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Single Speed Cruiser vs. Mountain/All Terrain Bike for Commuting?



 
 
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  #1  
Old August 21st 03, 08:44 AM
Luigi de Guzman
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Single Speed Cruiser vs. Mountain/All Terrain Bike for Commuting?

wrote in message . com...
Hi,


I am considering purchasing another bike for errands and commuting
(within a 7 mile radius usually, but the occasional longer ride is
possible).


what bike do you have already, if you want "another bike"?

My ride will be mostly on city sidewalks with the
occasional street, gravel trail, and grass/rock surface. I'm about
215 pounds and 6'2 and usually bike with a backpack with supplies.


Unless you're walking the bike, get off the sidewalk. Statistically
speaking, riding on the sidewalk is more dangerous than riding in the
roadway. On the sidewalk, it is far easier for you to be struck
broadside by cars entering the main roadway--they generally won't be
able to see you, and won't expect you. This gets even worse if you're
riding on the sidewalk opposite the normal flow of traffic--then a car
entering traffic looks left to see if there's anybody coming, and,
finding no-one, proceeds--mowing you down.

This is to say nothing of the danger your bicycle poses to
pedestrians, or the danger pedestrians pose to you. Or of the street
furniture that clutters sidewalks: cafe tables, trash cans,
mailboxes, streetlamps, fire hydrants, etc...

In the roadway, of course, no such problem exists. If the car
entering the roadway doesn't yield to you, it sure as hell will yield
to the car/SUV/Mack Truck right behind you. There are fewer
obstructions in the middle of the road, too. Consequently, you can go
faster, and more safely.

For the full story find _Effective Cycling_ by John Forrester.



For this I am considering a single speed cruiser bike with foot
brakes, with 26 x 2.125 road slick tires, which I may equip with solid
inner tubes later on.

So far I am leaning towards a cruiser for the following reasons:

1) Wide road slick tires make them more durable and better performing
for city riding.


These can be easily added to any other bicycle

2) Fenders mean my back won't get splashed with water when I go
through puddles.


Some older, rigid MTBs will allow the mounting of 'real' fenders.


3) Handlebar layout seems good for a basket should I use one, plus a
more comfortable ride.

4) Single speed and foot brakes means the bike is easy and forgiveable
to maintain. (eg: wobbly wheel won't interfere with braking, tire and
chain changes should be quicker, etc...)


Single-speed cruisers all have nutted wheels--you have to use a 15mm
wrench to remove the wheel. Other sorts of bikes have quick-release
wheels, which may be removed....er....quickly, with no tools.



What I would like to know is this: What are the disadvantages? What
kind of top speed can I expect with this bike vs a Mountain/All
Terrain Bike? Ditto for durability -- can I take those potholes and
broken glass without too much worry?


on any bicycle, your top speed is entirely determined by you.

You'll probably be faster on the mountain bike overall, since the
gears let you spin up hills and crank down while maintaining a good,
fast cadence.




I'm not looking to spend a lot -- from $100 - $250. Would you
recommend any brands? Any brands to stay away from? Any other tips?


The singlespeed cruiser will probably be the cheapest way to go.
Millions on millions of Chinese workers can't be wrong--the Peoples
Republic of China still runs on single-speed Flying Pigeon
roadsters... It is also much less appealing to thieves. This is
probably one case where Huffy is every bit as good as anybody else:
there's so little to go wrong on this sort of bike! Be aware though
that these bikes are heavy, wind-resistant, and slow.

If you're eventually going to do more than go a few miles at a time in
a relatively flat area, then I'd go for a rigid (unsuspended) mountain
bike. Swap the tires out for 1.5" slicks, mount real, full fenders
and a rear rack, and go. (you can keep the knobbies for when you want
to ride real mud--detach the fenders first, though) This route is
more expensive, however, and new, unsuspended mountain bikes are very
rare indeed these days. Rarer still are ones with the necessary rack
and fender mounting points.

Try and find a good-quality (ie not a department-store bike) used
rigid mountain bike and kit it out. That set-up will get you around
*and* take you whatever distance you should with to go, *and*, should
you wish it, take you out onto the trails.

-Luigi
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  #2  
Old August 21st 03, 03:56 PM
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Single Speed Cruiser vs. Mountain/All Terrain Bike for Commuting?

Hi,


I am considering purchasing another bike for errands and commuting
(within a 7 mile radius usually, but the occasional longer ride is
possible).


what bike do you have already, if you want "another bike"?


I have a mountain/all terrain bike. I'm still going to keep it
around.



My ride will be mostly on city sidewalks with the
occasional street, gravel trail, and grass/rock surface. I'm about
215 pounds and 6'2 and usually bike with a backpack with supplies.


Unless you're walking the bike, get off the sidewalk. Statistically
speaking, riding on the sidewalk is more dangerous than riding in the
roadway.


