Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Choosing a Transportation Bicycle? Some Ideas to Consider

Bella Ciao Superba (Photo Taken by Elton Pope-Lance)
Every spring I receive requests for advice on buying a transportation bicycle, and this year my inbox is filled with a stunning variety of very specific questions. I cannot possibly answer them all, so I've been thinking about how to address these types of questions more generally. The problem with the concept of a "transportation bike" is that it can mean pretty much anything, depending on our perspectives and criteria. And so I thought it might help to offer a questionnaire that those looking to buy a new bike can use for reference as they do their own research. In no particular order, I offer you the following questions for consideration:

1. How far will you be riding on a regular basis and how hilly is the route?
While a cushy upright 3-speed is great for shorter trips, for long and hilly commutes a lighter, more aggressive bicycle with derailleur gearing might be more appropriate. And for those who plan to to ride after dark through remote, rural areas, investing in a good lighting package is essential.

2. How do you plan to dress on the bike?
If you'd like to ride in your everyday clothing, your bicycle will need the appropriate features. Step-through and mixte frames are ideal for those who wear skirts and dresses on a regular basis. Fenders are a must to keep clothing clean. Many find chaincases and dressguards to be useful features as well.

3. What sorts of things will you need to carry with you?
Different bikes are designed to carry different amounts of weight, in different ways. Do you plan to carry only a light briefcase and an occasional bag of groceries? Your carpentry tools? Your children and pets? Bags of fertilizer and cement blocks? Heavy-duty loads require not only the appropriate racks, baskets, and child seat attachments, but also a heavier build and an accommodating geometry.

4. Where will the bike be stored, and will it require being carried up and down stairs?
For bicycles stored outside or in garages and sheds, weight and size are of limited importance: You can simply roll the bike out. On the other hand, storing a bike in your 2nd floor apartment means you will have to haul it up and down those stairs, making weight and size serious considerations. Furthermore, not all bicycles are durable enough to be stored outdoors, so if you plan to go that route the bicycle must be designed to withstand the elements.

5. Do you plan to ride the bike in the winter?
Not all bikes do well in winter conditions. Here is a post on useful features for a winter bike.

6. How much maintenance are you willing to perform?
The more complicated and delicate a bicycle is, the more maintenance it will require. Those who do not wish to do their own maintenance and do not live near a good bike shop should opt for simpler, lower-maintance bikes and tires with good puncture protection.

7. What is your skill level as a cyclist?
Not all cyclists pick up skills at the same rate; many struggle with balance and handling issues for years, yet still want to ride. Some bicycles feel more stable and easier for beginners to handle than others. This can make all the difference between whether those cyclists are comfortable riding in traffic.

8. What are your aesthetic preferences?
I strongly believe that there is a benefit to getting a bicycle that you love, that makes you smile. While aesthetic considerations should not override utility, owning a bicycle that you find "lovely" is bound to be more enjoyable.

9. What is your budget? 
When determining your budget for a transportation bicycle, I suggest focusing on the transportation and not on the bicycle aspect of that phrase. "How much can I afford to spend on a non-motorised vehicle?" is a good question to ask yourself. Then look for something in that price range, and prepare to be flexible. Transportation is important; don't undermine things like safe handling, good lighting and puncture-resistant tires just to save a few bucks. 

Hopefully these ideas are helpful, and any additional thoughts are welcome. Transportation cycling has transformed my life over the past three years and I hope it can do the same for others, regardless of what sort of bicycle works best for them in this role.

80 comments:

  1. This is a great and very useful update to the "Bicycles for Every Day" page linked up on the left sidebar. It is fun to see how your point of view has changed over time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I have to say that *my* point of view (meaning my own preferences for transportation cycling) has not changed over time. But over the years my readership has widened beyond my expectations, and I do feel that I have to take that into consideration. The Bicycles for Every Day page is simply not relevant to those who must cycle 20 miles each way over a mountain every day, and I do have lots of readers like that at this stage. The great thing about bicycles is that there are so many different kinds - there is something out there for everyone.

      Delete
    2. It seems your pov has changed in the sense that you now understand other perspectives better....You've internalized them and offer an articulate description.

      Delete
  2. I've run into problems with my bike-buying checklist whenever I try to shop locally (Which I always prefer to do). The only step-through fames available are Electras, which is what inevitably gets rolled out to me when I go bike shopping. Because of the facet of bike culture where I live, when I ask about things such as skirt guards, racks/baskets, and full chain cases, they look at me like I'm a little crazy and ask why I would need them when I could just buy a pair of cycling shorts to go along with a seven-speed aluminum mountain bike.

