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Advice on buying bike for commuting

Old 07-14-19, 09:25 AM
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Blu3b3ar
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Advice on buying bike for commuting

Hello! My commute is 10 miles each way. I have been taking the train in the morning and biking home after work. I have a Bianchi Osprey but want to upgrade. I'm looking at getting a road bike and adding on thicker tires. I'm on a limited budget so trying to get a used bike but if I don't find one soon I might get a Motobecane or Windsor from Bikes Direct.

I'm thinking of getting a 2008 Fuji, description for the bike is "50 cm 2008 Fuji Finest 1.0. Aluminum frame with carbon fiber fork and seat stays. Bike is in excellent shape, wheels are true and spin smoothly - no work is needed, it’s ready to ride. Drivetrain is 10 speed Shimano Ultegra/105, FSA crankset, new Jagwire cables and housing, with an upgraded Specialized Avatar saddle. Original price $1460 - asking $500."
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Old 07-14-19, 03:28 PM
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That could be a good bike, but it's hard for any of us to say without seeing pictures. Do you know that a 50 cm bike would fit you?

A used bike is definitely a better value, but you have to spend more time looking and educating yourself.
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Old 07-14-19, 06:39 PM
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A couple of things to consider: First, does the bike even fit? Second, how large a tire is large to you, because 23c - 25c is probably the widest that will fit that frame. Third, $500 for an 12-year old model bike (the 2020 models are out now) is not necessarily a great bargain. Good luck!
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Old 07-14-19, 06:49 PM
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I do a similar commute. I would look on craigslist for a used bike, tune it up, maybe get tubes and tires. It takes me about 45 mins to ride. How much time do you want your commute to be? Are you commuting every day, every other day? Do you have showers at work to clean up? My commute is about 11.5 miles each way, downhill going to work, uphill and against the wind going home. I got used to it. 50 mins to work, 70-80 mins going home. I opted for an ebike after two months to cut my commute times to 40-50 mins both ways. I no longer sweat that much and am not tired. I also have only used level 2-3 assist, depending how much I want to work out. Level 1 is good too, but I want to be near 15 MPH. I've lost 15 lbs so far and my insulin levels have been decreased by 50%. Lots of neat bikes out there. I ride a beach cruiser style bike, so it's slow.
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Old 07-15-19, 06:29 AM
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Couple of things I consider, that you may want to as well:
  1. Sealed hubs and bottom bracket. I like these for commuting because it means less maintenance, especially if/when I ride in wet conditions. (Even if I wouldn't want to ride in bad weather, everyone gets surprised with it at some point, and lower maintenance over time is still a good thing.)
  2. When I ride in bad weather, fenders are my friend. I look for bosses in the frames that allow me to install good ones.
  3. There's also the question of how to carry my stuff. I did the messenger bag thing for years, but got tired of the sweat patch on my back and the occasional strain on my shoulder. So now I either go with a hiking bag when I'm on my singlespeed (it has a waist strap that keeps the weight off my back, which is more comfortable, and allows my backside to breathe), or commuter panniers and a rack when I'm on my ebike (I use some waterproof Ortlieb ones so again, foul weather isn't a problem.)
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Old 07-15-19, 07:33 AM
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what about your current bike do you feel is lacking. or, why do you feel an upgrade is needed?
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Old 07-15-19, 09:12 AM
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For 10 miles I'd go with a slower but more robust frame that will make larger tires and pannier bags easy.

My commuter is a tank. It's not a bike I enjoy riding for 50 miles on the weekends (I have a lighter faster bike for that) but for my commute I can strap bags on a rack, stop at the store and pick up a heavy item I can bungee cord to the rack, run off curbs and hit potholes and it still gets me there everytime. On a faster road bike I might be able to shave a minute or two if I rode empty, but as soon as I pile all the gear on it the road bike would become slower and more cumbersome anyway.

The hybrid...pretty much rides the same no matter if I ride it empty or have it loaded down with stuff.

Plus...it's cheap. $500 buys a brand new half decent hybrid that comes with a warranty.

$500 on a 12 year old road bike that almost certainly has parts that are about to wear out....seems....like not such a great deal.
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Old 07-15-19, 12:32 PM
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There are plenty of new hybrid bike choices for under $500 that also accept wider tires and come with warranty.
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Old 07-15-19, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
That could be a good bike, but it's hard for any of us to say without seeing pictures. Do you know that a 50 cm bike would fit you?

