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New to Commuting and looking for some advice

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.

New to Commuting and looking for some advice

Old 04-13-11, 10:52 PM
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helw3680
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New to Commuting and looking for some advice

Hey everyone,

I am looking to start commuting to and from work and would be logging about 5 to 20 miles daily. I am hoping to spend less than 600 and preferably new, however I'm not opposed to used. I have been comparing prices at the local shops as well as asking for advice, the consensus seems to be trek bikes. However, I came across a bike on bikesdirect which sounds like a great deal for the cost of the bike at the local shops ($700). http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/gt/gt_tachyon_3.htm
I am not afraid of the labor involved, although it seems there is some hatred towards bikesdirect. From what I have gathered is, they own the rights to a few brands which have gone out of business and the bikes they market with those brands are generally cheap bikes. No one has said anything about manufactures that are still in business. So basically, I am looking for your honest opinions on bikesdirect as well as any recommendations for an entry level commuting bike (feel free to recommend any brand outside of the ones I have mentioned.)
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Old 04-14-11, 02:16 AM
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cycle.stig
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I cant offer too much info on bike choice. However as someone who recently started bike commuting I would advise you keep in mind all of the other costs on top of the initial bicycle purchase if you do it anything like I did. Depending on how you want to outfit your bike for safety and comfort your costs will vary. On top of my bike I bought: headlight, taillight, various reflectors, rack, panniers, mirror, fenders, rain gear, hi-vis vest, lock, puncture res. tires, bike tools, etc. I probably dropped an extra 500 on the aforementioned additions to my bike before I felt comfortable relying on my bike to commute an hour to work. Although, I have read of others picking up a beater and heading out the door so this may or may not apply.
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Old 04-14-11, 03:57 AM
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jsdavis
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One major question would be what are you commuting on and through what type of roads or paths? Paved, dirt, gravel, etc. Is it all urban or lower density, rural, etc?

A reason I would discourage you from buying from Bikesdirect.com is that you cannot first try the bike out before you buy. This is more important since you seem to be unfamiliar with bikes and my guess is that you are not sure what you need. Bike geometries are important to your comfort and enjoyment; a change of even 5mm can make a big difference. You also cannot tell how the bikes feel on the road. I haven't rode any road-style drop bars or any type of road bike. Some people say that they are more comfortable because you can move your hands around while riding. For me, however, I've done 10 mi each way on flat bars before and did just fine, so you'll definitely see many opinions about this.

There are many many variations of hybrids that can ride quite differently. Some are more road, some are more mountain, some are more comfort oriented. My Trek FX 7.5 and my housemate's Marin Point Reyes 29er are both hybrids but they ride very differently. If I had to go through a patch of to grass or dirt to avoid say a dog walker in the park, on the Point Reyes I probably wouldn't think twice and plow through, the Trek I'd probably be a bit more cautious and slow down a bit. However, on the road, my FX is definitely faster than the PR from a stop (at least it feels that way).

Another reason is maintenance of said bicycle. Most shops offer at least one free tune up after purchase of the bike. Others offer 1 year and others for as long as you own the bike. The first tune up is done after about a month or so of riding because the controls will be a bit wonky after the initial break in. A tune up can easily run $50 to $100 depending on what's done and your locale.

I've only recently started commuting myself by bicycle and I have a Trek FX 7.5 which is basically a bike with mountain bike geometry and components but has road sized wheels with tires in between a road and mountain bike.

The bike you posted above looks like flat bar road bike and the components and gearing reflect. Actually it's fairly similar to my Trek; but component-wise the GT is lower end. I probably spent about an hour trying different frame sizes riding in the areas around the bike shop before I made a choice. Because of my size I split the difference between small and medium so I had to try both - I even tried large even though I was fairly certain would be too big just to rule it out. In the end I chose medium frame because of some minute differences that made it feel better than the small.

Last edited by jsdavis; 04-14-11 at 04:01 AM.
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Old 04-14-11, 05:43 AM
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I would recommend going to a bike shop and riding several different styles of bikes. Until you find out whether you prefer the upright position of a mountain bike, or the leaned forward position of a road bike it's hard to recommend a particular bike for you. I would suggest going to a different shop as well, there are many many brands out there besides trek that make different style bikes with different geometry.

