View Full Version : Commuter Bike

03-18-2012, 11:44 AM
Ok, I know this is the motorcycle forum, but the subtitle says, "Sometimes all you need is 2 wheels" - so I'm going to throw out a bike question.

I've been thinking about picking up a commuter bike. I rode my Gary Fisher Kaitai to work a few times a couple summers ago, but it's heavy, has knobbies, and it got a little old. So I've been thinking of picking up a commuter bike. Lighter, faster, something I probably shouldn't jump over curbs though :o

I have a plan to ride my bike 3 times a week to work this summer, it's about 9-10 miles one way. Along Yosemite/DTC Parkway, then catch the path below the Cherry Creek dam and then up Peoria.

I really know nothing about road bikes, single speeds, fixies, etc., so I looked up a few CL ads - what do you guys think? I'm about 6'-1", so I'm not even 100% sure what size I'm supposed to be looking at - ~57cm maybe?

I figure with 3 days a week of commuting, I could probably pay off a $100 bike in about 8 weeks for the price of gas I would be burning in my Tundra. So I'm looking in the $100-$250 range, but if I were to get something at the higher end of that range it would really have to be worth it.

Some examples:
SS Schwinn $200: http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/2902584740.html
SS Trek $150: http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/2904531915.html
10spd Road Master $100: http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/2905804717.html
SS HM MTB $175: http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/2907190088.html
Fixie Firenze $250: http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/2901560589.html

Maybe you know how to search CL better than I do for "hipster-a$$ hipster bikes for hipsters" - help me out :help:

03-18-2012, 12:20 PM
I've done quite a bit of bike commuting. In the late 90's, I'd go from the Arapaho ParkNRide out to Parker and Illif - very similar to the route you are looking at. Anyhow, for a commuting bike (especially in the summer) no need to over think it. With a commuter bike, reliable and simple is key.

Be on the look out for any 90s vintage MTB that has provisions for installing a rear rack and fenders. Most of them that you find will just need some cleaning, lubing and small adjustments to be good as new. Search string MTB or Mountain Bike.

You can swap out the knobbies for a thinner smoother tire, slap some puncture resistant tubes and gator liners for flat protection. Toss your clothes inside a wet dry bag, latch it to your rack and hit the road.

03-18-2012, 02:16 PM
I ride my cyclocross bike to work, typically at least one day per week on average, year round. In the summer I try to do Tuesday and Thursdays and in the winter I tend to just read the weather. I run fenders on it most of the time, but from Sept to Dec since I race it on weekends I go without them. But I'll get lazy and skip a rainy, cold day or very, very cold days. I have several light options, between this and night MTB racing. I prefer a 3Wish LED, bright enough without blinding anyone. I use a Niterider Mi-Newt USB on my helmet.

I spent around $1000 building it in 1999, so it's paid for itself many times over. I run high volume, small knobby cross tires most of the time, although lately I've been using road tires because it's been dry on the pavement and wet on dirt. I typically mix it up, Highland Canal, some of BMX trails, pavement, streets. Depending on route it might be 12 to 14 miles for me and it takes about 45 minutes to an hour. There are showers at work, which is nice.

I'd put you on a 58cm bike, although my CX is a 59cm and it works fine for commuting. You might prefer something taller, like a 59cm or 60cm, but that's hard to say without trying. Mine is a bit tall for CX racing and a little long. I'm 6'0" & 34" inseam and I prefer long top tubes so it works. My guess is a 57cm would be too small for you.

I'm split on single speed for commuting. If you're using the train or bus, they are nice for simplicity but for 10 miles into a head wind or trying to keep up with traffic, no thanks. Call me anti-hipster, but I love gears.

BTW, I have an old GT MTB that I'm selling. I have it on CL for $200. It would make a good starting point for a commuter, LMK if you're interested and we can work out a deal. It's not heavy, that's for sure. Drop bars and 1.9 tires and you gotcha a monster cross bike.

Personally, from a strictly economic sense I think you have to factor in gas, wear on your truck, wear on the bike (chains, tires, lube). It's tough to totally justify unless you ride a lot. But when you figure you burn calories and burn off stress, the health benefits are very much worth it. Maybe it's too hippie to mention, but it seems such a waste to drive around a truck with just me. I'm a nobody, so I have the time.

03-18-2012, 03:44 PM
Thanks for the input guys, I just weighed my Kaitai and it comes in at a hair under 29 lbs. That's with an underseat pack and (I think) tube liners in the tires (had a problem with pinch flats years back and that seemed to help). If I swapped out the Judy XC fork for something lighter like a Sid, and got a 2nd set of wheels with street treads on them, how much do you think I would drop? Not sure what your Zaskar, Dave, or some of these other commuter bikes weigh - it would be nice info to compare.

And yeah, Dave, I saw your Zaskar ad, recognized the triple triangle design like my old GT Timberline had. Do you know how much it weighs?

