Bike recommendations for commuting

Beating the system - the cycling commuting section

Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby ble2002 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:07 pm

Hi, I'm interested in getting a bike to ride to work and the grocery store (both approximately 10km away). There's a lot of information out there (brands, parts etc) and it's confused me quite a bit :?

I haven't ridden much in the past but I aim to ride to work everyday (in the rain on occasion) and carry my work clothes with me.
The route to work is all on paved roads with a bike track so it makes me feel a bit safer.
My budget right now is $1000 including all the gear necessary

Any advice, questions or recommendations would be very much appreciated.

I know these questions have been asked a lot in the past, so I thank you all in advance for taking the time to read/consider it.
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by BNA » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:39 pm

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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby DavidS » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:39 pm

I commute on a flat bar roadie. It suits me, narrow wheels, more relaxed position on the bike, ability to fit mudguards and a rack on the back. For me it is the right balance.

Others ride on roadies with drop handlebars. They are generally faster, some have the ability to attach a rack and/or mudguards. The riding position is more aggressive but this is a choice.

Yet others ride a hybrid. The riding position is more relaxed than a flat bar roadie. Some of these have front suspension. Wheels are wider than both a flat bar or a drop bar roadie. These will have the ability to fit racks and mudguards.

You should look at these options and also mountain bikes and see what you think would work for you and then go out and test ride some. The bike has to fit your preferences and you have to like it or you won't ride it.

Some say that those who buy flat bar roadies inevitably end up getting a drop bar. I disagree, some of us like our flat bars, I have done 20,000KM on mine and I sometimes look at better flat bars and wonder if I should upgrade, no thoughts of a drop bar here. Of course, if you find you like drop bars better then you should get one.

In short, I would strongly advise you look at the options and test ride those which look attractive to you. While you're doing this use this thread to ask questions and opinions as lots of people here know a lot and have a lot of experience. But, ultimately, you need to get a bike which you are happy with or it will end up sitting in the shed gathering cobwebs.

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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby ble2002 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:23 am

Thanks so much for your advice DS

I'll be sure to check out those 4 you recommended

Is there a particular shop you recommend in Melbourne?
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby KonaCommuter » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:19 am

My advice is to try and steer clear of a Mountain Bike as appealing as they appear to be ideal but when I moved from MTB to a road bike I realised how hard I'd been working on my MTB and how unnecessary it was.


It's a great time to be looking at bikes because you should be able to secure a good deal on 2012 models which are still great.




Start searching here -> http://www.bikeexchange.com.au

I personally think that you need to visit your Local Bike Shop (LBS) and see if you have one that will treat you as a fellow cyclist instead of just being a one off sale. My LBS treated me with respect from day one and they've gotten the vast majority of my business and what they didn't get was because they either didn't sell what I specifically wanted (eg Camelbak), they couldn't compete on price by a large margin or my family bought me a cycling gift ( :( kinda what I asked for but totally not what I wanted/can use :( )


EDIT

More suggestions

If you can get your bike fitted with a pannier rack and mudguards before you leave the store.

Assuming you have one that works for you then Pannier rack and bags are awesome. When I commute on my road bike I have a back pack and that works for me. However when I commute on my designated commuter (e-Bike, step through frame, out of your stated budget) the pannier bags just make it so much easier.

Mudguards are a Godsend if you're going to ride in the rain. They're not standard in Australia for some reason but they'd be something I'd want my commuter to have if I were intending to commute even if it does rain (it's not that big of a deal once you've done it a couple of times).

Something you haven't mentioned is what you'll be wearing when you ride. 10km you can get away with wearing your gym gear. That'll save you money.

Don't forget to budget in for a helmet.


Suggestion One


Here's a suggestion, it certainly ticks all the boxes for me if I were choosing my first commuter. Mudguards, pannier rack, internal gears, chain guard, reflective sidewall tyres, 12 month of servicing - at $600 it's a steal IMHO.

http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bicycles ... /100259249


Suggestion Two

Comes with a helmet and lock $700

http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bicycles ... /102145684


Suggestion Three

$300 - Pushing it lower end wise. However you can "try" commuting, learn what works for you and what doesn't. If you like commuting on a bike you can keep this bike as your spare when you upgrade :wink:

http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bicycles ... /100143198
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby Philipthelam » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:21 am

Personally I would go with a drop bar road bike, something with rack and mudguard mounts and relaxed geometry (e.g. Giant defy 3?)

