Things to think about when looking for a new bike

I’ve been thinking of getting a new bike for commuting and errands. For years I’ve had commuter specific bikes that would allow me to carry a load of stuff like groceries and other junk. Since I’m in the business that I’m in (running this site as well as, I’ve had bikes come and go through my stable — from fast road bikes to heavy duty utility bicycles.

What I’ve come to realize is that I like going fast. But I also want to be practical. I own a mini-van; yes I have cars and even a motorcycle. But one thing I love about my mini-van is the fact that it’s pretty useful, yet powerful enough to pass other vehicles while I’m on the freeway. You see that’s kinda been the story of my life: I like things to be exciting yet practical. That’s probably why I’d never own a 2 passenger convertible nor would I ever own a carbon fiber road bike…both are exciting, but I can’t justify getting them because it just doesn’t make sense for me.

I know that there are some of you who commute with a carbon fiber road bike or some that do it with an Xtracycle. So when I’m shopping around for a new commuter bike, I’ve got to think about a few things.
1. Is it going to be fun to ride?
2. Is it comfortable?
3. Is it practical? Will I be able to install a rack and panniers if I wanted?
4. Will it be fast?

My 4 reasons may not fit with what you would consider when looking for a new bike and that’s completely ok. When you are looking to get a new bike, you should make up a list of what things you’re looking for in this new bike. That way you can pinpoint the exact style and type of ride you want to try out.

Since I’m a mountain biker at heart, I’ve always leaned towards flat bar road bikes because it’s the positioning that I favor the most. However, I do like road drop bars just because when I was a young lad, I was heavily into road biking.

So I’ve come down to a few style of bikes that I’m going to consider.
B)Flat Bar road bike
C)E-Bike with racks and panniers galore!
D) A geared version of the Redline 925

Before I end this article, just remember: When you’re shopping for a new bike, consider what type of terrain, where you’ll be riding and how you want to use the bike. Some will be ok with either a road bike or a mountain bike. Heck, some of our readers use recumbents to commute with while others use fixies and folding bikes. Whatever your choice will be, just remember shopping for it is the best part since you can pretty much custom tailor your bike to your needs.


  1. Brian

    Get cross bike. I got the surly cross check and love it more than any bike ever

  2. Raiyn

    Gotta say your 4 points are quite similar to my criteria for a new ride. My current top of the list is the Redline Metro Classic although the BB5s have to go in favor of BB7s.

  3. RL

    I had a Soma Double Cross, but I sold it a few years back. That’s one of the 2 bikes that I’ve regretted selling.

  4. Graham

    Can we be honest for a second? For as much riding as most of us do, only the extremes of the scale (bakfiets – carbon fiber team bike) are going to make any actual difference in travel time.

    If you really want a new bike, I humbly suggest getting bent. First, the frames are wildly different from each other and their handling and speed varies tremendously as a result. If I could recommend a fast bike, I’d go with the short wheel based bikes like Bacchetta or if you’re looking for something really wild, a Cruzbike.

    I think that you’re old enough and confident enough in yourself to advance to the recumbent platform, RL.

  5. RL


    Thanks for the suggestion. But I’ve actually owned a recumbent a few years back. It was the Sun EZ1. I don’t think it’s really for me.

  6. Ghost Rider

    @Graham — I’m gonna have to disagree with you here. I have 7 or 8 bikes that I press into commuting service, and each one lets me go at different speeds to and from work/errands. On the days when I met my homies for an after-work training ride, my road bike got me to work at least 10 minutes faster — and it’s not some carbon wunderbike.

    Conversely, on the days I rode my Xtra, I was often late to work. Luckily, no one ever noticed 😉

    And for those of you following along, the following article we published in 2009 can help with the bike-buying process:

  7. Ghost Rider

    Re: recumbents — doesn’t the beard reduce aerodynamic efficiency? What about sandals in a workplace environment — I know that at my job, such attire is frowned upon.

    I kid, I kid — I’ve been giving recumbent folks a hard time for years (“you’re laying down on the job!”).

  8. Graham

    RL – The EZ1 is not much like the bikes I wrote about.

    GhostRider – You must ride much differently or further than I do as I’ve only noticed a few minutes difference between my beach cruiser xtracycle and my road bike. (Granted, it DOES require far less effort to ride the road bike.) Oh, and the beard DOES slow you down, but it allows you to better judge the cross and headwinds, which improves your overall efficiency!


