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  1. #1
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    Cyclo-cross for commuting

    So first post here. Here's a little background to lay a foundation for my questions. I just got into riding a bike about 2 months ago (hadn't ridden since I was a kid and a little commuting in college). I went out and bought an entry level Cannondale F9 before doing much research at all, taken it on some beginner and intermediate trails and love mountain biking. I like it and all but am already getting the bug to upgrade. The one thing I didn't really realize is that I'd be commuting to work 3 to 4 days a week on it. It's been great exercise, fun and I've even dropped my gym membership because of it. I used to play basketball 3 days a week at the gym but that was just killing my body. So now I'm most likely going to get a nice XC bike for the trails but am trying to decide about commuting.

    I really want to go as fast as possible on my commute on the bike. Partially because I'm so competitive that if I'm not racing someone else, I want to race myself. My commute is approximately 10.5 miles each way. 6.5 to 7 miles of that is on a dedicated multi-use bath, with some pedestrians and roller bladers but NO cars. There is a small portion that is on a couple of ditch banks so that rules out road bikes as far as I'm concerned. When I'm on the bike path I usually at a speed of 18 mph but if I'm riding with my co-worker we take turns drafting each other (as well as our competitiveness) and can push 20 mph usually. I push 20 mph on cooler days with less sun as well. My commute in a car (which is 10 miles) takes anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes but usually right at the 25 minutes. Right now my commute on the bike takes me between 39 and 43 minutes (depending on traffic lights and speed of course). I'd love to get that commute time down a bit more. So reading the thread about how fast you go on your commute I've found that my speed is actually pretty decent but I was reading this article http://velonews.com/article/72849 and the dude said he was going 38.5 mph. Is that really a legit goal? So I'm trying to decide if upgrading to cyclo-cross bike will allow me to go any faster or should I just begin modifying my F9 (different tires, fork with lockout, clipless pedals and I don't know what else). Do you guys have any ideas? Can I go much faster on my F9 than I already am going...would a nice cyclo-cross bike make any difference?

    I guess the other option is to use whatever XC bike I upgrade too for both single track and commuting. I am somewhat thinking about one of the Rockhoppers (not bottom of the line Rockhopper but not top of the line either). I'm so confused as to what to do or if I should even do anything.

    Thanks guys.

  2. #2
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    My cross check is faster than my rockhopper. I think the cross bike is much more comfortable to commute on. Rack, fenders, drops for the headwind.

    The biggest reason it is faster is the gearing. My rockhopper is 1x8 with a 32 tooth ring. The cross check has a 48 tooth ring. Much higher top gear.

    I generally commute in the 20-25 mph range. The only time I've been above 35mph on a flat road was in a sprint with a good tail wind. My fitness could be better as well.

  3. #3
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    Here's my suggestion as somebody whose situation is pretty similar to yours.

    I think for your intended purposes, a rigid steel 29er would be perfect because it's so versatile. Put some decent volume off-road tires on it, and you've got yourself a very comfortable and capable XC mountain bike. And because the 29er rims allow you to mount 700c road tires (width permitting), you can just as easily turn your bike into a flat bar roadie. So for that reason alone - getting two bikes in one - I think the rigid 29er is the way to go, but there's more:

    For commuting, the bent over, aero-efficient riding position of your typical cyclocross bike isn't ideal. When you're bent over like that, it's hard to have a commanding view of traffic and what's around you. I think you'll find a more upright riding position is better for commuting.

    If you research tires and rolling resistance, you'll find that the skinnier tires really don't offer much less rolling resistance than a wider one. I know, it's counterintuitive, but people like putting fat tires like Schwalbe Big Apples on their commuters because they're practically as fast as a skinny slick, but are WAY more comfortable because they soak up the bumps and protect your rims while negotiating curbs and such. If you go with a cyclocross bike, you'll find the skinnier tires you'll be forced to use (due to frame/fork clearance issues) aren't necessarily faster, and the bike will be a heck of a lot more jarring and limited in what it can do.

    I have a rigid Niner MCR9 I commute with and with the right tires, it's awesome. Put some Crossmarks or Nanoraptor tires on it, and you'd think you're riding a flat bar roadie/hybrid bike while on the pavement. But take it out offroad for a proper mountain bike excursion, and it'll leave those bikes in the dust.

