Beating the system - the cycling commuting section
16 posts • Page 1 of 1
Just wanted opinions on a commuter bike. I am a total noob and haven't ridden since primary school.. I have been looking at entry level commuter bikes and have found the Kona Dew 2011 or Giant Crosscity 4. Both seem to be approx the same spec. I am now leaning more towards the Kona Dew due to the larger tyres as it seems a little bit more sturdy then the Crosscity..
I will commuting in Melbourne and (I believe) mainly on foot paths or road, maybe a minor dirt detour here and there.. Approx about 100Kms a week..
Also I have a friend who is strongly pushing me to get a mountain bike as its the same price and I get better gears, disc breaks and fork suspension but am unsure if I will need it all. Thoughts on this also?
The best advice I got when I started bike commuting three years ago is to go as light as you can afford. So I personally would probably go for the slimmer tires and skip suspension altogether.
However, if you're going off-road, ignore me 'cos I know nuthin' about that stuff.
"If I can bicycle, I bicycle" ~David Attenborough
I bought a flat bar road bike to commute. It suits me very well because I like the wider handlebars compared to a road bike and the narrower tyres compared to an MTB or hybrid. That said, one of the main points of my first sentence is that it suits me very well. May not suit you at all. Have a think about the sort of bike you are most comfortable on and try some out. You need to buy a bike which suits you or you won't ride it much.
Riding: Cannondale Quick Speed 2
if you are going to ride in the rain, get disc brakes. Otherwise I agree with the above.
I added a front disc to my commuter (Avanti Blade 8 ), plus a nice (Nashbar) carbon fork to boot, which took some of the jarring out of the front end also
I have been commuting for 20 or so years.
When I was young I started off on a heavy mountain bike. This was pure ignorance and stupidity. Its like driving a huge four wheel drive in the city, its simply no fun. The wide tyres will simply slow you down and make you exert yourself. The very upright position will give you a lot of wind resistance.
A flat bar road bike is much better. You will cruise to work at a fast pace and enjoy the trip. If you are lazy like me, then that's an added bonus the speed.
Commuting to work on a mountain bike with wide tyres will not be as enjoyable nor fast as a flat bar road bike, but then again if you want the mountain bikes for weekend stuff then go for it
Thanks for the input, I went to the LBS and had a look at the Giant Cross City 4 today again and will most likely get it. I like the sleek look and it rides well, the parts seem sturdy and low maintenance. The forums have ben great help!
I am going to remove the 700x28 tyres and add 700x32 tyres to give me a little more grip and play. For $50 extra the LBS will throw on a pair of Victoria Randanneur tyres (which I have read positive comments). My main concern with road bikes was punctures and limitation of a little off road detour. Thus looking at mountain bikes. As a commuter I think this bike will be a great bike especially for the price
Since you're noobing it, have you factored in all the extra costs? Do you have basics such as a helmet?
As a minimum for a commuter, I'd say you'll want:
(you can possibly hold off until next winter, but this is Melbourne...)
backpack or rack and pannier
bell (usually free from the LBS)
plus it's worth considering some nice riding gear, shoes, SPD pedals, sunnies, jacket, reflective accessories, etc.
Thanks for the info, yep sure did! planning on spending about $150-200. Was looking at a helmet, hand pump, spare tube tool kit, puncture kit, dlock and water bottle holder, already got some lights off ebay and will prolly get proper lights after they break after first use I have no idea on clothing and will prolly just wear sports and tshirt, will get something laters.
Assuming you have a 10k journey, and aren't in the boondocks, your tool kit should consist of a mobile phone, and knowledge of where the nearest bike shops are.
Bike shorts are a blessing - get some MTB loose ones if you're not keen on lycra...
(This turned into a bit of a commuting brain dump. Sorry)
Or if you like the security of being able to do something other than wait for a taxi, this covers about 95% of "going to work" issues:
- a spare tube, in an old sock
- three tyre levers (the cheap Michelin ones are actually one of the best)
- a low profile multi/mini tool (for when you need to tighten something)
- plastic gloves or baby wipes in a ziplock bag (because getting to work with dirty hands is uncool)
- an underseat bag which is barely big enough to take the above. Some of the bags have a nice "twist to remove" feature, which is good if you park the bike where others can get at it.
- a minipump, tossed into your backpack or mounted, depending where you park your bike. A cheap one is fine for a MTB, for a road bike tyre you need to be able to inflate 120-160psi and that costs more (good choices are the Topeak Road Morph and the Leyzne Road Drive, both $50-60 online).
