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Looking for opinions on a potential commuter bike purchase

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Looking for opinions on a potential commuter bike purchase

Old 10-06-23, 08:22 AM
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Looking for opinions on a potential commuter bike purchase

I'm a longtime urban bike commuter, relying heavily on our local bike-share system for commuting and run-around-town errands. Bike share is great because I don't have worry about locking up, maintaining or storing another bike.
That said - the bikeshare system seems increasingly intent on pushing e-bikes and limiting availability of the regular bikes. They've also been really bad lately about re-balancing bikes, so I'm frequently having to walk several blocks to find one. The e-bikes are great, but they tack on surcharges that add up quickly. So, I'm ready to go back to owning my own commuter bike.

My priorities are:
- Cheap ($500 or less)
- 700c wheels so that I can use other wheels/tires/tubes I already own.
- Single speed. I like the simplicity and find really cheap groupsets to be frustrating to adjust/maintain and my city is pankake flat - I don't need gears.
- Clearance for 32mm+ tires
- Ability to add fenders - possibly a rack/panniers

I have found several used bikes online and from friends, but most of these are 26" MTB's or have gears, or frames that lack mounting points for fenders. Therefore I'm leaning towards something like this:

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products...utcast-pro.htm



$400
Hydro disc brakes (Shimano MT200)
700c x 35mm tires
Fender/rack mounts
Single speed (flip flop hub)

I'd have to buy a set of fenders (and a second U-lock), but this bike seems to check all the boxes. I'm curious if anyone here has any experience with it?
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Old 10-06-23, 03:10 PM
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Looks like a perfect bike for urban commuting. Just buy it and enjoy. I would also choose the dark frame for that nice stealthy look.
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Old 10-09-23, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
Looks like a perfect bike for urban commuting. Just buy it and enjoy. I would also choose the dark frame for that nice stealthy look.
Thanks - after looking around at a few other options and scanning the local listings I did buy this bike. The other options I found either had 26" wheels or geared drivetrains, both of which I'm hoping to avoid.
Reviews seem to indicate some potential issues with the freewheel on this bike, so I'm expecting that I might need to replace/upgrade that.

It should ship this week. I'm going to order some fenders as well.

Looking forward to cancelling my bike-share membership.
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Old 10-17-23, 04:18 PM
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This bike needed a few adjustments to work for me.
  1. The pedals that shipped with it were absolute garbage. I found some cheap aluminum platform pedals online that seem to work great.
  2. Fenders - I took a chance and bought some Planet Bike "Hardcore" fenders that I later read wouldn't work with disc brakes. Turns out, they work fine for this bike. They were relatively easy to install and everything fit fine.
  3. The saddle that came with the bike is also garbage - it was really wide and soft, and super heavy. No problem, I had an extra Cannondale saddle that I was able to drop on it. Much better.
  4. The freehub was making a weird clunking noise when pedaling and I spent some time trying to troubleshoot it. I finally decided to buy a new freehub online and it solved the problem. Bonus, the new freehub has much faster engagement and makes a much nicer sound when coasting.
  5. The tires that shipped on it were larger than advertised (40mm and a brand I've never heard of, not the 35mm Kenda's that are listed) and the tubes had Schrader valves, which don't work very well with my pump. So I swapped those out with some Vittoria Terreno Mix 33mm tires and presta valve tubes. I'm sure the stock tires would've worked fine, but I was worried about clearance with the fenders I purchased and I already had the tires and tubes laying around.
Other than that, it was pretty much ready to roll out of the box. The headset needed some minor adjusting - the wheels and rotors are true. It rides pretty great. My main complaint is that the handlebars are super wide - I may end up cutting them down a bit as squeezing through traffic might get tricky with these things. I do like having the wider bars for leverage from stoplights - the 40x16 single speed gearing seems well suited for flat/short commutes - I did a bit longer ride today into a headwind and was wishing for one more tooth on the rear. The hydro brakes work great.

For $400 I'm pretty impressed and plan to slog this thing through some really crappy winter weather over the next few months.


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Old 10-18-23, 10:39 AM
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Congrats. That is a lot of work to make it into what you wanted, though.
I'd have been pissed at the different tire and valve specs; it's a bait & switch!
I've always liked the idea of a single speed bike, but in practice, I want at least 3 speeds. You can still get that in an internal geared hub. 5 are more common now.
I plan to ride my old Trek comfort bike most of this winter about 50 miles north of you. (Kenosha)
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Old 01-15-24, 07:13 PM
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How did your Vittorio tires work out, and how are you liking the bike?
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Old 02-10-24, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Lucillle
How did your Vittorio tires work out, and how are you liking the bike?
Sorry for the late response - this bike is working out pretty well for me. I also love those Vittoria Terreno Mix tires for this use - this width and tread pattern seems ideal for all-weather urban commuting. This has been a really "easy" winter here as far as snow goes, so I haven't had to test it out in those conditions much - the few days we did have snow it was subzero and I wasn't riding anyway.

My only real complaint about the bike (aside from the initial issues I mentioned) is that hydro disc brakes with a sliding rear dropout (and full fenders) makes it a huge pain to remove and re-insert the rear wheel. I have to loosen the rear brake caliper to get the rear wheel out, and then getting the caliper aligned again and getting the rear wheel correctly positioned so it's got good chain tension and isn't rubbing on anything requires a lot of fussing.

I don't even bother carrying stuff to fix a flat tire anymore. I figure if I get a flat while commuting, I'm 100% just gonna lock my bike up wherever I'm at and hop on a bus/train or uber, then come back and get it later so I can fix it at home.
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Old 02-11-24, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
I don't even bother carrying stuff to fix a flat tire anymore. I figure if I get a flat while commuting, I'm 100% just gonna lock my bike up wherever I'm at and hop on a bus/train or uber, then come back and get it later so I can fix it at home.
Bad idea. You could easily come back to find a vandalized bike, or a bare frame, if they have all day to do it with. The buses don't have bike racks in Chi Town? What about the trains? I would have gotten a folder in your situation ... wait, I did get a folder, among other bikes.
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Old 02-11-24, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
Bad idea. You could easily come back to find a vandalized bike, or a bare frame, if they have all day to do it with. The buses don't have bike racks in Chi Town? What about the trains? I would have gotten a folder in your situation ... wait, I did get a folder, among other bikes.
Yes our busses have bike racks. Also I lock this bike up outside on the street all day long in downtown Chicago almost every day. It's pretty nondescript and I'm not really that worried about it.
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Old 02-13-24, 07:54 AM
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My rule for myself is that if I'm riding for less than three miles, I don't bring tools, because I can walk the bike home. I don't want to leave the bike if I don't have to. I have my tool bag neatly packed with everything I'm likely to need and perhaps a few things I'm unlikely to need. It attaches to the bottom of my saddle. I have a few bikes, so I move the bag to the bike I'm riding.
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Old 02-18-24, 03:00 AM
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Heh. The joys of disc brakes.
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