How Old is Your Commuter?

1993 Bridgestone XO-1

The great response to our “Refurbs” post from the other day has me wondering how many of our readers are riding older bikes as their primary commuter. This calls for a poll… :-)

How old is your commuter bike?

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45 Responses to “How Old is Your Commuter?”

  • Rich says:

    I commute on a 1986 Schwinn World Sport that I bought from a neighbor when I was in high school. Only upgrades are fenders and Cane Creek brake levers. Heavy but durable. Would love a fancy new bike, but so hard to justify when the old workhorse is still rolling along!

  • Jed says:

    I’ve had a few commuters, and my first (in college) was new, my first in the pacific nw was easily 15y, and the donor for my XC is probably 10y by now, and my short bike might be 5y.

  • Steve Park says:

    1983 Trek 610. That’s misleading. Almost everything but the frame and fork is recent.

  • Everett Keyser says:

    +1 for the old Schwinns!

    I commute on an 1988 Schwinn Sprint I bought from a guy on CL. I originally just wanted the mag trainer the guy was selling. When I got there he sold me the bike for an extra $10. It’s a heavy beast with steel everywhere and quick-release nothing, but comfy and decently fast.

  • Pete says:

    I voted 10-20 as I am still using by 1990 MTB as a commuter. Starting Monday, however, I’ll be using my new LHT, so I’ll come back and vote 0-5!
    The old bike works fine, but it has always been too small for me, and the short chainstays are a real nuisance with my briefcase pannier on the back. I’ve noticed that I’ve adopted a very awkward pedaling stroke on the bike to adapt to the poor fit, and given how often I ride it I’m concerned that it will result in real problems eventually. At least that’s what I told myself when I ordered the new one! ;-)

  • Holly says:

    My winter bike is a 1988 (or 89) Gary Fisher mountain bike. My road bike is a 1986 Trek. I have a “neighborhood” bike for little errands that’s a ’70s Schwinn. I don’t know if I’ll ever own a new bike–these steeds are serving me very well.

    As you may recall, I’m looking to add some fenders to my red Trek this Spring. Because of your post on fenders, I now think she looks nude without them.

  • Gavin says:

    Lately, I commute mostly on a 1979 Schwinn Traveler, converted to fixed gear. Last year I also rode a 1984 Schwinn High Sierra which I had modified with moustache bars and fenders and such. I sold it, and also have a commuterized 1992 Giant Yukon MTB and am trying to decide if I want to build a recently acquired 1983 Raleigh Tamarack (650b MTB) into a townie or more of a tourer.

  • Jonathan says:

    Red 1968 Schwinn Racer. New tires and tubes, new cables, and replaced the old 3-speed Sturmey-Archer shifter. Added a vintage Schwinn collapsing basket/rear rack on the back end and a Wald front basket. Also added wheel reflectors for extra nighttime visibility. Got a great local bike shop that services her once a year and she rides like a dream and flys in 3rd gear. I’ve had lots of offers but I’m never selling her.

  • Steve says:

    I ride a 1971 Raleigh 3-speed “Glider” at least 7 miles each weekday year round from Somerville to Boston in Massachusetts for about the last 3 years. It’s been absolutely perfect for me and I was very fortunate to find one in such good condition.

  • Tim Keneipp says:

    I ride a 97 Cannondale H1 hybrid, different wheels & bars (Soma Oxfords) than original as my commuter. It’s aluminum frame saves it from the sand and salt of the many Wisconsin winter sthrough which I have ridden. My road bike is a 98 GT Force, newer wheels, bars & saddle, but she still runs with the mid level pack despite being over 25lbs.

  • Scott Spierling says:

    My commuter is a 1987 Ritchey Timber Wolf with Tom Slick tires. Original down to the Biopace chain rings. Just remembered, I had to replace the saddle last year.

