Monday, March 16, 2009

Need your advice

I have gotten a rear rack put on my bike and am going to start strapping my pack to it or am putting a crate on top. Maybe I can even bring my handbag instead of the backpack on riding days!
also decided to get an old bike and convert to a SS. have a few that I am looking at from Joel "The Bike Guy" here in Birmingham. Thanks for your help everyone!
I am considering spending some of my hard earned Hamiltons on a few bikey things. However, because my budget is small, I want to make sure I am getting worthwhile investments. So far I have not been led astray by the online bike community, so I come to you again for some advice.

1. Republic bikes
. they make inexpensive ($344...on sale from $499) track bikes that you custom design. I want a singlespeed/fixed (they are flippable) for riding downtown and on weekends. Just a simple, pretty bike. Republic bikes are both simply AND pretty. and for the price, It seems like a great deal. Comes nearly fully assembled and ready to ride. Has anyone heard anything good or bad? I just plan to use it to tricks (besides the occasional trackstand or skid), and I will probably add a front brake.

2. Commuter bag by Cyclelogical.

I can't use a messenger bag due to back issues. I had 2 of them, and once I switched to a 2 strap and had a seat adjustment I am feeling great. I know it is the bag because if I ever try to use my smaller one I get a backache immediately. BUT my 2 strap is my old LLBean that I got in 8th grade...even has my initials on it. Old Skool baby! Trying to put a water bottle, makeup, laptop, shoes and a snack is a challenge. Then I saw this great bag! It has (according to the website description): front stash pocket with opening thru flap for larger items (yoga mat, any tube like object or quick stash), computer compartment, shoe area, secured clothing area, laundry compartment, elastic stash compartment for computer cords or bulky items and a clear pocket for viewing items on the fun.

What more could I need? However, it is $125. I don't mind spending that on something that will get the job done, but... I am wondering if everything fits nicely or is squished in there? Also, how does it handle on your shoulders and back? Is the pack waterproof, or at least water resistant?

oh, it also has a velcro strip for a reflective strip OR a velcroable solar panel!!

Any help anyone can give me on these items would be great. If not...maybe I will bite the bullet, order them and do a review myself! (if anyone wants to send me one to review, that is also an option!!) :)

bike love


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  2. 1. No. Please, no. I am begging you, for the love of all that is pure and holy and goes on two wheels: No. I will explain in person if I need to, but: No.
    Ok, just one reason: As BikeSnobNYC astutely pointed out -- it's made out of "hi-ten," i.e. high-tension steel. As in, the cheapest, least reliable, lowest-grade metal you can make a bike (or anything else) out of. It's cheap because it's cheap.

    We're not even getting into my other moral, ethical, legal, religious, and philosophical reasons why you don't need or want this bike. I'll just say this: If you buy this bike, and still have it and ride it as-is on a weekly basis in 3 years, I will shave my head.

    2. Yes to the idea. Maybe or maybe not on that specific bag -- Timbuk2 and a couple others make similar stuff that you'll be able to find reviews for. I can help you.

    Returning to #1, though: Please, I implore you: No.

  3. If you have back issues, make sure your bag has a waist strap.

  4. In case you get the bag, make sure it is waterproof or buy at least a waterproof cover. I have a Chrome messenger bag (they also do backpacks) and it's just so much more reliable cause I never have to worry that my books inside will get destroyed if I get caught by a shower.

  5. Why don't you try and find an old frame you can salvage. They're usually lugged quality steel, and accept SS/fixie conversions no problem. I've got two (can't afford a new gruppo), and I love them. Throw the components you want on, maybe paint it, and voila...a bike with your personality. It's the same feeling you get when you adopt a dog from the SPCA. Your local bike shop can help you through the process. I think cyclist should always buy local. "Macrocyclotic"? Hmmm.

  6. everyone-thanks for your help. It seems I will not be buying a Republic bike. Honestly, I was inching away from the idea but this cinched it.

  7. You can get a used bike for less. If you buy new, it seems that you end up replacing parts with better ones anyways.

    Bad back? Get all weight off your back by putting a rack on the back of your bike. I bought a Topeak rack and trunk bag for $150. I've been using it for about a year on my commuter bike and love it. The trunk bag has pouches that drop down on each side of the rack for more carrying capacity, plus it folds up and is easy to carry.

  8. those republic bikes sure are pretty - but the devil is indeed in the details and i vote NO to buying one of those. something about lipstick on a pig...

    also, i think chrome does a nice doublestrap bag - i forget what its called, guess it depends on how much stuff you are hauling...

    happy trails!

  9. I have to concur with those that have recommended getting hold of an old used bike and building it the way you want. Chances are, you'll end up with a better bike for nearly the same amount of money.

    I also throw my vote in with those that advocate putting all the gear (and thus the weight that comes with it) directly on your bike instead of on you. Get a pannier that you can keep loaded with all the daily essentials and that is easily removable. When you get to your destination, just pop it off and go. If you still want or need a bag, go minimalist. Then you'll never be tempted to overload it.

  10. I know you love Mick, but if you want to dabble on the wild side, take a look at his mate, Keith Richards, otherwise known as the LeMond Poprad. Just like Keith, the Poprad is meant to be handled a little rougher. It's a cyclocross bike much better suited to commuting. You can still have the "racer" geometry, but also have clearance for larger (aka: comfortable) tires, and a wider gear range. It's also a good quality steel frame. Ask your LBS about what they could work out with a trade, and mention your blog and how you make no secret of their great service! Why ride a racing bike if you don't race?

