Author Topic: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?  (Read 7261 times)

WisconsinFI

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Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« on: October 02, 2014, 07:33:51 AM »
Hey everyone, I've recently started biking to/from work 1-2 days a week and have been using my un-mustachian fancypants 29er mountain bike. I also own a fairly nice road bike.  I'm looking for a bike that I can cruise around town as well as commute with and not worry (as much) if it were to get stolen. My commute is about 5 miles and is mostly flat and on sidewalks.  I'm not convinced that I want to bike all year, but I'm going to try and last as long as possible through the winter. I've considered buying studded tires along with the new bike (700cc x 28).  I've been doing a lot of reading and it seems like a fixie might be a good option to cut down on components that could potentially get salted/wet/rusty etc.

After reading lots of reviews, this is the one I'm considering (The gold one is currently only $242) By the pictures, it doesn't seem like I'd have to worry about clearance issues with the studded tires.


http://www.amazon.com/Pure-Fix-Cycles-Single-Medium/dp/B006CFDJTG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412255605&sr=8-1&keywords=pure+fixie


Nashbar also had something that intrigued me, although it seems they are out of my size:
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_560653_-1___205163


I've been looking at my local craigslist and there isn't a lot of selection. The road/mountain bikes on CL all have shocks/gears and I'm not really looking for a project bike. I'm partial to ordering from Amazon since I have gift cards to use up. Am I way off base thinking the Pure Fixie is a good option? Thanks!



Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 07:51:40 AM »
1. You shouldn't be riding on sidewalks. Period.

2. I've never heard of that brand, but High-Tens steel instead of chromoly means heavy as all hell. Just make sure you realize that.

Keep in mind you can always treat a multi speed bike as a fixed gear. There's no reason you HAVE to shift. A $50 CL bike is going to be just as good as this price level bike brand-new.

What CL area are you in? We can help make recommendations if needed.

FunkyStickman

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 07:53:24 AM »
Fixies are simple. If you're not intent on going fast, you can gear it down and makes a fine city bike. Only has front brakes, well.. eh. Not a fan of cheaping out on brakes. You could always add a rear one if you feel uncomfortable.

The Nashbar bike is better in every way, assuming you can get one in your size. You get much more bike for not much more money.

WisconsinFI

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 08:04:15 AM »
1. You shouldn't be riding on sidewalks. Period.

2. I've never heard of that brand, but High-Tens steel instead of chromoly means heavy as all hell. Just make sure you realize that.

Keep in mind you can always treat a multi speed bike as a fixed gear. There's no reason you HAVE to shift. A $50 CL bike is going to be just as good as this price level bike brand-new.

What CL area are you in? We can help make recommendations if needed.

I'd be very nervous if I wasn't allowed to ride on the sidewalk.  For part of it I'm on a major sidewalk that goes past a school and I eventually end up on some residential roads which are quite pleasant. For more than half of the ride, I'm on an extremely busy route (35 mph) that has sharrows since there wasn't enough room for a proper bike lane.  I've driven down the road and it's scary how little room there is. The sharrows don't even go the entire route at which the room on the side is pretty much non-existent.  I have yet to see a biker riding on the road here as all of them I've seen opt for the sidewalk.  Perhaps I'm missing something? Unfortunately, the way the city is laid out, this is the only option for me to get home.  Point taken regarding Craigslist - perhaps I need to be more patient. Thanks for your insight.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 08:14:36 AM »
Statistically, riding on the sidewalk unless you're going very slow (~5mph) and checking EVERY crossing (streets, store driveways, etc) you have a very high chance of accident compared to riding in the street where cars can see you. Cars are not looking for high speed pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk.

I had to google what sharrows mean, but I have some of those here in Milwaukee. Never had an issue with cars failing to give me space. The key is taking enough of the lane (1/3) that they aren't tempted to squeeze past. Clipping or other bike accidents from behind are very, very rare. The most common accidents are at intersections when the bike was on the sidewalk, particularly riding against traffic flow.