Yep, I read that as well, but my experience has been that on the
street I get buzzed by drivers. Plus I live in Houston, TX which has
the worst drivers I have ever seen. Many of them drive in the biking
lane, and I had a case where one of them continued to do so despite
the fact that I was in it!


On the sidewalk, it is far easier for you to be struck
broadside by cars entering the main roadway--they generally won't be
able to see you, and won't expect you. This gets even worse if you're
riding on the sidewalk opposite the normal flow of traffic--then a car
entering traffic looks left to see if there's anybody coming, and,
finding no-one, proceeds--mowing you down.


Yeah, the 2 times I have almost been T-Boned were by drivers entering
the flow of traffic -- however, I have had success riding opposite the
flow of traffic. Of course when possible, I try to navigate using
neighborhood side streets, avoiding main roads when at all possible.



This is to say nothing of the danger your bicycle poses to
pedestrians, or the danger pedestrians pose to you. Or of the street
furniture that clutters sidewalks: cafe tables, trash cans,
mailboxes, streetlamps, fire hydrants, etc...


Well, I don't ride fast unless I can clearly see that there are no
pedestrians around and the sidewalk is in good shape.




In the roadway, of course, no such problem exists. If the car
entering the roadway doesn't yield to you, it sure as hell will yield
to the car/SUV/Mack Truck right behind you. There are fewer
obstructions in the middle of the road, too. Consequently, you can go
faster, and more safely.


I don't know about that. Between road range incidents (drivers tend
to get sore when bikes are in their lane), bad drivers, and people
looking to harass you for the sheer hell of it, sidewalk riding seems
pretty attractive despite the occasional T-Bone risk.



For the full story find _Effective Cycling_ by John Forrester.


I'll do that, thanks.


1) Wide road slick tires make them more durable and better performing
for city riding.


These can be easily added to any other bicycle


Right, they can. But since my bike is starting to get a bit beat up,
I'd like to get something that has what I want already on it.



2) Fenders mean my back won't get splashed with water when I go
through puddles.


Some older, rigid MTBs will allow the mounting of 'real' fenders.


True, but with my MTB's wobbly front wheel, it would probably scrape
against the fender -- it already scrapes against the front fork!



4) Single speed and foot brakes means the bike is easy and forgiveable
to maintain. (eg: wobbly wheel won't interfere with braking, tire and
chain changes should be quicker, etc...)


Single-speed cruisers all have nutted wheels--you have to use a 15mm
wrench to remove the wheel. Other sorts of bikes have quick-release
wheels, which may be removed....er....quickly, with no tools.


My MTB also has a nutted wheel, so there's no disadvantage at this
point. Besides, I would prefer to require at least a bit of effort to
remove the wheel to discourage would be vandals and pranksters from
too easy a target.



What I would like to know is this: What are the disadvantages? What
kind of top speed can I expect with this bike vs a Mountain/All
Terrain Bike? Ditto for durability -- can I take those potholes and
broken glass without too much worry?


on any bicycle, your top speed is entirely determined by you.


Right, but some bikes max out. For example, on my MTB I can hit a
ceiling where no matter how much I pedal, I will not go any faster --
and this is at the highest gear. I was wondering if any such ceiling
existed in a Cruiser (I think not, given the lack of gears, but I'm
not mechanically knowledgable).



You'll probably be faster on the mountain bike overall, since the
gears let you spin up hills and crank down while maintaining a good,
fast cadence.


I live in Houston, TX. There are no hills.


I'm not looking to spend a lot -- from $100 - $250. Would you
recommend any brands? Any brands to stay away from? Any other tips?


The singlespeed cruiser will probably be the cheapest way to go.
Millions on millions of Chinese workers can't be wrong--the Peoples
Republic of China still runs on single-speed Flying Pigeon
roadsters... It is also much less appealing to thieves. This is
probably one case where Huffy is every bit as good as anybody else:
there's so little to go wrong on this sort of bike! Be aware though
that these bikes are heavy, wind-resistant, and slow.


Yeah, but my MTB is pretty heavy. The 2 other factors are important
though. The wind resistance came as a bit of a surprise -- they look
relatively aerodynamic. Also, you said the top speed would be
determined by me, so how would it be slow?



If you're eventually going to do more than go a few miles at a time in
a relatively flat area, then I'd go for a rigid (unsuspended) mountain
bike. Swap the tires out for 1.5" slicks, mount real, full fenders
and a rear rack, and go. (you can keep the knobbies for when you want
to ride real mud--detach the fenders first, though) This route is
more expensive, however, and new, unsuspended mountain bikes are very
rare indeed these days. Rarer still are ones with the necessary rack
and fender mounting points.

Try and find a good-quality (ie not a department-store bike) used
rigid mountain bike and kit it out. That set-up will get you around
*and* take you whatever distance you should with to go, *and*, should
you wish it, take you out onto the trails.


Thanks for the info.



