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Berate me if necessary: newb looking for advice

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Berate me if necessary: newb looking for advice

Old 01-25-15, 11:19 PM
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Shadoninja
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Berate me if necessary: newb looking for advice

Hello guys! I am starting a job in Boulder, Colorado. The company I will be working at is located right off of the town;s main strip, so it's safe to say I will be riding the city streets on my way to work. The ride will be about 1.5 miles from the apartment I am currently looking at. I plan on carrying my laptop and other miscellaneous things with me to work in a backpack (maybe this is bad?). Any advice for what bikes to look at? I glanced through the stickies on this sub-forum and didn't see where to start. I'm probably blind.

EDIT: 5.8 134lbs

Last edited by Shadoninja; 01-25-15 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 01-26-15, 12:51 AM
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I would look at a flat bar road bike if you're new to commuting. You can always switch it to drop bars, on the same bike later if you'd like.

I nice, inexpensive GIANT Escape would fit the bill. I think they run about $350 or so where you are ...

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Old 01-26-15, 02:18 AM
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Welcome! Always nice to see another commuter join the ranks!

You can do 1.5 miles on pretty much any bike. You can, in fact, do it reasonably quickly without a bike. So a few questions to help narrow things down a little bit:

1) Are you planning to do any other riding in addition to commuting?
2) What's your budget?
3) What's the parking situation like at your place of employment? Can you bring the bike inside?
4) Are you planning to ride only on nice days, or in bad weather as well?

Backpack will work fine at the beginning (just make sure it's waterproof if you do ride in the rain). It might be fine forever, for a commute that short. If you decide you want to switch to something else, you could always upgrade later (just be aware that some road/racing bikes might not have eyelets to attach a rack, which could limit your options).

Here are a few sample scenarios; it'll help you figure out which situation is closest to your own:

1) Are you planning to do any other riding in addition to commuting?


YES, LEISURELY MODERATELY LONG RECREATIONAL RIDES ON BIKE PATHS: Urban, comfort, or hybrid bike
YES, FASTER PACED AND/OR LONGISH RECREATIONAL RIDES: Flat bar road bike, cyclocross bike, touring bike
YES, FAST ROAD RIDES: Flat bar road bike, road bike, cyclocross bike, touring bike
YES, UNPAVED, SOMEWHAT TECHNICAL TRAILS: Mountain bike
NO: Any bike that looks good and feels comfortable. I'd go with the cheapest bike that satisfies those criteria

2) What's your budget*?
UNDER $100 - Used is your only option. Check out craigslist. You can get a serviceable beater for this price.
UNDER $350 - Used, craigslist. You might be able to get a decent hybrid/mtb for this price. New is possible, but pretty entry-level.
UNDER $500 - You can get an okay/decent bike shop bike for this price, or a nice used bike
UNDER $1000 - You can get a very good new hybrid/comfort/mtb, an entry-level (mind you, still pretty good) new road bike, or a really sweet used bike of any kind
ABOVE $1000 - Lucky you! Lots of choice. Definitely an overkill for a 1.5 mile commute though, so make sure you do something else with that biek!

*Note that your budget should include a few things beyond the bike itself, namely:

- helmet (mandatory if there are helmet laws; otherwise, read the helmet threads to form an opinion)
- pump (pretty damn necessary, unless you already have one or live across a bike shop that has a 24 public-accessible pump)
- flat repair kit (though you could always walk your commute, and get a bike shop to repair your flats.. but doing it yourself is cheaper and generally faster)
- fenders (if you plan on riding when the ground is wet, you'll need them)
- rack and bike bags(optional, but you might want to go there eventually)
- lights (a must if you're riding within an hour of sunset or sunrise)
- multitool (comes in handy)
- lock(s) (how big and expensive will depend on how expensive your bike is and what the parking situation at work is like)

3) What's the parking situation like at your place of employment? Can you bring the bike inside?


SECURE INDOOR PARKING (preferably right by your side in an office) - Lucky you.
OUTDOOR PARKING - Two issues here: the climatic elements and the criminal element. The less secure and more exposed the parking area, the more conservative you want to be with the kind of bike you chain outside for the day and the better you want to lock it. How often do you expect to ride on rainy days? How is your area for crime?

4) Are you planning to ride only on nice days, or in bad weather as well?