A used bike is definitely a better value, but you have to spend more time looking and educating yourself.
Thanks for the response! I ended up going to look at it as well as going to some used bike shops in the area and decided a 52 cm would be a better fit. Unfortunately the pictures in the ad were pictures from when they had purchased it from someone else and not the current condition. Between the fit, age, and condition I decided to pass and keep looking. Thankfully during my day of searching I found an awesome used bike shop with great staff so I might wait for them to have something that fits my needs.
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Old 07-15-19, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Aletifer View Post
Couple of things I consider, that you may want to as well:
  1. Sealed hubs and bottom bracket. I like these for commuting because it means less maintenance, especially if/when I ride in wet conditions. (Even if I wouldn't want to ride in bad weather, everyone gets surprised with it at some point, and lower maintenance over time is still a good thing.)
  2. When I ride in bad weather, fenders are my friend. I look for bosses in the frames that allow me to install good ones.
  3. There's also the question of how to carry my stuff. I did the messenger bag thing for years, but got tired of the sweat patch on my back and the occasional strain on my shoulder. So now I either go with a hiking bag when I'm on my singlespeed (it has a waist strap that keeps the weight off my back, which is more comfortable, and allows my backside to breathe), or commuter panniers and a rack when I'm on my ebike (I use some waterproof Ortlieb ones so again, foul weather isn't a problem.)
Thanks for the tips! I will definitely keep my eyes open for these features!
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Old 07-15-19, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
My thought is Bianchi Osprey with good road tires is a much better platform for commuting than any roadbike.

I commuting on 700x25 roadbike. Sure it's fast but speed isn't everything in a commute. I miss the sure footedness and versatility of a 26" rigid ATB.
Tbh my bike is no beauty but I love it. I'm the third owner (at least, there could be more than I know). I bought it on craigslist for $50 just to see if I would actually bike regularly and to teach myself how to work on a bike. I'm definitely still new to all this and learning but it's been great to already improve the bike just with some small maintenance. I'm getting to the point where I might need to make some bigger changes since I have been using it regularly and I'm not sure how much to invest in it rather than buying a different bike. I signed up for some co-op classes so I'm hoping I will be able to get some guidance.
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Old 07-15-19, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
what about your current bike do you feel is lacking. or, why do you feel an upgrade is needed?
I love that I feel like I can do pretty much anything on my bike. Because it was cheap to buy ($50 for bike, rack, lights, and lock) I've been pretty confident working on it and riding. However it is HEAVY and when I do back to back commuting days it is more noticeable. I also need to make some fixes to my bike (not sure what exactly trying to go to bike classes to learn) and I dont know what is a reasonable amount of time/money to put into it
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Old 07-16-19, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Blu3b3ar View Post
Tbh my bike is no beauty but I love it. I'm the third owner (at least, there could be more than I know). I bought it on craigslist for $50 just to see if I would actually bike regularly and to teach myself how to work on a bike. I'm definitely still new to all this and learning but it's been great to already improve the bike just with some small maintenance. I'm getting to the point where I might need to make some bigger changes since I have been using it regularly and I'm not sure how much to invest in it rather than buying a different bike. I signed up for some co-op classes so I'm hoping I will be able to get some guidance.
Given that extra information, I think you are a good candidate for a motobecane from bikesdirect. Or maybe at the co-op you'll find something you like
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Old 07-16-19, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Blu3b3ar View Post
I love that I feel like I can do pretty much anything on my bike. Because it was cheap to buy ($50 for bike, rack, lights, and lock) I've been pretty confident working on it and riding. However it is HEAVY and when I do back to back commuting days it is more noticeable. I also need to make some fixes to my bike (not sure what exactly trying to go to bike classes to learn) and I dont know what is a reasonable amount of time/money to put into it
My commute is just a little bit longer than yours. I understand wanting a bike that isn't slowing you down much - just realize that far more of the difference is the engine, probably followed by the tires.

I'd honestly start with new quality tires, and possibly new wheels on your existing bike - you don't give many details about your existing bike, but better tires and a tuneup / refresh (ie. replacing parts where necessary or there's a cheap upgrade) can completely change a bike. My main winter/snow/ice/rain commuter is a Giant Innova hybrid from '93 that would be a similar frame to your Bianchi Osprey. It was a little heavier than my Bianchi Strada before I put the Sturmey Archer hub on the Bianchi, but it rides quite nicely, has space for nice wide tires and fenders. I'm slightly slower on that bike, but it rides fine - I put drop bars and bar-end shifters on it, it had cantilever brakes which meant it was easy to find drop bar brake levers, but v-brake levers are easy to come by (amazon, chain reaction)

Bottom line is that your existing bike is a quality frame (either main triangle cro-mo or full cro-mo depending on year) and is worth keeping going and/or upgrading a little.

Post some pictures and/or details about your existing bike, and what it is you want most to change about it!
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Old 07-16-19, 11:03 PM
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I understand sometimes you just get an itch for a new bike, and that's that.

