Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbie?

MxJuJu
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Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbie?

Postby MxJuJu » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:31 pm

Hello folks!

We've just moved to Australia, and we'll be based in Sydney for the next three years to study art. I've decided on cycling as my way to get to university (three days a week), instead of public transport (the buses can be unreliable). We live in Darlinghurst, and campus is in Rozelle/Lilyfield - about 35 minutes away by bike. I'm relatively fit, but new to cycling. I could really use some advise on which bike to go for - especially on the more technical points?

1. I find riding upright the most comfortable; I definitely want a step-thru or mixte. Aesthetically, I am leaning towards the vintage styles.

2. Speed is not a major priority; I'm happy to just cruise.

3. I am quite strong, but I'm wary of anything too heavy, as on some days I may be lugging equipment around. If a hill is too steep, especially while I'm building fitness, I'll need to be able to push it up still.

4. Low maintenance is key - as good a quality bike as possible. I take it these are called "utility" bikes? If I break down on the side of the road I will have no idea what to do.

5. There are some hilly parts in the Inner West. Do I HAVE to get a 7- or 8-speed hub? I'm up for building up fitness, which is partly why I chose cycling, if it is possible on a 3-speed hub? Or am I setting myself up for a real killer commute?

6. Speaking of gears: definitely hubs, not derailleur.

7. Sydney is humid, and gets rainy and muddy. So I'm assuming as rust-friendly as possible? Mudguards are a must.

8. Chainguards are kind of important - I often wear wide culottes and smears and snags will ruin my day.

9. I don't mind to add baskets/carriers/lights if need be, but included is preferable - especially dynamo lights (less hassle).

10. My budget is $850 max. Less would be great, but I am generally a "buy once and buy good" kind of shopper - so something that will last years and years.


*************************

Is there anything else that I am not aware of, that should be a priority for my kind of commute?

I have found some options (some on sale) and done a little research, but I am quite stuck on which to go with:

Pashley Penny - $779
Pashley Sonnet Bliss - $839
Pashley Britannia - $839

Specialized Daily Sport Step Through 2015 - $ 719
https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/class ... /102821180

Breezer Downtown 8 St 2016 - $899 (I saw a 2015 somewhere on sale)
https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/class ... /102771322

Breezer Uptown 7 Step Thru ST 2015 - $809
https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/urban ... /102769893

Breezer Uptown 7 Step Thru 2016 - $699
https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/class ... /102826630

Breezer Uptown EX LS 2015 - $439
https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/hybri ... /102718904

Viva Juliette 2013 3spd - $715

Chappelli Women's 3 speed - $599


**************

I'm leaning towards either the Pashley Britannia (because of the dynamo lights), Viva Juliette (same), or one of the Breezers as the reviews I've read on them have been pretty solid. Am I missing something? And is there a glaringly obvious winner on this list?

Thank you for your experience and input in advance!

zebee
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby zebee » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:30 pm

More gears are always good, you don't have to use them.... on my 6 speed Brompton which is set up with 3speed hub and 2 cog derailleur I tend to use only 3 most of the time but sometimes on the hill you want the half step because it's a bit too much to go to the next major gear. On the recumbent with the 8 speed rear hub I find I click through a lot of gears but again like the range when it comes to hills. When I first started this game I needed every gear I had, now I'm in the big ring on the front in the recumbent almost all the time and several km/h faster on the cruise.

A drawback with hub gears is they are harder to fix punctures. You should spring for good puncture resistant tyres, I use Schwalbe Marathons. Haven't had punctures for years with those. I did get a hole in the sidewall of one by a large drawing pin but I think I can forgive the tyre for that. Carry a repair kit and spare tube anyway, and find a video on line that tells you how to fix a puncture on a bike with a hub gear. Then in an emergency you have the video on your phone and go through it step by step. I do recommend practicing getting the wheel off so you know what tools you need. A good bike shop will go through it with you. (For example I didn't know I would need a long thin thing like a spoke to get the gear cable detached till I tried. I managed with a multitool but there was a lot of bad language)

Friend of mine has a step through and ordered a skirt guard on line. You may find it isn't only the chain you need to worry about.

If you are thinking you might get wet, consider a bike poncho. I use one on the Brom and it works well. I prefer it to jacket/pants as it is easier to get on in a hurry, and seems to keep me just as dry but a lot less sweaty. Get a cycling specific one so that it drapes properly over the handlebars. Feed "rain cape cycling" into ebay and see what you can find.

You need luggage. In general get the bike to carry the load not you, and don't put heavy things in a basket on the handlebars. . If it turns when the bars do, you don't want heavy things in it so you need a rack and you need panniers. You don't need fancy expensive panniers you just need a supply of green garbage bags....

