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  1. #1
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    Building up a commuter - Enlighten me

    I wanna start riding to work, I need the exercise and extra saddle time frankly. Saving a few bucks would be nice, etc... etc... But lets be real, this is an excuse to build up a frame I have lying around without the wife losing her mind

    Commute is only 13 miles round trip with one hill each direction.

    Here's what I've got to work with: (after I robbed everything off this bike for my last build).
    2008 on One scandal frame w/ carbon On One fork
    Front derailer
    Stem
    Seat & Post
    BB
    BB7 brakes & levers
    Tires (1.9 2Bliss Ground control Specialized tires)
    Grips

    So I need:
    Chain
    Cassette, Rear derailer & shifter levers (unless I go SS)
    Bars
    Wheelset
    Crankset

    I'm torn right now between building something like a Salsa Fargo (Full Rigid, drop bar, geared) or SS like this. So, I'm kinda leaning towards drop bars eaither way (unless you guys talk me out of it). Problem may be if my existing steerer is low I guess (need a higher rise stem?)? And I'd need different brake handles to run with a drop bar.

    If I go SS, I would probably run more of a conversion kit with tensioner and a non SS specific hub so I could go back to geared if needed. I am not the strongest rider so SS scares me a bit, but we're talking asphalt, short ride, one hill each way. I rode it on my spearfish the other day and only shifted a couple times. I think I could find a gear I could live with. Only other thing that scares me off of SS is if I do want to take this off road occasionaly, I gotta be able to change to an offroad friendly gear. I assume swapping the rear cog is not a big deal? SS does appeal to me as a low maintenance, "adventure bike" kind of thing.

    SS may save me a few bucks to start, no shifters, cassette, but I assume I don't want to go too cheap on a conversion kit?

    Trying to keep this under about $300, which means used or very cheap new stuff (like $120 wheelset, LX rear deariler, etc...)

    I did find a Access 29er XCL for $250 on CL I could strip all the needed parts off of. WTB wheels, X-5 shifters, derailers, etc... I am almost thinking of going that route. Then I could sell his leftover parts (seat, post, stem, BB7's, front deariler, frame, Dart 3 fork).

    So, what am I really asking?
    1. Should I just go SS and stop being such a wimp, I can always hold on to the shifting parts?
    2. Should I do the drop bars? Suggestions on bars (Midge?)
    3. Strip the craigslist bike or buy cheap new parts?
    Last edited by cobi; 02-02-2013 at 03:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    Building up a commuter - Enlighten me

    Quote Originally Posted by cobi View Post
    I wanna start riding to work, I need the exercise and extra saddle time frankly. Saving a few bucks would be nice, etc... etc... But lets be real, this is an excuse to build up a frame I have lying around without the wife losing her mind

    Commute is only 13 miles round trip with one hill each direction.

    Here's what I've got to work with: (after I robbed everything off this bike for my last build).
    2008 on One scandal frame w/ carbon On One fork
    Front derailer
    Stem
    Seat & Post
    BB
    BB7 brakes & levers
    Tires (1.9 2Bliss Ground control Specialized tires)
    Grips

    So I need:
    Chain
    Cassette, Rear derailer & shifter levers (unless I go SS)
    Bars
    Wheelset
    Crankset

    I'm torn right now between building something like a Salsa Fargo (Full Rigid, drop bar, geared) or SS like this. So, I'm kinda leaning towards drop bars eaither way (unless you guys talk me out of it). Problem may be if my existing steerer is low I guess (need a higher rise stem?)? And I'd need different brake handles to run with a drop bar.

    If I go SS, I would probably run more of a conversion kit with tensioner and a non SS specific hub so I could go back to geared if needed. I am not the strongest rider so SS scares me a bit, but we're talking asphalt, short ride, one hill each way. I rode it on my spearfish the other day and only shifted a couple times. I think I could find a gear I could live with. Only other thing that scares me off of SS is if I do want to take this off road occasionaly, I gotta be able to change to an offroad friendly gear. I assume swapping the rear cog is not a big deal? SS does appeal to me as a low maintenance, "adventure bike" kind of thing.