This will help determine whether you need to bother with things like fenders, waterproof bags etc. Also, you don't want a really nice bike sitting outside in crummy weather a lot. In fact, if you want a nice bike and you want to commute in all weather and leave your commuter outside exposed to rain and vulnerable to theft, you might want to get two bikes: "the commuter" and "the nice bike".... But we all know where this is going... the n+1 bike fever. Once you start adding bikes to the stable it never ends. Just be warned.

Last edited by chephy; 01-26-15 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 01-26-15, 07:07 AM
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^^What he wrote. Great stuff, Chephy.
Just curious, Chephy, where's your commute?
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Old 01-26-15, 08:05 AM
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You will be berated if your name is any indication of how you plan to ride. Get some lights. Don't be a ninja.
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Old 01-26-15, 08:24 AM
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Unless you plan to do other recreational riding, touring, etc., I would simply walk to work for that distance. It would be just as much or more exercise, and much simpler and cheaper. A reasonably fit person should be able to walk 1.5 miles easily in 30 minutes. It probably would take almost that long to ride a bike when you factor in the time taken to get prepared and pack your gear in the morning, ride to work, and lock it up.

However, if you view commuting as an entry point -- or gateway drug -- to cycling, start commuting by all means. It's a great sport/hobby for overall fitness as well as fun.
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Old 01-26-15, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Unless you plan to do other recreational riding, touring, etc., I would simply walk to work for that distance. It would be just as much or more exercise, and much simpler and cheaper. A reasonably fit person should be able to walk 1.5 miles easily in 30 minutes. It probably would take almost that long to ride a bike when you factor in the time taken to get prepared and pack your gear in the morning, ride to work, and lock it up.

However, if you view commuting as an entry point -- or gateway drug -- to cycling, start commuting by all means. It's a great sport/hobby for overall fitness as well as fun.
Great point!

1.5min should be quite easy.
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Old 01-26-15, 09:27 AM
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1.5 miles I'd use a backpack, and ride in whatever clothes I worked in. Maybe, without carrying clothes, not even a backpack. Keep a change at work, just in case.

Sure you could walk it, but I'd still ride. Depending on the overall hassle. It's not really logical to select your bike based on a really short commute in my opinion. I'd say choose one that you'll ride otherwise, recreation, sport, utility, or mountain trails or fixed gear if that's your thing, and use that bike for the commute. Any other equipment - I mean lights, pump, anything else - depends on specifics of your ride. If you don't mind walking your bike for a mile for example and have decent tires, you might find it more convenient to not carry patches and pump. For daylight commutes, lights aren't all that necessary or at most some cheap blinkies. I'd be inclined to just hop on the bike and ride it.
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Old 01-26-15, 09:56 AM
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Any bike that you like to ride will be fine. Just get a bike. If it has two wheels, it will do the job. If it proves unsuitable, by then, you will have a finer vision of what you need to have.

I get the point about walking being better than riding such a short distance, but perhaps our OP will end up using the bike for shopping and social visits and maybe even recreation. It's not a bad thing to have a bike. It beats using a car for short trips!
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Old 01-26-15, 10:12 AM
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On a clear dry day, any bike, no problem. Get some lights.

In snow, are you still going to ride?

You might want to get a mountain bike, because come on, how could you not have a mountain bike in Colorado?

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Old 01-26-15, 10:13 AM
  #11  
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https://boulder.craigslist.org/bik/4838492086.html

ride it into the ground until you figure out what you want and what your style is. At a150$ a 50 dolla tune up is a good investment also.
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Old 01-26-15, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Unless you plan to do other recreational riding, touring, etc., I would simply walk to work for that distance. It would be just as much or more exercise, and much simpler and cheaper. A reasonably fit person should be able to walk 1.5 miles easily in 30 minutes. It probably would take almost that long to ride a bike when you factor in the time taken to get prepared and pack your gear in the morning, ride to work, and lock it up.

However, if you view commuting as an entry point -- or gateway drug -- to cycling, start commuting by all means. It's a great sport/hobby for overall fitness as well as fun.
I agree here. You'll spend more time getting ready to ride than riding. I used to live about that distance from my work and once I realized how healthy it would be to walk to work I did. If you're definitely wanting to ride, I would walk the commute distance, drop my gear off, fuel up, change and hit the road for 25 miles. I think you'll be more pleased with your results.

