Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

Commuter Shopping with Reliability as the Priority

Notices
Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Commuter Shopping with Reliability as the Priority

Old 11-24-23, 05:37 PM
  #1  
TC1
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Illinois
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 74 Posts
Commuter Shopping with Reliability as the Priority

I learned today that a distant relative of mine -- both genealogically and geographically -- is planning to buy a bicycle and commute on it. His requirements will be pretty vastly different than my experience, so I'm curious what folks here might recommend.

So the story is, he will have a roughly 7 mile round trip commute on quiet country roads, in the Northeast United States. He's a novice bicyclist, but previously owned a motorcycle, and is thirty-something and fit, but quite short at 5'4" or so. He doesn't need or want an electric bike, and one wouldn't work well for his situation anyway. The catch is, he will need to be at work at 6 AM and there won't be any flexibility on that. And he will not have a car, or any other means of transport except walking. There is no public transport option. So the bike has to work. Now he's fairly handy mechanically, and will probably be able to fix it given sufficient time, but he won't have that time in the morning when it matters. When it snows, he can expect to be on the road before the plows.

This is ground that I'm unfamiliar with -- I have nine bikes right now, so if one is acting up, I just grab a different one. And I rarely have a precise schedule to keep anyway.

So if you had, say, $750 in your budget, and you /had/ to get to work on it every day -- rain, sleet, snow, like the Post Office -- what would you buy? Used or new is fine. There are 3 bike shops about 10 to 15 miles north of his town, two of which carry the typical brands like Trek, Marin, and Jamis, and one which carries exclusively brands that he could never afford. Other than that, he'd have a pretty hard time supporting an LBS. I have some ideas, but again, I'm just guessing from little experience with his situation.
TC1 is offline  
Old 11-25-23, 02:00 AM
  #2  
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jul 2023
Posts: 28
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked 12 Times in 7 Posts
I do a very similar (hilly) daily commute but don't have to face snow very often, just a lot of rain/gales/sticky muddy lanes in the winter - the bike I reach for most often is a rugged 90's steel framed tourer with a rear rack and a set of ortleib panniers. The geometry of a tourer is usually fairly relaxed and stable and they can take reasonably wide tires if needed (similar geometry to a Rivendell style frame I think). I run Marathon Plus to avoid as many punctures as possible and honestly they roll just fine for this kind of distance. I like a square taper BB because they're easy to maintain and adjust and there's plenty of choices of economic cranksets if you want to try some different ratios to suit your terrain.

You'll probably get a ton of variety in suggestions because we all like different things - my priority for my commuter is a durable, serviceable machine that can carry some luggage but is still fun to ride.
Bluejohn is offline  
Old 11-25-23, 11:09 AM
  #3  
Been Around Awhile
 
I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Burlington Iowa
Posts: 29,919

Bikes: Vaterland and Ragazzi

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Liked 1,499 Times in 1,020 Posts
Originally Posted by TC1
I learned today that a distant relative of mine -- both genealogically and geographically -- is planning to buy a bicycle and commute on it. His requirements will be pretty vastly different than my experience, so I'm curious what folks here might recommend.

So the story is, he will have a roughly 7 mile round trip commute on quiet country roads, in the Northeast United States. He's a novice bicyclist, but previously owned a motorcycle, and is thirty-something and fit, but quite short at 5'4" or so. He doesn't need or want an electric bike, and one wouldn't work well for his situation anyway. The catch is, he will need to be at work at 6 AM and there won't be any flexibility on that. And he will not have a car, or any other means of transport except walking. There is no public transport option. So the bike has to work. Now he's fairly handy mechanically, and will probably be able to fix it given sufficient time, but he won't have that time in the morning when it matters. When it snows, he can expect to be on the road before the plows.

This is ground that I'm unfamiliar with -- I have nine bikes right now, so if one is acting up, I just grab a different one. And I rarely have a precise schedule to keep anyway.