If you are going out of affordable taxi range on the weekend add glue, sandpaper and patches to deal with that second puncture.
At home you'll want a floor pump with gauge (there are $20 ones on the net right now), a bucket, a variety of brushes to remove dirt out of the works (look in the supermarket: you want soft long bristles, such as a shoe brush or some kitchen sink brushes, grab a few different ones), old rags or a big packet of chux, a cheap car wash detergent and sponge, and some chain lube (if the bicycle lube is all expensive fetish items, then get a spray can of motorbike chain lube, don't use chainsaw oil). If you want to save a bit on servicing, get a chain washing tool, a big bottle of degreaser, and grab an old big bottle to put the old degreaser in (when full it goes into the bin, not down the drain).
You might want two D locks. Leave one at work. Leave the other at home and use it to lock the bike when it goes to the shops. If you leave the bike in an insecure area, grab a length of lock cable to secure the front wheel to the D lock. You'll often get a better price if you buy the Dlock and front wheel cable in a kit.
You may as well grab a low end cycle computer (about $25). They are cheap enough. For commuting you want one with a clock, distance and elapsed time. If you are riding to get fit then pay a bit more and get one with cadence and a long cable that allows it to mount to the rear wheel (about $50).
Clothing wise, MTB shorts are a good, since cycling and underwear don't really mix. A low end rain jacket is a good idea. Not only does it keep you somewhat dry and keeps the wind out, but they are usually flouro coloured (about $40 online for the Netti). Some ankle reflectors also make a big difference to visibility, so plan to buy those before winter if you are in traffic.
Lights wise, Planet Bike are the pick of the bunch at the moment. Their Superflash rear is good. Use a cable tie to secure it to the mounting so you that it's one less thing to remove when you park. Their Blaze front light is the nicest standard-battery unit before you get into the serious stuff. With the US dollar being depressed they've moved from expensive to reasonable (US$20 for the rear, US$60 for the front). The Blaze light will take the NiMH rechargable AA cells which you can buy in the supermarket complete with a wall charger (or from Jaycar if you want larger capacity cells for the same price).
If you live in a hot place then you'll be wanting a cycling backpack before summer is out. These have the weight high on your back (which causes less strain when you bend forwards) and stand off your back to allow sweat to evaporate. Some also has a mesh fabric on the straps, which is nice if you are getting heat rash there.
Thanks for taking the time to respond!! I know these questions have been asked ALL the time!
I looked at the under the seat bags and they looked handy! Was also worried about people pinching them, so I will look into the removable ones.
I also looked at the foot stand pumps and thought I would be ok and just use the servo or hand pump.. I will look at the other suggestions!
I get free servicing for 12 months, so will slow progress into the extra maintenance tools you suggested, am also going to look at building a singlespeed from some 2nd hand frames!! The forums are getting me excited lol
Re: "Clothing wise, MTB shorts are a good, since cycling and underwear don't really mix" - You got it in 1 mate. Bought a Kona Dr Good a couple of weeks ago & have been breaking my soft rear end in slowly, it's been 20 years since I did any cycling. Cycling shorts were the last thing on my mind. I've just been wearing regular shorts & clean underwear. Anyway's, I found myself on a nice bike path last evening, it was cool & sunny & I cycled much farther than I had planned to. I ended up with a bit of chaffing between my scrotum & my leg. It's a shame, I won't be able to ride now for a bit. Off this morning to see if I can find some soothing ointment & a couple of pairs of MTB shorts.
Get the MTB shorts if you can't get away with cycling knicks (it really depends what is acceptable at your workplace, if you call into the shops on the way home, etc). Take some undies with you to the shop and try them on. If the shorts/knicks scratch or rub anywhere (especially the stitching around any padding) then you don't want them.
Like most things cycling, there's a range of prices from "too cheap to be any good" to "outrageously expensive status item". Have a look at Australian Bicycle Clothing who stock the mid-range UNO brand as they seem to be having a bit of a sale on knicks. If you are going to buy sight unseen online then note that as you move from mid-range to expensive the sizes get tighter (the code for tight is "race fit", the code for loose is "club fit").
Here in Adelaide it's really hot and a cotton t-shirt turns to mush after about 5Km at 40C. We also have a lot of cycling events which include jerseys in the registration price. So a lot of commuters wear cycling jerseys. In other cities the "pro look" can attract the wrong sort of attention. You might find a soccer jersey has technical materials with a t-shirt look.
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