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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Bike Recommendation.

Old 07-17-10, 11:39 AM
  #1  
commuting123
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Bike Recommendation.

I just need a simple bike recommendation. You can recommend a model, but it's probably better to recommend me a type or forward me some kind of link.

I am a 20 year old college student. I'm not a bike enthusiast, nor am I super athletic...just healthy. I'm looking to start biking to my classes (especially since I totaled my car XD), but class is about 2.5 miles(4km) to my apartment.

The terrain is kinda hilly here. Usually not any super steep hills, but they're are basically big gradual hills everywhere.


I know nothing about bikes. Hardly anything about gear ratios and such so I am looking for information, links and recommendations on buying a bicycle and commuting on hilly terrain.


My budget is tight, I am just commuting to school so I'm looking for a comfortable ride.

Thank you.

*Update* Added Info:
I am 20 year male. I myself am small, 5'4" (164cm) about 125lb in weight (I wear like a size 26"-28" pants if that helps you picture how small I am).

Living near downtown Raleigh, NC. (roads, slightly hill, slightly populated..between 1-2million people in the area).

Last edited by commuting123; 07-17-10 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 07-17-10, 12:35 PM
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Take a look online here ...
https://www.bikesdirect.com/
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Old 07-17-10, 01:12 PM
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My advice, FWIW, is to go used for your first bike. An older, rigid (no supension) MTB is a great start. Too many people buy a new bike thinking that it's just what they want, only to suffer buyer's remorse a month later. I'm speaking from experience here, BTW. Find a bike and take it to a reputable LBS (local bike shop) and have them tune it up. Slap on some slick tires, fenders, a rack, and some lights and presto... you're a bicycle commuter! Here's an example of what I'm taking about:

Before



After

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Old 07-17-10, 03:05 PM
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Ok. To add some more info

Budget: looking to spend around $200-250
Max: Around $400ish

I'm looking for a comfortable easy ride. (so I imagine I probably want raised handlebars) Only using this for a commute to school.


I'm more looking on recommendations of things to look for in choosing such a bike to make the ride comfortable. Like tire type, wheel size, gears, brakes, etc...
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Old 07-17-10, 04:43 PM
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In your budget range, you are probably better off looking for a good used bicycle. What city are you in or near? Craigslist and local classifieds are a good start, but it helps to know a bit about quality versus junk.

By all means, I'd say you are better with a $250 1980's or 90's bike than you'd be with a brand new Wal-mart bike.

The main option for new bikes in your budget is sight unseen mail order (such as bikesdirect). As it has been mentioned, you would need to assemble this yourself (easy if you have basic mechanical skills) or budget time and money for a shop to do it ($75 or more).
Here are some samples of offerings from BD:

This one https://bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott_wt5.htm is slightly out of your stated range but would be a solid bike.

This one is closer to your budget, and might offer the needed blend of comfort, style and efficiency: https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...fe_latte_x.htm

If even more comfort is your desire, this one https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...e_express8.htm has an 8 speed internal hub and a more upright "cafe" style.
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Old 07-17-10, 05:06 PM
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Someone posted on the Hybrid forum about an amazingly good $200 bike at Walmart a couple of days ago. Usually chain store bikes are deadly, but this is apparently a re-branded Specialized bike that normally costs around $400. You might want to go there and look for the thread or ask. Oh - and Walmart were giving a 30 day money back period or something like that.

Otherwise, an old rigid MTB with slicks can be a great choice.

General advice:

- Good 32 to 38mm tyres can be fast and comfortable

- If you have hills to deal, get a bike with a triple chainring.

That Walmart special aside, spending $250 to get a safe bike usually means buying used.
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Old 07-17-10, 05:09 PM
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Ok. Thank you. Craigslist is a good idea. I've been looking there too, I just wanna make sure the bicycle I choose is gonna be a good one.

I've never rode a bicycle with the low, dropped handlebars ...only your typical walmart ones with the handlebars straight out... I really don't care about the height of the handlebars as long as it's not an uncomfortable ride to school. (i will probably be carrying a backpack with my laptop and a notebook).

keep any recommendations coming! Always good to have more opinions and advice!


Ok so to add some more info then:
I live in Raleigh, NC. (fairly large city; 1-2 million people)
I'm a 20year old male. Very small. I'm 5'4" (164cm) and only about 125lb.
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Old 07-17-10, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
Someone posted on the Hybrid forum about an amazingly good $200 bike at Walmart a couple of days ago. Usually chain store bikes are deadly, but this is apparently a re-branded Specialized bike that normally costs around $400. You might want to go there and look for the thread or ask. Oh - and Walmart were giving a 30 day money back period or something like that.

