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Bike Suggestion? Planning to commute

Old 07-16-09, 07:58 AM
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bnovc
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Bike Suggestion? Planning to commute

I just moved closer to work (~2.5mi) and planned to start commuting. I've had a bike that ride occasionally for fun that I purchased at Wal-mart a long time ago, and is in awful shape now (shifting doesn't work right, rusty, handbar isn't centered, heavy, etc.).

I was thinking that I would try to buy a used bike, but I've had a hard time finding reviews, as there are so many brands and models. I was wondering if I could get some suggestions on where to buy / what brand /etc. It seems that I could get a bike that would be pretty nice for me for around $300, but I don't really know the difference between that and the more expensive bikes except weight.

Thanks!
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Old 07-16-09, 08:09 AM
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You can commute that distance on a wooden bike, so I wouldn't sweat it too much. The suggestion that I always make, and that everyone ignores, is to try and borrow a working bike from a friend who isn't using theirs. Just find something that's approximately the right size and start commuting. The experience of commuting is really the only thing that will teach you what you want and need in a commuting bike (and also the difference between the two), and anyone who tells you different is lying.
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Old 07-16-09, 02:16 PM
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try a thrift store (good will...). If you have a friend who can go with you, you may find a decent ride for pretty cheap.
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Old 07-16-09, 02:37 PM
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Thanks for the input. I unfortunately don't know many people with nice bikes in person.

I was thinking that maybe something like http://lawrence.craigslist.org/bik/1272062460.html would be sufficient and will try to find some used bike stores around town. I just didn't know what attributes to look for. The bike I linked looks nice but beyond riding it and seeing if it feels good, I don't know what to look for.
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Old 07-16-09, 02:52 PM
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one with wheels, tires, pedals, brakes, and a seat.





Other than that, its up to the rider as to what they like and how much they want to spend. I commute on an old 10spd from goodwill. Also have a mtn. bike I commut on occasionally.
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Old 07-16-09, 03:03 PM
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That looks like a decent bike to me. If it's in good shape, you're not gonna find anything new for purchase for that price that's really worth riding.

Trying some different types of rides out might be worth it, too. I was convinced I wanted a hybrid, but had never really ridden a road style bike with drop handlebars before. Now that I'm riding to work five days a week and occasionally doing longer rides on weekends, I sometimes wish I hadn't rushed into the purchase and had scoped out some used cyclocross/touring or even road bikes on craigslist or elsewhere. Now, given finances, I'm stuck with what I have for a while.

In any case, good luck with your bike selection and with getting into bike commuting! It's definitely a good move. It's great exercise, it's fun, it's (potentially) cheap, and now two of the brightest highlights of my day every day are my commute to work and my commute home. How many people can say that?
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Old 07-16-09, 03:20 PM
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EKW and lil brown hat basically said the same thing about trying bikes if you can, and I'll throw my hat in with them.

I commute on a hybrid, someone else I work with commutes on a road bike with a Lemond carbon fiber frame, another person rides a full suspension mountain bike, which are three completely different animals.

One thing about suspension forks, unless you're planning on hitting some really gnarly off road terrain, you really don't need them. If you're going with a new bike, don't get sucked into that trap just because the salesman told you they'd help.
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Old 07-16-09, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bnovc View Post
Thanks for the input. I unfortunately don't know many people with nice bikes in person.
You don't need a "nice bike". That's my point -- you don't have the experience at this point to know what a "nice bike" is. You don't know what's going to work best for you. The only way you'll figure that out is to get out there and ride, and you don't need a "nice bike" to do that.

If, on the other hand, you insist (as most people do) on figuring out what The Right Bike is before you set foot to pedal, you're pretty much guaranteed to get it wrong in some particular -- several, most likely. You'll spend money, maybe a significant chunk, buying something whose shortcomings will become apparent within six months of actual riding at the outside. Note that the "shortcomings" I'm talking about are completely personal: a shortcoming for me isn't a shortcoming for you, and vice versa. No matter how much research you do on the interwebs, you will waste your money. You'll probably end up with something that isn't totally unusable, but it won't be the bike you really want. Get a bike and ride it. Get some miles under your wheels, and use that to figure out what a "nice bike" is.
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Old 07-16-09, 03:36 PM
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I heard somewhere that the purpose of a first bike is to show what you want in the next one.
The most important thing is the frame and making sure that it fits. Every thing else can be changed.
My bike is a perfect example of this.
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Old 07-16-09, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
Get a bike and ride it. Get some miles under your wheels, and use that to figure out what a "nice bike" is.
I agree with lil brown. That's why I recommend fixing up the Walmart beater that you have now, and riding it to work while you figure out what you want. You may even be able to save some money during that time so your budget is more than $300.
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Old 07-16-09, 09:09 PM
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Good commuting site

If you're just getting started, here's a site with lots of good practical commuting advice.

http://www.biketoledo.net
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Old 07-16-09, 11:22 PM
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Poke around the Repair section at parktool.com and peruse the videos at bicycletutor.com , putting some effort into your current bike and learning as much as you can about fixing it.

I'll bet you can make it rideable. That way, you won't be so dependent on a shop to fix any little thing that happens (I've seen people walk into my neighborhood shop saying, "My brakes don't work right...", and it's merely a five-minute adjustment to fix them).
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Old 07-17-09, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
Poke around the Repair section at parktool.com and peruse the videos at bicycletutor.com , putting some effort into your current bike and learning as much as you can about fixing it.