Lights: You want them. I see one of the Breezers has a dynamo hub and lights. I am I admit a total dynamo fan but I am also an all weather all time of day commuter and lights you don't have to think about are really brilliant. You might want to buy a flashing red light to attach to helmet or panniers or seatpost because that says "bicycle" to cars coming up behind you. For your safety and other road users' safety as well dont' get a really bright front light (flashing or steady) that blinds people because it is at driver eye height. It is rude and dangerous. There are some very cheap dynamo hubs out there now, if you don't get one with the lights built in you could talk to the shop about building one up. Alas the really good lights are not cheap so the cheap bikes won't have the ones meant for really dark roads at high speed. Then again commuting in the inner west that doesn't matter!

I have clipless pedals on the recumbent but not on the Brompton. I like shoes with soft soles for everyday wear so I put MKS Lambda pedals on the Brom so I had a really big platform for my feet. Makes a difference to the amount of power I can put in and the general comfort of pedalling. You won't need to bother about pedals to start with but consider that down the line a ways.

Generally I think any of those look like a reasonable deal if they are comfortable. So the next job is to go to shops and sit on them. It is surprising how the mix between your geometry and the bike's makes a difference.

In general I'd say you should put weight and lighting at the top of the list as weight is very important and lighting very expensive. Mudguards and racks are findable fairly cheap so the bike shop can add them any time. Looks like the Breezer Uptown is the pick of that list on those measures. Pashley have a good rep on the more expensive stuff, less so on the cheap, know nothing about Breezer. So I'd say throw a leg over the dynamo equipped ones and see how they feel.

zebee
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby zebee » Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:09 pm

Forgot.... get a lock. For the sort of bike you are looking at you are not going to be taking wheels off, so get a cable lock that can in a stretch get around the wheels and frame and a bike rack but don't stress too much about wheels. If the bike has quick release wheels, then get the kind of skewer that needs a key or special spanner. That's what I do and I just lock the front with the expensive dynamo in it, the back has taken its chances for years. If it doesn't have quick release then even more reason not to bother with a lot of locking.

Oh and a bell. Seeing as you have to have one, get one with a decent loud ding or brrring noise. If you travel on paths or anywhere with peds it is useful to have one that actually works. The one on the Brom is barely legal and not at all useful. Some will tell you that calling out works better than a bell but that has definitely not been my experience.

MxJuJu
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby MxJuJu » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:09 pm

Hi Zebee

Thanks so much for all this info! You've given me a lot of clarity! I wasn't even paying attention to tyres - 1000 rookie points! I think Schwalbe's will definitely be a good idea on some of the more rough suburban pavements and roads - it gets a little rough on the cycling routes through the parks. And thanks for the lock, skirtguard, lighting and poncho tips (I've actually already been looking at bike ponchos as I'll be riding in all weather.)

A friend has referred me to someone selling a M2 VanMoof no 6 (the 7 speed mixte), for $700. Is this perhaps a good option? Their lights are built in and solar powered, and it has Schwalbe tyres. I tested it out: it is in great condition and is incredibly comfortable - I feel really safe on it and the geometry feels like a perfect fit. But it is 18.5 kg, which I think is a deal-breaker? :(

(http://www.urbanbicycles.com.au/product/m2-vanmoof-№6-seven-speed-28-bicycle/)

In the meantime, I've also come across a Specialized option (I think it has dynamo lighting?)

https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/class ... /102821178

I'll go try the Pashley and some Breezers tomorrow.

Thanks again for your time and sharing your knowledge - it is greatly appreciated!

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nickobec
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby nickobec » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:23 pm

I am a regular commuter, but my commute is nothing like yours.

Best advcie, don't carry anything on you, if you can put it on the bike.

A rack and panniers are a much better option than a basket as it too much weight over the front wheel makes handling challenging. Nothing wrong with a basket for the quick dash home from the shops, but 20 minutes of commuting, particularly with a heavy load of a laptop and books, get panniers.

I have seen a Pashley up close, the do look very well built and appointed, my pick would be Pashley Sonnet Bliss if it has dynamo lighting as it has a rear rack.

Don't know what a Pashley weighs, my guess would be at least 15kg.

Punctures you can heavily reduce the risk with puncture proof tyres, tyre liners, thorn proof tubes and goo (tyre sealent that goes in the tube). Used the last three on my commuter, when a use to take a short cut through an off road section full of double gees (thorns). Every day pull a few out of my tyres, every couple of days pump up the tyres, but never a puncture. In the end, route changed, so changed my tyres etc. Tyre full of broken of thorns, tubes lots of spots were the sealent did it's job.

So you can be paranoid and be well prepared, or just buy a can of sealent and lob it in you bag. Get a puncture, just connect it up, it will fill the tube with sealant and compressed air. 9 times out of ten it will fix the puncture.

