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  1. #1
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    New guy, any tips?

    Hey guys,
    I'm a bit new to the whole biking scene, and hoping to get some friendly tips. I just got a job in downtown SF and for most of you, you probably know how driving and parking is like there. So I plan on commuting through bart and by foot/2wheels. At the moment, I do not completely know what I want in a bike. But I know I want a road bike and I was thinking about a single speed and a friend suggests a fixed bike. I heard something about a flip flop thing and I just wanted to know how exactly it works. I kinda have a general jist of it, but I'm not totally 100% sure about it. But all I know is that I'm going to stick to having brakes, no matter what people may say. (I'm guessing there's a brakeless hype) Any suggestion on a bike? At the moment, I'm just looking through craigslist for a cheap used single speed, hopefully I can get a decent deal because I'm on a VERY tight budget. Anyways, any tips or suggestions would be great. Hopefully, I'll be welcome warmly. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Flip flop is a rear wheel with a cog on both sides. Usually its set up with a fixed and a freewheel side but before deraileurs were common, riders would have wheels with two different sized cogs. One for hills, one for flat ground. They'd stop at the bottom of climbs and flip the wheel to get a lower gear, then stop at the top to flop back to the higher gear. Now we have derailleurs to do that.

    Having only a single gear makes for a limiting ride, as you won't be happy going up or down significant hills. And not being able to coast even if its just to keep your pedals from striking the pavement on turns makes the fixie a more dangerous ride.

  3. #3
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I have a nephew in that part of CA and he was telling me about his bike but then said: "but it's not a cool bike" and went on to explain what a "cool" bike was meaning fixed gear etc. It was pretty disappointing to hear about this kind of peer pressure and style attitude. get a fixie if that's what YOU want and if that's what suits YOUR riding. say ... isn't it hilly out there?
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  4. #4
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    OP, you don't mention where you live, but you do know that you can't take a regular sized bike on BART under the bay during commute hours? If you're in the city already or down the peninsula, it shouldn't be an issue.

  5. #5
    Senior Member mtnwalker's Avatar
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    You may want to look into folding bikes if you will be using BART. BART does not allow regular bikes on board during peak times on weekdays. On the other hand there are no limitations on folding bikes.
    "Of all the things I like bestos, I like asbestos." - A co-worker

  6. #6
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    The roads around downtown are full of potholes, trolley tracks, cable car tracks, etc. For regular commuting, I would get a bike with heavy duty wheels and tires, like a mountain bike or hybrid. Skinny tires are faster, but that's not a big deal for most commute distances.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
    OP, you don't mention where you live, but you do know that you can't take a regular sized bike on BART under the bay during commute hours? If you're in the city already or down the peninsula, it shouldn't be an issue.
    ^ I do live in the city, thanks for that info though. Been riding BART for so long and still don't really know the rules I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    The roads around downtown are full of potholes, trolley tracks, cable car tracks, etc. For regular commuting, I would get a bike with heavy duty wheels and tires, like a mountain bike or hybrid. Skinny tires are faster, but that's not a big deal for most commute distances.
    ^ Well it's not really downtown, more like Embarcadero, but yeah I know what you mean. Most road bikes are lighter, so it would probably be easier for me to pick it up if I have to walk up and down stairs. ( which isn't a problem, I guess I'm just making an excuse to get a new bike.)
    Last edited by hyuxd; 04-12-10 at 12:40 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    Flip flop is a rear wheel with a cog on both sides. Usually its set up with a fixed and a freewheel side but before deraileurs were common, riders would have wheels with two different sized cogs. One for hills, one for flat ground. They'd stop at the bottom of climbs and flip the wheel to get a lower gear, then stop at the top to flop back to the higher gear. Now we have derailleurs to do that.

    Having only a single gear makes for a limiting ride, as you won't be happy going up or down significant hills. And not being able to coast even if its just to keep your pedals from striking the pavement on turns makes the fixie a more dangerous ride.
    Would you recommend a Flipflop?

  9. #9
    Direct Hit Not Required BlastRadius's Avatar
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    If you live in SF and work at the Embarcadero, just skip BART and ride the whole way.
    You could ride a fixed gear with brakes from almost anywhere in SF without hitting major hills.
    If you are new to riding, a geared bike would be an easier start.

    My recommendation (but ultimately depends on how much you can spend), an internally geared bike with wide (700x28/32) tires and a rack in front.
    Internally geared so don't have external mechanicals to gunk up or get damaged.
    Wide tires for comfort and easier time rolling over urban street "features".
    Front rack because a load in front is easier to handle. (Moot if you're going to use a backpack.)