GuitarStv

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 08:36:29 AM »
It's not a good idea to cycle on the sidewalk from a safety perspective.  If the busy road you're talking about has sharrows, it's already designed for biking.  Make sure that you have proper lights/reflectors front and back on your bike and wear a bright jacket with reflective stuff on it.

I do a lot of biking in the winter.  With any winter bike you need to oil the chain very regularly, check the brakes/pads on a regular basis, and rinse off the salt after a wet ride.  It's worth greasing your hubs, seatpost, and any bolt that is threaded into the frame once a year to prevent water intrusion and frame rust.  A fixed gear bike is going to be slightly easier to maintain (you don't have to worry about greasing cable housings and putting a drop of oil on the derailleurs from time to time), but it's not significantly harder to maintain a bike with shifters.

I use rim brakes on my winter bike, but would prefer discs.  They just work better in slushy conditions.  Better brakes are safer brakes.  Studded tires are only really necessary if you bike on ice regularly.  They really suck on plowed roads.  Around here the plows and salters get out early enough that icy roads are rarely a concern . . . and skinny road tires with a little tread on them work well in snow and slush (completely smooth tires don't grip well in snow in my experience).  If you're going to spend money on tires, get flat protection.  It sucks changing your tube out with cold fingers on the side of the road in the dark at -15.

Donovan

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2014, 08:42:21 AM »
I'd definitely go with the Nashbar one if you can get your size at some point, or at least a bike more like it. I've commute on a home-made fixed gear before, and it's fine for your commute. However, if you ever want to expand your use of the bike it will be much harder or impossible with the fixed gear bike.  For example, if you ever want to add a good rear cargo rack, you would be out of luck with the fixie since it has no eyeholes in the back to mount on to.  A geared bike may be slightly more maintenance, but it's also much more versatile.

Also, seconded on checking local CL first.

WisconsinFI

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2014, 09:02:18 AM »
Thanks for all of the feedback, I really appreciate it.  Nashbar also has this one which has a rear derailleur and all sizes in stock (similar to the one I posted above):

http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_575567_-1___204734

I know with a coupon I can get it for around 300.  There is nothing really in the area that is comparable with disc brakes except for this Scott mountain bike:



There is also a hybrid, but this just reminds me of something my parents would ride :)

« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 11:43:20 AM by WisconsinFI »

GuitarStv

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2014, 12:07:22 PM »
The Schwinn from Nashbar looks like a decent commuter.  I prefer an aluminum to steel frame for a winter bike because the salt doesn't seem to eat them up as quickly.

The Scott mountain bike looks alright other than the front suspension and big knobby tires (which just make it harder to pedal on the road).  Mountain bike gearing is usually a little to easy for on road use in my experience.

The Giant hybrid is just set up for a slow rider.  Drop the bars down as low as you can by removing the spacers at the stem, add some bar ends, and raise the seat post . . . you could also probably talk them down on the price.  Sucks that it has a front suspension though . . . front suspensions on bikes aren't really needed for commuting and just add weight.

pagoconcheques

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2014, 03:45:30 PM »
my un-mustachian fancypants 29er mountain bike

Seriously?  KEEP using the mountain bike, you don't need another bike at all!  For non-winter commuting just get tires with a more pavement-friendly tread.  Use your current tires or get studded ones for winter use. 

Spend that money on a few tools, some cleaning supplies, and a bike repair stand if you don't already have these things.  When the bike gets really dirty, just clean it!  Really easy on a stand.  Keep the chain clean and lubed, clean salt and road grime off exposed cables, and repack wheel, bottom bracket, and headset bearings about once a year. 

WisconsinFI

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2014, 08:58:23 PM »
my un-mustachian fancypants 29er mountain bike

Seriously?  KEEP using the mountain bike, you don't need another bike at all!  For non-winter commuting just get tires with a more pavement-friendly tread.  Use your current tires or get studded ones for winter use. 

Spend that money on a few tools, some cleaning supplies, and a bike repair stand if you don't already have these things.  When the bike gets really dirty, just clean it!  Really easy on a stand.  Keep the chain clean and lubed, clean salt and road grime off exposed cables, and repack wheel, bottom bracket, and headset bearings about once a year.

