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Commuting newbie

alexthepenguinalexthepenguin Posts: 8
edited October 2017 in Commuting general
TL:DR: I’m a commuting newbie. Looking for recommendation for bikes (I have shortlisted a few below) and also on whether I should get a bike with drop or flat or bullhorn handlebars.

Longer version:
Hi all – I’m new to this forum although I’ve been reading the posts here for the last month or so (and the sticky post on information for beginners). I’m looking for some advice for which bike to get for commuting.

I live in East London and work in Central London. I have done a few trial cycling routes in the weekend using a Boris bike. My commute is about 5-6 miles each way depending on if I take CS2 or CS3. So it will be mainly flat and on the road. As background I haven’t cycled for almost 10 years. However last time I cycled I did a round-the-island trip in Taiwan and I used to cycle 2-3 miles to university.

From my research I believe either hybrid or cyclecross seems to be the best for this purpose and I’m indifferent to either type (and open to suggestion for other types). I don’t think I should get a road bike as I won’t count myself as a serious biker and the most I would do is to cycle to do some shopping in the weekend.

I have a few criteria
1. Comfort/safety – this is my main criterion. I don’t think I will be cycling aggressively and I prefer a longer but quieter router with fewer cars rather than the shortest route with a lot of cars (Which probably will be the A13 in my case!).
2. Disc brake – I would like disc brakes ideally
3. Mudguard – this is a must. My understanding is that mudguards might not be fitted to all bikes
4. No fixed-gear – I do not want a fixed gear bike
5. Ideally it would have a rack that will enable me to attach a pannier (I have to wear suit to work so will need to bring my suit in) – although this is desired and not a must. The worst case scenario I could put it in my backpack or take the tube to work one day a week.
6. Not a folding bike
7. Pedals – I think I would prefer the normal pedal rather than the ones that clip on your special shoes

I’m indifferent to:
1. The type of handlebars (whether drop or straight) – although if one type of handlebars will give me more comfort and control (and hence safety) I’m happy to go with that. There seems to be a split of opinion. I’ve seen people argue that straight bars offer more comfort as they allow you to cycle in a more upright position and see the traffic better (and hence safer?). Others seem to suggest drop bars are more comfy as they afford you a variety of hand position (although they might be more difficult to control and hence less safe??) For the record I have never ridden on a bike with drop handlebars before but am open to try one if it’s more suitable. What about bullhorn?
2. Suspension – potentially I would like some form of suspension but not essential given my commute
3. The material of the frame – doesn’t really matter but ideally low maintenance and won’t rust easily
4. The type of groupsets and shifter – I don’t know enough about this to really have a strong opinion and I guess for my purposes they don’t matter too much.

My budget will be £300-£400 although if the bike it’s from Evans cycle then it’ll be £600-£800 as I have a 50% discount through vitality with them. The budget is not fixed and could be stretched if it’ll enable me to get a much better-value-for-money bike. I don’t mind last year model/older model. My intention is to keep the bike for a long time so a versatile bike would be good (as I might move house/job so the commute might change).

As a start, I have considered B’Twin Triban 520 Flat Bar (although this one doesn’t have disc brake), Genesis Day one 10, Boardman Hybrid Team Bike, HOY Shizuoka, Genesis Croix de fer 10. Those all seem to have reasonable good reviews on the internet and are suitable for everyday commuting I’d welcome opinion on any of these and would also be glad if you recommend any others. Ideally I would like to buy from Evans cycle as I would probably be able to get a better bike at a lower price (because of the discount).

How’s the staff in Evans cycle in general? Is it a good company to buy bikes from? What about Halfords or Decathlon?

Sorry for the long post and thank you for all your help/advice!

Posts

  • I'm also commuting newby and newby on bikerada, riding to work is a good start today. I bought lights and highvis jacket but my rooksack covers the highvis, has anyone got recommendations for good commuting bags?
  • Halfords/Decathlon - Depends on the staff. I had to fix half a dozen major issues with my daughters road bike i bought from them. All safety related.

    I got my bike from Evans. The best things about them are lots of bikes to test and they have a returns policy. I found the staff better but not a patch on a decent LBS (Local Bike Shop).

