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Old 02-21-2008, 05:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Ultimate Commuter Bike

Ok, so I found a seller on craigslist that will sell me his mountain bike for $45...pretty good deal if you ask me (picture attached, it looks decent from what I can tell). My question is, what all should I do to it to make it into a commuter bike. I'll substitute where necessary to save money on the project, I just want to here what you guys suggest I should do. I should also note that I ride on all kinds of roads/paths on my commutes which is why I went with a mountain bike rather then a cruiser or road bike. I also get off work at 8PM some days of the week from work so I am planning on putting a headlight and taillight on it already. Other then that I want to hear your suggestions on what you would put on your ultimate commuter bike to make it the most functional bike for day to day use.

Suggested Items:
Walden medium twin rear carrier
Axiom Laurentian Trunk Bag
Slime Tube (Lazarus)
Front Wheel Mudguard/Fender (Lazarus)

Stuff I already have
Headlight
Taillight
Flat fix kit / CO^2 quick pump
Speedo/Trip meter
Bike Lock

What am I missing? I also may just go with a rear rack for just the bag instead of the baskets because the baskets are a little overkill I think...but I might just buy them and if I don't like them, sell them. I just don't want to have too much weight to lug around but at the same time I need to use this to get groceries for a few days at a time.

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Old 02-21-2008, 06:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you're going to have baskets you might want to go with a slime tube so the chances of a flat are a lot less. Also might need to get a lock of some kind unless you can park it inside at work. Maybe go with a front fenders to keep the spray down the rack ought to do that in the rear. Sounds like you will be riding at night so get some good reflective clothing or vest so you'll be seen. Great thread will be watching your progress. Good luck
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Old 02-21-2008, 06:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Putsaround - '96 Toyota Camry LE
90 day: 32.74 mpg (US)

The Commuter - '07 Trek 1000SL
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Zippy - '91 Honda Civic DX
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Thanks for the advice, I'll ad those to the list and thanks for reminding me of the lock, I already have one I just forgot to list that.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Putsaround - '96 Toyota Camry LE
90 day: 32.74 mpg (US)

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Ok, well I got that blue bike that I attached on my first post. It's a little small so I'm looking to get a longer seat stem, only another 1" or 2" and I should be a little more comfortable, but all in all it's a pretty nice bike. I've been working on the rear derailer because it was apparently dropped on the derailer causing it to not shift in above the 3rd sprocket right, but I took it on a spin to Walmart just a few minutes ago and it worked very well. I got all my stuff mounted on it (stuff I had). I got the headlight, tail light and seat pouch on it and I swapped out the seat for a better one I had on an older bike.

I'll post back with pics and more news later when I have it.
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Putsaround - '96 Toyota Camry LE
90 day: 32.74 mpg (US)

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I rode to work today, there was thankfully a break in the weather long enough for me to get here and from what weather.com is telling me it should clear up again just before I have to leave work. It was a very enjoyable ride today. The only trip was crossing over the bridge over I-75 and then that last hill on the final road to my office, much steeper and longer then I thought it was when I mapped out my route in the car. One thing I did notice is that I really need to get that Wald basket ASAP. I can only carry about 4-5 grocery items at a time going to the store which means I have to go to the store as soon as I realize I'm out of just a few items, I now make between 3-4 trips to the store per week instead of just one bulk run. I also don't much enjoy carrying my dinner and laptop in my backpack on the 4 miles to work so with the baskets I could strap it to the rack on top of the baskets maybe to relieve some of the weight off my shoulders.

All in all it was a good ride today though, just hoping the weather holds out for the ride home or i'm getting very wet on the way home. I also still can't quite get the shifting to work right. It won't go into the 6th rear gear or the 3rd front gear. It does do a lot better then it did initially though.
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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But getting wet is half the fun!

What's up with the shifting? Is the problem in the RD or the shifters?
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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If you're going to be riding at night I suggest you get a roll of reflective tape and put pieces all over the place...wrap every member of the frame, the crank arms, handlebars, etc. etc. There is no such thing as too much visibility for a bike.

Those baskets are going to be heavy. They'll help get the groceries but you'll notice the difference when you're not using them but still dragging them around. I used a plain rack that I would zip tie a milk crate on to when I needed to deliver stuff, then take it off for rides where I didn't need them.

Seatpost with shocks. Comfortable saddle. Front/rear fenders, the light plastic ones are fine. Rain gear.

Glad to hear someone opting for a bicycle!
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Putsaround - '96 Toyota Camry LE
90 day: 32.74 mpg (US)

The Commuter - '07 Trek 1000SL
90 day: 617.28 mpg (US)

Zippy - '91 Honda Civic DX
90 day: 33.29 mpg (US)
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Boxchain: thanks for the suggestions. I wear a reflective orange jacket made by izumi whenever I ride from back when I did road racing, it works really well both as a wind breaker and reflection additive, it also has removable sleeves if I get hot which is a plus! I was also actually considering that milk crate thing, I was thinking about it this morning and wondering how well that would work, you saying you did it makes me more confident in the idea though, I might just do that instead since weight was a concern for me, however, I may be making this an E-bike sometime in the future so when I do that, the batteries will unfortunately take up the rear rack space. I also noticed how much I miss having fenders yesterday when I accidentally found a mud puddle while riding through some construction that they are doing on the sidewalk between my apt and walmart.

SVOboy: yes getting wet is half the fun, but only when I don't have my laptop on my back in a bag who's water proof capability is questionable. However, I have no clue about the shifting issue. The best thing I can come up with is that it was dropped on the de-railer at some point in it's previous life since it does look a little bent. I tried tapping it with a mallet a bit which straightened it out pretty well though. Now I think it may be a lubrication issue. I noticed that the swing arm on the assembly doesn't swing as freely as it should which makes shifts pretty clunky and sometimes unpredictable so I'm going to buy a can on WD-40 on my way home from work today and see if putting some of that on there doesn't help. If all else fails I'm going to try to find a junker bike at a garage sale with a decent de-railer and see if I can Frankenstein it on. It shifts pretty well into the other gears though, it's manageable at least. I'm also still looking for a longer seat post because I definitely felt the lack of leg extension going up hills today, I just couldn't get proper leverage so it was just that much harder to do.

I also meant to note that my headlight fell off during my ride yesterday to the store, looks like the screw for the handlebar clamp got stripped somehow so while I was at walmart I picked up an $8 replacement light. I was actually surprised at how nice this is for the price, it's got a very bright xeonon bulb in it so it will definitely give me better visibility as well as better visibility to cars.
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Good about the reflective jacket.

About the shifter, there may be set screws that are restricting the range of the chain. They are meant to do that, to stop the chain from jamming, but if they are set wrong they can stop you from going into the inner and outer gears. Or the cage may need to be straightened.

I'm partial to LED lights personally.
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Putsaround - '96 Toyota Camry LE
90 day: 32.74 mpg (US)

The Commuter - '07 Trek 1000SL
90 day: 617.28 mpg (US)

Zippy - '91 Honda Civic DX
90 day: 33.29 mpg (US)
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I have both screws basically all the way out... I went and got some WD-40 to see if I couldn't loosen up the rusty hinges a little and it should be dry by the time I get home tonight so i can re-lube them and hopefully that will help, I have a feeling the rusty bits were restricting the motion so it wasn't moving as easily as it should because I noticed if I tilted the bike while shifting in a particular direction that was with gravity then it shifted but if it was straight up and down it wouldn't so I will explore a little more when I get home.

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