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Starting work as a bike messenger in NY, opinions on bike choices?

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Starting work as a bike messenger in NY, opinions on bike choices?

Old 11-07-07, 11:44 AM
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fatblast40
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Starting work as a bike messenger in NY, opinions on bike choices?

Hey everybody. I'm new to this forum, and have just returned home from living in Europe for a short while. I'm currently staying at my folks place outside the city until I find an apt in the city to move into. I'm going to start working as a bike messenger in NYC, and am currently researching what bike I should get. I have been doing a bunch of research so far, and am looking for some opinions on bikes...

One that I really am liking so far is the Specialized Globe Centrum Sport.
link: https://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=34073

It looks pretty nice so far, I am a big fan of disk brakes and a straight bar handlebar, but am not dead-set on having to have it. It is just that I have hated regular brakes in the past and loved the disc brakes on my old mountain bike, and I am not used to drop handlebars, but willing to try it if its a huge difference.

I am definitely set on deciding to get a single-speed bike, but still not sure if I want one that is also a fixie. I could start off getting something like this Specialized model and then changing up down the road... I have also looked at the Mongoose Sabrosa, but have read that its really heavy. My local shop guy has reccomended to me the Raleigh One Way, and it seems pretty good. My budget is about $500, but I am willing to go higher for a bike that is good quality and worth it.

So far I just can not find any reviews/feedback on the Specialized Globe Centrum Sport, is this because its a new model? I am liking this one a whole lot, so would people be able to tell me some pros and cons about this model? Any general advice for me as far as other bike options I haven't checked out yet? I think I would definitely like the Specialized, but would also be happy with the Raleigh One Way...
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Old 11-07-07, 11:51 AM
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Choose any bike. I've worked with a freestyle bmx bike. Whatever you like just go with it.
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Old 11-07-07, 12:03 PM
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iro mark v's, deep v rims and sugino 75's were the stuff of princes when i was working in boston. it's still exactly what i would want over all else if i started working in manhattan tomorrow. all your other components are up to you, but those are gonna take the most abuse.

its inevitable that at some point (probably multiple points) you're gonna wind up on the pavement next to your bike. i don't care how good you are. it happens. ride something that you can pick up, dust off and continue your work day on when that happens.

good luck!
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Old 11-07-07, 12:09 PM
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It's also worth mentioning that the bike you linked to has an internally geared hub, so she ain't no singlespeed. Not that there's really anything wrong with that. You get the convenience of gears without the pain-in-the-assedness of derailleurs.
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Old 11-07-07, 12:20 PM
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Thanks for pointing that out, but now I am confused... I see the part you point out that it is an internally geared hub, but the bike description and parts list clearly does say its singlespeed with no gears, what is it that I am missing here?
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Old 11-07-07, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by fatblast40 View Post
Thanks for pointing that out, but now I am confused... I see the part you point out that it is an internally geared hub, but the bike description and parts list clearly does say its singlespeed with no gears, what is it that I am missing here?
That's weird. The specs say single speed, but the text on the front page says this.

Originally Posted by Specialized
That kind of versatility requires certain design details, such as super low standover height and light weight for maximum maneuverability in stop-and-go traffic, plus an internally geared hub and disc brakes for unimpaired urban performance.
I haven't actually ever seen the bike, so I don't know which it is.
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Old 11-07-07, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by fatblast40 View Post
Thanks for pointing that out, but now I am confused... I see the part you point out that it is an internally geared hub, but the bike description and parts list clearly does say its singlespeed with no gears, what is it that I am missing here?

You are correct, the least expensive model is a single speed, the other two have 3 speeds or more.

That said, remember this is NYC and you need a GREAT lock and Chain.
Good looking bikes do not last long. Perhaps something fixed from craigslist or recycle-a-bike. Also, sure you need disk brakes?
Keep it simple, so its less desirable to the evil doer.
You may also want to get rid of the quick release skewers.

Good luck
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Old 11-07-07, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by fatblast40 View Post
Thanks for pointing that out, but now I am confused... I see the part you point out that it is an internally geared hub, but the bike description and parts list clearly does say its singlespeed with no gears, what is it that I am missing here?
"plus an internally geared hub and disc brakes for unimpaired urban performance. "

That part.
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Old 11-07-07, 12:46 PM
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There are three models;an SS,a 3sp internal hub,and an 8sp internal hub. Other than paint,the only diffs between the models is the rear drive and the 8sp has hydro discs. I'm really interested in one of these,but want to see one in person to check out the rear spacing and tire clearance. Given the price range and specs,I'm thinking of getting the Sport and installing a SRAM i-Motion 9.

For the OP,if you're interested in this,you might also want to look at the Swobo Otis. 3sp with a coaster rear(disc front). Mine's geared low for hilly DC,but should be perfect for flat NYC. You'd have almost zero maintenance with the SRAM hub/coaster combo,but you'd still have the front disc for panic stops. It will take fenders and a rack(you'll need a MTB fender for the front) and you can run skinny slicks in the summer and 2.1" knobs/studs in the winter. It also looks like a big BMX bike,so maybe little interest from thieves.
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Old 11-07-07, 01:04 PM
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get yourself a beater bike for work, esp. with the upcoming foul-weather season it can get ruff out there





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Old 11-07-07, 02:15 PM
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About the internally geared hub: I rode a bike with a 3-speed internal for a while, and found that it had a lot more resistance than I would have liked, which made hills a big pain in the ass. It was an older Raleigh cruiser-style bike, so maybe the newer specialized hub is better, but test-ride it before you buy. If there's too much resistance, you may want to get a real SS or a deraileur.
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Old 11-07-07, 02:27 PM
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I checked out another local shop just now and the guy there was really reccomending the Specialized Langster. Any thoughts on this model? I tried it out in the parking lot in fixed mode and it was a pretty nice ride, anybody else familiar with this one?
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Old 11-07-07, 04:46 PM
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I would definitely choose the Langster, I have not ridden the langster, but a fixed gear is where its at if you want something consistent.
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Old 11-07-07, 04:54 PM
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Go for the Langster, but if your going to use it for work here in the city get a front brake for it.
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Old 11-07-07, 04:55 PM
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and now one more shop is really reccomending the Jamis Sputnik.

