Buy dedicated commuter bike or convert mountain bike next year?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    K_W
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    Buy dedicated commuter bike or convert mountain bike next year?

    I currently have a Trek Marlin 5 15.5" 27.5 with an upgraded fork, a RockShox 30 Silver... I am still a novice mountain biker and don't yet have the skill or strength for a real full blown trail beast.

    To help increase my strength, endurance, and improve overall health, I have decided that besides actual mountain biking (which is highly weather dependent here in river country) I want to ride to work and around town more. Work is just a few miles by bike, and my wife and I frequently ride either-which-way on a popular bike path bordering our neighborhood, and can ride to our parents part of town and around their area on another path... She has both a new Giant mountain bike and a really nice older comfort bike.

    But I'm not sure I want to do it on my mountain bike, and especially not on a nicer mountain bike I hope to get in the not to distant future. Bike thefts are high, but not NYC / LA high, and I've had my bike stolen back 10 years ago when it was my only transportation and now I am really protective with my current one and hesitant to leave it unattended, despite being a "cheap bike". This is part of the reason I didn't buy a nice one this time...

    I want to stay with Trek, but I'm not married to them, I want straight bars, and I really want disc brakes... so new or gently used is about the only option...

    1. Stick with the current mountain bike ride it everywhere, save some money, trade it in on a really nice hardtail or decent FS mountain bike in a year or two and ride it everywhere... not my first choice as I will only have one bike, new bike will be too much bike, get too much non-trail wear on expensive parts, and be thief bait to just take on a leisurely ride out to lunch... I'd never relax unless I could see it.

    2. Ride my current mountain bike everywhere and put the miles, and extra wear on it until I upgrade to a nicer mountain bike in a couple years then convert the Marlin into a basic commuter by swapping rubber and adding a rack. This is a nice idea, it's definitely cheaper, and I'd have two bikes... but the Marlin gearing is a bit low, frame and wheels are a touch small for road riding, 27.5" road tire choices are limited, and it's heavy relative to a real straight bar road bike.

    3a. Buy a basic 16-17.5" straight bar road bike that I won't be afraid to let out of sight, like the 7.2 Disc or new Allant 7.2 make a few upgrades and ride the wheels off of it year round and buy a better mountain bike a bit later once I have the skill to utilize it. This option is my current choice..

    3b. Same as above but v-brakes. I rode a non-disc 7.2 today and really enjoyed it... I would have bought it right then if it had disc brakes.

    4. Buy double-wall wheelset and cassette, put current trail tires on them, put roadish tires on current single wall set, buy extra set of rotors, maybe whole brake upgrade too, swap wheels as needed. This may cost as nearly as much as a cheaper straight bar road bike.

    What say you?
    Last edited by K_W; 08-18-2015 at 07:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_W View Post
    I currently have a Trek Marlin 5 15.5" 27.5 with upgraded fork, a RockShox 30 Silver... I am still a novice mountain biker and don't yet have the skill or strength for a real full blown trail beast.

    To help increase my strength, endurance, and improve overall health, I have decided that besides actual mountain biking (which is highly weather dependent here in river country) I want to ride to work and around town more. Work is just a few miles by bike, and my wife and I frequently ride either-which-way on a popular bike path bordering our neighborhood, and can ride to our parents part of town and around their area on another path...

    But I'm not sure I want to do it on my mountain bike, and especially not on a nicer mountain bike I hope to get in the not to distant future (year or two)...

    I want new, and to stay with Trek, but not married to them, I want straight bars, and I want disc brakes... choices are...

    1. Stick with the current mountain bike ride it everywhere, save some money, trade it in on a really nice mountain bike in a year or two and ride it everywhere... not my first choice. Will only have one bike, new bike will be too much bike, get too much non-trail wear on expensive parts, and be thief bait to just take on a leisurely ride out to lunch.

    2. Ride my current mountain bike everywhere and put the miles, and extra wear on it until I upgrade to a nice mountain bike in a couple years then convert it into a basic commuter by swapping tubes and tires. This is a nice idea, it's definitely cheaper, and I'd have two bikes... but the Marlin gearing is a bit low, frame and wheels are a touch small for road riding, tire choice is limited, and it's heavy relative to a real SBR Bike.

    3. Buy a basic 16-17.5" straight bar road bike like the 7.2 Disc or new Allant 7.2 make a few upgrades and ride the wheels off of it year round and buy a better mountain bike a bit later once I have the skill to utilize it. This is my current plan...

    What say you?
    I ride my mountain bike as my commuter, i had racekings on it. A hardpack/pave specific tire but now have specialized ground controls.