You bring up a good point, but I also want to be able to cruise around town and not worry about it.  If I can find something at a good price, I'm going to go for it.

Any opinions on this 08 Schwinn Frontier GSD:

« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 11:43:02 AM by WisconsinFI »

GuitarStv

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2014, 07:02:56 AM »
The riser bars plus riser stem will make it difficult to adjust so that you get a low under-the-wind position, you'll probably at least have to replace the stem.  The seat looks like one of the too cushioned ones that are uncomfy on long rides.  The balloon tires with knobs will be slow on the road, with the added weight of the useless front suspension.  That rack doesn't have anything to prevent panniers from swaying into your rear tire.  Does the 650 in the name mean it has 650B rims/tires?  If so, they're a bit harder to find replacements for than regular 26 inch mountain bike or 700C road tires.  I don't see eyelets for regular full length fenders which is something I consider pretty important on a winter bike.

None of the above are deal breakers . . . and the bike is pretty cheap.

WisconsinFI

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2014, 07:16:50 AM »
The riser bars plus riser stem will make it difficult to adjust so that you get a low under-the-wind position, you'll probably at least have to replace the stem.  The seat looks like one of the too cushioned ones that are uncomfy on long rides.  The balloon tires with knobs will be slow on the road, with the added weight of the useless front suspension.  That rack doesn't have anything to prevent panniers from swaying into your rear tire.  Does the 650 in the name mean it has 650B rims/tires?  If so, they're a bit harder to find replacements for than regular 26 inch mountain bike or 700C road tires.  I don't see eyelets for regular full length fenders which is something I consider pretty important on a winter bike.

None of the above are deal breakers . . . and the bike is pretty cheap.

It's actually not a '650' in the name. I did some research and it's a Frontier GSD (just looks like 650 on the paint job).  Pretty sure it's standard wheels.  I do have a replacement seat that's been sitting around so no issue there.  I'll probably get a new set of tires at some point - my ride is still pretty short so I can deal with the slowness temporarily.  I'll have to look into the fender issue as I'm not familiar.  I'm also 6 foot, so the XL might be a tad big - I'm hoping I can make it work though. My other Mtn bike is a 19".  The front suspension isn't ideal, but perhaps I could look into a different one at some point.  Thanks again for your thoughts.

WisconsinFI

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2014, 08:56:46 PM »
Statistically, riding on the sidewalk unless you're going very slow (~5mph) and checking EVERY crossing (streets, store driveways, etc) you have a very high chance of accident compared to riding in the street where cars can see you. Cars are not looking for high speed pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk.

I had to google what sharrows mean, but I have some of those here in Milwaukee. Never had an issue with cars failing to give me space. The key is taking enough of the lane (1/3) that they aren't tempted to squeeze past. Clipping or other bike accidents from behind are very, very rare. The most common accidents are at intersections when the bike was on the sidewalk, particularly riding against traffic flow.

I took your advice and have been riding on the road the past 2 times. I did a little research into best practices as well.  I feel much more confident on the road and not having to slow down at intersections is nice.  Also, going faster means that there actually is less traffic to deal with as cars don't catch up to you as fast.  The area with the sharrows is rather pleasant as there is more room, but once they end, the drivers around here still squeeze past me even as I was trying to take up more of the lane.  It seemed like I was getting nasty looks from many drivers.  I think that people in this area just aren't used to bikers actually using the road (like I mentioned, I'm the only person I've seen riding on the road)  It's a high traffic road so there are often cars in both lanes. Perhaps I just need to continue to hold my ground.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2014, 04:47:41 AM »
Hold your ground and eventually they'll get the idea. If squeezing past you continues to be a major problem, I remember reading someone who mounted a safety flag sticking out horizontally to ensure cars gave him at least three feet of space.

GuitarStv

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2014, 06:07:06 AM »
Way to go making the switch from a sidewalk cyclist to a real cyclist!  There are strategies to employ if people are squeezing past you.