Whichever bike you get make make sure you put on good tyres (after the given ones wear out). You don't want to be getting flats while riding to work!
Last edited by Philipthelam on Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby Mulger bill » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:35 am

All weather commuter....

Disc brakes. You never want to be grabbing a handful of wet rims when (not if) the bad things happen and you need to pull it up NOW..
No or lockout suspension.
28-32mm tyres. EDIT: Continental Gatorskins for durability.
Rack and mudguard compatible.

IMO, that's the essentials covered, every other permutaion is riders choice.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby Comedian » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:19 pm

Giant CRX are a pretty good bike for the money.

I agree with the sentiment on racks and mudguards. :)
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby giantguy » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:38 pm

I also commute around 10km to work each day and have been doing so for the last couple of years. It takes me around 30 - 35 minutes most days with about half the trip up hill each way. I have settled on staying with my modified Giant ATX 840 mountain bike. I have a road bike but I don't think I would like to use it regularly on my commute.

The changes I made to my MTB include removing the front suspension fork and fitting a rigid Surly fork. I have fitted full length mudguards and are using 26 x 1.25" slick tyres (cheap innovas) filled with a small amount of slime and pumped up to around 70 - 90 psi. I have found this gives me pretty good puncture protection with the tyres I am using and give a fairly comfortable ride. I have a rack and are using some small Tioga pannier bags which are big enough to carry my work clothes, lunch box and a few other items I regularly carry. I have fitted a bright front LED light, two rear lights , rear vision mirror and importantly an airzound air horn which gets used a lot to warn cars, pedestrians etc.

Although I have considered changing to a faster or newer bike I have decided to stick to what I have because its a tough bike which gives me the abilltiy to go over kerbs or even a bit of off road for a change in route. As I take the safer route on my way to work I mostly stick to off road dual use paths where possible and only ride on road where there is no other choice.I like the control of a flat bar with bar ends as opposed to a drop bar. For me I feel safer riding the mountain bike and having to react to emergency situations like cars pulling out in front of you.

I calculated that a roadie would only shorten my journey by about 5 minutes and with the MTB I get a better workout which is one of the reasons I ride to work.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby gdt » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:05 pm

Like the others said, for a 10Km commute the optimum is a flat bar "fitness" bike. Light, fast, standard parts, with braze-on mountings for panniers and mudguards. I'd consider a drop bar roadie or touring bike if your route has no shelter from strong headwinds, but visibility from the roadie body position isn't great.

Bike brands sort of matter and sort of don't. They matter in as much as they are a marker of quality of design, parts choice and construction; for example "Huffy" versus "Giant" versus "Kona" versus "Bianchi". But they don't matter in that once you're at a particular level of quality, then there's not much to choose between brands (eg, they all use one of three brands of gear sets).

Bike years matter not at all. But retailers will insist on year models. So if you can, wait until they run out last year's model and leap upon that bargain. That's by far the best way to pick up a cheap new bike.

Bike features do count. The most vital of those is weight. Of the various techologies, get disk brakes if you can. For commuting you don't want shocks: because they add weight.

The way the bike fits and feels matters a lot. Because of that, do buy from a bike shop, do visit a lot of shops and test ride a few candidates before making your choice.

You are right to be worried about the all-in price. Here's a list of odds-and-sods, with some brands I'd recommend as being a good fit to commuting (ie, reliable without weighing a tonne):

