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Returning to cycling after 12 years, need help.

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Returning to cycling after 12 years, need help.

Old 04-27-13, 12:10 AM
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Returning to cycling after 12 years, need help.

Hello Everyone, first time poster here and I am hoping I can get some advice.

I am wrecked with indecision over what type of bike to get. I am planning on starting to commute in the Bay Area, and I really cant decide if I should get a hybrid or a clyclocross bike. I really like the idea of the cyclocross bikes but I heard it was a bit harder to learn, and also I have never had a bike with drop bars before.

I havent done any biking for over 12 years, but back in the day I used to mountain bike a lot. I am pretty sure that in the long run I will want a bike with dropbars, but I think a hybrid will make my learning a bit easier, as I am pretty scared of riding in traffic right now. I am also decently out of cycling shape. I want a bike that will make it easy for me to get back in shape, while being fun to ride, and also helping me navigate city traffic riding.

Right now I am just really want to get a bike and start riding, but I am just so stuck on which one to buy.

Below are the bikes I have been debating.

Hybrids:

Huckleberry
Cannondale: bad boy.
https://www.cannondale.com/2013/bikes.../urban/bad-boy

Huckleberry
Felt: Cafe 7
https://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2013...f--7-Mens.aspx

Marin: Muirwood 29er
https://www.marinbikes.com/2013/bike_...Muirwoods_29er

Cyclocross:

Mike's
Specialized: Tricross
https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...i-use/tricross

Huckleberry
Sulry: Cross Check
https://surlybikes.com/bikes/cross_check

Velencia or Lombardi
Trek: Crossrip
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ssrip/crossrip

Thanks everyone.
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Old 04-27-13, 04:05 AM
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Like this for an upright flat bar bike. Would make a great commuter with rack and fender mounts. Plus steel always rides well without the harsh feel of aluminum.
[QUOTE=rup3t;15558295]
Marin: Muirwood 29er
https://www.marinbikes.com/2013/bike_...Muirwoods_29er

Good choice....
Specialized: Tricross
https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...i-use/tricross

Another good choice and another steel bike. Except for the brakes, an excellent bike and commuter. In SF with the hills, you may want or need disc brakes especially in wet weather.
Sulry: Cross Check
https://surlybikes.com/bikes/cross_check

Another nice bike with disc brakes.
Trek: Crossrip
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ssrip/crossrip

As for flat or drop bar, much will depend on the position that makes you feel most comfortable and safe. Remember, even with drop bars, people don't always ride in the drops. The advantage with drop bars is the multiple hand positions..... top of the bars, corners, hoods and drops. Of course if your commute is short, this may not make much difference to you.

Really, you need to start shopping locally at several LBS and ask questions about each type of bike, both pros and cons. Learn what makes a good commuter for your local area. Then take a test ride on the bikes that fits your particular needs the most. I'm betting it won't take you to long before you develop your own preferences.

And maybe next year, you'll decide your ready for something different. Never hurts to have more then one bike in the stable as a back-up.

Good luck....
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Old 04-27-13, 06:14 AM
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First, go to your LBS (local bike shop) and ride all sorts of different bikes. Having me tell you what type of bike I like won't necessarily translate into helping you find what works for you. Getting the wrong size bike is also a big problem.

Second, one you've found something that works for you (take your time) and you can afford, get that. In a year or two, if you find that you want something else, you'll then have a lot more experience to know what you want. For commuting, I personally recommend something that can take a rack and many recommend fenders. If you live in a hilly place, I recommend gears.

If you think you want a road bike, cyclocross bikes are a good choice (although take off the knobby tires and put on slicks for road riding). Some people always recommend against hybrids/flat bar bikes. I think that's silly. If a flat bar bike feels more comfortable, then consider that.

Cheers,
Charles
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Old 04-27-13, 06:24 AM
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What I did when I got back on the sadle 3 years ago is that I got the cheapest safely working used bike I found because I didn't want to spend too much money on something I maybe wouldn't like or could not keep up. Now that bike as been turned into my homemade xtracycle and winterbike.