Otherwise, an old rigid MTB with slicks can be a great choice.

General advice:

- Good 32 to 38mm tyres can be fast and comfortable

- If you have hills to deal, get a bike with a triple chainring.

That Walmart special aside, spending $250 to get a safe bike usually means buying used.
Could you link to the Walmart bike thread? I just looked on the hybrid forum, and I can't find that thread.
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Old 07-17-10, 05:37 PM
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Like others mentioned check craigslist or yardsales. I think the early 90's mountain bikes (fully rigid) are a good place to start. If you can bring a friend who is knowledgeable is a good idea. You might also want to check out your local book store or browse online about bike maintenance. Many of them have a section on what to look for when purchasing a used bike. More importantly test ride as many bikes as you can. Maybe even take notes on items such as "felt stretched out or felt cramped, didn't shift smoothly, felt heavy or slow, etc...". This will give you a frame of reference when looking at other bikes. If you tell us more about your height, inseam (not pant), weight, and area you are looking at some of us maybe able to help more.
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Old 07-17-10, 06:02 PM
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I posted the information already, but also just added it to the top post.


What kind of tires should I get? Skinny tires? size? types of breaks (I could have to come to a stop at the bottom of a hill), etc...
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Old 07-17-10, 09:16 PM
  #11  
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Any bicycle can be used for commuting, and your own choice will depend a great deal on your riding style and needs.

Sizing is very important. your inseam / stand over is the first dimension to consider, and your torso length / arm length will be factors as well.

Generally speaking, though, features that are generally considered beneficial for commuting by bicycle (exception, racing-oriented riders who will desire more performance)
- durability rather than lightness
- The ability to install fenders and racks
- good brakes (any type will do, but quality is beneficial)
- puncture resistant tires that offer good control and comfort rain or shine. Most non-racing types will opt for tires 28-38mm wide with slick or semi-slick tread.
There are so many variables.
Drop bar or flat bar? personal choice for sure. Drop bars offer more hand positions, flat bars tend to promote a more stable riding "feel" in more conditions.

Anyway, test ride a variety of bicycles at your local bike shop to get a sense of what style you feel most at home on. Let them know you are looking for a reasonably priced bike for commuting.

A quick peruse through craigslist in your area:
https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1848564719.html sporty road bike, narrow (25mm) tires - more of a racing bike than a commuter, but a solid value for the price. If the frame would allow 28mm tires, you could throw on some "roadie" type fenders that mount to the stays, and use a backpack or seat post rack. This type of bike would likely feel "nervous" and not as comfortable as, say, a hybrid or mountain bike.

Ads like this https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1848439774.html can be a dead end or a "barn find" (great bike that has been in someon'es garage for 30 years). Unless you have a friend who knows what to look for, I'd avoid ads like these.

Heres a very strong candidate. https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1848171060.html You'd possibly want another saddle, and would probably want to give it a good once over (maintenance inspection at a bike shop) to assess what needs to be replaced. Common candidates: brake pads, chain, rear cassette. All manageable. If the sidewalls of the tires are dry/cracked, you'll want new tires. All in all, this is a great possibility.

Singlespeed mountain bike that could do double duty (short commute plus fun bike on the trails) https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1847797114.html The gentler gear ratio would probably be manageable on your long, low grade hills.

crappy photo, but if this is really from Performance Bike Shop (kind of like Bike Nashbar), it could be a good deal. https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1847201588.html

Slick tires, rack and fenders, perhaps a few maintenance items, this one would be another excellent candidate: https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1846808701.html

Decent old school mountain bike, WAYYY overpriced IMO - it would be a good value at $100-$125. https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1846192918.html

BINGO! Another VERY solid candidate https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1846170325.html

Big frame, but one of the better grade old school mountain bikes https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1845032778.html Good possibility it you are tall.

On the other end of the size spectrum, in a solid older mountain bike: https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1841191145.html

$350 seems steep, but this is a possibility: https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1841080761.html

Solid bike. No eyelets for rack or fenders - fairly easy to work around. https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1839738423.html

Anyway, there's a bit of a starting point......

