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Help me create a short list. I Need a commuter bike.(13 posts)

Help me create a short list. I Need a commuter bike.Kristin
Sep 5, 2002 7:15 AM
My new condo will be 14 miles from my office, so I think I'll start commuting again. But I don't want to use the DeBernardi for 2 reasons: It will be locked outside and I will be riding in the winter. I'd like it to be under 23 lbs and have the ability to add knobby's for snow riding. It needs to be inexpensive and be able to live in the cold.
Ah, that's easy...cory
Sep 5, 2002 7:43 AM
I set up an old Trek tourer for that last year, and it's become one of my all-time favorite bikes. You probably know the basics, but here are some things to consider:
--A cyclocross frame or touring frame (or maybe an old, cheap Salvation Army bike) is more likely to have room for big tires than most modern roadies. My Trek's about a 1985, and I can run 700x40s with fenders. Older rigid mountain bikes are EVERYWHERE for $100 or so, and they work well, too.
--You DO want fenders. Zefal or SKS are both good. Many modern frames have NO room under the brakes for them. Canti brakes make space for them.
--A quill stem (common on older and cheap frames) makes bar height adjustments easy. You may want it shorter (horizontally) and taller than you'd ride otherwise.
--If you build something from scratch, on an old frame, consider single speed or maybe just one chainring and a cassette. Six- (seven-, eight-) speeds are plenty for a flattish commute, and it's one less thing to go wrong.
--In fresh snow, road tires work fine. When it melts, then ices up, nothing works very well. I ride cyclocross tires (Ritcheys seem to be cheapest) in winter and Conti Avenues in summer. You can also get or make (with sheet metal screws driven through from inside the tire) studded tires if you're that serious. is one place to go for information.
--Lights are also a really good idea, but I don't know much about them. Icebike has information on those, too.
--LOSE THE FASHIONABLE BLACK and wear neon colors. When it's dusk and slushy and people's windshields are dirty at 4 p.m., you have to do everything you can to make them see you.
Another old Trek commuterdzrider
Sep 5, 2002 8:39 AM
1980, I use Avocet Cross tires, but will get Panaracer Paselas to replace them. I own a car, so I don't commute in the snow. If it starts snowing while I'm at work I jog home.

Lights are indespensible. I use a Night Sun with a rechargeable battery and may start using my helmet light as well - a Black Diamond. I also use bright clothes, reflectors and tire flies for night riding.

I wish I didn't have to drive my kids around after work so I could commute more. I miss it.
Another old Trek commuter, me too.Chen2
Sep 5, 2002 10:13 AM
My commuter is a 1980 garage sale queen. Lugged steel touring frame with Shimano 600 2 X 6. Rebuilt the wheels with Open Pro rims and Revolution spokes, just cause I wanted to. Bike weighs less then 22#'s. My commute is only 7 miles but it's all hills with a couple of 9% grades.
<23 lbs, inexpensive, and ability to add knobbies.Spoke Wrench
Sep 5, 2002 7:56 AM
That kind of looks like one of those "Pick any two" deals. There are lots of used mountain bikes around, but inexpensive ones are going to weigh more than 23 pounds. There are lots of lightly used road bikes around, but good luck fitting knobbies.

If you're thinking new, maybe a cyclecross bike or one of the new "fast hybreds" like a Trek Fx or Specialized Cirrus might meet your needs. For a park outside commuter, though, I'd be thinking used. Besides, it's more fun to cobble together a special bike to meet a particular need.
re: Help me create a short list. I Need a commuter bike.Me Dot Org
Sep 5, 2002 8:25 AM
Snow makes me think aluminum, and Cannondale has a model ingeniously name 'cyclocross'. Shimano 105/tiagra mix, not too expensive.

If you go steel, get a can of jr weigle's frame saver. I'd think about a Surly Cross-check, or if you want a bit of unusual, a Merican Audax Special.

If you go the budget route, I'd looking for an aluminum frame at Good time of year to buy, cycle shops are having year-end closeouts.
Why the light weight requirement?MB1
Sep 5, 2002 8:53 AM
Your commuter bike ought to have fenders, a BIG LOCK, lights, a bell, rear rack and bags, a flat kit, bottle and cage, reflectors and on and on and on. You will be lucky to be under 30 lbs-look at it as good training for your weekend rides.

Get something that is ugly and fits well-used is fine or coat your new bike with oil and ride it in the dirt once.

