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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010

    So am I crazy, or do I need a new bike? ;)

    I've been commuting since August, ~11 mile round trip. I love it. The route is sort of stupid -- I have to hop up on the sidewalk at one point, and at a couple of other points get off my bike and lift it over obstacles (oh the suburbs) -- but its not that bad.

    I've been doing it on my Trek FX 7.2 hybrid, which isn't a BAD bike. It's the bike I got when I first started riding but was intimidated by road bikes. Of course now I love my roadie and hate the hybrid. I feel like such a dork in the upright position, but more importantly I feel like my angles are off -- not that the bike fits me poorly, but like, if I'm trying to do a standing climb up a hill -- I don't have the power under me I have on my road bike. I would like to be able to do the commute a little faster / feel a little stronger.

    Does that make sense? Or am I just slowed by my loaded pannier and am blaming it on other things?

    I also struggle with frequent brake rub, which is annoying. My amateur mechanic DH messes with my brakes often but no matter what I do, it seems like the v-brakes get knocked out of position at some point and rub. I also get annoyed by not being able to duck under the wind, but thats not really NECESSARY.

    When my student loans are paid off (HOPEFULLY next year), I am dreaming of upgrading to a cross bike for my commute, but I am wondering if it will actually be a more enjoyable/powerful ride?

    The follow up question is about bike parking -- currently I lock it to a rack in front of my federal building (which is located in a strip mall). There's often security out front, but then again DH once stopped by to fix something on the bike while I was working and no one said anything to him about messing with a locked bike. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with leaving a new bike out there, and don't love that it is out in the elements. Another option is I've been told by the security guards I can leave it in the foyer (you come in one door, walk through a short foyer, and then open a second door where all the guards are as you go through the metal detector to get in). So, technically the bike wouldn't be in a locked area, and there's nothing for me to lock it to -- but work often leaves wheelchairs in that foyer too, and it would be pretty ballsy to walk into a federal building to take a bike under the eyes of the security guards. I could lock the wheel to the frame with a u-lock so that someone would have to carry it out as well. Do we think that's a better bike parking option?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Of course you need a new bike! (that is the answer you were looking for, right? )

    I'm really not the person to talk you out of this, since my new frame arrives at the LBS tomorrow.....

    I also can't really address the hybrid vs road/cross question (I haven't ridden a non-drop barred bike other than my old MTB, and that's heavy/geared differently/doesn't fit me very well so not a good comparison to the other bikes), but I can vouch for cross bikes as commuters. My commute is about 2x yours and I've been riding a cross check (which, if you happen to be tall (5'10"+), I'd make a great deal on the wheels/frame) which has been great for hauling stuff but also letting me get down out of the wind when I ride up the river for a few miles. It's also great on mixed-surfaces and depending on my route I mix some gravel in. The only reason I'm getting a new frame is I want disc brakes for rain/snow/muck (and the new frame is glittery purple, but that's just a bonus...).

    On the parking question.... are the security guards in the metal detector area the same every day? If so, do you say good morning, etc daily? I might feel ok leaving my (wheel/frame locked) bike in there if I had a good relationship with them and I felt that they knew me/might look out for my bike. Also, what's the foot traffic in/out of your building like? Is it employees and the occasional visitor or lots of general public moving in/out? I would probably be less comfortable if there was a lot of non-employee traffic in/out of the building. Otherwise it's kind of a tough situation, the lack of cover would bother me more than locking outside-- especially if you ride in the rain. I lock mine outside some days (if I get here before security, it comes upstairs and sits by my desk...) and feel ok with it there, it's a good rack, I use a couple locks (one cable, one U), and there are other bikes nearby that are locked less well. My current bike is also boring brown and decal-free, so hopefully less of a theft magnet, good frame, good parts, but less obvious.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Unfortunately I'm short, 5'2". It makes it hard to buy used bikes off craigslist that fit me, since I can't just hop on a men's bike, make a few adjustments and call it a day. Expect obsessive posts in the future about best way to find a cross bike for a short lady

