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Newbie needs advice for commuting!

odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264
edited June 2009 in Commuting chat
Cheers everyone.

This is my very first post, so please go easy on me.

I am in the process of buying a bike. It will be mainly for a daily 5 mile commute to work and back, which will be on roads, and on weekends for some off road cycle path riding.

This will be my very first bike I own, so I am totally clueless. I lived in Italy for a year, and rode there regularly, but on a friend's bike.

I have to go to work dressed formally, sometimes even a suit. Speed is not essential. What is essential is comfort and good quality.

I live in YORK, and I tried a few bikes at my LBSs, and I was given good advice, however i need to get some feedback from all the gurus here

I think what suits me best is the Hybrids. I have narrowed down my search to a few ones, but my major dilemma is the quality of the brands I can afford, and the comfort of the ride:

I tried out the following:

Claud Butler Classic: Very comfortable seat, but was surprised at how clumsy the gear change was. The chain is covered, and the mudguards will protect my clothes. Bike doesn't look really good, but practical, I think.

Claud Butler Urban: Looks better, but after a 10 minute ride, my bottom really hurt, and I felt my back a little strained. I think I will not be able to handle those thin sporty seats. Smoother gears than the classic, but still quiet clumsy. Brakes not so good. No chain cover or mudguards. Not practical for commuting IMHO.

Dawes Graduate: Will try tomorrow. Looks very classic. Everything is sealed, so very good for riding to work in a suit. Hub gears, only seven, which I think is easier for me. Lifted the bike, felt like a ton! Very very heavy!

Specialized Sirrus: Looks beautiful. Will test drive tomorrow. Think will have to change the seat.

Ridgeback Velocity: Like Sirrus. Looks very good and fast. Test drive tomorrow.

Cannondales: 2 models with hub gears. Salesman says its best suited for me. They look like dutch bikes, with comfortable wide seats, upright position, but very expensive for me: £700+!!


Basically, I'm in a real dilemma and need advice. Obviously for a novice like me, the dutch look alike bikes will suit my purposes more, but i don’t know if Claud Butler or Dawes will be good buys? They felt quiet poor quality to me? Am I wrong?

Also, would buying a basic Specialized Sirrus or Ridgeback and fitting with mudguards and comfy seat be a better buy?

I am willing to go up to £400.

Many thanks, and sorry for the stupid questions. I'm totally clueless here!!
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  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    Big key question: do you have to cycle in formal dress, or can you take a rucksack/panniers with your formal gear? Or even do as recommended by a lot of people here: drive in once a week with your shirts, suit etc. and leave them at work to change in to every day.

    Cycling in smart clothes obviously has a lot of disadvantages, one of the main ones being in order to retain cleanliness and dignity you have to go very very slowly. Which is fine - it's still better than taking the bus - but it's no fun and does you little good fitness wise. If you can change at the other end then not only do you not have to worry about your formal gear getting dirty or sweaty, but you can buy a bike that suits your commute and any other bike-related fun you fancy.

    Are you male or female? Just so people can better advise you. £400 may seem like a lot but it's bottom end for a "quality" bike, so that may be why they feel cheap. What were you using in Italy? Did you like it and would you use it again?

    More questions than answers - sorry!
  • odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264
    Thanks for your input.
    I'm male.
    I'm usually a little late for work... :oops: so I'd rather stay away from the clothes change exercise...
    I live in York, and my commute to work is about 4 miles...all flat, on the road. I'd love to use the bike also for ALL my errands into town, wearing jeans ofcourse, and cycle paths by the river on weekends.
    The bike I used in Italy was really old, looked like a dutch bike, no gears at all, rusty, noisy and was TERRIBLE. But it did the job.