So if you had, say, $750 in your budget, and you /had/ to get to work on it every day -- rain, sleet, snow, like the Post Office -- what would you buy? Used or new is fine. There are 3 bike shops about 10 to 15 miles north of his town, two of which carry the typical brands like Trek, Marin, and Jamis, and one which carries exclusively brands that he could never afford. Other than that, he'd have a pretty hard time supporting an LBS. I have some ideas, but again, I'm just guessing from little experience with his situation.
Bicycles like the bicycles I typically ride about 10-12 miles a day would probably serve the OP well.

The best would be like my 2000 Calvin, a German 3 speed with coaster brakes, full fenders and 622 x47 Marathon (not Plus) tires. If his route is totally unlit he might like a more powerful front light. 100% reliable in all weather condition. Step thru frame is easy and quick mount dismount. I don't know if such bicycles are easy to find in the U.S.




If more gears than 3 are needed due to hills my other bike a Bike Directs "Motobecane" 8-speed IGH with full fenders cost about $500 several years ago and has served me well for reasonable length casual rides around town.



Again, more powerful front lighting may be needed for the OP but that should not be hard to find on line.

It has been many years and thousands of miles since I last had a flat using Marathon tires.

Disadvantages of this kind of bike? Some bike "enthusiasts might turn up their nose - but the OP probably does not place a high priority on such approval.
I-Like-To-Bike is offline  
Old 11-25-23, 11:21 AM
  #4  
Full Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2023
Posts: 315
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 204 Post(s)
Liked 135 Times in 96 Posts
i live and commute in NJ, and he has a small but non-zero chance of freezing to death alone on a country road in snow in the dead of winter at 5 something in the morning with a busted bike.

Last edited by ScottCommutes; 11-25-23 at 01:43 PM.
ScottCommutes is online now  
Old 11-25-23, 12:29 PM
  #5  
TC1
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Illinois
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 74 Posts
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
i live and commute in NJ, and he has a small but non-zero chance of freezing to death alone on a country road in snow in the dead of winter at 5 something in the morning with a busted ike
This is not really an issue here. First of all, his commute will only be 3.5 miles each way, which is very walkable in an emergency even if he had to abandon the bike, and he's only a mile or so out of town. He will not be out in the middle of Nunavut. Second, the area is not that rural anyway, and his route will cross a local highway -- it's just that the best biking route will not be on that highway, but rather a nearby country road.

Thanks for your concern, though.
TC1 is offline  
Old 11-25-23, 02:58 PM
  #6  
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jul 2023
Posts: 16
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I bought a Specialized Sirrus Alloy Disc for $560 3 years ago. Since then I have added a rear rack, panniers, and fenders. I do my own preventative maintenance. And apart from flats (mostly glass, one screw) the bike has never impeded my year-round daily commute. My commute is hilly and wet, but very rarely below freezing. I've had one heart-racing morning on an icy hill, but I feel that any cycle is uncontrollable on ice; much safer to just walk the bike, but I was anxious to be at work on time.
szachariah is offline  
Old 11-25-23, 03:35 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 5,197
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 135 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 80 Times in 63 Posts
$750 for bare bike is $1000 once you add lights, racks, fenders so I’d be inclined to look for a $250 used bike in good condition or $500 brand new. Reliability depends mostly on operator awareness. Riding on tires with half pressure, not knowing a headset, hub bearings and BB are loose or too tight. Not being aware brake and brake shoes aren’t adjusted correctly, etc. Not knowing how to adjust a derailleur so it doesn’t throw a chain into spokes. That lack of awareness can occur with a brand new bike with its one free check up so buying new is no guarantee of reliability if owner cultivates lack of awareness.

He might consider studded tires for road ice. I commuted in MD for a few years all year around and the excitement of ice just isn’t worth it. Sure they’re slower but the ability to ride up on an icy sidewalk while cars are sliding up behind you or not ski down to a stoplight is worth it. Studded tires can be $100 each depending on model.