    With an LBS you are paying more. Find a decent one and it will pay that extra back many times over.

    As for bike choice, it makes far less difference than you would expect. The single most important thing is getting one you want to ride...really really want to ride.

    My advice would be to go to a big Evans and try some different styles out. Then hone in on the type that makes you think...yes I will want to ride this when I have had a hard day, it is 5 degrees and raining.

    Personally I have a cyclocross bike. I ride a mix of road, cycle path, tow path and mud. I have ridden in -5, snow, blistering heat etc and it still makes me smile, 4000 miles and 1 year on. Its "now paid for" present is going to be some new wheels.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    This is a cracking bit of kit for the money.

    http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stor ... reId=10001

    I’ve had one for a couple of years, it would tick all of your boxes nicely.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    dj_bike wrote:
    I'm also commuting newby and newby on bikerada, riding to work is a good start today. I bought lights and highvis jacket but my rooksack covers the highvis, has anyone got recommendations for good commuting bags?


    Get one of these, to fit over your bag.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Proviz-Reflect ... 8834802720

    They really are very reflective.
  • Cheers guy - all very helpful. Much appreciated.

    In terms of say a £800 price range bike, would that be an easy target in London? Obviously I'll get really good bike locks and lock it in busy place but a friend of mine suggest I should just get a bike of around £400. He said anything over that would be stolen eventually.
  • Thanks, lots here
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    Cheers guy - all very helpful. Much appreciated.

    In terms of say a £800 price range bike, would that be an easy target in London? Obviously I'll get really good bike locks and lock it in busy place but a friend of mine suggest I should just get a bike of around £400. He said anything over that would be stolen eventually.

    The best thing to do is obscure any branding on the bike. I wouldn’t go overboard on the cost of a lock. If someone wants your bike, they’ll get it, there are even little devices easily available on line, which will render even a very expensive lock, utterly useless. Add in the fact that the weakest link in the defence is often the thing you’ve got the bike locked to, and the odds are further stacked in favour of a thief. Just get a visible deterrent lock, and prevent any ‘chancers’ just strolling off with your bike. Anything more is merely a placebo.
  • Hi Alexthepenguin (should totally go with the Linux or Pingu avatar, just sayin'!),

    Sorry for the essay in advance.
    I cycle commute just over 6 miles each way 5 days a week. At the start I got myself an old hardtail (GT Agressor XCR) about 9 years ago (when cycle scheme was not such a rip off) - at my price point back then, there were not as many choices/varieties like we have now (main categories back then were MTB, Hybrid (a relatively new segment at the time!) and Road). It's got a riser handlebar but I fitted ergonomic grips (BBS I think) which have integrated bar ends (check out Ergon GP2 for similarity). Most of the time I'm on the bar ends as that position seems to be most comfortable/natural to me. About 5 months ago, I replaced the front suspension and got a rigid fork. The old front suspension failed - I always had it on lockout anyway so when the lockout failed completely, I saw the opportunity to get a lighter and cheaper front fork. After ~600 miles on the rigid fork, I can't say I miss the suspension at all. For reference I ride on canal towpaths with quite bumpy-rocky sections for two-thirds of the route, and shared cycle-pedestrian paths for the rest.

    Based on what you've said and given you're keen on Evans Cycles (and why shouldn't you with the 50% reduction?!), I'd look at their own brand Pinnacle bikes - the Arkose 2, possibly the 3. The 3 comes in a flashy red so if that's too 'loud' then the 2 comes in a more understated black that possibly will attract less attention. What I would not recommend is a rig with semi-hydraulic disc brakes - they can be a pain in my experience so I'd either go fully mechanical or fully hydraulic - just my 2p. Also, if you do buy from Evans, please get it checked and set up asap afterwards by a LBS - Evans are almost as terrible as Halfrauds at bike setup but ymmv depending on which Evans you go to. In terms of security, it's case of how long rather than if they can get to the bike. I've got a Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini lock on the frame with cables going through the wheels. Insurance (new for old) costs me ~£45 a month in total for both bikes on my home contents.

