Help me find the perfect bike for me!
March 26, 2015 6:18 AM   Subscribe

I want to take up bike riding as a larger portion of my transportation choices. My experience in the past is that when I have the right bike, I'm happy to bike lots of places. Help me pick the right bike for me (or at least know which ones to look at).

I first got into biking when I got a hand-me-down English-style 3-speed a few years ago. Unfortunately, I was doored, and the bike was totaled in the process. I replaced it with an Electra Townie, which is in theory great, but in practice, it's a little to much bike for me.

Here's what I want:

* fairly upright, little pressure on wrists
* "women's" style frame
* internal gears, so I can bike in skirts
* 3- or 7-speed
* easy to mount a basket or other cargo options
* relatively lightweight
* less than $1000 (even less is better!)
posted by spindrifter to Shopping (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you still in/near Boston? Did you really like that English-style 3-speed? If so, get thee to Bicycle Belle! If you're not in Boston, still look at the website - I think you would get some good ideas for brands.
posted by mskyle at 6:22 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Public and Linus both make nice bikes that meet all your criteria.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 6:30 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love my Batavus three-speed city bike for all of the reasons that you list. Batavus doesn't have a US website, but I get the impression that you can usually find them at bike shops in major American cities.
posted by neushoorn at 6:46 AM on March 26, 2015

I've not ridden personally but hear good things about Abici if you can find a local dealer.
posted by mikepop at 6:49 AM on March 26, 2015

I'm not sure about which bike brand you should get, but I will say that last time I needed a bike, I went to a local reputable bike dealer/shop and that was so very helpful. I basically explained to the folks there what I wanted and how much I was willing to spend, and I spent an hour or so sitting on various bikes, trying things out. They even let me ride them around the parking area so I could get the feel. Nothing compares to actually trying them and seeing what you like as we're all different. Good luck!
posted by FireFountain at 7:14 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you considered a recumbent? They've got little pressure on the wrists and your angle of recline is adjustable. For carrying cargo, you could hang a backpack on the seat's back rest. Although they have 21-27 gears, you don't have to use them all. You'd leave it in the middle chainring. A V-Rex from Rans fits your budget.
posted by dlwr300 at 7:24 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I ride a Linus Dutchi (3 speed, though it comes in a 7 as well) most days on my bike commute (on others, I'm on my snow bike) and it absolutely meets your requirements. I had gone to the shop expecting to love the Pashley best and instead came out with the Linus, which was cheaper and a little lighter. The Pilen Lyx was a close second for me, but the Linus felt just a little more agile and was cheaper (this was about 3 years ago--and the Linus came in under $700 and the Pilen just under $1000). I'm curious about some other bikes, still, but the Linus has really been perfect for me. My commute is 4 miles (up to 6 when I have to route around recreational areas in the summer months, depending on route) on a mixture of surface roads, unpaved park path and paved park path. I'm in Chicago, so the only hills are bridges over the harbor. I usually stick to an 8-mile-per-hour pace, but I can comfortably ride it much slower, as well as faster.

For my Linus, I have the rear rack but will probably have the lunch rack installed this summer. Generally, I use a Basil Shopper pannier, sometimes two if I'm grocery shopping, and it handles the weight pretty well. It's easy for me to carry up and down the viaduct near my office (even when I was in physical therapy for an elbow injury I could handle it). I ride it in everything (heels, suits, mostly skirts, though I do wear a skirt clip for the very full skirts) and in most weather because the fenders are solid.

So, yes, I <3 my Linus.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:31 AM on March 26, 2015

I would absolutely second the advice of going to local shops and taking you time trying out bikes. Leave a credit card or ID and they will let you take it out and see if it is right for you.
posted by nickggully at 7:59 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a Dutchperson, which makes me a self-proclaimed expert on using a bike for transportation:
that Linus Dutchi mentioned above looks like it should tick all your boxes. You'll be riding like a queen. Or maybe even like the whole royal family.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:03 AM on March 26, 2015

Recumbents are fantastic and meet all of your requirements, except the skirts. I too love to wear skirts, but the tradeoff for a comfortable ride ends up being well worth it to me. Recumbents can carry so much stuff! A++ would recommend.
posted by aniola at 10:48 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Re: internal gears. You can install internal gears on any bicycle. You can even do it yourself with educational assistance at your nearest bike collective!
posted by aniola at 10:58 AM on March 26, 2015

I'm unclear as to how an internal geared hub relates to riding in skirts; IGHs still use a chain around a chainwheel, typically. But they are fantastic for maintenance and riding in inclement weather!
posted by werkzeuger at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2015

True! My skirts usually got stuck between the rim and the brake pad. I dealt with it by hitching my skirts.
posted by aniola at 2:22 PM on March 27, 2015

You can even install buttons and button holes on some skirts to keep them looking fancy while hitched. I usually just stuffed the bottom edges of mine in my waistbands.
posted by aniola at 2:23 PM on March 27, 2015

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