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Please help- feeling overwhelmed.

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Old 02-18-09, 04:51 PM
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BTWriter
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Please help- feeling overwhelmed.

I'm moving into town next month and want to start commuting/get rid of my vehicle.

My budget is about 900 dollars, which will have to include everything (bike, lights, helmet, rack, etc.)

My daily commute will be 3.7 miles (one way) on city streets, and I'm in Indiana so I'll be seeing a good bit of snow in winter. I might like to take the occasional ~10 mile trip.

The Breezer bikes look very appealing, Villager or Citizen, since they come with racks and lights already all together, but even calling the dealers listed on their site it seems impossible to locate one, and I hear their prices have skyrocketed.

What would you recommend? Would it be better to find a good road bike that comes with fenders/a rack and add a lighting system?

I'm always annoyed by people who just post on forums expecting others to do the research for them, but I've been reading and reading and I just get a headache every time because I know so little about the technical details of bikes. I've been to two bike shops, but the guy in the first one just pointed me to a Schwinn Cutter single speed and said, "This one comes with stickers. You can't really ride in the snow, so you'll have to walk." The second shop was full of really friendly, helpful people, but they seemed pathologically incapable of considering anything less than 1200 dollars, particularly pointing to a Long Haul Trucker.

Of all the aspects of switching to a no-car lifestyle, I didn't expect finding a bike to be the hardest.

Could you recommend any models in my price range that would work well and that I won't have to outwit a sphinx to get to?

Thanks so much for your time.
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Old 02-18-09, 05:11 PM
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here's a start:

Jamis Aurora $799

http://bicyclebananas.com/mm5/mercha...amis_07_Aurora

however, fenders, lights, rack, panniers +tax are going to take you over that $900.

This one is $1049 but you can join REI and get 20% off so that takes you down to about $840 and you still need fenders, lights, panniers... once again over your $900 limit.

http://www.rei.com/product/776887

Touring bikes make great commuters. The surly LHT is in the same group as the ones mentioned above.

Occasionally I see a Fuji Touring bike on sale at the local Performance Bike Shop for $599. It's usually last year's model. But that's a great deal. Many of the local shops discount prior year's models by 20 percent. If you happen to run into one that has your size, then jump on it.

There is always bikedirect.com

http://bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

$599. It would probably suit your commuting purposes just fine.


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Old 02-18-09, 05:32 PM
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The Breezer bikes look like good options. Is the Uptown 8 too expensive? What people want in bikes is so different person-to-person, but I would personally look at those bikes with the Shimano Alfine internal hub with fenders and racks or at least rack mounts in your situation. I love my somewhat integrated light system, but it obviously isn't essential. The internal hub will require less maintanecnce, especially since you will be riding in elements. You don't need the fastest bike. Something you can just get on comfortably and is ready for whatever.

Novara Fusion (has light system)
Bianchi Milano
Masi Soulville
Jamis Commuter 3
Biria EB Superlight 8
Electra Townie 8 Commuter
Specialized GlobeCity6
Redline R530
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Old 02-18-09, 05:42 PM
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Take a look at these flat bar bikes. They won't be as good for longer rides, but will work well for commuting.

Kona Smoke $425
http://www.konaworld.com/09_smoke_u.cfm

Jamis Coda $550
http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...a/09_coda.html

KHS Urban Xpress $489
http://www.khsbicycles.com/06_urban_xpress_09.htm

If you are really going car free an option that pushes your budget a bit is the Kona Ute $899
http://www.konaworld.com/09_ute_u.cfm

It's a long tail so you can carry your groceries. It comes with bags and fenders, so you would only go a little over budget.

They all are solid bikes that make great commuters and would work well in snow. They just don't offer multiple hand positions for longer rides.

Rob

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Old 02-18-09, 06:06 PM
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Get a used bike off Craigslist and ride it for a month-
That'll give you an idea of what you REALLY want.
Get your new bike and sell the old one for about what you paid for it or keep it for a back up in case the "main" bike gets disabled. You hate to head to work in the morning and discover you have a flat, if you don't have a back up plan.
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Old 02-18-09, 06:14 PM
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Almost any bike will suffice for a 3.7 mile commute in town. I commute year-round in Michigan, and I've been going along very happy for 4 years and 16000+ miles so far on a $350 Giant Cypress hybrid. I've added a rack, Dinotte lights front and rear ($105 each plus batteries+charger I already had), fenders ($30), and I had to rebuild the rear wheel because what comes with cheap bikes are not up to the rough gravel roads I ride on, though on paved streets they may be just fine. $60 if you rebuild the wheel yourself, $100 if you just buy a new wheel.