Also get a good lock, yes the Pashley Sonnet Bliss comes with a inbuilt lock the stops somebody riding it away, but it is a investment so protect it with a Dlock and lock it to a solid object

T

zebee
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby zebee » Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:20 am

What I don't like about the VanMoof is that everything is specialist, integrated and so... hard to fix. Internal wiring and integrated lights are nice but a pain to replace if you need to. The idea is you shouldn't need to and maybe I'm just a curmudgeonly rider of elderly Italian motorcycles but electrics always need fixing! You can't change the gearing in any way because of the enclosure and that looks like a really tiny front ring. You aren't into speed now but you might be later who knows? The reviews all say "comfortable and pleasant to ride but slow and heavy".


Friend of mine (same one who got the skirt guard) had an Electra Townie to start with which was very comfortable but found the weight way too much up hills. I can't recall the bike she has now, I will find out as she likes it a lot. I think it might be a specialized. The Electra site is coy about weights I think it was over 15kg
.

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redsonic
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby redsonic » Sat Mar 19, 2016 11:37 am

If I were in the market for what you describe, I would be checking out Lekker:

https://www.lekkerbikes.com.au/product/jordaan-womens-dutch-retro-vintage-bike/?colour=pastel-blue

Image

koshari
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby koshari » Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:30 pm

The missus hss a specialized globe daily stepthrough 1x8 and she is very happy with it. Its a derailleur 8 speed setup on the back rather than internal gears but shes comfortable with it. She did change the stock saddle to a womens passport saddle. https://www.velogear.com.au/bicycle-acc ... women.html

She did get it for $500 + 50 for the replacement saddle. Came with front basket which i removed until she was more confident on it.

I guess if you can consider a rear derailleur and can get a similiar price to her theres room in the price to add a hub dynamo and still land around 800. She did have a 3 speed nexus beforehand but now prefers a freewheeling read hub.
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MxJuJu
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby MxJuJu » Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:14 am

(Heya Zebee)

I hear you on the Vanmoof. I guess I'm not thinking about those things, and kinda just trusting that the electronics will last like they claim they will. I'd really appreciate it if you could find out what your friend is riding at the moment. I tried some Electras today and the fit just felt off. I also tried a Specialized Daily Sport, and it felt a little flimsy compared to the Vanmoof. And despite the shop making adjustments, my knees still ended up meeting my hands around sharper corners - something that wasn't an issue on the Vanmoof, although the frame sizes are similar. It did climb the hill nicely but I had to keep downhill slow otherwise it got wobbly.

Maybe I just like the sturdy gliding feel of heavier bikes? Speed is really not a priority, and probably never will be - I'm a slow-life kinda person. Think sitting down to enjoy a sidewalk espresso (Paris) instead of a coffee-on-the-go while running errands (New York). In saying that, while I want to enjoy the ride, I'd still like to be able to get the bike up the hill (even if only pushing at first).

What I did find surprising was that I only went half way on the gears on a pretty steep hill (about 75% as steep as the Balmain hill on my route). Am I stronger than I thought, and is it an indication that I can get away with lower gears, or is because the Specialized frame (steel fork, rest aluminium) is just that light?

Also, I think either way I will get the Marathon tyres you recommended, if what I choose doesn't come with Schwalbes.

(Koshari)

I'm trying to hunt down a Specialized Globe ST in Sydney to try out... The shop manager where I tried out the Daily Sport also recommended changing to the passport saddle, and I'd also remove the front basket, after what has been recommended. :)

(Heya Redsonic)

Lekker Jordaan 2GEN seems rad. And the 16kg is appealing. I wish the lights were dynamo though :( Are these coaster brakes or has this model been changed? Sorry if this is an obvious question; I am an obvious super noob. In a 2013 post Zebee reckoned the coaster brakes is a deal-breaker? (On the site it says it is a front calliper brake, and a rest Shimano roller brake). Definitely going to try one out, thanks for posting!

(Nickobec)

Hey! Thanks for the carrying advice! I will definitely be following it. Our of the Pashleys I'm leaning towards the Brittannia (17kg) because it is 8 speed vs the Sonnet's 5 speed, and just add the rear carrier (I'll lose the front basket though). Both the Brittannia and Sonnet Bliss have dynamo head lights, so I guess it comes down to how many gears I want.


Update:

I'm yet to get around to trying the Breezers and Pashleys. Since posting, I've found a second-hand, as new Gazelle Tour Populair 7 speed, for $800. Is it bananas to consider it, at around 20kg? I'm just thinking that $800 gets me a bike-that-will-out-live-me-Gazelle, while a Lekker Jordaan (no dynamo lights) goes for a higher $848 (pre-delivery), but at a lighter 16kg. And then, at the Jordaan's price, the Pashley Brittannia ($839) has 8 speed, dynamo lights, and is only 1kg heavier at 17kg.

