Things to look for when buying a commuter bike

Things to look for when buying a commuter bike

There are some general areas to consider that have nothing to do with the look of your bike and everything to do with the ongoing cost of your daily riding or commuting bike.

In the lower end of the price range ($480 – $1500) you may not get all the features below. Concentrate on the wheels as they are an expensive item to later upgrade. Almost all production bikes come with tyres that are less than ideal for commuting. After the original tyres wear out replace with a better quality tyres.

Suitable bicycle wheels for day-to-day riding and bike commuting

Sealed bearing hubs and double wall aluminium rims are needed for the city. As pretty as a radial spoke wheel is, it simply is not strong enough for day-to-day work. Ask for a 32-36 hole crossed rear wheel which is much stronger and will last longer. In the middle of our price range the wheel will probably have stainless steel spokes which won’t corrode and are stronger than normal spokes.

Bicycle commuter Tyres

Unfortunately punctures are an inevitable part of cycling. Most bikes run light, narrow high pressure tyres with a lot of force on a small surface area. Many of us use our bikes to carry things to, and from, work and the shops. This adds more weight and wear to the rear tyre increasing the risk of puncture. You could just buy a cheap mountain bike and run enormous knobbly tyres but they are a bit hard work in our view.

There are another group of riders that spend a lot of time finding the most resilient and most reliable bike tyre.
Touring cyclists  ride long distances with heavy loads to often remote locations. Touring cyclists rely on their tyres and have long known that bullet proof reliability beats an extra one kilometer and hour or a few extra grams.

A mid-level touring tyre like the Panaracer Tourgaurd will resist an awful lot of abuse even if they do weigh 8oo grams each. The Maxxis Refuse is a little lighter at 310 grams and is the choice of many urban riders.

Bicycle disk brakes

The grit gets into your brake blocks and wears them out, but worse still it wears the wheel rim out. A wheel is an expensive replacement part which is why many bikes at the higher end of the price range we are looking at ($480 – $1500) are now coming with disk brakes. The disk pads are about twice the price of traditional brake blocks but that is still cheaper than replacing a wheel.

If you are looking at disk brakes then make sure the brakes are made by a well known brand such as Shimano. This will ensure that disk pads are available in the future.

Bicycle rim brakes

The brakes on bikes at this level will probably be quality linear V brakes or cantilevers. These brakes provide excellent stopping power and are simple to maintain. There is nothing wrong with rim braking as long as you replace the pads often and keep the blocks clean to remove the dirt which grinds away your rim.

Bike hubs and bottom brackets

A modern sealed bottom bracket is pretty standard on most bikes at this level. They are normally a traditional square taper bottom bracket which allows fast change out of economical chain sets when you wear them out. Bottom line is they are all pretty good and have zero maintenance.

Some bikes stick with traditional cup and cone hubs. These are good and can last longer than a sealed bearing as long as they are kept greased and are adjusted at service. Sealed bearing hubs are set and forget which further reduces maintenance of your bike to a minimum.

You may have noticed that we haven’t mentioned Shimano 105, Ultegra, SRAM or anything to do with gearing or group-sets

This is an article all on its own..