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Looking to get into bike commuting, (larger person) will this bike work for me? Tampa

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Looking to get into bike commuting, (larger person) will this bike work for me? Tampa

Old 07-11-10, 08:25 PM
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GoUSF
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Looking to get into bike commuting, (larger person) will this bike work for me? Tampa

Hello everyone, new here. I am in the Tampa area and wanted to start driving my bike to work. I like about 5 miles from my job by car but due to highway rules and all, I will be doing 10 miles, a little bit of sidewalk on a busy street, and then I am thinking of doing neighborhoods the rest of the way (I could do more highway but I’m not sure the sidewalk situation) and possibly some off-roading.


Another concern I don’t see addressed often on the pages I have been researching, is there a concern with being exposed to the car fumes so much? We are looking at about a 45 minute drive.

So anyway my questions. I am 330 lbs, so I read there are some issued with bikes holding someone of my size up, I have rode on this bike a decent amount before but nothing to the amount I would be if I begin commuting. I am wondering if this bike will work, or I should get something else. I would like to try to use this bike as it was my brothers so its got some sentimental attachment to it, I spent about $90 on getting it back to working condition about 2 years ago, but since then the handle bar has weird play in it, like I can make it go up and down a little bit, unfortunately I cant figure out how to fix it. but please give me some thoughts. I do need new tires I think because when I inflate them after a few hours they are flat again. I don’t mind putting a little more money into this bike if I can make it a bike to suit my needs, again its mainly sentimentality that I am holding onto it. if I would be better off getting a new bike I can look at that too. I do know I need to get a more comfortable seat, this one is pretty uncomfortable.








And if anyone is reading this from Tampa, I am driving form the Hillsborough ave/Memorial Highway area to the West shore mall district.

Last edited by GoUSF; 07-15-10 at 08:52 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 07-11-10, 09:38 PM
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hello and welcome to bike forums. congrats on your interest in bike commuting. you might also try the "Clydesdales" forum for heavier folks like us.

I was a bit over 300# when I started commuting by bike, now down about 25# from there. I don't think your weight should cause the tires to lose pressure that fast; you probably just need a couple of new tubes ($5 apiece).

not sure about the seat, but I would have a friend or a local bike store look at the stem if you can.

as for the fumes, I do find that annoying but have not found an alternative. it does remind me to "take the lane" instead of sitting just behind them to the right. my commute is an hour each way and I haven't felt any impact of the fumes over the last half year.
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Old 07-11-10, 11:32 PM
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Your bike is fine to start with. Over time you will want to get some slicks on the tire. For the handlebars take it to a lbs, while your there get a tune up for it. Seats are very personal so you will have to play them to find the one you like.

Congratulations on choosing to drive your bike instead of your car to work.
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Old 07-11-10, 11:48 PM
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An old, rigid (no suspension) mountain bike is a great place to start for a commuter. Like the above poster said, slap some slick tires on it, tune it up, and you're ready to roll. Your handlebar issue sounds like a stem problem - I see yours is adjustable, but a non-adjustable replacement shouldn't cost you more that 10-20 dollars. Then again, maybe the bolt is stripped or the handlebar and stem aren't properly matched size-wise. A shim would solve that problem. Having your LBS check it out for you is a good idea - it's a safety issue. As for saddles, in many cases you get what you pay for and that bike has a cheap one. Don't fall into the "wide-load" trap; I'm a Clyde myself and I ditched the comfort saddle that came with my bike for a Terry Liberator Y. It took a few days to get used to it but I find it very comfortable now. Also, its narrower profile means no more chafing on my inner thighs and I can get a more efficient pedal stroke. There are many similar saddles available so take a look at what your LBS has in stock, or you can order one online. I decided on the Terry by reading saddle threads here and I suggest you do the same for any component that you're considering for an upgrade.

Welcome to the fold - enjoy your commute!

Oh, and I second checking out the Clydesdales & Athenas forum. It's the friendliest place on BF (although Commuting is a close second)!

Last edited by irclean; 07-11-10 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 07-12-10, 09:07 AM
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As said before, but some bigger slick tires on it with new tubes, say in the 1.75 to 2" range. Older steel mountain bikes with hold up very well, I'm 235 lbs. Your stem is a girvin suspension stem, it's supposed to move. It's probably from the mid 80's. You might get some money for it from e-bay. A new one should not be much money.
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Old 07-12-10, 09:42 AM
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A quick check on spoke tension in both wheels would be time (or money) well spent, and yet another vote for a set of slicks (1.75-2"), a rigid stem and a decent saddle.