My 2 cents
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Old 01-26-15, 11:31 AM
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Take the long way home, then follow prescribed advice ^ to gain more health benefits.
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Old 01-26-15, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Shadoninja View Post
...

I do like mountain biking. So you are suggesting buy a bike for the trails and double it as a commute bike 5x a week? Will 15 miles of road riding every week wear out a set of trail tires?

YES I want a mountain bike too! Someone else said to buy whatever and then use it for the commute since the ride isn't that long. If people agree with this suggestion, I will take that approach. ...
Yes, that is exactly what I suggest!

The 15 miles of road riding won't wear out your trail tires. In fact they'll probably last longer, and the lower pressure tires will be more comfortable over any rough stuff. You won't be worried about maximizing your speed on the 1.5 mile commute, which is the main point of road tires.

And buying something to go along with your new job is the perfect reason to get the kind of bike you want. Just bear in mind that the first bike you buy is learning what you want for when you buy your second bike, so I advise against splurging too much. But that's not hard and fast either - some do splurge on the first bike and don't regret it.
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Old 01-26-15, 12:56 PM
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Wow so many replies! Time for a mega response:

To do a blanket response to those involved in the walk-vs-bike argument, I am looking to bike more! I have been rocking my mom's old $50 girl junker bike for 5 years. I have taken this thing all over mountains that it had no business being on (my elbows are still numb from some of those trails). I have a huge interest in riding to work since I am so close as this will A) give me an excuse to ween myself back into biking, and B) I want something new now that I have a big-boy job and can buy myself something nice. Price is not really an issue, but I don't think I will be dropping $1000 on my first bike unless it will provide me with something a little extra like unconditional joy, or a wonderful girlfriend.

Onward to the replies!

Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
I would look at a flat bar road bike if you're new to commuting. You can always switch it to drop bars, on the same bike later if you'd like.

I nice, inexpensive GIANT Escape would fit the bill. I think they run about $350 or so where you are ...

Escape 3 (2015) | Giant Bicycles | United States
I read about Giant last night and was becoming a bit curious so I am glad you recommend them. I read they are super heavy though. Is this a spec to consider?

Originally Posted by chephy View Post
Welcome! Always nice to see another commuter join the ranks!

You can do 1.5 miles on pretty much any bike. You can, in fact, do it reasonably quickly without a bike. So a few questions to help narrow things down a little bit:

1) Are you planning to do any other riding in addition to commuting?
2) What's your budget?
3) What's the parking situation like at your place of employment? Can you bring the bike inside?
4) Are you planning to ride only on nice days, or in bad weather as well?

Backpack will work fine at the beginning (just make sure it's waterproof if you do ride in the rain). It might be fine forever, for a commute that short. If you decide you want to switch to something else, you could always upgrade later (just be aware that some road/racing bikes might not have eyelets to attach a rack, which could limit your options).
1) Are you planning to do any other riding in addition to commuting?

Mountain biking is something I am very interested in, but will getting a nice mountain bike make it unsuitable as a 15 mile-a-week commuter?

2) What's your budget*?

Budget is whatever. If someone can sell me on something around $700 I would probably end up getting it. I want to really enjoy bike riding so I am going to be open-minded and just read what people suggest.

3) What's the parking situation like at your place of employment? Can you bring the bike inside?

Let's assume there is indoor parking. I don't know this for sure, but my office is really nice and has a bike pool for people who want to ride into downtown for lunch (haven't seen this area yet). I will update this if I find out this changes.

4) Are you planning to ride only on nice days, or in bad weather as well?

Haha your example for this one made me smile. I am open to riding in any weather, but if that limits me I will make this answer a "no." I like riding my bike in the rain as long as my hands are freezing. I may be weird, but it is fun battling the elements sometimes!


Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Unless you plan to do other recreational riding, touring, etc., I would simply walk to work for that distance. It would be just as much or more exercise, and much simpler and cheaper. A reasonably fit person should be able to walk 1.5 miles easily in 30 minutes. It probably would take almost that long to ride a bike when you factor in the time taken to get prepared and pack your gear in the morning, ride to work, and lock it up.

However, if you view commuting as an entry point -- or gateway drug -- to cycling, start commuting by all means. It's a great sport/hobby for overall fitness as well as fun.
I didn't plan on "gearing up" for this ride. Am I a misfit for the commuter section of this forum? Total newb here.

Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
1.5 miles I'd use a backpack, and ride in whatever clothes I worked in. Maybe, without carrying clothes, not even a backpack. Keep a change at work, just in case.

