commuter bike question

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  • 09-08-2010
    commuter bike question
    I bought a kona paddy wagon off craigslist for under 300 bucks a few months ago. ive ridden it probably 100 or so miles and i think i need wider tires and maybe a shorter stem. Its my first bike that has drop bars and skinny tires so i dont know a whole lot here. im happy with the rest of the bike though. here are a couple questions I have

    1. Ive been eyeing a Se stout or redline monocog. should i sell this bike and build a urban 29er

    2. if i keep this bike how big of a tire can I run? I think the guy had 23's on there and its just to small for me im a pretty big guy 6'2" 270 or so. would it really make a difference?

    3. how do i know if i need a smaller stem. how should i be sitting on this type of bike?

    thanks guys
  • 09-09-2010
    "1. Ive been eyeing a Se stout or redline monocog. should i sell this bike and build a urban 29er"

    Your call on that one. My personal preference is for a MTB framed bike for commuting. With the road conditions that I ride the wider tires are a big plus in both comfort and durability. But with that said, they are heavier and slower. Like I said, your call.

    "2. if i keep this bike how big of a tire can I run? I think the guy had 23's on there and its just to small for me im a pretty big guy 6'2" 270 or so. would it really make a difference?"

    At your weight your likely going to have to run max pressure or close to it in a skinny tire. The Wagon being a dedicated single speed road/track bike it's built for skinny road tires. It's highly unlikely that you'll have enough clearance to get out of the 20c range. 25 or 28c is likely to be your upper limit depending on clearance. You might be able to up it to 32c, but it would likely be tight. All you can do is measure and see. Just remember that in going to a bigger tire you are not only increasing width, but the height of the tire increases as well. And some road frames and forks are pretty tight in the height department. So make sure you check both dimensions.

    "3. how do i know if i need a smaller stem. how should i be sitting on this type of bike?"

    How you "should" sit on the bike and what makes you comfortable are likely two different things. On a track style bike the position is forward, aggressive, and aero, with your hands down on the drops. They are usually speced with a 0 or reverse rise stem to that purpose. What is comfortable for most people is usually somewhere in between. For a commuter, if you feel to far forward, to stretched out, or can't comfortably ride with your hands on the brake hoods, it's likely you would benefit from a shorter and/or higher rise stem. If I remember right the Paddy Wagon comes set up with the stem in the negative rise position, i.e. angled down slightly. If the former owner didn't flip it, you might want to try that first. Just pull the bars, remove the top cap, loosen the steerer clamp and flip the stem. Tighten things back up and reinstall the bar and your good. That may be all that is needed. If not then try shorter or a bit higher rise. There is a "standard" to bike fit. But it is someone else's idea of how you should sit on the bike. There are basics that are necessary like correct frame size, how you sit in relation to the cranks, etc. But from there it's a matter of personal preference and your body geometry. And it might be a good call to take yourself and the bike into a shop that knows how to fit a road frame and have them look you and the bike over. A professional fit can make a world of difference. You may find that all you need is a shorter stem, but then again you may be trying to fit yourself to a frame that is to large. Again, your call.

    Good Dirt
  • 09-09-2010
    +1 on Squash's comments.

    Small tires at high pressures ridden by large riders put a lot of stress on wheels. The tire should be a spring and if it is at max pressure, it can't absorb much shock so the spokes and rim take more.

    One addition: older touring bike frames have a bit more tire room. Some will accomodate 35 mm with fenders, 37 mm without, some a bit larger. They tend to have longer reach brakes or cantis and more room to crown, chain stay bridge, and brake bridge On three such frames from three manufacturers, that I am experienced with, it is the chain stay width that is limiting. You need about 5 mm each side of at the widest point of the tire so it that measures 50 mm a 40 mm maybe 42 mm tire (actual size, some brands this is much smaller that their nominal size) is the limit. Some of these frames with a change to longer reach brakes can fit 650B wheels and a light weight great riding 42 mm tire.

    Tire construction and weight affect how good they are as springs. A slightly smaller flexible wall tire may ride much better than a larger thick walled 'urban' tire. So some 37 mm tires may actually ride better than a 41 mm one with all the flat protection technology so if that is all there is room for, it's OK.

    Some Cross bikes can fit a tire of 35 to 37 mm with fenders. some only without fenders.

    Having been a larger rider with a 'large spare tire', the aero racing posture was not for me. As I have lost weight, I have lowered my bars some, but they are now at the touring and not racing height, but I can now ride into the wind in the drops for miles. I have been able to reduce air pressure in my tires for a better ride (32mm one bike, 35 mm on the other).