Like cplager wrote before the best thing is to hop on any bike and start from there. Or you can do like many of us and get n+1 bikes, I'm now at 4 bikes and the 5th will be a recumbent.
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Old 04-27-13, 07:06 AM
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IMO, road bikes are more exciting to ride than hybrids. If u have cross lever brakes installed on the hoods it will feel much like a hybrid. The Cross Check is an awesome bike. I also like the GT Corsa 1.0. Go everywhere & ride everything. Then compare with the bikes u listed. B patient.

Last edited by Cfiber; 04-27-13 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 04-27-13, 07:57 AM
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As an admitted hybrid hater I would go that route for riding in traffic, especially as a new rider. That more upright position is very useful in traffic situations, better visibility and quick low speed moves. But I think the advice to ride those bikes before buying is right on, there is no substitute for butt in saddle time.
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Old 04-27-13, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit
As an admitted hybrid hater I would go that route for riding in traffic, especially as a new rider. That more upright position is very useful in traffic situations, better visibility and quick low speed moves. But I think the advice to ride those bikes before buying is right on, there is no substitute for butt in saddle time.
The above is good advice, as is to try it out. Being upright is very valuable when riding in the city. Being able to see cars approaching from driveways and to have them see you is very important. I don't know how old the OP is, but a lot of us as we get older prefer a more upright riding posture anyway.

Gears and brakes! Don't get hung up on disc brakes. Cantis and V-brakes work just fine. Gears - you'll need them in that hilly terrain, I'd recommend a triple, ideally with a cassette with teeth into the 30's.
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Old 04-27-13, 12:40 PM
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Hi everyone, thanks for the advice. I have been trying out bikes, but one of the problems I am finding is that I am not very comfortable with road riding yet, and so when I'm trying out the bikes I am spending most of my time concentrating on not getting hit by a car, so its hard to really "feel" the bike.

I was originally going to get a hybrid for the reason listed above, but I just love the idea of the drop bars. I am off to ride a few more bikes today. Wish me luck.
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Old 04-27-13, 12:43 PM
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I would start with a cheapish LBS mountain bike with commuter tires and then get the cyclocross bike when you feel ready.

People here often disparage mountain bikes, but in my experience they actually work great, with or without front suspension. I commuted all winter on a Trek 4300 that cost me $200, and the difference from a road bike over 10 miles is only a couple minutes.

I've gone through several different types of bikes for commuting, and by far my favorite is the CX. I had a hybrid for a couple of years and will never ride one again.

Another thing I've learned over the years is that one bike is definitely not enough.
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Old 04-27-13, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Hairy Legs
People here often disparage mountain bikes, but in my experience they actually work great, with or without front suspension. I commuted all winter on a Trek 4300 that cost me $200, and the difference from a road bike over 10 miles is only a couple minutes.
Agree.

An upright flat bar bike, whether a MTB or city bike makes a good commuter. Lots of people at work commute and judging by the bikes, it's equally split between drop and flat bar bikes.

Last edited by GFish; 04-28-13 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 04-27-13, 03:54 PM
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Mtbikes work good 4 commuting on paved roads, as long as it has a rigid fork. If the roads vary between dirt, gravel, and paved, a front suspension might b helpful, if there's more gravel than dirt. Nothing beats a road bike complete with rack & cross lever brakes 4 commuting or longer distances.

Last edited by Cfiber; 04-28-13 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 04-28-13, 10:01 PM
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So I went out looking at bikes all day long today. I'm pretty sure I have narrowed it down to these two:

Specialized: Tricross
https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...i-use/tricross

Trek: Crossrip
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ssrip/crossrip

I just wasn't feeling the hybrids, and everyone said make sure I get something I will love to ride.

I really enjoyed riding the Crossrip, but I didnt like the thumb shifters. I loved the mat black color of the Crossrip, but I really want all the components from the Crossrip Elite. As for the Tricross, I only got to ride the lowest level, and I didnt like the breaks. I am in love with the highest level of Tricross, but I really don't think I can bring myself to spend $1900 for an entry level bike.

I know the two are very close in geometry but I cant decide which I should get.
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Old 04-28-13, 10:15 PM
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Yeah it's too bad about the thumb shifters - that is what turned me off the Crossrip as well. They should have used the new Sora ST-3500's instead...

Have you looked at Kona Jake?
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Old 04-28-13, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rup3t
So I went out looking at bikes all day long today. I'm pretty sure I have narrowed it down to these two:

Specialized: Tricross
https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...i-use/tricross

Trek: Crossrip
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ssrip/crossrip

I just wasn't feeling the hybrids, and everyone said make sure I get something I will love to ride.

