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Best commuting bike for my needs

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Best commuting bike for my needs

Old 06-06-14, 10:35 AM
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Best commuting bike for my needs

Good morning everyone!

Longtime forum browser, first time poster here. I am moving to Madison, WI in the upcoming weeks and am looking for a versatile bike for commuting to work (4 miles RT), grocery shopping/errands, rails-to-trails and occaisional light touring and offroad use (i.e. nothing hardcore). Based on my research and test rides, these are the final criteria that I've established for said bike:

TYPE: Given the wide range of conditions in which I plan to use the bike, I found that a Cyclocross bike fits the bill perfectly. I don't plan on racing with it, but want to make sure that the bike is fitted with reliable and high-quality components. My road bike is a 2006 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra -- while I don't expect my new bike to match that spec, I don't want a bike which has crap components and handles like an army tank.

PRICE: $1300 ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM (before tax). My original budget was $1000, so this is already quite a stretch.

FRAME: Aluminum. I know that steel frames in theory have improved shock/vibration absoprtion. However, after riding several steel and aluminum frame bikes, I much preferred the lesser weight of aluminum. Plus, aluminum frames with carbon forks and nicely spec'd tires were very comparable to steel in terms of shock/vibration absorption.

GEO: Coming from a road bike, I've got to have drop handlebars. I would prefer to be in a slightly more upright riding position than my road bike.

COMPONENTS: Shimano Sora at the very least. Because I plan on doing much riding in inclement weather, disc brakes are a MUST. I'd prefer something like a BB7, but realize that at my pricepoint I may have to make some sacrifices (if only $$$ grew on trees!).

After test riding numerous bikes, my final 2 contenders are:
Trek Crossrip Elite - $1150 (On sale from $1270)
Cannondale CAADX Disc 6 Tiagra - $1259

The CAADX overall has better spec, is lighter and felt more nimble than the Crossrip. I still very much enjoyed the ride of the Crossrip, however, it just didn't seem quite as responsive as the CAADX (probably due to aforementioned weight/spec differences). That being said, my decision is being complicated by several factors:

1.) I would prefer to purchase the bike in Madison (for ease of bike servicing and dealer support, not to mention lower sales tax). However, Madison has ZERO dedicated Cannondale dealers (I find this strange as Madison is such a bike-friendly city). On the other hand, there are 2 HUGE Trek dealers in Madison (both stores are actually owned by Trek). The complimentary bike service plan they offer with any bike purchase is fantastic (initial fitting, 2 full tune ups, unlimited brake and derailleur/shifter adjustments). The Trek store also discounts all accessories purchased with the bike at 10% off.

2.) The Crossrip is less expensive than the CAADX. The $109 saved could then be applied towards a rack and fenders or other accesories.

3.) The CAADX overall has better spec (Tiagra vs. Sora), however I am suspect of the discs (Promax Render R?). The Crossrip comes with Hayes CX5s (which I have heard great things about).

4.) Because I will be commuting the work, the bike will be locked up outside for 8-10 hours/day. The Crossrip sports an urban stealth slate grey finish which does not scream "STEAL ME." On the other hand, the CAADX (while beautiful) is brightly colored and decaled -- I would be somewhat apprehensive about locking it up outside (especially given that it's also more expensive).

Any thoughts or recommendations on which bike to go with? The CAADX is a better bike on paper (and slightly better to ride), however the above factors are complicating my decision. Does anyone have any experience with either of these bikes? Since I've never commuted to work before, I would also appreciate any thoughts/experiences regarding locking the bike up outside.

Sorry for the long post and thank you in advance!
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Old 06-06-14, 10:45 AM
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Sounds like a no brainer with the after sales service at the 2 local Trek stores.

I don't know how "safe" Madison is for locking a fairly expensive bike up but I'm no fan of expensive bikes for commuting for that reason. If I were in your shoes, I'd get 2 bikes.

(1) I'd buy a used bike (probably a rigid mtb) for commuting and esp. for lock up duty. Those tend to be readily available and inexpensive (less than $200). Don't forget you need more than just a bike for a commuter. You will need lights, a lock, fenders, bags, etc. That can drive up the costs pretty fast.

(2) Then I'd buy a bike for riding and buy it 2d hand to keep the total budget at around $1300.

Failing that, the Trek seems like a no brainer choice given the before and after sales service in Madison you described.
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Old 06-06-14, 10:46 AM
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I would only purchase the bicycle that felt best when riding. I would never settle for anything less than the best possible ride that my money could afford.

Therefore, I vote for the CAAD X and some type of good rapport with some LBS. If there's a bicycle co-op nearby, then depend less upon external bicycle repair sources. Instead, become more mechanically independent! Just have a good rapport with a least one LBS, for the few things that may be beyond your skill level.


I agree with Bikemig with regards to locking your bike up for extended periods of time at some frequent location. Bike theft would be my primary concern while working...

IMO, a used bike would be a better option...

Last edited by WestPablo; 06-06-14 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 06-06-14, 12:24 PM
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You're considering a country bike. Its not really a CX bike. Its a road bike that draws from the mountain bike, hybrid bike and CX bike heritage to create a versatile pack mule of a bike.

My Schwinn Super Sport DBX is typical of the line. A few are up for sale on the Bay now. Great bike for trails to rails riding as well on pavement. Other bikes in this mold to look at are the aforementioned Trek Crossrip, Salsa Vaya, Surly Ogre and the Soma Saga. They will all be built with a relaxed geometry, have braze on mounts for fenders and racks and they will be able to accept fatter tires than the typical road bike. And you can ride them places impassable for a road bike.
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Old 06-06-14, 12:49 PM
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Thanks for the replies everyone!

After some brief research, it turns out that Madison has secure "bike lockers" strewn throughout the city which can be rented annually at a fairly reasonable rate ($85 per annum). These "lockers" completely enclose the bike and are secured with electronic locks. This takes the theft factor out of my decision.

That being said...

Cannondale CAADX Disc 6 Tiagra or Trek Crossrip Elite?

Thanks for all the suggestions in addition to these bikes, but after much research and test riding multiple bikes, I've hammered it down to these two.
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Old 06-07-14, 01:51 PM
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Bump bump bumpity McBumperson
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Old 06-07-14, 01:57 PM
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Have fun in Madison, check out Yellow Jersey and Machinery Row bike shops.
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Old 06-07-14, 04:17 PM
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If you want reliability, especially if you'll be relying on this for primary transportation (you didn't say), I would give some serious consideration to an internally geared rear hub, internal brakes, and a fully enclosed chaincase. Makes life much more enjoyable up here from Oct thru Mar.
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Old 06-08-14, 12:38 AM
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Any decent bike shop will have no trouble servicing a Cannondale bike. Don't worry about that.
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