    SS may save me a few bucks to start, no shifters, cassette, but I assume I don't want to go too cheap on a conversion kit?

    Trying to keep this under about $300, which means used or very cheap new stuff (like $120 wheelset, LX rear deariler, etc...)

    I did find a Access 29er XCL for $250 on CL I could strip all the needed parts off of. WTB wheels, X-5 shifters, derailers, etc... I am almost thinking of going that route. Then I could sell his leftover parts (seat, post, stem, BB7's, front deariler, frame, Dart 3 fork).

    So, what am I really asking?
    1. Should I just go SS and stop being such a wimp, I can always hold on to the shifting parts?
    2. Should I do the drop bars? Suggestions on bars (Midge?)
    3. Strip the craigslist bike or buy cheap new parts?
    1. Yes. SS is great for my commute bike. Esp with few hills it just works.

    2. Yes. Midges would be good. Mustache bars like the Mungo are another option. An even milder drop to stay more upright for a better view.

    3. Stripping an existing bike would get you most of what you need and it's a viable option unless you want something specific.

  3. #3
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    The donor bike sounds like a good idea. If you haven't been riding much, you might not want a ss. Not because it would be too hard, but because your fitness will be changing quickly so it might be hard to find the right gear. And there might be some days when you're tired, don't feel well, etc. when you want to take it easy on that hill.

  4. #4
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Nice. I Googled up that Scandal frame- sounds uberlight, especially with a carbon fork. How ever you go about it, have fun with the project and I hope you like bike commuting.

    No idea about SS, but Nate and others here can guide you pretty well on those lines. Stripping the CL bike makes a lot of sense to me if you`re doing a similar build. But if you want the Midge or some other drop bars, I don`t think any of the cockpit will work for you, and you already have half the bike. That nets you crankset, RD and wheels but leaves you with either a lot of misc parts to sell off one at a time or a tough-to-sell half bike. Your mention of LX rear derailler reminds me that Jenson is offering old LX take offs for like $30 each. Last I checked, they were still listed, anyway- I keep thinking I should order a couple for future use.

    What kind of tire is the Bliss Ground Control? If they`re knobbies, you`ll probably find smooth tires nicer on the road. Any the 1.9 width will definitely get you rolling for the time being, but you might think about something narrower and lighter later on to take advantage of that light frame and carbon fork (or not, depending on your preferences). Have you given any thought yet to lights and luggage?

    Since you`re at least considering SS, that`s probably the cheapest way to get you on the road in a hurry. After you check it out in SS mode for a while, you could always add to the build as budget permits.
    Recalculating....

  5. #5
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    I should point out I'm not planning to commute every day. I did commute a few days a week before with the Scandal but I worked closer. I will be a fair weather commuter and probably not more than 3 days a week. This job requires me to carry my laptop home some days, and I go to customers sites all day most very day so coming in all sweaty/smelly is not a good idea either. Plus when riding season hits I'll be bringing my other bikes in to ride after work.

    Not too worried about SS for the commute, just if I ever wanted to try it offroad. The one big hill on the way home I rode up on my geared bike in 32/11 as a test I believe. It was tough but doable. Don't know what I should try for SS gearing. 32/14?

    2bliss Ground Control is a Specialized tubless tire. I picked them up new for $20 off of CL. They'll do until I wear them out and replace with a decent commuter tire.

    I'm leaning a bit back towards cheaper new stuff. Talked to the CL seller of that bike and it sounds like everything is in Ok shape but its also a 3 hour round trip to go get it. It almost felt like he was try to talk me out of stripping the bike for these parts.

    Here's what I'm looking at so far to budget build it with new parts. Everything is from Jenson USA except the Sun wheel set.

    Wheelset - WTB FX23 ($99) or maybe Sun Ryno Lite ($120) on bicycle warehouse. Any chance I can set either of these up tubeless? I doubt it.

    SS conversion - DMR STS kit ($40)

    Chain - KMC Z410 SS chain. ($9)

    Crankset - Raceface Ride 3x9 ($60) swap in a race face SS chainring? ($36)

    Bars - cheap XLC flat bars ($10) and use my spare Ergon grips with barends. Holding off on the drop bar idea for now to save a few $.