    If someone's running into the same problem with their local cycling scene, don't forget to take into account you may have to add in the cost of going to another city to find the right bike (In Texas, that can sometimes mean a 200 mile road trip), or shipping a bike bought from elsewhere to be assembled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is definitely a problem, but I hope bike shops all overNorth America will get better in this respect as they discover how lucrative transportation bicycles are becoming and how much demand there is for them.

      Delete
    2. I see it starting to take hold in cities higher up in the state (More shops in Austin are beginning to carry dutch bikes, and a pair of Bobbin Birdies just landed in Dallas. Sadly I don't have the time to drive up there and test ride them, but it's an exciting prospect), but still not so much down here. A few of my friends swear by Electras/Public/Republic bikes, but they're pretty strictly campus and errand bikes, and even just as such they've taken quite a beating from the climate/bad roads down here. I'm also looking for a bike I can take with me and use as main transport when I move up North next year, and I've just never felt as safe alongside traffic on lightweight bikes as I did on a lugged steel frame abroad.

      Out of curiosity: Do you have any advice for someone having difficulties being understood/taken seriously by bike sellers (Or has that never been a problem for you with the area you live in). I've been dealing with it by politely bowing out of the conversation and leaving the store. And a question for everyone: Are there any other Texas readers around?

      Delete
    3. Check if they have the extras (skirt guard, basket etc in the store. If they do they probably have a much higher markup on that than on the bikes and should want to sell. You can start off the conversation with "I was in this other store and tried to by x+extras but they just pointed me to y so they lost that sale".
      If they don't get that hint I wouldn't buy a bicycle from them.

      Delete
    4. I'm in Houston and had some difficulty finding a store which sells Dutch style bicycles. I ended up buying from a shop in Dallas which carried Pashley. When I first called some stores in my area I found them to be pretty unfriendly and more interested in trying to sell me a mountain bike which I did'nt want. The most helpful bike shop nearby was actually an electric bike store and even though I didn't end up buying from them I found their advice really beneficial.

      Delete
    5. Ft Worth, Tx

      Delete
    6. I recently bought the Electra Amsterdam Royal 8i and I love it. I'm in the same boat as you are in TX...The closest retailer for Pashley or Public (or any true dutch bike) was in San Francisco, a good 3 hrs away from me. I was actually planning on going over there to test ride the Pashley, but test rode the Amsterdam (in Sacramento) and fell in love with it. It has everything the Pashley Sovereign has (well, except being European!). I also test rode the Electra Ticino mixte and thought it also rode very well.

      Bike culture being what it is here on the West, I don't see too many of them. But starting to see a few more. We recently went over to Monterey, took our bikes and rode the coast bike trail. My husband and I were the only ones who didn't have a hybrid, MTB, or touring bike!

      Delete
    7. Great advice, Johan! Though every store I've talked to in town (We have about three) has said they'd all have to order out things like skirt guards--and usually the prices they've given me for the quality they want to order have been (compared to my research, anyway) a bit higher than I would think, even with markup.

      Sherrill- I've ridden the Amsterdam Classic and Townie (Original and with balloon tyres) for about ten miles each, and while I've quite liked them, something has just never felt right about them when compared to the Bella Ciao I rode while abroad or my boyfriend's new/old Pashley. I think it's a weight thing, as well as an aesthetic. I'd be interested to know how long you've had it/how well it's holding up in California weather? I want to suspect part of the problem with the condition I see the Electras here has to do with a lack of maintenance in a humid/coastal environment with iffily maintained roads, and would love to hear what you think about how they hold up.

      Delete
    8. How they hold up in a better climate/city condition, I meant to say.

      Delete
    9. I live in North Texas and there is a growing awareness of cycling and bicycle infrastructure. Although I haven't seen very many dutch style bicycles, I have seen plenty of good commuter bikes in the local bike shops and even the larger sporting good stores.

      Dick's has the ladies Diamondback Serene which is a geared step thru bike and very comfortable for the ladies. Vinny's customs is another local bicycle company that makes custom cruisers.

      Mixte frames go for cheap in the second hand market around here. Although I am a true believer in the horizontal top tube design, I agree that step thru and mixte frames are a more relaxing and enjoyable choice, especially for the ladies.

      Delete
  3. Okay, so devil's advocate question: Say I have a 20 mile hilly commute AND I want to war a skirt to work. Recommendations?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure.

