Author Topic: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?  (Read 910 times)

Chris22

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3320
  • Location: Chicago NW Suburbs
What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« on: March 07, 2020, 08:10:19 PM »
I took a new job a while back with a commute by train, and the station is a little over a mile from my house. Itís been cold and all in Chicagoland so Iíve been driving to the train lot, but as it gets nicer I really want to bike, since itís less of a pain than driving and I can ride right up to the station rather than driving to the pay lot 2-3 blocks away.

Anyways, since itís only about 1-1.5 miles each way I donít need anything fancy, but I do need something that works. I was hoping to pick up something cheap off of Craigslist but after weeks of watching I really donít see anything. Itís a lot of really crappy MTBs, and medium priced road bikes and I donít want either of those.  I want something that sits more upright, and has fenders and a chain guard (Iíll ride in my nice clothes and I donít want to ruin my pants).  Itís mostly flat, but had slight incline/decline so I want something with a few gears, Iím really interested in something with an internal gear hub, probably a 3-speed because cheapo derailleurs drive me nuts.

My local bike shop has a couple Sun models on its web site, a Drifter 3 and a Cruz 3, both with 3 speed hubs and both about $550. Thatís about double what I planned on spending, but is there something a lot cheaper thatís still good?  I plan on stopping in there tomorrow to talk to them and see what they recommend (and check out their used selection) but what else should I be looking for?  I use a backpack so Iím not worried about cargo stuff, and Iíll probably be a fair weather rider so not crazy worried about weather protection. Iíll get a decent lock and helmet. Otherwise what should I look at?


Boofinator

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1432
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2020, 08:35:51 PM »
Well shoot, just about any bike out there can easily do a mile. I'd say the only major thing to look for is to make sure it fits. (Source: most days I have a mile commute each way to the bus and back (with some hills), and generally take either my crappy Nashbar road bike or my foldy bike, neither of which are fast but who cares if my trip takes an extra minute.)

grobinski

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 42
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • FIREd - 02.03.20!
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2020, 10:22:55 PM »
Bikesdirect.com has a number of "city bikes" that would meet your criteria. I have bought bikes them them in the past and the value is hard to beat without going the used route or previous years/closeouts (which can also be great values from a local bike shop (LBS). As @Boofinator indicated, fit it importantant, so if you buy on-line, make sure to compare sizing with bikes ridden locally.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/city_bikes.htm



These will require minimal assembly, so some mechanical aptitude is beneficial. If you haven't serviced a bike a before, learning the basics by doing some assembly will help out down the road if you need to do any repairs or maintenance. You should be able to find a local resource for getting some training on bike maintenance if you need it (or track down a nearby mustachian cyclist to help out!).

Here is another potential from a closeout vendor - https://www.randombikeparts.com/collections/commuter-and-urban/products/nashbar-19-flatbar-disc-road-700c-hybrid-commuter-bike-shimano-3-x-8-speed-new

« Last Edit: March 08, 2020, 08:52:49 AM by grobinski »

Imma

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2423
  • Location: Europe
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2020, 04:13:49 AM »
Bikesdirect.com has a number of "city bikes" that would meet your criteria. I have bought bikes them them in the past and the value is hard to beat without going the used route or previous years/closeouts (which can also be great values from a local bike shop (LBS). As @Boofinator indicated, fit it importantant, so if you buy on-line, make sure to compare sizing with bikes ridden locally.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/city_bikes.htm

These will require minimal assembly, so some mechanical aptitude is beneficial. If you haven't serviced a bike a before, learning the basics by doing some assembly will help out down the road if you need to do any repairs or maintenance. You should be able to find a local resource for getting some training on bike maintenance if you need it (or track down a nearby mustachian cyclist to help out!).