Sure you could walk it, but I'd still ride. Depending on the overall hassle. It's not really logical to select your bike based on a really short commute in my opinion. I'd say choose one that you'll ride otherwise, recreation, sport, utility, or mountain trails or fixed gear if that's your thing, and use that bike for the commute. Any other equipment - I mean lights, pump, anything else - depends on specifics of your ride. If you don't mind walking your bike for a mile for example and have decent tires, you might find it more convenient to not carry patches and pump. For daylight commutes, lights aren't all that necessary or at most some cheap blinkies. I'd be inclined to just hop on the bike and ride it.
I do like mountain biking. So you are suggesting buy a bike for the trails and double it as a commute bike 5x a week? will 15 miles of road riding every week wear out a set of trail tires?

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
On a clear dry day, any bike, no problem. Get some lights.

In snow, are you still going to ride?

You might want to get a mountain bike, because come on, how could you not have a mountain bike in Colorado?

Trails | Boulder Mountainbike Alliance
YES I want a mountain bike too! Someone else said to buy whatever and then use it for the commute since the ride isn't that long. If people agree with this suggestion, I will take that approach.

Originally Posted by jdswitters View Post
https://boulder.craigslist.org/bik/4838492086.html

ride it into the ground until you figure out what you want and what your style is. At a150$ a 50 dolla tune up is a good investment also.
I am very on-board with buying a mid-grade bike right off the bat. Used is fine, but I have a sack of garbage already (not saying your link is to a bad one, but I have a bigger budget than that).

Originally Posted by metz1295 View Post
I agree here. You'll spend more time getting ready to ride than riding. I used to live about that distance from my work and once I realized how healthy it would be to walk to work I did. If you're definitely wanting to ride, I would walk the commute distance, drop my gear off, fuel up, change and hit the road for 25 miles. I think you'll be more pleased with your results.

My 2 cents
Not bad advice. I am fairly healthy and lift weights (still skinny but on my way up!). My work has no dress code. I don't think I will be changing upon arrival (based on some of the people's responses so far).

If you read all that, thank you. I am impressed with the amount of people that replied to my open-ended question.
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Old 01-26-15, 01:06 PM
  #16  
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Few people here would want to discourage you from commuting or biking in general. The more the merrier. From the additional information you provided, I would recommend getting whatever bike you would enjoy riding for any purpose -- be it mountain biking, touring, recreational riding or strictly commuting. Your commute route is short enough that you could ride it on virtually any bike. So make your choice based on what sort of bike you would like to ride the most outside of work. However, if planning to commute, a bike frame that would accept fenders and a rear rack, would make commuting much easier in the long run.

A lot of us have longer preparation times because we have longer commute distances, so we have to carry a change of clothes, lunch, tools, phones, tire repair stuff, etc. We also have to eat before riding in the morning.
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Old 01-26-15, 01:15 PM
  #17  
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NEW

One, do not get a suspension bike. Two, since it hardly ever rains in Boulder, forgo disc brakes.

It is hard to beat the Trek FX line, but they are not MTBs, more of a sport hybrid.

If you want more versatility, consider a 29er wheeled bike. Check out REI since they are nearby. The house brand, Novara, is often good value.


USED - if you want one, act quickly, good deals vanish fast.

You are in a University town, which means theft, so maybe used is less attractive. A MTB with road slicks about 26 X 1.5" makes a nifty commuter.

Hardrock $125
Specialized Hard Rock 21 Speed Mountain Bike, With Luggage Rack

Schwinn High Sierra - $120 too tall?
Classic Schwinn High Sierra mt bike, good winter ride

Univega - $150 too tall?
Classic Schwinn High Sierra mt bike, good winter ride

RALEIGH Technium MTB - $180
Raleigh Technium Mountain Bike with upgrades

Cannondale R600 - $200
Cannondate R600 Road Bike ( 56 cm)

RALEIGH GP - mid 1980s $225
Raleigh USA 12 speed commuter/road bike 55cm
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Old 01-26-15, 02:24 PM
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I think you could get quite an amazing mountain bike for $700 range on Craigslist or Pinkbike. Full suspension, if you want it, to be primarily a MTB that you also use for commuting. If you could extend your search to Denver it would probably help.

