Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Jmetz, 12 Apr 2010.

  1. Jmetz

    Jmetz Well-Known Member

    Heres my possibly audatious plan.

    I'm going to purchase a bike and cycle to and from work, 12miles each way, twice a week.

    I also intend to use the bike for leisure on the weekends, cycling on both road and off-road. The commute journey will all be on road.

    Problem is, i'm unsure of what to buy to fit my needs, and i am looking for sound impartial advice....

    mainly on, the type of bike to go for, amount to spend on a first bike and an estimation of the kind of time frame a single leg of the ride would take...

    thanks in advance
  2. Norm

    Norm Guest

    Price will be the big decider. If you are looking at £300, you'll have a very different set of options compared to if you are looking at £800.

    Have you any preference for dropped vs straight handlebars?

    I think that most, when faced with a similar choice, would suggest something with flat bars but, in a similar situation, I went for a Specialized Tricross, a cyclo-cross bike with dropped handle bars, good on the road but solid enough for off-road too.

    The time depends on your fitness and the route. If you are starting at an average level of fitness (whatever that means) with a few months practice, I reckon you'd be looking at 45-60 minutes if it is flat and free of traffic lights and junctions.
  3. OP

    Jmetz Well-Known Member

    im a fit 21 year old lad, a regular runner but havent cycled much for a good five years.

    I'm just looking for a piece of kit that will be fine for the road, but durable enough to take the bashing id like to give it off road on a weekend.

    A friend suggested a MTB but replacing the tyres with slicker ones

    oh and being a student, id be looking on the penny pinching side
  4. Debian

    Debian New Member

    West Midlands
    I commute on a modified hardtail MTB and I find it fine. If you want something to take a beating off road then your choice of type of bike has to be an MTB of some description.

    I fitted a rack and panniers and changed the knobbly tyres for Schwalbe Big Apples on my GT Agressor.

    The only problem you'd have with this type of setup is that tyres that are good for commuting are going to be rubbish off road and vice versa. Having said that I did commute on knobbly tyres for a couple of months - I'd never voluntarily go back though, it is much harder work using knobblies on tarmac.

    Perhaps buy the MTB + a spare set of tyres for the road and swap them over as required? A pair of Big Apples will set you back £32 so not too expensive.
  5. OP

    Jmetz Well-Known Member

    having researched the GT Agressor, it sounds like waht i was looking for, with the idea of having slicker tyres on, with some spare knobbly ones if and when i wish to use the bike for offroad.

    Having used the bike... would you recommend it? positive/negative points?
  6. Bongman

    Bongman Über Member

    I agree with Debian (partly because he has the same bike ;))

    I found myself recently favoring off-road routes since the weather has been more forgiving. There were some moments that I wish I was riding on knobblies, then I remember the extra effort required! :sad:

    My recommendation would be a 2nd hand, rigid/hardtail MTB of some description. You will most likely get more for your money if you go 2nd hand and a MTB would cope well in both your required conditions.

    A word of warning tho: They say this cycling lark is addictive. You will be wanting an *extra* bike before you know it! (I do!) :biggrin:
  7. OP

    Jmetz Well-Known Member

    i'd be greatful for links to the said bikes on a reputable site to get a grasp of the prices and what not ;)
  8. OP

    Jmetz Well-Known Member

    also... riding on the road.... things to consider?
  9. Cyclist33

    Cyclist33 Guest



    First thing is your budget. No good asking us to decide it for you! Tell us what you are prepared to spend - exactly - and one of us will give you the bike choice you need.

    If your budget is exactly £330 then I cannot recommend anything other than this GT Zum from 2009. Halfords are selling it. It's basically the GT mtb frame that came with the Aggressors and Avalanches, minus the front suspension which you won't need for the riding you described (therefore it's much lighter). It's got nice hybrid tyres which will run free on roads and handle basic trails too. The brakes are great - Auriga Comp, same as on my GT mtb only the Zum has an even bigger front disc. The drivetrain is entry-level by Shimano but it'll do fine for starters.

    I'm only saying this coz I just bought this year's Avalanche which has, I think, a better frame than last year's Zum but otherwise it's pretty much the same except it's much heavier coz of the front forks, and already I've spent extra putting semi slick tyres on. You won't need to spend that extra on the Zum coz it's already got the semi's. Plus, if you can budget up to, say, 400 quid, you could get Halfords to upgrade the drivetrain to Deore for you.

    If I hadn't been hell-bent on red paint and front shocks, I would have bought it myself.

    Here it is


  10. Cyclist33

    Cyclist33 Guest

    Traffic. Be visible. Whatever you buy, keep the reflectors on, make sure you add proper lights too. Buy a hi-vis jacket and reflective stickies for your body and backpack. The roads are never going to get less congested and almost all drivers will give you more credit for showing yourself clearly. Respect drivers as they can kill you all too easily.