03-18-2012, 03:55 PM
problem with using a mtb for commuting is you don't have any high gears for speed.

IMHO i would throw some inverted tread street tires or slicks on it and see how much you really get into commuting.

If you find you're commuting more look for a commuter specific bike or get a lower end road or like dave cyclo.


03-18-2012, 04:10 PM
Yeah Wes I was commuting a couple summers ago but I stopped for a few reasons:
-I was wearing out my trail tires riding on the pavement
-I didn't have a great way to go, had a lot of hills, and I was tired of pulling those hills with my stupid heavy bike
-More wear and tear on the chain, etc.
-Didn't have a good plan for food, clothes, etc. when I got to work.

I've solved the logistical problems with food and clothes but I'm still left with a heavy bike and wearing out my knobbies on pavement. I just did a little looking and I can drop 1.5 lbs. if I change out the fork to a little better/lighter one (which would help with my trail riding anyway, and I've kinda been meaning to do for a while anyway as well), maybe drop another pound by taking out my double tube setup and going to street tires. So dropping from almost 29 to 26.5 would make it a little more respectable to ride, both on- and off-road, and having the 2nd set of wheels to change out is a lot easier than swapping tires. That combined with me losing 10-15 (or 20 :rolleyes:) lbs. would all help quite a bit.

03-18-2012, 09:26 PM
get dave's bike and throw some street slicks on it. loosing the knobbies for the street slicks will make a bigger difference than dropping 3lbs on the bike.

I commute on my MTB, but it's for the most part single track/dirt bike paths.

If I had a predominantly street commute I'd go for more of a street setup.

I got one of these: www.bigshotbikes.com thinking i'd commute on it and ended up only really using it for around town. Like Dave said, pedaling into a head wind, with a back pack, up a hill, sucks with only 1 BIG gear.

my commute is 45min to an hour each way as well.

03-18-2012, 10:08 PM
Its been some time but I spent about 4 years without a car. I commuted year round both in Madison, WI and SLC, UT. My favorite bike for doing so was my cyclecross. Its a Cannondale XS800 with the HeadShok.(no longer made) The cycle cross gave you a durable enough bike for anything in town and yet yet fast like a road bike. I also did the 100psi skinny slicks on a MTB. Works just as good IMO. For the winter I had a old (60's) Schwinn cruiser bike with full fenders that I did some modern upgrades in order to cut weight and increase braking power.

Anyway I'd just pick up something that has gears and slick tires. Ride the crap out of it and call it good. Spend some money on proper lighting if your going to be commuting in the dark. As well as a water proof bag for clothing or other stuff.

03-19-2012, 08:11 AM
I got one of these: www.bigshotbikes.com thinking i'd commute on it and ended up only really using it for around town.
Bigshots are fixed gear, right? That's a sure way IMHO to end up in the ER as a commuter. Maybe it's just me, but my cognitive skills don't really start working until I've warmed up a bit. :-)

03-19-2012, 08:32 AM
nothing beats a cross bike or a dedicated touring rig for commuting. I commuted for years on a converted mtb, but then switched over to a cross rig, and it's way better. especially with a triple.

Oh, and there are two types of lighting, to be seen, and for you to see. don't skimp here, get the latter. I had hi-low beams, and a dedicated power system. and it was still too dim at times.

03-19-2012, 08:37 AM
...me losing 10-15 (or 20 :rolleyes:) lbs. would all help quite a bit.

Right there is the primary reason that shaving weight on the bike is not something to worry about. That is to say (at least for me), I could easily loose the weight of 3 bikes before I'd be getting to the point where I'd start looking at the bike weight. My current bike is all of 30+ lbs. I have been running Scwhalabe (sp) marathon plus tires and not had a flat in over 2000 miles.

03-19-2012, 09:04 AM
Bigshots are fixed gear, right? That's a sure way IMHO to end up in the ER as a commuter. Maybe it's just me, but my cognitive skills don't really start working until I've warmed up a bit. :-)

they come with flip flop hubs and a freewheel cog. also with brakes front and rear. I think the law states you have to have brakes if you ride a bike on the road, not sure. I ran mine to and from work setup with the freewheel cog and of course running brakes.

03-19-2012, 09:22 AM
Got to thinking about it a little more, and we're planning on buying a house this summer and my work is going to be moving this fall. So with those two things combined I have no idea if I'm going to be within commuting range by bicycle, so I'll probably just ride my bike pretty-much as-is for the couple of months this summer that I'll be able to, and then see what my needs are after we get settled in our new place. The single speed thing still appeals to me though...maybe I'll be able to set up a bike budget sometime in the future...:rolleyes:

03-19-2012, 09:29 AM
just get some slicks on it then and use as is.

I always used the avocet cross 2 tires with kevlar. They were great commuting tires.

Swing over to mikes bike shop. i'm sure he'll hook you up.