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Old 04-04-16, 03:11 PM   #1
Roadwanderer
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Roadwanderer’s Bicycle Journal

Hello everyone.

My first bike that I really liked was a cruiser. I rode that thing miles and miles each day (you didn't have video game systems in the '80s if you were poor).

I rode that bike until the wheels fell off.

In 1997, I replaced it with a mountain bike from Walmart because, while I liked my cruiser, there are some really steep hills around where I live and I thought gears would come in handy.

I hated riding that bike. Sport bikes have straight handlebars that cause you to hunch over, and it really hurts my lower back. Riding was no longer fun, and I largely quit.

In 2005 or 2006, I made a major modification to my mountain bike. Being the same brand as my cruiser, I figured some of the parts might be compatible, and I took the stem and handlebars off of my cruiser and installed them on my mountain bike.

The result was a bike I really liked to ride. I started riding again.

This year, I replaced bald tires and one of the shifter cables which keeps rusting and breaking.

Pretty much every mechanic I show my bike to can't believe a Walmart bike has listed this long, and predicts I'm going to need a new one really soon.

I would like a better bike, but I can't find something I might actually like to ride. I've decided I like lots of gear options and that anything less than an 18 speed is out. I also want to be able to sit up so cruiser handle-bars of something similar is a must.

The problem I keep running into is that bikes with handlebars I like are 1-7 speed, and bikes with 18+ gears have straight handlebars that keep you hunched over. I will also want fenders, a chainguard, and a rear carrier, but I think I can add these things after market without much fuss.

Since it looks like I'm going to have to modify most bikes on the market to get one I like, I'm tempted to buy an older well-built mountain bike, add cruiser handlebars and the other goodies I want.

However, if I could find something similar to what I need and do less work, I'd like to buy new.

I've been looking at the Dawes Eclipse City. The handlebars (though it's hard to be sure) look like they sweep back in a way that I like. The bike in general has a simple frame. and looks like it would adequately serve my needs.

Save up to 60% off new Hybrid Flat Bar Road Bikes - Dawes Eclipse City

Does anyone have any experience with this bicycle? I'd appreciate some feedback.

So far my only concern with this one is the exposed cables running along the top of the frame. I'm used to cables that run though the inside AND are fully housed. Do you think there's a way I could move this to the underside of the frame without significant difficulty?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 04-04-16, 03:32 PM   #2
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I have no experience with that particular model, but I have built a fair number of bicycles from Bikes Direct for other people. They're okay quality-wise, but the retail values they list are way overblown. Comparable bikes by other manufacturers are perhaps $350-400, not the $695 they use as a list price. If you do not know how to assemble it, then getting a bike from a local shop becomes even closer in value, as a bike-shop bike will come assembled and likely come with some free service.

As far as the cables, I don't understand your concern, but if you wanted the cables to be fully housed, it's easy enough to do. If it doesn't have to be pretty, you can zip-tie the housing to the frame tubes.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:35 PM   #3
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No experience with the bike you have a link to. Know many people that like bikesdirect bikes, though some assembly required. Can also always buy whatever straight bar bike that has everything else you like, and swap out the handlebars for a set of moustache bars from Nashbar or elsewhere for very cheap. That way you'd potentially be able to try the bike out to see if it fit, etc, and only have "upgrade" needed to make it perfect.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:41 PM   #4
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I have no experience with that particular model, but I have built a fair number of bicycles from Bikes Direct for other people. They're okay quality-wise, but the retail values they list are way overblown. Comparable bikes by other manufacturers are perhaps $350-400, not the $695 they use as a list price. If you do not know how to assemble it, then getting a bike from a local shop becomes even closer in value, as a bike-shop bike will come assembled and likely come with some free service.

As far as the cables, I don't understand your concern, but if you wanted the cables to be fully housed, it's easy enough to do. If it doesn't have to be pretty, you can zip-tie the housing to the frame tubes.
Thanks. I'm not shy about putting the thing together, so that's not an issue. Also, this model is currently going for $249 (at least in my area).

I sweat a lot when I ride, especially in summer, and I can't imagine salty sweat pouring on the exposed cables is good.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:56 PM   #5
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Thanks. I'm not shy about putting the thing together, so that's not an issue. Also, this model is currently going for $249 (at least in my area).
Understood; I know they're selling for $250. I was merely pointing out that the more mainstream brands are not a whole lot more.