    It is my opinion that, when compared to the rigid 29ers, the hybrid/cyclocross bikes don't offer much of a performance advantage, and they are much more limited in their capabilities. I think for riding pavement, bike path, hard pack and fire roads, a rigid 29er with the right tires is a very fast and extremely comfortable option.

  4. #4
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    Thanks

    Thanks for the input guys. I had thought about the 29er possibility but would that be any faster than putting the "right" tires and a rigid or fork w/ lockout on my F9? I'm also not opposed to having a seperate commuting bike and trail bike, although I like the option of taking the 29er out on the trail as a back up.

    Thanks for the input...anyone else have ideas?

  5. #5
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    Would a 29er be any faster? Depends.

    Reminds me of a conversation I overheard between the owner of an LBS and a very disgruntled customer. It went something like this:

    Customer: The road bike you sold me isn't any faster than my mountain bike. You said it would go faster

    LBS: But you had me gear the road bike the same as the mountain bike

    Customer: I don't understand why it isn't any faster.

    LBS: Are you pedaling faster?

    Customer: No, my cadence is always the same.

    LBS: stares blankly then exlpains gear ratios...

    bottom line. The gearing and how fast you pedal makes for the speed of the bike. If you have a 29er and swap out tires for road and trail, it will not be much faster. The gearing of a cross bike and road bikes is normally different than that of a mountain bike. Road bikes tend to have much larger chain rings, and a tighter grouped cassette. This makes for a higher top end.

    To increase your speed greatly, you need

    1. To pedal faster.
    2. a bigger chainring to give you a larger gear ratio.

    Tires type, wheel size, surface conditions, and rider position only give you so much speed. They make a difference, but it isn't much.

    Understand?

  6. #6
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    When I went from riding a hybrid with 700x35 inverted tread tires to a cyclocross bike with 700x28 tires, the time for my commute (mostly on a rail trail) dropped overnight from over 50 minutes to under 40.

    I've also owned a couple of 29ers (rigid and hardtail). The cyclocross bike is undeniably faster on pavement than the 29ers, even when the 29er is wearing Crossmarks.

    It's not just that skinny slicks have less drag or rolling resistance on pavement than even the lowest-knob 29er tire. They're also lighter and quicker to spin back up after a stop. The cross bike offers more aggressive riding positions that reduce drag further and put your hip joint at a better angle for power production through the pedal stroke. And you can still get upright using the tops of the bars when you're in heavy traffic and need to look around, or just need a change of position. (Get interruptor levers if you expect to spend a lot of time on the tops in traffic.)

    If you want to stick to a single bike for both road and trail, a hardtail MTB is the way to go. But if you can have separate bikes for commuting and trail riding, then a cross bike is a really good choice for the commuter.

  7. #7
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    Get a gary fisher Mendota. U will indeed go fast. And u will feel much comfortable and better control with a flatbar.

    Check out the review for it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate

    To increase your speed greatly, you need

    1. To pedal faster.
    2. a bigger chainring to give you a larger gear ratio.

    Tires type, wheel size, surface conditions, and rider position only give you so much speed. They make a difference, but it isn't much.

    Understand?
    That all makes sense. So you're saying if I put (or can put) a bigger chainring on my F9 and pedal faster then I will go faster.

    I guess my real question is will it be "easier' to go faster on a cyclocross bike rather than my F9 (assuming I can even put a larger chainring on, I'm a newb and have no idea if that's even possible)?

    I guess I really should just go see if I can get a demo ride of a couple, throw a bike computer on it and ride it and see how much faster I can go.

  9. #9
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    Idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by YoungerNow
    If you want to stick to a single bike for both road and trail, a hardtail MTB is the way to go. But if you can have separate bikes for commuting and trail riding, then a cross bike is a really good choice for the commuter.
    I guess that's the question! I can live with my F9 for now with the trails I ride. Now I just need to convince the wife that the $63/month I'm saving by dropping my gym membership and the $30+/month savings on gas (not to mention ware and tear on the car) is worth putting into a bike that is better for commuting.