At one point I ziptied a milk crate to each side of my rear rack and then put reflectors at the far side of each milk crate . . . something like this makes your bike look wider and makes it look like the car might get scratched by passing too close so you tend to get a bit more room.

If you cycle in very close to the curb, cars will think they can pass you without moving over at all . . . and they will squeeze near to you all the fricking time.  This is dangerous because you don't have any room to avoid obstacles on the road.  It's a laziness thing.  It's easier to stay in a lane than change lanes.  The better strategy I've found is simply to bike three to four feet from the curb.  This forces cars to leave their lane to pass you . . . and if they're leaving their lane a couple feet they usually decide to completely change lanes which gives you even more room.  Plus, now you have a few feet to the right that you can steer your bike into to avoid obstacles, so it's safer for you.

Especially if you bike early in the morning/late at night it's dark.  The worst time is around sunrise and sunset, where it's still dark, but many idiots in cars haven't turned on their headlights.  If cars aren't paying attention they won't see you as easily.  I've found that you get more room by having more visible rear lights on your bike.  Buy something like a Cygolite HotShot 2, or a Planet Bike Superflash Turbo . . . both are really, really visible and tough for a car to miss.  There are far too many underpowered bike lights unfortunately.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2014, 06:53:12 AM »
The Cygolite Metro and Hotshot combo on Amazon for $80 is a pretty good deal. I scored a couple Metros for cheaper during a Nashbar promo but $80 for the pair is a solid everyday price. I like the convenience of USB charging and they are BRIGHT.

GuitarStv

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2014, 06:57:53 AM »
Yeah, the Metro series are great front lights.

FreeWheel

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2014, 11:56:12 AM »
I agree that you don't need another bike to ride in the winter. Most days will be dry, so your present bikes and tires will work just as well on those days. If you do intend to ride on ice/snow, get studded tires. The only time I fell in 9 years of commuting was when I slipped on ice while running regular tires.

A more assertive lane position has also served me well. Don't be afraid to take your place on the road. This means sometimes drivers may have to wait behind you a moment for a safe chance to pass. I like using a mirror to monitor traffic behind. No one wants to hit you, not even the few that honk. Suit up in high vis clothing and lights, and be where they WILL see you.

The only time I was hit by a car was when I was in a crosswalk while riding on a side path. (wider sidewalk) I wasn't on my commute, but still...

kendallf

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2014, 01:29:51 PM »
I have a very cheap fixed gear (probably the same manufacturer, mine's called a "Vilano", also sold on Amazon for ~$200).  I did swap some components on it, but mostly because I was selling my old fixed gear and liked the wheels/bars/etc. that were on the old bike.  The parts spec was perfectly functional.  It's a great riding bike, and having the fixed gear with no derailleurs, no cables, and a nice cheap 1/8" chain makes for a very low maintenance bike.

Since you have a 29er though, I think I'd second the idea to just ride it during the winter.  Being able to coast and having more than one gear are very nice things in crappy weather conditions.  :-)  Buy a good lock if you're worried about riding it downtown.  You can buy very nice studded 700c tires and put them on the 29er; it'll have tons of clearance. 

eil

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2014, 03:39:30 PM »
I just can't get used to riding in the road. If there are no pedestrians, I will ride on the sidewalk all day long. (It is legal here.)

Maybe it's different in other parts of the country but around where I live, car drivers are really aggressive. Especially during commuting hours. If you're only doing 5mph over the speed limit on a two-lane road, you will be tailgated, honked at, lights flashed until you speed up or move over and them go by. They don't care if they kill someone, as long as it gets them to work or the shopping mall 4 or 5 seconds sooner.

I have a road near me that I really don't like bicycling on if I can help it. It's a two-lane with a solid double and no shoulder to speak of. Usually I ride off to the right in the dirt and grass so as to not get run over. This morning, I decided to try the 1/3 lane trick. Didn't work at all. After the 10th car whizzed by inches from my elbow at 50 mph (speed limit 35) and at least one near hear-on collision with another car, I decided I didn't need to risk my life any further in this experiment and went back to cycling in the dirt and grass. (Where it would still take only one inattentive driver to end my life with no warning. I don't like other people being in control of when I die.)

