Author Topic: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?  (Read 7411 times)

Koreth

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Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« on: September 10, 2015, 02:15:12 PM »
So, as a recent converted neophyte of the Church of Mustachianism, I've been looking for a way to work a bike into my lifestyle. I've been lurking here and on other forums, doing Google searches, and generally figured out what I want out of a bike, and why:
  • steel frame -- Smoother ride  and inexpensive
  • drop handlebar --  As my fitness level improves and I take on longer rides, I anticipate wanting a more aerodynamic drop position available.
  • wide tire clearance -- Denver winter includes snow and wet, my commuting and trips may take me over patches of dirt trail
  • braze-on mounts for racks and fenders -- cargo capacity FTW, backsplash from the tires in the winter FTL
  • disc brakes -- retaining stopping power during inclement weather; increased stopping power is a must-have for safety if electrified in the future

Research on the Internets and asking local bike shops points me in the direction of a touring bike or similar. The short list of candidates at this point are the Salsa Vaya and Kona Rove (though I am open to other suggestions).

Now I realize that the disc brakes feature pretty much limits me to brand-new bikes, as it appears that used touring bikes are uncommon on the Denver Craigslist and ones with disc brakes simply don't exist there. Plus, it seems finding a bike in what's estimated to be my size (medium-large range, 53-55cm) is a bit of a crapshoot. Finally, a benefit of buying a bike new from the local bike shop is that it will come with fitting and adjustment at time of purchase, so I can be pretty much guarantee that the bike will fit me comfortably and shift & brake well -- incentive to actually use it. Alas, the cost of a new bike is going to have to wait as I simply don't have a few thousand dollars on hand at the moment, and there's a hospital bill that needs to be paid off first.

However, a thought occurred to me today. As I ride more and get more familiar with biking, my needs & wants will likely change. I'm likely going to end up tweaking the configuration of my bike and swapping out parts so it better suits me. If I do that with a brand new bike, then I'lll have to sell the old parts on Craigslist, and likely at a loss. However, if I took the time to patiently troll Craigslist and wait for good deals, I could gather the parts needed to assemble a bike myself, and if a bit of it turned out to not meet my needs, I could turn around and resell them, hopefully at no loss at all. Building a bike from parts will necessarily teach me skills needed to maintain the bike -- skills that will serve me well down the road, hopefully.

What do the more experienced cyclists amongst you think? Is this foolishness? Is there another tack I should take?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2015, 04:48:37 PM by Koreth »

robartsd

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2015, 02:35:06 PM »
I'd look for a bike on craigslist that will fit you reasonably well. Sure, you'll have trouble finding a bike there that you can use EVERY day in Denver, but you should have no difficulty at all finding a bike that you can use 75% of the time. This bike should cost you enough less than a new bike that it would be worth the compromise.

monstermonster

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2015, 02:41:37 PM »
As someone who has been in the bike business for 8 years but is not a mechanic I will advise you against building up your first bike yourself. That's a great option if you're mechanically and technically inclined for a later bike, but the qualities you describe are fairly simple to get in a stock bike. Handlebars and wheels/tires are the things you're most likely to want to "change" on your bike and those won't be too much of a loss when you sell them on craigslist if you end up swapping them. If you're thinking about getting an e-bike in the future, you should get a totally new bike not electrify any of the ones on your list. Disc brakes are particularly challenging for a novice mechanic so you'd likely not want to set those up yourself at first.

I'd also recommend you look into the Surly Long Haul Trucker as well. It's a good fit for your needs and reasonably priced. Though both that you list are great bikes, too. Otherwise, keep looking on craigslist and take it into the shop for swapping out parts for what you like - bare in mind a fender install runs $40-70 because it's super frustrating to do.

I will tell you from a lot of experience: You won't save too much by building up a bike from parts, ESPECIALLY if you don't know what you're looking for on craigslist. The margins, especially when you pay yourself for your time and labor, are really low when building up a bike - even buying bike parts at wholesale cost, though I get used parts for free from my shop (we get a used part allowance as a benefit) and that can bring the price down. And if you don't live in a town with a steady flow of a variety of bike parts (Denver likely will but they'll go fast), craigslist won't be that effective anyway for sourcing. Ebay is more effective but not that much of a steal.

