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Seeking advice - city bike

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Seeking advice - city bike

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Old 07-27-08, 11:37 PM
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Chris_G
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Seeking advice - city bike

I'm looking at buying a good bike for getting around the city. I live in New York. For other New Yorkers here, I'm in Manhattan, on the West side of midtown. I consult in advertising, and most of my clients are on the East side. As locals know, the trains suck for cross town (except for a few specific thoroughfares). So I usually cab it in mornings, and walk home in evenings. Depending on the client, it's generally a couple miles each way, give or take.

I'm approaching 40, looking for something healthy, lifestyle-wise. I enjoyed riding a bike as a kid, and I'm looking into getting one to get around this island on.

I went and checked out bikes a couple times this week.

I've been doing research, and asking around.

Hence I found the BikeForums.

I'm thankful, and hope I can find good advice and feedback.

-----

As a kid, the only 10-speed I ever had, constantly needed maintenance. But I also had a Huffy BMX bike that was a single speed. It was indestructible. Though multi-speed bikes seemed to be the bulk of the inventory at the bike stores, I was inclined to consider a single-speed bike. My wife thought that was crazy, and the bike salesman pushed hard to sell me on a multi-speed bike. My experience with bikes is extremely limited. I know I'd like something solid and quality built, but basic (basic, as in, the number of things that can go wrong with it are limited).

-----

What my friends say: I participate in a forum much like this, but on a completely different subject. It is for Art Directors and Designers (my profession). Many of them ride bikes to work. When I put the question out to them, the response was unanimous:

1.) Unless you have a lot of hills (nope), or a lot of wide open long distance to cover (nope), go with a single speed. Especially in the city. Easier to maintain, and little use for gears in my situation.

2.) Avoid fixed-gear bikes (and I was given a little lesson on the difference between single-speed and fixed-gear).

I was very surprised. I thought everyone these days rode multi-speed bikes. But all seven people that spoke up, road single speed bikes.

-----

I found some online calculators for bike sizes. My inseam is 33" to the floor. I understand I should get a 21" bike.

As a designer by trade, I probably care too much about how the bike looks, but that's me, and if I spend my money, I want to be happy with it. I dig the matte black look I see on some of the bikes these days. I'm hoping to find something with that look.

TREKs seem very popular here in the city. It is not a brand I was familiar with as a kid, but I don't think it would have been in my family's price range, so that doesn't surprise me (I digress).

-----

So the two bikes I think I'm looking at, at the moment are the:

TREK Soho S
TREK - Soho S



TREK SU 3.0
TREK - SU 3.0



The Soho S doesn't come in 21", so I would have to go with a 20" or a 22.5"

The SU 3.0 is available in 21".

If you are familiar with either of these bikes, I'd love to hear your feedback. If there are other bikes that fit this description, in the under $650 price range that I should consider, let me know.

Any other advice, as well.

Thank you,
Chris
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Old 07-28-08, 07:46 AM
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check out the SS/FG forum. There's a lot of good info there. Particularly good for beginners is this thread: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=287364

And in particular, this one: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=225713
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Old 07-28-08, 08:11 AM
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You could check out the Swobo Folsom at swobo.com. Many of the fixed geared bikes come with flip-flop rear hubs, they can take fixed or free wheel. Specialized Langsters, Giant Bowerys are like this. Though the Treks are fine.

Take one more afternoon, ride those two treks, find a store that has another option like the specialized langster or giant bowery (I wouldn't be stuck on those brands, it's just that they are very commonly available), ride those. Then buy the one that feels best.
Everyday you ponder is one less day you're riding.

Also one of those Treks (3.0) is a 7-speed internal hub, I'm sure its fine, but would cost more than the single speed.

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Old 07-28-08, 11:43 AM
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"...7-speed internal hub..."

I'm such a novice, I didn't even know what that means. On the spec sheet it listed N/A for the derailleur, and not seeing one in the photo, I figured it was a single speed.

So it is the Trek Soho S I should focus on.

Thank you for clarifying.
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Old 07-28-08, 11:47 AM
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That Soho 3 isn't available in the US.

