The 520
The 520 (courtesy, Trek)

What kind of commuting/touring bike can I get for under $1,000?

I've owned touring bikes for almost 25 years. When it was time to change my ride, I would automatically go for touring. But I must admit that I don't leave for extended periods as often (a way of saying I'm not touring anymore, actually—but that’s very hard to admit). I don't really need triple chainrings, but I like the possibility of installing racks to carry moderate loads (computer, lunch, extra clothes) when I commute to work. What are my options below 1,000$? Eric Quebec, QC

The 520

Touring bikes actually make excellent all-around recreation bikes. They typically have comfortable frames, lots of gears, and plenty of braze-ons for attaching fenders, racks, bottles, etc.

The 520 The 520

Case in point: Trek’s 520 ($1,320), hardly changed in years. Reliable, comfortable steel frame, solid Shimano shifter things that go clink and clank, triple chainring, etc. A real classic. Too much $$? Fine, buy one that’s a few years old—it’s the same bike as you get now.

A bit sportier choice is a decent cross bike. They sometimes have fittings for fenders and racks, have good all-weather aluminum frames, and make good commuting bikes. I use a Fuji Cross Pro ($2,060) as a commuter, and it has been great right out of the box. I did upgrade tires (to Continental Ultra Gatorskins; $40 each) and added a slightly lower-gear crank. Oh, and the stock brake pads…completely and utterly suck. The frame rides well; the carbon fork smooths out some bumps, etc. It also takes fenders and other add-ons just fine.

Cheaper sibling is the Fuji Cross Comp ($1,480). Same frame, cheaper fittings. Don’t let price alarm you; check with Performance Bike to see what they can do, or look on eBay or Craigslist.

Another fun bike is the Surly Long Haul Trucker ($1,100). More of a classic tourer/heavy commute bike. Steel frame, surprisingly high-end component set, very nice bike. Worth a long look.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: courtesy, Trek