      Option A: Soma Buena Vista or Rivendell Betty Foy mixte, possibly with drop bars. Triple crankset, touring cassette, and dynamo lighting.

      Option B: Good vintage mixte set up same as above. Check the frame for TCO and all that first if that's an issue.

      Option C: A Brompton with the lowered gearing option.

      Delete
    2. Option D: scooter. No reason to get silly. 20 mi commute (each way?) every day is not my idea of fun, but some people love it. I just don't know of any who do it in street clothes.

      Delete
    3. MDI - I've ridden to hilly Concord and back, in a skirt, on my Royal H mixte. It is doable and not that hard, especially if the person enjoys mixing commuting with exercise.

      Delete
    4. Well, if the scooter isn't Option D.....

      A relatively lightweight titanium bike with a Rohloff hub and belt drive would work--fast, can be ridden in a skirt (or sarong or kilt, if we're talking men), and works great for hills.

      Delete
    5. Depending on the terrain and traffic, I would opt for drop bars and riding gear for any commute over 10 miles one way. if it is all city streets and traffic, then probably would go for seven speed with swept back bars, but in shorts and a polo or something similar. I think bringing a change of clothes is fairly easy to do: shoes, pants, shirt, undies, and socks fit in a closed wooden box I have mounted on the back (great for books also). I keep a neutral jacket in my office that will go with pretty much everything. Fortunately, I have a place to shower at work.

      Delete
    6. 30 km (one way) and hills will take a long while if you want to look fresh in that skirt and especially whatever top you wear.
      Personally I'd get a cyclocross with fenders (and mechanincal disc brakes), some biking clothes, go as fast as possible and change at work (a shower is nice but not really neccessary). Changing at work and riding fast saves time compared to riding slow in your work clothes. The other alternative is an electric bike.

      Delete
    7. If I were going to wear cycling clothes and change at my destination, I would ride a racy bike with one of these racks on it and call it a day.

      Delete
    8. msrw - Oh yes. The Van Nicholas step-through with Rohloff hub could easily tackle that commute as well.

      Delete
    9. If you're doing this long of a commute without getting on/off a lot I don't see why any old compact geo road bike wouldn't do.

      Delete
    10. It's hard to explain and I am not even entirely sure why, but speaking for myself it doesn't do. If I'm traveling 10-20 miles for transportation and carrying my camera equipment, I prefer to be on a bike without a top tube.

      Delete
    11. ...Also, just because a person has a 20 mile commute, does not mean they aren't using the same bike for quick local errands. Something to consider.

      Delete
    12. Option one million, special case camera equipment: porteur rack, low trail fork. You haven't review this combo yet. Looking forward to it.

      So...I don't generally wear skirts. I can see an above the knee skirt not being a problem as long as the leg opening is large enough. On a below the knee skirt, what exactly happens with it when getting on/off/riding? Don't make me go into Mrs. GR's closet...

      Delete
    13. Velouria wrote: "Option C: A Brompton with the lowered gearing option."

      Really? I've never tried it, so I can't knock it, but I can't imagine that riding a foldable 16"wheel bike with 6 or less gear ratios would work well for a log commute. I can't imagine commuting on a Brompton unless the commute is multi-modal, involving some train and/or bus travel. (FWIW, I think Bromptons are incredibly hott, and I intend to seek a job in Phila just so I can find an excuse to buy one...)
      -rob

      Delete
    14. Rob - You would be surprised; I certainly was. Stay tuned : )

      Delete
    15. Ooh, are you getting a Brompton, V?! My FH and I are likely to take the plunge this year. We are currently discussing what features we'd like and are especially interested in using them on our travels.

      He thinks we should do the 3 speed to minimize maintenance/the possibility of something going wrong, but I'm not sure I can get around on 3 speeds. We'll see! :-)

      Delete
    16. What! Me? (Whistling, avoiding eye contact conspicuously...)

      Delete
    17. Every time I'm in Trophy, I just kinda stare at the Bromptons, drooling. I usually hate the idea of bikes that require weird, nonstandard parts...16" wheels?? Goofy 2speed derailers?? This stuff should offend me, but I feel like I gotta have one (probably would go with an "s" model, though...with a SS or a 3speed. The derailer does weird me out a bit.)

      But, yeah, I'd try to ride a Brompton long distances, just to see what it was like. I'd be surprised if it were a *good* option, though....(ut, I have been surprised before.)
      -rob

      Delete
    18. The Co-Habitant has wanted to get them for years, but I didn't think it was a good idea precisely because they are small wheeled and goofy. And expensive if you get the nice options.