Here is another potential from a closeout vendor - https://www.randombikeparts.com/collections/commuter-and-urban/products/nashbar-19-flatbar-disc-road-700c-hybrid-commuter-bike-shimano-3-x-8-speed-new



That looks like the type of bike I'd recommend for a short ride in the city, except find one with a rack on the back. That way you can carry some extra stuff if you need to bring something into the office or need to get something from the grocery store on the way home.

eazyebeneezer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 28
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2020, 06:46:54 AM »
I had the same criteria as you, but I decided to splurge on a Linus https://www.linusbike.com/products/roadster-sport  for around $600 and I love every second I spend on it. My commute is about 4 miles each way.

grobinski

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 42
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • FIREd - 02.03.20!
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2020, 09:33:37 AM »
Shopping vicariously... here are a few more that fit your criteria. Some of these may be identical frames coming from the same manufacturer with different paint, decals and mix of parts - Many sure look similar (that "hand stitched" grip in particular).

https://www.the-house.com/qbzdt356dg16zz-breezer-bikes.html

https://retrospec.com/collections/city-bikes/products/mars-diamond-three-speed-city-bike

https://cremecyclesusa.com/collections/mens-bicycles/products/cafe-racer-mens-uno

https://www.citygrounds.com/collections/city-bikes?page=1&sort_by=price-ascending


caleb

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 313
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2020, 09:43:46 AM »
I don't know how tall you are, but if you really want an internally geared bike this is a good deal: https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/bik/d/chicago-large-dutch-city-comfort-road/7085239889.html

Cheap internal hubs are often rough and noisy.  For a <$500 bike, I'd look for a hybrid with a rack and rear derailleur.

Here are some examples of what I'd look for:

https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/bik/d/chicago-trek-75-fx/7078644882.html

https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/bik/d/highland-park-schwinn-crossfit/7089362019.html

All of the above will take fenders and a rack.

Chris22

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3320
  • Location: Chicago NW Suburbs
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2020, 12:28:49 PM »
Ended up getting a good deal on a closeout 2018 Specialized Alibi at my LBS. has a low maintenance chain and non-pneumatic tires, so low maintenance like I wanted. Also had them swap the saddle to a more comfy one and put on tamper proof skewers.  Got it in black so low profile. Should last forever. Good stuff.

Papa bear

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1458
  • Location: Ohio
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2020, 01:10:18 PM »
Any reason you arenít walking for a distance that short? I find biking to be more of a pain for that distance.  Keeping it locked, helmet, leaving the bike in the elements all to save 10 minutes doesnít seem worth it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Chris22

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3320
  • Location: Chicago NW Suburbs
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2020, 01:16:25 PM »
Any reason you arenít walking for a distance that short? I find biking to be more of a pain for that distance.  Keeping it locked, helmet, leaving the bike in the elements all to save 10 minutes doesnít seem worth it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Time. Itís mostly downhill on the way there, so an easy cruise down. Saves probably more like 15 min. Biking will save me time over driving, so Iím not worried about the added hassle of the lock etc.  we also have a covered pavilion for bikes so it isnt really out in the elements.

Papa bear

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1458
  • Location: Ohio
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2020, 01:37:30 PM »
Any reason you arenít walking for a distance that short? I find biking to be more of a pain for that distance.  Keeping it locked, helmet, leaving the bike in the elements all to save 10 minutes doesnít seem worth it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Time. Itís mostly downhill on the way there, so an easy cruise down. Saves probably more like 15 min. Biking will save me time over driving, so Iím not worried about the added hassle of the lock etc.  we also have a covered pavilion for bikes so it isnt really out in the elements.

Sounds reasonable to me!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Boofinator

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1432
Re: What to look for in a short distance commuter bike?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2020, 02:21:38 PM »
Ended up getting a good deal on a closeout 2018 Specialized Alibi at my LBS. has a low maintenance chain and non-pneumatic tires, so low maintenance like I wanted. Also had them swap the saddle to a more comfy one and put on tamper proof skewers.  Got it in black so low profile. Should last forever. Good stuff.

I'm curious to hear how you end up liking your non-pneumatic tires. My general impression of them (rightly or wrongly, as I can't recall a source) is that they have much higher rolling resistance (you go slower) and their handling is different than pneumatic bike tires. Also, if your concern is flats, my experience has been that 'Slime' has done wonders to eliminate my flats (at least so far).