You don’t mention gear needs but if it’s flat there’s nothing wrong with a single speed.

Either way visibility will be very important, lights on bike, lights on helmet, yellow vest or jacket, reflectors, etc.

Don’t get the cheapest tires but he doesn’t need the fanciest. There are lots of $50 tires you can ride through glass on.
LeeG is offline  
Old 11-26-23, 09:45 AM
  #8  
Been Around Awhile
 
I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Burlington Iowa
Posts: 29,919

Bikes: Vaterland and Ragazzi

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Liked 1,499 Times in 1,020 Posts
Originally Posted by LeeG
$750 for bare bike is $1000 once you add lights, racks, fenders so Iíd be inclined to look for a $250 used bike in good condition or $500 brand new....
You donít mention gear needs but if itís flat thereís nothing wrong with a single speed.
And a suitable single speed with coaster brake will cost far less, probably already have fenders that fit the bike, and will likely be more reliable in all weather conditions than any other bike on the market.
I-Like-To-Bike is offline  
Old 11-26-23, 10:05 PM
  #9  
TC1
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Illinois
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 74 Posts
Originally Posted by LeeG
$750 for bare bike is $1000 once you add lights, racks, fenders so Iíd be inclined to look for a $250 used bike in good condition or $500 brand new.
He won't need a rack or fenders immediately, and a family member is planning to buy him lights -- so we can consider $750 the bike budget.

Originally Posted by LeeG
He might consider studded tires for road ice. I commuted in MD for a few years all year around and the excitement of ice just isnít worth it. Sure theyíre slower but the ability to ride up on an icy sidewalk while cars are sliding up behind you or not ski down to a stoplight is worth it. Studded tires can be $100 each depending on model.
We'll have to see how that goes, but he's not likely to encounter much ice. There are no sidewalks in the area, so he will be riding on roads and shoulders, and they tend to do a pretty good job of salting in this vicinity. I don't think studded tires would be a net benefit, considering how bad they are on pavement.

Originally Posted by LeeG
You donít mention gear needs but if itís flat thereís nothing wrong with a single speed.
I think he'd be fine on a single speed, and was going to propose such to him. I have run the likely route via Google Maps, from where I'm told he will be living, and while the camera does flatten the terrain some, it is fairly flat. I've driven these roads, but not in many years. Certainly number-of-gears will be a very low priority.
TC1 is offline  
Old 11-29-23, 06:23 PM
  #10  
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 13,765

Bikes: Stormchaser, Paramount, Tilt, Samba tandem

Mentioned: 72 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3115 Post(s)
Liked 2,087 Times in 1,360 Posts
It's obviously more of a challenge than it is down here in California's elbow. Does he have parking under cover or better yet indoors at both ends? Is it going below freezing for two months like it does in Minneapolis or Sioux City? Is there somewhere he can rinse off the salt without the bike freezing right after? Are his ski pants freshly Nikwax'd?
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 11-29-23, 06:47 PM
  #11  
Not in charge of anything
 
roadcrankr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Glendora, CA
Posts: 547

Bikes: Merlin Extralight '94 & Cannondale Supersix '15

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 310 Post(s)
Liked 369 Times in 223 Posts
I like the recommendation of another poster from a few days back.
Bikes Direct sells a very nice internally geared hub (Shimano) model with fenders for $599 shipped.
They charge sales tax, so it still leaves funds for lights, helmet, and other gear.
Bought this model for my daughter when she attended college. Smooth shifts and trouble-free.
roadcrankr is offline  
Likes For roadcrankr:
Old 11-29-23, 06:52 PM
  #12  
I am potato.
 
base2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 3,013

Bikes: Only precision built, custom high performance elitist machines of the highest caliber. 🍆

Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1721 Post(s)
Liked 1,536 Times in 886 Posts
The biggest rub I see is the fact that cycling just is not seen or treated as a valid form of transportation here in the United States. Consequently any snow or ice removal efforts will be at the mercy of what benefits the most cars.

