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  1. #1
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    First Commuter bike

    Hey,

    I'm looking into buying my first commuter bike and I've got a couple of used ones on craigslist that I'm looking into buying but I'm not really knowledgeable enough to know which bike is better. There is a schwinn 434 aluminum for $125 and 1990 fuji saratoga for $100. I'm going to provide the the links so you can take a look for yourself. I really appreciate the help.

    1990 Fuji Saratoga road bike
    Mens aluminum Schwinn road bike

    I accidentally posted in the another section and a gentleman said should aim for something more expensive however I'm a college student working with a fairly limited budget.....yet I do enjoy working on a bike so a fixer upper wouldn't be so bad.

    Thanks a bunch

    betelgeuse

  2. #2
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    Remember a mile or less is easier to walk than ride and lock up a bike. A lot of campus trips can be that short or shorter depending on where you live on campus. Off campus housing further away? Riding makes sense.

    Some basic ideas:

    Commuting 101: Choosing a bike | Commute by Bike

    Old bikes can make good commuters. These two are quite different in size. Look at the length of the head tubes (where the fork and stem/handlebars fit. The seat tube will correspond in length. If you can fit the large one the small one is too small, if your crotch barely clears the top tube of the small one with your feet on the ground, the big one is *way* too big. Sure, as long as you can stand over the top tube, you can get stems and seat posts to force the fit, but that gets into money, too. The 18 speed (3 x 6) may be needed if it is a bit hilly where you plan to ride, and you are not particularly fit (carry extra weight that is not muscle).

    One man's take on fit: How to Fit a Bicycle

    The brake pads are likely hard. If you can afford them, get Cool Stops to replace them. Count on new tires and tubes and a repair kit with spare tube. You may want to go platforms for the pedals and ditch the clipped pedals.

    BTW old mountain bikes make great commuters when road conditions and off road trails come into play.

    Have fun finding your ride.

    BrianMc

  3. #3
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Welcome in, Betlegeuse!
    Disregard the gentleman, heed Brian. Limited budget + like working on bikes = Craigslist for sure. If you have a little patience and shop carefully, you`ll get way more bike for any given budget than buying new. However,you need to watch for a bike that suits your purposes and reasonably fits you- ain`t no way that BOTH those bikes are going to fit you. They both look ilke good candidates for SOMEBODY, just that looking at them next to each other makes me wonder why the same person would be considering both. BTW, the old Saratogas are very well regarded though little known "hidden gems" of a touring bike- sure wouldn`t mind having one for myself. If it fit.
    Recalculating....

  4. #4
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    Definitely pay attention to fit. You can use an online fit calculator to help figure out what size you need to be looking for.

    I used Wrench Science: Custom Bicycle Builder Online - Road, Mountain, Cyclocross, Track Parts for fitting purposes when I built my commuter from the frame up. Get the frame size right and making adjustments otherwise to dial it in is pretty easy.

    It's tough to say whether I'd rather use an old road/touring bike or a mountain bike for my commute. A mountain bike can be modified a bit to be more efficient on the road, but you can't do much to a road bike if your commute is rough. It also depends on how far I was riding.

    bob13bob was correct that a higher priced bike even on the used market would be quite an upgrade in quality but it doesn't help you if you only have $100 to spend. I think I would tend to agree that the bikes are overpriced. That tends to be the rule on Craigslist and on ebay for used bikes. I got my hands on a used early 90's Trek for less than $100. It didn't work for me, but all I would have needed to replace to get it going on the road would have been tires & tubes, cables & housings, brake pads, bar tape, and rubber brake hood covers. The saddle was not in great shape, but it would have been functional if I really needed to save money at the time.

    If one of those bikes fits you, try to negotiate a lower price, pointing out that they will need work and more money. If they don't fit, then keep looking. The used market is FULL of overpriced junk, especially when it comes to old steel road bikes/frames. There are a LOT of hipsters converting them to fixies and driving up the cost.

  5. #5
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    I agree with these guys^^. The prices sure seem reasonable. This Grand Rapids community bike shop The Spoke Folks | A Community Bike Shop Effort for Grand Rapids, MI might be a place you could use tools, etc., it looks like they have "open shop" time. I don't see a listing of bikes for sale, but it might be worth a call. They could have some that have been donated but not fixed up yet. Unfortunately, their bike-fitting class was yesterday!

