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Rank Newbie, Part II (here's my situation...)

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Rank Newbie, Part II (here's my situation...)

Old 07-30-08, 06:51 PM
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steve-in-kville 
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Rank Newbie, Part II (here's my situation...)

Thanks for the excellent replies in my previous thread. I've started this thread to lay down what my specs are in a fitness/commuter bike.

* Price range of about $500 for a bike plus another $250 or so for accessories.

* I have 9.8 miles to work, one way, with rolling hills. Plan to ride at least two days a week through the rest of this year, hopefully all four days by spring once I'm in better shape. Paved roads. Will bike in light rain and low temps to freezing.

* I carry a lunch to work. Nothing else.

* I have three respectable dealers in my area. Brands include Specialized, Schwinn, Giant, Trek, Railegh & Cannondale.

* Accessories... I would need a rear rack, spedo and maybe fenders.

* I am a smaller framed adult so I would take a smaller framed bike (doesn't seem to be an issue for most brands).

Give me some ideas... love to hear your suggestions.


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Old 07-30-08, 07:16 PM
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Old 07-30-08, 07:38 PM
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Old 07-30-08, 07:53 PM
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First of all, great plan. Secondly, you need to seriously rethink your budget. Think of this not as a toy, or sport vehicle, but rather as a transportation vehicle.

If this sticks, you'll be riding at least 5 years. After which it's time to get a new vehicle. Some basic math:
59 miles weekly, 3x a week
235 miles monthly, 4 wks a month, not 4.3 which is reality
1,411 miles year, 6 months riding
7,056 miles over vehicle life span, 5 years

Cost to drive that distance is roughly $.60/mile. $4,234. But that ignores a) savings of not paying for a health club membership, b) savings of not going to doctor so frequenly, c) time savings of combining exercise and commute (take at least 30 minutes a day and multiply by your hourly rate), and d) food savings because you will be more aware of how fuel intake effects ride.

So the easiest way to consider cost is that each mile you ride saves $1.00. It doesn't take long at all to pay for a nice transportation vehicle.

You can either pay now or pay later. If you pay a little now, you'll most likely dislike the bike after about 4 months of riding and start itching for a new and better bike. One of the worst problems of new commuters is keeping on pedaling when it's so easy to jump in the car. If you buy a "more expensive" commuter, you have to commute at least long enough to pay for the vehicle. Note this commuter vehicle is different than a car. A car is all expense. A commuter bike pays for itself because it avoids the car expenses.

I'd recommend budgeting between $1,200 and $1,700 for nice bike. For example in the Trek line, good choices would be: 2.1, pilot 2.1, fx 7.7, 520 and of course the portland. It's a great commuter, just swap out the fruity fenders with good sks fenders. The disc brakes would really really be nice going downhill in the rain.

Finally, your budget for goodies is too low. typical expenses:
high vis rain/commute jacket $100 [performance ilumilite]
riding gloves: $15-40
helmet: $30-120
bike shoes: $100-$200
bike clipless pedals: $130
clear/photosensitive glasses, to keep out bugs & rain: $30
5 jerseys: $20 to $60 each
rain gloves: $30
under layer for colder weather: $40
bike rear rack: $30
bike trunk bag: $25-$40
misc bike tools: $50
excellent tailight: $40
headlight: fair $50-80. good $120-240. excellent $600-700
side clearance lights, to lower risk of left cross/right cross in low visibility: 2x $20-40
mirror: $20
spare tubes: $20
mini bike pump/co2 cart: $10-30
spare mini flashlight $10
cold weather gloves: $40-$120
tire pump: $25-35
cyclometer {speedometer +**: $20-$150
bike bell $10

I may missed something, but you get the idea. As a rough guide, whatever you spend on a bike, double it because you'll spend that much on other gear. Unlike a car, bikes come simple and you need a lot of stuff to be able to cycle in almost all weather.

Bottom line, even if you got a $2,000 bike and spent $1,000 on bike stuff. At the end of 5 years you would have paid for all those expenses with your savings and still have $1,300 left over. Not bad to be paid for having fun and feeling better.

