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Starting to commute

Old 03-08-24, 09:27 PM
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Starting to commute

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to start biking to work on a more regular basis now and I think I need to invest in a new bike. I currently have a Specialized "Hard Rock" that has gotten the job done and I'm very attached to.

It's probably about 25 years old. The main work I had done on it was new gears and brake pads, tires, etc.

My commute is about 6 miles each way with some hills. I'm not a serious biker, but would like to get more serious about my commute. I'm not looking for a flashy biike, but would like something solid and not too heavy.

The reason I'm looking for a new bike now is that my rear tire went flat. I brought it in to the shop and we're probably looking at about $100-$120 for a new tire and some brakes and a new chain.

Only about a year ago I had to replace the rear inner tube. The bike shop said that I probably should get a commuter tire on the rear if I decided to repair the bike.

So, my question is, what would all of you do?

One other question I have is the style of bike. I'm 52 years old and am thinking of getting a bike that is more upright. What do you think of that type of model?

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have...
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Old 03-08-24, 09:46 PM
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If you want a new bike, get a new bike.

If you don’t want to spend $ on maintenance fix what you have.

In general that old stuff uses less expensive parts that last longer.

If you commute regularly you will run through chains, tires, brake pads, cassettes. Comes with the territory.
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Old 03-08-24, 10:02 PM
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I would ride the HR for a while. You always need the perishables like tires, tubes, cassette and chain. Maybe invest in that. A slick or non knobbie tire will roll better. Look for something designed for touring or commuting that are flat resistant. I find REI often has a decent selection as well as BikeTiresDirect.
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Old 03-08-24, 11:02 PM
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A new chain is 20 bucks for a really nice one. A really nice tire is 60 bucks. The best brake pads you can buy are 50 bucks for all 4.
I wonder if your bike shop was going to put such high quality parts on YOUR Rockhopper. I suggest that you watch a few videos and do that yourself. Rockhoppers are loved by many and are very versatile. Scroll through this thread from the Classic and Vintage sub forum.
Old Rockhoppers

If you’re thinking you’d like to try a more upright ride, your RH can be that bike. Check out what others have done with their MTBs.
Vintage MTB To Upright Bar / Urban Bike Conversions

After playing around and reconfiguring your RH, you will know more clearly what you want in a next bike.

Think handlebars, grips, nice tires, and a Brooks saddle.
Here is my old MTB.

1991 Univega Alpina Team.
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Old 03-09-24, 05:26 PM
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If the bike you have is getting the job done & you are happy with it, it's a no-brainer. Repair and replacement of consumables is money well spent.

If you are looking for a more upright bike that requires even less maintenance, a city bike with an internal gear hub is pretty hard to beat. A Public or a similar Linus would get the job done quite handily for not a lot of dough.

If your goal is a bike that will be weatherproof for all eternity for not much more you can have an Amsterdam Bike Company Dutch bike that will be the last bike you'll ever need buy. Passivated and 3x powder coated frames, stainless steel components and rims. Same 7 & 8 speed internal gear hubs as above.

I'm not a big fan of rim brake for all-season, all-weather use. There is a messy sludge that forms and is just dirty and unsightly. Wears out rims and pads unnecessarily. Disc or Roller brakes are preferable for this use. Derailleurs are a whole level of delicate that is just unnecessary in a commute that prizes reliability above all other concerns. Missing a day of work on account of a bent hanger that got tangled in the spokes costs a lot more just a new wheel. A days wages and the hassle and the risk just to find out that the bike shop can't get parts for at least a week just ain't worth it. Others may see the proposition differently and that's ok. The important thing is having a bike you feel good about on a commute you enjoy.
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Old 03-10-24, 08:02 AM
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If the o.p. decides to keep their bike (I would not) and simply replace the rear tire (or both!) chain, etc. then taking the bike to a bike co-op or bike kitchen can save them as much as 100% on the labor costs. And the turnaround time for the work may well be 'while you wait'. LBS's have gotten better on their turnaround times, but many still prioritize regular customers and push new work out days, if not weeks. 6 miles one way is a worthy commute. It is (IMO) worthy of a decent commute bike. That says hybrid to me.

You get your more upright seating position and gearing more suited to the purpose. A bike co-op can set you up with a used hybrid for not a lot more than the estimated cost of repairing the HardRock. Double that can put something really nice on the road. I normally ride late model hybrids or race bikes but liked the look of the early mountain bikes. Not for long. I was so slow on the thing I simply couldn't stand it. The suspension, tires and sheer weight just suck the speed out of your legs. There are so many commuters on MTB's these days and I simply do not understand why. At least get some Schwalbe Marathon tires on there. You will take 10 minutes off of a 6 mile ride! Late model or vintage hybrid for the win in this use case. IMO.
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Old 03-11-24, 11:10 AM
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If you want a new bike, get a red one.

