View Full Version : Advice for women's commuter bike?

03-26-2008, 05:52 PM
My wife is looking to get a new commuter rig and we're hoping some of you out there might have some recommendations for her. She currently rocks an old Giant hybrid and is not a big fan of the bike overall, especially the grip shifters. Looking for something w/ a more upright position, easy to outfit w/ racks and panniers, etc. Comfort and efficiency are priorities. Will also be used w/ a Burley. Doesn't have to be a speed machine and she's not ready to go SS or fixed yet. If anyone has any suggestions, we'd appreciate them! Thanks in advance.


03-27-2008, 08:40 AM
a co-worker just got herself the REI Transfer (http://www.rei.com/product/744802). It comes with rack, fenders, internal rear hub and a generator front hub/light. The price was right for her as well - she'd been looking at a Trek, and this had more stuff for less money. $599.

03-27-2008, 01:13 PM
My commuter bike is a Schwinn Super Sport GS flat bar road bike. Got it in 06 for $650 at Performance.

It's a triple, because coming home from work is all uphill.

Putting racks and fenders on it was a relative piece of cake. The handlebars have enough room for a good-sized light, computer, and bell. The flat bar felt more "approachable" to me because I was upgrading from a ProFlex mountain bike, and had never been on a "real" road bike.

I believe this bike or the 08 version of it is about $600 at performance these days (depending on what sort of sale they're having, of course) (and they have a sale almost literally every day).

I've heard that the generator lights are a bit unreliable in the wet. Can't remember where I read that, though...

If you can find a bike with fenders and racks already installed, that would be a good deal. I believe the Trek Portland comes with racks/fenders, but don't know the price. Bike Gallery is, of course, having a sale next week.

03-27-2008, 09:54 PM
The REI/Novara Transfer has a HUB generator. Wet does not affect them. RIM generators (or bottle generators) that roll against your rim - I hear they are better than they used to be.

I've got a hub generator on my bike, and ride it all night in the rain, once in awhile. Lights NEVER go out. Never have to worry about battery life, ever, so I can run the light in the day as well, if it is gloomy. Actually, my light has a sensor setting, so it decides when it is gloomy enough for me.

They are the coolest thing since sliced bread.

How much does it cost to add fenders, a rack, and lighting to a bike? At least another $100, I'm guessing. A significant outlay to someone who has just bought a bike with none of the above.

Those bikes that come already fully equipped are wonderful.

03-28-2008, 02:20 PM
Let me be the first to recommend a locally owned company? Take your pick! A recommendation for REI, followed by one for Performance. Yikes!

Try an actual bike shop, pretty please? Pretty much any road wheeled hybrid in the 400-600 dollar range will be swell for her. They will also all be pretty darned similar. Don't worry about gizmo's hanging all over the bike. It is better to pick the bike you like, then pick all the bits and bobs. They will usually be much higher quality accessories, and of course they will be exactly what she wanted!

You can also support U.S. manufacturers in those price ranges instead of supporting companies who solely trade in Chinese/Taiwanese products. Portland has so many unique and locally owned bike shops. Why go to the mass merchants? Are we gonna start recommending Wal-Mart next?

03-28-2008, 02:51 PM
You can also support U.S. manufacturers in those price ranges instead of supporting companies who solely trade in Chinese/Taiwanese products.

I agree with your advice 100%, but are there any U.S. manufacturers making bikes in the $400-600 range? I thought everything now comes from Asia, except the handbuilts. Buy American is great advice, but first you have to find something that's made here. If you know of some brands, I'm all ears.

03-28-2008, 03:29 PM
It isn't like the REI mechanics and staff are imported from Taiwan. They live here. They pay taxes here. Employees get benefits. REI is a co-op. They were started and are still based in Seattle. Members get a % rebate on purchases every year. They've got a corporate conscience. They stand behind their products.

They also have a decent bike shop, which happens to be surrounded by other nifty outdoor products.

Perhaps you could recommend a specific, US-made commuter type bike with all those come-with accessories in that price range?

03-28-2008, 03:29 PM
Hey, now, Steelsreal... I also suggested going to Bike Gallery, as they are having a wicked sale next week.

Last time I checked, Bike Gallery is 100% local. Sure, they sell bikes made in other countries; if you want a 100% local bike, be prepared to pony up a bunch of money and get on a waiting list.

And even then, I doubt any locally hand-made bike uses 100% materials sourced 100% right here, or 100% in the US. But I could be wrong.

Tarheeltreehugger, I would suggest going to a lot of different bike shops around your area; your wife will need to try a bunch of different bikes to find one she likes.

Fenders? $20. Rack? $30+, depending on if you get one from a foreign-owned company and more if you try finding one "100% local".

Don't forget to take Steelsreal's advice about clothing, you don't want your wife to be called a "Fred".

03-28-2008, 06:42 PM
Lights - anywhere from $20 for a cheap and ineffective front and rear set up to the sky is the limit. One of the best rear lights you can get is the Planet Bike Superflash; I've seen it for $22. Front lights - I couldn't say anymore, but they'll need batteries and/or recharging.

The lighting setup on that REI bike - generator hub wheel plus light is easily $150 if you want to buy it after market, not including the wheel build. I'm just estimating parts for the Shimano generator hub, rim, spokes, and light. I don't even want to total up what mine is (Schmidt hub, Velocity rim, handbuilt LOCALLY, B&M IQ Fly light)

Bell - $5? Again, you can easily pay more.

If you are not handy or so inclined, figure in mechanic time and money for installation of the racks and fenders.

Water bottle cage - $4 (Topeak Modula EX. Holds a coffee mug without rattling). Pump, patch kit, multitool...

My co-worker truly loves hers. She upgraded from an old bike-shaped object that gave her years of service, but finally died. She especially loves those fenders after years of cold, wet feet.

03-28-2008, 08:03 PM
Whichever bike your wife decides on, if she's going to be pulling a Burley, make sure its got enough gears to get it up any hill she's likely to encounter.

Hauled 80 lbs of elementary school-age children up a hill, once... :D

Have fun looking!

03-31-2008, 08:46 AM
Lynn's last piece of advice is most important: HAVE FUN!!!


She also knows lots about lights; I'm going to take her advice and look into the Planet Bike ones for my new bike. :)

04-03-2008, 10:50 AM
400-600 bucks will not buy a US made bike, unless you know a very cheap artisan builder.
as for commuter bikes, i would avoid the bells and whistles like the plague. bikes in that price range are questionable enough in terms of longevity and performance. dont dilute the drivetrain by getting shocks and generator lights included.

REI may be a large company, but it is a COOP! so some of your investment goes back to the community. they also provide health benefits to part time employees. i'd look at the buzz, buzz V, or big buzz bikes there. if you have more $, look at the express, flat bar road bike. these bikes are meant to ride a lot, unlike some bikes that are meant to be parked in a garage indefinitely.

LBS shout out to Bike n Hike, they always treat me nice.

04-03-2008, 02:01 PM
My girl got a KHS Urban Xpress (I think it's that, it's one of the Xpresses) from Citybikes, and she loves it. Every few rides she reminds me how much she likes it.

They set it up with a nice upright stance, and despite that it's still pretty zippy.


04-03-2008, 03:26 PM
We really appreciate all the suggestions. Looks like she'll be sticking with the old bike for now, unfortunately. Adding up the purchase of a Burley, panniers, and Dinotte lights made us reconsider the necessity of buying a new bike. We'll definitely keep all the suggestions in mind when we're looking again. Maybe by then we'll be in the Vanilla or Sweetpea realm!

Ride on,