Damn. So confused.

Thank you all again for your input!

zebee
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby zebee » Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:40 am

My friend's bike is an Avanti Metro 21 speed. http://www.avantibikes.com/au/bikes/on- ... ro/metro-1 No weight listed (but there is a 3 speed version)

Sounds like you really like the VanMoof, and if you don't find one you like as much then get that one, integrated bits and all. With bicycles as with motorcycles if it doesn't drag you out the door while throwing your wallet in the general direction of the seller then it isn't the bike for you.

Zebee

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nickobec
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby nickobec » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:34 pm

I would not worry to much about weight of the bike, you are not racing it up mountains.

My lightest bike is my sub 7kg race bike, my heaviest a 13kg steel commuter. I ride both bikes to work, the racing bike for training and the commuter to enjoy the ride and survive nasty weather. Seriously the time difference is minimal even with a couple of short climbs (and that is due to the race bike's better aerodynamics). It only takes a little more energy to push a 97kg rider + bike up a short hill, than a 90kg rider + bike combination.

Gears, while more appear better, it does not make the bike easier to pedal uphill. Both common 5 and 7 speed internal hubs have an overall range of 250%, which means for one pedal rotation in the highest gear, the bike will move 2.5 times further than one pedal rotation in the lowest gear. The difference is that the steps between the gears are smaller, so it is easier to keep a constant cadence (pedaling speed. The 8 speed hub has an overall range of 300%, so it might be a better climbing option, but that also depends on the size of front and rear chainwheel (and these can be changed if necessary)

I would not worry about a couple of kilos difference, or a couple of gears. You need to choose a bike that you will enjoy riding. If the bike brings a smile to your face and gets you out of bed on a cold day to ride, then that is the bike for you.

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redsonic
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby redsonic » Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:52 am

MxJuJu wrote:
Lekker Jordaan 2GEN seems rad. And the 16kg is appealing. I wish the lights were dynamo though :( Are these coaster brakes or has this model been changed? Sorry if this is an obvious question; I am an obvious super noob. In a 2013 post Zebee reckoned the coaster brakes is a deal-breaker? (On the site it says it is a front calliper brake, and a rest Shimano roller brake). Definitely going to try one out, thanks for posting!


Hi Mx,
I noticed this with the Lekker too. I think it is an error in the specs, as the main description states a hand brake and the picture shows brake levers both sides of the bars. Obviously, you would need to check this if the Lekker appeals.
The first gen seems to have had a coaster brake which I would also consider a deal breaker. Taking off from lights etc when you can't back pedal to get ready is a PIA.
It sounds like you are becoming overwhelmed with choice. I agree with Nicobec and Zeebee; when there is little to choose between, go with the bike that sings to you. :wink:

Eleri
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbi

Postby Eleri » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:21 pm

It only takes a little more energy to push a 97kg rider + bike up a short hill, than a 90kg rider + bike combination.


That's true for bigger blokes, but I'm guessing you probably don't weigh that much MxJuJu. If you weigh 50kg for example, then an extra 7kg on your bike really does make a difference because it's about 15% of your body weight. You can solve for some of that with gears, but you'll feel the difference when you are moving your bike around, especially if loaded up with panniers.

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baabaa
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Re: Which of these would you recommend for a commuting newbie?

Postby baabaa » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:23 pm

Picked up a tokyo bikes cs ( http://www.tokyobike.com.au/show-all/ ) for my daughter as a uni bike in Canberra.
Okay the ACT is a bit (lot) flatter than Sydney, but Darlo to Rozelle is not that bad with the anzac bridge being the hardest / longest hill for this run. She did use it around the local hills in Manly for a bit for a few test rides and found the the 8 speed gearing was workable. You could drop on a smaller chain ring to lower the gears if needed or until you get to know Sydney hills better, then maybe go back up to the original size.
I liked the way the bike was well kitted out with parts, it has a nicely built and weighted steel frame and a 650c wheelset both of which which seems to give a zoomy type of ride ( but the 650c size is a bit tricky to find tyres and tubes in Australia in that peak commuting size of 25 to 32 mm, so you really need to have a few spares on hand). We dropped on an old rack and set of panniers and she can manage to lug several days of groceries or books about without the bike feeling that heavy.
I know you can find plenty of bikes about I would put one on your list and if possible take one out for a test ride as they are quite a fancy bike to own and ride, yet not that fancy that you have to sweat about chaining it up in the street or around uni. As the frame is pretty good, I would say it would do you well for the two or three years you are in Sydney, as a commuter, shopper and beach bike and if need be, you should be able to resell it at a pretty good price.

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