Of course, one of the best benefits is: increased sex appeal.
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Old 07-30-08, 08:23 PM
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I'm not quite sure I agree with HiYoSilver's math and list of things you need, but a great point is made:

Think of this not as a toy, or sport vehicle, but rather as a transportation vehicle.
I'd skimp on the accessories and use that money towards a better bike (your selection is kind of limited if you only want to spend about $500...seems like most decent commuter bikes start around $500). You can always invest in some nice shoes, good rain jacket, cyclo-computer and such later on (especially when they are on sale). To start you just need a good bike and a few accessories: probably a pair of shorts and jersey, helmet, and a blinky (which you can probably get in total for about 100 bucks).
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Old 07-30-08, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville View Post

* Accessories... I would need a rear rack, spedo and maybe fenders.
I know it's hot in k'ville... but commuting in a speedo will be uncomfortable and is generally considered rude.
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Old 07-30-08, 08:41 PM
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Agree with Hiyosilver. For a 20 mile round trip commute, if you are going to keep it up, you will want a sturdy, and efficient bike. I like the Trek Portland idea. SOme of the things on Hiyos list can wait (cold weather stuff can wait until cold weather), most will be needed right now.
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Old 07-30-08, 08:51 PM
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If you're planning on riding in the rain I wouldn't consider fenders a maybe, get a set of full fenders. They'll keep all the dirt/grime on the road from getting all over you and your bike.
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Old 07-30-08, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by HiYoSilver View Post
I'd recommend budgeting between $1,200 and $1,700 for nice bike. For example in the Trek line, good choices would be: 2.1, pilot 2.1, fx 7.7, 520 and of course the portland. It's a great commuter, just swap out the fruity fenders with good sks fenders. The disc brakes would really really be nice going downhill in the rain.
There's nothing wrong with spending that much on a bike if you're going to appreciate it but for a beginning commuter like the OP spending $500 on a Jamis Coda or that very nice Schwinn at Performance Bike sounds like a far more economical option. Heck for the low range of your estimate you can pick up a brand new Trek 520 and I'd challenge someone to tell me that's not an appropriate ride for many commuters covering 10 miles each way.

Add another $500 for accessories and you could be more than set. You could likely shave quite a bit of money off that though. For example you don't NEED clipless shoes/pedals to ride 10 miles. Is it easier? Yes, but is it necessary, especially starting out? No. Similarly depending on your lighting needs you could spend a little money on two PB Superflashes for your tail lights or drop a wad on a Dinotte. Compromises can easily be made and I think it's far less overwhelming to tell a beginner "Spend $500 on the bike, plan for another $200-500 on accessories" than to start with a $1,200-1,700 price point for the bike alone and then add another $2000 (the high point of your estimated range) in accessories.

They may end up spending that much over time (i.e. a year or two) but there aren't a lot of people around that have $5000 in loose cash lying around and are willing to make that type of commitment to cycling without at least testing the waters first.
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Old 07-31-08, 09:23 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I understand the logic behind the math. If the funds were available, I'd raise the budget to the $1200 mark. Unfortunately, unless my monthly bonuses were to jump a few hundred, I'd have a hard time coming up with a grand.

YMCA memberships are nearly $475/year in my area. My truck gets a little better than 22 mpg, which means I burn about gallon of gas a day to an from work. That's $16/week.

I can see the math, but the outlay isn't quite there yet.

Does anyone know what Giant has to offer in the touring/commuter line?

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Old 07-31-08, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville View Post
* Price range of about $500 for a bike plus another $250 or so for accessories.
My accessories ended up costing more then the bike itself. Though you don't have to buy everything at once and you can upgrade gear as you go along. $250 should cover the basics and get you going. I'd budget a little bit every month for accessories as you will find out what you need and don't need.

You have a specialized dealer near you? Check out the Globe, it's in your price range.
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Old 07-31-08, 09:43 AM
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"* Price range of about $500 for a bike plus another $250 or so for accessories."

