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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.

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Old 05-26-11, 07:44 AM   #1
RT
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The new commuting rig: Nashbar FB-1 review (pics)

About a month ago I picked up a new 2009 Felt x City-D which has already been relegated to rain duty. That is because the latest purchase was on a whim: Happened to be on the right website at the right time with money in the bank from recent Craigs List sales.

The Nashbar Flat Bar Road Bike (FB-1) was delivered to work as nothing frustrated me more than needing a signature for delivery and not being home to give it. I have a massive tool chest here at work and assembly took all of half an hour from popping the staples on the box to riding it home.



Well boxed and packed inside as well as any BD bike (I have one).



Pardon the reflectors.



Assembled stock, except for the Candy-C pedals. The bike came with what I thought were platform pedals, but are Wellgo platform SPD. A nice surprise.



I'll do my best not to shill it up, but this is my first mail order bike from Nashbar, and I am very impressed.

The wheels were truer than my BD purchase, all frame and metal parts that might shift during shipment were protected and clean. The front and rear derailleurs needed absolutely no adjustment once assembled, the chain was neither too long nor too short, and the housing/cables were finished to my high standards. Typically I need to re-adjust the brake pads once I assemble a bike, but this was as easy as slipping the wheels on - no adjustment necessary.

The ride home is 10 miles, and being the initial launch, I took the MUP home to be sure I didn't forget any major adjustments which might result in an unfortunate incident with a motorist. I understand that no parts on this bike are top of the line, but I have purchased, ridden, built many bikes in the past, and the component level on this bike for $399 (during free shipping days) makes this ride a steal.

The Alex R500 wheels roll better than the Alex450 wheels on my BD bike (I rode it to work yesterday morning). The Vittoria Pro Race tires - holy smokes, the minimum PSI is 100. I usually roll max on my other tires and have never ridden at anything rated at 145 psi. We'll see how they suffer goathead thorns.

The frame is an off white color most closely resembling bone. The welds are clean and the frame is stiff. No complaints whatsoever.

The carbon fork is responsive and smooth, like one would expect. The Felt mentioned above has an Alu fork, and the difference is night and day. The first upgrade I perform on my bikes is to get a carbon fork as soon as possible, but the hybrid forks are a little harder to come by. I mounted a Winwood Dusty on a bike a couple of years back, and while it was solid, this fork has a softer, lighter feel to it. I do not know what brand it is, but I do know that Nashbar doesn't sell a proper hybrid carbon fork, just the crosser.

The bike came with an adjustable stem, which I am not a fan of, but it's ok for what it is. The bars are 31.8 OS, and a cool shiny midnight blue with some really nice grips on the end. I have swapped it out for my trusty Scott AT-2 bars - a little shorter and cowhorn. Wrapped with some used old bar tape until I can get a decent deal on some good tape.

This bike feels light, like sub-20 lbs light. Bunny hopping over small imperfections in the MUP was easy, and the compact triple FSA Vero (50-39-30) gearing is a welcome change from standard road triple. I have never been too picky about cranks, but the Lasco that came on my BD bike was an anvil, and I have always had good results from the FSA line. I can honestly say that this bike made me care less about the headwind yesterday as I made my way home. Hills were easier as well, partly because of gearing, part wheel, part placebo.

All in all, for $399 this bike is as good as it gets. Well done, Nashbar, and especially to the tech(s) who assembled this bike. I could not have done it better.

The BD bike for comparison:



The Felt:



The new and favorite ride:





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Old 05-26-11, 08:15 AM   #2
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I'm very impressed as well. Very simple yet nice looking bike. Well equipped. Kudos to Nashbar
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Old 05-26-11, 08:22 AM   #3
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Looks nice! I still like the Felt, but you're right about the fork - I do wish it were carbon fiber.
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Old 05-26-11, 08:27 AM   #4
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Beautiful, And, thank you for taking the time to review and take pics of it.
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Old 05-26-11, 08:31 AM   #5
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NICE!!! Enjoy and be safe!!!
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Old 05-26-11, 08:48 AM   #6
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Nice report. Now I am wishing I had suggested this bike to a friend of mine looking for a hybrid. You make it sound like such a nice bike for the price. Oh well.
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Old 05-26-11, 09:41 AM   #7
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Nashbar frames, and other products too, are not bad at all. My commuter is built around their MTB frame and I'm building a touring bike around that frame as well. I've seen posts here from people who bought Nashbar other frames and were very happy with them. You get decent quality and lots of features for very reasonable prices. Enjoy the ride!
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Old 05-31-11, 08:46 AM   #8
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Just noticed these are on sale again and basically $400 after shipping. This bike seems to be a pretty good deal for $400. Do you have more impressions of this bike? Should I be telling my friend to grab one of these? What would you suggest on sizing?
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Old 05-31-11, 11:33 AM   #9
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Last week these were $300 plus shipping (and over the weekend they were $350.) I almost bought one, but chickened out/became impulsive and bought a Sirrus from my lbs.