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I sweat a lot when I ride, especially in summer, and I can't imagine salty sweat pouring on the exposed cables is good.
Gotcha. One of reasons why manufacturers went to exposed cabling is that the brakes feel firmer and more responsive with less housing to compress. It does expose the cable to corrosion though.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:58 PM   #6
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Understood; I know they're selling for $250. I was merely pointing out that the more mainstream brands are not a whole lot more.



Gotcha. One of reasons why manufacturers went to exposed cabling is that the brakes feel firmer and more responsive with less housing to compress. It does expose the cable to corrosion though.
Ah, I've been wondering if there was a reason for it. Thanks. And I appreciate the price-point information.
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Old 04-04-16, 04:10 PM   #7
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The bikes direct bike is fine. It'll last you many years. You won't get a bike with a chainguard unless you go for a single speed (one gear) or get a bike that has a gear hub in the back (instead of external gears, they're internal.) If you look for bikes with "nexus" in the description you'll find the internally geared bikes. (Some are just like the one you were looking at.)

For me personally, I'd buy an internally geared bike then simply switch the handlebars to something you liked.

Bikes direct was loading slow for me so I gave up trying to post a link.
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Old 04-05-16, 06:52 AM   #8
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Thanks
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Old 04-05-16, 07:06 AM   #9
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Don't worry at all about the exposed cables. I sweat a lot too, and my M80 has three cables exposed on top of the top tube and I've never seen any rust. Maybe my cables are stainless. I'm not sure. I think the 700c wheels and upright position of the Dawes would take the hills better than an mtb.
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Old 04-05-16, 08:25 AM   #10
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I think the 700c wheels and upright position of the Dawes would take the hills better than an mtb.
What about offroading? I do a bit; nothing I need a mountain bike for technically, and I do spend most of my time on pavement.
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Old 04-05-16, 08:41 AM   #11
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One thing I see about the bike you've linked to is that it has a freewheel, not a freehub. While I have no particular problem with 7-speeds vs more modern stuff, a freehub is a lot stronger and more desirable than a freewheel. Just something to be aware of, and maybe a freewheel is inevitable at that price point. As an observation, handlebars are relatively inexpensive and easy to change out; so don't feel you're locked in to a particular model just because you like the bars.
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Old 04-05-16, 08:44 AM   #12
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BTW, I'm also open to suggestions for other bikes that might do me if anyone has any to offer.

I don't have an opinion on frame material except that I find the anti-rust properties of aluminum to be attractive.

I like the idea of the 700c tires.

18 speeds minimum.

My inseam, with shoes, is 31.5" (that's 80.01 cm for the metric folks)

I'd like to spend less than $500... otherwise I'll have to wait for Christmas.
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Old 04-05-16, 08:48 AM   #13
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One thing I see about the bike you've linked to is that it has a freewheel, not a freehub. While I have no particular problem with 7-speeds vs more modern stuff, a freehub is a lot stronger and more desirable than a freewheel. Just something to be aware of, and maybe a freewheel is inevitable at that price point.
Good info. Thanks.

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As an observation, handlebars are relatively inexpensive and easy to change out; so don't feel you're locked in to a particular model just because you like the bars.
Yeah. I agree. I'd prefer to find something that I don't have to modify, but I'm more concerned about getting the best bike I can. I'm just remembering last time... because of the length of the cables involved, I had to change out every single cable and the tubes that house the cables in order to switch out the bars.
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Old 04-05-16, 11:46 AM   #14
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What about offroading? I do a bit; nothing I need a mountain bike for technically, and I do spend most of my time on pavement.
The Eclipse City has a steel fork and 35mm tires, so with it's ample gearing, it should get you down any dirt road or moderate, dry path.
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Old 04-05-16, 12:13 PM   #15
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The Kensington might offer most of what you want. The thing to look at isn't the number of gears, but the range. 8 gears might be spread out to cover as much variety between easy and hard as your 18 currently do. The nice thing about an internally geared hub is that you can have the full chaincase and they're often thought to be a bit more durable. Less exposed moving parts anyway.
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Old 04-05-16, 12:39 PM   #16
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The Kensington might offer most of what you want. The thing to look at isn't the number of gears, but the range. 8 gears might be spread out to cover as much variety between easy and hard as your 18 currently do. The nice thing about an internally geared hub is that you can have the full chaincase and they're often thought to be a bit more durable. Less exposed moving parts anyway.