    Basically, from the advice I got at Cycle Heaven in York, I should stick to:

    Hub gears
    Covered Chain
    Rack on the back wheel for my stuff
    Medium thickness 700c tires


    I would love to buy one of these:
    Specialized Sirrus: £295-£400
    Ridgeback Rapide Velocity: £349

    Unfortunately these 2 sexy bikes do not have any of the above options. I may just add the rack and mud guards at extra cost.

    I was recomended:
    Ridgeback Rapide Equipt Speed: £279 ----> FIRST CHOICE, if recommended here
    Ridgeback Rapide Equipt Nova: £399
    Ridgeback Rapide Equipt Meteor: £349 ----> SECOND CHOICE

    All the options I need but no hub gears

    Ridgeback Metro Avenida 8D: £699.99
    Ridgeback Metro Avenida 8: £499.99
    Ridgeback Metro Avenida 3: £349.99 ----> another solid SECOND CHOICE

    Have everything including hub gears

    Couple of very expensive Cannondale Dutch bikes: above £600

    I test drived similar Claud Butler and Dawes bikes at another LBS, and even though they were £250 to £350, I felt they are really poor quality, especially the gear changes, or maybe that is the norm and i just dont know it. They felt more like £50 bikes!

    I am going to try the Ridgebacks this weekend. Is Ridgeback and Specialized much better than Dawes and Claud Butler?

    Am I expecting too much for my budget?

    Thanks again
  • richara3richara3 Posts: 153
    my mate rides a Sirrus.. Its a great bike , Fast and light and is ok for canal path type stuff too. Wear trouser clips or tuck them into your socks, fit mudguards and a cheap rack and you wont go wrong...

    Hub gears need less maintenance though which may bea factor to you.

    Andy
  • odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264
    Hi Andy

    Thanks for your input. By Sirrus, do you mean the basic one...or the sport, expert, comp or pro?

    The basic Sirrus is £279 and the rest go up to £900+

    Is the basic Sirrus good?

    Thanks..
  • richara3richara3 Posts: 153
    I am not sure. Last time I rode it I remember being upset at how much lighter than my tricross sport it felt.

    His has the carbon rear stays and was around £600 I think. The cheaper ones wont be that much heavier and will have cheaper components but will feel similar to ride. It was very much like riding a proper racing bike but with flat bars and a comfy seat. there is clearance for mud guards and mounts for a rack.. Trek do a similar bike...my dads got one and his cost £350ish and looks nicer than the sirrus in black and chrome..infact it is last years version of this..
    http://www.trekbikes.com/uk/en/bikes/road/fx/73fx/

    My mate has the sirrus comp the same as this http://www.specialized.com/gb/en/bc/SBC ... 48&eid=121

    The sirrus sport gets an alloy fork and alloy rear stays whilst the elite model upwards gets these parts in carbon..and slightly better components the further up the range you go...

    To be honest everyone will have their own opinion and no one will be all that wrong. In the end you will have to pick a bike that you like and go from there.At worst if the bike does not suit you sell it on and buy another based on your new found knowledge.

    Andy
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    You don't need hub gears, and good ones are expensive, so buying a cheap bike will be that much harder. They have an appeal in that they need no maintenance and are clean and simple, but they are also limited (8 gears max at your price range?), expensive to upgrade and heavy.

    Looking at other aspects, you may not be able to find a bike that does everything you need at a low price. So prioritise - what are dealbreakers, what are preferable, and what doesn't really matter? The rack seems essential if you're wearing a suit and don't want a sweaty rucksack or crease-inducing messenger bag. Thick tyres - not so much - fair dos if yyou don't fancy slim sporty ones but something like 28mm should roll well and absorb much of the poor road surface. Make sure the tyres are slick!! This is key for road riding. Slick tyres stick to the road *better* than grooved or knobbly tyres as they have a bigger surface area.
  • always_tyredalways_tyred Posts: 4,965
    A word of warning - cycling and suits don't mix. The suit trousers will have a shiny bum and baggy knees in no time.
  • prj45prj45 Posts: 2,208
    Yeah, leave your suit at work (along with pressed shirts) and get your censored out of bed earlier!
  • odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264
    Thank you all for your input....

    mmm....it seems its unanimous....evey one seems to recommend the Sirrus...

