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Classic bike for light urban commuting

Old 01-29-22, 01:41 PM
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Nervous_Jerboa
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Classic bike for light urban commuting

Hi, I recently moved to Boston from the rural midwest. I've quickly realized that my car is more of a liability than an asset here and I'd like to do away with it soon. My public transit experience has so far been pretty great but there are always some little gaps where a bicycle would come in extremely handy. Mainly just 1-2 mile trips to pick up groceries, run errands, etc. I don't foresee ever owning wearing lycra anything. Absolutely no judgement here, but I just want something I can hop onto in my jeans and take my time getting where I'm going. I'm 6'5" so frame size may be tricky. As far as budget, I'd like to keep it around $250 or less. I figure I'll invest more in the next bike when I have a better idea of what I like.

So I guess, does anyone have any suggestions as to what to look for? Sizing is kind of a mystery to me still. It seems like every CL ad has a different way of measuring and what each listing considers great for a "tall" rider varies. Also the designation of cruiser, hybrid and road bikes. How much difference is there really? Can I just put cruiser bars on a road bike and adjust it for a more upright position? They seem much more plentiful especially in larger frame sizes. Thus far, there's a Raleigh Sprite 10 speed with a 23.5" frame which looks promising. I think I'd prefer a 3 speed for simplicity, but the price seems fair.

Thanks in advance for any advice
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Old 01-29-22, 02:03 PM
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23.5" will likely be too small for you at 6'5". I ride a 23" at 5'11".

Here's a basic place for you to start with sizing and how to measure a C&V frame: https://www.vintagevelo.co.uk/frame-size-guide/

My very baseline for what qualifies as a worthy purchase. There are exceptions to all of these rules, but they are good rules of thumb to start with:

- Chromoly frame
- Downtube shifters instead of stem shifters (not because stem shifters don't work well, but are typically relegated to lower end bicycles)
- Rear derailleur hanger built into the frame (for the same reason as stem shifters)
- Alloy wheels rather than steel

Nice to haves for a commuter:
- Room for fenders if you're in a wet environment and might want them (Boston can be quite wet)
- Decent attachment points for said fenders as well as a rack

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Old 01-29-22, 02:18 PM
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I'm also in the Boston area and see a fair number of taller frames on CL. It'll depend on your inseam, but at 6'5", you're probably looking at 24" frames on up (that's a measurement of the seat tube--from the center of the bottom bracket spindle to where the seat post comes out of the seat tube). Here are a few:

https://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/bi...438562990.html
https://boston.craigslist.org/sob/bi...438537352.html
https://boston.craigslist.org/nos/bi...437015293.html (that's a tall one!)
https://boston.craigslist.org/nwb/bi...425132661.html

I'd say that Fuji Touring is the best of the lot and would do fine converted to upright bars and racks for carrying stuff. I think I bought a Fuji Finest from that seller in Lowell a month or so ago, and he was fine to deal with.
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Old 01-29-22, 02:18 PM
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Oof, that Raleigh is pretty much the largest bike I've found so far that is anywhere near what I'm looking for. So I need a 64cm or ~25" frame which severely limits my choices.
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Old 01-29-22, 02:22 PM
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And the seller of this tall boy says he's 6'3"!

https://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/bi...436662223.html
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Old 01-29-22, 02:27 PM
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Get the Fuji touring! Great shape, tall enough and everything you'd want in a quality commuter. Will save you any trouble in getting it ride ready as well based on the description.
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Old 01-29-22, 02:30 PM
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Vintage 1980’s Takara Prestige road bike - Tall/XL frame - $200 (Cambridge, Central Sq.)

I can't post links yet, but this one has a 36" stand-over height ^

But this brings me back to the question of road bike vs cruiser. Are there any major differences between them other than handlebars? I don't really think I need 12 gears but I guess that's fine. Will the ride comfort be comparable to a more casual 3 speed?

edit: nlerner already posted the link ^^
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Old 01-29-22, 02:42 PM
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You donít want a cruiser type. Maybe converting to flat bars from drop (racing) bars, but you want something that you can soup up a bit overtime.