      But as far as hilly long distance, are you familiar with the Path Less Pedaled blog? They've toured the US and New Zealand on the things.

      Delete
    19. I used to commute 14 miles each way on a 3-speed Brompton...

      Delete
  4. Nice list of questions. Transportation is very different from recreation in terms of needs, though there is some overlap...sometimes :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's impossible to know how a person will or will not cotton to biking as transport, but this is a good guideline. Overthink it, buy a bike, change your bike or stop riding - that's the pattern for many. The ones who nail it on the first try are rare.

    Some questions before one decides to buy a bike:

    How safe are your routes? Are there narrow two laners populated by meth heads/drunks/texters/18 wheelers. Shoulders? Are there bail out options, i.e. sidewalk.

    How good is your judgment - are you spaced out and only react to things or can you see dangerous situations developing and avoid them.

    How good is the pavement - larger tires for crappy roads.

    Are you willing to risk a catastrophic injury. It probably won't happen, but might.

    The 20 mile each way over hilly terrain scenario is kind of moot - that person will no doubt be on a different setup than he/she originally thought. That person is hard core. The scooter is not a bad option at all. Actually, a car isn't either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I personally know a handful of people who commute 20 miles on a regular basis. Sure, they are hard core. But I don't think its absurd or impossible even for those less hard core. If they understand the amount of time it will take and the need for lower gearing, there is no reason they cannot think of the commute as their gym time or alone time or whatever. After all, it's not uncommon to have a 1.5hr driving commute to work in some areas of the country, so why not on a bike?

      Delete
    2. For the possible reasons I stated above; it just might not be a good ideer.

      Delete
    3. As a twenty-plus mile commuter I do think you've got to have a bit of the 'hard core' in you.....Some days are absolutely dreadful, be it rain or wind or heat or mood, and a car would be SO much easier. In the bigger picture, though, it's worth it.

      Delete
    4. This is where the Brompton is great. Fold it and ride the bus or ride with a co worker on such days.

      Delete
    5. GRJ - People risk catastrophic injury driving a car or taking the mass transit to work as well. Commuting via bike at least arguably reduces ones risk of heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

      Delete
    6. MatthewJ - Of course. Individuals who chose to bike commute presumably know this. Some, however, do not fully consider all risks, some of which I wrote above.

      Let's allow "individuals" and not "people" to make their own decisions based upon a full consideration of all the pros and cons.

      Delete
    7. Even a 30 mile rt commute, which I did for several years in hilly and windy conditions on a fixed gear with loads, isn't that big a deal if you get used to it. I remember asking a true hard core rider ("Nine thousand miles -- it was a bad year") about this and he said, "you'll get used to it.". Granted it's easier if you are a young 40-something and not late 50s, but even at 57 doing that sort of commute say 3 times a week would not be stretching things -- again, if you get used to it. For me the biggest challenge was not the ride but having to leave 45 minutes earlier compared to the 20 minute shoot up the freeway in the car.

      But as others said, individuals may well decide otherwise.

      Delete
  6. btw Kona is offering a good looking mixte this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen them; need to test ride one in addition to the Africa bike.

      Delete
  7. 10. Can you figure out ways to utilize a car (gasp, OMG!) a few times a year to retrieve huge quantities of stock-up commodities and use a bike for light weight fill-in shopping for fresh perishables nearby? If you were organized to save money and your time, what bike would you buy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A trailer might work almost as well, for far less money. Or you could pay for delivery. Or you could upsize your bike somewhat (Workcycles fr8, or a longtail) and gain the ability to haul more than just "light weight".

      Delete
    2. We always intended to rent a car once every month or two, for shopping trips and recreation. But in the past 9 months we haven't needed to. We use a bike trailer (with the kids in it) and panniers to get up to 6 bags of groceries plus a big box of diapers, from the local supermarket or big box store. When we needed furniture or a new appliance, we had it delivered; even Ikea delivers for a reasonable fee (about the same as a car rental... and they haul it into the house for you). Our bikes do have racks, and we has some bike panniers, but nothing fancy.

      Delete
    3. In Chicago and many other urban areas, Zip Car and other hourly car rental services provide easy access to an automobile the few times a year a bike or mass transit is inconvenient.

      If you are not lucky enough to have Zip Car nearby, it is still less expensive to occasionally rent a car from Avis, Hertz or one of the other majors than to own.