You can do well with that. Personally, based on what my own personal experiences, if you didn't want a folding bike, I'd get a Trek 7.2FX or 7.3FX, or maybe something in the Specialized Sirrus line, and then spend roughly:
$10 for a bell
$20 for a helmet
$50 for lights, front and back
$35 for fenders (SKS)
$35 for a rack (consider the Topeak line)
$40 for a rack trunk (consider Topeak's matching trunks)
$30 for a good multi-tool
$40 for a pump, spare tubes, tube repair kit.

There are many other things that can be purchased (like a cyclocomputer, $30-150), but these are the necessities for me. By winter you'll need cold-weather gloves; I found that my non-bike-specific leather gloves were inadequate for a North Carolina winter.
You'll need occasional consumables like a bottle of chain lube ($5-10) and replacement tubes and repair kit materials.
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Old 07-31-08, 09:48 AM
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Given your starting budget, you may be better off buying a good used bike and outfitting it for commuting. Popular choices include old steel frame MTBs from 80's and 90's (like my '92 Specialized Hard Rock). These can be had for a couple hundred on craigslist and you get a heavy duty machine that can handle anything you pile on it. Pack the miles on this bike to start with - then later on, if you really get into it 4+ days/wk as you hope AND you sock your unspent gas money away, you can buy a nice bike.
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Old 07-31-08, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by HiYoSilver View Post
Finally, your budget for goodies is too low.
<snip>

Please don't think this guy's list enormous list is representative of what we all think to be mandatory.
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Old 07-31-08, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
"* Price range of about $500 for a bike plus another $250 or so for accessories."

You can do well with that. Personally, based on what my own personal experiences, if you didn't want a folding bike, I'd get a Trek 7.2FX or 7.3FX, or maybe something in the Specialized Sirrus line, and then spend roughly:
$10 for a bell
$20 for a helmet
$50 for lights, front and back
$35 for fenders (SKS)
$35 for a rack (consider the Topeak line)
$40 for a rack trunk (consider Topeak's matching trunks)
$30 for a good multi-tool
$40 for a pump, spare tubes, tube repair kit.

There are many other things that can be purchased (like a cyclocomputer, $30-150), but these are the necessities for me. By winter you'll need cold-weather gloves; I found that my non-bike-specific leather gloves were inadequate for a North Carolina winter.
You'll need occasional consumables like a bottle of chain lube ($5-10) and replacement tubes and repair kit materials.
This would be an excellent starting setup with a bike that will handle some rough use. I have the Garry Fisher Nirvanna (very similar to the FX series) and it is my heavy duty year round (and therefore foul weather) commuter. Cycling shoes are definitely not required, but good breathing shoes are unless you want some nasty hot sweaty feet during the summer. I rode for quite a while just using toe clip because I like knowing my feet won't ever slip off the pedals (that only has to happen to you once... not fun). After a year of commuting you'll probaly want to ride farther as faster. That is a good time to save up for a nice road bike (or fine one used if you are of average size and can get lucky to find something in your size). That is also then a good time to upgrade to cycling shoes. By then your body will be hardened by all the riding and you'll realy love to speed and ease of riding a light bike. I now use my road bike on nice days and then use the hybrid any day the weather is or looks to be bad. My initial investment was about $700 for the bike, the rack, bell, etc. I later spent an additional $300 at Peter White to get a front wheel built with a Shimano hub and a DLumitec Oval LED head light (the IQ Fly was not out yet (too bad, the DLumitec is good, but the IQ Fly is supposed to be much better for not much more $). This year I spent about $1800 get a road bike, shoes, and pedals for the road bike and dual role pedals for the hybrid (so I can ride with or without cycling shoes).

Happy riding,
André
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Old 07-31-08, 10:36 AM
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+1 Best bang for the buck, right there.
Raleigh Detour Deluxe is another option.
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Old 07-31-08, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
$30 for a good multi-tool
I'm a Topeak fan myself. The Topeak Alien II 26-Function multi-tool is the way to go. I use this tool almost exclusively for repairs & tweaking.

