatever use it is put to... that does not mean it has to weigh 40 pounds and most fully equipped tourers / utility bikes will curb out in the 30 pound range.

    I live a car free life and spend a lot of time riding on 26 inch tyres that range from 1.75 to 2.0 and do not find that maintaining good speeds is an issue... there have been many improvements in tyre technology and some of these wider 26 inch tyres can roll out very quickly.

    For a mix of hauling and riding a 26 inch tyre makes great sense as they are stronger and a higher volume tyre can really smooth out the ride.

    If you are going to be loading the bike up with an extra 50 pounds you want good quality racks and wheels that are up to the task... towing also rates a very good back wheel as this will put it under greater lateral stress.

    One of my most versatile and rugged bikes is my Phillip's 20 folder which has had some radical modifications; it is a capable touring bike and is very fast and comfortable, and the 20 inch wheels are even stronger than 26 inch wheels and it serves as my primary tow vehicle.

    My friend was driving one day and came up behind me while I was towing my trailer... said he paced me and I was doing 38kmh with a 35 pound bike on the trailer.

    I use an extra bike as well and this is very nice in the winter when towing a trailer can be very hard to do.

  12. #12
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    ^^Yes, whatever the tire size, you want lots of rubber and lots of spokes, IMO. Especially when you observe that most of us everyday cyclists are not as svelte as the road racing weight weenies.

    (PS--we're lucky to have a real bicycle guru like Sixty-fiver on this forum! )


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  13. #13
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    I use an old Gary Fisher Mamba mountain bike as my commuter, as the roads in my plant are terrible. For everything else, i use a Raleigh Sojourn. I love the Raleigh, but it does have some drawbacks for some people. First, it does weigh 32 lbs. without a load. It had disc brakes which take some getting used to for maintenance, however they don't need much of that. I, however, consider these plusses, as the disc brakes work amazingly well and I like the stability and feel of a slightly heavier bike for every day use. The only real negative for me is the bottom bracket, which isn't the best quality and will have to be replaced soon. Do it before you go on any longer rides.

    The plusses are first the handlebars. They are unique, as they are drops that flare out. This works for someone like me who has wider shoulders. It comes stock with very nice racks, a Brooks b-17, Brooks leather tape, 35mm reflectorized Schwalbes, and like I said earlier disc brakes. All of these I was going to add to the lht, which was my second choice. The price, with tax, was just a hair over 1300 dollars, but you can find them cheaper. The lht is 1200 without all those bells and whistles.

    The one plus on the lht was the 26 inch tire option, but that wasn't enough to sway me, and I am more than happy with the choice I made. It's a comfy, stable, and fast emough for me bike that, with panniers added, carries a lot of my stuff without a real big change in handling.
    "There are many causes worth dying for. There are none worth killing for." Albert Camus

  14. #14
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    ^^Yes, whatever the tire size, you want lots of rubber and lots of spokes, IMO. Especially when you observe that most of us everyday cyclists are not as svelte as the road racing weight weenies.

    (PS--we're lucky to have a real bicycle guru like Sixty-fiver on this forum! )
    You are too kind.

    I used to ride competitively and have always been pretty svelte but now suffer from neuropathy in my left leg and hip so can't lay down the same power as I used to or mash big gears so just work on being able to spin efficiently using the middle high range on my bikes and can still maintain a nice pace of around 18-20 mph on my little folder.

    I cheat a little on this bike and run some Comet Primo tyres which are fairly high performance and a little more prone to flats than something like a Schwalbe Marathon but they are much lighter and roll out much faster and this extra efficiency is appreciated.

    I use my folder for everything as it is a great all rounder; commuting, touring, and for utilitarian purposes like towing my trailer which also has some high performance tyres to make towing it easier.





    I ride other bikes (I have 14 of them) but that little P20 has been a solid little worker for the past 4 years and was the first bike I could ride after my back injury because of the low step over.

    A modern folder like a Bike Friday would be an excellent choice for a car free person as unlike my P20, they fold up really well and are rugged and versatile enough for everything and you can get a decently equipped one for $1000.00 - $1200.00

    If I did not have a bike shop and work with a frame builder I would have looked at buying a Bike Friday since I have ridden them, worked on them and find them to be as nice as my 20 in the ride department which is something many folders lack.

  15. #15
    Young Fred jediphobic's Avatar
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    The Raleigh Detour Dlx is a good bike to check out it you don't have any specifics in mind. It'll get you most of the important features of a commuter like a rack, fenders, lights (dyno, even), and a comfortable saddle. The parts list is pretty generic, though it does have an 8 spd internal gear hub. If you have some specific parts in mind that you'd like to include, then it's a waste of money to get this and replace things, and you should probably start from something more generic, or even build from a frame. If you don't know what you like yet, this would make a good place to start.
    2012 Eastern Chief - 2010 Raleigh Record Ace - 2010 Surly Big Dummy - 2009 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo e Koo - 2009 Trek Allant

  16. #16
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    For the OP, I would add that it might not be important to get the PERFECT bike right out. Do a test ride before you buy any bike. If it feels good and you can afford it, go with it. After a few months you'll have a more sophisticated idea of what you want in a bike. At that point, you can trade it in, keep it, or supplement with a second bike for some of your riding.