Flat tires happen. Chains and brakes wear out. Congratulations! You've been riding your bike!

I'd suggest learning to fix your flats. And then learn how to replace chains, and give replacing brakes a shot. You can keep maintenance costs way down if you're only buying parts, instead of also paying for labor to swap those parts. A new bike is going to be maintenance-free for 500-1,000 miles (if you're lucky), then you'll have to start keeping it up, too.

Since O.P. is looking for an upright position, I'd plan to sink a few more bucks into the current Hard Rock for slick tires, and keep riding that bike.
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Old 03-12-24, 07:09 PM
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It sounds like you ride your current bike and it needs service and parts which is extremely common and something you should do regularly. $120 for all of that stuff is a little on the lower end with labor without labor it in the lower range still but not uncommon though I would recommend replacing chain and cassette at the same time and certainly Swiss Stop or Kool Stop brake pads and good tires for commuting like say a variant of the Schwalbe Marathons (there are a bunch).

I would also get a new bike as well. More bikes are better but in the case of a commuter 2 bikes are the real minimum if you are daily commuting by bike and don't really stop. I have for years gotten the people who absolutely freak out when they need their bike serviced (which was usually years ago) and can't leave it because the 20 other ways to get to work are unknown to them or so foreign in nature they couldn't understand them yet they only have a single bike. Having that second bike means one can be in the shop getting worked while you ride the other and swap out as need be or one is a rain bike and one is a good weather bike and still the same sort of concept. Plus having a different bike means a whole lot of things.

I have lots of different bikes for different purposes and I think save for one bike I have commuted on all of them at least once usually to do work on them or because I had a ride in the evening or the next day at work or something.
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Old 03-12-24, 07:33 PM
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I'm 49. My bikes are about 35 years old. I would spend the money to fix your bike. I would keep that bike as a backup and buy a more appropriate bike as your main bike. I would certainly buy a couple of tools and learn how to fix a flat tire on your way to work.

There are a lot of reasons to have a backup bike. One can be in the shop. One can have snow tires. One can be for wet conditions. If one is stolen or crashed, you're OK. If you wake up to a flat tire, you're OK.

While you're at it, start literally making friends with your local bike shop.
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Old 03-13-24, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by steph746
Hi Everyone,

I'm going to start biking to work on a more regular basis now and I think I need to invest in a new bike. I currently have a Specialized "Hard Rock" that has gotten the job done and I'm very attached to.

It's probably about 25 years old. The main work I had done on it was new gears and brake pads, tires, etc.

My commute is about 6 miles each way with some hills. I'm not a serious biker, but would like to get more serious about my commute. I'm not looking for a flashy biike, but would like something solid and not too heavy.

The reason I'm looking for a new bike now is that my rear tire went flat. I brought it in to the shop and we're probably looking at about $100-$120 for a new tire and some brakes and a new chain.

Only about a year ago I had to replace the rear inner tube. The bike shop said that I probably should get a commuter tire on the rear if I decided to repair the bike.

So, my question is, what would all of you do?

One other question I have is the style of bike. I'm 52 years old and am thinking of getting a bike that is more upright. What do you think of that type of model?

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have...
if the rear tire is a "mountain bike" tire with aggressive tread you might want to upgrade for smoother tires. I have found some deals on tires on amazon.
It looks like that bike would have v brakes which are simple to replace the pads and I would be surprised if they were over 15.00... but maybe up to 20.00
I was looking on amazon and found 8 speed chains that were 15.00...
you can get an adjustable stem if you want it to be more upright... maybe 20.00
if your wheels are 26 inch I found a pair of tires on amazon for 45.00... I have used them with no problems.
if you need to change your chain... you will probably need to update your gears... amazon has freewheels and free hubs that are not expensive
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Old 03-13-24, 09:17 AM
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One time I traded in a motorcycle because it needed an oil change .
In all my life I have ever only owned one 2-wheeled vehicle past the point that it needed new tires.
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Old 03-13-24, 09:35 AM
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I had a similar commute. Ended up with a touring style bike. Rolled a lot better and climbed hills nicely. Flats are a problem when you have a time schedule so a more flat resistant tire is almost mandatory. If I was still a commuter I think I'd be looking at the gravel bikes they have now. Always, enjoy the ride.
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Old 03-13-24, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mr,grumpy
In all my life I have ever only owned one 2-wheeled vehicle past the point that it needed new tires.
So, do you not ride a bicycle very much, or do you flip bikes that often?
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Old 03-13-24, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by steph746
I currently have a Specialized "Hard Rock" that has gotten the job done and I'm very attached to ... and am thinking of getting a bike that is more upright. What do you think of that type of model?
The HardRock bike can certainly do it. If you love the bike it might well be worth keeping, but "upgrading" a few parts for that upright posture. Depending on its size, all that might be needed would be a taller (or more steeply-angled) stem and riser/swept bars. How much of a rise/sweep would depend on where you'd need to move your hands to, as compared to where they are now.