      Delete
    4. My wife tried zipcar for a year, and decided that it was a better deal, based on her needs, to rent from a more traditional spot. Zipcar and phillycarshare charge a significant yearly fee, plus their oppressive rules and fee schedule make dealing with them a terrible pain. Ultimately, she went back to private auto ownership. Just sayin': i've heard alot of zipcar recommendations, but typically from ppl who don't use zipcar

      Delete
    5. Bicycle trailers are, to use an English expression, the 'dogs bollox' :) Not only can they hold much heavier and larger loads than you ever thought possible but the quizzical looks you get from onlookers are priceless. Think of the combination as a minature train, and avoid any gradient which might rate harder than an incline. Otherwise, the world and its hardware store are your oyster.

      Delete
  8. You seem to imply that if a 3-speed is insufficient, the next step is a road bike with derailleur. As you know, there are many gradations of internal hub (5, 7, 8, 11, 15 speed)many of which might be considered as preferable to derailleur gearing. True, they are heavier, and may be more expensive, but if trouble-free commuting, with some hilly terrain, is the issue, then IGH should be seriously considered. As should belt drives. I myself have an 8 speed Alfine installed on a Surly Cross Check and find it to be the ideal transpo bike in fairly hilly North Shore (MA) environs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am just being very general. Obviously there is in between. However, I have found multi-speed hubs other than Rohloff dramatically less efficient than derailleurs. Personally, I would not commute 20 hilly miles on an 8-speed Alfine and so I cannot in good faith recommend it to others.

      Delete
    2. I think an Alfine would be fine for that. The SRAM 9 was pretty good, too, till I broke it, but I'm big.

      So another question to add to your list is "how much do you weigh"? Someone my size (100 kilos), given hills to climb, can be bad news for some IGHs, especially with added cargo.

      Delete
    3. I gotta say, I agree re: the IGHs. They really do suffer from a noticeable loss of efficiency in all but the 1:1 gear, and this seems to be more noticeable as the number of ratios increase; ie, 3speeds seem less prone than 9speeds. I love IGHs for around-town use, where this issue doesn't complicate the ride so much... but not so much for longer rides. I hear rohloff is different, but I've read plenty of complaints online about loss of efficiency, so... I've never tried one out personally, b/c I don't have a grand to drop on a hub (yet.)
      -rob

      Delete
    4. Screech, Rohloff is different.

      Delete
    5. Yes, the 14speed Rohloff on this bike blew my socks off. Downside is that they are expensive.

      Delete
  9. I think trying out several different kinds of bikes can be a godsend (especially if you can borrow them from friends). I thought for sure that I'd like upright city bikes the most, but after feeling the hill-climbing power of a good road bike, it is hard to go back!

    ReplyDelete
  10. REALLY good informational post!

    The DC

    ReplyDelete
  11. With regard to # 8, the bike I bought was not my aesthetic favorite but it suited my needs and now I find it quite beautiful. Sometimes buying based on looks only leads to a quick resale.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. My suggestion was definitely not to buy based on looks only!

      Delete
  12. Velouria, I have to wonder why you do not recommend hybrids. The may not be pretty but they are certainly functional:

    www.orbea.com/es-es/bicis/modelos/orca_b105_fitness/imagen/

    ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that depends on how you define functional! However, I intentionally did not name any specific types of bikes in this post. A hybrid would, in theory at least, be compatible with several points mentioned here.

      Delete
  13. Although I've been cycle-commuting for decades, the "right" bike for me always seems to change. Of course, that is a function of the kind of job I was commuting to as well as the length of my commute and lifestyle.

    I have always found, as you have, that aesthetics matter. I am happy to have a classy yet efficient commuter bike as part of my stable.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sorry for posting off topoc, but I think many of you will like this:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2012/04/24/150576632/bicycle-portraits-what-do-bikes-say-about-a-culture

    ReplyDelete
  15. Why compromise?
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-xF6E4EP7by4/T4sWBu2zgZI/AAAAAAAAAOk/EnBUxLW6eLo/s800/IMG_0718.JPG

    ReplyDelete
  16. O/T, but why does clicking on your remarks links default to the bottom if the comments - to the form for posting a remark? I just want to read them and always have to scroll all the way back up to read them in conversational order. I've never seen that on another blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a bug that the new version of Blogger/Blogspot has introduced. AFAIK there's nothing to be done about it.

      Delete
  17. I haven't had any experience with internal hubs since the 1970's (the good old days of "English" 3-speeds), so I'm curious about the comments about geared hubs being inefficient. You mean I'd be wasting lots of energy per revolution for some reason, compared to an equivalent gear in a derailleur?