Studs don't work that well on fresh snow. Studded tires tend to not have the fat knobby tread that is required for that sort of thing. Studded tires do work best on compact snow & ice. Riding in the automobile tire tracks is certainly doable and in fact what I recommend. Car drivers can sometimes get irritated. But, most times they are more amazed than anything. It seems that everytime we get a snow here in the PNW, I get followed around by a curious driver in a 4x Jeep with his gf in the passenger seat until they eventually get bored and move on back to their original errand. (WHOOOOO,! Get sum BRO! has been yelled at me on more than one occasion.)

The next thing: For rough icy chunk a reasonably good suspension fork helps the studs stay in contact with the ground. Life is just easier with a good fork.

3rd, 3.5 miles can be ridden on about anything. Don't sweat the particulars. A 20yo hardtail with fenders & good lights is good enough. We're talkin' 15-20 minutes of riding. Studs are an asset for this type of thing.
20200115_140437 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr

Last edited by base2; 11-29-23 at 07:23 PM.
base2 is offline  
Old 11-29-23, 07:10 PM
  #13  
TC1
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Illinois
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 74 Posts
Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
It's obviously more of a challenge than it is down here in California's elbow. Does he have parking under cover or better yet indoors at both ends? Is it going below freezing for two months like it does in Minneapolis or Sioux City? Is there somewhere he can rinse off the salt without the bike freezing right after? Are his ski pants freshly Nikwax'd?
I don't believe he will have indoor parking anywhere. It will not be anywhere near as cold as Minnesota, however, more like Pittsburgh. No, I don't think he will have bike washing facilities anywhere, save riding to a car wash or a friend's house. I doubt he owns any ski pants, but he probably has a snowsuit -- he did own a snow machine at some point, and his father might still have his.


​​
TC1 is offline  
Old 11-29-23, 07:18 PM
  #14  
TC1
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Illinois
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 74 Posts
Originally Posted by base2
The biggest rub I see is the fact that cycling just is not seen or treated as a valid form of transportation here in the United States. Consequently any snow or ice removal efforts will be at the mercy of what benefits the most cars.
This isn't really an issue in this case. There is nothing but road involved here -- no bike paths, no sidewalks, nothing. The roads will get cleared in order of usage priority, and the specific country road he will be living on will be pretty low on that pecking order. That's got nothing to do with cycling, just that not many people use that road period.
TC1 is offline  
Old 11-29-23, 07:27 PM
  #15  
I am potato.
 
base2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 3,013

Bikes: Only precision built, custom high performance elitist machines of the highest caliber. 🍆

Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1721 Post(s)
Liked 1,536 Times in 886 Posts
TC1 Then that may actually be a good thing. The absence of traffic will take the pressure off and your friend is free to choose the best line, not just what's left as the cars buzz by, takeing the whole road.
__________________
I shouldn't have to "make myself more visible;" Drivers should just stop running people over.

Car dependency is a tax.
base2 is offline  
Old 11-29-23, 07:28 PM
  #16  
Deraill this!
 
Trav1s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 586

Bikes: 2018 Cannondale Quick 1, 1994 Specialized S-Works M2, 1998 Trek 730 Multitrak, and a few others

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 117 Post(s)
Liked 317 Times in 194 Posts
First thing that came to my mind is a 90's Trek 800 series or Specialized Hardrock MTB - both should be easy to find in his size, affordable, and leave plenty of funds for good equipment (clothing, fenders, lights, etc) Plus it would be easily replaceable if stolen.