I'd suggest reviewing the following discussion thread -- Vintage MTB To Upright Bar. Lots of great ideas, in there, regarding what one can do to a ~30-40yr old Trek or Specialized (or similar) MTB type bike for a more-upright riding posture.

Examples:

Vintage MTB To Upright Bar / Urban Bike Conversions
Vintage MTB To Upright Bar / Urban Bike Conversions
Vintage MTB To Upright Bar / Urban Bike Conversions
Vintage MTB To Upright Bar / Urban Bike Conversions
Vintage MTB To Upright Bar / Urban Bike Conversions

Some stems (assuming you've got a quill type stem on the bike):
https://www.rivbike.com/collections/stems

Some riser/swept bars that might give you ideas:
https://www.modernbike.com/flat-and-riser-handlebars
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Old 03-13-24, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
So, do you not ride a bicycle very much, or do you flip bikes that often?
Peddle bikes I just can’t wear out. Motorbikes? New tire bill is a good reason to try something new.
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Old 03-16-24, 05:18 PM
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I think you should fix the Hard Rock first, then do some soul-searching. If you STILL want a new bike, get one and the Hard Rock will be in shape to sell.

You can make it more upright by fitting a new stem. Get street tread tires, you’ll be surprised how much faster you are.
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Old 03-18-24, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by steph746
Hi Everyone,

I'm going to start biking to work on a more regular basis now and I think I need to invest in a new bike. I currently have a Specialized "Hard Rock" that has gotten the job done and I'm very attached to.

It's probably about 25 years old. The main work I had done on it was new gears and brake pads, tires, etc.

My commute is about 6 miles each way with some hills. I'm not a serious biker, but would like to get more serious about my commute. I'm not looking for a flashy biike, but would like something solid and not too heavy.

The reason I'm looking for a new bike now is that my rear tire went flat. I brought it in to the shop and we're probably looking at about $100-$120 for a new tire and some brakes and a new chain.

Only about a year ago I had to replace the rear inner tube. The bike shop said that I probably should get a commuter tire on the rear if I decided to repair the bike.

So, my question is, what would all of you do?

One other question I have is the style of bike. I'm 52 years old and am thinking of getting a bike that is more upright. What do you think of that type of model?

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have...
You can find a very good bike in your area via Craigslist, in store Play Again, Goodwill, etc. I used old road bike from 70ty with some upgrade (pedals, saddle, etc.) .
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Old 03-18-24, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by steph746
One other question I have is the style of bike. I'm 52 years old and am thinking of getting a bike that is more upright. What do you think of that type of model?

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have...
Look at these models:

Specialized Sirrus
Trex FX
Giant FastRoad
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Old 03-19-24, 08:47 PM
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Thank you all for your replies. They really do help with my decision making. For now, I've had my Hard Rock repaired. Just the rear tire. I had a "regular" one put on to get it back in riding condition.

I'm now starting to look for a new bike. I'd like something not too flashy. So, I also don't mind a used one at all.

A couple of general (possibly dumb) questions to start are:

Would an upright style bike be less safe? It seems that a rider would have more control in a hunched over position.

I see many road bikes out there that seem to go pretty quickly. I'd like to go faster, but I am not sure if it's me just not capable of biking faster now or if it really is the bike. The road bikes look nice, but I feel that they are more vulnerable to wear and tear...especially on roads with potholes, road obstacles (rocks, bottles, etc). Also, the tires are thinner. Would thinner tires mean that they are more vulnerable to flats?

Thanks in advance for any assistance,
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Old 03-20-24, 03:06 AM
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Originally Posted by steph746
..,Would an upright style bike be less safe?
I have used both styles and my experience is that the flat bar is more maneuverable whereas the drop bar allows me to reduce wind resistance. I’d choose a flat bar if I had an urban situation or significant natural surface segments. My current commute has long straight paved and I use a drop bar to reduce wind resistance.

Originally Posted by steph746
….Also, the tires are thinner. Would thinner tires mean that they are more vulnerable to flats?
“Thinner” has two different dimensions.

The width of the tire influences traction. I have a bike with 2” wide tires that are good for natural surfaces and I also favor it when on unfamiliar routes as it handles rough surfaces better. It is marginally slower than the 35 mm I use on my drop bar commuter. I have an old “racing” bike with 25 mm tires and I wouldn’t use those for a daily commute.

The other “thinner” is amount of rubber and layers. The more thickness there is, the more puncture resistant and longer wear life. Tradeoff is more weight, rolling resistance and duller feel.

A couple of other considerations:

1. Ability to add fenders and racks in the future is important. If you stick with it you’ll probably want those additions.