    I have a real problem now. I used to enjoy shopping for and selecting bikes. Ever since I built a couple up from bare frame, I am impossible to satisfy. There’s always some component choice I feel is wrong, or stupid unimportant detail that convinces me that I must build once more.

    Why can’t I just swap out the bits I don’t like? Well, if you’re gonna do that, you might as well build the whole thing…

    It is a sickness that I honestly resent sometimes. Grrr. Don’t build yourself a bike, ever.

  10. Madeline Lauf

    Hey There!

    I am the founder of Revolt, an electric bike start up in Chicago! We are exactly what are you looking to get your hands on – the premier electric bike out there. You would love the Revolt Rebel Bike a 350 Watt Motor with full LCD display. Take commuting to a new level. The legal speed limit is 20 mph but it is 1. FUN TO RIDE. 100% fun. It is 2. Extremely comfortable. The seat can be modified to your needs to fit any style that you may prefer. Also It is 3. SO practical. You can charge it right up and it will take you 30 miles on one charge. Battery is light. no big deal. Install whatever you want. and most importantly yes it will be fun and fast.

    E -bikes are “in” Join Us and Revolt!

  11. BluesCat

    Okay, so I’m gonna set you all straight here. Figuring out what constitutes the absolutely best bike for YOU boils down to one … simple … statement:
    The best bike for you is a bike you will ride
    Now, as far as the rest of the conversation goes …
    Graham – You’re pretty much accurate about ride time, but only if you are in a heavy duty urban area, like me, where you’re constantly crossing traffic light controlled intersections and mixing it up with automobile, bus, and pedestrian traffic. If you’re in a less “traffic dense” situation I think a speedy, light bicycle might pay off for you.
    You are dead on, 100% accurate about recumbents, however.
    RL – The Sun EZ-1 is a fun, around-the-neighborhood ride, but the little 20″ rear and 16″ front wheels don’t really make it suited for much else; it isn’t even in the same league as my Sun EZ-Sport, and certainly isn’t up to commuting or touring as some other, well known recumbents. Take the redoubtable Lightning P-38 as an example; saying that the EZ-1 is just as good for commuting as the P-38 is like saying a Wally*Mart NoName BMX bike is just as good for racing as the Trek Madone 7.9.
    GR – (chuckle) Yeah, all youse whipper-snappers poured into yer Lycra Depends can’t appreciate the glory of zooming down the road in a 30-mph Chaise Lounge!
    Madeline – I have an A2B Metro e-bike, and fully loaded it really ticks off the roadies when I glide by them in my top gear on the upgrades on the way to work. I don’t think your link is right.

  12. Mike Myers

    I like your choices, RL. Of the ones you mention, the ‘cross bike is probably the one I’d choose. Of my three bikes, one is an all-terrain oddball(Bridgestone XO-2), one is a “sport touring bike”(Gunnar Sport, and one is a steel road bike(Surly Pacer). The XO-2 is my go-to most days, because it has 26 inch wheels, fatter tires, and more cargo capacity. Of course, the fact that it’s old and isn’t flashy helps with that decision, too.

    You could think about a touring bike, but a full-on tourer is a bit of overkill for someone to just commute on. Now if you decided to join the world of hairy-legged tourers…

    GR is going to laugh, but I’m actually considering adding a recumbent trike to the stable. They look both comfortable and fast.

  13. james

    here in Canada we got Norco and Devinci brand making pretty nice commuter bikes.

    i commute on a norco vfr 3, it’s a performance hybrid. It’s quick, fast and can take fenders and racks for utility.

    highly recommend it for people north of the border (for those of you in the states have more selections for better price).

  14. Raiyn

    I must be one of those odd ducks who just can NOT do above seat steering on a ‘bent. It never looks or feels right to me. On the other hand, under seat steering felt immediately natural. If I was in the market I’d be looking at a Longbikes Slipstream.

  15. Roberts

    Recumbents are great except if you’ve got a load on the back and a regular hill to ride up. Sometimes you just want to get out of the saddle and pump, even if it’s just to let off steam. Remember that won’t be an option on a bent.
    Cross bikes are great for commuting EXCEPT if you want panniers on, it’s surprising how many don’t come with eyelets on the back, and certainly not double eyelets for mudguards as well. Flat bar commuters on the other hand….

  16. Herbert Kilpin

    Went through this exact exercise last year and went with a Bianchi San Jose I was fortunate to find new on ebay. Tremendously fun and utilitarian as I’ve decked it out with fenders, rack, panniers, etc. Good luck!

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