Add some Schwalbe 26" snow tires - https://www.schwalbetires.com/Winter-11100599.01 or https://www.schwalbetires.com/Marath...-Plus-11159241

Then this came to mind: https://www.marinbikes.com/bikes/2023-presidio-2
IGH and aluminum frame would be a nice winter combo. Presidio 3 has belt drive drive and 8 speed IGH but costs over $1000. Tire upgrade needed and there are options in the available links.
Trav1s is online now  
Likes For Trav1s:
Old 11-29-23, 09:12 PM
  #17  
Happy banana slug
 
Korina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Arcata, California, U.S., North America, Earth, Saggitarius Arm, Milky Way
Posts: 3,724

Bikes: 1984 Araya MB 261, 1992 Specialized Rockhopper Sport, 1993 Hard Rock Ultra, 1994 Trek Multitrack 750, 1995 Trek Singletrack 930

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1509 Post(s)
Liked 1,484 Times in 885 Posts
I'm kind of surprised no one has recommended a Priority bike. They have belt drives and IGH so they need little maintenance. Here's their commuter line; they have a base model for $400, which will leave money for the inevitable accessories. Clip-on fenders aren't ideal, but they can be pretty cheap and do the job well enough. Downhill skiing gloves work great because they're windproof, absolutely necessary when you're pedaling in the cold. Shoes/boots too; I went on a night ride last week with the wrong shoes and nearly lost some toes, and it was only in the low 50's; he could keep work shoes at work. It adds up surprisingly quickly, but once you have the proper equipment it'll last a long time.

And remind your relative that the best thing about a short commute is finding ways to make it longer.
Korina is offline  
Likes For Korina:
Old 11-29-23, 10:01 PM
  #18  
TC1
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Illinois
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 74 Posts
Originally Posted by Korina
I'm kind of surprised no one has recommended a Priority bike. They have belt drives and IGH so they need little maintenance. Here's their commuter line; they have a base model for $400, which will leave money for the inevitable accessories.
I like the idea of belt drive, having owned a couple belted Alfine bikes myself, but I am not enthused about the prospect of a knock-off hub with loose bearings. That does not sound like a reliable all-weather design, to me -- that sounds like "How cheap can we build it?" Priority doesn't even spec the make or model of the hub anywhere on their site, such is their pride in it. They do at least claim some level of sealing for their crankset. And while it's not a big deal for a rider traveling 7 miles a day, Gates belts are not a very good deal -- per Gates' FAQ they last twice as long as a chain, but they cost 5 times more. And forget about changing your ratio -- one of the reasons I no longer have a belt-drive bike is because I needed a larger front ring, but that was going to cost around $250 to change.

Also rim brakes are less-than-ideal for the type of usage required.

Originally Posted by Korina
I went on a night ride last week with the wrong shoes and nearly lost some toes, and it was only in the low 50's
Heh, you and I have wildly different levels of cold tolerance -- I routinely ride in shorts and sandals when it is over 50.

Originally Posted by Korina
And remind your relative that the best thing about a short commute is finding ways to make it longer.
Yeah, I don't think he's going to be seeking that for a while, but thanks.

Last edited by TC1; 11-29-23 at 10:16 PM.
TC1 is offline  
Likes For TC1:
Old 11-29-23, 11:33 PM
  #19  
Happy banana slug
 
Korina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Arcata, California, U.S., North America, Earth, Saggitarius Arm, Milky Way
Posts: 3,724

Bikes: 1984 Araya MB 261, 1992 Specialized Rockhopper Sport, 1993 Hard Rock Ultra, 1994 Trek Multitrack 750, 1995 Trek Singletrack 930

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1509 Post(s)
Liked 1,484 Times in 885 Posts
In that case I'd also recommend the Trek Antelope/800 series or Specialized HardRock option. They're inexpensive and rugged enough to do whatever you want with them.

Originally Posted by TC1
I like the idea of belt drive, having owned a couple belted Alfine bikes myself, but I am not enthused about the prospect of a knock-off hub with loose bearings. That does not sound like a reliable all-weather design, to me -- that sounds like "How cheap can we build it?" Priority doesn't even spec the make or model of the hub anywhere on their site, such is their pride in it. They do at least claim some level of sealing for their crankset. And while it's not a big deal for a rider traveling 7 miles a day, Gates belts are not a very good deal -- per Gates' FAQ they last twice as long as a chain, but they cost 5 times more. And forget about changing your ratio -- one of the reasons I no longer have a belt-drive bike is because I needed a larger front ring, but that was going to cost around $250 to change.