For NY,I'd recommend the Swobo Otis:
http://swobo.com/catalog/product_inf...?cPath=201_207

I little over your budget,but would fit the bill perfectly. Absolutely bomb proof;I've been abusing mine as a polo bike with zero probs. Comfortable,handles good,low maintenance,front disc for bad weather,will take a wide range of tires plus rack and fenders. It also doesn't look bling,which can be important when it comes time to lock it up somewhere in NYC.
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Old 07-28-08, 12:40 PM
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IMHO, a Redline 925 (http://www.redlinebicycles.com/adultbikes/925.html) is better bang for your buck than the Trek Soho, if you want to go SS. The paint job might be more to your liking than the matte black of the Soho.
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Old 07-28-08, 12:41 PM
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I got a folder expressly for when I want to take it on the subway or on the train down to the city for that matter with me. I'd keep that in mind too. Unsure what the best model would be for you.
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Old 07-28-08, 01:03 PM
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If I lived in Manhattan and never had to climb over a bridge I'd be riding an old 3 speed from the 1960s-1980s. It could be British, American, Japanese, etc. These abound on craig's list - take along a friend who knows bikes, and don't spend over $50-100. Yard sales out in the suburbs might yield a better deal. I personally have owned and loved several over the past 25 years - all free, found in the trash...many in like new condition!

These have three internal hub gears, are business-clothes friendly (sit up riding position, fenders, chain guard), built like tanks, so you can load a basket/rack on, and are fairly theft resistant so you can lock up anywhere with little worry. If they do get stolen or damaged, just go get another - if you get a month or two out of one, that more than makes up for all the subway fares you'll save.

The Raleigh Sports model is the king of these bikes, but other British names like Dunelt, Triumph, Rudge and Robin Hood are fine too. Schwinn and Columbia made them, as did Ross, Puch (Austro-Daimler), Fuji, Panasonic, etc etc

If you want utility cycling, not sportiness, go with a three-speed. Check out Harris Cyclery's web site - you can mod the gears very cheaply and it will be even easier to pedal (I threw a $25 new 24T cog on myself in about 30 minutes)
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Old 07-28-08, 01:33 PM
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You can try Cayne Uno. The color is gorgeous metallic dark gray, and it's inexpensive ~$400.
http://www.sunbicycles.com



Also, you may consider a 3-speed bike. 3-speed means it has an internal hub in the rear wheel.

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Old 07-28-08, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
If I lived in Manhattan and never had to climb over a bridge I'd be riding an old 3 speed from the 1960s-1980s. It could be British, American, Japanese, etc. These abound on craig's list - take along a friend who knows bikes, and don't spend over $50-100. Yard sales out in the suburbs might yield a better deal. I personally have owned and loved several over the past 25 years - all free, found in the trash...many in like new condition!

These have three internal hub gears, are business-clothes friendly (sit up riding position, fenders, chain guard), built like tanks, so you can load a basket/rack on, and are fairly theft resistant so you can lock up anywhere with little worry. If they do get stolen or damaged, just go get another - if you get a month or two out of one, that more than makes up for all the subway fares you'll save.

The Raleigh Sports model is the king of these bikes, but other British names like Dunelt, Triumph, Rudge and Robin Hood are fine too. Schwinn and Columbia made them, as did Ross, Puch (Austro-Daimler), Fuji, Panasonic, etc etc
I'd go with this. Internal hubs are great for a low-maintenance ride, and I'd definitely go with an older bike to keep a lower profile. You're unfortunately in one of the few places that has even higher bike theft than we do, so keep that baby secured with a strong lock, preferably indoors where you can keep an eye on it. Good luck, and happy riding!
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Old 07-28-08, 01:55 PM
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Single speed bikes are great commuters for many urban areas. The simplicity of the design means fewer headaches and maintenance. Good derailleur bikes will be less trouble than your old 10 speed but are still somewhat delicate.
Fixed gear bikes also work well for commuting but are not friendly for new riders.

If you will be commuting in office attire make sure you have full fenders and a chain guard is also very nice.
Go ride several of these bikes and see what feels best to you.

Craig
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Old 07-28-08, 02:07 PM
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You know the SU 3.0 isn't a singlespeed right?

I'm disappointed to see that Trek removed the prices from their website.

I'd agree that if you don't need a bunch of gears, don't buy them. I don't personally like flatbar bikes, but if you do, the Soho is a solid choice. Yes, there are other options out there for less money, but they likely won't have the resale value of the Trek. Personally, I can't get over the ugly welds on the Swobo bikes, although it's purely aesthetic.

Personally, I'd go with the Salsa Caseroll singlespeed, but then again, I prefer drop bars and don't have to deal with the theft problem you'll be facing. Speaking of theft, do you have a safe place to store it? The Trek could be quite the target.
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Old 07-28-08, 03:28 PM
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You could also consider the Marin Hamilton 29er: http://www.marinbikes.com/2008/us/bi...ilton_29er.php

It's a bit cheaper than the Soho. It has lower gearing which you may appreciate as you get started, though it will mean a lower top speed on level ground. It has a steel frame, which is heavier but gives a nice feel to the ride. One "feature" that you may appreciate in NYC is that the brand badges peel off easily and cleanly.
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Old 07-28-08, 03:37 PM
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just to be clear - the old three speeds are heavy - with fenders and chain guard at least 30 pounds. the upright position and the weight mean you will not be enjoying a Lance Armstrongesque ride. The British models will have odd threading and the Japanese or American models all use basic utility parts.