Also regarding disc brakes and craiglist bikes: disc brakes are non-essential, I promise, but if you want them, get them now. I live in a town where it rains 80% of the year and the bike I ride 95% of the time has canti brakes and they're fineeee even in the rain.

Good luck on joining the world of biking! I hope it changes your life as it did mine!

abiteveryday

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2015, 04:31:52 PM »
I like my hydraulic discs, in the right context, but I commute in Seattle with canti brakes just fine.     Truthfully, I'd get an early 90s mountain bike (no suspension!) then outfit it for commuting.    It will have the steel frame, the mounting points, clearance for wide tires, and basically the geometry of a touring bike.     A nice vintage Specialized Rockhopper or Trek 930 shouldn't cost you more than $100, and even if you put that much more into equipping it, that's still darn cheap.

Jeremy E.

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zoltani

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2015, 05:03:24 PM »
I recommend Surly Cross Check, probably one of the most versatile bikes made.

dennityrrell

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2015, 05:48:27 PM »
I'd go for this

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/cross-bikes/fantom_cxx-100.htm

I second the option quoted above as this was my first thought.

I bought a Motobecane on BikeDirect and I love it. Great Bang for the buck [I got the Titanium version].
Do not buy a mountain bike and MOD it for road biking (IMHO). People do it and its cheap but you will out grow it.
Also parting out a bike and building it yourself is awesome but also frustrating and takes a lot of specialty tooling and $$$.

The Surly Long Haul is everyone's favorite but cost $1200-$1300 retail. It also is freaking heavy and sluggish [made for long distance touring].
The Surly Cross Check is a bit lighter and more responsive but still $1300.

My suggestions if you do go with the Moto is to get new street tires and if you are doing a lot of climbing, you can gear down by replacing your inner chain ring to a 34T.

Last but not least - visit you local bike coalition! Talk to guys who are not just trying to go after your cash!







tvan

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2015, 05:55:43 PM »
I'd recommend one of these (search for a used one) - http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/archive/2014/tricross

They are BAMF's. 

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2015, 07:15:27 PM »
From the sound of the OP you either don't already have a bike or don't ride significantly. The best advice I see around here is to get a used, quality brand hybrid (Trek FX, Giant Escape, etc). In many markets you can get one around $300 often with fenders and rack already installed.

Ride this bike for at least 6 months while you figure out truly, exactly what you like/dislike about it. THEN get a nicer, more customized bike if you want. You can resell the hybrid for the price you paid for it originally, minus any maintenance.

Disk brakes aren't necessary. Canti brakes with good pads (KoolStop Salmon) will do wonderfully in rain or snow. Do make it a habit of wiping the rims down after a bad weather ride or you'll eat through the wheels faster.

Koreth

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2015, 10:23:05 AM »
I'm curious why the recommendation for a cyclocross bike -- this isn't the first time one's been recommended to me after listing my critera and reasons as above. As I understand, such are racing bikes and  thus won't have mounting provisions for racks or fender. Certainly the ones I've seen in the stores haven't. I'm similarly curious why the recommendation for a hybrid. My understanding is that hybrids will tend to have mountain gearing, short gears that will quickly run out in the city, and my experience with suspension is that it saps energy that would have gone into the pedals.

Is there something that I am missing?

abiteveryday

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2015, 10:28:41 AM »
I don't think it is so much that everyone thinks the hybrid is the perfect bike.    It's more that you can get one cheap, do some riding, and in several months decide what kind of bike you ACTUALLY want.  It will probably change in that time, especially if you have not been riding regularly in many years.    Cyclocross bikes are commonly recommended because they are very versatile, and whatever you end up wanting you can probably make a cyclocross bike pretty close to that.   Many of them will also have the features you want, it's not like a true road race bike.   

Jeremy E.

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2015, 10:43:50 AM »
I'm curious why the recommendation for a cyclocross bike -- this isn't the first time one's been recommended to me after listing my critera and reasons as above. As I understand, such are racing bikes and  thus won't have mounting provisions for racks or fender. Certainly the ones I've seen in the stores haven't. I'm similarly curious why the recommendation for a hybrid. My understanding is that hybrids will tend to have mountain gearing, short gears that will quickly run out in the city, and my experience with suspension is that it saps energy that would have gone into the pedals.

