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Looking to start bike commuting

Old 02-06-13, 01:41 PM
  #1  
orange57
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Looking to start bike commuting

Hello all,

Noobie here, just starting to look into bike commuting to work. By car, the drive is about 8 miles, but I suspect the bike ride would be slightly less as half of the route would be down a canal that cuts diagonal to the major roads.

I've been reading through the forum trying to get a feel for what will suit my needs. My budget is going to be in the $300-$400 dollar range, so I think I will primarily be looking at used. I plan to head to a couple of bike shops over the next week to take a look at some bikes and talk with som eof the people who work there. I've been looking on craigslist as well. I have been thinking of getting a mountain bike and putting differnt tires on it. The canal path is dirt, but pretty hard dirt, and then the other half would be down paved roads.

I'm still not sure all the in's and outs of bikes, or what to be on the look out for and what to avoid, thats where I figure you guys here and some of the local bike shops could offer some good insight

thanks,
matt
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Old 02-06-13, 01:59 PM
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In most markets, you can find excellent mountain bikes with low miles for $75-150. Garage sales are often less expensive than craigslist finds. Most used bikes need new cables and cable housings as a minimum, due to stretching and lack of lubrication. Minimal cost but well worth it. If you have an REI in your vicinity, there shop rates for a tune and cable swap are very reasonable. Also, many here are fastidious about cleaning and regreasing the wheel bearings, and on older bikes without cartridge crank/bottom bracket spindles.

If you have time and minimal mechanical aptitude, you can read up here and do the work yourself.

Enjoy!
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Old 02-06-13, 02:16 PM
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A hardtail mountain bike (front suspension ok, no rear suspension) with slicks will make you a fine commuter bike. You would not want anything with a full suspension as it adds alot of extra weight and if the shocks don't lock out, then you would have alot of forward momentum and energy being sucked up by the suspension and it would just wear you out going nowheres. Those are dedicated to serious off roading and rocky, rooty trails. Also to consider would be Hybrid bike which is more inbetween the hardtail and a road bike.

With your budget you should be able to find something good along those lines. Obviously there are even better choices out there like the European Treking bikes that I just learned about more recently and standard commuter bikes available at LBS but those require a little more coin. If your capable of doing your own repairs, you will do just fine and spend all your gas savings on upgrades. LOL.
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Old 02-06-13, 04:20 PM
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You can get a new GT Zum City Bike from Performance for $350. I'm doing 12 miles each way on one. Worth it if you have a Performance in your area. The Zum is your basic hybrid commuter.

Personally, I hate a suspension fork, but to each his own.
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Old 02-06-13, 04:29 PM
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I'm not afraid of a little work. Figure most of it can't be too much more difficult the transmission swaps or clutch jobs on my car. I'm not sure if there is a performance near by, i will have to look and see.

I will keep you all posted when i make the plunge
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Old 02-06-13, 04:33 PM
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Post your location so locals can give you better advice.
Is there a place you can rent a bike from on the weekends?
This will be a good opportunity to check the route and a
potential bike to buy.

























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Old 02-06-13, 10:53 PM
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1nterceptor, updated my location. Thanks for pointing that out.

Groucho, I looked up that bike you mentioned looks like a pretty good bike. I also found this one online: https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...lite_trail.htm

There are two places near by that I will be hitting up this weekend to check some bikes out.

