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Looking to start commuting.

Old 07-02-15, 02:55 PM
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alyxmahal
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Looking to start commuting.

Hello. I'm looking to start commuting. I currently don't have a bike and don't have a lot of money to spend mainly because i have to buy two. With that being said. I looked at a few reviews and seen some people recommend Schwinn Hybrid bikes and GMC Denali. I am not too sure where to start. I need a little help. I will be commuting 9.0 miles.The ride has an elevation of 223 ft increase on the way back with a 95 increase on the way to. It will only be Monday and Wednesdays for now so two days out of the week for just a start. Any tips and help you can offer?
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Old 07-02-15, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by alyxmahal View Post
Hello. I'm looking to start commuting. I currently don't have a bike and don't have a lot of money to spend mainly because i have to buy two. With that being said. I looked at a few reviews and seen some people recommend Schwinn Hybrid bikes and GMC Denali. I am not too sure where to start. I need a little help. I will be commuting 9.0 miles.The ride has an elevation of 223 ft increase on the way back with a 95 increase on the way to. It will only be Monday and Wednesdays for now so two days out of the week for just a start. Any tips and help you can offer?
Just curious. Why do you need two bikes?

If you have a budget in mind that will help narrow down the choices. Is there a lot of stuff you would need to bring along with on your commute or is it just you pretty much? Is there a particular type of bike that you're interested in or ones that you'd feel more comfortable on?

I'm assuming 9 miles is one way. If so then it's a medium/longish commute. Not too long by any means but you could be spending 40 minutes to an hour on the bike depending on how many intersections there are, how fast you ride, etc. The longer the commute, the more bike choice makes a difference. It's still short enough that you could ride pretty much anything but you might be happier on a bike designed more for longer distances.

Either of the bikes you mentioned would probably be fine. I'm assuming the Schwinns you mentioned are something you'd find at a Walmart or Target, correct? If so you should know that there's a certain bias against bikes sold at big box stores on these forums. They tend to be cheaply made and sometimes poorly assembled. That said, they do the job just fine for a lot of people.

Last edited by tjspiel; 07-02-15 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 07-02-15, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Just curious. Why do you need two bikes?

If you have a budget in mind that will help narrow down the choices. Is there a lot of stuff you would need to bring along with on your commute or is it just you pretty much? Is there a particular type of bike that you're interested in or ones that you'd feel more comfortable on?

I'm assuming 9 miles is one way. If so then it's a medium/longish commute. Not too long by any means but you would be spending 40 minutes to an hour on the bike depending on how many intersections there are, how fast you ride, etc. The longer the commute, the more bike choice makes a difference. It's still short enough that you could ride pretty much anything but you might be happier on a bike designed more for longer distances.
Buying two because I have to get my girlfriend one as well and we wan't a hybrid. She is closer its like 2 miles to her school. Price range is 250 - 300. I have found a few on craigslist that I like. I don't know if there is a specific type, style, or brand to get. I'm honestly as lost as i could ever be. This is were i'm confused about hybrid and road.

Last edited by alyxmahal; 07-02-15 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 07-02-15, 03:20 PM
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try riding the commute rout with each bike and see what you like best, I'd that on the weekend, and time how long it takes ,
at a modest pace.
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Old 07-02-15, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by alyxmahal View Post
Buying two because I have to get my girlfriend one as well and we wan't a hybrid. She is closer its like 2 miles to her school. Price range is 250 - 300. I have found a few on craigslist that I like. I don't know if there is a specific type, style, or brand to get. I'm honestly as lost as i could ever be. This is were i'm confused about hybrid and road.
Different brands use a lot of the same components. I wouldn't focus too much on brand.

If the roads are not in great shape then bikes that can take wider tires are better. You might want a front suspension if the roads are real bad, otherwise you're better off without any suspension. Of course if off-road riding is something you'd like to do in your spare time, then a suspension might be something to consider.

If you're going the craigslist route I would bring along somebody who knows something about bikes if at all possible. Getting a bike the right size is important. Some bike shops sell used bikes and that might be something else to consider.

A reasonable on-line source of bikes is Bikes Direct.
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Old 07-02-15, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by alyxmahal View Post
I don't know if there is a specific type, style, or brand to get. I'm honestly as lost as i could ever be. This is were i'm confused about hybrid and road.
Perhaps start with the basics:

1. What riding position do you most like, which feels the most comfortable while riding?

2. Do you have any injuries or health issues getting in the way of, say, using drop-bars on a "road" style bike, or desperate need for ultra-low gearing on uphills due to injuries, or ...?

