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  1. #1
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    hi all-

    have been looking through this forum and finding lots of great information; but was hoping to get some more specific advice. here's some background:

    -i live in the seattle area and am looking to buy a bike that i'll primarily use for commuting to/from work. i will occasionally also use it for errands, short fun rides, etc. i may go off-road very occasionally. but i will NEVER use it for racing or any kind of competitive activity.

    -my commute will be about a 7-mile ride on regular roads (paved, bumpy, potholes, ruts, etc) that are fairly hilly. the hills are a bit of a struggle for me right now, given my (lack of) conditioning, but i'm assuming that'll improve over time.

    -my main requirements (i think) are (1) very comfortable ride (over bumps, etc), (2) easy to ride up/down hills, (3) good braking in rainy weather, (4) ability to put fenders and a rack for panniers.

    -i went to a couple of local stores and asked for advice. one recommended a cyclocross bike (the lemond poprad, in particular) and the other recommended a flat-handlebar bike (like the kona dr. dew).

    -i've spent just a bit of time trying drop-down handlebar bikes and flat handlebar bikes and think i have a preference for the drop-down ones mostly because it seems like having more hand positions would be helpful. but if i'm overlooking something that makes the flat-bar bikes better for commuting on hilly roads, i'd love to hear it.

    -if i get a dropdown handlebar bike, i definitely want to have brakes on the top part of the drop-down handlebars, in addition to the drop-down part.

    -the poprad seemed pretty nice, but the easiest gear didn't seem easy enough for a couple of the steeper hills (again, probably due to my conditioning).

    -i also tried the fuji cross pro at an out-of-town store when i was travelling and liked a lot about it...but only rode it for a few minutes.

    -i saw in the most recent publication of bicycling magazine that they named the schwinn dbx one of the top bikes for 2005, though i can't really tell why it's any better than other cyclocross bikes.

    okay, so now my questions:

    -should i care about disc brakes vs. pull brakes? some bike stores seem to say that disc brakes are better for rainy weather, but others say that mechanical disc brakes aren't much better than pull brakes and only hydraulic disc brakes make a significant difference.

    -what would be a good bike for me, given the purposes described above? some of the ones discussed on this forum that sound interesting are: lemond poprad, kona jake the snake, fuji cross pro, soma double cross, surly cross check.

    thanks in advance!
    Last edited by kully; 04-26-05 at 12:51 PM.

  2. #2
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    shameless POWERCRANK plug
    Recommended reading for all cyclists - Cyclecraft - Effective Cycling
    Condor Cycles - quite possibly the best bike shop in London
    Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!

  3. #3
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    thanks for the suggestion. it looks like the cannondale has an aluminum frame (can't tell what the fork is). from what i'd read in other posts, it sounds like a steel frame provides a more comfortable ride, whereas an aluminum frame provides a more sporty ride, no? if so, wouldn't a steel frame be better for my uses than an aluminum frame?

    kully

  4. #4
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    I live in sunny, sunny london so rust(salt on the roads in winter) is a consideration for me. Yes, steel is a more comfortable(flexy) ride than Al.
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
    Recommended reading for all cyclists - Cyclecraft - Effective Cycling
    Condor Cycles - quite possibly the best bike shop in London
    Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!

  5. #5
    Member climbo's Avatar
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    Lemond Poprad for a complete bike, steel frame, good value. Get top mount brake levers put on it and you're good to go. The canti brakes on a cross bike work good enough. Disc brakes are not necessary for our commuting needs. Once you get used to drop down bars, you'll like them, they are great for hills and commuting with extra hand positions etc. Gearing you can change out when you buy the bike, most cross bikes come with about the same gearing to start with. Also, the Jamis range has a cross bike, the Nova, very good commuter, steel frame, should last a long time. Basically you should go with something you can test ride it, like it and get what you want out of it, like having the shop add cross brakes leves and maybe change the rear sproclkets out for a lower gear.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kully
    -my main requirements (i think) are (1) very comfortable ride (over bumps, etc), (2) easy to ride up/down hills, (3) good braking in rainy weather, (4) ability to put fenders and a rack for panniers.