2. Suspension adds weight but can be good for frequent rough surfaces.

my 2 cents.
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Old 03-20-24, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by steph746
A couple of general (possibly dumb) questions to start are:

Would an upright style bike be less safe? It seems that a rider would have more control in a hunched over position.

I see many road bikes out there that seem to go pretty quickly. I'd like to go faster, but I am not sure if it's me just not capable of biking faster now or if it really is the bike. The road bikes look nice, but I feel that they are more vulnerable to wear and tear...especially on roads with potholes, road obstacles (rocks, bottles, etc). Also, the tires are thinner. Would thinner tires mean that they are more vulnerable to flats?
Some people have posited that an upright position is safer because you can look back easier (for example, to see overtaking trucks before changing lanes). My commuter bikes are touring bikes, with a body lean around 45 degrees; I can look back pretty well. If you're looking at time trial racing bikes, I'd concede that concern.

Wear and tear on a touring bike, or gravel bike, or heck any bike except a stupid-light racing bike, is going to be concentrated in the tires. A modern bike frame is close to a bridge truss; as long as you don't do something stupid, it'll last. Shifters, brakes, saddles, and racks are going to be just as good on a road bike as on a mountain bike, given equal riding conditions.

MTB tires may have a slight benefit when it comes to flatting from glass and radial tire wires. If, no when, you run over nails, broken cans, or large shards of glass, you're going to get a flat. (Learn how to fix it out on the road; hint: change the tube, pull out what caused the flat, and fix the old tube at home.) OTOH if you're willing to give up a little rolling resistance on a road tire, you can buy a lotta puncture resistance and longevity -- and still enjoy smoother rolling at less effort compared to buzzy MTB tires!

One more thing; see if your shop can get you some "slick" tires for your Hardrock. You can get rolling like you're on a new road bike on that old bike, for a fraction of the price.
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Old 03-20-24, 10:06 AM
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You have a nice MTB with flat bars. Now get a road bike. Maybe look for a Specialized Sirrus about the same age as your Rockhopper which would be very cool.
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Old 03-20-24, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by steph746
Would an upright style bike be less safe? It seems that a rider would have more control in a hunched over position.
Depends on the rider. Been riding bicycles since the 1960s. For me, a more-upright flat bar or riser bar seating arrangement gives me more control of the front end. But, like as not, that's merely a result of not having had nearly as much saddle time in a drop-bar type position. I generally like a wider position for my hands. I generally like a somewhat or even nearly upright riding position, as it gives me a better view and turns out to provide more comfort. Has for decades. Can't say that that'd be the case for everyone. But I'd bet most people can, with sufficient saddle time, get comfortable and competent with a variety of positions, bikes.

Also, the tires are thinner. Would thinner tires mean that they are more vulnerable to flats?
Possibly. A wider rim that sports a tire with greater volume can suck up more punishment, all things being equal. (Much like, say, a 29er rim+tire as compared to a 20-incher ... but with same tire, same puncture protection, same essential construction, with volume/size being the main difference.)

In whatever size rim and tire you get, if you're concerned about punctures or pinch flats, consider going to a tougher (and heavier) tire. Something with a stronger/thicker puncture protection layer, like what the Schwalbe Marathon Plus, Continental Ride Tour, or similar. One can find tires that have tougher anti-puncture features, along with a more speed-friendly tread design, but they're almost universally heavier than their speedier cousins (those without that level of puncture protection).
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Old 03-21-24, 09:17 PM
  #24  
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I'm 60, my bike is 32, and my commute was 8 miles each way. I find upright to be quite safe because I can easily see what's going on around me.

Old mountain bikes make great commuters; they can take anything you can throw at them and carry all your stuff, and since they're not the new hotness they're less attractive to professional thieves. The Princess is sporting Velo-Orange's Tourist Bar, which is about perfect for me; there's enough sweep to put your wrists in a neutral position and it's wide enough that my knees go inside the bar, not into it.

I recommend learning to do your own basic maintenance; on YouTube RJ the Bike Guy and Park Tools cover pretty much everything. If you have a bike co-op nearby they can teach you. And remember; however much you put into your bike it's still cheaper than a car.

You can also hang out on Bike Forums and learn a ton, especially in the Classic & Vintage (C&V) forum. Ask the dumb questions, admire others' bikes, and when you reach 10 posts, show us your bike!



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Old 03-24-24, 05:54 PM
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I have not met anyone who feels safer on a drop bar bike than on an upright bar bike. I prefer drop bars for most riding, but I do feel a bit safer on an upright bike. There may be a few people who prefer drop bars. I tolerate drop bars because I like to pedal hard, and it's more rewarding to do when I'm leaning forward. I don't lean forward like young racers do; I'm too old for that, but I'm leaning more than you will on a flat or swept-back bar. Find what you like. There are many styles and a reason for each style to exist. I still haven't found a favorite and am still experimenting.
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