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Obsessed with Commuting and Total Beginner

Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Obsessed with Commuting and Total Beginner

Old 02-20-15, 07:17 PM
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nlepidop
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Obsessed with Commuting and Total Beginner

Hello everyone,

I appreciate all the info I have already read on these forums. I would love some opinions and help choosing my first bike since childhood. I have become obsessed with the idea of commuting by bike. I need everything to start, (lights, pump, repair kit, helmet, locks, fenders, maybe a rack and panniers etc) so I want to get a ton of value in my bike purchase. Rides would average 5 miles. I dont see myself going for long rides, but you never know. I have a state park next to me that is quite the popular biking spot. I live in Denver; melting snow and afternoon rain showers are common. I have a locked indoor bike room at work and a fairly nice locker room for showering if needed. I am 6'1" and 185lbs.

Here are the options so far.

LBS
Fuji Absolute 2.3 2014 - $300 + tax shipped and assembled
Trek 7.2 FX 2014 - $400 + Tax
Gravity Escape 3 - $339 + tax

Bike Island
Gravity Liberty FB - $350 shipped

Craigslist
Marin Lombard - $400
Diamondback Trace Hybrid - $400

I feel fairly confident in my general problem solving, resourcefulness, and research capabilities. I have already watched videos on putting together bike direct bikes and various adjustments that go into tuning. I have a local non profit that has a "Fix Your Bike" program that would allow me to utilize their space, tools and knowledge to fix my bike. I am very much a DIY guy and feel building my own from bike direct/island would add to my enjoyment. That being said, all of the other options look good too. I think I would be able to correctly size myself after seeing/reading various techniques online.

So how do I make a decision?
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Old 02-20-15, 07:45 PM
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I think you're coming in with the right attitude. I've got no clue about modern bikes, so I won't butt in. What I will say is, jump in with whatever bike makes sense at the time, but fully expect to desire different or additional bikes as you progress on your bike commuting journey.
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Old 02-20-15, 07:52 PM
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Start at your LBS. Especially if it's your first bike since childhood, it's really important to test ride and buy a bike that fits and feels good. The only way to do that is to test ride. At a given price point, quality will be somewhat comparable across brands; but details like saddles, handlebars, geometry, etc, will be different. The only way to figure it out is to test ride. Don't be afraid to ask to try a size larger or a size smaller than what they tell you, either. It's not bad to really feel what it's like if a bike is too big or too small. Also keep in mind that saddles can be changed easily, and they can be adjusted forward and back as well as up and down. Not that all the different variables necessarily can't be accounted for when shopping online, but you don't even know which variables to worry about yet, ergonomically. The only way to find that out is to ride.

Craigslist can be good if you really know what you're looking for, but you can't really comparison shop. Do as much test riding at the LBS as you can (and btw, it's really rude to take a lot of their time and then go buy a bike online for $50 less, and then bring it to them when it has a problem). That said, if you try a Craigslist bike and really like it, go for it.

Also keep in mind that this probably won't be your last bike purchase. The "right" bike for you right now may or may not be the same as the "right" bike for a "you" who has been commuting for a year. But you should buy the bike that will get your current self to ride it.
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Old 02-20-15, 11:31 PM
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Don't forget lights in your budget
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Old 02-21-15, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
Start at your LBS. Especially if it's your first bike since childhood, it's really important to test ride and buy a bike that fits and feels good. The only way to do that is to test ride. At a given price point, quality will be somewhat comparable across brands; but details like saddles, handlebars, geometry, etc, will be different. The only way to figure it out is to test ride. Don't be afraid to ask to try a size larger or a size smaller than what they tell you, either. It's not bad to really feel what it's like if a bike is too big or too small. Also keep in mind that saddles can be changed easily, and they can be adjusted forward and back as well as up and down. Not that all the different variables necessarily can't be accounted for when shopping online, but you don't even know which variables to worry about yet, ergonomically. The only way to find that out is to ride.

Craigslist can be good if you really know what you're looking for, but you can't really comparison shop. Do as much test riding at the LBS as you can (and btw, it's really rude to take a lot of their time and then go buy a bike online for $50 less, and then bring it to them when it has a problem). That said, if you try a Craigslist bike and really like it, go for it.

Also keep in mind that this probably won't be your last bike purchase. The "right" bike for you right now may or may not be the same as the "right" bike for a "you" who has been commuting for a year. But you should buy the bike that will get your current self to ride it.
+1.

You're off to a good start, but don't over think this. Visit several local shops and just talk with them and test ride some bikes. Take your time and go with your gut and you'll be fine. No brand or bike is better than any other. One may fit you better, or offer one detail or another that is important to you.

Come back here with any specific questions you might have. Oh, and welcome aboard!
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Old 02-21-15, 10:38 AM
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That is exactly how I started years ago (5 years old-ha, ha). Now I have a Trek 520/daily town commuter, a Cannondale Cyclocross, a Bianchi roadie. They all serve their purpose, and each of them do it well.
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Old 02-21-15, 11:00 AM
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I've ridden a few of the 2014 absolute including the 2.3. Based on my test rides on a varied terrain test route i use, i can say its a good bike for commuting. It has rack & fender mounts too, which is nice.

- Andy
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Old 02-21-15, 11:44 AM
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How hilly of a commute? Flat? Big hills to climb both ways? On paths or busy roads?

Given your description I'd think you'd definitely want fenders. For that short of a commute and in Denver's climate you should be able to do it in whatever your work clothes are if you don't want to shower at work. For this you'd want to consider something with a internally geared hub and chain guard so you can always ride it in whatever clothes and not have to worry about changing.