1. Clearance for wider tires. 700c rims are light but many can support 32mm tires or more.
2. Touring frame/sport frame. You want those tires above to clear, and perhaps fit fenders in.
3. Eyelets on rear dropouts rose install racks.They are threaded loops where the back wheel axle is.
4. If you are good with drop bars, you can upgrade to brifters later.

Look for a moderately priced bike with good frame bones and it can grow with you!
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Old 01-29-22, 02:47 PM
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Beach
Cruiser-fat wheel single speed usually with sloping back handlebars. Usually heavy.

off road
Mountain bike-Usually fatter knobby tires you take off road, though can be decent street bikes with the right tires

Road
Touring: more comfortable geometry and room for wider tires, eyelets for racks and fenders
Sport Touring: a little snappier geometry with slightly harsher ride. Cannot take quite as cushy tyres and usually only a rack in back.
Road Race: Upright twitchy geometry for speed and not comfort; thin wheels, no racks.

Hybrid
Road ready but can be gravel as well. Usually rack ready, wider tires fit.

The hybrid might be your best bet. Trek Multitrack is one of the most flexible bikes around.


Originally Posted by Nervous_Jerboa View Post

Vintage 1980ís Takara Prestige road bike - Tall/XL frame - $200 (Cambridge, Central Sq.)

I can't post links yet, but this one has a 36" stand-over height ^

But this brings me back to the question of road bike vs cruiser. Are there any major differences between them other than handlebars? I don't really think I need 12 gears but I guess that's fine. Will the ride comfort be comparable to a more casual 3 speed?

edit: nlerner already posted the link ^^
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Old 01-29-22, 03:16 PM
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How hard is it to find and fit fenders to something like that Takara or the Fuji? I'm almost certainly going to want those for rainy days. I guess maybe a touring bike is closer to what I'm looking for even though they seem kind of sporty.
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Old 01-29-22, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Nervous_Jerboa View Post
How hard is it to find and fit fenders to something like that Takara or the Fuji? I'm almost certainly going to want those for rainy days. I guess maybe a touring bike is closer to what I'm looking for even though they seem kind of sporty.
It looks like it would be pretty easy with either of those. I sort of like the cantilever brakes of the Fuji but they are both decent starter frames that you can adapt.

One caveat for you. 27Ē tires are a bit tougher to find a variety of sizes for...not as many on the road.

700c tires have lots of options!
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Old 01-29-22, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Nervous_Jerboa View Post
How hard is it to find and fit fenders to something like that Takara or the Fuji? I'm almost certainly going to want those for rainy days. I guess maybe a touring bike is closer to what I'm looking for even though they seem kind of sporty.
That 84 Touring is a perfect fit with your needs. It will take fenders, wider tires and can accomodate upright bars. And it's a great era for most all Japanese bikes. No brainer to me and it will retain that value if you don't like it.
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Old 01-29-22, 03:42 PM
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Another thing to understand is that there are stem options and seatpost options that can effectively allow you to a add a few centimeters onto a frame size though any more than that might be a stretch.

And assuming it is a commuter, those stems might be better for upright position.

@merziac can post some pictures of his bikes. He is also very tall and has a variety of bikes.
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Old 01-29-22, 04:09 PM
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Hard to get past the styling, though. I feel like if Ultraman rode a bicycle, it'd be that Fuji. The Takara I could deal with. Neither of them really matches the look of the Sprite, but maybe some nice fenders and a headlight would help.
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Old 01-29-22, 04:28 PM
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Most of those 70s and 80s frames are highly modifiable. Here's my '73 Raleigh Gran Sport in commuting mode w/ a 3-speed hub, front basket, and fenders:
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Old 01-29-22, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Nervous_Jerboa View Post
Hard to get past the styling, though. I feel like if Ultraman rode a bicycle, it'd be that Fuji. The Takara I could deal with. Neither of them really matches the look of the Sprite, but maybe some nice fenders and a headlight would help.
Hi, @jdawginsc pinged me so I will add my 2c.