    The race kings show no wear from all last year but i trail ride alot now and i prefer the ground controls yet they are wearing a bit.

    Its not that big of deal, over the last 2 years commuting i have gone thru 3 chains, a cassette, and a set of brake pads.

    Get a chain wear tool and ride what you got.
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  3. #3
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    way over thinking it

    Commuting is all about doing it every day

    Start riding then as the bike wears out decide what you might want to change etc.

  4. #4
    K_W
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    [QUOTE=jeffscott;12145047]way over thinking it./QUOTE]

    I'm good at that.

  5. #5
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    It all depends on the distance. If your commute would be more than 10 miles one-way, then maybe it's worth thinking about another bike right now. But otherwise, just ride what you've got and see.

    I guarantee that after 6 months of commuting you'll have a much better idea of what you actually want and need, instead of trying to randomly throw money at something today.

  6. #6
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    ^^^ agreed, i have been commuting for about 3 months on my fatbike, and so far i have changed out the handle bars 3x, the seat 3x, stem 2x, and completely different style tires, but as of right now, the handlebar/stem combo is perfect (good sweep and ergon grips) the seat is comfortable (even though the other two i tried were supposed to be comfortable ones) and the tires make a helluva difference (lower rolling resistance and can handle higher pressure for road)

    theres still a few minor changes i want to make, like putting dual sprockets for wider range of gears, and finding the right platform pedals too...

    basically, ride it a few times, if its not what you like change it up, if its STILL not right then spring for new/second bike.... hopefully this helps...

  7. #7
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    I started commuting years ago on a mtb that I didn't ride on the trails anymore. My commute was about 4.5mi one way, so any bike would work just fine.

    After a couple years of riding it as a commuter, I had a better idea of what I was looking for, and I got a dedicated commuter bike.

  8. #8
    K_W
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    Update: I have changed gears completely...

    I located a rigid mountain bike (1995 Raleigh M50) that is nearly identical to my beloved bike I had stolen years ago (L.L. Bean branded 1995 Raleigh M40GS). It's an 18" frame and 26" wheel and all Shimano parts, just like my old one, and in near mint condition, for $100.

    IF I can snag it, all I have to do is tear it down, clean it, grease it, and put new rubber on. Then I can take it in to the LBS to get the crank replaced under a 1997 recall, which will give me a new stronger crank, fresh front gears, and quick tune up all on Shimano's dime.

    If it is in as good of shape as it seems, I will have a decent commuter, and my old bike back, for under $250.

    It may seem silly, but I loved that bike and I am genuinely excited to kinda have it back, and I won't care about the weight or it's old tech. I rode that bike for years as a kid and for over 6 months as sole transportation before I got my first car, it never let me down.

  9. #9
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    That's a happy story. Old, rigid mountain bikes are great. And you could put some big slicks on it like the bigapple, and have a monster commuter.

  10. #10
    K_W
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    I'm not a fan of slicks especially not narrow slicks, I'm either going to put new same tread pattern Kendas back on, since they did so well before, or I will get thinner mildly treaded tires with a center road bead.

  11. #11
    K_W
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    Disappointment... bike turned out not to have "only been ridden a few times and stored", but to have been rode hard put away wet, carefully photographed... money pit.

    I expected brakes and tires to be bad, they were... but, rims were scored, cable housings cracked, derailleur cables moderately rusted, handlebar rusty (was not pictured), pedals shot... and the final nail, the aluminum seat post was galvanicly fused to the steel seat tube.

    I passed on it. Going to local bike stores tomorrow to ask about used or abandoned bikes.

  12. #12
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    I own/ride a Fisher X-Cal. I lock out the front fork. After the first 2 weeks, I purchased a set of "Big Apples" (I am a clydesdale, age 43, and ride a combination of bike trail/sidewalks). I bought the Bontrager seatpost rack (so I could remove it) and the Bontrager "trunk". After commuting this summer, I purchased (and received yesterday), a Brooks Cambium C17.

    I would **LOVE** to be able to purchase a Breezer Beltway Elite or Spot Acme, but it's hard to justify a second bike at this time.

    With the god awful humidity (Florida) about to taper off, I have been looking for an additional wheelset so I can get back on the trails.

    I would say, if you like the ride of your bike, small investments can get you on your way. I'm lucky to be able to keep my bike in my office, but a lock system should be your priority.

  13. #13
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    I'd go with a dedicated commuter bike, but that's just because I beat the $h1t out of my commuter. I wouldn't do that to a "fun" bike. It'd be like driving a classic car through the winter.

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