    This puts me at $275 with new parts.

  6. #6
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    So I just test rode my route in single speed mode (without shifting on my geared/FS). I was comfortable the whole way. Had to stand up on the smaller hills but no problem. The one big hill on the way home I made it up, but it was pretty tough! Never spun out too bad either. When I got home, I counted my gears and found I was in 36/13. I thought that bigger ring was only 32!

    From reading it sounds like a 13t cog is not a good choice (think I read somewhere about using around 14 minimum for proper chain wrap or something). So I guess I need to figure out that ratio and find out what I should run to get a little bigger cog in back.

    Should I go a little higher ratio assuming that:
    1. I'll be riding full rigid instead of FS
    2. I'll be on better rolling tires
    3. I'll get stronger

  7. #7
    I Ride for Donuts
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    I'm a big fan of the rigid drop bar 29er for the commuter (I've had a couple different versions of this theme). Singlespeed worked for me, but it didn't... It's fun and simple, but once I found the highest gear that I could push up my hills, I was always wishing for more on the flat stuff. If I was in an urban area, I think I'd LOVE singlespeed. but 4+ of the miles on my commute are relatively flat rural roads. It was nice that it made me slow down a little and cruise, but I when I ride a SS to work, I wish for gears more than I enjoy the SS.

    I have a SS 29er that is great fun on the trails, so I'm not 'anti' SS by any means...
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  8. #8
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    I love riding single speed. That being said i got a really good deal on a fargo and the gears on my commute are a nice change. I ride SS most of the time but I live in illinois and its pretty flat but the first few miles of my commute are rolling hills. Its nice to be able to switch gears between the rollers and the flats but if im not in a hurry single speed is my favorite option. Some days when my legs are not feeling it ill grab the fargo or if I plan on having to fight a headwind all the way home.

  9. #9
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    Building up a commuter - Enlighten me

    Like CB, when I chose a manageable gear for the biggest hill on my commute, it left me wanting more on the flats. I was okay with that because it was a short commute so I just practiced pedaling at a higher cadence for the mile or so I wanted more speed.

    I am now living in an area that is generally flatter but still has some good hills in spots. Still working out the employment situation but once I do I will be evaluating my gearing again and may go taller. I currently have a 42x18, IIRC, and a 46t chainring in the garage I can put back on.

  10. #10
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    I'm building a good commuter right now, or soon at least and it will have (st least according to my plan...)


    continental tires (these are punture proof and has good grip)
    Dt rims, quite lite and quite cheap. 24 in the front and a few mm wider in the back.
    dt spokes, butted ones
    brass nipples.
    cromoto fork, just works
    true precision hubs, seems good
    xtr RD
    no FD, 1x6
    cassettes I have, 6 of them, 8sp ones, the best shimano 8sp ones, that I'm gonna make 6, 6sp ones from.
    chain, 8sp kmc
    pedals, undecieded but something platform, but small.
    Cranks, don't know yet, probalby something I can mount a 41 or 42 ring on at 50mm chainline (and move it out if I have to), has to be steel ring (no steel rings for 104bcd 4 arm cranks! at least not 8sp width, unramped).
    BB, enduro
    seatpost and saddle, some thompson, and some selle italia high end, with gel and stuff.
    cables, whatever really,
    brakes, non hydros, disc
    levers, cane creek,
    shifters, xtr, i will hack em to fit a drop bar
    stem, short, whatever brand
    bars, dropbars, whatever brand but heavy and durable.
    headset, older stainless cane creek
    lights, good ones!
    rack, yes!
    lock, yes! pragmasis/squire
    26 inch, yes!
    badass steel frame, yes!

    Thats all i can think of, for me this is the ultimate commuter, and i'm building it soon, not cheap, but over a few years it will be very cheap, because I buy long lasting parts. fast? fast enough i guess.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

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  11. #11
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    i replaced my cranksest on my san jose this summer and it came with a 48t. im currently rocking a flip flop hub with a 20t and an 18t. i might drop it to a 46 and ditch the 20t

  12. #12
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    As much as I want to try SS. I'm considering going geared to start. Here's why.

    I am concerned about buying a $120 wheel set and running SS. Starting to feel like a recipe for broken freehubs, etc...

