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Recommendation for a bike path commute

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Recommendation for a bike path commute

Old 10-26-10, 11:58 AM
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Recommendation for a bike path commute

I am about to purchase a new bike to commute ~ 7 miles (each way) to and from my work, almost all of which is on paved bike paths. I will also need to bike to miscellaneous places within my area sometimes, so I don't have to wait forever for the bus

I went into a bike shop last night and got a few recommendations. I was first showed the Trek 7.2/7.3 FX/7.5 FX models, touted as being good for a commute. After I asked if there were any other options, I was showed the (more expensive) Specialized TriCross, which has the curved handlebars and a reportedly lighter frame. The curved handlebars were said to offer more comfort--this alone sells me on the idea of paying a little more for comfort. I plan on using this bike for many years.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on these or possibly better models. I don't think I can afford to spend over $1,000, but that price point isn't a hard cut-off for me.

I am also curious to find some good/cheap places to purchase from. I live in Arlington, VA and commute to Alexandria, but I have no problem with buying online if there is a reputable and cheap online retailer that you guys can recommend!
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Old 10-26-10, 12:22 PM
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Hey fellow NOVA commuter -- I ride 14.5 miles into DC and another 14.3 or so back each day. It's a great area for riding - and there's quite a few of us on here.

For commuting, my take is that you can basically use anything that's comfortable to you. I see people on mountain bikes, hybrids, road bikes (even with aerobars), touring bikes, and just about everything else that's out there.

Figure out your frame size - that's the 1st thing to do. People argue about minor aspects of frame size, but you darn-sure want to get a frame that fits you well.

Do you have a source of anything used that may fit your body? I'm thinking of friends/family in the area with something....

Craigslist is sometimes a good source for bikes that are much cheaper used than you'll find new. Big Wheel bike shop (my personal favorite) in Alexandria has quite a few used bikes that are mechanically sound and reasonably priced (150-300 bucks).

I have 2 bikes here in DC: A surly long haul trucker (touring bike - roadish but with fatter tires/fenders, racks, panniers) and an old 1985 road bike with skinny tires. They are quite different, but both work just fine for reliable commuting. The road bike is faster and more nimble, but is not as great in the rain and doesn't carry gear as easily. On the other side it's so ugly and old that it's not a theft-target in DC nearly as much.

It's just personal preference.

Do a search here and you'll hit millions of other questions just like yours.

Get a helmet and some water bottles.

Get a front and rear blinkie light -- probably a bell too for alerting trail users, I love mine.

Get a high-quality U-lock and a cheap cable lock -- regardless of the bike you choose. Sheldon's locking advice:

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html

Last edited by TurbineBlade; 10-26-10 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 10-26-10, 12:47 PM
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Comfort is in the butt (and back) of the beholder.
Get on some of these bikes you mentioned and take them for a test ride.
I was personally turned onto a Trek Allant because it offered an upright sitting position which is comfortable for me. It also had all the bells and whistles I need on a commuter, such as full fenders, a rear rack, and a bell.
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Old 10-26-10, 01:03 PM
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Yeah, I would do some test rides too.

Though I agree that drop bars (the curved kind) can be more comfortable for long rides, it really depends on the set up. There's a lot of people that prefer flat bars or risers of some kind. Do you have any inkling that you might do some long distance rinding in the future? Things like charity rides, touring or just long rides with friends? If that's the case then a bike like the TriCross starts to make more sense.

I'm a little inclined to have people not spend too much money on the first bike because after a year or so they'll know better what they want.
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Old 10-26-10, 01:12 PM
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I used a Trek 3700 with hi pressure street tyres for about two years before buying a road bike. I would not look past this option as the front suspension and upright seating is very comfy plus being a mountain bike it is very tuff and takes a lot of abuse. I still commute on both bikes if it is wet out I take the mountain and if dry I take the roadie. Just as others said make the first one a fitted one from a reputible dealer. I bought one of the cheapest bikes in the trek line up and still received great service that went a long way with me.
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Old 10-26-10, 01:20 PM
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Spokes, REI and Big Wheel are the better shops that come to mind in the close in NOVA area.

Don't forget to budget for lock(s), rack, panniers/trunk bag/backpack, lights, fenders, helmet, clothing (winter, summer and rain), bell, spare tubes/pump/co2/tire levers, shoes, pedals, computer, water bottles/cages . . . . the list goes on and on. The point is, you can easily spend $500 properly equipping youself and your bike for commuting, and a lot more if your financial situation allows.