I'll bet you can make it rideable. That way, you won't be so dependent on a shop to fix any little thing that happens (I've seen people walk into my neighborhood shop saying, "My brakes don't work right...", and it's merely a five-minute adjustment to fix them).
For someone who's never worked on bikes, this could take weeks of trial and effort, of collecting tools, etc. It's good to do, but in this case, I think the Schwinn road bike the OP linked to would be a fine start.

Then, once he has a reliable bike for daily use, set about repairing the old bike so he can pick up the skills he'll need to maintain his daily ride. He'll need to get a patch kit or two, some Allen wrenches, pliers, maybe a chain splitter and some spoke wrenches. Lubes, greases, etc. For me, it wasn't all that long ago that I started working on my own bike, and I remember being so often frustrated, running out to the store, picking up the wrong thing, running back... it's definitely a good learning experience, but I'm glad I got a good bike right up front so I didn't have to let all that prevent me from getting started with my commute.
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Old 07-17-09, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by abxba View Post
I agree with lil brown. That's why I recommend fixing up the Walmart beater that you have now, and riding it to work while you figure out what you want. You may even be able to save some money during that time so your budget is more than $300.
+100.

Ride until you know what really annoys you and what you like. If the bike is beyond hope, try this: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...grav_dutch.htm

I had one for a year as a "starter bike" It was MORE than adequate. I only got rid of it because I have enough money to get something nicer and like toys. It got passed on to my brother in law who is still in college. I got a Trek 2.3.
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Old 07-17-09, 09:21 AM
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make sure you are fitted to your bike
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Old 07-17-09, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
You don't need a "nice bike". That's my point -- you don't have the experience at this point to know what a "nice bike" is. You don't know what's going to work best for you. The only way you'll figure that out is to get out there and ride, and you don't need a "nice bike" to do that.

If, on the other hand, you insist (as most people do) on figuring out what The Right Bike is before you set foot to pedal, you're pretty much guaranteed to get it wrong in some particular -- several, most likely. You'll spend money, maybe a significant chunk, buying something whose shortcomings will become apparent within six months of actual riding at the outside. Note that the "shortcomings" I'm talking about are completely personal: a shortcoming for me isn't a shortcoming for you, and vice versa. No matter how much research you do on the interwebs, you will waste your money. You'll probably end up with something that isn't totally unusable, but it won't be the bike you really want. Get a bike and ride it. Get some miles under your wheels, and use that to figure out what a "nice bike" is.

Sticky this.
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Old 07-17-09, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bnovc View Post
Thanks for the input. I unfortunately don't know many people with nice bikes in person.

I was thinking that maybe something like http://lawrence.craigslist.org/bik/1272062460.html would be sufficient and will try to find some used bike stores around town. I just didn't know what attributes to look for. The bike I linked looks nice but beyond riding it and seeing if it feels good, I don't know what to look for.
You're from / in Lawrence, KS? You can just about walk anyplace in Lawrence. Yah, something like that'd be more than nice enough, just get on it, see if it more or less fits... then take it to one of the shops for a tune up... you might check out Re Cyclery (which is just off of Mass I believe) as they "specialize" in used and refurbished bikes.

Toss your stuff in a back pack or messenger bag and go... later, if you want, get a rack and basket or pannier... but I'd worry about that later as 2.5 miles really isn't that far (like I said, you could walk it in a pinch)

PS - I lived in Lawrence for 5+ years while getting my degree and my early days of being married / working, so I'm fairly familiar with the town. GREAT place for a bike.

PPS - I have to echo what brown bat said, the more you ride the more you'll figure out what "nice bike" means TO YOU... and that's all taht matters.

PPPS - FWIW, Lawrence would also a great town for rolling on a single speed... aka, if your bike doesn't shift easy, you could put get it into a mid-ish range gear and leave it there. Yah, there's a couple of nasty hills you might want to push it up (if you're heading to campus)... or weave back and forth down a couple of different streets to wind your way up, but t doesn't take much going out of your way to get a flat commute.
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Old 07-17-09, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
For someone who's never worked on bikes, this could take weeks of trial and effort, of collecting tools, etc. It's good to do, but in this case, I think the Schwinn road bike the OP linked to would be a fine start.
On the other hand, "rideable" to me means that it'll at least shift and brake, and odds are that it'll just need cleaning and some work with a couple screwdrivers and a set of metric Allen wrenches (which should be part of everyone's household toolbox anyway). Maybe he can make use of a spoke tool and true the wheels, too; if it's easy enough for me to learn, it ain't that hard.

But anyway, my standards for a rideable bike are pretty low. If, for example, the FD is so screwed up that it can't shift to all three chainrings, I just tighten down the limit screws so it just uses two (or even one). I have a bunch of tools now, and am only a few away from being able to strip a frame in my apartment, but just a minitool has been enough to tighten down some rental bikes I've used in the past for weeks at a time.

Then, once he gets a used bike, he'll be that much farther ahead, knowing what to look for and how to fix it.
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Old 07-17-09, 10:45 AM
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That Schwinn looks like a good deal. Get it, if it fits, and keep/fix up your old wally world bike too - then you not only have a backup bike but can get some experience doing routine maintenance and repairs.
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Old 07-17-09, 11:56 AM
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Look around in the Classic & Vintage section and see what bikes people prefer there, and pick up one of those. Basically, any mid-to-late lugged frame 4130 bike with decent components (Suntour was still the big name then) should work well for you. Make sure there is no frame damage, shifting is relatively smooth, and the rims are pretty straight. The rest is simple maintenance.
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Old 07-17-09, 12:25 PM
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Actually, I'm in Overland Park now, but it is close enough to buy in Lawrence, and I still go there frequently anyway.

Thanks to everyone for their advice
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