OTOH, in my view a full-rigid MTB is an excellent commuter platform. Strong frame, strong wheels, usually have eyelets, not particularly attractive to thieves. Tires are available and inexpensive in a huge variety of performance/flat protection/ride quality tradeoffs.

It looks like some Ospreys have front shocks, which would be the first think to look at changing. You'll have to get a front fork that compensates for the lack of shock, which I guess could get pricey. It's worth looking at.

Or you could just scratch that new-bike itch and have n+1.

Cheers.
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Old 07-17-19, 05:26 AM
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Advice on buying bike for commuting
Originally Posted by Blu3b3ar View Post
Hello! My commute is 10 miles each way. I have been taking the train in the morning and biking home after work.

I have a Bianchi Osprey but want to upgrade. I'm looking at getting a road bike and adding on thicker tires. I'm on a limited budget so trying to get a used bike but if I don't find one soon I might get a Motobecane or Windsor from Bikes Direct
Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I understand sometimes you just get an itch for a new bike, and that's that.

OTOH, in my view a full-rigid MTB is an excellent commuter platform.
I have often posted to various threads about buying bikes, and in particular reference to a commuter bike, I think almost any bike will do, though depending on your needs, e.g. road surface, carrying capacity, distance, weather, physical condition…
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
"Newbie Requests Advice”

I usually only suggest buying strategy [not technical specifics]...
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
"Help with choosing a bike."

...My shopping strategy for something important is to look at the high end (expensive) models first, just to know what’s available and then whittle downwards to find what’s acceptable, the so-called sweet spot of price/value.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Whenever I’m asked about buying a bike my questions are what do you want it for, and how much to spend? IMO bikes of similar quality by brand names stratify in groups of about approximately $US 200 intervals.
So FWIW as an illustration of “top of the line” cycle commuting in a four-season urban environment:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Now here’s where I’m coming from. I have described myself as a decades-long, year-round lifestyle cyclist [including year-round commuter], and my favored bike is a high-end carbon fiber road bike costing thousands of dollars...

I also have a aluminum beater road bike costing about $1500, and for me that was a minimal road bike, to be used in bad weather [with studded tires]….
BTW, my one-way 14 mile commute is from downtown to a suburb, and as an off-peak, reverse commuter, I’m allowed to bring my fully assembled bike on the convenient Commuter Rail either way, out or back.

This is a great, relatively rare, perk of living in Boston to make cycle commuting possible, so if I may ask, @Blu3b3ar , where do you live?

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Old 07-17-19, 07:31 AM
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fwiw: my commuting bikes evolved over a cpl years until I settled on a light, drop bar, road bike. the time, energy & money I spent on 2 MTBs, 2 old road bikes (+ a dozen or so old bikes for parts) & 1 heavily modified hybrid, could be considered wasted. but I had fun & I had time on my hands. also learned a lot. but knowing what I know know, if I were to start from scratch, I'd go straight for the light, drop bar, road bike
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Old 07-19-19, 07:35 PM
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I live in Maryland. They used to have a rule that you couldn't take bikes on the train during peak hours but this January they changed it so bikes are allowed during all hours.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:10 AM
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If I were to buy a new commuting bike today, I would take these things into consideration:
  • How much stuff am I carrying with me and how do I want to carry it. The more you carry, the fatter your tires need to be. Also, if you want to put cargo carrying bags on your bike, it is easier if the frame already has the mounting points for a rack. Also, the more stuff you carry, the bigger a gear selection that you want, especially if you are going up hills.
  • What type of terrain will I be covering. My bike choice changes dramatically if I am on a nice smooth bike path vs. a gravel road.
  • What type of weather am I willing to ride in. If I am only going to ride in sunny weather, I don't need fenders and I can ride on slick tires.
  • Do I have secure way to store my bike. I am not going to commute on a bike worth more than $500 if I have to lock it up on the street.
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Old 07-21-19, 05:31 AM
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I to commute twenty miles a day. I like touring bikes with steel frames also I run 1.50 tires. As we have a lot of chip seal roads here. Touring frames are comfortable, the steel frames soak up the vibration of the chip seal, and the 1.50 are a good compromise of speed and comfort.
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Old 07-21-19, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Blu3b3ar View Post
Thanks for the response! I ended up going to look at it as well as going to some used bike shops in the area and decided a 52 cm would be a better fit. Unfortunately the pictures in the ad were pictures from when they had purchased it from someone else and not the current condition. Between the fit, age, and condition I decided to pass and keep looking. Thankfully during my day of searching I found an awesome used bike shop with great staff so I might wait for them to have something that fits my needs.
You found out what I was going to say when I read the original post. "wheels are true and spin freely" = maybe they are still round, and they spin because we loosened the cones. "Ready to ride" = ready to ride to the next corner and back at most, otherwise the pedals will fall off.