I would encourage you to go to the Rivendell fit calculator and determine your true inseam hardstop PBH.

That is key as a foundation and they have upright considerations as well I think.

That being said, here are some of my "creative" adaptations.





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Old 01-29-22, 04:56 PM
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Lots of good ideas here already, but an alternative would be a vintage non suspension mountain bike and add smooth tires. Lots of clearance for big tires, easy to add fenders and racks, and usually cheapish.
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Old 01-29-22, 05:03 PM
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The Dutch know exactly how to ride short distances in the city in regular clothes. Take a tip from them. They aren't trying to ride their racing bikes to get groceries. They also don't try to ride fast. City riding means you want to sit upright so you can look down the street. Because you typically aren't riding far you cruise along at a walking effort. Unfortunately Dutch style bikes were rare here in the States but they are starting to catch on.

My city rides use chain guards. You might try to start out with a Schwinn made in the 70's (they never wear out) like a Suburban to test the style. Don't worry about how much they weigh since you aren't going fast or far in your street clothes.

Here is a couple of bikes like I am talking about for city transportation. I'm a bike builder so I made these myself (including the frame). One of them has a 7 speed internally geare hub. They both have a built in lock that also allows for a chain. I've got go fast bikes but these are what I use around town. They are wonderful.



Parked inside my frame shop.

parked outside my frame shop ready to go to town.
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Old 01-29-22, 05:07 PM
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You can make the Fuji look like the sprite and it will be superior with North road bars, thumb shifters, and fenders.

3 speed at a good price I think but it needs work.

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Old 01-29-22, 05:18 PM
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Also, the Fuji has more clearance to do the things you want. The price point may be tempting but there's little doubt the Fuji is a nice step up including frame and components.
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Old 01-29-22, 05:21 PM
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@merziac, great bikes, but I think the OP is looking for an upright city bike. Curly bars can look intimidating for those of us who don't use them.
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Old 01-29-22, 05:32 PM
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Yes, that Fuji is awesome. It even has a rack to carry your stuff. I'll bet it would take to swept bars and an upright ride like a fish to water. I'd say give it a test ride, you might like it.

Shifting is a skill, but it's not a hard one to learn. Like learning to drive a car, it just takes practice.
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Old 01-29-22, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by twolve View Post
Lots of good ideas here already, but an alternative would be a vintage non suspension mountain bike and add smooth tires. Lots of clearance for big tires, easy to add fenders and racks, and usually cheapish.
+ 1. There is a lot to be said for an old MTB as a commuter. They're stout bikes with good handling characteristics for busy city streets. This is mine:

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Old 01-29-22, 06:08 PM
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As for the color of the Fuji donít underestimate what chrome, black or even cream fenders would do for it. Maybe a nice chrome rack as well, front or back.









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Old 01-29-22, 06:46 PM
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I like the Fuji too, but if you really only want it for short trips around town, say five miles, or less, in street clothes, I'd look for something like Doug Fattic recommended above, a city bike, or maybe a hybrid or older mountain bike. An older Schwinn or Raleigh three speed with upright bars would work well for shorter trips, and usually come with fenders, the Schwinn being the easiest to work on and most tolerant of abuse. But the brakes on an old Raleigh or Schwinn or not very good. If you can work on your bike yourself or don't mind learning, and have the necessary tools or don't mind buying them, there's a lot of possibilities. But if you have to take it to the shop for every little thing, you might be better off just buying new. Just bringing a typical older used bike to a shop for a overhall can be quite expensive. Also, though you may fit a 24" road bike, a hybrid or a mountain bike may fit you better around 21" or 22". If you went to a bike shop they could help you decide what size of different type bikes would fit you. Also, you definitely need a good way to lock it up.

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