Thanks guys,
matt
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Old 02-06-13, 11:11 PM
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I would recommend bikesdirect as a place to get a bike. I bought one for my son from there recently, and 6 weeks in it is all good. Unless you plan on riding off road also, a front shock is just a place to loose energy when you ride. You can soften a hard packed dirt road with tires and somewhat with the frame. You might try a cyclocross style bike. https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...liberty_cx.htm. I like my steel frame, this one has a steel fork at least. I am not a bike expert, but after commuting on mountain bikes for 25 years I recently switched to a cyclocross bike and like it much better. Your mileage may vary . . .
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Old 02-06-13, 11:15 PM
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Going by your route description, I think a hardtail MTB would work well for you. Putting on some different tires (look for puncture resistance) is a good idea too.
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Old 02-07-13, 07:23 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by sbslider View Post
I would recommend bikesdirect as a place to get a bike. I bought one for my son from there recently, and 6 weeks in it is all good. Unless you plan on riding off road also, a front shock is just a place to loose energy when you ride. You can soften a hard packed dirt road with tires and somewhat with the frame. You might try a cyclocross style bike. https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...liberty_cx.htm. I like my steel frame, this one has a steel fork at least. I am not a bike expert, but after commuting on mountain bikes for 25 years I recently switched to a cyclocross bike and like it much better. Your mileage may vary . . .
Yes, this is important too, a cyclocross would be another good choice if you need more speed as the MTB are slower. With those you would have the 700c size wheels which roll faster and the bike is lighter so acceleration will be just as good. If you decide to go the MTB way, something else to consider is that they come in 29er or 26er size wheels. The 29er Hybrid is basically a 700c wheel like the road and cyclocross with fatter tires. If your commutes have alot of stop and go in traffic the 29er Hybrid MTB will be very sluggish accelerating when the light turns green and the 26 will fair much better in those areas as they are more nimble and get up to speed noticeably quicker.
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Old 02-07-13, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by orange57 View Post
1nterceptor, updated my location. Thanks for pointing that out.

Groucho, I looked up that bike you mentioned looks like a pretty good bike. I also found this one online: https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...lite_trail.htm

There are two places near by that I will be hitting up this weekend to check some bikes out.

Thanks guys,
matt

I like a rigid fork better. So in that BD category, I like the Motobecane Caffe Latte, the Mercier Galaxy Tour (bang for buck there!), and the Fuji Absolute, for example.

Looks like 700x28c tires are on all three of those, while the Zum City I showed you and your Motobecane Elite Trail both have wider 40c tires. I like the 40c tires. They're not too fat but still soften the ride some.

I'd say you can pretty much fly on any of these bikes, on hard pavement. Where you will see a difference with a real flat bar road bike is mainly efficiency over longer hauls. Remember that skinnier tires generally mean a stiffer ride and not so handy on the occasional dirt trail. But any of these bikes would be great commuters. They are just optimized for different things. Well, mine's kind of "optimized" to be a cheap all-arounder, a mutt.
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Old 02-07-13, 11:26 AM
  #12  
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personally, i'm a big fan of something like this (over here it's €450, so you guys in the US must have something for roughly 400USD that's similar). it's a great bike to get started with (inexpensive) as you determine what you want later. it actually makes a great long-distance touring bike (2+ weeks) for the money, which alone is worth keeping it around.



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Old 02-07-13, 12:21 PM
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29ers are MTBs with big wheels. Its a fairly new thing in the mass market so you wont find much at your budget or in the used market. 26" is fine for your use.
Make sure that whatever bike you get, it has threaded eyelets for a rear rack.
Make sure the bike fits.
Budget for lights, lock, helmet and gloves and possibly some cycle clothing, eg 3x cycle shorts
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Old 02-07-13, 09:40 PM
  #14  
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MichaelW,

I was looking to get most of the stuff you mentioned as well, but would put that on top of the cost of the bike. I don't want to take away from the bike budget and end up with something i'm not happy with.

i stopped by one local shop today, but they didn't have a great selection of road and commuting bikes. They told me their other location has a better selection, which isn't too far away so will probably go this weekend. The location i stopped at just happened to be on my way home.
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Old 02-07-13, 11:20 PM
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There's a Performance on W. Ray.
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Old 02-07-13, 11:31 PM
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Groucho,

I looked it up the other day and saw that. I know exactly which plaza it is in. And the shop that I went to today has there other location not far from there either. So I will probably take a look at both of those places this weekend.

matt
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Old 02-07-13, 11:56 PM
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stay away from online stores like bikesdirect. unless you have torque wrenches and know how to assemble a bike including truing wheels, packing bearings, setting headsets, etc. you'll have to pay somebody to do it. that usually means going to the LBS where they sell bikes, and you won't score many points going in there with an internet bike and asking to have it built. if you do have an lbs, buy one from them if at all possible. if it's not, buy used, some steel roadie that's been around for 20 years, and will be around for another 20. never stoop to internet bikes, they're almost as bad as walmart bikes, and both are doing their darndest to kill cycling in america.
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Old 02-08-13, 12:14 AM
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MattH,
I believe the shop I was at today was locally owned. Personally I like the idea of purchasing from a local owned shop, even if I will pay a slightly higher price. Although I will still head over to Performance, and there is a Bikes Direct shop right around the corner too, I also want to make sure I get something quality.
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Old 02-08-13, 08:38 AM
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It sounds to me like the OP doesn't have a bike. If that's correct, I'd suggest buying a bike from a good local bike shop (LBS). A mountain bike (can you get slick tires in the price?) or hybrid should fit into the budget, along with lights, patch kit or spare tube, pump, and perhaps a rack and saddle bags (panniers).