    My first bike was an abused Walmart faux-MTB that I overpaid $40 for. After a couple months I knew enough about carfree riding to buy my second bike--a gently used Hardrock that served me for a couple years. After that, it was collection time, and I now have several bikes (all bought used) that serve different purposes and whims.


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  17. #17
    Senior Member meangreen's Avatar
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    That is a great idea. I really really liked the crosscheck, but I am going to hold out until june so I can test ride the salsa vaya. In the mean time I purchased the caadx (my friend manages the shop and got a super awesome deal that I wasn't expecting but really helped). I need to get away from my fixed gear for commuting for a while, my knees are in pretty bad shape and my PT told me a year ago to give that bike a break... I got to ride a friends CAADX and I was really happy with the geometry. I dont make much money as a grad student, but I looooove biking, I hope to race at some point (if I can get my knees to recover), and I can budget better than most people.
    Anyway, to get to the point. I really appreciate all of the help. I hope other can use all of this advice at well. I have been using this missionworks backpack that I picked up until I have a bike I can put a rack on.

    Sixty fiver I see that you wrote about quality racks, what do you suggest. Some people on the other forum were saying tubus and ortilieb. One of my LBSs has Jannd, are they any good? I dont mind buying online, but I prefer to support local... And for the foldup bike, that looks awesome!

    one more thing, why are people so obsessed with weight? Does 100 grams really make that much of a difference?

  18. #18
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meangreen View Post

    Sixty fiver I see that you wrote about quality racks, what do you suggest. Some people on the other forum were saying tubus and ortilieb. One of my LBSs has Jannd, are they any good? I dont mind buying online, but I prefer to support local... And for the foldup bike, that looks awesome!

    one more thing, why are people so obsessed with weight? Does 100 grams really make that much of a difference?
    If you can, get the Jandd Expedition rack; those things are totally bomb-proof, easy to install, and not very expensive. (Well, not expensive compared to other really good racks. )

    I don't think most people (outside of racing) are at all obsessed with weight. If you're trying to go 40 mph, weight is very important, and I totally respect that, even if I'm not into it myself. On the other hand, if you're going on a beer run at 17 mph, weight isn't an issue; if the bike weighs 20 lbs or 27 lbs, you'll still probably have a good time riding to the store.

    There are the occasional riders with $5000 road bikes, wearing full kit, doing 15-18 mph, just like the guy hauling a 12-pack of IPA, but they're riding, so it's okay, but I kind of wonder why they spent so much money and what they're trying to accomplish....
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  19. #19
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    There are the occasional riders with $5000 road bikes, wearing full kit, doing 15-18 mph, just like the guy hauling a 12-pack of IPA, but they're riding, so it's okay, but I kind of wonder why they spent so much money and what they're trying to accomplish....
    I can't count the times I've been out on country highways on my 30 pound MTB and have passed riders on expensive road bikes. It's not so much that I'm fast (I'm definitely not) but I put in a lot more miles than they do on an annual basis and I can keep up a steady pace.

    Every day cyclists ride a lot more than most weekend weight weenies. If you have a short commute of only 10 miles round trip, your commut alone adds up to riding almost 3000 miles a year. A lot of fast road riders put in fewer miles than that during the four months that they consider suitable for riding.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  20. #20
    Senior Member meangreen's Avatar
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    man I can't imagine only riding on the weekend... I think I would die or my girlfriend would kill from being so moody.

  21. #21
    Senior Member meangreen's Avatar
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    Are panniers and racks interchangeable? I looked up the jandd and the price is pretty cool and I really like the company. Could I put Ortilieb panniers or Axiam on a Jandd rack? Or do I need to get Jandd panniers (not like that would be a bad thing, but i like the way the Axiam (axiums?) connect to the rack.

  22. #22
    Young Fred jediphobic's Avatar
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    Panniers should be mostly interchangeable as far as attachments goes. Though a few companies have some weird quick release mechanisms that can be odd on other brand rack.
    2012 Eastern Chief - 2010 Raleigh Record Ace - 2010 Surly Big Dummy - 2009 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo e Koo - 2009 Trek Allant

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    I would shoot for a bike that is comfortable and can haul a few things. Quite a few people around here use either touring bikes or mountain bikes with slicks. I have a Bianchi Volpe which is about 5 or 6 years old now and it has been a very dependable, pleasant ride. I know Salsa, Raleigh and Kona has similar equipment. The only thing that scares me a bit with newer bikes is that you need really good locks for when you lock up.
    I pretty much exclusively ride an old mountain bike with slicks. Fast enough when I need it, comfortable enough for extended rides, low enough geared to haul a heavy trailer full of groceries - I've roasted bearings in my trailer hauling 300lbs. of groceries in it.
    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    it's 'leaving the scene of an accident' because no state government has passed a law against 'leaving the scene of an on-purpose'.

  24. #24
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meangreen View Post
    Are panniers and racks interchangeable? I looked up the jandd and the price is pretty cool and I really like the company. Could I put Ortilieb panniers or Axiam on a Jandd rack? Or do I need to get Jandd panniers (not like that would be a bad thing, but i like the way the Axiam (axiums?) connect to the rack.
    I think most panniers work on most racks. (I have a Jandd rack with Ortlieb panniers.)
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

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