3. What is your basic fitness level? Really need lower (mountain bike type) gearing? Really need a more-relaxed frame type and riding position due to fitness? etc.



IMO, getting the basic fit is most important. You can always swap in that "perfect" seat that fits you best, and tweak around the handlebars to something a bit more suitable for the position you want to be in. Presuming you get the correct basic fit, with the "base" bike.


How I went about it, this past year ...

I was hunting last year for a relatively simpler, quicker commuter type bike. Found something about one size larger than I'd planned, but with seat and bar adjustments it has turned out nicely. It happens to be a hybrid flat-bar style, with an internal gear hub. Fairly light, fairly quick, but relaxed enough to be somewhat comfortable on ~20mi rides. Found one used for about half the retail value.

Had looked on CraigsList for local examples of a wide variety of bikes. Tried many of them, to get a good idea of preferences for overall frame type, frame size, features I was most wanting. Depending on where you are, you might have quite a number of decently priced late 1980's to mid-1990's MTB or Hybrid/MTB type bikes that might suit. Some nice quality units can come along for "a song" as compared to new-bike prices. If you get a better idea of what you're looking for, this can be a nice way to save some money. You'll likely need to do some initial maintenance on certain things ... clean-up the derailleurs, chain, hubs, possibly swap in a different seat or bar depending on fit.

Some lat 1980's to mid-1990's bikes I might suggest considering include:
  • Trek 930, 950, 750 or 850 series -- found several nearby, often between $100-250.
  • Univega Alpina series -- found a couple of these, though not nearby, for sub-$200.
  • Specialized RockHopper or StumpJumper series -- found a handful of these for $100-ish, last year, in my area.
  • Bridgestone MB-2 or -3 series, or the XO-2 or -3 series -- folks have "found" these, and generally know what they've got, but occasionally you can find a diamond in the rough by someone just looking to unload it. Found a couple of the XO-2's and an XO-3 last year, but they were out of my area.
  • Trek 520 'touring' from the early-to-mid 1980's -- occasionally, you can find a well-used example in the $300 range. More of a touring-type road bike format, but a pretty good one (if a bit heavier for the type). Great ride quality, position (in the right size), despite being a drop-bar "road" type bike.

All are CrMo steel, some have shocks, and most of these can be found for not a lot of cash, if you're patient. Heavier than comparable aluminum bikes, generally, but fairly bomb-proof overall. And being MTB/Hybrid styles, generally they'll support wider rims and tires (better ride, varied surfaces).

Might be an approach that'll work for you.



Here is a search tool that can help provide details on certain models folks suggest: QuickBike Search @ BikePedia.

And here is a search tool that will scan CraigsList, eBay ads: SearchTempest.
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Old 07-02-15, 05:29 PM
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A cheap older steel Mountain Bike of better quality, with a rack and fenders and lighting, and road tires is a tougher and better start for commuting. I ran an old Specialized Rock Hopper (minus suspension) for over 6 years before I had any issues .
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Old 07-02-15, 06:10 PM
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These are a couple that I found.

Fuji Absolute 4.0 Hybrid / Road Bike * 19in

Novara Hybrid bike

Med. Size*all Deore*Bianchi Hybrid 650c Bike*Light*Tuned*Deal!!

Miyata hybrid bike

Scott S50 Road Bike medium <---Really like this one.

Road bike

Raleigh 53cm Road Bike

Denali Men's Road Bike NEW <---- like this one a lot too.
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Old 07-02-15, 06:25 PM
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searching for an old known real bicycle - trade used bicycles can be found. i have some kent international bicycles (gmc and genesis) they are not that great at first but in first service you can get started then upgrade to better components.

Last edited by roashru; 07-02-15 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 07-02-15, 07:01 PM
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You seem drawn to the road bikes rather than the hybrids. That's fine but I would suggest riding both a road bike and a hybrid to make sure that's what you want. The Scott is a far better bike than the Denali and well worth the extra cost.

The Denali in that posting has an odd mix of parts. It looks like the rear shifter is an STI while the front derailleur is controlled by the stem shifter. It's just weird. The replacement parts are better than stock but that STI shifter looks like it's had a few rough miles put on it. My personal opinion is that Denalis are so cheap that there isn't much reason to buy a used one.

Just one caution about the Bianchi. 650c is a less common wheel size. It's not that big of deal, it's just that bike shops may not always have a huge selection of tires. If you really like it, I wouldn't let that stop you from buying it, just know that going in.
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Old 07-02-15, 07:04 PM
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You seem to be drawn to the road bike but you stated you wanted a hybrid.

