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I want to start riding my bike for all local travel, including grocery shopping and going to work. I have an old road bike that I always imagined using for this purpose, but it's just never happened. There is always an excuse (transmission needs cleaning because it gets dirty simply hanging on the garage wall, I need to grab my backpack/gloves/whatever, I need to wear different pants/shoes, there are no fenders, etc.). As a result, I've ridden it like twice since it stopped being my primary road bike. I want to get a no-excuses bike where I literally just throw on a helmet and get on in whatever clothes I'm wearing and go (including work clothes - not an Italian Suit but definitely slacks).

I am imagining a cruiser type with the swept-back bars, but I'm flexible. I figure I want a full chain case to protect my slacks. And fenders. I guess the most basic thing I don't understand is how to carry things. A lot of bikes have racks on the back, but those racks aren't containers - you can't put anything on them unless you bungy it. The best I can tell is that they exist just to let you hang panniers. I guess that's an option but I'd probably prefer a basket back there that I can just throw my grocery bags (or laptop bag) in and done with it.

I've done a little research and it seems like I want something most similar to a Dutch bike. Here are some examples of what I've found:

Civia Cycles Twin City Step Over 7 Speed
Breezer Bikes - Bike Overview
Rendezvous 1 - Urban - Bikes | Schwinn Bicycles
Dutch Bike Co | Home

But you can really get up there - close to $1500 for a grocery bike seems like a lot (probably still come out on top vs driving a car, but still). I also have the ability to get a rusty version of this bike for 85 dollars: NEW MINT Mercury Sabre Flite Throwback - but again I don't really know how I'd carry anything on it since that rear rack doesn't even look good for panniers.

Any advice is appreciated, including just using my existing road bike (not sure if you can get a chain case for it - the biggest problem is the frame has no bosses on it for anything at all, my friend has a similar bike and put fenders on it but he says they always come out of place and are pretty crappy compared to bikes that were designed for them). Thanks!
 

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old school drop out
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Before buying a bike specifically for daily tasks, try and use your current bike to see if you'll actually follow through with using the bike. Fenders are nice, but unless if rains every day, use your bike on a sunny day. Panniers and baskets are nice, but a backpack or messenger bag works well for many things too. If you're not using your current bike on sunny days with light loads, you'll likely no use any bike on rainy days or when it's inconvienent.

I commuted everyday for 6-7 years on a 1980 Peugeot road bike (converted a fixie) and using a Timbuk2 messenger bag. My commute was short and that set-up it worked great for me and was cheap. (I now work from home, so there is no commute.)

I also have an Xtra-Cycle which is an attachment that you put on the back of almost any mountain bike to turn it into a cargo bike. I bought it with the idea of using it for commuting when I needed to carry heavy or large loads to work (mostly boxes to ship). Unfortunately I found out that (a) it's unwieldy to get in and out of the house/garage, and (b) it did not fit into the elevator at work so I had to leave it outside - which meant loading and unloading the bike multiple times. I've found that I only use this bike occasionally because it's less "easy" to use.

I also have panniers on an old 1980's mountain bike that I've used for over-night trips. I really don't use it for commuting or shopping, but for putzing around town and picking up items it works well.

My recommendation is: start with a backpack or messenger bag, move up to panniers if needed, get a cargo bike if the panniers don't hold enough on a a regular basis. Fenders are nice to have - if you buy a bike make sure that you can mount them to the frame (most old bikes accept them). I've not had a bike with a chain guard. I roll up my right pant leg, and you buy straps specifically designed to keep your pant leg away from the chain. If you plan on riding in expensive suits, a chain guard might be necessary, but otherwise it's not a necessity.
 

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I use a pair of these guys on the rack.
View attachment 281986
Nashbar Townie Basket - Bike Panniers/ Rack Trunks/ Handlebar
They fold up flat when not in use, can be removed very easily, and come with waterproof covers. The bottom dimensions match the grocery bags. I usually put a bungee over the top, but it's not really necessary if you're not bouncing around.

My grocery-getter is also my rainy-day commuter, an old road bike that I converted to fixed gear. I have dual-function pedals with a spd mech on one side and on the other a plain pedal for regular shoes. If you're only going to ride in regular shoes toeclips are probably the best choice.

I'd say get a rack for that old bike, put the biggest tire it will fit on the back (you'll have more weight back there), see if it will take fenders. BTW, fenders ALWAYS take some tinkering and customization, for almost any bike. Zipties are a godsend.