I really enjoyed riding the Crossrip, but I didnt like the thumb shifters. I loved the mat black color of the Crossrip, but I really want all the components from the Crossrip Elite. As for the Tricross, I only got to ride the lowest level, and I didnt like the breaks. I am in love with the highest level of Tricross, but I really don't think I can bring myself to spend $1900 for an entry level bike.

I know the two are very close in geometry but I cant decide which I should get.
I do like the Tricross bikes. However, I don't like their aluminum forks. The only Tricross IMO that's worthy, would b the Tricross Elite Steel Disc model, but it just might b a bit overpriced. IMO a better road bike bargain is this one: www.gtbicycles.com/2013/bikes/road/performance/corsa-1-0

Aluminum is great, just not on forks!

Last edited by Cfiber; 04-28-13 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 04-29-13, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by rup3t
. I am in love with the highest level of Tricross, but I really don't think I can bring myself to spend $1900 for an entry level bike.
??? What makes you believe its an 'entry level' bike??? It's your money, but, IMO you need a lot more experience before you spend more than $300 on a bike. Find someone with that experience. If I came into some money I could trust a couple of the guys at my LBS to help me spend it wisely. I've built that relationship over years. YMMV.

H

Edit: FWIW. Fear of traffic doesn't usually go away with more experience. Some people just aren't wired for vehicular cycling. It's your money, but I wouldn't spend too much until I knew for sure I was going to like cycling in traffic.

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Old 04-29-13, 05:05 AM
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CX bikes need a few considerations for everyday use.
Rack and mudguard eyelets.
Rear brake location compatible with rack and mudguards. The seatstay location is usually out of the way and doesn't interfere.
Aluminium forks are OK, I have these on my everyday commuter bike and I'm just as happy as with steel.
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Old 04-29-13, 06:19 AM
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If you would eventually like to get back into cycling, I would get a cross bike -- but make sure it has eyelets for fenders and racks. Hybrids are very limiting if you want to do more than ride on MUTs and short commutes. They are heavy and the upright riding position makes it hard to get aerodynamic if you later decide to ride centuries or longer rides. A cross bike would give you more options for riding on the road as well as trails.

I also would consider some different models. Check out the Soma Doublecross, Gunnar Crosshairs and All City Space Horse. All three models (as well as the Surly Crosscheck) have eyelets for racks and fenders and canti brakes -- which provide clearance for larger tires and fenders.
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Old 04-29-13, 08:38 AM
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My CX commuter has an alloy fork and it's fine. I wouldn't want to run 120 psi road tires with it, but @70 psi in the front it is just as comfortable as the carbon fork on my roadie.
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Old 04-29-13, 10:04 AM
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OP - how long is your commute?
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Old 04-29-13, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc
OP - how long is your commute?
Between 2 and 3 miles, depending on which route I take. This is San Francisco, and I live in a hilly part of the city.
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Old 04-29-13, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rup3t
Between 2 and 3 miles, depending on which route I take. This is San Francisco, and I live in a hilly part of the city.
If you live in the hilly part of SF, remember: (low) gears are your friend.
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Old 04-29-13, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by rup3t
Between 2 and 3 miles, depending on which route I take. This is San Francisco, and I live in a hilly part of the city.
I would def go the mountain bike with slicks route to start then...especially if you can find a nice old rigid fork mtb on CL or at a garage sale for a reasonable price. Your commute is so short that timewise it doesnt' matter what you ride, and the mtb would be good for all the reasons already stated (riding position, visibility, gearing for those hills, etc.).

I ride a Cyclocross bike to work, but my commute is 14 miles one way with about two stop signs and two traffic lights the entire way. I have a 9 mile stretch with just one traffic light, and it's easy to time so you never hit it red.

If you want to do other riding - longer distances on weekends - the cc bike might be a btter choice. Or a good second bike to have. For around the city, I would def go used MTB with slicks.
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Old 04-29-13, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc
I would def go the mountain bike with slicks route to start then...especially if you can find a nice old rigid fork mtb on CL or at a garage sale for a reasonable price. Your commute is so short that timewise it doesnt' matter what you ride, and the mtb would be good for all the reasons already stated (riding position, visibility, gearing for those hills, etc.).