  6. #6
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    Yeah I'm pretty new in general to biking....so I'm working with fairly limited knowledge. I realize you could tell the size difference in the frame just by looking at them....it does make sense though haha. Thanks for all the great input it is greatly appreciated

  7. #7
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    Just to make sure I'm understanding the concept correctly the Schwinn is the larger bike right? I'm 6' and don't want to drive 20 minutes to this guys house to check out the bike if it isn't even close to the right fit.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by betelgeuse View Post
    Just to make sure I'm understanding the concept correctly the Schwinn is the larger bike right? I'm 6' and don't want to drive 20 minutes to this guys house to check out the bike if it isn't even close to the right fit.
    Yes the Schwinn appears to be about 22" from the center of the BB (crank axle) to the top of the top tube at the seat post. I am 5' 11" and my main bike is 22.5" and the errand bike is 23.5" it JUST fits, but I wear thicker soled shoes riding it so it is fine. You can measure your stand over height from the floor to your crotch as described in the bike fit links given. I am 34.5" with my road bike shoes. You can ask for the height from the ground to the top tube (ask if the tires had air when they measure that, or the center of the crank to the top tube height. That would save you a trip for a bike that will not fit. Check it out in person if if sounds close.

    Hope this helps.

    BrianMc

  9. #9
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Ah. Nate`s post sent me to look for the OP`s other thread. I think the gentleman isn`t so bad now, just has different opinions about what`s "good" than I do, and the part about him suggesting only new bikes was entirely in my imagination. Strictly for the record, the Schwinn 434 was a solid mid-level (not junk) road bike and the Saratoga was among the best light touring frames available at that time.
    http://bikecatalogs.org/SCHWINN/1990...oad_Cat_33.jpg
    http://classicfuji.com/1990_23_Specifications3_Page.htm
    Whether either of them are a good bike for the OP is really a different story.

    Betelgeuse, you can get a kinda-sorta idea about the size by looking at the picture, a better idea if they list some key measurements, but the only way to know for sure is to check it out in person. Different people measure differently, and when you consider the various frame angles involved and different stems along with rider preferences and what kind of bars are on it, versus what you might be able to quickly and easily change, well... you get the idea. By looking at whatever information is presented (written and in the picture), just keep sizing in mind and you can eliminate a lot of fruitless trips to check out bikes that are totally wrong for you.

    Standover is an important part of fit, but unless you have very short legs compared to your overall size (my personal sticky point), it`s usually of secondary importance. Length is the key factor, and it`s very dependent on personal preference. You`l have to ride a few to get an idea how you like them.
    Recalculating....

  10. #10
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    That Schwinn is huge looking with a long stem too. Assuming they are both mechanically sound I'd pick the one that fits you. If you buy the Fuji do me a favor and angle that seat up a tad.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    That Schwinn is huge looking with a long stem too.
    Yep. Its probably in the 63-65cm range.
    You better be north of 6'3" to even consider it.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  12. #12
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    ^^ Yes I'd guess it as a 63. My errand bike is a 63 cm frame, now with 700C 38's instead of the 27-1 1/8. I just have stand over height without singing soprano and I am 5' 11". So leg length varies, as Rodar mentioned.

    BrianMc

  13. #13
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    Yeah the schwinn has a really big frame...when I was checking it out the tires were flat so I never got a chance to ride it.....everything was working great and the guy who rode it was 6'.....so I just took his word on it. I do have stand over height....but just barely. I guess you live and you learn because I bought it. I'm ok with it. It isn't a perfect fit but it is in great shape.

  14. #14
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by betelgeuse View Post
    Yeah the schwinn has a really big frame...
    ...and a LONG ways down to those shifters!

    When you put air in the tires, the TT will be still higher. The bright side is that it`s posible to live with not being able to straddle a bike. It`s more important that it fit while you`re riding than that it fits while you`re waiting at a red light, which is why I brought up length VS height. Any rate, good luck and enjoy. After you put in some quality time on that bike, you`ll have a better idea what you need in the next.
    Recalculating....

  15. #15
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    ^^
    Congrats on the new (old) bike! First step in becoming a bike commuter. That bike deserves to be ridden. I did not find the DT shifters a deal on a large bike. Until I got Brifters. My son rode his on campus as a single speed. Not any significant grades to ride.

    Adding to Rodar's comment, larger tires will increase the height of the TT as well. It should have 700 C rims based on age, but if they are 27" a switch at a future date to 700C rims or wheels will let you to get 4-5 mm more stand over height or 4 mm fatter tires for the same height. Also thicker soled shoes help with the stand over height.

    BrianMc

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