Just an example - this bike retailed for $1760 new in 2008
https://denver.craigslist.org/bik/4861632767.html

This bike was $1650 in 2012. It's full suspension but its components are a few levels lower
https://denver.craigslist.org/bik/4836517642.html

You can research older model bikes on bikepedia.com

For commuting you can run on the MTB tires which is a bit slower and wears them down, or you can swap out the tires for slicks, or you can keep another set of wheels with slicks for a quicker swap.
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Old 01-26-15, 02:40 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
A reasonably fit person should be able to walk 1.5 miles easily in 30 minutes. It probably would take almost that long to ride a bike when you factor in the time taken to get prepared and pack your gear in the morning, ride to work, and lock it up.

Your time estimates for cycling are silly.
The only reason I ever bike distances under 3 miles is because I am in a huge hurry or need to carry a large load (thus necessitating a rack and/or 2 spacious panniers). For anything other than stroll around the block, cycling is far, far faster than walking.

Last edited by spare_wheel; 01-26-15 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 01-26-15, 02:42 PM
  #20  
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Ignore the stuff about all of the time gearing up. That's not necessary unless you have a really long commute like 20 miles each way or want to imagine yourself Lance Armstrong or something. Regular clothes are fine and that's what I wear for even 10 or 15 miles each way. I've ridden in Prada suits and even a tux a couple of times. No special shoes, gloves, helmet, etc.

As others have said, just about any bike will do. A city bike would be ideal though likely difficult to find for $700. Something like a Bobbin, Breezer, or similar might be a good option. External derailleurs add complication, maintenance, and grease on your pants so a single speed or internally geared hub would be the ticket. Avoid comfort or flat foot bikes like Electra though unless you like back pain.

BTW, I bike 1 mile quite often. 5 minutes on my bike vs 20 walking, easy decision. Actually, I bike a bit over 1/2 a mile quite often to a local pub.

Last edited by CrankyOne; 01-26-15 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 01-26-15, 03:00 PM
  #21  
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If this is going to be your only bike, go for something sweet! Personally, I love vintage mtbs, but new ones are cool, too. The only thing I would do is make sure you wash off the bike after you "play" - or not, hehe.

A backpack or messenger bag will be just fine. Personally, I think you need a Moots! hah.
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Old 01-26-15, 07:43 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
Ignore the stuff about all of the time gearing up. That's not necessary unless you have a really long commute like 20 miles each way or want to imagine yourself Lance Armstrong or something. Regular clothes are fine and that's what I wear for even 10 or 15 miles each way. I've ridden in Prada suits and even a tux a couple of times. No special shoes, gloves, helmet, etc.

As others have said, just about any bike will do. A city bike would be ideal though likely difficult to find for $700. Something like a Bobbin, Breezer, or similar might be a good option. External derailleurs add complication, maintenance, and grease on your pants so a single speed or internally geared hub would be the ticket. Avoid comfort or flat foot bikes like Electra though unless you like back pain.

BTW, I bike 1 mile quite often. 5 minutes on my bike vs 20 walking, easy decision. Actually, I bike a bit over 1/2 a mile quite often to a local pub.
How would a city bike be ideal if he also wants to go mountain biking?
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Old 01-26-15, 08:19 PM
  #23  
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Awesome. Thank you for all the replies guys.

Last question (for now):

Is there a good resource that has a decent review count for bikes? Most reviews for a bike I find are a blog post with one person giving their opinion. Is there anything more aggregated and verbose?
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Old 01-26-15, 08:21 PM
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I had a really nice rack over the back wheel and a nice luggage thing that snapped off and on it in seconds, designed to be perfect for commuting. However, I found that I just prefer a backpack, and I sold the luggage stuff. Anything you attach to your bike that weighs more than a couple of pounds will affect the handling somewhat, and I just didn't like how it made the bike more sluggish when I lean around corners. I guess it's a personal preference.
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Old 01-26-15, 08:23 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
How would a city bike be ideal if he also wants to go mountain biking?
EXACTLY. And once you're out of downtown Boulder, it is mountainous.

Originally Posted by Shadoninja View Post
Awesome. Thank you for all the replies guys.

Last question (for now):

Is there a good resource that has people's reviews of all bikes? Most reviews for a bike I find are a blog post with one person giving their opinion. Is there anything more aggregated and verbose?
No. Fit is everything. So ride them and make a judgement call on that. With your height a 17-18" MTB or a 21-22" road bike will fit.
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