  • bidon cage, water bottle (2 x Elite Custom Race cage = $50, 2 x Camelback bottle = $10)
  • pump, saddle bag, tube, multitool, tyre levers (Lezyne Road Drive pump $37, SciCon "twist to detach" saddle bag $20, tube $5, Michelin tyre levers $5, a minitool with a range of hex drivers and a chain breaker $30)
  • front and rear lights (Planet Bike Blaze 2W $70, Planet Bike Superflash $40, plus AA charging system from supermarket $35). You'll want a better front light for winter (the Blaze is a good "be seen" light, in winter you'll want a "see by" light. Bicycle Victoria has an excellent annual review).
  • well vented helmet, half gloves (whatever fits $150, whatever gel front, mesh rear glove you can find for $30)
  • For 20Km per day you'll want padded knicks and a light rain jacket (Uno Pro Peleton Ghia knicks $60, jacket $50)
  • The tyres which come with the bike won't be great, and depending upon the amount of junk on the road you'll want Gatorskin Hardshell ($45ea) or equivalent (there's a lot of mindless allegiance around tyres based upon personal mishaps, you want a high technology "training" tyre in whatever brand appeals to you).

That's $670 of odds and sods. Obviously the way to do this is a little at a time, with only the most essential stuff on Day One. The various internet sites are good places to locate accessories at a fair price. I've found that if you ask people to give you stuff for your birthday then mail them the URL of the item you want rather than say "a jacket" otherwise they'll either be ripped off or will buy something too nasty to be usable (probably spending more than the sale price you found on the Internet for buying the real thing).

Later on, an upgrade to "clipless" cycling shoes and pedals is worthwhile. Commuters use Shimano's SPD system with double-sided pedals (both sides having clips means less fuss when starting from traffic lights), along with light touring shoes (rather than heavy MTB shoes).

Edited to add: also bike lock ($80), track pump ($40), cleaning equipment ($40). Basically the first year of cycle commuting costs the same as using the car, but you win forever after that.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby nickobec » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:08 pm

Everybody else has given you logical practical advice.

So my advice is get a bike that you are going to be happy riding. In theory it does not matter if fast or slow, practical or impractical, you need to enjoy riding and be willing ride it regularly.

My commute is 40km and as I can't vary the route that much, so I do vary what I ride, fortunately I have a few bikes.
You are most likely to find me commuting on a steel road (training) bike, my CF race bike or a flash looking steel singlespeed.
I do have an old steel 7 speed repco superlite (pub duties), a poseur steel ride and a steel winter commuter with guards and rack which also do the odd trip.But generally the top 3 are more fun to ride + when it rains I take rat bike with guards to station 2km instead of the full commute.

And in cargo carrying terms
courier bag < backpack < panniers < taking stuff to work on train for the week
so I usually use a handlebar bag for taking little things to work, as most of my clothes are already at work, from the weekly or so train trip.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby ble2002 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:51 am

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and advice. I really appreciate it. I'm going to a local bike shop today just to test ride the types of bikes all of you have suggested

From all your comments I feel like i have a better grasps of what i need to be looking for:

- Firstly, I need to choose a bike I'm comfortable with (flat bar/drop handlebar, hybrid, MTB)
- Make sure I get mudguards and Pannier rack
- Good tyres in case of flats (28-32mm)
- Disc brakes

Other things I'm looking out for today (thanks to gdt):
- Deals on late models
- Weight of the bike
- Helmet, lock and accessories

Thanks again to everyone who commented and for all your recommendations. I feel more confident in what I should be looking for when going to the bike shop today.

I'll be sure to give you an update on what i find.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby Nobody » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:10 pm

ble2002 wrote:Other things I'm looking out for today (thanks to gdt):
- Weight of the bike

gdt wrote:Of the various techologies, get disk brakes if you can. For commuting you don't want shocks: because they add weight.

Although I agree with gdt to avoid shocks if possible and get discs if you can, don't get hung up on weight. Unless you are going to be lifting the bike a lot, a lighter bike doesn't really make much difference other than to lighten your wallet without adding to reliability.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby queequeg » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:07 am

ble2002 wrote:Thanks everyone for your suggestions and advice. I really appreciate it. I'm going to a local bike shop today just to test ride the types of bikes all of you have suggested

From all your comments I feel like i have a better grasps of what i need to be looking for:

- Firstly, I need to choose a bike I'm comfortable with (flat bar/drop handlebar, hybrid, MTB)
- Make sure I get mudguards and Pannier rack
- Good tyres in case of flats (28-32mm)
- Disc brakes

Other things I'm looking out for today (thanks to gdt):
- Deals on late models
- Weight of the bike
- Helmet, lock and accessories

Thanks again to everyone who commented and for all your recommendations. I feel more confident in what I should be looking for when going to the bike shop today.