  • Furrycup says:

    I ride an ’84 Ross Mt. Whitney. It’s chrome and removed all the logos. I bought it as a frame and fork about a year ago for $50. I used some mostly period correct parts I already had – Mavic hubs/rims, 6-speed Suntour freewheel, Sugino triple crank, Dian Compe cantis, Avocet touring saddle, Shimano Deephead derailleurs. Magura motorcycle levers, Shimano thumb shifters and early Stumpjumper (’83, I think) stem and bars. New stuff I added was a Paul Flatbed rack and a Bobike Junior kid seat in back. I had fenders on it but they got knocked around too much locking it up places so they’re now gone. I get more compliments on this bike than any other bike I’ve owned.

  • voyage says:

    “How Old is Your Commuter?”

    That’s a tough one. In what passes for winter here I like to walk to and from work. One commute is only 2.1 miles each way (very relaxing and thought-gathering/organizing), the other is about twenty feet each way to home office (I walk it). I have no sure idea how old I am: it is my understanding that the human body is constantly regenerating.

    Other seasons I ride a menu of bikes, < 5 years.

  • Bob P. says:

    Less than a year old Gary Fisher Simple City 8, and a 2009 Surly LHT for the days I want to get lost on the way home.

  • Lori says:

    While I have three main bikes and tend to rotate which one I ride depending on my mood, the weather, and what I’m carrying, my 1971 Raleigh Twenty is my favorite commuter. While it can actually feel really zippy, something about the way it looks and feels causes me to relax and enjoy my commute in a way I don’t usually on my other bikes.

  • Marshall says:

    1992 Rocky Mountain Vertex — the last of the handmade in Canada all Prestige frames. Though it has few original parts at this point, it makes for a lovely riding city commuter bike.

  • Velouria says:

    I commute on a mid-1990s Gazelle A-Touren. It was bought in Germany and brought to the US by its previous owner, eventually to be abandoned, then handed over to me in a stroke of pure luck. I modified it with woven dressguards, DIY leather grips, cream tires and a new Brooks saddle. The bicycle is reliable and comfortable, and gets me everywhere I need to go.

  • Bob Bryant says:

    +1 old Schwinns.
    My rain commuter is a 70s Astra (rebadged Motobecane?) fixie. Previous to this I rode a 72 Schwinn Collegiate & 72 Varsity as my main commuters. The Collegiate needs new wheels and the Varsity was passed along to my son-in-law so he can commute to work on it.

  • Kim says:

    I ride a SUB (women’s offshoot of Avanti) bike as my commute to university, but there is nothing I’d like more than to do up an old steel bike as a commuter/general bike. Unfortunately though, I’m 5’2 and am finding it incredibly hard to find *anything* vintage that fits me – bar stepthroughs – which I’m not really tooo keen on (Bit of a tomboy here). I am almost resigned to the fact that if I ever do get a steel frame, it will probably have to be new and custom so the standover height is actually doable.

  • Mike says:

    1984 or 85 Miyata 1000, somewhat updated now. Rides great, looks great. Touring, commuting, riding reasonably fast bike, it does it all for me.

  • Ryan Parke says:

    1984 Fuji Touring Series IV here. Everyday bike, commuter and fully loaded touring masterpiece.

  • Mike says:

    The workhorse of my commuting stable is 40 years old. The “kid” in the garage, the newest of the lot, is a mere 33 or so.

  • Dan says:

    Just replaced my ’91 Bridgestone RB-T with a 1985 Specialized Expedition. The Bstone had a bad case of the shimmies under load, otherwise it was great. Briefly tried a new Surly Cross Check last year, did not like it at all. Can’t relate to new bikes.

  • Jon Grinder says:

    1989 Specialized RockCombo and 1988 Specialized RockHopper (converted to 700c wheels, fixed-gear, with a second top tube added to make it look more “vintage”).

  • Shane G says:

    Been riding a 1970’s Apollo Deelite since October. Had found it in a recycling bin. It replaced my 08 Giant Rincon for regular commuting purposes. Still use the rincon for utility purposes.