  11. You should build your own. It's pretty easy to find a good steel frame at a decent price, and decent components for a fixed gear should never be that expensive. I bet for the same price as that Republic bike, you could build something you love, that's all you, that you'll ride for years and years.
    Also, what with ready-made flip flop wheelsets (for frames of any spacing) available, the builds are super easy.

  12. I'd be all for getting some panniers. I got some Sunlite Traveler 2 panniers that have worked great for me. They're sold as a set of two, and I got mine on eBay for $55 including shipping. I also got a Jandd mountaineering rack for $30 including shipping. So $85 bucks for an awesome rack and a pretty good set of panniers. Just gotta play with the elastics a bit on the pannier to get it to hold really tight.

    The other option that I haven't gotten to try yet, but have on order, is a Swagman Phatt Folding Basket, at<>prd_id=845524442622313&FOLDER<>folder_id=2534374302693083 .
    I'll try and let you know how that one works.

    Most important thing is to get that weight off your back. I just about died last summer doing 12 miles each way with a light pack, and now I carry like 3 times the weight on my bike with no problem at all. :)

  13. I too would vote for a rack. Think about those hot Southern summer days to come--and how the sun beating down on your backpack would make you feel. No opinion on the bike, except that deals that seem too good to be true, usually are.


  14. instead of getting a new expensive bag that you can wear, why not get either a saddlebag that hangs off your seat or a rack (front or back) that you can stuff whatever into. I have back issues too and no longer wear anything while riding!

    good luck!

  15. Maybe try equestrian saddle bags (in lieu of regular bike panniers), just do a search on ebay. Very affordable... and HOW funny and timely. I just did a post with equestrian saddle bags :)

  16. Buying an old frame can open up a can of worms. What's so awful about just getting that Republic bike and riding away? It looks like a perfectly nice bike to me.

  17. You get what you pay for, most of the time, and there's no free lunch, ever. Also, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Let me explain...

    Part 1: What you might save by going online for you bike or bike bits, you will likely end up spending anyway on unexpected issues. Why not give the local shop your business in the first place. They know you can get stuff online for less, they might resent it a little when you come in for service, but more importantly, they know you're choosing them, and they are likely to appreciate it. I'll bet they'll help you with the unexpected issues for nothing (but don't assume so, there's no free lunch, remember).

    Part 2: those online folks had to take that money out of somewhere, and you just don't know what you're getting. The sad truth is that riding a bike, liking bikes, or selling bikes doesn't make anyone an honest businessperson. So get stuff locally, so you can hold it in your hand, and look the salesperson/mechanic in the eye.

    Oh, and watch out for carpel-tunnel syndrome if you ride with a backpack. It's not inevitable, but it's been known to happen.

  18. I forgot:

    Less expensive, more versatile, made closer to home.

  19. Three cheers for a rack! I could not bike without mine.

  20. 1. That "track" bike is a nightmare. Honestly, I thought about buying one of these, until I found out it weighs about as much as my 24 geared touring bike with full racks, mudguards and fat tyres. As the others say, far better to convert an old bike, then put fixed fixed gear bits on it.
    How about an old Raleigh Clubman? I have one, it's lovely.
    What the others said about the rack. You can just take elastic straps and put whatever you're carrying on the rack, tie it down, and be away. I put a 50KG sack of potatoes on the rack of my tourer, and cycled home, about 4 miles away. Try that with a backpack.
    Only problem is if mick can't handle a rack, in which case I'd suggest a saddlebag. Much better than one of those racks that clamps to your seatpost and dangles there looking a bit gimp.

  21. But "converting an old bike," requires a lot of time and a fairly advanced knowledge of bike mechanics. And a shop. Then you have to hope that the "old" bike you just bought for a song, doesn't dump you on your face!

    Why complicate this reasonable desire to ride a nice, cheap bike?

  22. Mr. Inkeles, "nice" and "cheap" are most often mutually exclusive. After you upgrade the components (and you will) you're left with decent parts on a crappy frame. 20+ year old steel 10 speeds are not hard to come by, and are often made of quality, lugged steel. I myself had a Schwinn (free) that was made in Colorado City, and now have a Steve Bauer (70 bucks) that was made in Japan and a Benotto (free) made in Italy. All lugged. And if you buy a bike off the internet, you're going to wind up in a shop anyways.

  23. qquesnel62:

    Aren't you complicating what could be a simple pleasure? We could also build our own washing machines from spare parts and save money. But that means going to washing machine repair school and then hunting down the parts...

    I'm not convinced there's anything terribly awful about the inexpensive bike she found. It looks pretty cute as a matter of fact.

  24. I looked harder at Republic:

    (1) Look at the geo of the frames: top tube length on the 52cm: 535mm, on the 59cm: 540mm. Hmm, suspect.

    (2) The fly by night mail-order thing scares me. Why bother when a local shop can order you a Torker U-District, which is similar in style and price, but is in fact a much better bike...

  25. hello again

    save your money, be patient, and comb craigslist for a nice old univega or nishiki, or something like that... a nice japanese built lugged frame will last many, many times over a hi-ten frame...

    put some chrome fenders, a Wald basket/rack, and some lights and you've got an all-season go-getter...




something on your mind?