I've actually looked at that one, and you're right. Overall, it looks like what I'll end up with after whatever necessary modifications are made. One of my worries about an 8 speed is the chainrings tend to be on the smaller side (in this case, 44t vs 48t which probably isn't that bad, but still smaller than what I use most of the time).

How do I tell what the range would be without physically looking at the machine?
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Old 04-05-16, 01:15 PM   #17
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I've actually looked at that one, and you're right. Overall, it looks like what I'll end up with after whatever necessary modifications are made. One of my worries about an 8 speed is the chainrings tend to be on the smaller side (in this case, 44t vs 48t which probably isn't that bad, but still smaller than what I use most of the time).

How do I tell what the range would be without physically looking at the machine?
You can use any gear calculator you want (I use Sheldon Brown's most of the time: Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator) and input the range from the bike you want and then do the bike you have now and compare (I think gear inches make a good set of numbers for comparisons, but others like gain ratios). The Nexus 8 speed has about a 3-fold range of gearing, so if you're getting a lot more than that, you won't match it and the steps will be larger no matter what, but you can change out the cog and chainring (which, of course will set you back more money) to change what the lower and upper bounds of that 3-fold range are.
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Old 04-05-16, 02:15 PM   #18
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You can use any gear calculator you want (I use Sheldon Brown's most of the time: Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator) and input the range from the bike you want and then do the bike you have now and compare (I think gear inches make a good set of numbers for comparisons, but others like gain ratios). The Nexus 8 speed has about a 3-fold range of gearing, so if you're getting a lot more than that, you won't match it and the steps will be larger no matter what, but you can change out the cog and chainring (which, of course will set you back more money) to change what the lower and upper bounds of that 3-fold range are.

I'm a little thick today. Even with the calculator, I still don't know where to get the numbers to plug into it based on the information in the description of the bike. Now, I can measure mine that I have here, that's no problem, but I feel like I'm missing something that should be obvious. (It took me a bit of research to figure out what a designation like 48T even meant).
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Old 04-05-16, 02:31 PM   #19
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Just a thought... What exactly are the LBS mechanics concerned about failing? If it's not the frame, then why do you actually want something new (though there's nothing wrong with that)?

As far as getting exactly what you want and like at your price point, have you considered just replacing the rear wheel and gearing? The bike you have is already set up as you like. Unless your frame is failing/predicted to fail soon, changing the rear wheel and gearing is a snap and relatively inexpensive - and you get to keep what you have and like.

Changing the front gear setup is a bit more expensive and complicated, but with a little searching on eBay and Craigslist, you might be able to get new parts for cheap or excellent quality used parts off a donor bike for even cheaper.

As I said, just a couple thoughts.
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Old 04-05-16, 02:47 PM   #20
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Just a thought... What exactly are the LBS mechanics concerned about failing? If it's not the frame, then why do you actually want something new (though there's nothing wrong with that)?

As far as getting exactly what you want and like at your price point, have you considered just replacing the rear wheel and gearing? The bike you have is already set up as you like. Unless your frame is failing/predicted to fail soon, changing the rear wheel and gearing is a snap and relatively inexpensive - and you get to keep what you have and like.

Changing the front gear setup is a bit more expensive and complicated, but with a little searching on eBay and Craigslist, you might be able to get new parts for cheap or excellent quality used parts off a donor bike for even cheaper.

As I said, just a couple thoughts.

They think it's going to need a new crankset.

I've thought about keeping this frame, but the other problem is it's about half an inch too small. I'd prefer something square in the middle of my range.

If I can't find a bike I like, as I said, I'll probably try building something.

I can troll craigslist until I find a frame I like and go from there. If I can get a good frame cheap, that'll free up resources to buy some good parts.
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Old 04-05-16, 08:27 PM   #21
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I'm a little thick today. Even with the calculator, I still don't know where to get the numbers to plug into it based on the information in the description of the bike. Now, I can measure mine that I have here, that's no problem, but I feel like I'm missing something that should be obvious. (It took me a bit of research to figure out what a designation like 48T even meant).
So for the bike I suggested, you'd put in 700x32 for the wheel size, 170 mm for the crank length, change the gear units to gear inches, put down 44 as the chainring (leaving the others blank), put down 22 for the custom sprockets (leaving the others blank), then scroll through the internal hub until you find shimano 8 speed, and then hit calculate. That should give you a series of gear inches numbers for the Windsor Kensington running from something like 28 to 87. The lower the gear inches, the easier it is to pedal and the higher the gear inches the harder it is to pedal.