I ride a Cyclocross bike to work, but my commute is 14 miles one way with about two stop signs and two traffic lights the entire way. I have a 9 mile stretch with just one traffic light, and it's easy to time so you never hit it red.

If you want to do other riding - longer distances on weekends - the cc bike might be a btter choice. Or a good second bike to have. For around the city, I would def go used MTB with slicks.
I agree with this.

If you do go with a cyclocross bike (which is a fine choice), look for one with a triple crank up front. Big hills and not used to biking really mean you want low gears.

CL mountain bikes with solid forks are almost all going to be geared ready to climb a mountain and you should be good to go. (Don't forget to take off the knobbies and put on the slick tires).
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Old 04-29-13, 11:25 AM
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Used bikes are really expensive up here due to demand, so I'll probably just get a new bike. Would something like this be better than the CX bike then?

Cannondale: bad boy.
https://www.cannondale.com/2013/bikes/recreation-urban/urban/bad-boy/bad-boy-9

I could pick one of these up for under $600.
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Old 04-30-13, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by rup3t
Used bikes are really expensive up here due to demand, so I'll probably just get a new bike. Would something like this be better than the CX bike then?

Cannondale: bad boy.
https://www.cannondale.com/2013/bikes/recreation-urban/urban/bad-boy/bad-boy-9

I could pick one of these up for under $600.
You'd be surprised! A look at SF craigslist for just todays listings, just rigid MTB's, under $300 and with pictures, nets the below for the first dozen pages of results.* And actually all of these turned out to be $225 or under. In Seattle I often contact sellers from 3 days to a week ago and they still haven't sold, but it looks like you've got plenty to choose from.

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/3775221921.html
That's exactly the kind of thing we're recommending. LOTS of us commute on bikes like this.
$150 for Specialized Hardrock, full rigid, already has a rear rack

Here's another Hard Rock that looks really clean for $160. There are a LOT of 20 year old mountain bikes on CL that have sat in someones garage that entire time and only been ridden a handful of times. To me this looks like one of them. A tune up and some city tires and you have a brand new bike for very little investment!
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/bik/3770788031.html
This Hard Rock actually fits the above description to a T! ($165)
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/bik/3759717831.html
And another! ($150)
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/bik/3760357134.html

Here's a Rock Hopper for only $100 that the owner has just ridden from Berkeley to Ft Bragg and back, so one assumes it is running well. Seller delivers too! Already has a rear rack
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/3773723672.html

This vintage Schwinn would have the advantage of probably being passed over by bike thieves, but I think is probably a solid offering. A bargain at $80 too.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/3775000131.html

If you happen to be short statured, this one is the real steal. $40 for a Rockhopper! Already has a rear rack.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/3774771941.html

At the other end of the spectrum is this Marin, which is for a rather tall person ($225):
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/bik/3774575104.html
Judging by the U-brake mounted under the stays this is probably cicra '88. Those can be tricky to set up. It's too bad the pictures aren't a little better quality, I can't tell if that is a rack with a funky bag of the rear wheel or what is going on there.

Since you were considering spending a lot more, for $275 here's a Stumpjumper that sounds like it's all tuned up and ready to go, and fairly nice.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/3773975769.html

This Bridgestone CB-1 is an interesting offering. I bet someone here could tell us a lot about this design, and it is probably sought after by some. This is probably almost exactly what you are looking for really, as it appears to be a mountain bike with a slightly more upright riding posture. No doubt one of Grant's early creations. Only $120. The paint looks mint, and it appears to already have city tires on it. This one might actually be a good one to flip if you decided you wanted something nicer or with drop bars later, some people collect this vintage Bridgestone.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/bik/3774300900.html

A very pretty orange Bianchi Osprey MTB, already equipped with city tires for $130:
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/bik/3760512490.html

I see a lot of these Trek 830's converted for city use for some reason, although one rigid MTB is nearly as good as another as long as it isn't exceptionally heavy. Maybe there were just more of these made? This one's a bargain at $85, especially since the seller says "everything tested and adjusted" and it already has city tires.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/bik/3774765530.html

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/bik/3764578300.html
Gary Fisher "new gears", rear rack, and a light that might be ok as a "be seen" light: $120