Also rim brakes are less-than-ideal for the type of usage required.



Heh, you and I have wildly different levels of cold tolerance -- I routinely ride in shorts and sandals when it is over 50.



Yeah, I don't think he's going to be seeking that for a while, but thanks.
Korina is offline  
Old 11-30-23, 11:12 AM
  #20  
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 13,765

Bikes: Stormchaser, Paramount, Tilt, Samba tandem

Mentioned: 72 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3115 Post(s)
Liked 2,087 Times in 1,360 Posts
You are not going to get cartridge-bearing bikes on a small budget. The original Priority Classic just has a normal 3-speed Shimano hub. It would be great for a 3.5 mile ride. I don't think the bearing seals are anything special but that's why you need fenders. They also sell a 3-speed beach cruiser version with balloon tires and fenders, and a coaster brake. You need not fear rim brakes. I like hydraulic disk brakes a lot, but we all did ok prior to them. The idea this guy is going to wear out a belt any year soon riding 7 miles a day is kind of risible. That's about 1400 miles a year if indeed rain or shine and the belt is going to last longer than his situation or interest

The early-90s mountain bike idea is familiar but... their bearings aren't cartridges either, they are thirty years old, and the fleet is shrinking, especially in a rusty part of the country. A hybrid like a Trek FX from the 2000s-2010s is pretty much the same but not as old. Either one has max-gearing drivetrains that we have been dissing here so far.
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 11-30-23, 12:07 PM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 12,708

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 125 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4678 Post(s)
Liked 3,766 Times in 2,448 Posts
Single speed or fix gear. Mafac brakes, aluminum rims. Big enough tires and strong enough rims for whatever pothole he might encounter. Room for studded tires. I did this for years. 5 New England and Ann Arbor winters with no car. Commutes year round; 3 to 12 miles.

Mafac (or Paul) brakes because they are dead simple, powerful, reliable and will always work after a crash. (Winter ice - it happens.) No hydraulic lines to get snagged. No need to visit the bike shop to get them to work.) The Mafacs also have a wonderful "sponge" to the action that is both very predictable on ice and the like and works well on trashed rims which is a common state come March. That they are big enough to reach just about anything is a nice plus. Quite fender friendly.

Bikes that work really well as winter riders are the many Japanese sport bikes of the early to mid '80s, many of which came with 27" wheels. Put on 700c. Now room for those big tires, studs and fenders. Mafac RACERs will reach.

This bike wants horizontal road dropouts. (The rear opening track ends work but can be a nuisance when it comes time to change a flat and I promise, that will be in the dark, below freezing and maybe with precipitation.) Stay away from vertical dropouts. Yes, you can use a tensioner, but like rear derailleurs, after that first right side spill (remember? ice.) That tensioner may well be destroyed, perhaps with the chain bent also. Fix gear/single speed bikes can handle just about anything winter can offer and have zero issues save the chain rusting from salt. And here again that single cog in back and no tensioner means despite salt, rust and even a few solidly frozen links, the bike still rides just fine. Just slide the wheel forward to get the needed slack back. (I used to set three frozen links as the limit. Allowing the three extended bike overhaul times a lot.