    Regardless, after a commenter mentioned them in another thread, I've been looking at the Boston 8 built by Montague--an eight-speed foldable full-sized bike that looks like a good candidate for a commuter, easing storage on both ends of the ride. Plus I've always wanted an internal geared hub for winter riding or on any day when I don't want to beat up my Soma. It is, for most incomes, non-cheap however.

    OT P.S. Yeah, the end-scroll on comments is unusual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear, and have found from my own experience, that Sturmey Archer 3 speed hubs, at least the very common AW model, have little additional friction, if any, compared to the average on a derailleur bike (where friction varies between the combinations) I hear that the more complex IG hubs, except perhaps the Rohloff, have more friction. There's a study or two out there on the web somewhere about this.

      Delete
  18. I'd be curious as to what you recommend for situations where the criteria listed don't line up neatly to point to a particular type of bicycle. For example, what about a female who likes to ride in street clothes/skirts, lives in a 3rd floor walk-up in NYC, where indoor space is very limited and the bike can't be stored outdoors, terrain is relatively flat, and theft is high? It seems like there would be a LOT of people in similar situations; I'd be interested to know how you'd prioritize the trade-offs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like this individual could use a folder, maybe with 3-speed hub.

      Delete
    2. Folding bike, ideally a Brompton if she can afford one. The most basic model would do for NYC, assuming her commute is under say 10 miles or so. If it's not, I would say the same bike used in a multimodal context would be great.

      If, for example, this lass lives 2 or so miles from an L stop in Brooklyn and works on 10th or 11th in Clinton, She would ride to the L, fold her bike and board, then get off at 8th Ave and ride the rest of the way, then fold and tuck under her desk. I'm a smidge jealous thinking about it, actually.

      Delete
  19. A few weeks ago, when gas hit $4.00/gallon, I decided I wanted to find an alternative to driving. When I realized that Miami's public transportation network leaves a lot to be desired, I turned to the bicycle. Your blog kept coming up on the first page of every bike-related Google search I performed, so I started reading and doing my homework.

    Craiglist turned up a 1979 Raleigh Lady Sports in coffee for just $95, so I jumped at the opportunity and I'm excited to start rehabilitating her. Thank you for running such a lovely blog, it's been an amazing help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NB. As of 27th April, petrol/gas in the UK costs $8.80/US gal. Happy cycling everybody.

      Delete
  20. This is a great list of things to consider before jumping into the market. I think I went through similar thinking when I bought my Surly Cross Check 3 years ago but I am sure I didn't lay it out so clearly. My answers (in retrospect) are here: newenglandbicyclist.blogspot.com2012/05/lovelybike.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. In N Texas, I found a 1970's Womens Raleigh 3 speed in green for $50 off CL.. with a tune up, new tires and wheels, and chain.. I'm satisfied. I added a small, inexpensive basket up front, until I can get my Wahl rear ordered. But, for a 6 mile commute both ways, it serves me well.

    ReplyDelete
  22. nice idea.. thanks for sharing..

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am new to bike commuting, have one long, steep hill to get to work and am not confident in my ability to get up the hill without getting all sweaty, so I opted for a small electric hub on my front wheel. I keep my own bike, replace the front wheel, run a wire to the handlebars for an on-off switch and strap a li-ion battery on my rear rack. Adds weight but also adds confidence on that hill. I push the switch at the bottom of the hill, continue pedaling, downshift as necessary and get myself up the hill. I have worked in the same place for 6 years and this is the first summer I was brave enough to bike to work, through town and up the hill! Some people may say it's cheating but I am proud of getting out on my bike again and I probably wouldn't have without the little motor!

    ReplyDelete
  24. So happy to come across this piece and the reviews for all the bikes I'm considering as I weigh the options. It's down to the Betty Foy and the Pilen Lyx and while I don't love them equally there are budget considerations. My husband is encouraging me to go big with Betty because "it's more athletic" (and he's a Grant groupie) but a thousand bucks isn't chump change to this public servant married to a do-gooder co-raising a three year old with needs, all in a city not yet ready to prioritize bikes/pedestrians over the cars they outnumber.

    I'm a tall novice commute biker and your posthumous review of your Pashley resonated. Do I buy a bike that feels great now? Or one that feels great for the biker I will become?

    All things to ponder. Thanks for your thoughtful and really well-written reviews. All of them.

    ReplyDelete