These are not good choices for someone who wants to go super fast. Though the nicer models track really nicely and give a good zippy ride when set up properly. They are very comfortable, with slack geometry and long wheelbases.

I always replaced the cranks and/or rear wheel sprockets on mine to lower the gearing but that's because I climb over the bridge to/from Queens every day. I replaced the sit up and beg handlebars with a cheap mtb bar and stem to get more aerodynamic (you can also just flip over the stock handle bars). I also removed the fenders and chain guard to lessen the weight because I ride in bike clothes and change at work, so I don't care how dirty I get while riding. My last Rudge weighed about 26-27 pounds after modification and was geared very comfortably for the bridge.

Three speeds in their stock form will give you a perfect all-around single speed when ridden 'direct drive', a slightly easier gear for when the road goes up a little (Manhattan is NOT entirely 'flat'), and a high gear so you can cruise at 20 mph or so on the Green belt path or in Central Park. Shifting is easy and simple.

The bikes being recommended here are all beautiful and if they mow your lawn , by all means go for it! If you just want something reliable, not flash - go with the three speed.

I'd say pay $50 for the lesser brands, maybe $100 for a top-line Raleigh or Schwinn in great shape. Factor in the cost of a good initial tune up if the shifting/braking is messy (usually they're fine), fresh tires (about $50/pr.), and you'll probably invest no more than $150. Add maybe another $35 for a good Wald basket or a rack if you need one. After that you can forget it. Put a few drops of oil on the chain and in the hubs once or twice a year and they'll run forever.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
I'm disappointed to see that Trek removed the prices from their website.
OP went to the wrong site. American Treks are here:
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en

Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
but they likely won't have the resale value of the Trek.
Most modern bikes are not collectable(at least not yet) and don't hold resale value super well. And if the OP's going to be putting serious miles on his bike in NYC,in all weather,it ain't gonna have much resale value in a couple years anyway.


Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
Personally, I can't get over the ugly welds on the Swobo bikes, although it's purely aesthetic.
I've never bothered to check out the welds on any of my bikes. I put functionality,reliability,and comfort above goofy cosmetics. My Swobo has handled bad weather and polo abuse with no complaints.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:15 AM
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Just to clarify my viewpoint... I buy almost everything used with the intention of selling it fairly soon. My two primary commuters have been around the longest, because they're enjoyable and almost right.

I guess I'm going on the assumption that most people won't buy the right bike the first time. Knowing that you'll lose less money (or ideally no money if you bought it used) will make someone much more likely to sell it and get something they will hopefully be happier with.

It's not about being collectible, it's about people not wanting to pay money for a used bike they consider to be lower quality.

--------

I guess you can't have anything too nice or risk being laughed off the polo court right...
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Old 07-29-08, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_G View Post
What my friends say: I participate in a forum much like this, but on a completely different subject. It is for Art Directors and Designers (my profession). Many of them ride bikes to work. When I put the question out to them, the response was unanimous:
If you're an art director/designer riding to client meetings, you need something a little more stylish than a Trek, or even a Swobo. Check out the Pashley Guv'nor or the Retrovelo Paul.
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Old 07-29-08, 12:57 PM
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It sounds like he needs something upright and comfortable, not too hipsterish.

The Trek Soho S is good choice but could be a theft target. Craigslist is a good place to start to look for something gently used but stylish.

You really cant beat singlespeed for ease of repair and maintenance. You can beat it with a fixed gear but you're not cool enough for one of those :-).

Go with the Soho and free yourself from automotive prison.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ConstantRider View Post
If you're an art director/designer riding to client meetings, you need something a little more stylish than a Trek, or even a Swobo. Check out the Pashley Guv'nor or the Retrovelo Paul.
Those are wonderful - and unless he can bring his bike into his meetings, the thieves will think so too.

I'd buy one of those if money was no object...for utility I'd go used every time...sounds like the OP has bike-savvy acquaintances...one of them could accompany him to the buy. Excellent point about making mistakes on your first bike purchase(s). All the more reason to buy cheap/used.
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Old 08-05-08, 07:43 PM
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Thank you, everybody, for all the great advice.
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Old 08-05-08, 08:01 PM
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Swobo makes some cool bikes (fun to ride and good styling). I like my Otis.
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Old 08-06-08, 02:24 AM
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Have you thought of a Felt X:City? Very similar to the Trek bikes you are looking at. It has an 8 speed internal hub (in case you ever need to climb hills or get some higher speeds) which means you have extremely low maintenance (no deraillers). I just got one a few weeks ago and am loving it.

http://feltracing.com/08/product.asp...,1525&pid=8763
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