    The security guards rotate, but most of them seem to know me since I am the ONLY bike commuter and only person coming in in bike clothes. I do say good morning, although I have facial recognition issues (lol, for serious) so I don't KNOW most of them. That said, I think they probably would look out for my bike -- although they obviously can't be responsible for it, and I'm actually not sure they would even be allowed to confront someone taking it? But, a thief wouldn't know that, and anyone with a brain would figure there are cameras covering the entrance of a fed building (which, there are). Foot traffic INTO the building is solely employees, any guests have to sign in. Even though we are in a strip mall its pretty rare that outsiders even walk by the entrance, since we are off to the side of the stores.

    I'm also mildly concerned if I start parking my bike there regularly I'll be told I'm not allowed to, so I'm thinking of trying it out with the hybrid before I upgrade...

    GLITTERY PURPLE! That is awesome.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    For a new bike, I still would not leave it unlocked within a building at the front. Security guards may walk off temporarily to another area in the floor.

    FYI- I work in a municipal govn't building downtown. We have employee security card access to large caged, locked bike area with fencing that's actually solid steel and over 10 ft. high. There is a security camera. This is at the front of the building outdoors.

    Cyclist-employees lock their bike within the locked bike cage, to bike racks.
    Still, an employee had their bike stolen. I've had lights stolen that I forgot to remove.

    For 3 years, in downtown Toronto, I locked up hybrid bike outdoors at a bike rack in front of an office building. It was a huge risk on my part, but bike was never stolen. I biked to work daily for 7 months. I consider myself incredibly lucky because Toronto is known for bike thefts.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 11-21-2013 at 05:26 AM.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by shootingstar View Post
    For a new bike, I still would not leave it unlocked within a building at the front. Security guards may walk off temporarily to another area in the floor.

    No, there's always at least 2 there (up to 5), and one is always manning the cameras that show the front entrance. They take security at federal buildings pretty seriously these days! Guests have to sign in, but you can access the front foyer without getting through any security.

    I lock at the rack with a cable and good u-lock, but it still only slows a thief down. My bike is the only one ever there, and its there every day. There are some not-great apartments nearby and a not-great mall across the street.

    So, here's the setup:


    t ---------| f o | guards
    r awning| y | and
    e ---------| er | metal detectors

    There's usually an additional guard parked on the street in front of the awning, facing the bike rack, but like I said no one said anything to DH when he has come to mess with my bike. So, there's not really an ideal situation here, but I'm curious about what most of you would do.....

    It's POSSIBLE the guards would let me bring the bike in -- but I doubt it. My cubicle is also too small for me to put it in here so I don't know where else I'd keep it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Columbia, MO
    Maybe you need a folding bike instead of a cross bike.
    For your brakes, take it to a bike shop.

    I was just listening to something about measuring happiness and how that's done. And how happiness doesn't correlate with our wealth but with our expectations. If we have just upgraded to a covered wagon we're happy about that. If we dream about a Ferrari we'll never be happy with our Fiat, even though it goes much faster than the covered wagon. We can change our expectations, sometimes more easily than we can acquire the things we currently want.

    That's relevant here because I was startled that you are dissatisfied with your hybrid, and I was trying to understand why. To me, a hybrid is a logical choice for commuting. Commuting isn't about going fast. But then, I'm coming from the perspective of a commuter. I've barely ridden a road bike ever. A hybrid is so much faster than walking, that the additional speed of a road bike is minor. My expectation of a commuter bike is that it should be faster than walking. Coming from a road bike, your expectation of bicycling is different than mine.

    I'm not trying to be judgmental that you aren't satisfied with your hybrid, but just wanted to point out another option: maybe you are wanting something out of the commuting experience that isn't typical. Maybe you can change your expectations of commuting and be happier on your hybrid.

    I definitely wouldn't get a nice new bike if you don't have a safe place to lock up.

    I have facial recognition problems too. I'm better with names, not names that I hear but names that I SEE. Try looking at the security guards' name tags.
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike



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