The Scott is a decent buy for that price. That's the one I'd pick for your budget. A triplex8 is enough gearing to get you up most hills and versatile for all round riding.

Have you ridden a drop bar road bike before? You may not find the position very comfortable if this is your first bike.

Edit:
Damn! Beat me to it, tjspiel.
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Old 07-02-15, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
You seem to be drawn to the road bike but you stated you wanted a hybrid.

The Scott is a decent buy for that price. That's the one I'd pick for your budget. A triplex8 is enough gearing to get you up most hills and versatile for all round riding.

Have you ridden a drop bar road bike before? You may not find the position very comfortable if this is your first bike.

Edit:
Damn! Beat me to it, tjspiel.


Just another note about Denalis. They look a lot like any other road bike but they cost a ton less for a reason. Many people are quite happy with them but if you can afford something better I would go for it.

I don't want to start a frame material war especially since I'm mostly neutral on the subject. However, a nice feature on an aluminum road bike is a carbon fork. If the frame is steel then a steel fork is fine.

The Denali is an aluminum frame with a steel fork I believe. It's also not a particularly light aluminum frame so it seems like your giving up the potential advantages of aluminum while still being stuck with its disadvantages. The steel fork mitigates the ride quality problem a little but makes the weight problem worse.

Last edited by tjspiel; 07-02-15 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 07-02-15, 07:33 PM
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unfortunately riding bikes teaches us what we like or want. kind of a reverse catch 22. don't know what you want until you have what you don't want. so, our 1st bikes are often not our last bikes. my 2 cents, try to ride a bunch before laying down all your green cuz after the bikes, there's tons of other bike stuff to spend money on
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Old 07-02-15, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
Here is a search tool that can help provide details on certain models folks suggest: QuickBike Search @ BikePedia.

And here is a search tool that will scan CraigsList, eBay ads: SearchTempest.
+1

I haven't used SearchTempest but BikePedia is a nice resource for getting information about particular bikes including what the original price was.
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Old 07-02-15, 08:51 PM
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will use thank you.
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Old 07-02-15, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
unfortunately riding bikes teaches us what we like or want. kind of a reverse catch 22. don't know what you want until you have what you don't want. so, our 1st bikes are often not our last bikes. my 2 cents, try to ride a bunch before laying down all your green cuz after the bikes, there's tons of other bike stuff to spend money on
when you start really riding a bicycle frame size means a lot.
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Old 07-03-15, 12:19 AM
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I live in a windy place and I like my road bike for my 8 mile commute because it allows me to get more aero than my hybrid, and also I just think it's cooler and feels sportier to ride. I would definitely take the Scott for a test ride if I were you. It looks like a cool bike.
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Old 07-03-15, 12:33 AM
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Where i live too is a highly windy location. I think a road bike would work.
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Old 07-03-15, 02:42 AM
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For commuting a 2x9mile on a regular basis consider the following:
Medium 28-32mm puncture-protected tyres. I use std Schwalbe Marathon (no the Plus version), so a frame with suitable clearance. Hybrids can easily do this.
Threaded eyelet fittings on the frame for rack and fenders.
Non-suspension front fork.

Brands don't mean much, they are all built in the same factories and have components from the same few sources. Shimano and SRAM are the main manufacturers of bits.
Budget for accessories: lock, lights, rack, fenders, luggage, repair kit, helmet, mitts.
It is always easier to negotiate for extra accessories rather than cash off a bike.

A decent example is Fuji Absolute in base model.

If you opt for a road bike, make sure it is a practical commuter road bike, not a competition race bike.
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Old 07-03-15, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
For commuting a 2x9mile on a regular basis consider the following:
Medium 28-32mm puncture-protected tyres. I use std Schwalbe Marathon (no the Plus version), so a frame with suitable clearance. Hybrids can easily do this.
Threaded eyelet fittings on the frame for rack and fenders.
Non-suspension front fork.

Brands don't mean much, they are all built in the same factories and have components from the same few sources. Shimano and SRAM are the main manufacturers of bits.
Budget for accessories: lock, lights, rack, fenders, luggage, repair kit, helmet, mitts.
It is always easier to negotiate for extra accessories rather than cash off a bike.

A decent example is Fuji Absolute in base model.

If you opt for a road bike, make sure it is a practical commuter road bike, not a competition race bike.
As stupid as this may be what are fenders used for?
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Old 07-03-15, 11:51 AM
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So I'm about one move ahead of you- just did my first bike commute yesterday (is it still a commute if it's to the bar??)