Brands to avoid at all costs:
Next, Murray, Huffy, Roadmaster

Last edited by canyoneagle; 07-17-10 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 07-17-10, 10:47 PM
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^^^Oooh, I like that yellow C'dale. Pick that one!
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Old 07-17-10, 11:36 PM
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Several good choices in that group of CL ads:

-I'm partial to the Trek 720 Mountain Track. Seems a little expensive to me, but maybe not.
-Also the Kona, but at about half what they are asking. $150 - $175 seems ok to me.
-And the Giant seems like it would do nicely as well. That price seems right.
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Old 07-18-10, 01:33 AM
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wait, wait, wait, wait...i got this one...Welcome to Bike Forums, now go get an LHT. :kidding of course:

For your budget you could get an excellent used bike that would fit your needs. Mid-level used road bikes that you can get on Craigslist for $200 are better than what $200 will get you from any retailer.

Where I live, $200 will get you a no-name brand beach cruiser with shiny paint and spokes and horrible components or it can get you a lightweight, lugged steel road bike in great condition with a little history and Shimano 600 components. For half that ($100) you can get a decent quality used mountain bike and use the money left over to update or customize to your needs.
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Old 07-18-10, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by cradduck View Post
wait, wait, wait, wait...i got this one...Welcome to Bike Forums, now go get an LHT.
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Old 07-18-10, 10:08 AM
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I don't know Raleigh well. If the hills you describe are only 1 or 2% grades, you could survive with even a 3-speed Schwinn from the 60's or 70's, which are available on Craigslist for under $100 (add $50 for new tires, chain, tubes, brake cables and brake pads). But you might be better off with an uglier (IMHO) but practical mountain bike from the 1990's, available for $100 on Craigslits.. Definitely add fenders if you plan to ride in the rain or on any sort of wet roads, and change the knobby tires to smoother ones with puncture protection as soon as you can. I would also recommend a rear rack and Wald folding baskets, available for about $20 each, and a couple good LED lights for about $20 total. That will get in under $250, even if you need to buy a cheap helmet and U-lock at Wal-Mart or Target.

You will need to look for a 17" or under MTB frame; try it out before you buy and make sure you can get the seat down low enough for your (short) legs and still feel comfortable reaching the handlebars.

Good options of your local Craigslist right now, if they fit:
https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1849389990.html
https://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/1849366617.html

Good luck!
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Old 07-18-10, 10:13 AM
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Here's a great (and free) tool to assess your route options. https://www.mapmyride.com/
One of the options (toolbar on the right) once you begin mapping is the "show elevation" button, which shows elevation profile and grade. The grade is averaged, so the longer your route the more "distilled" the actual grade - so if you have any short, steep efforts, you can only map the segment in the vicinity of the hill to get the grade info.

Anyway, I'd say up to 3% average grade can be handled with a 3-speed or a singlespeed mountain/cyclocross bike. Anything more is adding functionality for riding with loads and/or in very windy conditions.
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Old 07-18-10, 10:18 AM
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A couple suggestions.

First, go to your local bike store and look at what they have available. Even without buying, you can look at a lot of different models and types. Many new models have been made for years, so you'll have a better sense of what's out there in the used market. Don't waste their time, but have them help you find a frame size that will be comfortable for you. At 5'4", a lot of used bikes will be too big, so it will help if you can narrow down the models and frame sizes that work for you. Step over height and reach to the bars are going to be key measures for you.

For general around town riding, a hardtail mountain bike or hybrid would be a good choice. An older road bike designed for touring rather than racing is another good option.

It's usually better to get a simple bike from a good manufacturer than a bike from a department store with all the bells and whistles made with poor quality parts.

If you do buy a used bike that needs work, look for a local bike coop where you could get help fixing it up and learning repair skills.

Don't forget to budget for a good lock.
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Old 07-18-10, 10:45 AM
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Used bike, used bike, used bike. Mountain bikes from the mid-90's with no shocks and a cro-mo (steel) frame are good bets. Their geometry is similar to touring bikes, with straight bars. Look for ones that have named components (ie Deore) rather than ones that are numbered. Usually indicates higher grade of components (unless it's Tourney.) Some have braze-ons (holes) for mounting racks. SO has a 1995 Norco Tango that makes a good commuter. Trade in the knobbly tires for smoother ones.
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Old 07-18-10, 10:58 AM
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Okay, the edit on height and inseam really helps narrow it down.

