What should I get for a cheap commuter?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What should I get for a cheap commuter?

    I'm thinking about commuting some to work -- or at least commuting to the bus. I don't want to take my road or mountain bike because I work on a college campus and bikes get stolen all the time. So I'm thinking about picking up something for cheap either on craigslist or at Performance Bikes.

    What sort of bike would you recommend for commuting: 5-13 miles round trip, rolling hills, that hopefully won't get stolen. What would you recommend for a lock?

    Also, any recommendations for carrying a backpack on it and for taking my daughter (2 years old) out on it?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I'm thinking about commuting some to work -- or at least commuting to the bus. I don't want to take my road or mountain bike because I work on a college campus and bikes get stolen all the time. So I'm thinking about picking up something for cheap either on craigslist or at Performance Bikes.

    What sort of bike would you recommend for commuting: 5-13 miles round trip, rolling hills, that hopefully won't get stolen. What would you recommend for a lock?

    Also, any recommendations for carrying a backpack on it and for taking my daughter (2 years old) out on it?
    Something like an older full-rigid Specialized Hardrock or Rockhopper would be good. Buy a pile of reflective tape and cover the decals. Safer, plus less interesting to thieves. The Reflexite v82 tape at nightgear.com is thin and conforms well to one-axis curves (frame tubes) without peeling itself off.

    In your case, you will be locking up in a known high-risk environment AND probably on a predictable timetable & location. So if it were me, I would go with a minimum of a U-lock with a double-deadbolting crossbar (Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 or New York models for example). Put the U-lock through the frame and rear wheel at the seatstays or chainstays, to secure both the frame and rear wheel. Lasso the front wheel with a security cable, run the cable through the seat rails, and then put the free end of the cable over your U-lock shackle.

    Make sure to lock to something very strong and immoveable. My usual lockup point on a nearby college campus is a 4" steel pole that supports a building's porch, no one's going to cut that (famous last words).

    If your bike will be parked in rain, get a shower cap to cover your saddle while parked, too.

    For carrying a backpack, what about just getting a high-volume pannier and a rear rack that has a center platform? The rack will serve as a rear fender, you carry less weight, and you don't get as much sweat accumulation. Blackburn and Trek/Bontrager have big panniers with a carrying handle, or I'm sure you can also find similar on Ebay too.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I'm thinking about commuting some to work -- or at least commuting to the bus. I don't want to take my road or mountain bike because I work on a college campus and bikes get stolen all the time. So I'm thinking about picking up something for cheap either on craigslist or at Performance Bikes.

    What sort of bike would you recommend for commuting: 5-13 miles round trip, rolling hills, that hopefully won't get stolen. What would you recommend for a lock?

    Also, any recommendations for carrying a backpack on it and for taking my daughter (2 years old) out on it?
    I like the old Schwinn 5-speed for short tour work. They're cheap and ugly. If you mount a child seat you can place your backpack there when she's not and wear it when she is.

  4. #4
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    i run a 1998 schwinn moab, perfect with the 24 speed cause components are cheap. If you going to buy new a guy at work has a trek 3500 and he rides it as a commuter and rides the single tracks at lunch with it and its been flawless. If my schwinn has a massive failure i think ill be picking one of these up in a disk model.

  5. #5
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    any full rigid 80's / 90's will do, stay away from the big names to avoid unwanted attention.
    add a rear rack for the child seat or strap on a crate for commuter duty

  6. #6
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    A steel touring bike with cantilever brakes and clearance for wide tires (~40c). Bikes from the late 80s are the best: Trek, Miyata, Panasonic, Raleigh, Bianchi are a few brands to look for. Frames with Reynolds, Columbus, or Tange butted tubing are the best models. Complete bikes are under $500 and well worth the investment.

    As for locking a bike, this video series explains it all:


  7. #7
    turtles make me hot
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    I bought a folding bike for my commute. I ride it from my house to the railroad station, fold it up, ride the train into the city and then I unfold it and ride it to work.
    I don't ride the 30+ miles to the city, so the folder is sufficient and even though total bike distance is probably only about 2 1/2 miles, it's WAY more fun than the subway.
    Once at work, I fold the bike up and bring it to my office. No worries about my bike disappearing. I also got two co workers started as well.
    I like turtles

  8. #8
    turtles make me hot
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    Ooh... Sorry. I just saw the title of this thread and saw "cheap" in it. Good folding bikes are not cheap and I wouldn't want a cheap one. Maybe Craigslist?
    I like turtles

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