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commuter bike

This topic contains 51 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  ericf 10 mos, 1 week.

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cowchip

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Jan 7 2014 at 10:32am #

I hope to buy a new bike this summer and was wondering what would best fit my needs. the 2 questions that i have are

1 do you feel front fork shocks are needed for light trails MUP and pot holes

2 What size tires in a 700C is best for both speed and comfort
wide slicks ?


byogman

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Jan 7 2014 at 10:51am #

1 is a no. Small pot holes are no biggie regardless. Large ones you skirt, it’s easy and it’d be stupid to plow straight through them even with a suspension.

2 is a matter of taste.

I ride somewhat wider than most, 37mm I’d guess? But that’s just an artifact of my riding the hybrid bike I bought off craigslist because it was cheap and looked ok before I thought I’d be using it as transportation.

I’ve test ridden a number of road bikes and I’m certainly faster on them. I think it has to do less with tire width than geometry. That said, in the test rides I haven’t ever noticed that the narrower tires ride rough. Seems fine. But if the paths you’ll be riding aren’t paved and you’ll be riding them when still wet, that for sure would be a limiter on how narrow you’d want to go.


edmonds59

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Jan 7 2014 at 11:01am #

IMO;
Suspension forks on a commuter (or even a rail/trail-er) add weight, make handling imprecise, and are unnecessary.
On my commuter I ride 26 x 35 Michelins, ride over and through everything w/o worry. Perfect.
On a roadie, 700 x 28 is about the ideal compromise, unless riding competitively. From there experiment with pressure for fine tuning.


cowchip

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Jan 7 2014 at 11:31am #

I also have one other concern , there is a 300 yard stretch of unpaved wood chips and mud trail that i need to cross . my current bike does not work , slim tires just sink up to the drive train and gum everything up . I don’t know if i will be able to traverse this section with anything , I was hoping a 35 or larger would handle the light trails, grass, pot holes and still ride fast enough ? still leaning towards a slicks for pavement . but the bike will have large enough clearence for a wide assortment of tire sizes. Thanks > ?


WillB

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Jan 7 2014 at 12:31pm #

I have 32mm tires on my regular commuter and find that they are fine for rail trails and even some of the dirt paths in Frick, and still feel plenty fast on the road. I’m not sure if anything short of big mountain bike tires will handle mud and wood chips, but if you went up to a 35mm tire, I think you’d still be in good shape on the road. I definitely noted a comfort drop-off when I went to 28 on the commuter, but my commute has a lot of crappy pavement.


cburch

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Jan 7 2014 at 1:09pm #

suspension is best left to purpose built mountain bikes. it adds a huge cost for very little, if any benefit on the road or commuter trails. cheap suspension is really heavy and doesn’t do much but rob power and good suspension can double the cost of a bike.

700×32 cross tires like the kenda happy medium might be a good option for you (fast rolling middles, decent knobs for cornering traction) and there is a whole host of great options for you in the gravel touring/commuter cross categories of bikes. personally i LOVE my All-City Mr Pink set up with 700×33 cross tires and wide, shallow drop bars. the most fun non-mountain bike I’ve had in decades. here’s a picture of the current set-up. i don’t have fenders on it right now, but it has hidden braze ons to allow full fenders to be mounted.


cowchip

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Jan 7 2014 at 4:33pm #

nice ride cburch how long have you had it ?
I looked at the specs and think it would be a very good commuter
I am going chro molly steel also . not interested in carbon or Alu , i gotta have racks , panniers , fenders
there is grass above the mud trail and i will need to try to ride there
thanks for the info all !


ardmoregeorge

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Jan 7 2014 at 8:04pm #

All-city bikes are great, from the sounds of what your needs are, I’d be looking at the spacehorse. More clearance for even larger tires if needed, more mud clearance with cantilever brakes, and full fender and rack mounts. Mr. Pink only has mounts for fenders.


ardmoregeorge

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Jan 7 2014 at 8:05pm #

Not to mention all all-city’s are ed coated inside and out for rust prevention


Benzo

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Jan 8 2014 at 12:08pm #

The Surly Straggler is also a good option. It’s also ED coated, has disc brakes, and is a versatile commuter that comes with some big 41mm tires. It comes equipped with mounts for racks/fenders/etc.

