Need advice from commuters

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Need advice from commuters

Postby Nu2Byke5 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:39 pm

Hi all,
I am about to buy a bike for commuting, this is our commute (I have a 2yr old who I have to take to childcare):
2.3km ride uphill to the station, 45 min inter-urban train trip, 10 min ride to childcare, 5 minute ride to uni, (park n learn for a bit) then 5 min ride to pick up child, 10 min ride to pool for swimming, 10 min ride on major rd to station, 45 min train trip back and 2.3km ride down hill (thank god!) to home.
I am 95kg, 5'6" and my daughter weighs 10.2kg. I am planning on usinf a rear childseat for her.
I am looking at second hand bikes, have read a few reviews and here is what I am looking at:
Giant Cypress or TrailGlide but am open to any advice. My budget is only $150ish but hoping to pick up something quality.
I would also like to hear what you have to say about the maintenance of those bikes.
Thanks in advance!!

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby Ross » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:41 pm

I think you may need to review your budget, you probably won't get much for $150.

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby the grid » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:55 pm

Theres not a lot of distance in that commute so an entry level bike, preferrably new so you can get help from LBS (local bike shop) especially with fitting the bike seat.
I think the Giant resellers sell "Alamode" bikes which will be ok for shorter commutes and are often "on special"
And these bikes may not be a target for theives at UNI or train stations.

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby gururug » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:17 pm

Hmmmmmmmmm............I admire your plan.

Realistically, $500 is a better budget. Second hand bike $300 (min), child seat $100, lock, tyres, maybe mudflap lights etc. $100.

Tyres are important, make sure your brakes are adjusted well and your tyres are in ok condition ( not real crap ones ).

You might get lucky and pick up a flatbar for less than $300 ( I gave away a fairly good apollo that I bought for $500 it was too big and I would have only got $100-$150 for it so better to give it to someone I knew ). You might also have to buy helmet for littly but some other forum member might have some advice on this.

Get a u-lock type lock, once you see the cable type lock cut with some cheap wire cutters you would never leave your bike for long periods using one.

Maintenance wise with cheaper bikes, try not to get them wet or wipe them down if they are and make sure there is lube on the chain as the drivetrain will rust easily without some type of protectant. Learn how to check brake pad/tyre wear and make minor cable adjustments.

Get a friend who know what they are doing or yourself if your that way inclined to give it a once over every 4-6 months.

Also carry repair kit ( tube, pump, lights, repair kit, $20, mobile phone, rain gear )

The kit and the skills can come slowly if it seems overwhelming now. The main thing is to grab the bike and safety gear and get into a routine, out on the road and enjoying it.

Hope you get setup and enjoy the ride!

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby Lizzy » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:48 pm

Good luck with this - although I'd concur your budget is probably a bit low for a full setup that you can rely on, I think you could easily snag yourself a bargain second hand, I'd wager that garages all over the nation are full of bikes that will suit your purposes, bought with good intentions and ridden maybe once or twice, nothing wrong with them except dust & cobwebs. Hang out on gumtree, put the feelers out around friends and coworkers and I'll bet you get some leads.

Chip away at it, it is a habit well worth getting into :)
“Lexa”: 2012 Trek Lexa S; RIP “Bluey”: 2006 Trek 7.0FX - 2006-2018

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby Nu2Byke5 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:53 pm

Thanks for your quick replies! and lots of details! I forgot the bit about being a single parent a uni full-time hence why my budget is so miniscule. I may be able to stretch it to $250 and will loet you all know when and if I find a bargain.
What are parts of the bike that can afford to have rust, I know how to fix it but I want to know what would just be irrepairable.
Thanks again!!!

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby Nu2Byke5 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:03 pm

Full details of budget:
$150-200 - bike only
$40 - child seat
$30 - childs helmet, I have one already
$20 - Rear pannier rack
$20 - Front basket
$40 - Lock
$xxx - wet weather gear. just in case - any ideas on stopping the midget getting soaked?
Re what I actually have - bike pump, camel pack (not that I really need one on such short rides, but its handy for hikes),

Next fortnight's shopping list includes basket, lights, toolkit and extending the first aid kit. Then Mud guards!

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby gdt » Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:00 am

The cheapest new "real" bike you will find is probably the Giant Boulder 4, this is a MTB-style bike with a low step-over height (a consideration with a child seat, and so low that the W variant isn't really worth it). A quick look at BikeExchange suggests the going rate is $350. Don't get fussed about 2011 versus 2012 models, they're the same in essentials. Like all basic bikes, over time you'll want to replace the basic rubber tyres with something more reliable (eg: Vittoria Randonneur Pro Touring, about $80 the pair).

If that's beyond you then ring your state's bike organisation (eg, BikeSA here in Adelaide). There are old blokes who like to keep their hands busy by grabbing bikes from the hard pickup, fixing them up, and selling them at cost to worthy people. The bike organisation will know who they are (or will know who knows who they are).

There are also for-profit people who re-sell old bikes. Some suburban bike shops (eg Prospect in Adelaide) and they're often at markets (eg, Sunday's Port Adelaide Market). Some are dodgy (stolen bikes have to end up somewhere) but those tend to be the more "pawn shop" or "general second hand" stores rather than bike-specific places.