    I will have to try it today. My LBS has the basic one in store for me to try...but if I decide to buy, they can order any of the Sirrus's

    So...is the basic one the one to go for? Last I checked there are:

    09 SIRRUS PRO: £1,663.82
    09 SIRRUS EXPERT: £831.91
    09 SIRRUS COMP: £685.10
    09 SIRRUS ELITE: £538.29
    09 SIRRUS SPORT: £391.48
    09 SIRRUS: £293.61

    So, WHICH ONE?

    Is the Sport MUCH better equiped than the basic Sirrus? Surely it has more quality parts than the basic, parts I have no idea about, but are they worth the extra £100.

    Unfortunately, I dont think I can afford the Elite and higher...

    Cheers :?
  • andrewc3142andrewc3142 Posts: 906
    I'd have a look at the Pashley Roadster. Under £500, very practical and quite stylish. My wife has a Sovereign Princess for shopping and lugging stuff to the park with the kids and really likes it. They last for absolutely ever with almost no maintenance needed. The Sovereign has 5 gears, which may or may not be important to you, but I'd guess 3 would be enough, and dynamo lights, but costs more.

    All over Belgium, Netherlands, etc I see people cycling to work on normal bikes, in jeans, suits, etc. If I had a short commute I'd do the same.
  • odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264
    I'd have a look at the Pashley Roadster. Under £500, very practical and quite stylish. My wife has a Sovereign Princess for shopping and lugging stuff to the park with the kids and really likes it. They last for absolutely ever with almost no maintenance needed. The Sovereign has 5 gears, which may or may not be important to you, but I'd guess 3 would be enough, and dynamo lights, but costs more.

    All over Belgium, Netherlands, etc I see people cycling to work on normal bikes, in jeans, suits, etc. If I had a short commute I'd do the same.

    Thanks for your advice....oh boy...the list just gets bigger and bigger....

    I'm worried i'll end up researching too much, and actually never getting a bike to enjoy the lovely weather these days..!! :wink:
  • andrewc3142andrewc3142 Posts: 906
    You're welcome, although sorry if it made things more complicated!

    If you go back to your original post, you seem to have a good idea of what your priorities are. Comfort rather than speed, wearing normal clothes (therefore mudguards and preferably an enclosed chain), for work commuting (so a rack is useful). A stand is a practical addition, as are hub gears.

    And for a 5 mile commute and some relaxed weekend rides on cycle paths, carbon this or that is a total irrelevance.

    On a similar vein to the Pashley, there are other ideas on this site:
    http://www.dutchbikeshop.co.uk/
  • Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 10,052
    Ummmmm.... here's an idea for you.

    You say that work insist on a suit TO the office (presumably they are censored enough to worry about the appearance of staff at all times)

    So why don't you have a commute suit (cheapy one from Matalan, cost about £40) and change into an Office suit when you get there?
    Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
    2009 Specialized Tricross Sport
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5
    2012 Felt F65X
    Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
  • odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264
    Ok...

    tried out the basic Sirrus today at Evans. Very light, actually too light, fast, but sloppy gears. I did not feel in control while riding it.

    The sales man suggested I try the Specialized Globe Vienna 3, and I absolutely loved it. Just a fraction slower than the Sirrus (probably due to thicker tyres), but much more comfortable saddle, better seating position, much smoother gears, much softer ride quality, over all...just loved it.....its for £341.99

    i am even thinking of shelling out an extra £100 for the Vienna 4 with hub gears...

    What do you guys think...good choice? Will fit it with mud guards and rack etc...

    And thanks for all the help I got here

    Cheers
  • gb155gb155 Posts: 2,048
    My mate commutes on a Ridgeback Velocity, Its a very good bike, Give it a try.