Oh and it's worth paying the extra $5 bucks for the F55 "fixer" if you want to attached the Alien tool directly on your bike.

Total of $35
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Old 07-31-08, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
Please don't think this guy's list enormous list is representative of what we all think to be mandatory.
This was never meant to be a required list. It's just a list of things that often get added within the first years of commuting.

Yes it's better to start lower and go higher later. Anyone can start via:

1. a low end bike, $300 - $500; either new, or used
2. a tire pump $20
3. tire levers $8
4. spare tube $8
5. a good lock, if you can't store bike inside

Maybe a helmet. Maybe gloves. Rest can all come later. A white shirt is almost as visible as fancy jerseys.

For each mile you ride put $.50 in a jar and soon you'll be able to get new stuff. Sometimes it's cheaper over the life of the bike vehicle, to consider your total expenses rather than cash flow issues. I understand cash flow. If it's not there, then you do the best you can. The only problem with starting low, is because of the extra pain, people might be tempted to quit too early and give up all the benefits. My experience is it's better to start off with a slightly higher bike than was considering at first, because it was more sustainable. At that time there was 0% interest, which I took advantage of. I don't know what LBS are offering now, but if serious about continuing it might be worth while considering.

If not, you can start commuting with less than $500. Just do it.
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Old 07-31-08, 01:53 PM
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You can spend $1500 for a nice bike but I were you (and I was you a year ago) I would get the a good bike for $500 (try the trek 7.3fx or the giant fcr3). It's likely you won't ride the same way in a couple years anyway so you'll be itching to get another bike then regardless of what you buy now. So save the money for accessories and buy them when you need them.
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Old 07-31-08, 01:58 PM
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Also keep in mind that accessories are easily transferable to another bike later on. It's not like replacing your first bike will cost you everything you spent the first time. You might start with your total budget, subtract the cost of essential accessories (needed to get started), then use the remainder to buy your first bike. You will definitely end up replacing the bike at some point no matter what you get (at that price point especially).
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Old 07-31-08, 02:20 PM
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I have a bit of a different perspective than Hiho Silver. I don't think that anyone can have an exact idea of what sort of bike will fit their needs and desires for commuting until they have 500-1000 miles of doing it under their belt. So for that reason I say get something cheap and very functional to start out with. A used bike that is well tuned up can certainly do the trick. Then once you have your conditioning up a little and have a better idea of what you want then spend more on what you Know you want.
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Old 07-31-08, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by BroadSTPhilly View Post
I have a bit of a different perspective than Hiho Silver. I don't think that anyone can have an exact idea of what sort of bike will fit their needs and desires for commuting until they have 500-1000 miles of doing it under their belt. So for that reason I say get something cheap and very functional to start out with. A used bike that is well tuned up can certainly do the trick. Then once you have your conditioning up a little and have a better idea of what you want then spend more on what you Know you want.
+1

I would also skimp on accessories and add as time goes on. Get the bare minimum and ride in gym shorts and a t shirt. When you have the cash and find a need for an issue then research said issue and purchase whatever will solve it.

I would say:
-helmet
-tire irons
-pump
-lights
-spare tube
-lock if need be

You can get by without a multi tool if you are willing to carry a few single tools you may very well have lying around the house.
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Old 07-31-08, 02:57 PM
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I purchased the Trek Soho 1.0 for $699 out the door. It's designed as a commuter bike. It does have upright handlebars, but for my situation I wouldn't have it any other way (I take bike paths to work. They're paved, but have sharp twists and turns (what's the difference between a twist and a turn anyway?).

This bike is a workhorse. It's a slight bit heavier than the FX series, but it has reinforced rims, tires, disc brakes, etc. It's designed specifically for commuting and getting a little roughed up. Since I'm not gentle with my things, it was a good fit for me.

I purchased a bmx/skateboard helmet (Protec) from the bike shop because it looks less dorky. It's hotter, sure, but less dorky. It was 30 dollars.