The lack of rack eyelets is insignificant. P-clips work fine.

And get some velcro bands or clips for your trousers, or just tuck them into your socks for the full-on nerd biker look. That's what I usually do.

You can do this conversion pretty cheap.

Bring me back a baguette and a nice little wedge of Camembert, not too ripe ;-)
 

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I think I've found a solution for your city cycling needs. It's called the Schwinn City IG8 Bike: www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_557417_-1__202396
For this bike, you can still locate a milk crate and secure it to the rack with a bungy type chord of some sort (I've seen this done before, it works great), for your grocery shopping. It will fit up to two bags of groceries. Also, if your terrain is primarily flat, you can get the single speed version for much less. www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_557556_-1__202396
 

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Here is an example of 'recycling' a well-built bike frame as a possible launching point for ideas.

I converted an old 2 x 6 (1986 Schwinn World Sport, Taiwan built 4020 Chromo) into a 1 x 9 (42 x 11-34) for errands and groceries over time. The bike was free with bent rims at the start. I have "ghetto" panniers using Bungee hooks at the top and bungee cords to strap them at the bottom. Built a porteur style rack that can carry a picnic cooler for the frozen stuff in the summer and senstiive foods in the winter. A tall swan stem gets the bars up and still gives me some drops for riding into the wind coming home with a load. I started with a Wald steel rack (heavy but good for >120 pounds as young college ladies don't break them).

Modified and polished a battered (free) 52 tooth chain wheel into a chain guard on the old Sugino crankset I had:

ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting

Here it is with the current aero levers and bar but no front panniers or cooler (farmer's market run):

ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting

Here it is in an older incarnation before the new bars and levers, drum/generator front hub, and fatter tires, and the Brooks B17 after the other bike got a Brooks Professional, but showing the panniers and a plastic box in place of the cooler:

ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting

I actually find drivers treat me better even though loaded (bike and a full grocery load are in the 125-150 pound range), riding uphill into the wind I am a lot slower that on the other bike. So nerdiness translates into safety.

An extracycle conversion kit and bags costs more than I have in this bike. So instead of a 'Big Dummy' I have 'No Dummy'. :)
 

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Here is an example of 'recycling' a well-built bike frame as a possible launching point for ideas.

I converted an old 2 x 6 (1986 Schwinn World Sport, Taiwan built 4020 Chromo) into a 1 x 9 (42 x 11-34) for errands and groceries over time. The bike was free with bent rims at the start. I have "ghetto" panniers using Bungee hooks at the top and bungee cords to strap them at the bottom. Built a porteur style rack that can carry a picnic cooler for the frozen stuff in the summer and senstiive foods in the winter. A tall swan stem gets the bars up and still gives me some drops for riding into the wind coming home with a load. I started with a Wald steel rack (heavy but good for >120 pounds as young college ladies don't break them).

Modified and polished a battered (free) 52 tooth chain wheel into a chain guard on the old Sugino crankset I had:

ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting

Here it is with the current aero levers and bar but no front panniers or cooler (farmer's market run):

ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting

Here it is in an older incarnation before the new bars and levers, drum/generator front hub, and fatter tires, and the Brooks B17 after the other bike got a Brooks Professional, but showing the panniers and a plastic box in place of the cooler:

ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting

I actually find drivers treat me better even though loaded (bike and a full grocery load are in the 125-150 pound range), riding uphill into the wind I am a lot slower that on the other bike. So nerdiness translates into safety.

An extracycle conversion kit and bags costs more than I have in this bike. So instead of a 'Big Dummy' I have 'No Dummy'. :)
Nice utility bike, BMcB! You're looking mighty Fredly there, you know... :D
 

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I use a Redline 925 for grocery shopping. It's a single speed that comes with fenders and a chain cover. I put a basket on the front that takes care of minor stops for groceries and use a back pack for bigger grocery trips.

I think it's about perfect for the task although for some reason I do a lot less of my shopping at the Whole Foods on Beacon HILL since I got a single speed.

I'd definitely appreciate having gears sometimes but for a city bike that gets left outside the simplicty of single speed is worth it.
 

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When I think about a "grocery getter" I consider buying a cheap old bike from a junk store or CL. Something I can clean/tune up that will work well and not cost much.

Theft is a big problem in my area. My favorite grocery doesn't have a bike rack and the library (where I spend some afternoons) stupidly put their rack in a hidden corner of the building that is not visible from any windows.
It is even a good idea to purposely make your bike look as beat up and crappy as possible, like some do in the big cities.
 
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