Saturday, July 19, 2008

In which your correspondent talks a bit about his bicycle

Image found here.

My bloggy friend Cordelia of The Phenomenal Field (who, you know, apparently has a life--which is unfortunate because otherwise she would probably post more frequently than she does) recently posted on her decision to bike-commute to work and how, according to Bike Commuter's gas-saving calculator, she'll end up saving much more money than she had thought. There's also something in there about getting "shapely calves" in the bargain, too. Now, like me, she seems to be seeing bicycles everywhere she looks. Cordelia is not a Wichitan, but after visiting this blog she e-mailed me to suggest that visitors here might be interested in learning how I had come to decide to buy my Fuji Crosstown 3.0 (pictured above).

Well, maybe you will be.

Once I'd made the decision to buy a bike, I started looking at how much money I had for this enterprise. Not much. So, I oh-so-naïvely asked friends what kind of decent bike they could recommend for, say, $200. That seemed reasonable to me; everywhere I looked, it seemed, I was seeing $85 bikes from Wal-Mart--how much more could a good one cost? They alternately a) laughed in my face and b) said I'd only find good used bikes for that price--and to be wary of buying a used bike. But whether a) or b), they also all said: Go to a reputable shop to buy it. That, in retrospect, was the best piece of advice anyone has yet given me about all this.

By the end of June, I'd done some extra teaching and had a little extra money; I'd also done a little research and learned that Fujis had a good reputation for building solid bikes that didn't also cost one's first-born. So, when I walked in the doors of the east-side Bicycle X-Change and said, "I'd like to see a good in-town bike for around $300" and the dealer said, "Here's what you're looking for" and walked over to the Crosstown, it felt right.

I should say here that I'd not regularly ridden a bicycle since high school, so having a bike that felt responsive but sturdy was important to me. So, in addition to the Crosstown I test-rode a rehabbed touring bike, but it felt so light that it startled me. So, the Crosstown it was. No regrets, either.

I got lucky--I know this. I should have researched more than I did; on the other hand, though, a limited budget has a way of defining one's horizon. That's why the advice about seeing a dealer is the single-best piece of advice I can pass on to you, too. That, and thinking about what you want and need in a bike--psychologically as well as physically.


Todd said...

Thanks for posting this. I AM interested in which bike you purchased and why. I'm also looking at the Fuji, as I naively began my search in a very similar fashion to the way you've started yours. They seem to be a good price compared to Trek and, perhaps shallowly, I like the styling quite a bit.

I'm curious though, how far can you comfortably go on it? Is it a solid bike for a medium-distance (I'm thinking 10-15 miles) ride.

John B. said...


Welcome, and thanks for commenting.

The standard seat on the Crosstown is wide and cushy (as bike seats go), with a set of springs underneath to boot. I'll be honest: the first couple of days, I was very saddle-sore. That initial period--what Byron Fick calls "interfacing with the bike seat"--is something you'll have to put up with for a bit, but the same would be true of any bike seat. Anyway, that quickly passed, and now after a ride, I'm tired but not at all sore.

You ask about the Fuji's comfort on long rides. My commute, which I plan to make at least twice a week, is just over 10 miles long; the trip I posted on here was almost 13.4 miles, and I'm looking at taking a ride this coming weekend that'll easily be over 20 miles. Once you get comfortable with the seat, rides of such length shouldn't be any concern as far as your overall comfort is concerned.

I'm sure you already know this, but it bears repeating (especially because I should have done it): test ride a lot of bikes. I feel confident I would have bought the Fuji in the end anyway, though, because sitting on it and riding it made me feel instantly confident in it and in myself that I could do this. That may sound weird, but it was and remains important to me.

Good luck in your search. I hope you'll let me know how it goes.