That is a great bike - a keeper for sure.
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Old 07-12-10, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
As said before, but some bigger slick tires on it with new tubes, say in the 1.75 to 2" range. Older steel mountain bikes with hold up very well, I'm 235 lbs. Your stem is a girvin suspension stem, it's supposed to move. It's probably from the mid 80's. You might get some money for it from e-bay. A new one should not be much money.
Oh, is that what it is? I thought it was just an adjustable stem. My bad. That's why I love BF; there's always someone here who knows more than me! I've had my bacon saved more than once by other, more knowledgeable members!
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Old 07-12-10, 04:04 PM
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Don't cheap out on the inner tubes; even the expensive ones are less than ten bucks a tube. So get a good name brand.

As with all new commutes, I recommend making the trip first over the weekend or on a day off, so you aren't combining getting a feel for the commute under time pressure.

In general, a mtn bike with good quality slicks is a solid urban commuter.

Do you have a lot of stuff to carry? It may be worth buying a rear rack and some folding baskets to take weight off of your shoulders and help your back stay less sweaty. It may also be worth picking up fenders to protect your clothing from road grit on damp roads.
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Old 07-12-10, 08:29 PM
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Thanks so much guys!

So the handle bars are suppsoed to have "Play" in them like it can go up and down a little? what is the purpose of it?

What are slicks?

So whats the consensus here, the hard shell or a nice cushy shell?

I will do the tension thingy mentioned as well. I am not sure as to the date of the bike, I just know it was my brothers and he used to love riding it.

So the bike should support my weight then good to know.

As to cargo. I plan to get a under seat bag for the emergecny gear I have heard of around here. (Spare tres and such)

Everyday I carry a Backpack and a Gym Bag can I buy like a rack for the back of my bike the gym bag coudl fit on?

so on to clothes, Im not to concerned as I will be wearing gym clothes, taking a shower when I get to work then lettting my gym clothes air dry until about 2 when I workout. (I might end up needing to pack an extra set of gym clothes lol. and my back pack has a cest strap/aist strap suspension system, but your point about the backsweat is a valid one as well.

Would putting fenders on this make it look weird? or the rack for that matter? or are these things easily removeable should I want to go offroading?

Do slicks allow offroading at all?

Someone said not to cheap out on the tubes, what are some good brands to look for?

Thanks!!

Also where can I pick up some mirrors? I hear they are invaluable to have .. should I look at some new handlebars?
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Old 07-12-10, 09:27 PM
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To answer your question about slicks, it is just a generic term for non-knobby tires. There is quite a variety of types available, some with no treads at all and others with quite a bit of bite. Since you're considering wide slicks (1.75"+), anything with even a little bit of tread will perform fine on hard packed gravel trails.

Go the LBS for your mirrors. The department store mirrors typically don't protrude far enough to be useful. A lot of people like the helmet mount type.
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Old 07-12-10, 10:37 PM
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The moving stem is supposed to act like a suspension. It makes going over obstacles a little easier.

A lot of people put fenders and racks on their bikes for commuting but not everybody. Fenders keep you and the bike cleaner when the roads are wet. A rack gives you some additional options for carrying things.

I leave the fenders off my bike for the summer. I do have a rack on my bike now but didn't for years. A minor snowboarding injury that affected my shoulders and back just wasn't healing completely so I opted to ditch the messenger bag and use panniers for the time being. I sweat regardless so my back being extra sweaty doesn't bother me.

As far as fumes go, there's been a lot of discussion about this and it's not clear whether cyclists in general are exposed to more or less pollutants. Some will say it's the same, others will say that since you're breathing heavier, you're taking in more pollutants. I've also heard some evidence that suggests that breathing harder causes you to expel some of the pollutants that would have otherwise remained in your system.

In my case, a significant portion of my route is off the streets. Even when I'm on the roads I generally avoid areas that have heavy traffic. I'm not too worried about it. When I drive to work, I spend a lot of time stuck directly behind another car or bus. That's not as common on my bike though it does happen.

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Old 07-12-10, 10:56 PM
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Congrats on deciding to commute via bike! I know not everybody in the world will have the same results, but for me deciding to start biking my commute was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I have thought a lot about the issue of fumes. What I came up with is: even if you are in your car you will be breathing in fumes. If you're riding your bike it's true that you will be breathing heavier (which is worse) but the added health benefit way more than offsets it (there's a body of evidence to support this... Cyclists tend to live longer than people who don't exercise obviously and this is true even in urban areas). Also, during rush hour around here it's actually faster to ride a bike which means less exposure to fumes.