Then you can go back for your bike and figure out the wheel/tire size (should be on the side of the tires), crank length (if you're lucky it'll be on the crank somewhere and not worn off if not, you might have to measure), count the teeth on each of your 3 chainrings (if it's not engraved into them), and count the teeth on your cogs on your freewheel. If you put those different numbers in instead, it will give you the range of gears your current bike has. You can use that for any bike you are looking at to see whether it has similar gearing to what you have now or different. Sure you can also change gearing after you buy something, but that requires extra money. It's a good idea to see beforehand if what you're buying will meet your needs when you're on a budget. If the hills you're climbing now are too hard, you might want something (at least for now - the more you do them the less time you'll spend in easier gears) that has a low end with a smaller bottom gear inches number than what you have now. If you're finding the hardest gear is too easy for you, you might want something that has a higher top number. Lots of times (not always, but many times) adding more gears just makes the steps between the gears smaller, it doesn't increase the range, so be careful of falling into the trap of "oh a 9 speed triple is only $100 more than an 8 speed triple and has 3 more combinations (27 vs 24), so it must be better". Quite frequently, a lot of the gear combinations result in the same gear inches (or near enough) so they're not useful and the outer limits don't change at all, so you don't gain that much of an extra benefit with more gears (unless you're racing and your cadence needs to stay perfect at all times for optimal efficiency). That doesn't mean I don't chase having the highest number of gears I can afford, it just means that if you can get done what you want with less, be aware that going for more doesn't always get you much more for the money.
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Old 04-06-16, 07:26 AM   #22
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So for the bike I suggested, you'd put in 700x32 for the wheel size, 170 mm for the crank length, change the gear units to gear inches, put down 44 as the chainring (leaving the others blank), put down 22 for the custom sprockets (leaving the others blank), then scroll through the internal hub until you find shimano 8 speed, and then hit calculate...
Thanks. That was tremendously helpful.

I found out that my bike is odd.

My Chainring is: 50T 39T 30T
My freewheel is: 14T 16T 18T 21T 24T 28T

That really bothers the part of me that likes things neat and tidy. lol

My crank length is 175 and my wheel size is 26 x 2.1

That gives me a max range of 2 - 6.7 for mine vs. 2.1 - 6.5 for the Kensington. I'd be losing a little on the top end. But would that be noticeable?

I spend most of my time in my highest gear, even when going up gentle hills.
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Old 04-07-16, 08:40 AM   #23
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I like to use the gear calculator in gear inches as the whole numbers are easier to compare than small decimal numbers. I use the Mike Sherman gear calculator Mike Sherman's Bicycle Gear Calculator which is a bit easier than Sheldon Brown's. What you have on your current bike is a midway between typical mountain bike gearing and road bike gearing but rather narrow range. What I ride has wide-range 30 speed road bike gearing - 30/39/52 chainrings and 11-36 cassette, 165mm cranks, 700C X23 rear wheel so the gear range is 21.9 to 124.2 gear inches. Your range is 27.8 to 92.8 gear inches. It's no wonder you end up riding in the upper end of the gear range. That's a good reason for choosing a bike with more gears as it allows the manufacturer to extend both ends of the gear range without making big jumps in the middle of the range. The Dawes bike has a gear range of 22.5 to 93.7 gear inches (with 175mm cranks). That's not much of an improvement over your current bike. You are much worse off with the Kensington as it has only one chainring. The 8-speed internal rear hub has a 302% range so if your lowest gear is 22.5 gear inches, your highest can't be more than 68 gear inches.

Stop worrying about exposed cables and housing. They are easy to replace and really don't need replacing frequently if you bother to keep them clean and lubricated.
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Old 04-07-16, 01:10 PM   #24
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Great stuff.

Yeah, I'm already thinking the gear ratios on a road bike might make more sense for my ultimate goals.
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Old 04-08-16, 10:57 AM   #25
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Continuing my search for a bike. I'm really leaning toward picking up a decent used road bike and making all the modifications I need.

After talking to you folks I think I definitely need something with a higher top gear ratio.

But would it kill people to put useful information in the description?

I understand some might not know the make/model/year sometimes, but could we get the height, tire size and the gear sizes please?

Do you want to sell the bike or not?

I went to a pawn shop to check out an old Ross that might have done me. The sales guy looked at me like I was a weirdo when I took out my tape measure to get some information.

/rant
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