    I would also consider what people are saying about cycling 5 miles in a suit, It takes me 5 mins to get changed and I can be a woman about it at the best of times.

    Right im off to do my hair lol, Then go hunt me a scalp this morning :D
    On a Mission to lose 20 stone..Get My Life Back

    December 2007 - 39 Stone 05 Lbs

    July 2011 - 13 Stone 12 Lbs - Cycled 17851 Miles

    http://39stonecyclist.com
    Now the hard work starts.
  • Andy_82Andy_82 Posts: 1
    odessouky wrote:
    Cheers everyone.

    This is my very first post, so please go easy on me.

    I am in the process of buying a bike. It will be mainly for a daily 5 mile commute to work and back, which will be on roads, and on weekends for some off road cycle path riding.

    This will be my very first bike I own, so I am totally clueless. I lived in Italy for a year, and rode there regularly, but on a friend's bike.

    I have to go to work dressed formally, sometimes even a suit. Speed is not essential. What is essential is comfort and good quality.

    I live in YORK, and I tried a few bikes at my LBSs, and I was given good advice, however i need to get some feedback from all the gurus here

    I think what suits me best is the Hybrids. I have narrowed down my search to a few ones, but my major dilemma is the quality of the brands I can afford, and the comfort of the ride:

    I tried out the following:

    Claud Butler Classic: Very comfortable seat, but was surprised at how clumsy the gear change was. The chain is covered, and the mudguards will protect my clothes. Bike doesn't look really good, but practical, I think.

    Claud Butler Urban: Looks better, but after a 10 minute ride, my bottom really hurt, and I felt my back a little strained. I think I will not be able to handle those thin sporty seats. Smoother gears than the classic, but still quiet clumsy. Brakes not so good. No chain cover or mudguards. Not practical for commuting IMHO.

    Dawes Graduate: Will try tomorrow. Looks very classic. Everything is sealed, so very good for riding to work in a suit. Hub gears, only seven, which I think is easier for me. Lifted the bike, felt like a ton! Very very heavy!

    Specialized Sirrus: Looks beautiful. Will test drive tomorrow. Think will have to change the seat.

    Ridgeback Velocity: Like Sirrus. Looks very good and fast. Test drive tomorrow.

    Cannondales: 2 models with hub gears. Salesman says its best suited for me. They look like dutch bikes, with comfortable wide seats, upright position, but very expensive for me: £700+!!


    Basically, I'm in a real dilemma and need advice. Obviously for a novice like me, the dutch look alike bikes will suit my purposes more, but i don’t know if Claud Butler or Dawes will be good buys? They felt quiet poor quality to me? Am I wrong?

    Also, would buying a basic Specialized Sirrus or Ridgeback and fitting with mudguards and comfy seat be a better buy?

    I am willing to go up to £400.

    Many thanks, and sorry for the stupid questions. I'm totally clueless here!!

    I think any bike will do for commuting but you need to make sure you have a lights (working light) spare tools in case you get the puncture and the god clothing if you catch a rain storm. Type of the bike is not that important in my opinion the the major thing is to be prepared for unexpected situations. And one more thing, always wear a helmet
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    I'm now cycling to work, currently cheeting and driving half way and cycling the rest (3.5miles) which is hilly and pretty hard going, I hope to start doing the hole 7.5 miles this week (other 4 mles just about flat).

    I drive once a week and take in shirts and trousers (and a wash in a can!) to change into, changing taking about 1 minute, which you'll save by not having to worry about getting sweaty when riding, like you I work in a formal dress office, it means I can cycle in shorts (not Lycra, that would be too much for the boss) and cycle type top.