It's pretty late to be starting to set this up for this winter. Last summer would have been far better. And fix gear for a novice should be started no later than late spring so when the going gets iffy, the correct reflexes are there. (Once this is learned, fix gears are wonderful in ice and snow. Like driving a manual transmission BITD instead of an automatic.)
79pmooney is offline  
Old 11-30-23, 01:00 PM
  #22  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 1,925

Bikes: 1996 Trek 970 ZX Single Track 2x11

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 605 Post(s)
Liked 556 Times in 421 Posts
Originally Posted by Korina
In that case I'd also recommend the Trek Antelope/800 series or Specialized HardRock option. They're inexpensive and rugged enough to do whatever you want with them.
That was my thought, as well. A late-1980s or 1990s Trek 830, 930, 950 or 970 might suit. In the smallest size, with appropriate stem+bars to get the proper positioning. Assuming it's got the original 8spd or 9spd drivetrain, that nothing's bent, and the derailleurs are in good shape, quite likely about all that'll need to be done post-purchase will be the cabling, cable housings, brake pads, a re-grease of the hubs, and a cleaning-up of the derailleurs. Easy to keep sub-$700 with such a setup. And, as you suggest, they'll be bomb-proof.

In that vintage, though, it'll be rim brakes (cantilever or v-brake), of course. But aside from that, it'd be a fine choice. Easy to work on DIY at home, and any shop would be capable of handling the rest.
Clyde1820 is offline  
Likes For Clyde1820:
Old 11-30-23, 11:36 PM
  #23  
TC1
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Illinois
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 74 Posts
Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
You are not going to get cartridge-bearing bikes on a small budget.
No, but this Priority is $600, $500 on sale.

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
I don't think the bearing seals are anything special but that's why you need fenders.
(snip)
You need not fear rim brakes.
Fenders aren't going to keep bearings dry. I don't fear rim brakes, and I have several rim-braked bikes including two that I ride all winter -- but I am not a novice cyclist riding snowy roads to work at 5 AM, as the subject will be.

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
The idea this guy is going to wear out a belt any year soon riding 7 miles a day is kind of risible. That's about 1400 miles a year if indeed rain or shine and the belt is going to last longer than his situation or interest
It's not a question of "soon". Gates is cagey about belt lifespan, and all they officially say is about "twice as long as a chain". Well some chains don't last all that long, so there's considerable room for interpretation there. Where there isn't room for interpretation is that Gates belts cost around 5 times as much as very nice Shimano chains do.

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
The early-90s mountain bike idea is familiar but... their bearings aren't cartridges either, they are thirty years old, and the fleet is shrinking, especially in a rusty part of the country. A hybrid like a Trek FX from the 2000s-2010s is pretty much the same but not as old. Either one has max-gearing drivetrains that we have been dissing here so far.
This, I agree with, and I don't see much cause for him buying a truly vintage bike. Not that this is the best choice necessarily, but just for example, the budget allows for a brand-new Marin Bobcat Trail 5, which has mostly very decent Shimano parts on it. That's overkill for his commute 150 days a year, but I'd expect it to be less-troublesome than a 30 year-old just-about-anything -- if for no other reason, he automatically has a couple years at least before he needs any consumables.
TC1 is offline  
Old 11-30-23, 11:51 PM
  #24  
TC1
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Illinois
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 74 Posts
Originally Posted by 79pmooney
It's pretty late to be starting to set this up for this winter. Last summer would have been far better. And fix gear for a novice should be started no later than late spring so when the going gets iffy, the correct reflexes are there. (Once this is learned, fix gears are wonderful in ice and snow. Like driving a manual transmission BITD instead of an automatic.)
The scheduling was outside anyone's control. I am pretty sure that I won't be recommending a fixed-gear bike, for the reasons you mentioned, and others. Single-speed, quite possibly, but not a fixie.

He was supposed to do some shopping and hopefully test-riding this week, but to-date, I have not heard how or if that went. Thanks for all of the recommendations.
TC1 is offline  
Old 12-08-23, 07:54 PM
  #25  
Full Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2023
Posts: 315
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 204 Post(s)
Liked 135 Times in 96 Posts
Wedding photographers that absolutely, positively, can't miss the shot, carry backup cameras, backup lights, etc. Any one bike could develop a mechanical problem that might keep him from getting to work until it was fixed. With two bikes, the odds are much, much, much less.

I say this while I rode my wife's bike to work today, and broke a shift cable.
ScottCommutes is online now  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.