I’m probably going to wind up building one of these up at some point, but I probably need to clear up some room in my stable first.

I also second the space horse, it’s a great bike for commuting and light touring, I have had one for a while and it’s survived some serious beatings. It’s great on skinny tires, but It’s got clearance to run tires up to about 42mm as well.


cowchip

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:29am #

OK the space horse made the list,
The question is do i want B7s more than i need them


Drewbacca

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Jan 9 2014 at 2:38pm #

B7’s?

Avid BB7?
Brooks B17?
Bingo!?


edmonds59

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Jan 9 2014 at 3:40pm #


cowchip

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Jan 9 2014 at 4:18pm #

BB7 ouch


Marko82

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Jan 9 2014 at 4:36pm #

Too late? DB7


Drewbacca

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Jan 9 2014 at 5:33pm #

Marko82 wrote:Too late? DB7

I still lol’d, regardless.


Drewbacca

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Jan 9 2014 at 5:34pm #

cowchip wrote:BB7 ouch

As opposed to???

Vbrakes? Cantis? BB5s? *SYNTAX ERROR*

Johnny5 need input!


reddan

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Jan 9 2014 at 5:44pm #

B7? You sank my battleship!


ericf

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Jan 9 2014 at 6:16pm #

Benzo wrote:The Surly Straggler is also a good option. It’s also ED coated, has disc brakes, and is a versatile commuter that comes with some big 41mm tires. It comes equipped with mounts for racks/fenders/etc.

I just put one of these together last month, and it will fit much bigger tires than the stock 41’s. The bike is set up with straight bars, bb7’s, 3×9, Blunt 35 Rims and Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 47’s. There was even room to squeeze in a set of Planet Bike Cascadia fenders.

In this pic, I had Big Apple 2.0’s and 1x drivetrain. There was maybe 2mm clearance at the chain stays, so I swapped for 47’s. This bike is the most fun road bike I have ever ridden. Wouldn’t change a thing.


Drewbacca

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Jan 9 2014 at 6:33pm #

Our local Bicycle Times Magazine already has some suggestions… check out their reviews as well:

http://bicycletimesmag.com/category/reviews/

I’d add to that, in steel:
Jamis Quest Elite
Raleigh has various models
Bianchi Volpe

I’d definitely go with whatever you can find locally. +1 for the Straggler +1 for AllCity (Space Horse or Mr. Pink, depending on your needs)

Don’t write off aluminum without trying a few models, the Cdale CAADX, Focus Mares, Kona Jake, and others are good options and in some cases more fun than similar steel bikes. They all have their own feel, so don’t put yourself in a box… get out and try everything you can.


edmonds59

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Jan 9 2014 at 6:47pm #

Benzo wrote:It’s also ED coated,

Does that help with the stiffening?


HiddenVariable

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Jan 9 2014 at 7:13pm #

reddan wrote:B7? You sank my battleship!

i’m glad to know that i’m not the only person who corrects, in my mind, the grammar mistakes of things i have heard historically. for clarification: in the commercial i remember, the boy said “you sunk my battleship!”

also:

edmonds59 wrote:Does that help with the stiffening?

a very hearty thank you for that, sir!


cowchip

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Jan 9 2014 at 10:44pm #

Yes there are many good steel bikes that fit the bill
I plan to let the bike tell me it is right.
found several wrong ones so far
Price is an issue but if you buy quality and do your homework it only hurts once
I am still not a seasoned rider but i am learning what i want / need
I wish this was my build but i am a novice


Drewbacca

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:22pm #

Budget is the hard part. Frame should be the most expensive part of any bicycle. Wheels should be the second most expensive part. The best deals usually come with a complete bike and the best bang-for-buck is usually the QBP brands (Salsa, Surly, All-City, Civia).