  10. #10
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyuxd View Post
    Would you recommend a Flipflop?
    Might be a good idea if you have never ridden a fixie, in case you don't like it. My bike came with a FlipFlop rear wheel. I never used the free wheel side.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

  11. #11
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    Take a look at the route that you'd be riding. If it's hilly, a derailleur is a good idea. Also consider your job environment: How do people dress, can you shower or wash if you arrive sweaty?

    Can you park and lock a bike at your place of work? If you have to leave it on the street, it's probably best to not have an attractive bike.

  12. #12
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyuxd View Post
    At the moment, I'm just looking through craigslist for a cheap used single speed, hopefully I can get a decent deal because I'm on a VERY tight budget. Anyways, any tips or suggestions would be great. Hopefully, I'll be welcome warmly. Thanks.
    Good luck with that - fixed gear/SS are in fashion right now, and even cobbled together junkers command relatively high dollars as opposed to a solid, vintage 10 speed. You're more likely to find one of those for low $$, and then you can "fix" it later on if that is what you want to do.

    Personally, I'd look for a late 80's/early 90's rigid frame mtb for city commuting. They are sturdy, reliable, low value (in case of damage/theft), and have lots of rack/fender mounts. You can find them all day for less than $100 - toss a set of Performance slicks on it for $10/ea and you have a bullet proof commuter assault vehicle.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, itís the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

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  13. #13
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    Do you have space to stow your bicycle at work? I see many people stow their folding bikes under their desk or somewhere out of the way. Full size ones usually I see under the stairs.

  14. #14
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    Well I'm thinking about order a new bike on bikesdirect.com Any suggestions? And I'm pretty sure my boss can give me some room for my bike, there is a back hall that only employees can go through and it link with other shops around it. I could lock it there

  15. #15
    Direct Hit Not Required BlastRadius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyuxd View Post
    Well I'm thinking about order a new bike on bikesdirect.com Any suggestions? And I'm pretty sure my boss can give me some room for my bike, there is a back hall that only employees can go through and it link with other shops around it. I could lock it there
    This one:
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...e_express8.htm

    It's not "cool" but would make a great commuter.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlastRadius View Post
    This one:
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...e_express8.htm

    It's not "cool" but would make a great commuter.
    Thanks, but I was looking more like these.

    http://bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/timeline.html

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...clockwork.html

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/sst.html

    I do realize they're single speeds but I do know my route and it's not terribly hilly. Some slight slopes.

    Got too many hobbies to tend to and $500 for the hybrid is too much for me.

  17. #17
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
    Good luck with that - fixed gear/SS are in fashion right now, and even cobbled together junkers command relatively high dollars as opposed to a solid, vintage 10 speed. You're more likely to find one of those for low $$, and then you can "fix" it later on if that is what you want to do.

    Personally, I'd look for a late 80's/early 90's rigid frame mtb for city commuting. They are sturdy, reliable, low value (in case of damage/theft), and have lots of rack/fender mounts. You can find them all day for less than $100 - toss a set of Performance slicks on it for $10/ea and you have a bullet proof commuter assault vehicle.

    +1. Not much utility in a fixie. Function over form!

  18. #18
    Direct Hit Not Required BlastRadius's Avatar
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    Of those three, the Timeline at least has rack and fender mounting holes.

  19. #19
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    ^ Don't think it's all that important for me the rack and fender.. unless it should be....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydaddy View Post
    +1. Not much utility in a fixie. Function over form!
    I know, now I'm looking into flip flops, fixie is just for kicks. Probably be riding SS more.


    So... any recommendations?

    I'm currently researching up the following..

    Windsor Timeline
    Windsor Clockwork
    Motobecane Messenger
    Dawes SST

    ^ All pretty cheap bikes, but that's what I'm going for as of now.

  21. #21
    experience over lungs
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    A cyclocross bike with road 32 mm tires is heaven in SF. Most will be fast, comfortable, safe, durable, and able to climb the hills. I have a single speed and geared cyclocross bike. The single speed has 28 mm tires, but those aren't as good as the 32 mm in SOMA, where there are a lot of beaten up roads (I am just waiting for the 28 mm tires to wear out before I put 32 mm tires on there). I mostly use the single speed for commuting, but if you are new to riding and will have only one bike, get gears -- it will save your untrained knees and make it unnecessary to pick perfect routes that avoid the many steep hills that can be found in the city.

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