staacey's picture

New Bike Advice

Good morning,

I'm looking into buying a new bike. The one I have is quite old and is starting to cost me money, I'd rather just buy a new one, my current one isn't worth putting money into. I will be using it to commute to work during the spring/summer months, approximately 14kms per day and it'll be used on bike paths and sidewalks only. I don’t know the difference between commuter/hybrid/road and all of those different types or brands. I spoke to someone at a bike shop and they recommended I should look into hybrid or commuter bikes. The larger the tire the better is what they told me. I don’t want to break the bank, hoping to find one $500 or cheaper, but I want something that is decent quality for the price. Does anyone have any recommendations on what type I should be looking into, or good brands I should be looking at, or brands to stay away from? Any advice would be appreciated!


Thank you so much,




Cword's picture

There's an opportunity May 6

The Calgary Bike Swap occurs that day

Until then do your "research", visit several shops, collect advice, take test rides come closer to determining what suits you. 


The bike swap isn't a guarantee that you'll find an ideal bike, but is probably your best bang for the buck if you do.  If you end up empty handed after May 6, your research effort will still put you in a better position to find a new bike.

winterrider's picture

Some suggestions

A few suggestions, get a bike with fenders, keeps you dry on light rain days. Get a decent rack/carrying system to hold your stuff. Get a basic repair kit for flats and learn how to use it. Get some lights in case you're riding early/late.

This is my personal favourite commuter bike right now (I bought one and so did my wife):

It has lights that run off a dynamo on the front hub so they're never out of battery life, it's basically everything you need in one commuter bike. It's not the fastest ride out there, but at 7km you won't really notice that. I ride mine 6km each way and it's thoroughly enjoyable.

It does cost more than your $500, but the lights/rack/fenders are included. They sell them at BikeBike.

Other than that, if you're going to buy at the bike swap, go test ride as many new bikes at the shops as you can first so that you get a good idea of what you like/don't like. I've purchased the wrong bike numerous times due to lack of experience (including one bike a the bike swap) so try to learn as much as you can now.

Best of luck!

gp4000's picture

I've been riding Giant

I've been riding Giant cyclocross bikes for commuting for about 6 years now. A friend of mine started with a Giant mountain bike and then she changed to a hybrid. Very reliable, well made and probably something in your price range. Having said that, I would say try as many bikes as possible in your price range, regardles of brand, to find the best fit and comfort. It's surprising how small differences between bikes/models can make a big difference to your enjoyment riding them. Good luck and have fun!

Crivak's picture

To start...

Can you tell us what bike you were riding, so we can get an idea of what you're used to (features, style, etc)? 

$500 is really cheap so you might have troubles getting something worthwhile that low without going used. Mostly from the price hikes recently. For example, I started commuting in 2014 and bought a 2014 Kona Dew Plus for $650. That same model this year with one downgraded part is $900. Yeap. 

My commute is 30km's a day, 15km each way, and I ride rain, shine, sleet or hail, so here are my recommendations without knowing ahead of time what  you're used to. 

1) Fenders. Most bikes will have eyelets for this, but make sure just in case. Some road bikes can't. These are good for when there's puddles on the paths or it's raining. Otherwise you get a "skunk stripe" up your back from the rear wheel kicking up water. You don't necessarily need full fenders front and back, and you can cheat by just getting a fender called an "ass saver" which is just a small strip of plastic that attaches to your seatpost. I like full fenders nonetheless, they'll run you anywhere from $20-$50 for a cheap set. Do you plan to ride in the rain? You might get caught offguard at work regardless.

2) Brakes. Hydraulic brakes have spoiled me. You can't get a good cyclocross or road bike with hydraulic brakes without really hiking up the price point, so the only way to get them is on a cheap hybrid. Those brakes aren't as good quality but they've lasted me 3 years through winter. The alternative is mechanical brakes which are a bit more maintenance, or rim/v-brakes which in my opinion just don't give as good stopping power or feel as nice. If you're not going faster than 25kmh and will be staying on the pathways strictly you probably don't care what kind of brakes you get. Of all the types, hydraulic will work best in the rain. The cheapest will be rim brakes. 
This MEC Chinook has a cheap mechanical brake. You can see a silver disc on the wheel indicating a disc brake, the brake itself is the black piece. The mechanical wire is visible on the black piece (easier to see on the front). 
The MEC Skyway has a rim brake. You can see it at the top of the wheel fixed over the rim of the wheel. It just squeezes between itself with a large pad.  It's also a fixie, meaning it only has one gear, which you might not want if you go up any hills. You can tell by looking at its rear wheel that it has no rear derailleur (the hanging down bit near the cassette gears).  
The MEC Midtown has a cheap hydraulic brake. You can see the silver disc like on the Chinook, but this time there's no visible wire (because it's not mechanical). 

3) Tires. Tire size doesn't matter so much. I would recommend a 700c (like on some hybrids and road bikes) because it means less effort pedaling. Most mountain bikes will come with 27.5inch tires which are smaller. A 29 inch is the same as 700c but the 700c is built to accomodate thinner tires. The other size you'll care about is the width, which is what the shop guy was saying. A bigger tire will make for a smoother, more comfortable ride, but will require more work to move the bike. So thinner generally means faster and thicker means smoother. I think a really good tire to use for commuting is a 32cm kelvar lined one so you have the best of both worlds and some safety against flats. Most hybrid bikes will come with probably either a 35cm or a 38cm tire. Mountain bikes usually have bigger tires upwards of 42cm+. Road tires will be more like 23 or 25cm. Don't fret about this much, just find the bike you like and use whatever tires are on it until they are getting gravel stuck in them. Then swap them out for a more expensive one you buy! :D

To get down to it, I recommend going to a bike shop and buying a new model there. Yes, you can buy used, but then you might get a bike that needs a part replaced just like the one you already have. It's tempting to get a really cheap one, but I think it's worth while to get a decent bike. Almost bought a cheap one from Sport Chek myself for under $400, but am really glad I got the Dew Plus instead. Just told myself I had to use it for at least 6 months to make up for the price point. It helps convince you to stick to the bike commuting! 