    I ride an MTB (too large a frame for me to off road with seriously, but great for what I want) which I have hybridised myself and adapted it for what I want from it (see avatar), panniers/rear rack are a good idea as a rucksack almost guarentees a sweaty back. Although I've gone for just a rack for the lunch with a rucksack for the laptop (better control of the weight) and accept the sweaty back. I carry a lightweight showerprrof top (nothing for the bottom half) spare tube and a mini pump and multi-tool which is enough for most emergency repairs, a broken chain is the only thing that would stop me dead!

    Chap at work has a hub geared commuter which he really likes (Spezialised Globe Elite IC8, hub gears (8 speed!) and chain ring guard (not full chain) which cost him £360 and that really suites his commuting needs - like yours about 4 miles, he also likes the fact he can change gear stationary at lights etc! linky http://www.evanscycles.com/products/spe ... e-ec001475), however while its great on the level(ish) roads the reduced range of gears means he does struggle if he goes near steep hills as the lowest gear isn't as low as my 2:2 I have to use twice daily on the way to work, once on the way back, but for flattish road use its fine, in fact he's changing his rear gear from a 20 to an 18 to gear it up a bit!

    Simon
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    odessouky wrote:
    Ok...

    tried out the basic Sirrus today at Evans. Very light, actually too light

    Does not compute... why would you want a heavier bike? Seriously? Unless you're very heavy indeed, the Sirrus won't be at all fragile, and the extra 1 or 2mph you'll get out of it (not to mention being able to carry it so much more easily) will add to extra fun.

    It may feel that a heavier bike is somehow more stable, but bear in mind that the difference in weight between the bikes (say 5kg) is dwarfed by the combination of bike and rider (say 70kg - 100kg+), so it shouldn't really be an issue. Indeed, once you get used to a lighter bike you'll discover the joys of being able to manoeuvre it that little bit more nippily, giving you greater control rather than less.

    That's not to say the Globe wouldn't suit your needs better - it may well do. But light = good in a bike, pretty much 100% of the time.
  • odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264
    Ok...so i went to almost all the LBSs in my area to test drive the bikes I have in mind...and I've come up with some interesting observations, as well as narrowing down my choices...

    Will need some advice concerning my final options, but first i'd like to share some things I've noticed:

    The guys I talked to in the LBSs were simply put, FANTASTIC. I don't know how to explain it, but I've never felt so much enthusiasm and passion in any shop I've been to before, and not only the LBSs but also at Evans. It seems everyone in the bike industry is helpful and just plain pleasant!

    The other observation that I would like to share is that my personal needs and criteria for the bike I wanted to buy changed with almost EVERY bike I tried. Basically, the most important piece of information I got from this site is that the best bike for you is the one YOU like....

    which brings me to my dilemma....After trying a dozen bikes....I still like more than one.....and I still need some final advice.....

    My final choices are:

    * Sirrus Sport: Was my very first ride...was terrified at the low weight...but now appreciate it more...from all the views here and practically EVERYWHERE...Specialized is the obvious first choice.
    * Trek FX 7.3: Absolutely loved it....but the saddle horrible!!
    * Trek FX 7.5: Fantastic ride, VERY light and fast!!....may push my budget if someone can convince me to go for it...
    * Ridgeback Supernova: Quiet fast...nothing special
    * Ridgeback Velocity: cheapest but did the job...lacks image...


    * Globe Vienna 3.....very very pleasant ride...but slow and heavy..I know that this is the best choice for me, but after riding those super fast light bikes....I just wanted one of them.....I did my best to like the vienna...but just couldn't

    What do you guys think?

    Spesh?
  • AndyMancAndyManc Posts: 1,393
    odessouky wrote:

    What do you guys think?

    Spesh?

    I think you're thinking too much , use the force , buy the one you like , it'll be winter soon :P



    .
    Specialized Hardrock Pro/Trek FX 7.3 Hybrid/Specialized Enduro/Specialized Tri-Cross Sport
    URBAN_MANC.png
  • odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264
    AndyManc wrote:
    odessouky wrote:

    What do you guys think?

