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My current bike is this one: http://www.amazon.com/Avalon-26-Mens-Cruiser-Bike/dp/B00BF0DDRG To disclaim, I don't know very much about bikes, and I'm trying to get more into bikes for commuting and for pleasure. To that end, I suspect that this bike's frame and tire structure are suboptimal for commuting, because there is a shock in the frame, and also two front shocks. As well, the tires are thicker and lower pressure, and what I'm made to understand is that higher pressure is better for commuting, because the rolling friction is lowered.

Basically, what I want to do is piecemeal upgrade this bike, so that in the end I have a nice commuter bike (perhaps with all the fixings), too. My current plans are:

  • Get new wheels (not in the least because my current ones are not perfectly flat, and I've had to hammer the rim back into shape using a rubber mallet.
  • I would like a better handlebar, but the angle of the seat stem makes drop bars seem impractical.
  • Tires more suited to city riding (which go along with the wheels)
  • Longer term, get a new, lighter frame

For the record, I'm aware that it could be cheaper and would be easier to simply put away some money each month, and then outright buy a nicer bike. However, this is as much a learning exercise as a practical endeavor.

What general trajectory should I take to accomplish this upgrade to commuter bike?

I appreciate any and all advice and/or criticism!

  • I am thoroughly surprised by what I didn't know. Thank you both for your advice. I've started looking around my CL for a better bike, and I may be lucky enough to find one. I won't attempt to use this is a consultation forum, but thank you both. – Bronze Oct 20 '15 at 19:09
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    I found a nice commuter bike on CL for $400. You can find nice used bikes for less than what you would pay for the components new. – paparazzo Oct 20 '15 at 19:56
  • Gidday and welcome to SE Bicycles. Your question is well written and laid out - thank you. I look forward to your continued particiation and contributions. – Criggie Oct 20 '15 at 20:58
  • Yeah, just for kicks I looked to see what was available in my area too & saw several specialized, trek & giant hybrids & hard tail / rigid fork MTBs that could be good commuter candidates as well as a couple older Raleigh road bikes all in the $100 - $400 range. If you look at MTBs, consider whether or not the fork is lockable (if it is a suspension fork) & most importantly, get something that fits you well! – renesis Oct 20 '15 at 21:54
  • You should be able to find an old rigid mountain bike or old road bike or something else of decent quality that makes a decent commuter for well under 200 dollars at a garage sale or something. – Batman Oct 20 '15 at 22:23
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My advice: Buy a used rigid frame commuter bike on criagslist & turn around & sell this one for $80.

If you are intent on working on your current bike, try:

  • Have your wheels professionally "trued"at a good local bike shop. They should be able to tell you if the wheel is too misshapen to be trued well.
  • Replace your tires with something like a 26" 1.25" wide city / touring tire (like a schwalbe marathon)
  • Keep the stem that came on your bike & angle it forward much further than as is shown in the picture on amazon, but replace the bars with either flat bars or butterfly bars.

What I would avoid.

  • Don't even think about replacing the frame. In all likelihood the components on the bike would to some extent not even work on a new frame unless very very carefully selected (IE: fork, headset, bottom bracket, cables and sheathing, possibly even the derailleur / derailleur mounts)
  • Don't try going to drop bars, you would spend several times the bikes worth getting shifters & brake levers to work with them & very likely more money on derailleurs too.

Other things to note: Having full suspension on the bike will rob you of significant forward motion due to the bobbing motion that can accompany pedaling, especially up hill. - You could replace the front fork, but again this may cost more than the bike did. You are stuck with the rear shock as it is integral to the frame, & it is not practical to swap out the frame.

  • I wish I could have chosen both the answers, but this one is just a little more detailed. Thanks to the both of you, though! – Bronze Oct 21 '15 at 0:04
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This is what we call a BSO (Bicycle Shaped Object) -- everything on that is as cheap as possible, which makes sinking even modest upgrades into it not really worth it. For upgrading and tweaking, you'd be much better off starting with an old (but decent quality) bike. You'll likely come out monetarily ahead, and have better quality parts to make it easier to learn (e.g. derailleurs which stay in adjustment, etc.). Also, be careful if you're removing dents in a rim with a hammer -- its less safe than the proper tool (and be careful with spoke tension).

If you want to do something to make it better for commuting, I'd limit it to maybe a set of bar ends if you want more hand positions or a better saddle. You already have slick tires.

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