Aside from the MEC bikes I linked earlier, here's another one you might be interested in. The Ghost Panamao 3 is on sale (has front suspension though). So is this stepthrough Midtown (step through means it has the lowered top bar). 

Nearby in Kensington is a store called Ridley's. They have a few bikes on sale too. Here's a link to all their bikes. They sell Trek which has a hybrid line up called the FX which is really good for a lower price point. Here's the FX 1 with a rim brake for $530.
A lot of cheap hybrids will have a front suspension like a mountain bike. They're personal preference but I would avoid them. It's just another thing that might need maintenance, and a fixed fork is a bit more reliable for commuting in my opinion. They're easy to spot, it's the big chunk of metal on the front fork by the front wheel.  Front suspensions will make the ride smoother but require more effort pedaling. 

BowCycle in Bowness is also having a sale. You might be interested in their Norco Indie line up. They have some for $580. They also have a few Kona Dew's for $500 (the downgraded version of the Dew Plus I mentioned earlier). Cannondale Quick might be another line up to consider. 
Here's a comparison between their three "regularly $600" bikes. And in this one I've removed the City Glide to add the Indie they have on sale instead (probably not the exact one they have on sale). To be frank they're basically identical, go with the one you like the most.

If you want to look for used, I'd recommend PinkBike's buy and sell.

azhu's picture

bike bros in cochrane

Sometimes bike Bros have deals on bikes if you are willing to travel a bit further. I see that they have a commuter bike (2016 Raleigh Redux 1) for $600 that looks reasonable. Although I would like more than 8 speeds for the minor hills on my route.

I bought a Giant Seek commuter from them and they were friendly. Took my bike back to the store within the year and they did some servicing for free. (benefit of buying from a store, they usually have some services included with the bike purchase)

My personal preference is a cross bike for commuting. A bit wider tires for comfort, different hand positions with the drop bars instead of a straight bar and it has disc brakes which is great for all weather braking. If my commute was only 7km one way, I would use something similar to the Redux or giant seek too. I remember my giant seek was fun with the half flat and half cleats pedals. Like others already mentioned, I recommend trying lots of bike and find the size and style that is comfortable for you.  

RichieRich's picture


Keep in mind that with many Hybrid bikes you can run the following tires: cross, road, mountain bike knobbies and slicks.

During the summer I run 700cc 'cross tires on my hybrid.  In the winter I swap a different wheelset on with my knobbies/studs.


Kerryv's picture

Giant Seek 0

I'm not sure if this is allowed in here, but I have a Giant Seek 0 size Medium (5'7"-5'11" rider height) that might be a great commuter if you're going to continue biking from the Nose Creek area.  I believe it's a 2012, in great shape and within your budget.  It is a single speed hybrid and has hydraulic disc brakes.  I bought it used and used it only once before deciding that I have too many hills on my route and I need gears.  You would be welcome to stop by and give it a try one day if you want... otherwise it'll end up at the bike swap in a few weeks.

staacey's picture

Thank you all!

Can I get your personal opinions on the 2017 Kona Dew and the 2017 Norco City Glide? Is one brand better than the other? Making a trip to Bow Cycle tonight to get my frist decent bike! =D

Thank you!


Crivak's picture

Both Kona and Norco are

Both Kona and Norco are Canadian companies from British Columbia, I wouldn't say one is better than the other. In the past I think Kona has had some better price points, but that Norco has had better price points more recently. I like both of their bikes. 

The two you mentioned are very similar so it will come down to which one you like better in person and feel better riding. Make sure you flag a worker down and tell them what you plan to use it for, how far you'll be going and how often. They should take it from there. At a similar price point you might also want to check out the Norco Indie 4 or the Cannondale Quick 7 while you're there. The slight changes in frame geometry might make you prefer one over the other once actually ridden. 

Fuzz's picture

May not be the best night

May not be the best night given the weather.  You won't be able to take them for a spin to test them out.

xcrider's picture


I love the look of that bike, the ultimate commuter.

staacey's picture

Kona Stole my heart

Thank you all! I'm the proud owner or a 2017 Kona Dew! My frist bike purchase and I cant wait to ride it! Hopefully no more constant mechanical issues!

Andrew's picture

How's it going with that new Kona Dew?

So how have the first few rides with the new bike been?  And I'm assuming that you were able to get the Nose Creek/Bow River pathway route to downtown sorted out?

staacey's picture


The new bike is great! I'm glad I decided to make the purchase this season instead of waiting until next year, like originally planned! I had to take it back in yesterday though because the screws for the water bottle holder won’t go back in for some reason, so that's disappointing, but nothing major! 


I did get the route figured out yes, thanks for asking! Getting faster everyday :) 

gyrospanner's picture

Do the Dew!!

I know a guy that has pounded out some significant miles on a Dew (like 5,000 or so a a minimum on some trips) and when we talk about t, it seems to me that that is a very versatile, reliable bike, so ENJOY!!