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Biking to school: Good or bad idea

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Biking to school: Good or bad idea

Old 01-26-15, 08:59 PM
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MathBunny
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Biking to school: Good or bad idea

Hello. I was wondering if it's a good or bad idea to bike to school in the summer.
I have a Specialized Allez Elite (2014 - costed $1300). I was considering buying two locks - for the wheels and to lock it to the pole at school. A lot of people bike, but nobody with a road bike. I'm worried that my bike will be a magnet of attention and will get stolen or vandalized.

Advice?
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Old 01-26-15, 09:15 PM
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I suspect your worry is well-founded. Ride your good bike for recreation, pick up some $50 cruiser and ride it to school, and lock IT with two locks.
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Old 01-26-15, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by MathBunny View Post
Hello. I was wondering if it's a good or bad idea to bike to school in the summer.
I have a Specialized Allez Elite (2014 - costed $1300). I was considering buying two locks - for the wheels and to lock it to the pole at school. A lot of people bike, but nobody with a road bike. I'm worried that my bike will be a magnet of attention and will get stolen or vandalized.

Advice?
Do you have a sense for how much of problem bike theft is at your school? If it was stolen would insurance pay for most of the replacement cost? How long would the bike be locked up each day?

Those would be the things I'd consider. Getting a cheap beater is good advice if your school is a fairly short distance away. If it's a long enough distance that using a road bike would make it much easier, then I'd consider riding your bike depending on the answers to the above questions.

The problem is that nobody can predict whether or not your bike will be stolen. But we can say for sure that having a $100 bike stolen that you don't really care about will hurt a lot less than getting a $1300 bike stolen.
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Old 01-26-15, 10:07 PM
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Riding your bike everywhere is always a good idea... But I feel you, I am totally paranoid about my bike in your price range, not sure if I'd trust a school area with a nice one. I'd definitely scope out the best spots, near the office windows, somewhere a security guard parks up more often than not... Make it hard to get to, parked in a mass of bikes, and make it the most well secured bike. Two ulocks is a pretty damn good start. glue some bearings into your allen heads for saddle/bars/etc...
Or find a reasonably priced hybrid or old rigid MTB and put some slicks on it.
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Old 01-26-15, 10:29 PM
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It depends on your area I guess. I didn't realize what a problem it would be, I had a bike for my sole means of transportation in college. I had two of them stolen. My brother had a $50 beater bike ( I thought it looked pretty bad) and after a 45 minute morning class we came out to find the lock half cut through. I've seen bike locks laying cut and bikes stolen even at the busy union building. It is possible to find a safer place to park it, if you have a friend TA with an office or something. Otherwise I would be wary.
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Old 01-26-15, 11:15 PM
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It's a great idea to commute to school!
Convenient, efficient and good exercise.
However, as per your concern...
A Specialized Allez Elite, surrounded by mountain/commuter bikes, will definitely stand out at the bike rack.
Good idea going with a "multiple lock" scenario.
How bad is bicycle theft at your campus?
What length of time will your bike be parked/unsupervised?
It's scary to know that anyone who really wants your bike can cut through steel cable/lock hasps in seconds.

Here's a minimum recommended U-Lock/cable configuration:



Even with this set-up, your seat/post, handlebars and pedals can be easily scavenged.
There is nothing worse than looking forward to "the ride home" and finding that your bike has been compromised.
Bike thieves are weasels!
And they like the good stuff.
Is there any way you could find a better "monitored area" vs. the public bike rack for parking the Allez?
If not, for campus life, I strongly suggest getting a well-tuned beater bike to "hide within the herd".
A well-sorted beater ($100-$300) can haul!
If you don't want your bicycle to be disappear - don't let it out of your sight.
If you park your bicycle, and leave it unattended... eventually, will be stolen.
IMHO.


Is that "105" or "Sora"?
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Old 01-26-15, 11:25 PM
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Thread is right on the money already - if you're in the US, I suggest looking for a 90's mountain bike (no suspension), they tend to cost very little and are cheaply converted into good commuting bikes.
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Old 01-26-15, 11:28 PM
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I wouldn't go near a campus with a bike worth more than $150.
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Old 01-26-15, 11:49 PM
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I ride a carbon fiber road bike to work and have to lock it outside. Granted, it is in a safer area than a college campus... I use a U-lock on the frame and a longer cable through the wheels. I have an aero seat post that only fits in my frame, so I think that makes it less appealing to thieves. I never leave anything on my bike (seatbag, lights, etc.). I rarely clean the frame - I leave some dirt on the frame (not the drivetrain). No flashy colors/logos or anything that would make a bike stick out. Most importantly, I have renters insurance - $15 dollars a month. Cover's up to 10k - 15k - easily covers my bike and anything else that could be stolen from my house. The policy would cover my bike if it were stolen anywhere.