Is there something that I am missing?
The Cyclocross bike I recommended had fender and rack mounts, it also has a steel frame, drop handlebars, good components and will allow slightly bigger tires.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2015, 10:44:56 AM »
I'm curious why the recommendation for a cyclocross bike -- this isn't the first time one's been recommended to me after listing my critera and reasons as above. As I understand, such are racing bikes and  thus won't have mounting provisions for racks or fender. Certainly the ones I've seen in the stores haven't. I'm similarly curious why the recommendation for a hybrid. My understanding is that hybrids will tend to have mountain gearing, short gears that will quickly run out in the city, and my experience with suspension is that it saps energy that would have gone into the pedals.

Is there something that I am missing?

Cylcocross - some, yes, are pure racing models. The CrossCheck isn't, it has mounts, etc. That said, while it does get love, I've heard from others that it gets a bit squirrelly loaded up, so it's not as stable as a touring model.

Hybrid - "Fitness" hybrids like the FX have no suspension. Gearing has low-end like a MTB but mine has plenty of high-end as well. Full race cadence in the highest gear (I forget the exact tooth count) would see me going well over 30mph. Not that I can do that mind you, but I could.

The main force behind my recommendation for a hybrid is that they're common used and gets you biking right away. Very few people stick with the very first bike they buy, so didn't want to see someone buying a nice $1,000+bike only to discover it wasn't quite right as they built their biking habit and figured out what they wanted. I'm actually still on my cheapish, try for a year or two, hybrid ($250 bike itself, quite a bit more now with panniers, rack, fenders, pedals, etc) because it's good enough for now. I'd love a better bike but can't justify it yet.

Koreth

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2015, 04:16:24 PM »

The main force behind my recommendation for a hybrid is that they're common used and gets you biking right away. Very few people stick with the very first bike they buy, so didn't want to see someone buying a nice $1,000+bike only to discover it wasn't quite right as they built their biking habit and figured out what they wanted. I'm actually still on my cheapish, try for a year or two, hybrid ($250 bike itself, quite a bit more now with panniers, rack, fenders, pedals, etc) because it's good enough for now. I'd love a better bike but can't justify it yet.

Okay, fair point there. Yes, it would be a shame to go out and spend $1k-2k on  a brand new bike, only to discover that it isn't quite right and have to sell it at a loss a short time later. Truth be told, that's what I was hoping to avoid by buying new, with the hope that getting measured and fitted in a professional shop would help me skip all that. But reflecting on it, yeah, the learning of what I do and don't like on a first bike makes sense on an inexpensive (but still quality) one from craigslist that I could flip with minimal loss when I've outgrown it.

I'll look on  Craigslist for hybrids that fit my criteria as best as they can. Though I do intend to keep the Salsa Vaya and Kona Rove on the shortlist of bikes to consider when I've enough saved up. When I test rode a Salsa Vaya at a local shop, I did like it.


Matt_D

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2015, 04:46:07 PM »
Xth recommendation for the cheaper hybrid or similar already set up for commuting. It'll help you figure out what you really want, and you can sell it for about the price of purchase. Just make sure you bring along someone who knows what they're doing, or meet up at a friendly bike shop and ask them to take 30 seconds and look at it (ask first, and do something nice in return if you don't already have a relationship).

Brakes - note that there are a couple different types of non-disc brakes. I would try for something that has V-brakes - they're easy to adjust, almost as powerful as discs, and cheap to maintain. Disc brakes for road/cross bikes are still generally not quite as good as those for mountain bikes IMO.

Generally agree w/ monstermonster, though I disagree on racks. EITHER get a bike that already has them (new or used), buy them at the same time as your new bike and get the shop to install them for free, or do it yourself. Don't pay someone else a ton of money to do it, it's not THAT hard!

I'm not as convinced that a cyclocross bike is a good fit if you intend to haul stuff. They generally have a higher bottom bracket for getting over stuff and steering geometry that can either be characterized as "responsive" or "twitchy," depending on your point of view. All of that makes them great at what they're made for, but less great for stability, particularly when carrying things. Not that it's impossible by any means - just something to keep in mind.