Last edited by alan s; 10-26-10 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 10-26-10, 01:28 PM
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I dont have much to add on top of what has already been said. Just wanted to say hi to a fellow NOVA person. I commute from Alexandria to Vienna. See you on the WOD, 4MR, or MtV trails!
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Old 10-26-10, 02:14 PM
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I can't speak to the Specialized, but I can say that I've really enjoyed commuting on my Trek 7.2FX. I've got a short commute of only 2 miles, but there've been many times I've cruised past the house on my way to a 10 mile "commute" home. Always comfortable and pretty stable even with an overstuffed backpack in a basket on the rear rack. I've also taken it on a very rough rails-to-trails path and it's very solid on that, and a 30-mile road ride. My only wish has been that I'd bought cycling shorts before the 30-miler. I have learned that lesson!
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Old 10-26-10, 02:36 PM
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Get a Brompton, you can fold it up and bring it inside, perhaps even get a bag to stow it in, in the office.
even under the desk.
with a set of High pressure tires they are as Quick as you legs make them.

M bar with Ergon grips, Brooks B-17 if you wish..

then fold it up and take the Bus , if it's right there.

They are Fun Bikes to Ride..

https://www.bikesatvienna.com/

& bicycle space 459 I Street, NW Washington, in DC

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-26-10 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 10-26-10, 05:04 PM
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Nothing to add, really. Noticed it's your 1st post and wanted to welcome you to BikeForums where the generosity seems to be bottomless and the knowledge unlimited. Lotsa great folks.

1000.00 will get you a fine bike w/all the necessary accessories. Rack, bag(s), multi-tool, frame pump, lights, tubes, tire levers, patch-kit and you're good to go. Have fun.

Btw, you may want to try www.bikesdirect.com and the sister site www.bikeisland.com for accessories. Both have free shipping. There are pros and cons of utilizing these particular online stores as people have had a wide range of experiences. I have a solid mechanical skillset, so I wasn't afraid to buy from them. My experience(s) have all been positive. Any issues were resolved quickly and professionally. Most lbs will assemble a BD bike for 50.00 or so.

So much for having nothing to add...

Last edited by nashcommguy; 10-26-10 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 10-26-10, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ideogon
I was first showed the Trek 7.2/7.3 FX/7.5 FX models, touted as being good for a commute. After I asked if there were any other options, I was showed the (more expensive) Specialized TriCross, which has the curved handlebars and a reportedly lighter frame.
The differences between these bikes are significant enough to be apples and oranges. They're both fine bikes for the money, so it boils down to personal taste, and no one here can tell you what your personal taste is.

I can tell you that my personal taste is for drop (curved) bars. I own four bikes, all with drop bars. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Equally valid, there are folks here who prefer straight bars and wouldn't have it any other way.

Others like them both and own one or more of each.

Who's right? We all are, but only for ourselves. We can't make the choice for you.

Your best bet is to arrange for extensive test rides. We're not talking a pedal around the parking lot, but something substantial, that's as similar to your intended commute as possible in time and terrain.

This should be preceded by a reasonable stab at fitting. The importance of fitting cannot be stressed enough. It not only adds comfort, but power and control as well. But perhaps most importantly, it helps prevent repetitive motion injuries. Bear in mind though, that the pre-purchase and immediate post-purchase fittings can only be approximate. You may need fine tuning along the way after a few days or weeks as you adjust to the bike.

On your test ride, chances are very good that each bike will feel like a million bucks. But they'll speak to you differently. They'll behave differently, ride differently, and handle differently. You may find you prefer one's shifting or brake levers over the other's. These are the things to consider when deciding between them.

Finally, there's always the possibility you'll pick one, and a few months down the road decide you prefer the other. Cycling is like that. It's said that the purpose of your first bike is to teach you what you want and need in your second bike. Fortunately, both these bikes will be fairly easy to resell without losing tons of value, or can complement each other in your stable.

You can't go very far wrong. Ride 'em, and pick the one that speaks to you in the way you like best. Buy it, and ride it happily. Learn from it.
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Old 10-30-10, 10:13 AM
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Have been a bit busy this week to finally reply to all the helpful advice and warm welcomes!

Some time today or tomorrow I will try to arrange for some test rides of the bikes that I mentioned, which are at Spokes Etc (https://maps.google.com/maps/place?ci...090189&ie=UTF8). If I have time, I will try to check out another place that is highly rated on Google Maps, Papillon Cycles (https://maps.google.com/places/us/va/...n-cycles?hl=en).

