Author Topic: First Time Commuter Bike Question  (Read 4478 times)

Corripto

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First Time Commuter Bike Question
« on: September 22, 2014, 08:55:07 AM »
Hi All,

I wanted to pop in and ask for some recommendations on a commuter bike that I'm thinking about purchasing.  I will be moving approx. 5 miles from where I currently work and this will be my first time attempting a bike commute.  I live in Maryland, so during the course of the year it will be a mix of hot summers to occasionally snowy winters.  The commute will also have a moderate amount of elevation change on paved roads only.

I saw a sale on the Nashbar website and wanted to keep my first bike under $400 while still getting good beginner quality.

Here are two bikes that stood out to me, if anyone would mind giving some input.  Thanks so much in advance!

Nashbar Flat Bar Road Bike ($300): http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_552047_-1___205393#

Diamondback Insight Flat Bar Road Bike ($350): http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_565115_-1___205394


megaschnauzer

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2014, 09:27:50 AM »
congratulations on jumping in to commuting by bike. either of those bikes will work for commuting. it's not a race. first make sure you get a bike that fits you correctly. just go to a local shop and ask them about what size frame you need. they may even have a bike there that meets your needs in the same price range. you will definitely want to get a helmet, fenders, a rack with bags, a really good lock and some really good lights if you are going to commute year round. also a tool kit with a spare tube and patches and a pump. all this will probably cost another couple hundred bucks. i couldn't tell if either of those bikes had rack or fender mounts. i know it sounds expensive but it is truly worth it. good luck.

frugaliknowit

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2014, 09:34:11 AM »
Personally, I would not buy a bike on-line if I had not actually ridden it.

As a seasoned cyclist, one thing I have learned is the most important thing about a bike is that you will use it.  In the long run, it really matters SO LITTLE whether it's $200 or $800.

I would visit a number of shops, tell them what you are looking for, then test ride the appropriate bikes.  If there's a model you are interested in and they don't have one you can test, call around and find someone who does.  It sounds like you wanna have this done "1,2, 3!", but you really should take your time.

Corripto

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2014, 10:16:02 AM »
Thank you both for the input.  There actually is a bike shop right around the corner, so I'll make sure I pop in there and get measured/try out a couple styles of bikes before I take the plunge.

GuitarStv

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2014, 11:26:00 AM »
5 miles is pretty short.  Most likely any bike will work for this distance.  I'd get a cheap used bike and try commuting on it for several months.  Then you'll have a better idea of exactly what you need/want.

Beric01

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2014, 12:45:49 PM »
5 miles is pretty short.  Most likely any bike will work for this distance.  I'd get a cheap used bike and try commuting on it for several months.  Then you'll have a better idea of exactly what you need/want.

This is a very good idea. You're just starting to commute. Keep your risks low by not putting a huge investment in at first. When (not if) it seems to be working out well, you can buy a nice bike, and hopefully use it for more than just commuting!

fed_stache

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2014, 01:51:10 PM »
Congratulations! I'll second everything that's been said so far and welcome you to DC area bike commuting. I've been commuting into and around the District for over a year, summer and winter, and it's so much more enjoyable than using the car. Over distances of 5 miles or so it's often just as fast, or faster. I have a longer route and I found I ended up spending more than anticipated to get a good bag that would carry necessary work clothes and such and was also waterproof, plus fenders for the bike and a good headlight as well as a jacket and/or pants for bad weather. I haven't done the math but I suspect this still paid off in a relatively short amount of time just in terms of Metro trips not taken and vehicle miles not driven. Not to mention everyone thinks you're either a super athlete or a hippy if you bike in the winter. Good luck!

darkadams00

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2014, 09:07:19 PM »
Buying used +1.

Craigslist is good, but waiting for a reasonable deal on a bike that fits you might set you back 3-4 weeks. With only a couple months until colder weather, you might not get much riding time before it's time for winter gear--and I don't know anyone who geared up for winter commuting without bike commuting at least several months in warmer weather.

With that said, the deals on Craigslist start heating up in December and continue until the end of February around here (NC). But that's looking for a good deal on a great bike. Almost any bike will fit the bill for a 10M RT commute. And if you plan to ride this winter, I would go ahead and buy a bike for winter now (think cheap beater that will handle fenders and doesn't care about salt). Next year, you'll know much more about what you want out of your bike and what would make a good upgrade for warm weather/longer distance riding.

Corripto

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2014, 11:39:00 AM »
I have a longer route and I found I ended up spending more than anticipated to get a good bag that would carry necessary work clothes and such and was also waterproof, plus fenders for the bike and a good headlight as well as a jacket and/or pants for bad weather.
This sounds like a great idea with the bag and we have a locker room/showers at work that I can use to change easily.  I also considered fenders a necessity in bad weather so I don't have to a mess all over my clothes with wet roads.

I have access to borrow a mountain bike from the in-laws that may be a good way to trial things and see how that feels.  I'd still need to pick up at least a couple ancillary parts like a bike light at a minimum just to trial it for safety, but it would give me a much better idea of what will work.

GuitarStv

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2014, 12:33:54 PM »
For a rear light check out the 1w Planet Bike Superflash Turbo, or the Cygolite Hotshot 2W.  For a front light look for something like the Cygolite metro 360, 420, 500, or 550.  They're nice lights for reasonable money and you can move 'em to any bike you use.  Definitely noticeable at night and in the rain by other traffic.

Fenders are necessary not because of you getting wet (although eating the spray from your front wheel sucks quite a lot), but because they keep a lot of crap off your drivetrain (which means less maintenance).

SeattleStache

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2014, 12:51:47 PM »
5 miles is pretty short.  Most likely any bike will work for this distance.  I'd get a cheap used bike and try commuting on it for several months.  Then you'll have a better idea of exactly what you need/want.

Totally agree with this.  I bought a cheap 2nd hand mountain bike, threw on fenders and a rack, and used that for a few months when I first started bike commuting.  I wanted to figure out what I needed in a bike before going out and getting my "real" commuter.  I ended up getting a Salsa Vaya and I love it!  I commute year round in Seattle and it does everything I need it to do.  Groceries, commuting, bike touring, etc.  What you think you want in a bike is likely to change once you start riding.  Plus you will probably be able to resell the 2nd hand bike for what you bought it for once you're ready to buy your long-term bike.  Good luck!

pagoconcheques

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Re: First Time Commuter Bike Question
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2014, 12:33:48 PM »
Definitely get a used bike for starters.  Be prepared to buy a few tools and learn about maintenance since, as they say, if you don't do your own work you are basically renting from your mechanic. 

Also, go to bikeforums.net and search and read a bit.  It's a very active forum with a very deep knowledge base, though the regulars don't suffer fools much so use the search function before asking a question that's been treated dozens of times.