WisconsinFI

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2014, 07:59:40 PM »
I just can't get used to riding in the road. If there are no pedestrians, I will ride on the sidewalk all day long. (It is legal here.)

Maybe it's different in other parts of the country but around where I live, car drivers are really aggressive. Especially during commuting hours. If you're only doing 5mph over the speed limit on a two-lane road, you will be tailgated, honked at, lights flashed until you speed up or move over and them go by. They don't care if they kill someone, as long as it gets them to work or the shopping mall 4 or 5 seconds sooner.

I have a road near me that I really don't like bicycling on if I can help it. It's a two-lane with a solid double and no shoulder to speak of. Usually I ride off to the right in the dirt and grass so as to not get run over. This morning, I decided to try the 1/3 lane trick. Didn't work at all. After the 10th car whizzed by inches from my elbow at 50 mph (speed limit 35) and at least one near hear-on collision with another car, I decided I didn't need to risk my life any further in this experiment and went back to cycling in the dirt and grass. (Where it would still take only one inattentive driver to end my life with no warning. I don't like other people being in control of when I die.)

This is really too bad.  There definitely isn't enough education and respect for cyclists. I'm hoping that it catches on more as our city continues to make improvements and certainly the sharrows are a good start.  Once I'm FI, I will definitely be avoiding prime commuting times.

FreeWheel

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2014, 10:02:30 PM »
I just can't get used to riding in the road. If there are no pedestrians, I will ride on the sidewalk all day long. (It is legal here.)

Maybe it's different in other parts of the country but around where I live, car drivers are really aggressive. Especially during commuting hours. If you're only doing 5mph over the speed limit on a two-lane road, you will be tailgated, honked at, lights flashed until you speed up or move over and them go by. They don't care if they kill someone, as long as it gets them to work or the shopping mall 4 or 5 seconds sooner.

I have a road near me that I really don't like bicycling on if I can help it. It's a two-lane with a solid double and no shoulder to speak of. Usually I ride off to the right in the dirt and grass so as to not get run over. This morning, I decided to try the 1/3 lane trick. Didn't work at all. After the 10th car whizzed by inches from my elbow at 50 mph (speed limit 35) and at least one near hear-on collision with another car, I decided I didn't need to risk my life any further in this experiment and went back to cycling in the dirt and grass. (Where it would still take only one inattentive driver to end my life with no warning. I don't like other people being in control of when I die.)

I wish I could try riding your road.

If drivers are still whizzing by your elbow then you need to move farther left making it not possible. If the lane is not wide enough to share then this is legal and the safest way. There is no way anyone will intentionally run over a cyclist who is in plain view, in front of dozens of witnesses. Their only option is to wait for a safe chance to overtake you. I've done this for years on a posted 50 MPH road. My work place was ON this road, so it was either find a way that works, or drive a car.

The key is to make it blatantly obvious to drivers FAR BACK, that there is no room to squeeze by me in the lane. I do this by being in the center or even slightly left of center. I watch in my mirror as car after car changes lanes, or slows to my speed. For my part I go through this section as fast as I can, and move over to help facilitate overtaking when it is safe and convenient to do so.

So while you're unlikely to get hit, that doesn't mean it will necessarily be a comfortable ride. Sometimes, a change of route or commute time is in order... or even brief sidewalk usage through the most hostile sections.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2014, 06:51:11 AM »
Like what FreeWheel said, I'd take the FULL lane or find a different route if at all possible.

Riding off the road runs the risk of you losing traction, slipping, and falling INTO the road.

WisconsinFI

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Re: Is this a good idea for a commuter/winter bike?
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2014, 04:41:12 PM »
I couldn't pass up the great deal. Got my lights on too. As a bonus it (barely) fits my old bob trailer with some muscling. (That was another craigslist find $10 plus $25 for the skewer)