I'll be sure to give you an update on what i find.


very few bikes will come with all of things already included, so focus on the bike and check these things:-
1) what is the max tyre width it can take
2) does it have eyelets for both mudguards and a rack (check front and back for mudguards).
3) if it has disc brakes, where is the rear caliper located? you may need to get creative with mudguard stays to get around them, or choose some mudguards that take this into account by providing longer stays.
4) make sure you get some decent lights!
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby Adstar » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:09 am

Hope your testing went well ble. I did the same thing on Saturday after lurking in the forums and reading the recommendations - thanks all by the way :D Ended up buying a Giant Cross City RX 0 with some SPD pedals and shoes. Just rode my commute as a practice and averaged 30km/h over the 15km and felt pretty good. The extra 5 around Lake Burley Griffin and ride home hurt a bit but pretty happy with the effort for a fat broken almost 40 yr old who hasn't ridden a road bike for 25yrs!
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby Blackrock » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:24 pm

Get a flat bar road (FBR) bike. I commuted on a MTB with slicks and stuff and was amazed at how better it was on a machine designed for road riding (FBR). Better geometry (meaning less body fatigue!!), less weight, better suited gearing, faster tyres and overall, designed for what you're intending to do!
Try a few different LBS too, as some spruik a particular brand, so you want a variation and not to be pushed into their stock.
Get some good 'padded' shorts while you're there and some decent safety glasses. Fox do a reasonable job of baggy shorts with padding and Bunnings do safety glasses. I have a pair of clear ones for night time and shaded for daytime in my pack.
A bright top will also help you, as you need to give those dangerous motorists as much chance of seeing you as possible!!! I learnt this via a few very close calls while wearing black etc!
Good luck.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby panurge » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:43 pm

Philipthelam wrote:Personally I would go with a drop bar road bike, something with rack and mudguard mounts and relaxed geometry (e.g. Giant defy 3?)

Whichever bike you get make make sure you put on good tyres (after the given ones wear out). You don't want to be getting flats while riding to work!


My current commuting rig is a Defy 3 and it is admirably fit for purpose... except the standard tyres. They are thinner and more delicate that non-sodomy grade condoms. I replaced them immediately with a pair of Conti Touring Plus.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby wombatK » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:29 pm

queequeg wrote:very few bikes will come with all of things already included, so focus on the bike and check these things:-
1) what is the max tyre width it can take
2) does it have eyelets for both mudguards and a rack (check front and back for mudguards).
3) if it has disc brakes, where is the rear caliper located? you may need to get creative with mudguard stays to get around them, or choose some mudguards that take this into account by providing longer stays.
4) make sure you get some decent lights!

+1. Makes sure you check out the Avanti Discovery 8 speed nexus (internal hub) flat-bar bike linked by Konacommuter.
It's sensational value, and I wouldn't hold lack of disk brakes against it.

Cheers
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby Nobody » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:42 am

wombatK wrote:...and I wouldn't hold lack of disk brakes against it.
I suppose that depends where you live in the country and whether it's the La Nina or El Nino part of the Southern Oscillation climate pattern. Also I find what size tyres I run makes a difference to how wet the rims get. 1.75" tyres or bigger seem to shield the rims from water fairly well. Nothing is as good as disc, but you won't miss discs with that size of tyre.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby DavidS » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:09 am

I would agree on the mudguards, invaluable, and even better with a front mudflap.

The flat bar roadies are a bit lighter than hybrids so worth trying out both.

I would look on Bike Exchange, I bought my bike from CBD Cycles in Melbourne and found it on Bike Exchange. Going to a bike shop was very good as I got 12 months free servicing and they found a cracked rim in that time and had it replaced.

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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby panurge » Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:02 pm

queequeg wrote:2) does it have eyelets for both mudguards and a rack (check front and back for mudguards).


I double up the Pletscher rack and SKS mudguards on the same eyelets one of my bikes using a slightly longer M5 bolt and that works fine.