And finally: the more people bike it in the less fumes are an issue, so I decided that if I'm going to be the change I want to see I just had to bite the bullet and go for it.

EDIT: since I've been biking my cardio health feels so much better the idea of quitting biking due to fumes seems laughable to me now. Once again: your results may vary of course.

Last edited by Dean7; 07-12-10 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 07-12-10, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by GoUSF View Post
...Would putting fenders on this make it look weird? or the rack for that matter? or are these things easily removeable should I want to go offroading?...
Does this look weird to you?



Slick tires, riser bars (for a more upright seating position), fenders, rack, pannier, bell, etc. It's solid commuter and IMHO it looks like one. Serving duty now as my committed toddler hauler with a bike seat on the back. I wouldn't hesitate to take it on packed gravel or crushed limestone, but for singletrack I would definitely switch out the tires for some knobbies. And as long as there was clearance I would leave the fenders on; why get covered in mud if you don't have to (except as a badge of honor, of course)?
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Old 07-13-10, 07:56 AM
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I just bought a great "commuter" style puncture resistant 26" tire for my beater bike at Wal-Mart for $25 (it is a "slick"). That is half what you would pay in a bike shop. Your proposed bike is a great starter kit. Give it six months and when you find you are hooked, go visit a real bike shop and spend some real cash on a real bike. If you can afford to spend the cash, the upgrade will be stunning to you after riding for six months on your beginner bike (at least, that was my experience).

Fenders are a requirement as riding home in Florida in the Summer means riding home in the rain at least two or three times a week. Make sure your backpack is waterproof, or pack your gear in a "wet bag" before you put it in the backpack (this will also keep it dry from your back sweat).

I used to live on W Hillsborough (just West of the Veterans Expwy) and I work at the International Mall. Hillsborough Ave is a great road to ride on because it has a 4 foot wide shoulder so you can ride on it both ways. Going into work, go East on Hillsborough Ave all the way to Lois. Make a right on Lois and it ends at Hillsborough Community College (HCC). Instead of Lois you might consider Westshore on the East side of the airport - that road used to be unrideable do to extremely narrow pavement, potholes, steep drop offs on the shoulder, and bumper to bumper commuter cars rushing to get to work. But they repaved it after I moved away and it might be better now. Check it out by car and see if it is better now. Lois is a little better because it is slightly less traveled, has a lower speed limit and a couple of lights which slow down the traffic.

Either way you come out at HCC and there is a very wide sidewalk you can ride past HCC. The sidewalk disappears at the police station just a block short of Dale Mabry. Take to the road when it is clear. It is a short distance but it is full of cars rushing to get on Dale Mabry, so sometimes you have to stop and wait for the road to clear before you take the lane. There is a narrow but rarely used sidewalk along Dale Mabry until you reach Boy Scout. Normally I would say never use a sidewalk but this one has no cross streets or entrances and is rarely occupied, so it is safe to bike and and you can go as fast as you want.

Make a right on Boy Scout and use the road for the half a mile to the first traffic light at the Corporate Centers, where you can make a right and ride through and the International Mall on a 25 mile speed limit road with four lanes.

When coming back the other way for that half mile section of Boy Scout, I would go off road and ride in the grass on the left but watch for potholes - a couple of years ago they dug holes along the road to bury cable and a year later the holes were still there, covered with grass. Nice little hazards.

During the Bucs football season they open up a parking lot with an entrance along this section of Boy Scout. When that is open you can take it as a shortcut - it goes from Boy Scout all the way to HCC so you can avoid Dale Mabry entirely. It cuts almost half of your offroad ride in the grass.

From the International Mall you can ride Westshore South. There is a sidewalk but I wouldn't recommend it because there are so many side entrances into business parking lots that in this case, the sidewalk would be more dangerous than the road, unless you ride it at walking speed - 5 MPH. My advice would be to ride in the road and claim the lane. That stretch of Westshore is nasty, but there isn't much better in the way of alternatives. I ride Lois South past Kennedy every day on my way down to Gandy Blvd to ride to St Pete. If you work on Cypress, you could ride Lois to Cypress and go right on Cypress, but Cypress is not much better than Westshore. I would try both routes and see which feels better.