For Kona bikes - any reason you're thinking the Rove over the Sutra? Cheaper and has fenders already.
Also recommend the Surly bikes. I don't think you need to rule out the Long Haul Trucker though... people who call it "heavy" and "sluggish" are probably coming from more of a recreational/competitive riding background. You need something reliable, stable, etc. - it will do that. My personal opinion is that for commuter bikes, you're already probably planning to carry at least 10 lbs of stuff on the thing - why do you care if the bike itself is a couple pounds heavier or lighter?




 


Koreth

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2015, 05:13:50 PM »
Truthfully, I don't recall exactly why I was looking at the Kona Rove over the Sutra. The Sutra does indeed already come with racks and fenders, and has the same geometry as the Rove (albiet slightly heavier guage tubing for the anticpated higher loads of touring). I don't *think* it was the bar-end shifters vs brifters (which strikes me as a silly reason now). Maybe it was something to do with the gearing. I do recall the shop's recommendation had something to do with it, but that's about it. I know the REI Mazama was on the shortlist as well at one point, but, IIRC, the reason it was stricken was reports of the Randonee having problems with the the geometry, (chainstays or wheel getting in the way or something) and the Mazama sharing geometry with the Randonee.

projekt

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2015, 06:01:22 AM »
I have an old Bianchi Eros (ca. 1994) touring bike. It's basically indestructable and has the lugs for the fenders and rack. I put commuting tires on it that have a plastic inner liner and I haven't had a flat since. It is not good on gravel but it does dirt ok. The only thing about bikes from this vintage that takes getting used to is the downtube shifters. More modern bikes have them built into the brake levers. As a result, I have chosen a freewheel gear that I stay in and I usually only adjust the chainwheel gear.

Oh, it has a Chrome-Moly frame, which I have found to be slightly lighter and more comfortable than straight steel.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2015, 06:03:28 AM »
I have an old Bianchi Eros (ca. 1994) touring bike. It's basically indestructable and has the lugs for the fenders and rack. I put commuting tires on it that have a plastic inner liner and I haven't had a flat since. It is not good on gravel but it does dirt ok. The only thing about bikes from this vintage that takes getting used to is the downtube shifters. More modern bikes have them built into the brake levers. As a result, I have chosen a freewheel gear that I stay in and I usually only adjust the chainwheel gear.

It's a relatively cheap project to switch them over if you want to. I wouldn't necessarily bother with the front, but a decent indexed rear derailer and shifter combo would be ~$50.

Jack

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2015, 08:34:18 AM »
Truthfully, I'd get an early 90s mountain bike (no suspension!) then outfit it for commuting.    It will have the steel frame, the mounting points, clearance for wide tires, and basically the geometry of a touring bike.     A nice vintage Specialized Rockhopper or Trek 930 shouldn't cost you more than $100, and even if you put that much more into equipping it, that's still darn cheap.

+1! That's almost exactly what I have (mine's an early-90s Specialized Hard Rock) and it works great for commuting.

Matt_D

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2015, 08:30:53 PM »
Truthfully, I don't recall exactly why I was looking at the Kona Rove over the Sutra. The Sutra does indeed already come with racks and fenders, and has the same geometry as the Rove (albiet slightly heavier guage tubing for the anticpated higher loads of touring). I don't *think* it was the bar-end shifters vs brifters (which strikes me as a silly reason now). Maybe it was something to do with the gearing. I do recall the shop's recommendation had something to do with it, but that's about it. I know the REI Mazama was on the shortlist as well at one point, but, IIRC, the reason it was stricken was reports of the Randonee having problems with the the geometry, (chainstays or wheel getting in the way or something) and the Mazama sharing geometry with the Randonee.

Gearing should be fine either way. Remember that you're not really looking at your lowest or highest gears 95%+ of the time, unless you live in the mountains!
Bar end shifters vs brifters is a personal preference, I wouldn't place a ton of weight either way. Serious tourers tend to have bar ends because they're simpler and easier to fix when there's not a shop nearby.
RE: geometry of Randonee... chainstays or wheels getting in way of what?? I've heard of heel strike if you have huge feet, but that can happen with lots of frames... and is generally only applicable to people with huge feet...

andyp2010

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2015, 08:43:35 PM »
I've been a cycle mechanic for 5 or 6 years of my life, well qualified and a long time rider.