If you're short of eyelets and are hauling anvils or similar about then an OMM rack that attaches by an oversize skewer could be the answer.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby queequeg » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:14 pm

panurge wrote:
queequeg wrote:2) does it have eyelets for both mudguards and a rack (check front and back for mudguards).


I double up the Pletscher rack and SKS mudguards on the same eyelets one of my bikes using a slightly longer M5 bolt and that works fine.

If you're short of eyelets and are hauling anvils or similar about then an OMM rack that attaches by an oversize skewer could be the answer.


You can double up the eyelets on the stays, but on the rear you should be looking for an eyelet on the rear brake bridge and another just behind the bott bracket (either a by hole or a tube to clip over).
on my commuter, the mudguards are actually bolted to the disc brake mount on one side to avoid having to go around the calipers.
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby dynamictiger » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:05 pm

I bought my bike with no real idea what I would end up doing with it. As mentioned elsewhere it was a combination of I thought Id give this cycling lark a bit of a go and a feeling of time wasted driving a few kilometres to the gym to spend 5 minutes warming up on an exercise bike. So other than vague thoughts about riding to the gym my only other criteria was cost.

As I know myself reasonably well I knew I would want to ride quickly so I was drawn towards a road bike. I ended up with a cheap road bike which i now use for all sorts and commuting a few times a week to and from work on a similar distance to what you are citing. Around 12 k in my case.

I no longer go to the gym for programed work outs as I was, although still go to other things, however I am using the bike more and more for commuting. I was seriously considering getting a new bike and was budgeting etc for it when i decided that I am never going to win road races, I ride because I want too not as I have too, if I don't feel like it I don't have too and if it rains generally I don't bother. In other words I ride when and how I want too. Therefore why nto alter my bike to suit me instead of buying a new one. So I have ordered a rear rack as I think I can mount it, will work that out when I get it later today... a top tube bag for my phone, wallet and keys as they give me the s... stopping and putting them in my back pack and a set of paniers I found cheap. I have even found a mini speaker so I can connect my ipod for listening to the radio on way in and home.

In short get whatever kind of bike you want. You can always change it to suit yourself, and who says it has to be the same as anyone else?
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby ble2002 » Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:05 pm

Yeah. I found out quite quickly that it was going to be difficult finding a bike with everything i wanted within my budget.

Nevertheless, after trialling a few different types of bikes i felt most comfortable riding a flatbar road bike. I decided to go with the Giant Cross City fitted with a pannier rack.

Initially, my budget was $1000, but as this will be my first time commuting to work (and riding a bike to this extent), I wanted to see if I were going to be committed to it and so i decided to go with a less expensive bike to start with.
My initial plan is to ride to work and back 5 days a week for 3 months.

As for regrets, I regret not trialling different brands, in particular, the Avanti many of you have suggested.


Went for my first bike ride to work today. Felt so good... Definitely needs those padded pants though...
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby bosvit » Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:45 pm

Lots of soft bums on here...

Padded pants are good and all but I don't bother if I am doing less than 40km.

I use a road bike to commute on (9km each way) and regularly do extra km's as training.

I use my roadie as it was the first real bike I bought and I was just lucky enough to buy a bike that had mudguard and pannier mounting points.

So what I am trying to say is everyone is different and just find something you like and feel comfortable on, seriously 10km each way is not very far at all. Just make sure you can fit panniers and mudguards are useful but not necessarily mandatory (just ask yourself are you really going to ride in the rain?) I have mudguards on mine and regularly ride in wet conditions, mostly on the way home coz if it's raining before work I usually chicken out and take the ute......

Good luck and I hope you enjoy your commute :mrgreen:
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Re: Bike recommendations for commuting

Postby DavidS » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:36 am

Sounds like a good buy. I haven't had any probs with a sore rear end and I don't wear padded pants. See how you go for a while. I used the CRX saddle which came with my bike for a couple of years and when it wore out got a Brooks.

Above all, enjoy. It is contagious though. I started riding the direct route to work, 12KMs each way. Now I'm up to 18KM in and 20KM home. I also don't ride if it is raining in the morning, but sometimes get caught on the way home, hence I do value the mudguards.

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