Also, I would recommend you read this article:

https://www.floridabicycle.org/freedomfromfear.html
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Old 07-13-10, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Dean7 View Post
If you're riding your bike it's true that you will be breathing heavier (which is worse)
Actually, you have that backwards. When you breath heavily, the bigger effort is in expelling air. In other words, when you breathe, you don't suck air in - you push air out. The lungs inflate naturally when relaxed. Of course when breathing heavily you are both pulling and pushing air, but the push is much faster and therefore higher pressure than the pull. The end result is you are cleaning your lungs!
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Old 07-13-10, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by pharasz View Post

Also, I would recommend you read this article:

https://www.floridabicycle.org/freedomfromfear.html
Excellent article, I have someone in mind that will get a lot out of this. Good find.
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Old 07-13-10, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by pharasz View Post
Actually, you have that backwards. When you breath heavily, the bigger effort is in expelling air. In other words, when you breathe, you don't suck air in - you push air out. The lungs inflate naturally when relaxed. Of course when breathing heavily you are both pulling and pushing air, but the push is much faster and therefore higher pressure than the pull. The end result is you are cleaning your lungs!
But wouldn't the total amount of air in/out be higher?
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Old 07-13-10, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Dean7 View Post
But wouldn't the total amount of air in/out be higher?
Sure,I suppose you're taking in more noxious gases, but you're expelling with more force than inhaling, so the lungs expel any particulates, and an active person ends up with cleaner lungs than a sedentary person.

About ten years ago I read about a study done comparing the lungs of urban runners to their sedentary counterparts in a highly polluted city. I don't remember the details, but the findings were that the runners had significantly cleaner lungs than sedentary people. The conclusion of the researches was that this was explained by the fact that the lungs expel air at a higher pressure than when they intake.

As other posters suggest, if you live in a polluted area, you're going to breathe that air whether you are in your car or on your bike. Research I've read suggests you're better off on the bike.
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Old 07-13-10, 12:16 PM
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Well, my own personal experience seems to support this as well so it makes sense to me. Maybe I'll try to dig up some studies on it.
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Old 07-13-10, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by pharasz View Post
I just bought a great "commuter" style puncture resistant 26" tire for my beater bike at Wal-Mart for $25 (it is a "slick"). That is half what you would pay in a bike shop.
I just bought a pair of 26" panaracer pasela's, a good commuter tire that's well respected both in my experience and here on the forums, for $32/tire from a bike shop. I don't know for sure if a bike tire from walmart would be dependable and whether the "puncture resistant" part is valid or just marketing, but even "is a tire from walmart really decent" thoughts aside, it's not twice as expensive.
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Old 07-13-10, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by pharasz View Post
Actually, you have that backwards. When you breath heavily, the bigger effort is in expelling air. In other words, when you breathe, you don't suck air in - you push air out. The lungs inflate naturally when relaxed. Of course when breathing heavily you are both pulling and pushing air, but the push is much faster and therefore higher pressure than the pull. The end result is you are cleaning your lungs!
As a third year Respiratory Therapy student currently working in a clinical placement I must disagree with you. Lungs deflate naturally when relaxed. To inspire one must contract the diaphragm, which is a skeletal muscle and therefore acts like your bicep (i.e. the muscle fibers become shorter as they contract), the diaphragm then flattens and the resulting negative pressure created in the thorax draws air into the lungs through the upper airway. If lungs inflated naturally then people who experience chest trauma (e.g. a puncture or pneumothorax) would not suffer a collapsed lung... it would explode instead.

You are correct in stating that the higher pressure is created during exhalation. It is not, however, due to the "push" being faster; again it is due to inspiration creating negative pressure and expiration creating positive pressure. During normal breathing exhalation always takes longer than inhalation. Visit your local pulmonary function lab for a spirometry test for proof of this.

Breathing heavier (or more correctly, deeper) draws both clean air and pollutants down into the more sensitive lung fields (where gas exchange with the blood takes place) and can therefore lead to lung damage. This explains why many long-term smokers develop chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema. People who work in polluted environments and/or are exposed to airborne pollutants on a regular basis run similar risks. That being said, I don't' think the OP is in much danger of suffering lung damage from exhaust fumes during his commute IMHO. The long-term benefits gained by bicycle commuting far outweigh the risks; the lungs and breathing muscles will become stronger and the lung's natural cleaning mechanisms will work more efficiently.

As a wise person once said, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

So ends today's lesson.

Last edited by irclean; 07-13-10 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 07-14-10, 10:53 AM
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Irclean: So I was partially correct in my conclusions but completely wrong in my supporting explanations.

When swimming my inspiration is much faster than my expiration, but I always thought that was just because I had less time to inhale than I had to exhale, so I had to gasp quickly for air and then breathe it out slowly while taking a stroke.

Thanks for the education. This is why I love bike forums!
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Old 07-14-10, 11:00 AM
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Congratulations on making the choice to commute by bike!

As far as the automobile fumes go, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Sure you are breathing harder than in the car, but in the car you are right in the exhaust stream the entire time. Selecting a bike route a few blocks from the busy streets will probably be your best bet to mitigate any concerns.