What are you debating between regarding the BB7? What is the alternative choice? We can only help you narrow it down if you show us your thoughts.

Keep in mind that the “wrong bike” is often just an adjustment or two. A good shop will make those adjustments before a test ride. Some of the best deals are in the used market.


cowchip

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:35pm #

let me explain . I have a bike that fits me now and have ridden several hundreds of miles.I have never done a century and don’t know that i ever will . But i understand that now it takes over 5 miles to find the zone And I have a bike that works for me now !
But diving further into this i am learning that i don’t have the bells and whistles figured out. I have never owned a bike that a thief would want . Not saying my bike is junk but it is old school . To go further i need to understand how the spec chart translates to the road .
I have mechanical aptitude and Work as a Maintenance Tech if shown once i could learn quick . I customize almost every piece of gear i own , I love to fabricate (No hands on bike experience )

This said i am all ears
and thank you for the help and advice !!!!

One more quick question i hear many people build their own bikes
is there a real cost saving seen or is it done more to customize your bike ?


edmonds59

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:38pm #

Do a reasonable amount of research but go with what most tugs at your heart. Be assured that no matter how much research you do, you will discover by riding that there are things you wish were different. And the more you ride your needs will change as well. There is no such thing as the perfect bike. Just ride and enjoy. That’s why some people end up with 2 or 12 bikes. Not pointing any fingers though.


Drewbacca

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Jan 10 2014 at 12:05am #

cowchip wrote:One more quick question i hear many people build their own bikes
is there a real cost saving seen or is it done more to customize your bike ?

It’s only cheaper to build from a frame up if you know exactly what you want… If you are happy with a 105, Tiagra, Ultegra, Rival, Apex, etc. groupset that comes with a bike, then that’s going to be the most cost-effective purchase.

I prefer Campy, so I’m already at a disadvantage if I’m buying locally as opposed to ordering from a European vender. If I buy a bike with 105, I’m probably going to strip and rebuild the frame with a different group and end up selling the 105 as a “pull off.” So, for me, it makes sense to start with a frame.

It also tends to only make sense, to build up a frame, if you already have a lot of odds and ends laying around from other builds, cl/ebay purchases etc. Little things like stems, seatposts, nuts&bolts can add up real fast if you have to buy all new parts for a build.

In your case, I would encourage you to buy a full bike unless you find a killer deal on just a frame or a used groupset or something along those lines, that’s the only way that it is economically advantageous. Bicycle companies get the parts OEM at really low prices without retail packaging. The retail versions cost much more. If I was going to build a bike from the frame up, I’d probably buy a complete bike with a decent groupset from an online generic-brand bicycle company and transfer the parts, because it’s just cheaper that way.

If you read through the following, you’ll get a good idea of why it is best to buy a complete bike: http://cyclingiq.com/vertical-limit/


cowchip

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Jan 10 2014 at 12:15am #

OK if anyone is still with me here is where i stand
MY NEEDS
58mm
looking for a non race bike , i have no interest in how much my pedals weigh.
need stable double kickstand for loading my bounty
Long haul disk trucker was on my list
Need Fenders and rear rack , will always carry handle bar bag and panniers . Ortlieb back rollers. Most loads will be light under 15 pounds
need to have room for a large or small diameter 770 c tire
like room to have options from fat to skinny Bald ones
Light touring if i decide
Need to handle grass , MUP , dirt road , Street
Not a down hill mud bath balls to the walls ride
Went clipless SPD and have lights and everything good to go
I like a more upright riding position but from what i gather this can achieved with head tube extension and different bars .
Like many hand positions .
Now do i need a triple or a compact double ?
I ride in the burgh you tell me ?
Do i need or want BB7s
I ride in the rain and like to have stopping power ?
I think middle of the road on components Tiegra or 105 ?
No clue on this
I understand saddle is personal choise but i have never had a saddle as comfortable as a big square one with seat shock
Average milage is around 20
That’s a good start ?
Now What ?


salty

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Jan 10 2014 at 3:14am #

Sounds a lot like my bike, it’s a disc trucker, 60cm. I’ve had it for ~2 years, I ride it every day, plus some longer rides like the MS150, and rode to DC in Sept. Before that I had a cross-check which I miss a little, it was a bit more nimble.