  • doug in seattle says:

    I’m riding an 1983 Schwinn Voyageur. Made in Japan by Panasonic. Converted to a city porteur, with Nitto Promenades and a big front rack. I bought the frame off Craigslist for $50 and it has exceeded every single one of my expectations. Chrome fork and rear triangle, excellent geometry, quality tubing, good ride, fits 37mm tires and aluminum fenders. The parts are mainly a Deore DX set swapped over from an 1993 Bstone MB-3.

    The only problem is that currently 198X steel touring bikes are tremendously overpriced — I guess due to surging demand and a rather fixed supply. I have a feeling all those $900+ Miyatas, Treks, and Panasonics were much, much cheaper just a few years ago. OH WELL.

  • Jaime Hall says:

    1989 Bridgestone RB2

  • Ryan says:

    1973 Schwinn Continental is my main commuter and grocery getter. Built like a tank. For fun rides I have a 1972 Motobecane Le Champion. I wouldn’t know what to do with a new bike.

  • Paul, Birmingham uk says:

    As case of extremes for me:
    At the moment I am using a brompton S6 which is only just over a year old as my commute is long and multimodal, however for years I used my grandfathers 1930s Pegasus, all black with 3 speed sturmy archer, rim dynamo and rod brakes, I’m not convinced it was much, if at all, slower or hard work than other modern bikes I’ve owned, it’s currently taking a well earned rest in my in-laws garage but I’m sure will surface again soon….

  • Michael Van Laeken says:

    1968 Groene Leeuw(his) and 1973 Raleigh Supercourse(hers). Unfortunately, they make for great frequent rides and not commuters. The Groene Leeuw is the original frame, breaks, stems, and rear derailleur but the rest is updated. The 1973 is all original to my knowledge except the bars and wheels. Both are classic green colors. Thanks mom and dad.

  • Jay (Epstein) in Tel Aviv says:

    +1 too small 1990s Gary Fisher MTB.

  • Erich says:

    Hey that’s a pic of mine in the post! Well, I ride a 1992 XO-1 as a commuter with the caliper brakes instead of cantis. It’s a supreme commuter.

  • David Bolles says:

    87 Schwinn World Sport is my commuter/every ride bike. New : stem, bars, levers, seatpost, seat, pedals. Added Planet Bike fenders and a rack of some sort. Starting to show some wear but, it is holding up and overall rides quite well.
    I love the old bikes. It’s be nice to get a hold of a Raleigh and a 70’s Schwinn…

  • David says:

    My commuter is a 1993 Diamondback Overdrive Comp. It’s one of the original 29er designs, lightweight and bulletproof. The only problem is that parts for the original (and fantastic) Suntour XC pro drivetrain are getting difficult to find. I was able to find a new old stock cassette last year but couldn’t find a chainring, so I reversed the one I had when I put the cassette and new chain on. However, after another year in rainy Seattle, it’ll be time for an entirely new drivetrain. Add to that the inevitability of a rear rim failure at some point when the cantilever brakes grind through and it’ll cost me ~$400 to keep her on the road as a commuter. I’d prefer to retire her from commuting duty this summer, replaced with a belt-drive, IGH, and disk brake-equipped model from Breezer, Civia, Tout-Terrain, or the like.

  • Dean says:

    My NORCO Pinnacle mountain bike/commuter (which I bought used for $100 about 3 years ago) packed it in this winter, so my 2 yeat old Gary Fisher mountain bike is now my commuter. This winter has aged it by about a decade so maybe I should have voted differently.


  • Dave says:

    I commute every day year round and use various bikes, depending on weather and my mood.

    My winter bike is a Ross Mt. Hood, all chrome like the Mt. Whitney but with horizontal dropouts– and I love it (but it has studded knobby tires on still, and I should really rebuild the wheels sometime; its canti brakes aren’t as awesome as discs in winter. My summer bike is an 05 Raleigh Supercourse 27 speed, made of aluminum and carbon, which is just fine for day touring also. The bad-weather rainbike, coffee and grocery-getter is a 99 Schwinn Panther singlespeed diamond-frame cruiser (6061 Al tubes) with milk crate strapped on a rear rack. An 07 Bianchi San Jose (with drop bars) has seen some miles this month, and 70s Gitane singlespeed conversion (with flop and chop bars) carried me through much of last summer. An 89 Miyata Alumicross (set up as a flatbar with 1×7 downtube shifter) gets a few miles. An 09 Surly Big Dummy carries my son to school then me onward to work.