It's like asking us what kind of car you should buy without telling us whether you need an suv, pickup truck, or compact. There are tons of choices with many different styles that will fall into your budget, so its not a question of money; it's a question of which bike is right for you, and if you don't know the answer then you should go to the bike shop and tell them you would like to test ride bikes from different categories.
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Old 04-14-11, 07:16 AM
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Nah, it's a bike... looks solid, as long as you get the right size, you shouldn't have any problems. Just make sure you get it assembled and adjusted if you don't know how to do it. A well-adjusted cheap bike is better than an expensive bike that nothing works right on. You will probably have to pay a shop to adjust everything, but it'll still come out cheaper than buying directly from the shop, and they still get a little money.

700x32 tires, eyeholes for fenders and a rack, Sora derailers, 8-speed rear. Looks decent, will get the job done, I'd go for it. As other have said, it's the little extras that add up the cost. Bags, fenders, lights, reflective stuff (you will definitely want some of that), helmet, gloves, and such. You can commute without any of those things, but they will make it much more enjoyable.

The main gripe people have with BikesDirect is you can't test ride the bikes, and they usually need adjusting and tweaking, i.e. they're not rideable out of the box. If you can take care of that, I see no problems.
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Old 04-14-11, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by helw3680 View Post
So basically, I am looking for your honest opinions on bikesdirect as well as any recommendations for an entry level commuting bike (feel free to recommend any brand outside of the ones I have mentioned.)
I bought a Windsor TheHour, fixed gear bike from them for my son before school started last fall. He has ridden it virtually every week, usually multiple times per week and has had one broken spoke. In other workds, he's gotten thousands of miles out of it. This bike cost half of your preferred cost, which leaves you plenty of money for lights, fenders, racks, etc., and then you still probably won't have spent all of your $600.
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Old 04-14-11, 12:54 PM
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Almost any bike can be used for commuting, as demonstrated by the wide variety here. My suggestion? Shop for a local shop first. Find the best bike shop in your area and buy from them. By best, I do not mean most expensive, or most chic. I mean the shop where they pay attention to you, try to figure out what you need and want, not what earns them the biggest commission. Then, see what they have in your price range. Unfortunately, $600 isn't a lot to spend on a new day-in day-out commuter. But most of the good manufacturers make something quite serviceable in that price range -- Kona Dew, for example.
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Old 04-14-11, 01:17 PM
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If you are new to cycling then i would look and test ride whats in your area first. I really can't comment on BD, but I've heard both good and bad things.

If you go used then some LBS have used or inventory reduction sales. You also have coops, pawn shops, garage sales, craigslist, and auctions.
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Old 04-20-11, 01:39 PM
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As you bike you will determine your preferences. What you are riding two years from now may be a completely different type of bike than what you are looking at now. My suggestion is not to overthink anything right now. I would go to Craigslist and find a used bike for under $100 in good working order, with rigid frame and road tires (since I assume your commute will be on streets). As you get to know your preferences you can add things to the bike- ie rack, fenders, lights. After you have a good idea of the bike you want then go and make your new bike purchase. The accessories you have added to your craigslist bike you can remove and put on your new bike.
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Old 04-20-11, 02:08 PM
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BikesDirect (BD) is good if you have a decent idea what you're after (geometry, component spec, style of riding).
If not, it is probably better to stay with a local bike shop.

If you are considering the BD route, here's my input:

BD offers great value on decent quality bikes (bang for the buck) and offers a return policy if you don't like the bike, which is a pain compared to a LBS, but at least it is an option.
I have purchased two BD bikes at two price points -$350 and $700, and for the price brackets felt like I got fantastic value for money. The frame quality is very good and the component spec is excellent (1-2 levels above similarly priced bikes). The compromises? Of course. Below $1000 it seems that the common cost savings (i.e. no-name components) is in saddles (below $400), seatposts, stems, bottom brackets and handlebars.)

Once you hit about $800 or so in the BD offerings, the bikes are largely equipped with known components in those areas.
My son's Motobecane 29er came with a no-name handlebar and stem, which were fine functionally. I ended up getting a good quality stem and bars to fine tune the fit, but would have been happy with the stock components for his needs.
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