The stock build is pretty good, you will likely spend a lot more building from a frame. The drivetrain is a mix of stuff – some XT which I think is the MTB version of 105? Some of the parts are crappier. It’s a triple, wide range cassette, I stay in the middle ring most of the time but it’s nice to have the little one when I need it.

I hadn’t had discs before but the bb7s are nice, easy to adjust, and haven’t given me any trouble. That was one big reason for getting the bike, it definitely stops way better in the rain and snow vs rim brakes.

I swapped out the bars for bell laps which are slightly flared drops, I like them but its just personal preference. Otherwise, topeak super tourist rear rack (there’s another recent thread where I discuss that, with a picture of my bike), ortleib panniers, ortlieb handlebar bag, SKS pletscher dual kickstand, planet bike fenders, wellgo dual sided SPD/flat pedals, lights… almost the same as your list :)

Tires, I use Vittoria Randonneurs – 32mm but when these wear out I’ll probably try 35 or 38. In the winter I have Nokia Icespeed studded tires, 40mm I think.


salty

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Jan 10 2014 at 3:17am #

PS: you’re welcome to check it out, it’s a tad bigger than you’re looking for but should give you the idea. I’m usually in the east end – sq hill, shadyside, larimer.

Also, here’s the link to the other thread I referred to: http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/iso-sturdy-rack/#post-288892


edmonds59

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Jan 10 2014 at 6:23am #

Sounds like the disk trucker is what you want, but aesthetically I love those Space Horsies. Surleys are just more… industrial, to my eye.
I would def stick with a triple. Having triple cranks has transformed my riding habits, i.e. increased them tremendously. If you tire out or bite off more than you can chew (who would do that?) it’s like having the gearing version of a life raft.
One little detail thing you might want to consider – a front basket of some kind instead of a bar bag. You can toss in whatever you have with you and easily take it with when you park it, more flexibility. The only reason I haven’t fitted one is that I put my bike on buses frequently and I worry about interference with the hold-down bar.
That’s all.


Drewbacca

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Jan 10 2014 at 8:28am #

I’d lean towards the Space Horse or maybe a Surly Straggler (more or less a disc-brake crosscheck)… Jamis Bossanova also comes to mind. Kona Rove is another good option as is the Raleigh Tamland. My current choices would probably be in that order, for no particular reason and would likely change if I started test riding. Actually, there is a reason for that order but I won’t get into it other than restating that All-City and Surly are universal brands and allow me to go to the bike shop of my choice.

Upright riding position can be adjusted by the stem. A longer headtube and slightly sloped top-tube go a long way towards accomplishing this. A lot of “race” bikes are now being marketed as “endurance geometry” which is just another way of saying, relatively more upright. Some cycle-tourists take it to the extreme and put the handlebars higher than the saddle.

Triple. No reason not to. Options are good. A better question is MTB gearing 48-38-28 (or less) or road gearing 52-42-30 (usually). Road gearing would be sufficient and I think the road cranks look better (except for newer shimano which looks like it was designed by robocop).

BB7 as opposed to what? BB5s would be sufficient. I’m perfectly happy with my old shimano mechanical disc brakes. I’d personally avoid hydraulic discs as they can be a p.i.t.a. BB5/BB7 are nice because they are the only affordable option to use with road shift/brake levers (TRP makes a not-affordable option and the rest are made for mtb or are hydraulic actuated). Whatever the case, go disc. It will prolong the life of your wheels, allow you to keep going if the wheel is out of true, and it won’t be obsolete anytime soon.

Budget permitting, go 105. It just feels more solid than Tiagra (personal preference). Current generation shifters share more with Ultegra and have the clean cable routing under the tape and better braking. Sram Apex and Rival are also good choices. A Tiagra build with 105 shifters is a cheaper alternative.