    Spesh?

    I think you're thinking too much , use the force , buy the one you like , it'll be winter soon :P



    .

    that didnt help... :(

    u could've named one and put me out of my misery... :D
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    If you don't like the saddle and it's a dealbreaker on a bike you'd otherwise buy, ask the lbs guys if they could replace it with another one for the same price - ideally you'd have one in mind, a better model so you'd effectively be getting a discount. However, it's harder to recommend a saddle for you as they're such a personal choice.
  • lost_in_thoughtlost_in_thought Posts: 10,563
    OK, immediately strike off the Globe and the two ridgebacks. No point buying a bike that doesn't inspire you!

    For the Trek, don't let the saddle put you off. As biondino rightly says, they'll probably change it for you. Also, none of my bikes have the original saddle on them, and I'm always trying new ones. It's a very personal thing.

    And you say the sirrus is the obvious first choice - but why do you think so? Not an argument, just curious.

    Between the two Treks, it seems to be the components, I don't know enough about Shimano stuff on hybrids to really comment but maybe someone does, and it sure won't hurt to have higher quality kit. Also, perhaps more interestingly, the 7.5 has a carbon fork while the 7.3 has an alloy fork. The 7.5 also has better wheels.

    But then it is 35% dearer.

    I'd get the 7.5. I have no self-restraint. :oops:
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    The 7.5 really is definitively better a bike, though. I'd say IF you can afford it, then it'll reward you and last you a long time without necessitating an upgrade.

    (the other side of this argument is that basically you're being seduced by flat-barred road bikes and soon perhaps you might want to take the plunge properly into a world of drops and carbon and bikes that float away if you don't weigh them down, so maybe don't spend too much now ;) )
  • odessoukyodessouky Posts: 264

    And you say the sirrus is the obvious first choice - but why do you think so? Not an argument, just curious.
    :

    Its not my thought. Its just that almost every where I read, forums or reviews, I read Sirrus this, Sirrus that....every one is actually recommending the sirrus.....and swearing by it...

    I am starting to get the impression its the holy grail of fast sporty hybrids....
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Its what suites you that counts, we can all give an opinion, but it will be just that, as LiT says, don't get put off by a saddle, its easy to change, my LBS has a bin of take off saddles which they sell for just over a tenner and give the buyer that against a reeplacement, you already know some of the other saddles that suite (although there is a big difference between 5 minutes and a commute!).

    Simon
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    I think the Sirrus has had lots of happy customers and does the "road bike with flat bars" thing very well. Only this morning I got overtaken by a larger lady on a Sirrus outside Buckingham Palace and wasn't able to get back past her! (admittedly I had to turn off 200 yards later but still :) ).

    However, the Trek 7.3/7.5 pretty much does the same job - I think it's a newer model (is that right? I know Sirruses were around in 2005 when I bought my first road bike, a Trek I was very happy with) and tbh if you loved riding it then that's THE most important thing here. The 7.5 is also, IMHO, the best looking of the three...

    So rather than the holy grail, think of it more as the Ford Focus of the sporty hybrid world - solid, reliable, and everyone's got one :)
  • lost_in_thoughtlost_in_thought Posts: 10,563
    biondino wrote:
    So rather than the holy grail, think of it more as the Ford Focus of the sporty hybrid world - solid, reliable, and everyone's got one :)

    :D I like that!

    I'd definitely get the 7.5 if you can afford it.

    From what you've said above it seems like it was the bike you enjoyed riding the most, so if it's a possibility go for it! I think there's a lot to be said for getting the bike you loved as opposed to the one you think you ought to get because others have said it's good...

    But then, as I've said, I have no self-restraint.
  • SewinmanSewinman Posts: 2,131
    Genesis make the s*xiest hybrids IMHO.

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/gen ... e-ec017142

    Edit - although that one appears to be a single speed. I also like the Ridgeback Flight series - s*xy too.
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