You'll be limited on bikes on the used market for sure - but not completely out of the picture.
Mountain bike frame size will be "extra small" or 14" or so. Road/cyclocross/hybrid frame size will be 45cm or so, which is extremely hard to find, if at all.
This bike is a possibility, in the "extra small" size https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/lttour.htm
This one pushes your budget boundary, but is a solid basis for future upgrades: https://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=dew


An immediate possibility pops up - mixte style frame, which is a unisex frame that is quite stylish and practical:

Ebay might be the best source for these, and the sweet spot would be 1960's and 70's european manufacturers such as Raleigh and Peugeot.

https://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-NISHIKI-...item5d29e7f062
https://cgi.ebay.com/Bugatti-Touring-...item2c55b12709
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File Type: jpg
mixte-supercours&#.jpg (43.7 KB, 5 views)

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Old 07-18-10, 11:06 AM
  #21  
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right size, right size, right size. Don't get a bike that doesn't fit.

You're a light person so look for a light bike. Low standover height will put you into looking at the smallest mtn. bike and mixte frames in the used market. Get a tape measure and KNOW what your bb to seat height should be. Don't go by used bike sellers statements on frame size. I got a GT 26" wheeled mtn. bike for my daughter that fit and still fits her 8yrs later, I think it was around 13"-14"inch seat tube. I simply added a longer stem as she got older. With 1.5" tires it was actually quite light. Most of the Craigslist bikes shown above are too big.
If you don't know anything and you're wiling to go to $400 go to the bike shop and be straight up, "what do you have under $400". While you'll get something cheaper used you'll pay for it later if it doesn't fit or you have to bring it into the shop and pay $150 for minor repairs like a rear wheel replacement or drive train replacement. In other words if you're willing to spend $250 for used it better be nearly perfect and you know it, if you don't know it you should be looking at $100bikes and be willing to spend $150 for an education in possible repairs. With a $400 new bike you're getting some worthwhile free maintenance and a warranty.

If I was in your shoes I'd look around for the cheapest step through or XS mtn bike for under $100, put a decent puncture resistant 1.5" tire on the rear, cheapest 1.5" the front and spray the thing flat black with a $4 can of paint

Last edited by LeeG; 07-18-10 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 07-18-10, 11:16 AM
  #22  
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LeeG makes a valid point about spending a little more up front at a shop and reaping the benefits of free service and warranty, etc.

REI is a good option: https://www.rei.com/map/store#NC you have several in your area.
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Old 07-18-10, 12:06 PM
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this is the bike:

https://www.rei.com/product/798457

TrafficGT 3 medium with step through frame. Huge standover comfort. In the "mens" version the small is the only one available on sale and it's standover height is 28.3" which I'm guessing will be a might tight with 26"-28" pant size. The Traffic GT3 frame in aluminum looks exactly like the steel one I got my daughter in XS with it's 25" standover height. With the medium TrafficGT3 step through you'll get the same horizontal top tube length as the XS "mens" Traffic GT3.

This Marin Kentfield looks like a killer deal but even in a 15" frame the standover is 28.5" according the Marins website. That's the problem with 700c-27" wheels is that anything with usable standover height will probably be a step through frame while there might be an old XS small mtn bike frame out there with 26" wheels that isn't step through. The shortcoming with those is they usually have a too short of stem and the cost of getting a longer 1" or 1 1/8" quill stem ups the price unless you hunt around for one cheap.

https://www.rei.com/product/795499#

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Old 07-18-10, 12:53 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
Okay, the edit on height and inseam really helps narrow it down.

You'll be limited on bikes on the used market for sure - but not completely out of the picture.
Mountain bike frame size will be "extra small" or 14" or so. Road/cyclocross/hybrid frame size will be 45cm or so, which is extremely hard to find, if at all.

This bike is a possibility, in the "extra small" size https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/lttour.htm
I agree with the recommendation above for a Hybrid ...
Get the 46cm size - no sales tax and free shipping included
Based on your requirements for a Small frame size this is a good match:


Shimano STI, 24 Speed, FlatBar 2010 Dawes Lightning Tour $389
https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/lttour.htm
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Old 07-18-10, 02:32 PM
  #25  
irclean
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Alternatively, you could ride a 24" bike. They use the same components as other bikes when/if it comes time to upgrade and you can even get quality tires in 24" sizes.

Specialized makes a cool, rigid MTB in their Hotrock 24.

If you prefer road bikes there's the Fuji Ace 24.

Either can be had for under $400.
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