I don't doubt OP's mechanical aptitude, but it'd be worthwhile to have a reliable bike for the first 6-18 months to get into the habit of commuting before mechanical issues start rearing their ugly heads. Four miles from home and work is no place to start messing about with derailer adjustment, or brake adjustment, or any of the other little things that can go wrong. A good LBS will make sure that's what they sell, whether new or (more rarely) used.
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Old 02-08-13, 08:41 AM
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MattH, although I personally have no experience with BD and have chosen so far to shop at the brick and mortars, you might notice that some posters have had good experiences with BD and have said so right in this thread. The difficulties of assembling the final 15% of the bike are evidently exaggerated in the minds of those who haven't done it, myself included.

And equating BD bike quality to Walmerde levels is at grave odds with reality.
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Old 02-08-13, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by orange57 View Post
MattH,
I believe the shop I was at today was locally owned. Personally I like the idea of purchasing from a local owned shop, even if I will pay a slightly higher price. Although I will still head over to Performance, and there is a Bikes Direct shop right around the corner too, I also want to make sure I get something quality.
+1

everyone here loves Bikes Direct, which I think is a mistake.

personally, i think it's important to keep the local places in business even at a 50% price increase. if the local places stay in business, tax revenue is higher and the local economy stays stronger.

another point, which is way over your price ceiling, is buying something locally hand-made versus on a ship from Taiwan. when i enter that level of purchases (> €1500) i think it's important to get something handmade in your local region that pays a local person to hand-weld it (German bike makers often hand-weld in Germany or at least in the EU, in that price bracket). that keeps the money and jobs in the local area, which is very important to maintain a high quality-of-life.

same with chain stores versus local shops.
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Old 02-08-13, 08:59 AM
  #22  
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With a good used bicycle, you will get a lot more for your money, if you know what to look for, can do some maintenance, and can find one that fits. Going to a store makes it more likely that you'll have a bicycle that fits you well--very important--and doesn't need any maintenance right away, but you'll get a lot less for your money.

A non-suspension mountain bike should do well, especially if you put smooth tires on it. Personally, I hate flat bars, and would switch them, but that would cost more money, and you may be happy with flat bars.

You definitely should consider not only a rear rack, but also fenders. It's a good idea to carry a pump and a few tools, just in case you need them. Lights can be very helpful, and are essential if you think you may ever end up riding in the dark or in low light-conditions--I like generator lights, but you can get decent battery lights for a bit less than the cost of a generator system. Warm clothing is pretty important here in Ohio, but you may not need it in Arizona.
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Old 02-08-13, 11:11 AM
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If you were a little further south (in Tucson), I know a great bike shop there. You have lots of decent choices in your area though, I'm sure. Just remember to get enough water bottle cages for summer commuting. Although, if you keep to under 10 miles, one bottle would be enough even in Chandler.

I used to ride Tucson-Phoenix a couple times/year, usually early to late summer, so I know you can go through a lot of water pretty quickly when the temps get up.
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Old 02-09-13, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
It sounds to me like the OP doesn't have a bike. If that's correct, I'd suggest buying a bike from a good local bike shop (LBS). A mountain bike (can you get slick tires in the price?) or hybrid should fit into the budget, along with lights, patch kit or spare tube, pump, and perhaps a rack and saddle bags (panniers).

I don't doubt OP's mechanical aptitude, but it'd be worthwhile to have a reliable bike for the first 6-18 months to get into the habit of commuting before mechanical issues start rearing their ugly heads. Four miles from home and work is no place to start messing about with derailer adjustment, or brake adjustment, or any of the other little things that can go wrong. A good LBS will make sure that's what they sell, whether new or (more rarely) used.
I'm looking to get something fairly reliable right off the bat. I have been looking on CL, but the more I think about it, the more likely I am to purchase from a bike shop. While I don't mind fixing things, I'm not looking for a project right now. Maybe down the line I will, but right now i'd rather get something that will be ready to go and not need anything fixed immediately.
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