This Marin ($160) is interesting and very clean. I've never seen that logo on a LX rear derailuer, I wonder if it is pretty early? It looks brand new, like it hasn't been ridden at all, but it is at least 20 years old. Marin's are nice bikes.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/bik/3773694276.html

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/bik/3775109656.html
$150 Raleigh Technium
Another Technium for $80
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/bik/3728652016.html

Acouple more bikes for the short statured:
Trek Mountaintrack $60
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/3774502626.html
Giant Upland $95
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/bik/3770150806.html
This one is curious to me. It looks like a mountain bike, but appears to be newer vintage, but with a 1" stem, which means it was probably either very low end or is actually a hybrid, which would appear to be born out by the shock seat post. I think it's got a full range of gears though, so it really appears to be a mountain bike masquerading as a comfort bike. Seller says it had a tune up recently.

Another Specialized Hardrock full rigid MTB, this one for $200:
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/bik/3748525118.html
Unlike a lot of the older offerings here, this full rigid mountain bike has V-brakes, and rapid fire shifters, as well as a modern stem which makes changing handle bars easy.

A Diamondback Sorrento for $120
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/3751510346.html

Two more Rock Hoppers one for $95 another for $80:
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/3760741401.html
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/bik/3728634498.html
And another for $50
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/bik/3773749706.html
And another for $130
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/3773569462.html

$120 Raleigh M20 (although it seems to me the older low-end Raleigh MTB's are unneccessarily heavy)
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/bik/3775174055.html
A newer M20 for $175, and although this is really clean and says its freshly tuned, personally I wouldn't get something with grip shifters.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/3761689493.html

Another low-end offering, but a bargain at $40 and again, likely unattractive to a thief. IIRC, Skykomish is a Norco/Sekai bike. I paid twice that for a virtually brand new 1991 Sekai Mountaineer that I picked up a couple of years ago and commuted on for a few months. At 21" it was just a little small for me, but it kept me rolling while I looked for something better for commuting and overhauled my tourer. I'd pass on this if the wheels are low quality, the ones on my Sekai are, but they handled Seattle's rough streets and my weight surprisingly well. In fact, I borrowed the rear wheel off of it for a few more months for my commuter as I built it up. Despite being a nutted, steel wheel, it held up just fine to about a thousand miles of riding.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/bik/3773996521.html

Nothing special about this Fuji Tahoe for $110, just yet another example of the kind of bike that makes a good MTB conversion and the typical price for one in your area. Whenever you see splatterpaint like this you can bet it is a very late 80's or very early 90's bike.
https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/bik/3770250076.html

SF's market appears about the same price-wise as Seattle. I was surprised at how much was available, luckily it was a slow night at work, otherwise I wouldn't have stuck to trying to list all the suitable offerings from today! There's actually three more pages of results from the 29th, which I narrowed some by limiting the max to $300.

If you are interested in going this route we'd be happy to help vet any potential purchases if you toss the link up. There are plenty of threads discussing converting an MTB for city use to help you out, or you could start another here.

Many of us are maxxed out on how many bikes we can have at the moment and are happy to shop vicariously through you and same with the upgrades. IMO a converted MTB is the way to go in-city. I ride a lower end mountain bike from 1993 (GT Outpost) everyday about 15 miles.

Do you know what size MTB you are looking for? This should be your first criteria to narrow down your search. Don't settle for anything that isn't a good size for you. I suspect if you set the search criteria for $200-500 you'd get some really nice older mountain bikes that were in excellent running condition, but any of the above would be suitable, and a lot of them are good deals. A number of them look like they may only need slick tires and a rack, but some may need new cables, housings, and brake pads. Still, a rather inexpensive way to see if bike commuting suits you, and how you like a more upright style of riding than drop bars.

* There were actually a few more mountain bikes in this price range on CL SF and I ran out of time while it was slow at work, so the above was just the first 13 pages of suitable listings for the 29th. There were a few I couldn't determine if they were suitable as they lacked pictures, two that were actually all the way out in Vacaville including a very early Schwinn MTB for a rather tall person, a lower end GT that they wanted a bit much for and had grip shifters, a few that were too ugly for me to recommend, a Gary Fisher Wahoo that had grip shifters, and one listed as a mountain bike that seems to be more of a low end comfort bike.

Last edited by Medic Zero; 04-30-13 at 04:20 AM.
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