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I have route to do daily to go to work. Could you recommend a model of bike available in France for less than 350€. My physical condition is not too bad. I am athletic. Maybe a single speed can be a good thing? I'm just looking for a bike to ride around town. I also want to use it for a few rides, but always around town.

The goal is also to improve my shape. I was thinking about getting this one: Orange single-speed Velo-ville

Two route profiles, one 7.6km predominantly downhill, the other 7.8km uphill

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  • You need to specify the road surface also. Narrow wheels are best on the tarmac but if it is soft gravel something else may be better. 142 m up is not exactly nothing, I would not recommend just one gear.
    – nightrider
    Jul 6, 2022 at 13:40
  • Note that product recommendations are specifically off-topic, but the sub-question about whether a single-speed is a good idea for this commute seems like a better fit.
    – Chris H
    Jul 6, 2022 at 14:05
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    Looks like a pretty steep climb on your return trip. Certainly possible on a single speed, but it will be hard and you probably don’t want to have an all-out workout every day. In that price category I’d try to find a used road bike or hybrid (preferably without suspension).
    – Michael
    Jul 7, 2022 at 5:52

2 Answers 2

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Those elevation profiles look like they're from Google, which tends to underestimate. The second would end up being rather hilly. That would be a good workout on a singlespeed, unless it's frustratingly low-geared for the first. Plenty of people would do it; I might, but wouldn't recommend it for someone not currently riding.

For a commute like that, I'd look for a second-hand hybrid* with gears - you should get fairly recent 3x7 or 3x8 gearing, with enough room in your budget for a good lock, lights, and helmet. This would also handle any rough surfaces short of actual mountain bike trails, with reasonable tyres.

I suggest you aim for being able to add a pannier rack later.

Looking new on Decathlon, you could still get something reasonable - around €200 you get 1x6 gearing - old fashioned but Shimano so you could get spares. By around €300 it's 1x9 gearing, own brand and Microshift, but spare parts for repairs shouldn't be problematic. Note that some very cheap supermarket bikes / bicycle-shaped objects (BSOs) have compatibility issues when parts wear out, and are best avoided. The upgrade from V brakes to mechanical discs, and the other higher specifications you get for the higher price don't really matter, though you save nearly 1kg. Pannier rack compatibility looks almost universal in this category on Decathlon.


* The most common usage of Hybrid seems to be equivalent to vélo tout chemin or VTC; the examples I can see on Decathlon are the more rugged ("trekking") style of hybrid, while the light (sometimes called "fitness") hybrids are treated as flat bar road bikes. They'd also be fine on all the French roads I've ridden.

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  • Vélo tout chemin is meant to be an intermediate category between "road bikes" (regardless of the handle bar type) and vélo tout terrain (all terrain bike = MTB), suited for offroad on maintained paths (gravel roads, smooth forest trails, fireroads...). Under the french classification, you'll find hybrids in flat bar road bikes (if they are meant for sport), city bikes (if they are equipped with racks and fenders) and VTC for the offroad types. The OP can also find something suitable among city bikes.
    – Rеnаud
    Jul 6, 2022 at 14:59
  • @Renaud that was my understanding too (I speak some French but I'm not up to fine distinctions). I find the English "hybrid" rather too broad, so like the more explicit subdivisions used in French even though I tend to make my bikes do more than they should. I didn't look in the city bikes section (slow loading for some reason)
    – Chris H
    Jul 6, 2022 at 15:07
  • indeed, although subdivisions are not really a language issue, but a "habit" issue. Hybrid in English seems to be a catch-all category rather than a well-defined one. Small note: I would however not consider that hybrid is equivalent to VTC: the budget given by the OP is close to the pivot where front suspensions are being offered for VTCs. It's much better to have fenders/racks or higher quality components that an entry-level suspension fork (tires for VTC will also be more gravel than road).
    – Rеnаud
    Jul 6, 2022 at 15:18
  • @Renaud indeed - but the habit of using the catch-all term is well established. I looked at 3 bikes in Decathlons VTC section - at €200 and €260 they had no suspension; at €300 it did - which I wouldn't want for myself. All had rack mounts; none had mudguards but all could take them. So VTC doesn't map to "suspension hybrid".
    – Chris H
    Jul 6, 2022 at 15:28
  • Vélos de ville doesn't have any hybrids at the OP's price point - the vélos de ville classique aren't hybrids and the vélos de ville longue distance (a bizarre term) are too expensive, but closest to my hybrid. The flat bar road bikes/tourers under vélos route are also too expensive.
    – Chris H
    Jul 6, 2022 at 15:33
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  1. In Southern France maybe you can get away with a bicycle without the fenders, but in the rest of the country when the weather is unpredictable you would badly need them. Keep in mind that they are not meant to protect you from simple water, but from that mix of water oil and dust left by the consuming tyres that is deposited on the road.
    BTW

  2. Gears or no gears is a difficult decision. No gear reduces the maintenance and in a commuting bike low maintenance is a great feature. But on the other hand if you have to stop at a lot of traffic lights restarting in low gear helps a lot to reduce overheating. I guess you don't want to arrive sweating at work. Also the slope may play a role even if the ones you posted do not seem too steep. My advice is to borrow a bicycle without gears from a friend and try the course on a warm day. Otherwise you could look for a 3 gears internal hub, that would be the best compromise between flexibility, cost and low maintenance.

  3. Rims. It depends on the roads you have. If you have potholes or tram tracks on your way the rims would be soon full of dents and bending. For a commuting bike you want strong ones even at the cost of some extra weight.

  4. Lights. I see that the bicycle you linked has no lights. For sure sooner or later you will need them. So if you were interested in that bicycle for the price consider that it will imply an extra expense to add the lights later anyway.

  5. Where would you put a chain or a lock on that frame? Commuting means that some day you would like to stop at a shop along the way, or stop a couple of hours in front of a doctor's studio or for any other reason. If you can't lock your bicycle the usability of that bicycle would be severely limited. You better think into advance how you can lock it and how you can place the lock on the frame in such a way that it does not disturb you while you ride.
    Personal case: I never paid a lot of attention to the weight of the frame because I would defeat the purpose of the light frame anyway. I always added long and heavy chains that allow you to leave the bike anywhere, even locking it to a fat light pole.

  6. Tyres. I see that those in the picture have the Puncture protection label, but all the tyres resist punctures in a decent manner when they are new. They consume quickly though and when the thread gets thin the puncture easily. Look for a thick, thick thread.

I advise you to look on the internet sites of the Dutch producers like Batavus, Gazelle or Sparta to see the feature of the bicycles the sell. They will be out of the budget you were thinking, but you still can see the basic features of bicycles that were though to be useful as a mean of transport and not just toys with limited flexibility and usability.

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  • I think that I will look into second hand, given your advices and my budget and try to find something more adapted to my needs. Thank you!!!
    – Mehdi
    Jul 6, 2022 at 15:47
  • what do you think about this one leboncoin.fr/velos/2186415371.htm (I live in the South of France, btw)
    – Mehdi
    Jul 6, 2022 at 15:48
  • I don't know. It says "Vous avez été bloqué(e)" I guess the site does not like my browser, I have strict privacy settings.
    – FluidCode
    Jul 6, 2022 at 15:51

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