I'll just run you through how I went about getting started, having zero knowledge. Apologies if you have experience with bikes- I had done some racing and riding as a kid, but was just that- a rider. Not a real maintainer, fiddler, care-taker. I think a lot of people are likely in this position, but again sorry if this is too broken down for you. I struggled with my initial research because everybody assumed things were obvious that, to me, weren't in the slightest. A good image of a road bikes anatomy was endlessly useful to me.

I want to second the advice about considering accessory cost- it's considerable. I ended up picking up odd pet-sitting/babysitting jobs from care.com to fund my outfit (as a teacher, summer = no paycheck), which worked really well. Mine was higher than it should be because I was an idiot when buying...

I was in a rush to buy (car in the shop, needed to get to obligations), and hadn't really spent time with a bike in awhile, so was trying to deal with being unfamiliar with what I was looking at and considering look, feel, and condition of the bikes. I was seduced by a pretty frame, excellent condition, no rust, perfect paint, and, as I learned after purchase, completely shot tires. They had been run over with shoe-black to disguise the wear. I was nervous, in a rush, and not confident with what I was looking at/for. My fault, so I'm not terribly mad about it, I'm kind of a pushover, plus I'm already 100% in love with my 1982 peugeot p18 mixte. (I also had to buy new brake shoes, about five dollars each so not a huge deal..). At least in my area, there are a good number of good to great condition 80s road bikes for $100-200. Just be more careful than I was!

I would recommend, if you can, that you borrow a friends bike and just kind of look it over and see how it works, how adjustments would be done, etc. This morning I centered my tires between my brake shoes, adjusted my rear rack, removed a spoke reflector that had a broken plastic piece, thus dangerous- if it slips and catches in the spokes = me on the pavement, and learned my quick release tire mechanisms. I already feel far more confident with the machine- and it honestly was a lot of fun. I almost wish there was more wrong on her to mess with! (I can just hear people cringing...)

So my bike was a craigslist purchase, obviously with mixed results. I did manage to correctly assess everything else about the bike- no rust on the frame, very minimal to none on any components, good fit for my size, light-enough-for-me-frame (I've only ridden mountain and old, cheap, clunky steel frame road bikes in the past, so my steel carbolite frame feels to me a breeze, though I'm sure many out there are scoffing! will be a bit sturdier than a super-light road bike as well, I think anyways), plus smooth shifting that was in a comfortable position for me (older bikes often have shifters on the downstem (tube between handlebars and front tire, perpendicular to the road) and I wanted them where my hands were already resting). A 12-speed is plenty for me, I rarely shift the big sprocket from the harder gear (sorry for my lingo, gear vocabulary is still being learned).

I looked around for a hybrid too, but roads were just cheaper and easier to find. The streets where I am aren't great, but potholes are far easier to swing around on a bike than in a car, I found (duh I suppose.) The bike I chose does not have dropped handlebars- I wanted these initially, but the position was just too forward-heavy for my purposes. I'm not racing, not going too far, and wanted to be more comfortable/upright.

Back to accessories... I would highly recommend a rear rack and pannier over a backpack, especially with your distance. Personal choice of course, but I went out with a shoulder bag last night and was not happy. Ended up pulling off to bungee it down to my rear rack after maybe half a mile. I was able to get my seller to throw in a rear rack with the bike (thank goodness, offset my tire goof a bit.) It won't last forever, but I tend to spend a little more to make one quality purchase, so I'm hoping it'll at least give me time to see a few more paychecks before investing in a long-term/lifetime quality rack.

Locks were my biggest concern. My childhood bike was stolen almost three years ago, and I'm just now getting around to replacing it and becoming a true bike commuter. This is a pretty bad bike theft area. To me, spending for secure locks was worth it- they last forever if not taken to with power tools, and besides the money, finding a new bike is a huge hassle, not to mention sentimental value once you've put time and work into making it yours.

So I got two locks. I went with a Kryptonite New York Standard U-lock- $63 from powersportparts.net. Box was a bit damaged on arrival, but it's a heavy lock and was fine. Logo is a bit funny on one side, but I didn't buy it for looks. Arrived extremely quickly. This is for my rear wheel and frame. Provided you are locking to a rack and not a thick pole, it will be large enough for two bikes (I'll get back to this in a second..). My second lock I went with a Hiplok lite- a wearable chain lock covered in fabric. Found it for about $40 I believe. Comfortable on my ride last night strapped around my waist. This is for my front wheel. A combo like this means a thief will have to have two different, and fairly heavy, tools to get my bike. (No locks are unbreakable.)