BTW 14 miles is an ideal commuting distance.
re: Help me create a short list. I Need a commuter bike.Ray Sachs
Sep 5, 2002 8:59 AM
I recently bought a Jamis Aurora, last years model for under $500. It's probably a bit over 23 pounds, but I switched the wheels (going to use the cheap ones that came on it for my Nokian snow tires) and that probably brought it down to 23-24. It has long reach caliper brakes, which can fit cyclocross tires. It takes an Avocet 700x32 and still fits fenders pretty well, but I'm not sure you can get cross knobbies to fit with fenders. No problem without fenders though. It's got a touring geometry so it's pretty stable. I stuck a rack and fenders on it (and will have lights in the winter) and it's now my dedicated commuter. It's not a great ride, but is fine for commuting and carrying stuff on relatively short rides.

May be worth a look. Cross bikes are a great option if you don't mind dealing with cantis, but they tend to be more expensive. If you have some spare parts laying around, a Surly cross-check frame/fork is a great starting point and I think is still around $400.

definitely a SSMJ
Sep 5, 2002 9:10 AM
get fenders - go with a used frame/bike and build it up - remember ugly is better for this scenario - I've just completed the same project and am very pleased with the results - can lock it up outside - and my primary ride now feels like a rocket
re: time to hit yardsales?cyclopathic
Sep 5, 2002 9:16 AM
Get a used bike.

riding in winter will kill any bike. Steel will rust and salt will kill Al. If you can avoid salt spray and want new there're many new entry level Al bikes for 400-500, check, etc

Sometime ago I almost got a folding bike (Giant, KHS make them). Job was 40mi+ but I could leapfrog and use metro plus it was easy to fold and hide under the desk. 20" BMX tires will be good in snow
Three words: Old Touring BikeGregory Taylor
Sep 5, 2002 9:45 AM
Get something with relaxed angles, big clearances for fatter tires, fittings for fenders, and old parts that you don't really care about.

I've got a Bianchi Volpe that meets all of these requirements. It was about $600 new a few years ago.

I'd start cruising yard sales. My vision of a perfect winter commuter bike would be something like a Raleigh 3-speed with a Sturmey Archer hub, fenders, and a decent saddle.
re: commuter bike.Fredrico
Sep 5, 2002 11:38 AM
I've been commuting, off and on, with a nice 39" wheelbase road bike with "fast touring" geometry, 73 degrees parallell angles. The only concession to commuting is its Columbus SLX lugged frame is equipped with eyelets. There's barely enough room for fenders with 700 x 28C tires. I don't load it down for touring, only to go to the office, with a backpack full of stuff. At one point I had a rear rack and carried groceries home in panniers. Bigger tires aren't necessary. 28Cs handle the potholes and steel plates just fine--well, I carefully choose my line! And they are so much faster than 35Cs or knobbies.

I have never, in a cumulative total of probably 10 years commuting to all sorts of workplaces, had to leave my bike outside locked up. In this age of global warming and mass obesity, you ride your bike to work and they look at you as some sort of hero, a pioneer of the way to go, a role model, part of the solution. If the boss won't let you wheel your mount into your office and lean it up against the wall, there's always some space down the hallway to prop it up, and a restroom to change clothing.

So go for it, show them how it's done. Don't worry about the bike. There's a wide range of bikes that would work just fine.

short list is down to oneET
Sep 5, 2002 1:18 PM
The Novarra Buzz:

It's sold at REI; there's two in the Chicago area. People snicker when you tell them your bike's from REI. Let them. This is the sleeper deal of the century.

I am just so happy with this bike, which I too use for commuting. Unbelievable performance (just about the fastest non-road bike out there; I'm not exaggerating) at a great price. Light. 26" wheels with city slicks, perfect for fast and great handling. And it only has one 9-cog chainring, which actually a very big plus (even bigger in flat Chicago) for many reasons. Some of the other companies, including Trek, offer so-called comfort or lower-end mountain bikes intended for casual riding or commuting that usually ain't cheap, and they almost all come with an unnecessary triple.

The Buzz is it: burnt black, stealthy-looking and deadly (to the rider :-)), great price, and it satisfies all your requirements. The only thing you'll have to swap out is the wide-platform non-cleat pedals (I switched to pedals compatible with clips and straps), and you may want to add bar ends (my commute is 8 miles and I don't need them). As a guide to sizing (WARNING: I take zero responsibilty for that :-)), I am 5'9" and got a 19"; fits great. They've just come out with a slightly more expensive Big Buzz, with much skinnier tires and a double, but the compact geometry on that is wierd, and that is really a sort of racing bike for those who don't want drop handlebars, not exactly what you want.

Get the Buzz and thank me later.