Also, studded tires in the winter, I recommend Nokian W106s. I've tried Marathon Winters, and I prefer the Nokians I had before. ($100)

Figure another $200 for clothes - $100 for a good rain jacket, a helmet with cover, maybe some rain pants.

That puts you at about $1000 but not all that junk is needed right away.

In my experience, you will spend more trying to buy cheap stuff and having to replace it. But the $350 bike has done very well by me so far. It's been very cheap to run over the years.
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Old 02-18-09, 06:24 PM
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A Redline R530 (http://www.redlinebicycles.com/adultbikes/R530.html) is also an option to consider for a nearly commute ready bike. You'll still need to add a light (and of course personal gear). Redline seems to have a fairly good dealer network so you may be lucky and find that your LBS carries the brand. I've seen some good deals on 2008 models. Good luck.
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Old 02-18-09, 06:44 PM
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If you're feeling overwhelmed, then soliciting advice from Bike Forums will probably make you more so. There are as many opinions as there are members.

My advice: don't worry too much about getting just the right bike in order to avoid buyer's remorse. Like others have said, just about any bike will do for your specific needs. Get something not too expensive, and after you've ridden that for a while, you'll start to know what you like about it, what you don't like about it, and what other things you'd perhaps like to try.
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Old 02-18-09, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
If you're feeling overwhelmed, then soliciting advice from Bike Forums will probably make you more so. There are as many opinions as there are members.

My advice: don't worry too much about getting just the right bike in order to avoid buyer's remorse. Like others have said, just about any bike will do for your specific needs. Get something not too expensive, and after you've ridden that for a while, you'll start to know what you like about it, what you don't like about it, and what other things you'd perhaps like to try.
Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Get a used bike off Craigslist and ride it for a month-
That'll give you an idea of what you REALLY want.
Get your new bike and sell the old one for about what you paid for it or keep it for a back up in case the "main" bike gets disabled. You hate to head to work in the morning and discover you have a flat, if you don't have a back up plan.
If you start with a used bike that's halfway close to what you need, learn what you like/need/want with it before you buy new you'll do fine. Don't be afraid of making a mistake, and you'll be enjoying things before you know it.
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Old 02-18-09, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
My advice: don't worry too much about getting just the right bike in order to avoid buyer's remorse. Like others have said, just about any bike will do for your specific needs. Get something not too expensive, and after you've ridden that for a while, you'll start to know what you like about it, what you don't like about it, and what other things you'd perhaps like to try.
+1 This is perhaps the best bicycle-buying advice there is for a newcomer. It's put another way, and more succinctly in the frequently used quote, "The purpose of your first bike is to teach you what you want and need in your second bike."

Like ItsJustMe above, I started with an inexpensive hybrid. Bike, starter light kit, U-lock and helmet tipped the scales at just over $500 with NYS sales tax. I eventually added fenders, a rack and better lights. I rode that bike for nearly 4,000 miles in my first year, learning what I could do on a bike, what I could do with a bike, and what I liked to do with a bike.

My current bikes are worlds away from that first hybrid. (What I learned was that I like to go fast, eveh when hauling home the groceries.) But I don't for a second regret spending a penny on it. The bike was useful and a great learning tool. And what I learned saved me tons when buying my current bikes.

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Old 02-18-09, 07:18 PM
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Gawd, sometimes we really overcomplicate things around here.

If there's a Performance Bike near you, give it a visit and check out one of these:
http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...TOKEN=78216718



Use the money you save to purchase clothing and whatever else you need. As you gain experience with your commute, you'll be able to use the additional savings to upgrade components/accessories as you see fit, or save for another bike if you decide you want something fun for recreational purposes.
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Old 02-18-09, 07:25 PM
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I agree, don't buy an expensive bike as your first one. I bought a $350 bike, and I found it was all I needed. I certainly look at more expensive bikes, and I may get one someday, but I think it was important for me to get a cheap bike and learn what was important to ME before making a choice on an expensive bike. Any 10 people will have 20 different perfect bikes for them, at least.