    So, if I go geared for now, sure I have to buy a RD but a decent RD isn't much more than a SS conversion kit and SS chainring. I can even buy a new RD for my good bike and swap over my used one to the commuter. Then I can just go 1x or 3x for now. This allows me to use my existing 29" wheel set until I'm able to buy a good NEW wheel set for my good bike and then keep my old Arch's on the commuter.

    Hmm, but what about swapping the wheelset back and forth between bikes, will the differing chain/chainring wear cause noticeable issues?
    Last edited by cobi; 02-05-2013 at 05:08 PM.

  13. #13
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    I have considered going 1x9 or 1x10 on my commuter, too. It would provide a bit more range, especially if I went with one of those 11-36 10spd cassettes.

    but SS was cheaper to start with.

    cassettes are not especially cheap, so you have to add that cost to the derailleur cost, as well as a shifter. I'd be using a bar end shifter for my case, so I could still use my same brake levers. for a 1x system, you'd still want a SS chainring, though, for the long run. You could make due with a ramped ring either SS or 1x, but it's not ideal.

  14. #14
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    Wouldn't need a cassette as there is one on the wheelset I'd be swapping back an forth.

    I'm just torn, I'm not ready for an expensive upgrade to my existing wheelset but I hate to buy an el cheapo set for the commuter. Being a Clyde I'm just not sure if cheap is gonna hold up.

  15. #15
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    It wouldn't be the worst idea to go IGH to clean it up down there a bit plus less road grim to clean off the gears, then I would run something like a 42t up front. I live in the city and am glad to have a SS for this due to having so much stop and go but I work out of the city and am glad for gears to speed up the ride. I MTB on a SS and would not give it up, but on the road gears make so much more sense.

    I guess we should as what your mileage will be per week and how many hills are we dealing with?
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  16. #16
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    I have considered going 1x9 or 1x10 on my commuter, too. It would provide a bit more range, especially if I went with one of those 11-36 10spd cassettes.

    cassettes are not especially cheap, so you have to add that cost to the derailleur cost, as well as a shifter.
    My heart belongs to triples (at least for the time being), but I`ve often wonderd about those 1 x a zilion drivetrains. It sure seems to me like quite chain angle to get from one chainring to the extreme ends of a full cassette. Maybe you`ve already looked into that potential problem. Is that not a big deal in reality, or just something you live with in order to eliminate a shifter and FD? Sorry for the OT, Cobi.

    Mine (mostly 8 speed) are cheap. The only issue is that you can`t really get light ones except in sprocket count of the month.
    Recalculating....

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cobi View Post
    Wouldn't need a cassette as there is one on the wheelset I'd be swapping back an forth.

    I'm just torn, I'm not ready for an expensive upgrade to my existing wheelset but I hate to buy an el cheapo set for the commuter. Being a Clyde I'm just not sure if cheap is gonna hold up.
    Im a big guy myself and havent had any problems with inexpensive hubs but from what ive heard stay away from shimano. One route you could go is to to the freewheel versus the free hub.

  18. #18
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    Building up a commuter - Enlighten me

    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    My heart belongs to triples (at least for the time being), but I`ve often wonderd about those 1 x a zilion drivetrains. It sure seems to me like quite chain angle to get from one chainring to the extreme ends of a full cassette. Maybe you`ve already looked into that potential problem. Is that not a big deal in reality, or just something you live with in order to eliminate a shifter and FD? Sorry for the OT, Cobi.
    I have to figure that the chain angle isn't THAT big of a deal since you can buy a 1x drivetrain off the shelf but it is enough of an issue that there are a lot of chain retention devices on the market for such drivetrains.

    On my mtb, I spend most of my time in the middle ring anyway and I range all over the cassette already so I don't see how it's much different than that. A 10spd cassette uses the same hub spacing as a 9spd one (or 8) so as far as I can see it should work alright so long as I take efforts to prevent chain drop at the extremes of the range.

    I had considered IGH for this bike as the frame is build for alfine hubs, but I built my wheelset the way it is to save a little dough at build time. I would have to spend a good bit more money to get another wheelset built with an IGH now.

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