I think your rigid (no suspension) mt. bike will make a great commuter for now. If you find you really dig it, you can look into a dedicated commuter that suits your style and need for speed. Me? I ride an 8 speed cruiser bike with a coffe cup holder, ipod speaker, bell, generator hub, front and rear racks, front and rear lights, full fenders, chain guard, leather mud flaps, and ironcloth panniers! Lightweight and Fast? um no. But I'm not RACING anyone here. This is my stress management time and I enjoy it the best I can.

For a true mixed use bike, I think the key is to use clamp on commuter stuff. You can get a clamp on rear seat post rear rack. Get one with the drop down metal bars on the sides to keep your pannier or bags out of the spokes. You can get snap on/clamp on/strap on fenders and splash guards too. Attach your rear blinky light to the rear rack and get a headlight that is easy to attach and remove from your handlebars.
Tires will be a compromise. Slicks or semi-slicks will get you to work faster, but they won't be as good as an off-pavement tire in the dirt there. The good news is that there are some knobbies that roll surprisingly well and are not all that much heavier than slicks or semi slicks. I noticed that my WTB Velociraptor front tire rolled along quite well on pavement and still worked great in the dirt.
Now when you are ready to go mt. biking it is a matter of minutes to remove the fenders, lights, and rack to get you back into mt. bike mode.
I've ridden my cross country race bike to work with a clamp on rack. After work I simply removed the rear rack and went on a serious mt. bike ride. returned to the office, clamped the rear rack back on and commuted back to the house. Easy.

As far as your clydsedale status and the bike's ability to hold up reliability, I wouldn't worry about that at all I mean come on, we jump(ed) these same mt. bikes off of 4 foot loading docks all the time, right?! Want to avoid trouble none-the-less? Go to a bike shop and check the spoke tension on the higher end mt. bikes with your fingers. Go home and compare that with how loose your spokes feel on your own vintage steel steed. A well tensioned wheel will go a long way towards keeping your machine reliable. The only other thing you may want to do is to get a fairly fancy pants mt. bike chain to increase reliability under the additional stress/power. Simply avoiding "cross chaining" (little front cog, little back cog, or big front cog, big back cog) will also go a long way to prevent chain failure.

Try using Google Maps to find a good route, try it out on a weekend, then start posting up about how fun your commute is!
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Old 07-14-10, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by pharasz View Post
Irclean: So I was partially correct in my conclusions but completely wrong in my supporting explanations.

When swimming my inspiration is much faster than my expiration, but I always thought that was just because I had less time to inhale than I had to exhale, so I had to gasp quickly for air and then breathe it out slowly while taking a stroke.

Thanks for the education. This is why I love bike forums!
You're welcome. BTW my knowledge on most things (including bicycles) is inversely proportional to my knowledge of the respiratory system. Therefore I am constantly being corrected here. Joining this forum has certainly been educational!
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Old 07-15-10, 07:40 AM
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Thanks so much to everyone!! I had no idea I would get some inside information from a local on the best route to take as well, that was way more info then I was hoping to get!!


I have a lot to think about here.. I guess my first order of business is to make sure my spokes can handle my weight and get some slicks as you all call them. Now the route Pharasz mentioned to me had a little bit of off-road time in it, so would I be better off going semi-slick?

The day I move to the new place is fast approaching and I am getting more and more excited bout this.

Pharasz btw if you have anymore to add to your already amazing information on the route I should take, I will be living at Hillsborough/Memorial intersection driving to The office building where the Intercontinental hotel is located 4830 W Kennedy.

Any old faithful LBS you like in this area? I noticed your in St. Pete so I wouldn’t know, if you don’t mind maybe you can give me some yay/nay on any places around here.

Spoke testing as I understand it, I’m just gonna "feel by comparison" the spokes on their newer bikes vs my tires? Is that it or is there more to this? and what do I do if they are loose, are my tires ruined or can these be fixed?

My mother mentioned to me when she began researching the bike that in production this bike had special tires, and she said its possible the guys I had fix it to get it back to "roadworthy status" ($90) may have taken the special tires off. I know 0 about bikes at this point outside of how to ride them, so is this something that is possible or ever happens or were the tires really nothing to get excited about anyway?

Someone mentioned a good chain, the chain on here should be fairly new but how will I know if it handles the stresses of a 10 mile commute? I can take some closeups of the chain if that will help you all.

Thanks again for all the assistance so far!

Last edited by GoUSF; 07-15-10 at 08:48 AM. Reason: spelling
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