I tried buying a bike on craigslist once and they were all just junk no matter how good the ads made them sound. And for some reason the pics are either too fuzzy to see or just a generic pic of the same model. It also always turns out that they were not being sold by an individual looking to clean out the garage or apartment, but by some guy that picks up junk bikes, lubes the chain and sells them as "ready to ride". And by "picks up", well you can imagine...
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Old 07-21-19, 08:37 AM
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I've had really good luck on Craigslist a couple times, my Trek mtn and Fuji roadie came from my local Craigslist, and I've seen a couple that were really yanking my chain, but before I talked myself into taking a swing, someone would snag them..
Obviously you have to have a decent base-level of knowledge when buying used, and examine it closely, but I see lots of solid deals, especially up around Atlanta, all the time. It happens so often it's become a cliche: Folks buy a bike, then barely ride it, then park it in the garage for a couple years, then sell it cheap. Those are obviously the ones you want.
For something that doesn't know much about bikes, then yeah, CL can a disaster waiting to happen, and they should just go to their LBS.
Anyway, for a new commuter-type bike, I'm liking some of the Fujis I'm seeing ( the Fuji Absolute line, IIRC)

Last edited by Brocephus; 07-21-19 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 07-21-19, 10:54 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Brocephus View Post
I've had really good luck on Craigslist a couple times, my Trek mtn and Fuji roadie came from my local Craigslist, and I've seen a couple that were really yanking my chain, but before I talked myself into taking a swing, someone would snag them..
Obviously you have to have a decent base-level of knowledge when buying used, and examine it closely, but I see lots of solid deals, especially up around Atlanta, all the time. It happens so often it's become a cliche: Folks buy a bike, then barely ride it, then park it in the garage for a couple years, then sell it cheap. Those are obviously the ones you want.
For something that doesn't know much about bikes, then yeah, CL can a disaster waiting to happen, and they should just go to their LBS.
Anyway, for a new commuter-type bike, I'm liking some of the Fujis I'm seeing ( the Fuji Absolute line, IIRC)
I to have had really good luck on Craigslist buying bikes, but I know what I'm buying and yes I have walked away from more than one deal. I look for a bike that's on a top of a hill from some rich person with view properly. They buy a new bike wanting to get in shape then they ride/walk it up once or twice up the hill then sell it. I also will only pay half of what the bike sold for new regardless if it's like new condition.
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Old 07-22-19, 09:03 AM
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Your Bianchi Osprey is most likely a high quality frame, even if not the lightest and/or most advanced. Something new might not necessarily be better, and adding the right components to the Bianchi will give you a good ride that you can depend on.


Originally Posted by Blu3b3ar View Post
Between the fit, age, and condition I decided to pass and keep looking.
I think you made the right call. Without even seeing that bike, $500 sounded like WAY too high a price.

Originally Posted by Blu3b3ar View Post
I live in Maryland. They used to have a rule that you couldn't take bikes on the train during peak hours but this January they changed it so bikes are allowed during all hours.
Good for you guys. Just this past Friday I got kicked off a commuter train (LIRR) that was at about 10% capacity, simply because it was during peak hours. I had found a spot on the train that was completely out of the way and wouldn't have inconvenienced a single person, but that wasn't good enough. The conductor preferred that I get in my car and sit in traffic for a hour, because, you know, policy.

Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I tried buying a bike on craigslist once and they were all just junk no matter how good the ads made them sound. And for some reason the pics are either too fuzzy to see or just a generic pic of the same model. It also always turns out that they were not being sold by an individual looking to clean out the garage or apartment, but by some guy that picks up junk bikes, lubes the chain and sells them as "ready to ride". And by "picks up", well you can imagine...
I got my Basso PR from a guy in Forest Hills, and the entire experience was rather pleasant. He had good pics (he was a part-time photographer, so I was lucky in that respect), but most importantly the guy was a serious rider so the bike was in absolutely perfect condition.

Now that I think about it, I've pickup up 5 Criagslist bikes in the NYC area over the past couple of years, and I have very few complaints about any of the transactions. On a couple of the best deals I had to be super patient with somewhat flakey owners, but the good discounts I got made it worthwhile.
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Old 07-22-19, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Blu3b3ar View Post
I live in Maryland. They used to have a rule that you couldn't take bikes on the train during peak hours but this January they changed it so bikes are allowed during all hours.
If you're towards DC then Craigslist is a valuable resource for bikes. Shop around there for a great deal.

If you're in Baltimore, Craigslist is hit or miss at best. Lots of cheap Wal Mart level bikes and overpriced higher end bikes from sellers who don't understand depreciation. Not usually much in the middle but there is an occasional good find if you're patient.

Anywhere else in MD....I have no idea but I bet it's 1 of those 2 or you wouldn't be riding a train.
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