    Most of the new 'commuter' bikes will fit tires in the 32mm to 37 mm tire size range. They are aimed at the average person and load.

    For a larger person wanting a smoother ride, you may want a low pressure tire like a Big Apple, in a 700C 50 or 60 mm size. If someone knows of a road geometry frame that takes these, maybe they will comment here, but it looks like a hard tail 29er with either a rigid or locked out fork is the way to do that. as Squash said.
  • 09-09-2010
    I really like the bike but yeah with the streets around here its really rough. we have a lot of potholes ans some backroads havent been resurfaced in years. I use the bike right now to tow my son(18months) around the neighborhood. Maybe ill but it up on craigslist and see if i can flip it into a 29er rigid. I really like the singlespeed since swithcing to a gf rig ive fallen in love. just pedal no thinking. Maybe I can get an se stout or monocog with big apples or something similar. Thanks for the help. It looks like a 28c tire is the biggest that will fit. so looking at the math if i buy new tires 100bucks +/- a rack 30buks and a bag another 30 i have spent half of what i can get a se stout for. maybe ill through a monocog on layaway this winter.
  • 09-09-2010
    also ive been running 80-90 psi on these tires, i guess i should try 100-120 huh. Ive neer run max psi.
  • 09-09-2010
    Running higher pressure will make the bike beat on you even more, in general.

    I'm usually a "make the bike fit you" kind of guy, but at your weight, I suspect you're not going to be able to get a big enough tire in there to run at a low enough pressure for comfort. I run 80 and 95 psi front and back on my road bikes, but I'm over a hundred pounds lighter than you, and raced last season at half your weight. I'm surprised you haven't shredded the tires yet, actually - seems like you should be getting a ton of pinch flats.

    Anyway, I remain a fan of road bikes for road riding, including chopped up and crappy roads. I really like old touring bikes for commute duty, and if the bike has horizontal dropouts and a threaded hub, it'll actually be very easy to set up as a singlespeed. All you have to do is remove the cassette, put on a singlespeed freewheel, shorten the chain, and strip off the derailleurs and shifters. I rode one like that in NY for a while.

    Road riding position is often pretty poorly described. It's potentially a little trickier with a singlespeed, but as a starting point, you should have almost no weight on your hands. If you're riding a bike at your usual effort level, you have to lean forward a little bit to counteract pedaling torque. Your lower back should be curved forward, not arched, and your shoulders should be relaxed. In that position, you should basically just be resting your hands on the brake hoods, or maybe the corners of the handlebars. It's a little hard for a mountain biker to get used to because we're used to gripping the handlebars (hopefully not tightly, but still...) and really whaling on them at times. But for most road riding, that shouldn't be necessary. This is the current fashion in road riding positions, so of course it's not the law or something. I've actually ended up spending more time with my hands on the corners of the bars myself, but two of my road bikes are a little big for me and the 'cross bike has too steep a ramp angle on the bars, yet another reason I hate "ergo bend" handlebars.

    Depending on how powerful a rider you are, you may find that it's impossible to find a road bike that lands the handlebars in the right spot for you to ride like that. Your torso provides a much larger counterweight than mine, so it should take you a lot less leverage to match the torque you generate at the pedals. It may be that there just aren't any road bikes out there that work well for you, or at least for now. In general, though, it should be easier to get the handlebars higher and closer on touring frames.

    Whatever else is happening, I think bikes should be comfortable and fun to ride.
  • 09-09-2010
    The bike seems to be holding up to my weight just fine. Im hoping to get down to 250 by next summer. maybe less by this time next year. I think it might need a shorter stem becasue i am putting a little weight on my handle bars. The bike comes set up as a ss so thats not really an issue either. The handle bars seem at the right height but i feel that they might just be a little to far forward. perhaps i can get a shorter stem. But after hearing all these replies about my size and a road bike i may just buy a cheaper mountain bike for commuting. Thanks for the reply.
  • 09-09-2010
    FWIW I love my 19" GF Rig. I rode about 20 miles saturday with a huge smile on my face the whole time. I just dont think it would make a good commuter. I would like to keep it a dedicated mountain bike.
  • 12-13-2010
    I just picked up a Paddy as well.

    It comes stock with 28C tires.

    I have a spare 32C tire that I have yet to try.
  • 12-13-2010
    Mr Pink57
    At 220lbs I had 28c tires on a SS road and it was very uncomfortable. I have a 38c set now which maxes at 65psi which will be much more comfortable for my road rides with a bit of gravel thrown in.

    A 23c is pretty small by most standards I would probably run that in a race only situation.