Saddle is a matter of how you ride. You have three contact points on the bike: your arse, your hands, and your feet. Big cushy spring-loaded seats are the best when you just stroll around along side a river at 5-10mph barely pedaling, because most of the weight ends up on your backside. When you shift that weight to a more performance oriented riding style, the cushy ride becomes less important. You can’t go wrong with CaneCreek Thudbuster (seatpost) when budget permits. For the saddle itself, preferences vary. They come in different widths for different sizes of “sit-bones.” Race-oriented saddles lack padding which comes from the shorts. I like a padded saddle, but not excessively so.


cowchip

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Jan 10 2014 at 8:44am #

Thanks for the imput , as for the front basket my rig has evolved from front and back baskets . I have learned that one needs to keep the weight off the handlebars for better control . So normally i keep bag light and after back rack basket was ditched to lower panniers i had a less top heavy better ride . also having my snacks fly airborne after a pot hole in traffic = not fun . I failed to mention i am a clydesdale #260 . When i hit something it is HIT ! lol


cowchip

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Jan 10 2014 at 8:51am #

Also a funny side note , although i have never been hit , I have run into the back of a PAT Bus in downtown traffic after my brakes tried to stop me .


Drewbacca

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Jan 10 2014 at 9:08am #

cowchip wrote:I have learned that one needs to keep the weight off the handlebars for better control .

This is not universally true. French style Randonnees are designed to carry a load up front… it’s a geometry issue and varies from one bike to another.


reddan

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Jan 10 2014 at 9:14am #

Just to add more choices, you might want to consider All-City’s Macho Man Disk. I have the single-speed version (the Nature Boy) and love the way it handles; the Macho Man would seem to meet your needs pretty well. It’s a cyclocross-ish frame, so you’ll be able to jam in fat tires, fenders, racks, and all that good stuff.

For general-purpose gearing, I really like a compact double (50/34) paired with an 11-34 or even 11-36 cassette. I wouldn’t hesitate to swap the compact for a road triple, if I were planning on carrying a lot of crapstuff with me.

In my limited experience, BB5s and BB7s will work equally well to stop you; BB7s are a bit easier to adjust, as they permit pad adjustment on both sides.

Fender-wise, I prefer paying an extra $15-20 and going with aluminum fenders. They’re sturdy enough to support taillights (battery or dynamo powered), are very durable, and are much more forgiving of being bent slightly in order to better tweak your fender line.

For racks, I use the Velo-Orange ones, mostly because A) I like stainless steel and B) they have fittings enabling you to bolt your fenders directly to the rack, for that integrated, rattle-and-creak-free effect.

For lighting, I like dynamo hubs driving LED headlights and tail lights; they’re pricey, and not as high-powered as modern battery-driven systems, but they don’t care about temperature, and you basically just attach them to your bike, switch ‘em on, and forget about ‘em for the next few years. Also easy to add on later, so it’s not like you have to worry about it up front.


edmonds59

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Jan 10 2014 at 9:42am #

Just out of curiosity – are there dynamo hubs with disk setup? That might be a stumble.


Drewbacca

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Jan 10 2014 at 9:58am #

edmonds59 wrote:Just out of curiosity – are there dynamo hubs with disk setup? That might be a stumble.

http://www.amazon.com/Shimano-DH-S501-Alfine-Dynamo-Disc/dp/B007M817QE

http://www.bikeman.com/WE7246.html


Mikhail

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Jan 10 2014 at 10:11am #

Drewbacca wrote:What are you debating between regarding the BB7? What is the alternative choice? We can only help you narrow it down if you show us your thoughts.

http://www.trpbrakes.com/category.php?productid=1199&catid=206&subcat=0 could be a good alternative — it’s dual sided actuation unlike BB7. And it’s only $89.99. Just take into account http://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/news/article/tektro-recall-trp-spyre-and-spyre-slc-disc-brakes-39290/


edmonds59

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Jan 10 2014 at 10:28am #

Cool, thanks DB!

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