  10. #10
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    If you really want to hammer your commutes and enjoy the road, get a second bike for that purpose. The Trek 7.5FX (below) was my choice for commuting and road rides (with bar ends added for varied hand positions). You might prefer a road bike with drop bars. I wouldn't bother with a cyclocross bike unless you want a one-bike-fits-all compromise between your current hardtail and a road bike.

    38.5mph is not a realistic average speed unless you are 1) a pro 2) a nutcase 3) both of the above.
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  11. #11
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    I agree:
    different bikes for trails and commuting.
    A cyclocross bike should be good, if you feel the dirt spots are too much for a road bike. Make sure your tires are not too knobby. I am running fat slicks on my older HT and can ride many trails that way too, as long as the surface is dry and stable.

  12. #12
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    I was kind of in a similar situation as you not too long ago after hearing all the hype about how much faster road bikes are than MTBs. Like you, I didn't think a traditional road bike was suitable to my commute because a large part of my commute is on cobblestone. I seriously considered getting a cyclo-cross bike but most of the ones that I looked at had MTB gearing. I really liked the Trek Valencia, but I'm overseas and don't have a Trek dealer near. The Valencia is about $150 cheaper than the 7.5FX and the Valencia comes with mechanical disc brakes.


    I ended up getting a flat bar road bike and replacing the stock 700x23c tires with 700x28c tires (the largest tires I could fit on it without rubbing against the brakes). When I ride my new bike to work, I take an alternate route so I don't have to ride on cobblestone most of the way. I can take the cobblestone route on my new bike, but my ride would be really uncomfortable. You'd probably be happy with a bike with road bike gearing (48t or more large crank) that would accommodate 700x32c tires.
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  13. #13
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    FWIW the 7.5 has hardcase 700x32s and a 48/36/26 triple chainring. The forks are rigid carbon which soaks up road buzz and the saddle flexes slightly to make the ride more forgiving too.

    I live in a desert (maybe 5-6 days rain a year) so discs are more than I'd need for the road.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qatarbhoy
    FWIW the 7.5 has hardcase 700x32s and a 48/36/26 triple chainring. The forks are rigid carbon which soaks up road buzz and the saddle flexes slightly to make the ride more forgiving too.

    I live in a desert (maybe 5-6 days rain a year) so discs are more than I'd need for the road.
    I wasn't knocking the 7.5. I was just making a suggestion. I'm sure the 7.5 is a sweet bike. Actually, the Valencia and the 7.5 are very similar. The biggest differences are that the 7.5 has a 48/36/26 crank vs a 48/38/28 crank, the 7.5 has a carbon fork vs a steel fork, the 7.5 is a 3x9 vs a 3x8, the 7.5 has rim brakes vs disc brakes, and the 7.5 is $150 more than the Valencia. I'm sure that both bikes are very nice bikes though.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon76
    I wasn't knocking the 7.5. I was just making a suggestion.
    I didn't think you were knocking it, no worries on that score.

  16. #16
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    Flat bars + headwind = poor

    Drop bars + headwind = better
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  17. #17
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    I ride my Xcheck to work every day, the better brakes are good for the hills I ride down...now I have mud flaps & smooth tyers....

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  18. #18
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    Thanks everybody. Looks like I have some bikes to check out. I like the idea of the Valencia. And still haven't completely ruled out a cyclocross. I still don't want to go with a straight up road bike but a MTB is looking like the right fit either. There are a MILLION bikes out there geared more like a road bike but meant for commuting in the city with some fatter tires, maybe a flat bar, etc. Other suggestions are definitely welcome but I am positive I'm looking for something geared high. I'm gonna look at the following:

    1. Specialized Tricross, although quite a bit above my price range for a Sport Tripple
    2. Trek Valencia - much more palatable price and like the features
    3. Cannondale Quick 2 (I like my local Cannondale dealer), again pushing the limits of my budget
    4. Giant TCX (Same LBS as the Cannondale)
    5. Trek 7.5FX
    6. Specialized Crosstrail - meh
    7. Xcheck - for good measure

    I live in New Mexico so disk breaks on a commuter are not really necessary, when it rains you just wait 5 minutes and it will stop and 5 minutes later it's all dried up. Still need to ride through some dirt a bit, which can get sandy sometimes so no little tiny wheels. I'm more acclimated to a straight bar but I don't have any back issues and traffic is pretty light where I commute so I don't have to worry much about vision. All these suggestions helped a bunch. Thanks!

