Commuting and trail hardtail. Good idea?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Commuting and trail hardtail. Good idea?

    Hopefully this is not your typical ĎWhat bike should I get threadí, but here is what Iím struggling with at the moment. I posted this on another MTB website, so apologies if you're seeing this again.

    Situation: I just moved to WA State for a new job. My job is 2.5 miles from work and Iíd like to start commuting by bike. The route is all on road, not too busy; half of it is on a shoulder marked as a bike path. There is about +130ft of elevation change from my home to work.

    Background: Mid-20s male. Been MTBing for about 5 years now. I already have a great full suspension MTB that I use frequently. I built it up including the wheels and I would consider myself competent at bike repair/tuning. I donít have too many spare parts floating around besides some 29er tires, since my bike is a 29er.

    Purpose: In addition to the aforementioned commuting Iíd like to use this as my winter bike in the PNW. I took my FS bike out to Tiger Mtn recently and loved it. The cleaning of my bike after I got backÖ not so much. The pivots and shock are difficult to clean and Iíd rather not deal with that every single time I get out. But there is more. Right by work we have some decent single track that I could get like 7-10 miles on after work. So, I want this to be a commuter, winter bike, and a good trail bike all in one. Ambitious, I know.

    My thoughts: I definitely want a hardtail, steel or aluminium. I was thinking of something like a Kona Honzo, Transition TransAM, or a Chromag frame. Oddly enough Iím favoring the 27.5 versions of the TransAM and Chromag just to dabble into the 27.5 stuff (I've only had 29ers). My thinking being that my commute is not super long and that maybe I can suffer a bit to get a little more in the fun department when Iím actually on the trail. Was thinking of putting a 120-130mm fork, an SLX grade drivetrain, rigid seatpost, and probably some 23mm internal aluminum hoops wrapped with Conti Xkings or equivalent (compromise between grip and rolling on pavement).

    Another option is to ship out my first MTB, a Trek Mamba 29er, out to WA and using that for the above-mentioned purposes. My only worry is that itís not really a playful geometry, and the fork, a Rockshox XC32, would probably need an upgrade anyway.

    My budget is somewhere around $1500, of course the lower the better. Iím either going to buy a complete bike used, or a new frame and find some new/used components for it.

    So I want to hear your thoughts. What do you think is my best option? Am I somewhat reasonable in my wants and reasoning, or am I just completely mad? Other bikes, specs that you would recommend?

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
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    Honestly, with your commute being 2.5mi each way, I wouldn't even really think much about pavement miles considering your other intended uses.

    Buy a hardtail that suits you and go ride.

    I did twice that distance with a hardtail and it was fine. I wound up building a dedicated commuter after doing that for a couple of years, but I didn't really find too many advantages of doing so until I moved and my mileage increased by a good margin.

  3. #3
    CB of the East
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    Yeah, for a 2 1/2 mile ride I'd by the bike you want on the trails. You could do it on a fatbike is you wanted.

  4. #4
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    I regularly ride my 29er, with 2.25" tires, 7+ miles to work and it's fine. Not fast, but fine.

  5. #5
    V-Shaped Rut
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    I'm in your area, based on the east side of Bellevue.

    My wife rides her hardtail from our house to downtown bvue (5.5 miles) to play volleyball and then rides back after the games are over. It's a 26er SS running 32/18, stan's flow and heavy ass schwable Hans Dampf tires. And that's 500 ft or so elevation mostly on the way back. That to say for your commute anything will work.

    As you mention 2.5 miles is so short you could ride a beach cruiser and not break a sweat so I'd say build for the mountain. I was riding a Kona Raijin for a while and it was a great almost 0 maintenance winter ride in SS trim, but I also ran it 1x10. I didn't like it at all at Tiger because it was more of an XC bike, but I think a Honzo, especially with a dropper (but not required of course) would be perfect for your purposes.

  6. #6
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    Agree with the above. Buy a bike you want for the winter/trails and ride it the 2.5 miles to work. That short of a ride doesn't need much special consideration.

  7. #7
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    Sh*t, you could ride a Schwinn Stingray to work every day with that kind of commute- I know I did before I moved closer. Just buy whatever's fun.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas
    Pedal-powered tractor!

  8. #8
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    I'd buy a fat bike. Just to make it harder.

  9. #9
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    i ride a 2009 trek 6500 hard tail disc during the winter here in new england. my commute is 5 miles each way no problems . i do have an older marin quake 5.0 when it is snow/ice out with studded tires also.

  10. #10
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Honestly, with your commute being 2.5mi each way, I wouldn't even really think much about pavement miles considering your other intended uses.

    Buy a hardtail that suits you and go ride.
    +1.

    Are you riding Japanese Gulch? I think I ride 2-2.5 miles to get there from work.

    I do notice that I wear down the center tread on my rear tire faster lately. It's pretty slimy right now, so I wouldn't compromise on tires at the moment. But something with a denser tread pattern in the middle would wear better during the drier part of the year. You might also consider something with flat protection if you're not doing tubeless, but I haven't found that to be a problem in practice.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
    R.I.P. DogFriend
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    +1.

    Are you riding Japanese Gulch? I think I ride 2-2.5 miles to get there from work.

    I do notice that I wear down the center tread on my rear tire faster lately. It's pretty slimy right now, so I wouldn't compromise on tires at the moment. But something with a denser tread pattern in the middle would wear better during the drier part of the year. You might also consider something with flat protection if you're not doing tubeless, but I haven't found that to be a problem in practice.
    Specialized Captain would fit that bill, or maybe a Maxxis Crossmark.

  12. #12
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Yeah, totally. Or, since I've been a bit of a Schwalbe fanboy in the past, the Racing Ralph.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    I too, do a mixed commute. Running an older reba on the front of Karate Monkey. 35 mm rims with 29x2.3 slicks I can get 8 miles of dirt out of 20 on the way home in warmer weather. 29er hardtail seems to be a good fit. Or some of the new + sized bikes. Think about some lower profile/race type tires as well. Something like the Kenda smallblock 8 would work well.

  14. #14
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    If knobbies wear out to fast....get a second wheel set

  15. #15
    Yeah!
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    My hardtail is my everything bike. I run 1.9" urban tires most of the time. 65psi for the up to 20 miles commuting, down to 25-30 for the local trails. I throw on some 1.5's that can take 75 psi for centuries, and 2.5" DH tires for as much aggressive XC as I and the bike can handle.

    Yeah, you can do that.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

  16. #16
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    I have one "do it all" bike, and it's a 29er hardtail.

    I roll on 2.25 Smart Sams, and they're fast enough on pavement when inflated to 50+psi.

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