Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bike Me!

So, last week when my car was sick I did a half-day of mass transit in Portland to get to work.

This consisted of leaving my house about 35 minutes early, walking four blocks to the bus stop for the 4, riding to the Rose Quarter transit center and taking the Blue MAX to Beaverton. Then a short five minute walk to my office.

I believe in mass transit. I know it does a lot of good for the city and I feel like a first rate schmuck for not being more on board with it personally. But, I must confess, I hate the bus. Crowded. Odd smelling. It’s like being in someone else’s sweat glands to me.

But MAX is a bit different, especially if you’re going against the flow of traffic. High ceilings, lots of windows. I got some reading done, which was nice.

So now I am seriously pondering a switch to becoming a MAX commuter. At least during Spring and Summer. My company will pay for most of the monthly pass so it’s basically free. I’ll drive about 500 miles less each month, which will save about $100 in gas costs each month. Plus there’s the small environmental impact.

But how do I avoid the bus?

Easy, get on my bicycle. Except my bicycle is a piece of crap. It needs so much work that I’m probably going to need to acquire a new bike. Plus it’s a mountain bike and is a really uncomfortable and difficult ride in the city. But I really want to be one of those hip Portland guys who hang his bike on the bike things on MAX. I really do.

So I’m in the market for a new bike. I’ve checked out craigslist and am wary of buying used – because I have no idea what’s quality and what’s not, nor do I know where that bike’s been. I think I need either a commuter bike, complete with fenders and a big comfy saddle or a traditional road bike. My commute on the bike will only be a few miles each day but I will likely use the bike to get around town a bit from time to time as well.

As I’ve been searching online I realize that sizing a bike for me will be a challenge. I’m a typical 5’10” tall but I have a longer torso and slightly shorter legs than average.

So, I am accepting suggestions for a bike that’s cheap (under $500 – make that well under $500) and suggestions regarding what I should be looking for to meet my needs. What do you think?


Roberto said...

Good for you. Free yourself from your car.

Two suggestions: You want to be properly fitted for a bike. Nothing worse than getting stuck with a frame that is too big/small and that will cause discomfort. The best fitter in town is Bike Gallery. I recommend paying a visit to the store near the Central Library. Have them size you and write down everything they say.

Their bikes are expensive (overpriced) so my next suggestion is to work with their measurements and go elsewhere. I had success getting a high end road bike for a decent price (more than $500 though) at Performance Bike at the 205 Mall. They through in free tuneups and have a rewards system that can help you save money buying accessories. They probably have something near your price range.

For a couple of years I road a comfy Bianchi hybrid that I bought at River City. It was around $500 and was a nice bike for shorter rides.

Devlyn said...

Awesome! I just sold my car, and it was driven away today. I conveniently live 4 blocks from the 60th Ave MAX station, but I don't mind taking the bus when it is more convenient, which I actually did a lot this last weekend.
I'm in the market for a bike, too, and have heard really good things about Community Cycling Center. They sell refurbished bikes with warranties for way less than the new counterparts, and have a good staff on hand -
I'll likely be heading there at the beginning of May, as I would like to start biking to work in the morning (5 miles, nearly all downhill).