So I think now I'm deciding between the Langster, One Way, Sputnik...

Another question I have now, what do you guys out there prefer, steel or aluminum frames? What is better about each type?
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Old 11-07-07, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by xg43x View Post
I would definitely choose the Langster, I have not ridden the langster, but a fixed gear is where its at if you want something consistent.
Not a very good sales pitch.

See if you can spot some messengers around town (I'm sure it's hard because they are lightning quick like ninjas) and see what they're riding. Or just youtube search for "NYC Messenger" and you will find plenty of amusing/shocking videos that should give you some ideas.

More seriously though, an old 10-speed road bike, geared, single-speed or fixed, is a pretty inexpensive option that will get you going and give you time to search for that perfect bike when you decide to upgrade. A simple way to convert one of these old bikes to SS/fixed is to swap the rear wheel with one that has a fixed-gear/single-speed hub on it. Search "conversion" in these forums for more on that.
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Old 11-07-07, 05:02 PM
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Best advice for buying a (new) bike specifically to courier in NYC. Pick an amount of money that you could, as of right now, light a match too and burn (I'm not being flip, it's simply to illustrate that you can't care about the bike because chances are it will get stolen, or at least screwed with). Now take that amount with you to a local bike shop and find a bike you can buy complete for that price or under. It doesn't need to be fixed or even a singlespeed, though simplicity rules for day in and day out messenger work.

Then find out what other couriers are running for chains/locks at your agency and follow that.

That specialized you linked to in the OP will get stolen in a matter of minutes locked out on the street anywhere in NYC. Though, the SS base model, it a really rad bike!

Last edited by obstacle; 11-07-07 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 11-07-07, 05:04 PM
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Personally if I was looking for a bike to ride all day through traffic and the elements, it would be an old mountain bike. Fixed gears can be re-sold for so much right now, I'd go for something less hip.
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Old 11-07-07, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by roughrider504 View Post
Personally if I was looking for a bike to ride all day through traffic and the elements, it would be an old mountain bike. Fixed gears can be re-sold for so much right now, I'd go for something less hip.
If you go the MTB route I would pick a hardtail or rigid-fork and mount some thinner tires on it. The MTB has the advantage of being able to take meatier tires which are nice for winter riding.

The fixed-SS road conversion is nice because it offers a faster ride. Also old road frames with relaxed geometry can take large tires too (700x28). It's pretty easy to make your "hip" conversion bike look unattractive. An MTB with shifters and derailleurs might look comparatively more enticing to a thief.
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Old 11-07-07, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by fatblast40 View Post
and now one more shop is really reccomending the Jamis Sputnik.

So I think now I'm deciding between the Langster, One Way, Sputnik...

Another question I have now, what do you guys out there prefer, steel or aluminum frames? What is better about each type?

100% steel for NYC streets. It will suck up and/or roll over almost anything that comes your way while out on a job. Your body will thank you for picking it over the harsh ride of an aluminum frame.

Not to mention that day in and day out riding/working on NYC streets will mean that you'll also like the ability to bend a part of a frame back into shape (within reason) which you can do with steel, but not aluminum.

One draw-back though is that steel will rust, and as a messenger your bike will go out in crap conditions....but you can find a spray to spray into a steel frame which will help protect it (within reason).
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Old 11-07-07, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by roughrider504 View Post
Personally if I was looking for a bike to ride all day through traffic and the elements, it would be an old mountain bike. Fixed gears can be re-sold for so much right now, I'd go for something less hip.
You'd think this (about a MTB) but as an experienced XC racer I would much rather be on a road bike/fixed gear with skinny tires, lighter weight and (idealy) bullhorn bars. It just works better.
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Old 11-07-07, 05:20 PM
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Get the Motobecane Messenger from bikesdirect.com and paint it black. No one will **** with it.
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Old 11-07-07, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bonechilling View Post
Get the Motobecane Messenger from bikesdirect.com and paint it black. No one will **** with it.
...or that Mercier TT for $300 and change.
wrap it in electrical/duct/reflective tape, and some nice Clinelli cork on a flat bar.

at least thats what I am considering for myself.
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Old 11-07-07, 06:18 PM
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this:
https://bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott.htm

...because think about it....if someone steals it in the first 4 days you are working there, you are only out $300 and change....maybe you should buy 2 in case.
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Old 11-07-07, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rodri9o View Post
...or that Mercier TT for $300 and change.
wrap it in electrical/duct/reflective tape, and some nice Clinelli cork on a flat bar.

at least thats what I am considering for myself.
I saw the Motobecane Messenger because, all things being basically equal quality wise, you get front and rear brakes with the Messenger for the same price (they're both $350).
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