    I’m presently working on building up an Origin8 black ops (butted steel) disc brake cx bike for commuting, as either a 1×9 or possibly a singlespeed. There’s just something about that old chrome Ross, from the early old school MTB days — tons of tire clearance, and it remains deceptively light as a singlespeed.

  • Brent Shultz says:

    I have an early 80’s Shogun 500 that I rebuilt from scratch, aside from the frame & fork, headset, and brake calipers. It’s a nice enough ride, although I might go for a new frame at some point…

  • John Romeo Alpha says:

    1989 Fuji Suncrest with fenders and a rear rack added on.

  • Angus Kingston says:

    My commuter is more than 25 years old. I bought it because it’s former owner, now in her 80s, in a well known local cycling identity in Adelaide, Australia, who had this bike custom made for her and toured the world on it. It’s nice riding something with history in it’s cranks and also, while I could get it repainted, it’s used look deters theft.

    The whole story of the bike is here as a blog post/ podcast interview.

  • RI Swamp Yankee says:

    Looking at all of the “5 years or newer” answers, we’re clearly in the throes of a new Bike Boom. The cost of owning a car just to go to work – gas, taxes, parking – is getting unsustainable for the average family.

    I wonder if a switch to natural gas from gasoline, or to petrodistillate made from coal – both carbon-emitting fuels are currently plentiful and cheap thanks to new mining techniques (which are pretty freaky and terrible) – will bring it to a close, like the end of the oil embargo in the ’70s?

  • David says:

    I commute on a ’71 Schwinn Suburban. That puts me in the 30+ category, huh.

  • dukiebiddle says:

    A 1987 Rockhopper (the upgrade model with all Deore XT components). Commuter modifications include North Road type handlebars (Bontrager Courier), a wider saddle to accommodate the more upright riding position, MKS touring pedals, Schwalbe Big Apples, fenders and a giant Wald delivery basket. I’ve replaced most of the components, due to wear, over the past few years, but I’ve tried to stay consistent with the quality level of the original parts, if not the same brand, while replacing loose bearing with sealed bearings. I’ve stripped all the decals, there is more bare metal than paint, and the bike is equally as hideous as it is relatively high quality, just the way I like it. With that bike I contemptuously reject form in favor of function. When the frame eventually cracks I’ll transfer as many of the components as I can, probably to a 26″ wheel frame LHT, after I make it good and ugly.

  • Michael says:

    My commuter is a circa 1980 Schwinn Varsity I got from CL. I ride 10+ miles a day and carry my kid along in a trailer. Nothing like the old workhorse. The only addition are fenders, because a line of mud on your back does not say “professionalism” in today’s working environment…

  • Tim says:

    1970s era Ross. This thing is a re-branded Raleigh 3 speed. I rescued it from a bike rack at Rutgers University where it hadn’t moved for 3+ years. I started riding it with a coaster brake but upgraded to a SA 3 speed IGH. The bike with rack and fenders weighs a ton and is hell to bring up to my apartment. But its a rock solid commuter.

  • Tinker says:

    My commuter (as far as I have one, I am actually retired) is a Torker Cargo T. It’s just over a year old, and I am still trying to get the seat handlebars grips tires bells etc, chosen and mounted. I expect I will want to re-gear it eventually, The three speed provides sufficient gears, but the gearing is low, to accommodate cargo, naturally. But going up my drive, I am in top gear within 50 feet, and it is topped out. Yes, I’d like to find a SA 5 speed, but I don’t want to mess with wheel work.

    So its a utility bike, not a commuter at all, it’s a work in progress, but better suited to my needs than the Raleigh Sport 3 (1972 edition) that preceded it.

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