I can tell you for a fact that if you're on the road, disc brakes are practically unnecessary. The main advantage is for off road conditions as they are further away from the edge of the wheel where it's likely to get dirty and therefore hamper your braking ability.

On the road though, V brakes are not only lighter, simpler to repair at the roadside, cheaper to maintain, easier to find the correct parts as theyre not brand/model specific (pads are $10 a pair, not in the $30 region), will never become entirely obsolete (see cannondale codas, half of hope's brakes, promax and many more) but they have a ton more stopping power due to the wheel's edge being a much bigger lever than 6" from the wheels centre.

Touring/audax bike for the win from your description

Koreth

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2015, 05:56:19 PM »
On the advice of those here, I did little bit more resarch on approximate sizing for mountain and hybrid bikes, and went out and picked up a Trek 7200 FX off Craigslist. I'll ride this one for a bit, re-orient myself with the ins and outs of riding (it's been probably a decade since any regular riding, if not longer), and figure out what I do and don't want on a bike. Then once the hostpital bills are paid off and extra monies are saved up, and I've learned what I want on a bike, then I'll drop some coin on a fancy touring or CX bike.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2015, 05:41:34 AM »
On the advice of those here, I did little bit more resarch on approximate sizing for mountain and hybrid bikes, and went out and picked up a Trek 7200 FX off Craigslist. I'll ride this one for a bit, re-orient myself with the ins and outs of riding (it's been probably a decade since any regular riding, if not longer), and figure out what I do and don't want on a bike. Then once the hostpital bills are paid off and extra monies are saved up, and I've learned what I want on a bike, then I'll drop some coin on a fancy touring or CX bike.

Nice. Hope it treats you well! I have a 7500 FX and I've been pretty happy with it. Like you, I do want something nicer, but I don't feel in a rush to get it.

Matt_D

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2015, 11:03:40 AM »
On the advice of those here, I did little bit more resarch on approximate sizing for mountain and hybrid bikes, and went out and picked up a Trek 7200 FX off Craigslist. I'll ride this one for a bit, re-orient myself with the ins and outs of riding (it's been probably a decade since any regular riding, if not longer), and figure out what I do and don't want on a bike. Then once the hostpital bills are paid off and extra monies are saved up, and I've learned what I want on a bike, then I'll drop some coin on a fancy touring or CX bike.

Great! That's a solid bike, wife used to have one. I borrowed it for commuting for a bit while I was figuring out what I wanted to get longer-term :)

Koreth

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2015, 11:39:33 AM »
As I familiarize myself with the bike and the mechanic of its various components, are there any discussion places on the Internets for talking shop and learning about the ins and outs of bikes that a Mustachian recommends?

zoltani

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2015, 11:47:05 AM »
BIKEFORUMS.NET

Matt_D

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #26 on: September 15, 2015, 06:37:13 PM »
As I familiarize myself with the bike and the mechanic of its various components, are there any discussion places on the Internets for talking shop and learning about the ins and outs of bikes that a Mustachian recommends?

Lol... quite a few! I use mtbr.com forums a lot, though that's more a mountain/cross/adventure bike type group. There's also bikeforums (like zoltani said), bike radar, bicycling.com, etc. Skim through a few or all of them and get a feel, then jump in.

hyla

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Re: Bicycle - buy, build, wait?
« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2015, 11:34:16 AM »
Buy a older, used touring bike off CL to start.  I just did a search for "touring" on Denver CL bikes and dozens popped up, including older sub $300 options.  An older steel touring bike will have drop handlebars, good tire clearance, and brazeons for racks and fenders, everything you want in a bike except disc brakes (I agree with other posters that these are nice but not essential).

If you love that style of bike after riding it for half a year or so, upgrade to a new kona, surly, or salsa once you are sure you know what you want.  If you ride your bike for a while and decide actually you want something different, then you're only out a couple hundred dollars - or nothing, usually you can resell used bikes for close to what you bought them for.

Older bikes are also nice for commuting (especially winter commuting) because they are less of a target for theives when locked outside, and you won't feel as bad about it getting all covered with snow and road grime and the paint scratched up from being on crowded bike racks.   I have a surly cross check (which I use for long road and mountain rides and love) but I don't commute on it - I commute on two older, uglier bikes.