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Subject: Buying a new commuter bike rss

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Marc P
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I know that a lot of you commute by bike, so I thought that I'd solicit advice. I am a cycling idiot, and need some direction that is a few levels removed from the inscrutable code that is spoken in biking forums. If this thread devolves into people posting pictures of their bicycles, that would be fine, as well.

I live in Seattle, and would typically be biking to work. There is a long uphill incline on the way home (12 blocks or more). Most of the route is in bike lanes, but there is a significant portion of "sharing the road" with cars, buses, and potholes. I would also like to eventually use this bike to go on longer jaunts with friends.

I'm looking in the $300-600 range. I've seen reference to commuter bikes, hybrid bikes, and cyclocross bikes, as well as Nazhuret's Surly Long Haul Trucker, but I'm unclear on the differences. I was offered a really good deal on a lightly used Lemond Poprad, so any detail on where that bike would fit in with my needs would be very appreciated.
 
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Andy Leighton
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First of all never buy a bike without going on a test-ride first. Many bikes which are good on paper may will not suit you at all. Make sure the bike fits well.

For commuting mudguards are essential. You don't want a brown stripe up your back. If you are riding at night remember you will also need a good set of lights. Often when you can't get any discount on the bike you can get get stuff like free mudguards fitted when buying the bike (if you haggle hard).

Do you want to carry luggage? Factor in the price of a rack and appropriate panniers.

You don't mention what distance your commute will be, or what you consider a longer jaunt to be. That makes a difference. If you are commuting 15 miles a day more care will be needed in choosing a bike than if you are commuting 5.

As I live in the UK bike models vary somewhat so I will just talk about general styles.

Hybrid bikes. These are probably more upright and have flat or riser handlebars. Good for urban situations as it is easier to maintain a clear view of cars and drivers and maintain eye-contact. Sometimes have mudguards and racks. Sometimes 26" sized wheels sometimes 700c sized wheels.

Trekking bikes. Pretty much like the hybrids but may also have butterfly handlebars. Nearly always have mudguards and racks.

Fast-commuters. Flat bars sometimes with bar-ends. Good all-rounders. Rarely have racks as standard.

Touring bikes. Usually dropped bars. At the expedition end will have racks etc. Geometry and handlebars mean that these are faster than the hybrids and trekking bikes. So-called fast tourers (which are also sometimes called audax bikes at least in the UK) don't have the racks. Usually tourers have thinner tyres than the hybrids and trekking bikes.

Cyclo-cross. Getting into sport territory here. Less relaxed geometry than the fast tourers.


The Lemond Poprad is a cyclo-cross bike. It is a fine bike but wouldn't be my first choice - but that is mainly personal based on my commute. Remember to factor in the fitting of mudguards for commuting and possibly a rack. I think unlike a full-on road bike there should be clearance.

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Marc P
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It's about a 6 mile commute. I usually bring my laptop home every night, so I have a pretty light load. For the longer jaunts, my friends typically do 30 miles round trip on Saturdays.

My big concern in terms of style (regarding the Poprad) is the positioning. I do want to have good visibility to look out for cars pulling out of driveways, etc. I know that I can fit a mudguard to this bike.
 
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Andy Leighton
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slowcorner wrote:
It's about a 6 mile commute. I usually bring my laptop home every night, so I have a pretty light load. For the longer jaunts, my friends typically do 30 miles round trip on Saturdays.

My big concern in terms of style (regarding the Poprad) is the positioning. I do want to have good visibility to look out for cars pulling out of driveways, etc. I know that I can fit a mudguard to this bike.


Yeah it is all trade-offs. With a cyclo-cross you have a more sporty geometry so you may be slightly more elongated than on say a touring drop-barred bike. This affects visibility a bit but of course in traffic you can always ride 'on the tops'. Whether you are too uncomfortable is something that you can only find out by riding it - although I suspect that if you haven't ridden with drop-bars than it might very well be so . For 30 miles then any of the type of bikes I listed will be OK - although a lot will depend on pace. The more upright the position is (which is generally considered better in urban traffic) generally the more effort it is at speed (mainly due to increased wind resistance).

For the laptop I would definitely look at getting a laptop pannier - I hate backpacks when riding.
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