for Buying an Errand or Commute Bicycle
The following are
general guidelines, not hard rules. Use your own judgment.
Whatever bike you get, test-ride it to see if it "feels"
right for you. As you would expect, prices on new bicycles are
indicative of quality. If you are frugal, shop the used market
(classifieds, garage sales, etc.); good quality at half the price is
common. Generally speaking, electric kits work fine on $89 bicycles.
Tires - medium width
(1.5"), 26" diameter is standard
Shifter - index shifting
has been standard for years. You can get the common lever type
or the "grip shifter" type (pictured).
Brakes - look for
cantilevered or "V" for better braking
Frame - Cro-Moly is good,
but steel will do since you'll have an electric assist
Quick-release seatpost -
quick seat-height adjustment makes your electric bike the right size
Taillight - the standard
bike taillight with flashing LEDs works well enough. If
you really want to be seen, Xenon strobes are much more visible
- in the daytime and in low visibility conditions such as rain
or fog. Xenon strobes are much less directional, with
visibility over an 180 degree range. Among other places,
available for $40 at http://www.easystreetrecumbents.com/stuff/safety.html
Kick stand - handy for
parking. Look for one that attaches near the rear axle to allow easy
backwards rolling. (See photos at top of page.) Center stands
are even better for balancing the extra weight of an electric drive system.
Wald folding basket(s) -
designed to hold paper grocery bags perfectly and fold up out of the
way when not in use. They mount on an existing rear rack. (See photos
at top of page.)
Fenders - extends your
riding opportunities and prevents surprise wettings from water that
oversprayed the grass and landed on the street .
Chain guard - bikes with
a single front sprocket often have a chainguard so you won't need to
band your right pants leg to prevent oil marks.
Shocks - test-ride a bike
with front shocks; the ride may be worth the price.
Helmet - legally required
for electric-bike riders. Safety Tip: Your best
safety investment. Cheap insurance for anyone with a brain.
Sunglasses - wrap-around
style to keep dust and chilly air out of your eyes
Mirror - for handlebar
end (left side) or clip-on to glasses frame.
As you determine your uses of this
vehicle, add appropriate accessories:
Articles for beginner cyclists: http://sheldonbrown.com/beginners
The best frame size and specific
adjustments that can be made to obtain a good fit based on the
riders height, proportions, bike style and riding style are at: http://www.kleinbikes.com/guide/fit/index.html
to commute by bike?
Learn the ins and outs at:
BikeToWork is dedicated to bicycle
commuters - those that are and those that will be.
The League of American Bicyclists offers
An alternative to baskets or briefcases is
a courier bag. Here's one with high marks:
The courier bags I'd mentioned are made by
Timbuk2 designs - www.timbuk2.com.
I pack for all weather contingencies, carry shoes, breakfast, lunch,
shower supplies and all manner of other junk that no other sane
commuter would carry, and I just throw it all in there willy-nilly.
There are 3 sizes - in my opinion only the largest (think it's the
''dee-dog'') is the real article. Even fully loaded up it rides well.
ICEBIKE web site is dedicated to the
winter cyclists, who brave ice and snow and cycle for transportation,
recreation, or competition in winter. Ride on through winter. http://www.icebike.org
your own maintenance?
Slime is more than green goop you squeeze into your tire. Here's how
it works: As the air leaks out of a punctured tire, it draws the
fibers in the Slime to the hole, quickly sealing and patching the
leak permanently. Slime works for two years and adds around 100 grams
to each inner tube. An eight-ounce container (enough for two tubes)
costs about $6.50 at bike shops.
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