    Grip. You'll find that in dry conditions, the best grip on road is achieved by the smoothest tyre. (That GT Zum I just showed you has fairly smooth tyres but you could manage a canal path etc ok too.) The more rubber in contact with tarmac, the more grip. Simple. Knobs on the side do not really add grip to the road cycling, if anything they just mean you have to slow down at corners otherwise when the wheel transitions from smooth tread to knobs as you turn, it can flip out, as it were. This happened to me today although not crucially! In the wet, knobs are useless on the road. The sort of tyres with grooves cut into them sometimes help - think Formula 1 - but really you won't be cycling fast enough for them to do the same job a wet Grand Prix tyre does. Off-road and in mud, knobs are good. Anyway you were asking about road tips. Someone else said get two pairs of tyres, one for the road and one off. Good advice.

    Weight. I suppose the lighter the bike the quicker it will fly on roads but really at your (I presume) budget just get one that's reliable. It's not all that fruitful worrying about the weight of the bike unless you're spending a very large amount of money and racing the thing.

    Packs. I've never used anything other than a backpack but everyone recommends panniers. Have a word with your mechanic at the shop and see about getting a rack and pannier thrown in. Therefore also, make sure the bike can be fitted with them. (My road bike can't.)

    Gears. Road cycling is great because the top gears give you much greater speed so add that to the reduced weight and better aerodynamics you get on a skinnier bike and you can really eat the miles. Nothing like flying down a carriageway in the sunshine. On the other side, the lower gears are considerably higher than on a mountain bike so it is harder to get up steep hills sometimes. For example, the lowest front ring on my road bike is a 30, which is about the same size as the middle ring on my mtb. The mtb's lowest ring is a 22. The lower the ring size (number of teeth actually), the easier the climb. So my mtb has a whole extra ring below that of the road bike to help with climbs. Mind you, whatever you pick will get you fit enough to do the hills you need to do, as long as you keep at it.

    That should give you something to be going on with.
  11. thanos

    thanos Active Member

    Congrats on deciding to commute using a bike, even part time. Itll keep you fit in the long run.
    On my work site most people do ride converted hardtails (even rockhoppers) or straight bar hybrids. Most make great pace (from what ive observed), assuming the sizing is spot on, and in some cases clipless shoes/pedals are utilized.
    I looked at GT bikes myself, however the ones I did like did cost more than 300.
    Didnt spend much time looking at mountain bikes, but I would prefer Specialized or a used high end Boardman

    Deals aside try to test the fit of the bike, then pursue a store or web purchase (deals are highly tempting, but are not worth it if the bike frame / stance is not going to be to your liking in the long run, leading to a lot of time wasted on what if theories).
  12. HJ

    HJ Cycling in Scotland

    Auld Reekie
    It is worth reading a copy of Cyclecraft lots of useful advice.

    As for buying a bike, find a good local bike shop (LBS), ride before you buy, don't go to the big chains unless you know exactly which bike you want. Other things to consider, if you are commuting you will probably want to get a bike which can take mudguards and a Pannier rack, not all bikes do.

    Most of all, Enjoy :smile:
  13. RedBike

    RedBike New Member

    Beside the road
    A lot depends on what you mean by off-road. For light off-roading (family trails) you don't need a mtb, a hybrid will be fine, and far quicker on the road.

    I ride a 29er mtb. (See on-one). The wider tyres do a great job of compensating for the lack of suspension. With its wide tyres its arguably just as compitent off-road as many cross-country mtbs. When fitted with road bike tyres its transformed into a racing hybrid
  14. OP

    Jmetz Well-Known Member

    massive thanks to all those helping me out,

    my budget is around £300 give or take, as im weary of the knowledge that there will be more money to be spent on all the other essentials.

    currently from what i see my options are?...

    this kind of range...

    likingg this one too

    altho due to my limited knowledge mainly due to its looks
  15. hotmetal

    hotmetal Senior Member

    Near Windsor
    Tricky one really, if by off-road riding you mean proper blasting through woods and stuff. If you want to commute but also get into mountainbiking, then yes, get a mountainbike and a second set of wheels with quick release skewers and some road slicks such as CityJets - if you actually have to fit new tyres every Saturday morning you'll get pretty fed up, and end up not going.

    On the other hand, if by 'off-road' you mean towpaths, the local park etc, and are not looking to be doing jumps and hopping over fallen trees, then Norm's suggestion of a tricross bike is a good one. They are tough enough for off-road, though you can't really do 'mountainbiking' on them because of the frame size. They're heavier than a pure road bike but still pretty fast. A hybrid might be a possibility but again, not much good for mountainbiking, though will tackle mild off-road ok.

    A 12 mile commute on a mountainbike might take you just over the hour initially, but you're young and fit so will soon get it down a bit. The slick tyres do make quite a difference to using knobblies on the road, but they're lethal in mud.

    If you're in at the budget end, I'd consider 2 things:
    -second hand (if you know your correct size)
    -avoid any cheap full sussers - you'd be much better off with a hardtail if indeed any suspension, mainly because at sub-£500 most full-sussers will be very heavy and the shocks will be pony. Also it'll sap your leg power for the commuting.
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