Hit Internet sites like BikeExchange hard, sometimes people drop their old bike there and aren't really fussed about the price so much as clearing out their shed. These people really want to minimise their hassle, so you can anticipate needing to collect the bike from them. Sizing can be hard with Internet sites, as the best way to size a bike is to step over it and to ride it. That's where a local bike association can be a big help, you can step over and sit on their hire bikes and get a good idea what your size is for differing sorts of bikes, whereas if you try that in a shop the staff may well get upset when they realise you aren't going to buy from them. If you ring the bike association in advance you'll probably find that you'll get one-on-one help when you go in.

Make your choice based on: (1) fit, you'll want to be comfortable and in control; (2) not exotic, you want to keep this thing on the road cheaply (so take the bike with solid forks over the bike with suspension forks, something from the 2000s is better than the 1980s in terms of availability of parts, and avoid anything earlier than 1980); (3) weight, a light bike makes a huge difference. Make sure it has lugs for a rack (which is how the child seat will mount) and lugs for mudguards. Make sure that any future mudguards will fit under the brakes; also suspension and mudguards often don't mix.

Don't be too fussed about the type of bike. A MTB would be good because it is lower, the wheels are wider and both of those help with stability with the child seat (you can always rip the knobbly tyres off the MTB and put on 26in slicks). But a hybrid flat bar bike with bigger wheels will go faster and more easily. So rather than decide in advance look at both categories so you can get the best bike available for the low price you need. Don't buy a 1980s "10 speed" as these were crap. Don't buy a "racing bike" or any other bike with thin (eg 21mm) wheels: the weight of the child in the back will upset the balance of those bikes and you'll go over for sure whenever there's any hint of a loss of grip. Hopefully that sort of bike won't have the pannier lugs anyway.

Note that child seats often come with their own pannier rack and another rack won't be able to fasten the seat. So buy the seat first.

Front baskets are a bit tricky, since it's easy for them to foul the cables or front brakes. So take your bike along when buying the basket to check the fit. Many people find a small backpack to be more practical than a basket. You've got to check the fit of backpacks too -- you don't want to whack junior in the face.

Locks and lights can be more expensive than you expect. Since you are at uni, ask them about secure bike storage places -- they'll often need to add access to the bike cage to your student card. Then get the heaviest smallest U lock you can afford (and Internet sites like Wiggle, Cell, etc can make that money go further). Leave it locked to the post in the bike cage so you don't have to drag it in each day. A lot of people will buy a $10 cable lock to fasten the wheels to the bike, that might be overkill but the thing about commuting is that you need all of your bike to be there at the end of the day.

Whilst you are on that Internet site, buy the lights as well. At your budget you are looking for a good "be seen" light rather than something which will light up the road -- a 1W LED with a flashing pattern will do the job. You want rechargable batteries for the front light: the only question is if the light has those built in or if you buy rechargeable AAs and a charger from the supermarket. Also go down to your local "safety" store and buy two metres of reflective tape. Cut it up and stick it to that child seat until it glows from the back and sides.

Clothing-wise, for a short commute like yours the most valuable thing is a lightweight jacket (very much like a spray jacket, but cycling specific so the water doesn't wet your back by creeping up from the road spray). These are enough to cut out the wind and stop the rain from freezing you (you'll get damp but you shouldn't get wringing wet). You'll see these on sale at times (Katmandhu is having a sale now). Junior isn't doing the work, so they want something warm in the rain, like a parka under a plastic footy poncho. Make sure the water doesn't pool in their seat or wet their legs, you might need to peg the poncho to the outside of the seat to stop that happening. If your commute was longer, then cycling knicks would be a good buy, and even on your short ride if you get a lot of chaffing in sensitive areas you might want to ask for a pair for your birthday.

Finally, interesting a cycling friend is a good way to make your money go further. You can borrow tools rather than buy them and they can show you the basic maintenance (which is simply to keep the bike clean and the chain lubed). Even a beginning cyclist can steer you away from a crap bike, and an experienced cyclist will be able to find the gem you want in a sea of second hand bikes. All old cyclists are good at tracking down a bargain, but you might need to lower their sights so that they pick up your entire package for less then they might spend for a single wheel.

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby trailgumby » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:11 pm

Great advice gdt, and very well thought through.

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Re: Need advice from commuters

Postby silkishuge » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:31 pm

Too bad Australia does not have more "affordable" bikes such as the Mamachari. No market for these sort of bikes here. They would be ideal for what you want to do.

Jon's bikes.......

Kona Jake the Snake
Cervelo R3
Cervelo R5

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Need advice from commuters

Postby Nu2Byke5 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:13 pm

Gdt, someone should bottle your blood! You must have spent ages on that advice. Love the poncho idea!
I have a friend who does a lot of road riding and has said when I need tyres to come see him, I expect who would be ok with asking any advice.
I did some more sit-on tests today and added a few more bikes to my list of possibles:
Norco Citadel
Maybe Malvern Star Storm
Anyone have any other suggestions, I am increasing my range of bikes to try to MTB with slicker tyres.
Thank you all so much!!!

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