You'll have to learn what's important to you. Remember, most everything you put on a cheap bike can be moved to a more expensive bike later, and you'll probably save way more than the cost of the cheap bike when you eventually buy a more expensive bike you can live with for years rather than buying the wrong nice bike up front and having to take a loss on it when you trade it for the bike you really want.
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Old 02-18-09, 07:47 PM
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+1 to the above comments- we probably make this harder than it should be.
A commute of about 6 km, especially if the terrain is fairly flat, should be fairly easy to get use to.
A poster above suggested a Jamis Commuter 3, I have one as my winter bike. It has been a pretty
good bike, a reasonable balance of features for the cost. The bike comes with fenders and an adjustable stem. I was able to mount the W106 snow tire under the fenders {tight fit and took a little fender adjustment]. With the fenders you can ride on most any sloppy day and stay fairly clean. The hub gear has worked well in the snow and cold; the drivetrain does not get slushed up much, compared to a deraileur set up. The adjustable stem probably will help you find or get a more effective fit. If you commute year around, what ever cycle you get- get lots of lights for it.
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Old 02-18-09, 08:14 PM
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Thanks for all the responses, guys. I read through them all and looked at the suggested bikes. Reading through the descriptions and comparing them really helped to get a better grasp on things.

I eventually decided on the Jamis Commuter 3...but then just as I was about to pull the trigger I did one more search for a Breezer Citizen and found a pretty sweet deal on Ebay.

It should be here in 3-8 business days.

From what I could tell the only real step down on it from most others is that it's only a 3 speed, but my route is pretty flat so I think I'll be happy for now.

In about a year I'll probably get a good touring bike...then a folding bike...then a cyclocross...then a single speed...*goes insane*
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Old 02-18-09, 08:23 PM
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Looks like a good choice. And I thought the Jamis Commuter 3 has a Shimano Nexus internal 8-speed drivetrain, not a three-speed. At least the last few years models do have the 8.

Edit: I misread your post. I see now you were talking about the Breezer Citizen with regard to speeds, not the Jamis Commuter 3. Still looks like a good choice.

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Old 02-18-09, 08:28 PM
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I'd check your local KHS, Jamis or Fuji dealers. Since you were looking at Breezer, I'd guess you are looking for a more upright style of bike. You can ad fenders and racks to bikes that don't already have such things quite easily, so don't stress about those being included.

Your distance is fairly short, so bike selection is much more open than if you had to ride 15+ miles to work each way. I did a commute of similar distance on a cheapie dept. store bike for 4 years. If the commute is fairly flat and you're not in a hurry, I'd seriously consider the KHS Green, it's outfitted similarly to the Breezer Citizen, with a 3speed hub, fenders and a rack, but without the generator hub and lights, and the price is very reasonable. Moving up the speed range is the KHS Urban X, another bike that is already outfitted with fenders and rack, but has deraileur gearing. The KHS Urban Express will be faster still, but needs the fenders and racks added.

Jamis has a real wide selection of bikes that will fit your needs, basically anything in their Street line as well as many of their Sport Comfort bikes. I commute on a Jamis Coda, with fenders, and like it a lot. Similarly, Fuji has a number of models in their Lifestyle range that would be worth considering.
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Old 02-18-09, 10:09 PM
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+1 to getting a CL special. Ride that until you know what you hate about it, get the bike you want, and flip the clunker back on CL.

My only advice is to get a bike that takes at least 35mm tires, but it looks like the ones your considering are fine in that regard.

Good luck! Commuting on a bike is fun.
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Old 02-18-09, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by BTWriter View Post
Thanks for all the responses, guys. I read through them all and looked at the suggested bikes. Reading through the descriptions and comparing them really helped to get a better grasp on things.

I eventually decided on the Jamis Commuter 3...but then just as I was about to pull the trigger I did one more search for a Breezer Citizen and found a pretty sweet deal on Ebay.

It should be here in 3-8 business days.

From what I could tell the only real step down on it from most others is that it's only a 3 speed, but my route is pretty flat so I think I'll be happy for now.

In about a year I'll probably get a good touring bike...then a folding bike...then a cyclocross...then a single speed...*goes insane*

Hey congrats on yer purchase!! Of course we will require pics of the new steed once it arrives, dontchya know.
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Old 02-18-09, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by BTWriter View Post

In about a year I'll probably get a good touring bike...then a folding bike...then a cyclocross...then a single speed...*goes insane*
Hey, this one catches on fast!

Congrats on the purchase! Be sure when you get fenders to get big full fenders. Full coverage is very nice when it's sloppy out.
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Old 02-19-09, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by BTWriter View Post
The second shop was full of really friendly, helpful people, but they seemed pathologically incapable of considering anything less than 1200 dollars, particularly pointing to a Long Haul Trucker.
You're honestly going to have a problem shopping for NEW road bikes with a 900 all-inclusive budget. You can get a perfectly fine hybid bike like the Trek 7.2 FX for under $500, and other options for even less. New drop-bar (road) bikes tend to run more and are really going to stress your budget considerably.