-Luigi

  #3  
Old August 21st 03, 05:02 PM
Buck
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Single Speed Cruiser vs. Mountain/All Terrain Bike for Commuting?

wrote in message
om...

Yep, I read that as well, but my experience has been that on the
street I get buzzed by drivers. Plus I live in Houston, TX which has
the worst drivers I have ever seen.


As a former Houstonian, I sympathize with your plight. However, Luigi is
right - you are safer in the street than on the sidewalk. Besides, if you
are commuting along the same route every day at about the same time, you
will "train" the drivers to deal with your presence.

Yeah, the 2 times I have almost been T-Boned were by drivers entering
the flow of traffic -- however, I have had success riding opposite the
flow of traffic. Of course when possible, I try to navigate using
neighborhood side streets, avoiding main roads when at all possible.


Those two incidents should tell you something. People do not look for fast
moving traffic on the sidewalk. To make matters worse, riding contraflow is
riding *opposite* the direction that is expected. People turning right are
looking left for a clear spot and rarely look right. This is perhaps the
best way to get run over.

snipped descriptions of bicycle

Single-speed cruisers all have nutted wheels--you have to use a 15mm
wrench to remove the wheel. Other sorts of bikes have quick-release
wheels, which may be removed....er....quickly, with no tools.


My MTB also has a nutted wheel, so there's no disadvantage at this
point. Besides, I would prefer to require at least a bit of effort to
remove the wheel to discourage would be vandals and pranksters from
too easy a target.


With the proper set of locks, this is not a problem. Besides, "nutted"
wheels are typically cheap wheels which are heavier and more prone to being
warped. You can always replace the quick release with a new one that has a
removeable lever or requires an allen wrench (something that you should be
carrying anyway). A quick release wheel makes it much easier to fix a flat.


What I would like to know is this: What are the disadvantages? What
kind of top speed can I expect with this bike vs a Mountain/All
Terrain Bike? Ditto for durability -- can I take those potholes and
broken glass without too much worry?


on any bicycle, your top speed is entirely determined by you.


Right, but some bikes max out. For example, on my MTB I can hit a
ceiling where no matter how much I pedal, I will not go any faster --
and this is at the highest gear. I was wondering if any such ceiling
existed in a Cruiser (I think not, given the lack of gears, but I'm
not mechanically knowledgable).


If you are strong enough to push your current mountain bike to its limit,
then you could use a taller gear. The single gear on a cruiser will be
nowhere near the top gear of a mountain bike. Take a look at it for
yourself. Go count the teeth on the chainrings (the front gears) and the
sprockets (the rear gears) and then visit this website:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/. Enter the numbers along with the wheel
size (26" for a mtb) and the crank length and it will output gear-inches or
mph at different cadences (pedalling speeds). You will quickly discover that
the cruiser will not be nearly as fast. Try starting off in your top gear on
your mtb to see how it would feel on a cruiser if it were geared to be fast.
Cruisers are called cruisers for a reason!

I'm not looking to spend a lot -- from $100 - $250. Would you
recommend any brands? Any brands to stay away from? Any other tips?


Add another $100 to your budget and you will be in the territory for some
really nice entry-level bikes.


Yeah, but my MTB is pretty heavy. The 2 other factors are important
though. The wind resistance came as a bit of a surprise -- they look
relatively aerodynamic. Also, you said the top speed would be
determined by me, so how would it be slow?


Wind resistance is only a function of the bike because of the position you
are forced into. The more upright you are, the greater the wind resistance.
Take a look at this: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/aero/formulas.htm.
In short, if you ride two bikes with the same amount of effort, you will be
faster on the one that puts you in the more aerodynamic position.


If you're eventually going to do more than go a few miles at a time in
a relatively flat area, then I'd go for a rigid (unsuspended) mountain
bike. Swap the tires out for 1.5" slicks, mount real, full fenders
and a rear rack, and go. (you can keep the knobbies for when you want
to ride real mud--detach the fenders first, though) This route is
more expensive, however, and new, unsuspended mountain bikes are very
rare indeed these days. Rarer still are ones with the necessary rack
and fender mounting points.


Luigi is right on this one. It's hard to beat a mtb with slicks and fenders
for commuting duty. But there are a few options

Many people will swear by a road bike for commuting duty and many more will
suggest that you never get suspension for road purposes. But I suggest that
many of them have never ridden on really rough roads like you find in
Houston. Find a shop that carries Giant bicycles (www.giant-bicycles.com)
and take a look at the Cypress DX or LX. A bike like this will give you
higher gearing, 700c wheels (road bike wheels), some suspension to deal with
the horrid Houston roads, plenty of space for fenders and racks, and a
decent set of components.

As a final thought, you mentioned using a backpack. There are advantages to
getting a rear rack for carrying your loads, but I prefer a backpack as
well. Look into a new backpack that will help you deal with the heat - my
favorite is a Vaude (www.vaude.com). Yes, it really is much cooler than a
standard backpack.

Good luck,
Buck


 




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