When I was an undergrad, I didn't have a car, but I did have a nice mountain bike and a nice road bike. I did use the bikes to run errands, go shopping and go for long rides, but I didn't ride them to class much. We had a shuttle right by my house that got me to campus quickly. I went to UC Santa Cruz and really enjoyed hiking around the campus after I got off the shuttle. A lot of students biked to class and I regularly saw nice bikes. Some people with nice bikes would bring them right in the lecture hall and lean them against a wall. In many of the larger lecture halls, you would see bikes all along the walls. There was still plenty of room for people to walk.
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Old 01-26-15, 11:58 PM
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Unfortunately, college campuses are hotbeds of bike theft. I had a beater stolen at a campus myself, though that was overnight and it was locked with a really cheap crap lock.

Riding a bike to school is a great idea, but not a $1300 bike, no way! A few things to consider:

- Could you get a beater and ride it to school?

- Could you bring your bike inside with you? If you're taking a mammoth undergrad class, that likely won't fly, but if it's a smaller upper-year course where the prof knows everyone by name, you might be able to negotiate a deal, if there is enough space in the classroom so the bike is not in the way.

- Does your campus have secure indoor bike parking? Some do, and if it's done properly, it's a pretty safe option.
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Old 01-26-15, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by halcyon100 View Post
A lot of students biked to class and I regularly saw nice bikes. Some people with nice bikes would bring them right in the lecture hall and lean them against a wall.


If you don't want your bicycle to be disappear - don't let it out of your sight.
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Old 01-27-15, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
Thread is right on the money already - if you're in the US, I suggest looking for a 90's mountain bike (no suspension), they tend to cost very little and are cheaply converted into good commuting bikes.
This.
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Old 01-27-15, 02:55 AM
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How far are you riding your bike to school?
I took my Colnago Super to both my HS, and college. It has been chained up far too much. I even take it "thrifting" from time to time.

When I was staying with my parents, my commute was 8 to 10 miles, and generally included one good hill, or a few smaller rolling hills depending on where I was heading.

Junkers get tiresome quickly... and why have a fancy bike if one isn't going to ride it.

Perhaps I hit college at the beginning of the MTB boom, so people were pretty much ignoring the road bikes at that time.

Anyway, if you're riding 2 or 3 miles, then get something that can take a beating.
If you're riding 10 to 20 miles, then ride a nice bike, either your Allez, or get a $300 bike 10 to 20 years old if you wish.

It all depends on your situation. The Krytonite NY style locks are supposed to be very nice, but unfortunately a bit heavy to lug around, unless you could leave the lock locked to the bike rack
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Old 01-27-15, 05:34 AM
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I wouldn't want to commute anywhere on a modern road bike. I would opt for something more versitile, comfortable and durable. Commuting makes sense, but the money saved also warrants a second bike.

Marc
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Old 01-27-15, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
I wouldn't want to commute anywhere on a modern road bike. I would opt for something more versitile, comfortable and durable. Commuting makes sense, but the money saved also warrants a second bike.

Marc
It's not the only thing I commute on anymore but I have plenty of commuting miles on my Specialized Allez. It's as comfortable as anything else I ride, - more so in some ways. Fit is so important. It's also 10 years old this year. I have no reason to think it wouldn't last another 10 or 20 years so any concerns about durability aren't really warranted.

It is not versatile enough to ride year round. I have a different bike for winter, but for the other 8 or 9 months of the year it's a lot of fun.

Last edited by tjspiel; 01-27-15 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 01-27-15, 08:28 AM
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I frequently lock my $1000+ bike outside at the University of Minnesota. I would be nervous leaving it out overnight, but I never worry during the day. I lock the frame and one wheel with a U-lock, and the seat and other wheel with cables.
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Old 01-27-15, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by PennyTheDog View Post
I frequently lock my $1000+ bike outside at the University of Minnesota. I would be nervous leaving it out overnight, but I never worry during the day. I lock the frame and one wheel with a U-lock, and the seat and other wheel with cables.
So glad you posted this! It was getting downright depressing reading all the posts about theft. I am long past being a student but I have a friend who is a professor. He rides his bike to work all the time. He does however lock it in the bike rack outside the library. He also takes his saddle bag and lights in to class with him. The library is open to the community and I go there regularly on my bike. I don't have a saddle bag. the front light stays at home unless I'm going at night. I never have had a problem, but then again I'm only in the library for a short amount of time. What does a thread like say about the state of higher education in America?
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Old 01-27-15, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by avidone1 View Post
So glad you posted this! It was getting downright depressing reading all the posts about theft. I am long past being a student but I have a friend who is a professor. He rides his bike to work all the time. He does however lock it in the bike rack outside the library. He also takes his saddle bag and lights in to class with him. The library is open to the community and I go there regularly on my bike. I don't have a saddle bag. the front light stays at home unless I'm going at night. I never have had a problem, but then again I'm only in the library for a short amount of time. What does a thread like say about the state of higher education in America?
I don't think it really says anything. Like a lot of places, bikes are becoming more popular for transportation here and good used bikes can fetch decent money. Hence there is more bike theft. College campuses provide lots of easy pickins for bike thieves, -who are not necessarily students.
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Old 01-27-15, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by avidone1 View Post
What does a thread like say about the state of higher education in America?
Absolutely nothing.
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Old 01-27-15, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by scroca View Post
Absolutely nothing.
+1 the bike thieves aren't students.