Get something to carry stuff to/from work. Backpacks can be uncomfortable and cause you to sweat.
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Old 02-21-15, 04:46 PM
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I just wanted to also say you have the right attitude and are being smart about utility and safety. Don't worry so much about the first bike; it will let you make a better choice for your 2nd bike which you will buy within 18 months.
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Old 02-21-15, 05:38 PM
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I'm looking at the Trek 7.2 since my commute is rather long (25 miles +/- depending on route). LBS has been very helpful with the choices and from talking to them and knowing what I need for my commute, it seems the best 'bang for the buck' bicycle for commuting.
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Old 02-22-15, 02:56 PM
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Thanks everyone for the replies. I want to check out the reconditioned inventory at the non profit to see if anything would fit the bill. That Marin Lombard however is really interesting me. I like the idea of drop bars and it comes with some sort of pump. I'll probably check it out to see how it feels.

Thanks moochems in particular for diving into craigslist. That Raleigh bike is not one that came up in my searches. After tires + tune up, it would probably be around the same cost as that new fuji 2.3, wouldn't it?
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Old 02-23-15, 10:38 AM
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That Marin looks really excellent. Give it a test ride.
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Old 02-23-15, 11:56 AM
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That looks like a gnarly dent on the top tube of that marin. Though, you could get it, ride it awhile and search for a new frame and switch everything over (that'll give you some good knowledge!)
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Old 02-23-15, 10:47 PM
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Thanks again Moochems for the in depth explanations and rationale. I'll think about the Seneca more seriously. Once I visit the non profit and see what inventory and repair parts they have for sale, I'll have a better sense of direction.

I noticed the last picture on the Marin as well. I will not consider it if it is damaged.

Here is one more that I have found. 2005 Jamis Nova barely Used Cyclocross - $325 A few random extras: reflectors, the saddle bag, the air pump, water bottle holder, lock holder... Clip pedals that I would need to replace.
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Old 02-24-15, 03:58 PM
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You can't beat the Jamis Nova for $325. That bike looks nice. It has fender eyelets. To me its a good deal with all of the extras he's throwing in. Switching pedals is a minor adjustment.

Here is something for you and anyone else to read. Bicycling Street Smarts - Table of Contents
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Old 02-24-15, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by scoatw View Post
Here is something for you and anyone else to read. Bicycling Street Smarts - Table of Contents
This is excellent. I just noticed I already bookmarked it! What good is that if I don't remember it when I'm trying to inform people?
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Old 02-24-15, 11:42 PM
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The more time you spend on your bike, the more I think it pays to get a good fitting at your local bike shop. It really helps to have someone take measurements while you ride a trainer. I think this helps avoid the minor, repetitive issues that can build up and contribute to injury. I don't think the super-fancy fittings that are $300 or more are needed. But a thorough fitting, with an experienced cyclist at bike shop can be very helpful. I would also advise building up your core muscles if you haven't ridden since you were a kid. I really regret the fact that I paid no attention to my core muscles when I first got into biking as an adult - now I have various chronic back/disc issues.
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Old 02-25-15, 05:13 AM
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My commuter is a Jamis Nova, 2013 model. I absolutely recommend it.
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Old 02-26-15, 10:40 AM
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don't like the word "obsessed" it implies there is some other level of engagement for the sport, but there isn't. you're either all-in, or not a commuter

ppl at work used to call me obsessed but they were just a bunch of lazy sit-on-their-butt do-nothings w few-to-none personal acheivements
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Old 02-26-15, 10:22 PM
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Hand made tires? Is that even possible?

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Old 02-27-15, 05:41 PM
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The #1 thing to look for in a bike (well past the bike being in non-dangerous condition of course) is that it's the right size for you. Buying a bike that's the wrong size because it's "such a good deal" or any other reason is like buying pants that are the wrong size. It just doesn't make sense.

One of the advantages of buying from a bike shop is being able to ride different sizes and see what's your size. A lot of times they can give you an opinion, then they'll have the size, the size bigger, and the size smaller in stock and you can just test ride them all.

Also your cable will stretch after 100 miles, and usually a local bike shop will include a readjustment when that happens, for free.

Bike forums looks wonky with the links, but all the other bikes look fine if they're your right size.
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Old 03-01-15, 07:34 PM
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Just purchased the Jamis Nova + accessories. I got a great deal for sure. Next weekend, I'll tune it up and buy the remaining necessities. Then the adventure begins.
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Old 03-02-15, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by nlepidop View Post
Hello everyone,

I appreciate all the info I have already read on these forums. I would love some opinions and help choosing my first bike since childhood...
...So how do I make a decision?
Really think about how you like to ride. If I had made a decision in my LBS when I first decided to get back into biking I would've left with a IGH flat-bar road bike and I'm soooo glad that didn't happen. Go with your gut and don't let others opinions sway you about what the "right" bike is for you or how to ride it. My 2 cents.
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Old 03-07-15, 09:45 PM
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Well... Had my first ride today. 3 times around the block. ~3 miles in total. It will take some time to get comfortable. I did not have the balance or confidence necessary to properly signal. That being said... I am still excited to ride.
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Old 03-08-15, 08:23 AM
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Where I live, signaling is optional when it is impractical, e.g. for safety reasons such as manoeuvering or braking. You have to judge what is safer for you in each instance, i.e. whether to signal your intention, or control your bike. Signalling early may allow for both.
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