    -if i get a dropdown handlebar bike, i definitely want to have brakes on the top part of the drop-down handlebars, in addition to the drop-down part.

    -the poprad seemed pretty nice, but the easiest gear didn't seem easy enough for a couple of the steeper hills (again, probably due to my conditioning).
    kully...as an option, have you considered a touring bike? (Not to dismiss the cyclocross bike fans, but check out the touring bike section) Seems that it would fit your requirements nicely. Low gearing, braze-ons (and clearance) for racks and fenders, long stays for no heel strike (important), usually steel framed, comfortable stretched out ride. As mentioned, add some levers for the top bar and you're set.

    Cons might be a few pounds heavier, less responsive (and less cachet? )

    Surly LHT, Jamis Aurora, Fuji Touring, Trek 520, REI Randonee, Cannondale T800 (aluminum frame, though) come to mind in your price range.

  7. #7
    Senior Member MrEWorm's Avatar
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    Surly CrossCheck

  8. #8
    Senior Member stric's Avatar
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    Check out Kona Jake and Jake the Snake. both are great cyclocross bikes but even better for commuting and general use. They come with the mounts so you can add fenders and other commuting-related accessories. The cost is unde $1000 (jake the Snake is a bit more expensive model since it's meant for racing).
    Check them ot www.konaword.com.
    anima sana in corpore sano

  9. #9
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    The answer to this question is that you DON'T need to spend anywhere
    near $1500 on a bike to do the utility duties you describe. In fact you
    should NOT spend that kind of money on any bike unless you're into
    racing.

    All that said there are two very good options that you should consider
    very carefully before you spend any money. One is buy an older steel
    framed road bike and either ride it as is if it's in really good shape ( read
    less than $200) or buy a mid-range bike from a name maker that has a
    steel frame (good luck on that one). Whatever you do AVOID aluminum
    framed bikes if you want a good dependable fine riding bike. Now many
    will claim that aluminum is Ok, but ask yourself why aluminum has to
    add front (and or rear) shocks to get the same sweet ride a steel frame
    gives naturally.

    An older road steel road frame can be several bikes with minor modifcations
    of the components with no major frame changes. The great part is a road
    bike set up YOUR way is one sweet ride for everything.
    Last edited by Nightshade; 05-04-05 at 05:48 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member inja's Avatar
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    Check out the FELT bikes!
    They are REALLY decently priced for the components sets AND LOTS-o-CARBON!!!
    http://www.feltracing.com/2005_bikes/2005_f65.html

  11. #11
    Senior Member inja's Avatar
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  12. #12
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    Disc brakes are awesome in wet weather. I've ridden my MTB through the worst rain storms that Chicago offers, and I have complete confidence in discs -- confidence that I never really had with V brakes in heavy rain.

    In fact, I now consider discs essential for my urban riding (fast starts and very fast stops), and it's hard to imagine buying a bike without discs. I've been riding my new Jamis Coda Elite for 4 weeks now, and the Avid BBR brakes were one of the keys to my purchase decision. When I decided to switch to a hybrid after commuting on mtbs for 5 years, I really only considered the few bikes that offered dual discs:

    Specialized Crossroads XC Pro
    Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra (ugly to me)
    Jamis Coda Elita (best components)
    Kona Dr. Dew (ugly to me)

    In addition the performance, the maintenance on discs is zero. I just replaced my pads on my MTB Avid brake (front only) for the first time after nearly three years. In the meantime, I've replaced my V brake pads (rear on MTB) numerous times and find regular adjustment essential for just-OK performance. The discs are always performing perfectly.

    The only minor problem with the brakes is noise from road salt film or other dirt. The film is cleared after a couple hard brakings but is embarassingly loud when it does start (but it only happens a few times a year).

    Anyway, I've rambled enough.

    Good luck,

    Dave

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