The Brompton models are really cool, but I'm not sure I can afford that much portability! They don't look terribly comfortable, too??

I am thinking I might prefer the TriCross. In addition to my regular commute, I have been wanting for a while to do some lengthy, weekend rides around some of the local bike paths. However, we'll see how I feel after some test rides!
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Old 10-30-10, 11:58 AM
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I have a Trek 7.2 and a Specialized Elite. I bought the Trek several years ago when I 1st got back into biking. I wasn't really sure what I wanted at the time and the Hybrid seemed like a good choice at the time and it was. I road it for almost 4 years before I bought the Road bike. It was fairly inexpensive, had a good gear spread, had the ability to mount just about anything onto it and has never failed me. The bike was inexpensive enough to change bars & seats, add fenders and racks. geared well to pull a trailer or loaded panniers & it is a great commuter.

I eventually did a 130 mile ride with it and it did very well but over such a great distance I found it's weakness was in the ability to keep up with the group that was mostly road bikes. Don't get me wrong the bike performed flawless but over distance it will be outperformed by the road bike class. Keep in mind my commuter options are 17 mile and 23 mile each direction.

I was inspired to purchase the road bike at a considerably greater cost for rides that are better suited for this type of interest. You have great advice here and regardless of your decision you will enjoy commuting on what ever bicycle you ride. Keep in mind the bicycle is just part of the equation, your going to need some other things as well, lighting, possibly fenders (not all bikes will receive them well) rack and panniers depending on your taste and some self support tools.

I can tell you that my Trek is a bicycle I will not give up even after my purchase of my 2nd bike. The 2 different styles of bicycles compliment each other perfectly
Best of luck
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Old 10-30-10, 02:46 PM
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Timber, thanks for adding to the advice here!

Anyway, I went to the other bike shop (Papillon) today. I wasn't impressed with their selection (It seems they only stock Giant bikes), so I revisited Spokes. After test-riding the Trek 7.3 FX and the Specialized TriCross, I went ahead and bit on the TriCross! It just felt a little bit nicer overall--the gear shifters seem nicer, the seat is a little more comfy (although I imagine I'll end up spending a little more on a nicer seat soon), and the handles are a little nicer--I really like the multiple choices for hand positions and brake handles.

Now it's going to be an interesting week biking it to and from work...I'll provide an update next weekend on how it goes!
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Old 10-30-10, 03:11 PM
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Congrats!

Now we need pics

BTW, I have a 7.3FX and it's a great bike. But lots of people rave about the Tricross, so I'm sure it's nice too.
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Old 10-30-10, 04:56 PM
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It looks like I'm too late, but in addition to the fine folks at Big Wheel, consider Oasis Bike works in Fairfax City for some additional choices -- I not affiliated in any way, just a satisfied customer. Also worth considering when your free maintenance runs out next year :-)

I hope you enjoy the bike -- I'm sure it is an excellent choice! I was seriously considering a CX bike when I bought my commuter, but I couldn't quite pay the freight, and I really wanted disc brakes (which still aren't common on CXers?)

Hope to see you on the road :-)
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Old 10-30-10, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ideogon
Timber, thanks for adding to the advice here!

Anyway, I went to the other bike shop (Papillon) today. I wasn't impressed with their selection (It seems they only stock Giant bikes), so I revisited Spokes. After test-riding the Trek 7.3 FX and the Specialized TriCross, I went ahead and bit on the TriCross! It just felt a little bit nicer overall--the gear shifters seem nicer, the seat is a little more comfy (although I imagine I'll end up spending a little more on a nicer seat soon), and the handles are a little nicer--I really like the multiple choices for hand positions and brake handles.

Now it's going to be an interesting week biking it to and from work...I'll provide an update next weekend on how it goes!
Congratulations on your new bike purchase!! I'm a fellow Tricross rider, ('09 Tricross Comp), and I totally dig it. My commute takes me through some pretty beat up streets, and the frame does a great job of muting the road vibration and buzz. I also like the fact that you can mount wider tires and fenders on the Tricross. Anyway, let us know how your first week goes and don't forget the pctures!!
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Old 10-31-10, 06:41 AM
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New bike smell, yummy! Congrates on your new bike, I predict you're not done with your bike related purchases.
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Old 11-01-10, 09:50 PM
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Congrats - was going to recommend a cross. Great for commuting on trails and paths.
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