    Edit: Not sure what happened but this post wasn't supposed to be directly in reference to any other particular post.

  19. #19
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    I lives in NM too. Sounds like you've settled on a cross type bike which is fine. I loves my 29er D440 as my 'go to' bike for everything. You really can do it all on one bike, if you accept it's not going to be as fast as a roadie.

  20. #20

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    Take it from somebody that commutes on their cyclocross bike.

    If you have the money to drop on one do it. Even the lower end cyclocross bikes are going to greatly outperform modified mountain bikes. Seeing as you are the type to want to perform at his peak, you most likely want the right tool for the job. For the type of riding you describe you will not find a better option than a cyclocross bike.

    I really think you will enjoy a cyclocross bike more than you will any other of your options

    Good luck!

  21. #21
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    Many seem to like the different versions of Kona Jake cyclocross bikes.

  22. #22
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Many seem to like the different versions of Kona Jake cyclocross bikes.
    I love my Jake! I've commuted on various styles of mountain bikes over the years and everything changed for me last summer when I bought my Jake. It's faster. more efficient, more comfortable and more versatile than any bike I have used for commuting. I can do dedicated road rides with good times, link up with the endless miles of dirt farm/ranch roads with confidence and even ride some mellow singletrack. I live in a high alpine desert as well so disc brakes aren't a necessity. I mounted up some 40c Kenda Breakers which give me plenty of cushion and rim protection for dirt roads. About 2 mi. of my commute is on dirt. Recently I purchased a pair of 29" Rhyno Lites laced to DT Swiss Onyx hubs from mikesee @ Big Wheels. Those have really boosted my confidence! I'm a natural clyde, over 225lbs. ripped to the bone.
    My commute is 17.62mi. and I can generally do it in about 57-58min. going to work (uphill) and in about 50-53 min. heading home (downhill). Moose jams and inconsiderate tourists can be a little tough on my overall time. They make for great sprint work though!

    As you can tell, the cyclocross bikes get my vote!
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    Definitely going to add the Kona Jake to my list to check out. Thanks again everybody.

  24. #24
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    I live in NM and love my TCX. I've had it in many different configurations but I like SS best.
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  25. #25
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    I also have a jake the snake. and love it.

    I would recomend the plain jake as it has a trible crank and costs less. I got the more expensive lighter bike and now wish I had me the granny gear.

  26. #26
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    My wife rides a Kona Jake, and loves it.

    I have a Cross Check, as I said, it's perfect for my needs.

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    The Cross Check and the Kona Jake are sold at the same place, which is pretty close to my office so that's a plus. I'm exited to try some of these out. Now if I can just get this Macbook Pro sold...

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabeiac
    but I was reading this article http://velonews.com/article/72849 and the dude said he was going 38.5 mph. Is that really a legit goal?
    That is so unrealistic as to be stupid to try. On a recent ride on my road bike I was hammering it on a longish downhill section and I think I got to about 35MPH. On the flat at the bottom my speed tapered to 30MPH and I was going all-out (a wannabe Cavendish I'm not).

    When I was commuting I was riding 11 miles in an hour but it's a hilly 11 miles. The ride home was more like 2 hours to ride 17 miles but it involved about 3000 vertical feet of climbing spread out over two big climbs and one small but steep one to spice things up a bit. Depending on your terrain 20MPH can be fast or slow.

  29. #29
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    Are you considering getting a bike to commute on instead of the nicer XC bike you want?

    In your shoes, I think I'd buy the nicer XC bike and turn the F9 into a commuter. With a more aero position (longer/lower stem and maybe bar ends or drop ends,) rigid fork and the skinniest tires its wheels will accept, you'll be a lot closer toward having the efficiency of a road bike. It's okay to buy a steel or aluminum fork used, as long as there's enough steer tube left - a broken metal fork will look broken. Used tires can save some money too.