If either you or your gf can take your bike into work, this combo could serve you well, as both locks are large enough to securely lock two bikes when you go out together. If one can take bike into workplace, or if you both are in safe areas, you could save money by sharing the locks for your work commutes. My concern for theft is not from my workplace, but from errands and evenings out, so I made sure my locks were big enough for my boyfriends bike too (his bike is just is a garage sitting play bike, he had no need for locks of his own.) I hope that make sense.

Sorry this is getting long, I'll just give you my starter gear list. Again, I like to one-time buy:

-Cygolite dash headlight: $40 (don't forget to remove and take with you when you are leaving your bike!! Way too easy to steal.)
-Cygolite hotshot rear light: $20
(Both multi-mode, USB recharge; I affixed the rear light to the back of my helmet- higher up so more visible, plus one less thing to take off the bike on arrival. Cars gave plenty of berth last night, so I'm content with these choices.)
-Specialized helmet: $30
-Bungee cords: $3
-2 extra tubes, wheel levers: $15
-Dry chain lube: $5
-Air chuck elite (co2 pump for emergency flats): $20, refill tubes $3.50
-Floor pump, I got the STX Deluxe from REI, $45 (there are cheaper but the cyclist helping me said you get what you pay for, and this was the cheapest model worth the money)
-Crank Bros 5 multitool: $10 (picked this up today, after my rear rack needed adjusting on the road last night and I had to reshoulder my uncomfortable pack to keep the rack from rubbing the rear wheel)
-Vaude Cycle 28 pannier/rucksack: $128 from bikebagshop.com (hasn't arrived yet, so I can't yet speak for this purchase. Chose after extensive research, wanted a large pannier that converted to a rucksack so I could easily grab it off and carry into work/the store. You don't ever want to leave anything on your bike, so I liked how this one had many pockets- many keep their repair tubes and tools in a small frame bag, but I will just keep mine organized in this larger bag, as it will always be going with me and, again, one less thing to remember to remove/carry with me on arrival. Hoping it will prove large enough for a gallon of milk and a few other groceries. This was the hardest purchase to choose/swallow, but again hoping this will be a one-off for a looooonng time, and after learning last night I hate riding with a backpack or messenger bag actually on my back, I'm glad I got it, pending arrival and testing it out of course.)

As you can see, it's a considerable list for what you need to be safe and comfortable in any situations while riding. I'm a canoer, so I have a small drybag I plan to keep with me for my cell phone in case of bad weather. I hope to eventually purchase a J&G breathable rain jacket, but I'm waiting on that and will just get wet/wear my regular rain coat in the meantime. I already had a pair of Pearl gloves and two pairs of padded cycling shorts (which I will be wearing if I go much further than last nights 3.8 mile each way commute- I just wore street clothes and don't have a great saddle, I will likely upgrade eventually- call me a baby, but my butt was already sore!)

I hope this helps! And I hope I'm not scaring you away. There are definitely many other ways/ gear choices, etc, this is just what I have been doing as a new commuter. After one ride, I'm hooked, and already really enjoy maintaining and tinkering with my new "car". Good luck!

Last edited by tenmileradius; 07-03-15 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 07-03-15, 11:52 AM
  #22  
tjspiel
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Originally Posted by alyxmahal View Post
As stupid as this may be what are fenders used for?
To keep water from the road from splashing up on you and the bike. Some people consider them an absolute requirement for commuting, others not as much. I use them during the winter and wetter parts of the year. If you ride on wet roads without a rear fender or at least something between your back and the rear wheel, you're likely to end up with a dirty looking stripe on your back.

There are fenders that can be put on almost any bike. Lots of bikes (including many road bikes) have mounts specifically for them and that makes it a lot easier.
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Old 07-03-15, 11:53 AM
  #23  
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Also if you get a rear rack that is solid in the middle, it will double as a fender for your rear wheel.
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Old 07-03-15, 12:23 PM
  #24  
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Just a thought, if you don't have any preconceived preferences, the best choice to start out with will probably be the type of bike intended for your primary use, a commuter or urban bike.
Any type of bike can be used for commuting, your needs and environment will determine which is best. Your desire to ride fast, tour, hit the trails, or whatever can change the equation yet again, but that takes time to decide....or you may never decide and end up with more than one bike.
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Old 07-03-15, 12:48 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
....or you may never decide and end up with more than one bike.
so true when starting to bicycle for transportation than leisure. im down to 2 bicycles now 1 small folding, 1 upright road.
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