The Chainlink

Hi, 

I am new to the Chicago biking community. I have never needed to purchase a city bike before and was wondering whether anyone had any advice for me. 

To set somewhat of a starting point for this discussion, I have been eyeing the Fuji Declaration 2012.

The intention is to use is both as recreation and to get from point A to B within the city.

Any and all advice is appreciated!

Thanks!

.:SarahR:.

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EVERYONE on here has advice for you. The question will be whether all that advice will assist you in making your decision.

Will it be your only bike?

Is it replacing or supplementing an existing bike?

If so, what do you ride now?

Do you anticipate installing racks or fenders?

Lol. I suppose I should give a bit more background info. 

It will be my only bike. Before I moved to Chicago, I had a mountain bike (gave it away) that I only used on trails. 

I'm considering adding a rack, haven't given fenders much thought. 

I feel I may prefer a slightly less aggressive bike position that the one in the link above, however it's probably something I could get used to. 

Low maintenance is always a plus in my book. 

An interesting alternative to the Fuji is something from milkbar.cc.  They're all in the same price range and look like decent bikes.

Sarah Rizvi said:

Lol. I suppose I should give a bit more background info. 

It will be my only bike. Before I moved to Chicago, I had a mountain bike (gave it away) that I only used on trails. 

I'm considering adding a rack, haven't given fenders much thought. 

I feel I may prefer a slightly less aggressive bike position that the one in the link above, however it's probably something I could get used to. 

Low maintenance is always a plus in my book. 

How tall are you? I got a beautiful single speed for sale! LOL! Sorry shameless self promotion... (size small fits 5'-2"-5'-6"- $350 minus the fenders, they got moved to another bike.)

I love my single speed for the easy of use... That is exactly what I needed to start biking in Chicago!

Good Luck!

Visit different shops so that you can see different styles and brands available. Test ride the ones that interest you the most.

Regardless of where you live, there should be a couple of good shops close by.

Work with the shop to make sure the fit is right and the bike will serve your intended use.

Enjoy!

Sarah, as a platform, I think that bike is close to perfect.  Just make sure that it fits you properly.  Second, I would probably want to eventually fit tires that are a little wider than the 700X28 it comes with to make it a more capable city and commuter bike.  In which case, determine if the frame is wide enough to fit 700X32, for example.

 

As far as position is concerned, the Fuji in the link is going to be pretty upright in my opinion, which is not the best thing if you ride longer distances.  For commuting, short and medium rides, it's fine.

Milkbar's bikes should have better built wheels, which is a pretty big consideration since frames and other components on a bike like that aren't going to be very different.

Be sure you want a single speed bike, too.  Chicago's not particularly hilly but wind and weather can make a difference.  How you ride, when you ride, and what you carry will determine a lot about what you may want to look for.

Tricolor is right about SS.  My point about the bike being a good platform is that if you generally like the bike, you can customize it a lot.  And that includes changing the gearing to suit you.  With a SS, you have to like only having one gear, but once you have that dialed in with the proper sprocket, they are nice and simple and easy to maintain.

I shopped for a bike this past summer.  I looked at Jamis--they have nice bikes.  I know there are several shops that have Jamis.  I looked at Roscoe Village Bikes.  

The problem for me was that I did not want aluminum.  I ended up with a very upright Linus step-through from J.C. Lind bikes on Wells.  It comes in 3 and 8 speeds--I have the 8.  Rapid Transit carries them, too, and they have stores near south and near northwest.  I am a commuter and my distance riding is limited to up to about 50 miles.  I did the 50 mile part of the North Shore Century on mine and was very comfortable on the bike.  

I am 4'11" by the way.  My perspective is probably very different from most of the fellows and many of the women here. ;-)

Single speed is your best option for low maintenance and weight. I have both an old road bike and a single speed, and I find that getting around the city is much easier/more enjoyable with less  bike to tote around especially if you will be taking your bike on the bus/L. The single speed will require some adjustment if you are used to having gears to play with. Overall if you are looking for a good reliable commuter that will require little maintenance, I think you made a great choice! You always have the option of building your own which could save you a few bucks. 

Clint: Noted. Thanks.

S: I'll take a look at the site.

Jenn: Let's sidebar, my email is sarahrizvi@outlook.com.

Steve: What's the benefit of the wider wheel? Most if the city bikes I looked at seemed to have similarly thin wheels.

Tricolor/Amanda: Definitley want the lightweight, single gear bike for maintenence and weight.

Lisa: I'm 5'1" so finding that fit and position is definitley more of a challenge as you well know.

I hate giving advice, but I will share my experience. I started off with a Mountain Bike, but quickly found it to be fairly slow and inefficient when riding in the City. I then switched to an Aluminum Road racing bicycle and was floored with how fast the thing went and how I could eat up miles. However, over time I felt like my racing bike had limitations. First, it was not really suited for racks and panniers, second no room for fenders. It became more of a weekend sunny weather fast group riding bike. I then tried my friends steel touring bike and was amazed. The thing was really smooth riding, the steel soaked up bumps in the road. The tires were 700 by 35 and could handle gravel, dirt, bumpy roads with no problems. It could also take fenders, racks, and panniers. I ended up buying a Salsa Vaya Steel Tourer and love it. Now I have not really ridden single speed bikes. I understand they are light weight and Chicago is pretty flat. I can tell you with my 27 gears I routinely blow by them all the time speed wise. if I get tired or am carrying a bike loaded down with weight I can pick a gear to even things out. I love the flexibility and do not feel that  having gears causes and real reliability issues.

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