I always point people towards the used market, but realize that it's even more overwhelming for a new rider than the already-complicated bike shop is. If you lived near me, I'd take you around, view and ride the different types of bikes, determine your size, and then help you find a used bike on Craigslist or ebay. If you can find someone near you that will do the same, I am confident that it's the best route to take.

Very few people manage to buy the "right" bike the first time out. Combine that with the fact that so many of them buy new and it's an even bigger loss when they decide to move on to something else. As others have said, I wouldn't even try to find the "perfect" bike the first time out.

On the bright side, your ride is relatively short. Most any bike you choose is going to get you where you're going. The Breezers are likely to break your budget. If that style appeals to you though, you could look at something like the Novara Transfer http://www.rei.com/product/774424, the Electra Amsterdam, something like the Schwinn pictured above, etc.
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As a final note, don't get too overwhelmed with the forum recommendations about all of the things you HAVE to buy. For example, I've been commuting daily for several years now on bikes without fenders and racks. I carry everything I need in a 14yr old camelback. I carry a fraction of the tools that many here use. Of course, my lights cost more than some people's bikes so we all pick our priorities.
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Old 02-19-09, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by BTWriter View Post

I eventually decided on the Jamis Commuter 3...but then just as I was about to pull the trigger I did one more search for a Breezer Citizen and found a pretty sweet deal on Ebay.

It should be here in 3-8 business days.

That was quick. That's what I get for writing a book without reading the whole thread. Glad you didn't stress over it too much before pulling the trigger.
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Old 02-19-09, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by BTWriter View Post
Thanks for all the responses, guys. I read through them all and looked at the suggested bikes. Reading through the descriptions and comparing them really helped to get a better grasp on things.

I eventually decided on the Jamis Commuter 3...but then just as I was about to pull the trigger I did one more search for a Breezer Citizen and found a pretty sweet deal on Ebay.

It should be here in 3-8 business days.

From what I could tell the only real step down on it from most others is that it's only a 3 speed, but my route is pretty flat so I think I'll be happy for now.

In about a year I'll probably get a good touring bike...then a folding bike...then a cyclocross...then a single speed...*goes insane*
Nothing wrong with a 3 speed if your terrain is pretty flat. I'm in Houston ride an '07 Specialized Sirrus most of the time. It's a 24 Speed, but guess what? I usually skip around on my 3 largest gears on the rear and my middle chain wheel on the front so I'm only using 3 ratios/speeds anyway. I also have a three speed Schwinn Town & Country Trike and 90% of the time on on "2" which is direct drive. Americans are obsessed with "more is better," which isn't always true.

Last edited by Sirrus Rider; 02-19-09 at 12:30 AM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 02-19-09, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by BTWriter View Post
Thanks for all the responses, guys. I read through them all and looked at the suggested bikes. Reading through the descriptions and comparing them really helped to get a better grasp on things.

I eventually decided on the Jamis Commuter 3...but then just as I was about to pull the trigger I did one more search for a Breezer Citizen and found a pretty sweet deal on Ebay.

It should be here in 3-8 business days.

From what I could tell the only real step down on it from most others is that it's only a 3 speed, but my route is pretty flat so I think I'll be happy for now.

In about a year I'll probably get a good touring bike...then a folding bike...then a cyclocross...then a single speed...*goes insane*
Good luck with your new bike.
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Old 02-19-09, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Get a used bike off Craigslist and ride it for a month-
That'll give you an idea of what you REALLY want.
+1. You might also consider finding a friend who has a bicycle that's gathering dust and borrowing it. The point, though, is that you really need to do some commuting to make the best decisions on gear. People who try to get the perfect gear right out of the gate, without having commuted a mile, are probably going to waste a bunch of money. If you don't have the money to waste, your research needs to be really good, and there's no research like saddle time.
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Old 02-19-09, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
+1. You might also consider finding a friend who has a bicycle that's gathering dust and borrowing it. The point, though, is that you really need to do some commuting to make the best decisions on gear. People who try to get the perfect gear right out of the gate, without having commuted a mile, are probably going to waste a bunch of money. If you don't have the money to waste, your research needs to be really good, and there's no research like saddle time.
Good advice, that.

I would also suggest you expand your search to include folding bikes. Go to the folding bikes forum and look at the thread entitled "flying pigeon" which is a surprisingly good folding bike that comes complete with fenders and rack and is cheap enough that you'll still have something like $750 left over for lights.
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