    I also didn't plan on getting into cycling - started cycle commuting because I got fed up of traffic jams and paying stupid sums of money for usually late and very slow public transport. However, I must confess that I did buy a drop bar road bike in the end (ok, it's a gravel bike) but I'll admit that I love using the Grade Ultegra a lot more than the ol' trusty steed to the extent that I'll get on the Grade and go for a ride just for fun after the commute home, at least twice a week, even now when it's dark/wet. It did take some time to get used to the difference - Initially I went for 2-5 mile 'practice' rides near the house to get used to the bike. After about a week I was used to the different hand position, and using the shifters and brakes. I also was very wary of clipless, now I love SPDs. It's a slippery slope for sure and I got caught - hook line and sinker.

    Hey DJ_Bike
    For backpacks, I've stuck with an Alpkit Gourdon in Chilli Red for the past 3 years - I cycle commute all year round so it's not a question of if it's going to rain but when. So far in 3 years all my stuff inside has been bone dry. The only downsides are lack of internal compartments and external pockets - the phone and wallet now go in my nightvision evo jacket pockets whilst keys etc go in the saddlebag. Before the alpkit, I had a camelbak with a waterproof cover but got sick of putting on the cover and taking it off (and over time the cover was not quite waterproof...).
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 10,471
    Having read the above posts, I'm assuming you don't have access to secure parking for your bikes at work. Certainly some cities have secure cycle facilities and changing, might be worth looking into and worth paying for knowing your bikes secure. Don't forget you will need tubes, pump, lights etc, nothing worse than being stranded with a flat and no way of repairing it.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    There was a good thread on bike theft here the other day. I think your pal is right. The 800 bike won't be twice as fast or twice as nice but it's probably twice as likely to get nicked as the 400 one.
  • Somebody nicked my saddlebag. Bike was locked up in a works car park only bike shed. Surrounded by CCTV. It was attached to a £2500 bike that they didn't touch!

    I get the impression that the thieves don't really care WHAT things are worth!
  • kirkeekirkee Posts: 369
    Carrera Subway. For what you describe it will suit what you need it for and they're cheap . Will take mud guards rack's etc, has decent mech disc brakes. I use mine for a hilly 13 km each way commute, the cat 4 at the start in the morning does smart a bit but I use the triple! Fitted a pair of Schwalbe Big Apples on, its indifferent to potholes and bad road surfaces. Its heavy but I dont care as its a great bike to ride the streets with. I prefer a flat bar set up in traffic over drop bar bikes, flat bars are imo safer for city commuting.
    Caveat - I buy and ride cheap, however, I reserve the right to advise on expensive kit that I have never actually used and possibly never will
  • thanks guys. Will definitively look at pinnacle and Carrera subway.

    Oxoman - I do actually have secure bike parking at work and also at home in the building. I was thinking more about if I go shopping or for a meal in the weekend and lock my bike against a rack on the street that it might get nicked. Also there's always a possibility someone might break into the secure bike storage at home at night and steal all the bikes (happened to where one of my friends used to live).

    Thanks for all the backpack suggestions. while they look good they don't look like they are big enough to carry a suit in (I have to wear suits at work). I guess I could commute one day a week by tube to take all my stuffs in and then cycle in for the rest of the week...

    Out of curiosity can you haggle in Evans Cycle (or any other cycle stores?)

    I'm quite excited about cycling to work actually (apart from the slight anxiety that my bike might get nicked).
  • mr_eddymr_eddy Posts: 820
    Try this another vote for Subway - Basically perfect for your requirements:

    http://www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/h ... ybrid-bike

    Gets good review on BR as well - http://www.bikeradar.com/commuting/gear ... iew-51424/

    Its a bargain at £350 and does everything you need, It comes with mounts for a set of guards (£20 and fitted free if you order at the same time as the bike), It has hydraulic disc brakes and mounts for a rack. Bomb proof tyres and lots of gear range. The matt black paint job also makes it stand out less.

    Re the locks get at least 2 locks of different type i.e a chain/padlock and a 'D' Lock. You can get a decent combo like this which should work fine you just need to buy a decent padlock to go with the chain (Masterlock etc).

    http://www.halfords.com/cycling/bike-lo ... flex-cable
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