I'm happy with the bike I got and I like supporting a local shop, but the Nashbar bike would have had a carbon fork and have been nearly $200 cheaper.
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Old 05-31-11, 11:44 AM   #10
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I think, Andrew, you meant $400. Nashbar would lose money at a $300 price point. They are $450 now with 15% off plus shipping. If it was $300, I would have bought two and sold one on CL.

After commuting on this bike for almost a week now, my road bike is collecting a fine coat of dust. The only way I can relate the ride to you is to put it in the context of my greatest cycling nemesis - wind. I loathe wind. My road bike weighs about a pound more than this bike (both have aluminum frames with a carbon fork, both Sora level components, and both are 9 speeds), but the ride itself is just plain amazing. I usually put drops on any bike I get, but left the flat bar setup on this one. I have ruled out the placebo/new bike effect - there's just something about how it rides that makes headwinds less of an issue. I can't explain it.

The wheels are commonly the weak link of any build like this, and while it is a low level Alex 500, the wheels roll very well, so well that I saved some money by not immediately upgrading the wheelset.

For sizing, I typically ride a 56 cm road bike (traditional geometry like Fuji), but the BD bike pictured above is a weird geometry and is a 53.5 cm with an effective TT of 56 cm. With the Nashbar FB-1 I rolled the dice and went 57 cm, and it fits just fine, no fit issues whatsoever. I am 6'1"/190 (right now) with an inseam of 33"-34" depending on which shoes I am wearing. I clear the top tube by about an inch.

This would be a great bike for recreational riding, but it makes an excellent commuter. I especially like the Vittoria high pressure tires, the carbon fork, and the compact triple. It was assembled very well and was pristine out of the box.

Highly recommended.
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Old 05-31-11, 02:57 PM   #11
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Thanks for the feedback on the bike. I suggested the bike to my friend. I have been sending him cheaper budget options, but I said this might be more along the lines of a bike he would invest in. It seems like such a great bike for the price.

Now I am having a hard time not ordering the Nashbar Cross bike. Its $499 in the catalog and with 15% off and shipping its like $450 for a pretty solid entry level cross bike and it even comes with some Wellgo clipless pedals I can sell for a few bucks on CL making the bike closer to the $400 range. Oh and I get 3% cash back if I use my Bill me later account making this just over $400 when its all said and done...someone should talk me out of buying this bike.
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Old 05-31-11, 02:59 PM   #12
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I will do no such thing. The only downside is another one of your rides will suffer >:-) The only thing I don't like about the CX is the blue color. It is essentially the flat bar bike in a different color with drops. I am about to list those pedals on CL, and it looks like they are worth about $30, easy.
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Old 05-31-11, 03:57 PM   #13
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I have a friend that has been wanting a cross bike too so I sent him a message about this one. I think he was leaning towards getting a 105 or better equipped bike, but for this price with carbon fiber fork and clipless pedals its a pretty sweet deal better than the BD bikes which I love at least looking at them on the interweb.

I am seriously considering buying one of these, but I am trying to decide on sizing. I'll be using it for commuting or long rides and I am about 5'10 with 32" inseam. I don't like being hunched over so sometimes I like bigger frames now to get a taller handlebar height. I would just get a 57 , but the CS get shorter and I am not a fan of that, so that makes me lean towards a 54. I guess I could just buy both sizes and sell the other one. LOL The color wasn't that exciting (looked cheesy at first to me), but many reviewers said they liked the color much better in person than the online pics so I would probably dig it.
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Old 06-03-11, 07:59 AM   #14
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All Nashbikes on sale again this weekend, 20% off. This makes the bike I got even less expensive with shipping, but not by much. Not to be all shilly about it, but if anyone is looking for an inexpensive, well-built and fast commuter, this is it, even better than a BD hybrid.

Is Bikes Direct now not the only player in the low-cost/decent quality bike? Nashbar has lowered prices on bikes and frames significantly to make this seem like a possibility.

To address the topic of the post though, after week of riding (a little over 100 miles), the only thing I can say that is not as positive as the rest of the bike is that the fork could be a little more rigid. It is noodlier than other carbon forks I have ridden, but not dangerously so. I thought I might encounter some wobble at high speeds, but I have been up to 46 mph (oh, that was quite a tailwind) with no wobble. Still really impressed with the frame, welds and paint, and after taking apart/re-lubing the Sora rear derailleur during my drivetrain overhaul (to get that cosmoline off the chain), it shifts as well as my 105 ever did.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:12 AM   #15
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I like ! Very nice !
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Old 06-03-11, 09:17 AM   #16
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Is Bikes Direct now not the only player in the low-cost/decent quality bike? Nashbar has lowered prices on bikes and frames significantly to make this seem like a possibility.
Except Nashbar needs a better lineup of bikes to really compete with BD. Nashbar's MTB selection (their own brand) sucks. A couple years ago I bought an IBEX brand MTB for my daughter -- very nice frame, well spec'd out -- IBEX had pretty much the same business model as BD, but with a smaller number of models. A few weeks after I bought the bike, they went out of business. Too bad - they had nice bikes (i bought a dual susp frame for myself at the same time) and were competitively priced.
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Old 06-03-11, 11:00 AM   #17
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I saw the email for 20% off all bikes this morning and it made me glad I decided to wait after debating last night in front of my computer monitor whether to order or not. I ordered 2 of the Nashbar cross bikes and hopefully I get the $499 catalog price and the 20% coupon. 20% off makes the flatbar reviewed to be an even better deal. I sent a message to my friend that he should just buy one. =)