I only commute four miles each way (20 to 25-minute ride, so I purchased two outifts of typical nylon mesh shirt and shorts. I'll buy nicer padded shorts if I need to, but already my butt is getting used to a smaller saddle from my Trex 7100 that I just sold).

The two outfits were about 25 bucks total at Wal-Mart (oh, admit it. You sometimes shop there too).

I just use my regular shoes to ride. You're going ten miles, which is easy for some, hard for others. I don't think I'd be interested in a ten-mile commute simply because of the time factor. I can't afford to ride for an hour to work (I have to be on the job and ready by 7:20 or students are lined up outside the door--unsupervised students don't go five minutes without someone hurt or in trouble).

I put my junk in a backpack, so no extra bags need to be purchased.

I don't have a flat kit yet, but will get a cheap one. Four miles isn't bad. I can walk it in an hour if I have to, and can call someone to cover for my class until I get there or call my wife (stay at home mom) to pick me up and carry me the rest of the way. I leave home about 6:30 and arrive at work a little before 7:00 which gives me about twenty minutes to cool down, change, get some coffee and get to my classroom. Even if I had a flat right after leaving home I could simply turn around and get my car and be to work on time or just walk it and only be about 15-30 minutes late. I wouldn't get in trouble as long as I called ahead.

I did buy a bike computer for 35 bucks, but I don't need it. I wanted it and enjoy it mostly for the odometer and the clock.

I also bought a good pump for the tires. I top them off before going to bed. If there's going to be a flat, it'll be there in the morning. Also, my tires are ready to go. The pump from the LBS was 30 dollars.

So, the bill:

Trek Soho 1.0: $699 (tax included).
Helmet: $30 (Protec)
Pump: $30
Computer $35
Two bike outfits: $ 35

Already had the shoes, backpack.

Total: $ 830


How that relates to you I don't know (since you're going ten miles and I'm going four each way).

If time is of the essence, get a fast roadbike.
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Old 07-31-08, 02:58 PM
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So the issue hear is this, if you love bicycling, you're going to want a nicer bike than you can get for $500 very soon. If you don't love it, whatever bike you get runs the risk of becoming a garage ornament. My suggestion would be, buy a $500 bike and plan to upgrade within a year.

I would also suggest that you set a monthly budget for bike goodies. I was a year in before a month went by that I didn't buy something for my bike.

Here are my specific recommendations:

Some bikes in your price range:

Jamis Coda -- $475
Trek SU 1.0 -- $490
Specialized Globe -- $440
Giant FCR3 - $520

Must have immediately:

Kryptonite U-lock -- $30
Bell Citi helmet -- $60
Spare tube -- $5
Patch Kit -- $5
Tire Irons -- $5
Topeak Road Morph pump -- $35
Mountain Mirrycle Mirror -- $20
Incredibell -- $15
Planet Bike Superflash taillight -- $20

Nice to have immediately:

riding gloves (any): $15
Cateye Strada Cadence Computer -- $45
Planet Bike Cascadia Fenders -- $45
Crank Brothers Multitool-17 -- $25
Cateye EL-530 headlight -- $35
Topeak Joe Blow floor pump -- $25

When you're tired of wearing a backpack:

Topeak Explorer MTX Rack (not seat mounted) -- $30
Topeak MTX EX Trunk Bag -- $45
Andy_K is offline  
Old 07-31-08, 03:06 PM
  #25  
corripio
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A $1200 bike is almost certainly going to be better than what you can get for $500, but that $500 bike is still going to be a decent machine. It's better to just get out there and get biking; you can always get a new one if your needs changes and/or sell your old one.

As I previously posted (and as others have too), skimp on the accessories. Only get the essentials to start. Every commute, location, and cyclist is different. We can all give you tons of advice and suggestions, but ultimately, your needs won't become apparent until you get out there and start biking.

Also, you should consider the following questions:

What do you want your commute to be like?
Do you want to go all out and get there really fast or do you plan on taking it pretty easy?

This will definitely determine what bikes you should be looking at.
corripio is offline  

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