Where I started my undergrad we had an issue with car break-ins and some bike thefts (they moved the bike racks up to the 'guard shacks' though which was a quick and effective way to stop that). The car break-ins were smash and grabs. None students. One guy who was caught was a 47 year old high-school dropout. Just folks who figured out the schedule and figured out that there were times that almost nobody was going to be in the parking lot; a parking lot full of cars; many of which were older cars, that might have aftermarket stereos, maybe an iPod, something that could fetch a few bucks at a pawn shop. I came out once and found the saddlebags of my motorcycle open. I left them unlocked to deter anyone thinking they needed to break them open. But they were empty. Well, except for a couple of bungie straps; which they took.

Universities and smaller colleges are often very old and what might've been a great, safe place decades ago has become not so great. Heck, my graduate school essentially abandoned their historic campus in favor of moving to a suburb, it was just in such a bad neighborhood; but it certainly wasn't that way more than a century ago when it was founded.

Also +1 to the U-Lock/cable suggestion. OP mentioned locking up a wheel. That seems like a bad idea. Even for a newb like me. Just YESTERDAY I walked by a business that had a shiny carbon rim with a 10 speed cassette attached to it, firmly locked with a big heavy u-lock to this businesses bike rack. Unfortunately, that's ALL that was locked up. It seemed the rest of the bike was missing!

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Old 01-27-15, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
I don't think it really says anything. Like a lot of places, bikes are becoming more popular for transportation here and good used bikes can fetch decent money. Hence there is more bike theft. College campuses provide lots of easy pickins for bike thieves, -who are not necessarily students.
+1
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Old 01-27-15, 10:16 AM
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Have something in mind: if a thief REALLY wants it, you can lock it with whatever you may think of, it will get stolen. Then, if you have a big bike parking lot, or even an underground one (if you can afford a 1,300$ bike, you'll probably be able to afford a guarded parking space) possibilities decrease, or if you can put it in sight of where security guards stand (if you have them in your campus), or take it to the class if the professor and/or campus regulation allows you to... However, if you worry about that, a $100 beater may serve you better.
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Old 01-27-15, 10:26 AM
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I will echo some of the above sentiment; it really depends on what campus you are on. I attend UW Madison. In the summer, I always use a U-lock, but sometimes break out the cable lock in the winter. The front light always comes off the bike, the rear usually stays on. I won't leave my bike locked up overnight on campus, but I don't think twice about leaving it locked up during the day. FWIW, I have $500-600 in my bike (it is hard to quantify, since a number of the parts were not being used, but were in my parts bin already).

Some campuses (UW Madison included) have bike lockers or other guarded storage available. If you have a longer commute, and so a road bike is especially advantageous, try to get use of one of these.

Also, in response to your subject; biking to school is categorically a good idea. Happy riding!
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Old 01-27-15, 10:27 AM
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Biking to school is a good idea but with the wrong bike. Like everyone else said, get a good used bike and lock it. I bike to work at a university but I can take it indoors and stash it in an empty room or under some stairs.
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Old 01-27-15, 10:58 AM
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Riding good. Always. Why wait for summer?

But - since the ideal number of bikes in N+1 AND we have here a near perfect excuse for the +1 ... then here is opportunity knocking at your door. Buy something that works for your commute but is as different from the Allez as possible! Expand your horizons (that's what school is for , no?) and get an alternative ride that interests you, suits the need of the commute, and which would not create hardship if stolen.

Good to strike a balance between a nice patina of age and non-descipt-ness so as not to attract attention with a cool retro hipster vibe and maybe a rack and baskets both to declare your green-ness and increase utility. No need to deck it with plastic sunflowers though, IM(H)O.

Plus - you then have a spare bike for casual rides when someone from out of town comes to visit. As long as you are skilled enough to ride the Allez slow ...
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