Nashbar does seem to be stepping up their game on soem nice bikes, but as anothe poster mentioned their selection is no match for BD. BD also has great prics everyday you don't have to wait for a sale and wonder how much shipping will be etc. Nashbar has some great deals though and has some nice closeout bikes as well.
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Old 06-03-11, 11:07 AM   #18
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True, BD does have a wider selection, but when you add a carbon fork, even with the price being relatively the same, Nashbar exceeds BD in all other areas of componentry. I like BD, don't get me wrong, but it looks like a shift in how Nashbar is marketing their wares.

Be sure to post a review of the CX-1. I have been looking so long at building up a Nashbar cross frame, but a better deal always comes long. I have free time this weekend, and despite my happiness with the flat bar setup, might just throw on some drops and friction shifters to create a nice cross setup. The Felt would then become the flat bar.
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Old 06-03-11, 11:26 AM   #19
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Nice review of a bike I'd never thought of before. I can see this working for most of my needs too.
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Old 06-03-11, 12:41 PM   #20
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True, BD does have a wider selection, but when you add a carbon fork, even with the price being relatively the same, Nashbar exceeds BD in all other areas of componentry. I like BD, don't get me wrong, but it looks like a shift in how Nashbar is marketing their wares.
I agree - for the bike you got. It's very sweet - and I'd love to have one in my garage! But I've been shopping for a MTB for my daughter, and was very disappointed with what Nashbar offered there. BD has been out of the bike I wanted for her - Fantom Trail HT -- for a while now. And yeah, I tried the LBS but she didn't like the color choices -- she's 11 So I ended up going with a GT Avalanche 2.0 women's specific design from Performance (bought it today).
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Old 06-04-11, 12:51 PM   #21
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I have been following prices on the Performance Bicycle Scattante FR-330 and the Nashbar FB-1 which are extremely similar specification-wise. My sister and my niece own the FR-330 for the out-the-door price of about $460. I just purchased the FB-1 for my wife and my brother just bought one for his wife both for the out-the-door price of about $425 (purchase plus tax plus shipping). I am looking forward to comparing the Performance and Nashbar bikes.

My sister-in-law will be using the bike as her first adult bicycle and I believe it's a great choice at a great price. My wife is a long-time rider of her road bike (a Specialized Allez) and mountain bike (a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp) plus a regular stoker on our road tandem. Why the Nashbar FB-1 for her? Many of our rides are ice cream rides along MUPs ranging in distances from 10 to 25 miles. The mountain bike is overkill for a paved trail and the road bike requires her to be in the drops just to access the brakes. The FB-1 (or any of the bikes that are similar) strikes a great balance in comfort and ease of operation. Plus, if it gets trashed or stolen, we're not out a fortune.

For sure, flat-bar road bikes are what MOST bicyclists should be riding. If most of those who ride mountain bikes did a bit of soul-searching, they'd know that the single-tracks and free-ride downhills they imagined they'd be riding has been replaced by the reality of rides around the neighborhood, cruising the beach trail or commuting the mean streets of Anytown, USA. Also, I see that more and more of these types of bikes are showing up at metric and full centuries. I'd love to read more about rider's experience with the FB-1 and similar bikes.

Finally, and I have to mention this because I'm an old Klein bike fan, that Klein was one of the first to offer flat-bar road bikes at a time when most who saw it were wondering: WTF?

David Burckhard
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Old 06-06-11, 08:48 AM   #22
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My friend decided to order the FB-1. I suggested ordering some wider tires and tubes becasue he wants the bike to be more of a hybrid. I think he is going to be really happy with the bike.

I called in this morning and talked to Nashbar about my cross bike order. They hadn't given me the catalog price. but after a bit of explaining they are refunding me the difference which is exciting. I'll give a review of the bike when I get it after vacation.
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Old 06-07-11, 07:07 AM   #23
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One of the perks of the FB-1 is that it comes with mini-V's, so you can go wider on the tires. This also make cross conversions much easier. Or you could just get the CX-1
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Old 06-07-11, 01:56 PM   #24
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One of the perks of the FB-1 is that it comes with mini-V's, so you can go wider on the tires. This also make cross conversions much easier. Or you could just get the CX-1
I bought one for my girlfriend. I put Conti City Contact 700x32s on it and the rear tire barely clears the frame. I think 700x32 will be about max.
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Old 06-07-11, 01:58 PM   #25
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I bought one for my girlfriend. I put Conti City Contact 700x32s on it and the rear tire barely clears the frame. I think 700x32 will be about max.
I have those tires in 37 on the Felt pictured above. Solid tire, even if it is heavy. Super grippy. Still 32 max is better than 28 max on road calipers for commuting purposes.
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