Quick story: I'm a student at American University in DC (looking at your blog it looks like you're in the area too). Last Summer I decided it was time to ditch my old Giant Mountain Bike that I'd had since I was 14 and get something better suited for the area. I didn't, and still don't really, know a lot about bikes but I'm a patient, thorough shopper and I looked all over the place. I went to Big Wheel Bikes in Georgetown and also the bigger store in Arlington. I went to that other Georgetown bike shop I don't remember the name of. I went to Hudson Trail in Tenleytown. I went to the Bike Rack on Q st. And I went to District Hardware on L st.
Even though I didn't know much about biking, I quickly figured out what I wanted. I wanted a chainguard, backrack, and fenders. And I needed it to be able to get up Mass Ave because AU is at the top of the hill that is DC. I almost bought a Breezer for $900 but ended up buying the Raleigh Detour 3.5 for $370 from District Hardware.
|Raleigh Detour 3.5. Credit: Raleigh USA|
I added the backrack and fenders and the guys at DH were even able to put on a chain guard on it despite it being a 21 speed. I didn't even know that was possible. That got it up to $575 which was still a great deal. So that was a pretty great bike.
It was stolen last night. The front tire was U-Locked to a bike rack and the frame cable locked to the U-lock and the whole set up was in the basement of my apartment building which is supposed to be locked all the time. Somebody got in somehow, cut the cable, stole somebody else's front tire and left me bike-less (as a side note, I had my old Giant stolen last Summer too from the same basement but at least I already had the new bike. Fool me once...).
So I need a new bike or CaBi [Capital Bikeshare] membership. Any recommendations?
I know I still want the backrack, chainguard, and fenders. I'd like a light for nighttime but can add that myself. I'm indifferent about handlebars but I like to stand up while biking up hills sometimes (I remember one bike I tried made that really awkward).
Also, since many of my friends do not have bikes of their own, what are your thoughts on passengers on the backrack? It seems pretty common in Europe and I'd love to be able to have a pretty lady along for a ride. But the backrack I had wouldn't have been solid enough. So if you can consider that in your recommendation it would be greatly appreciated. Of course, if it is stupid and dangerous just tell me.
Thanks in advance and keep up the good work on the blog,
My condolences on the theft of your bikes. It's especially a shame that you lost your new Raleigh Detour. Unfortunately, bike thefts always seem to be more prevalent around campuses. For that reason, I usually recommend beater bikes to college students.
However, I like your idea about getting a CaBi membership even better.
|CaBi is still expanding. A map of bike stations is available on the CaBi website.|
I don't see how you can go wrong. You won't have to worry about storage or theft. After you dock the bike at a CaBi station, it's no longer your problem. There is a CaBi station in Ward Circle. While you're riding around on your CaBi bike, you can think about what bike you'd like to invest in for the long term, including your post-college days.
As for your last question, about having passengers ride on your back rack, that one's easy. Absolutely not. Even the sturdiest racks available, which are made for loaded touring, only have a weight capacity of 75 lbs. (regular racks can hold about 50 lbs). So unless your lady friend is an elf, you don't want to carry her around on your rack. Use your new CaBi membership to rent her a bike so she ride along with you.
Best of luck,
p.s. - if you want more advice on your options, I can post this and you may get some helpful advice in the comments.
Thanks for the response. I would like to see if there is any more advice in the comments. Also, a quick update: it looks like I have about $1000 to spend and so far the bike I like best is actually the Raleigh Detour Deluxe. Kind of funny if I end up getting a better version of what I already had.
My advice remains the same. You can leave your suggestions for Ben in the comments.