    You could also spend $100 on an old ten-speed. They'll typically accept a pretty fat tire, but watch out for 27" wheels, steel rims, etc.

    Granted, I think I come from a different place in my commute bike selections than a lot of people on this forum - I've lived in cities for most of my life, so the idea of dropping more than a day's pay on a commuter doesn't make sense to me. What if it gets vandalized or stolen?

    A nicer mountain bike can make mountain biking more fun. On a nicer commute bike, you're still commuting but you can't leave it locked outside.
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  30. #30
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    True enough, your local crime rate should affect your choice.

    Where I live there's zero crime so I could lock up a Livestrong translucent crabon fibre TT bike outside, no worries. (Well, apart from worrying about actually riding the damn thing.)

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    I don't think I'd say "instead" of a nicer XC. Just "before" I get a nicer XC. I had thought about the whole conversion idea. But I'd need a larger chaingring on there to gear higher. I want to go as fast as possible. I'm not to worried about crime. Although petty theft is pretty bad here my bike stays with me in my office so not a whole lot to worry about. I'll think about the conversion idea though.

  32. #32
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    'cross bikes are a lot of fun, and you might find you get the bug. So here's more food for thought...

    I ride a Specialized Hardrock that retailed for not much more than the F9 in my model and year. Since purchasing it, I've upgrades the fork, tires and contact points. When I go racing with it, it's my bike handling skills that are holding me back, not the weight or capabilities of the bike, and I beat a lot of guys on much fancier equipment up the climbs.

    Unless you get one from a really shady company, there's not a whole lot of difference between one 26" aluminum XC hardtail and another. It may be worth comparing the cost of upgrading your current bike with the cost of a nicer one. Also bear in mind that there are some parts with a much greater impact on the bike's performance than others. Once you've upgraded the contact points on the bike and the tires, the only things left that I think make a big difference are the fork and the front derailleur. A nicer bike will have a nicer fork, but still not great on a Rockhopper, and nicer components, but there's no guarantee that it will have the "right" saddle, pedals, stem and handlebars for you.

    Nicer/more appropriate wheels make a big difference too...
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabeiac
    So reading the thread about how fast you go on your commute I've found that my speed is actually pretty decent but I was reading this article http://velonews.com/article/72849 and the dude said he was going 38.5 mph. Is that really a legit goal?
    I don't read that as the guy's average speed or anything like that. He just states that he was going that speed at the time he was passed too close by an SUV. I have hit speeds of over 40 mph on my road bike on steep and/or long downhills, but if the hill is not steep, I have to be pedaling pretty hard to get into the upper 30's. There is no way anyone would come close to that as an average, and it seems irrelevant to me as far as a commuting speed goal is concerned. That being said, I don't think I could, or would want to, hit that speed on my 29er MTB with the knobby tires I have on it - it would be squirrely to say the least.

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    Yeah, I guess I should have asked what a legit average speed goal is. My average speed (including having to slow down for ditch banks, obstacles, etc.) is around 17.5 to 18, and I keep it around 20 on the flat 7 miles stretch. I assume I can go faster than that on a more efficient bike but I'm not expecting to go 38.5 mph. Getting it up to around 25 mph on the flat 7 mile stretch would be nice though.

  35. #35
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    A reasonable average speed? Like I said in my first post, I'm comfortable in the 20-25 mph range. That's a pretty wide range for a bike. Loaded up with everything I need for the day, I'm doing good to keep it at 20. Unloaded < 10 mile ride, I open up a lot faster. For long rides, I try to keep an 18mph pace.

    A full-out sprint on a flat road wtih a strong tailwind - I go fast enough to start to feel uncomfortable. I don't want to find out what road rash feels like at those speeds.

  36. #36
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    I have to admit that I don't quite get commuting speed goals. I think that if I were to commute the same route, in the same form, ten times and average 30 minutes, I'd do it in everywhere from 25-35 minutes. Sometimes traffic does something weird, sometimes there's road work, etc. etc. Air resistance has already been brought up too. I can also lower my time by making more dangerous choices in terms of rolling stop signs and traffic signals, lane splitting, etc.

    If you're interested in tracking your fitness, why not find a route near you with minimal stopping and traffic, and clock yourself on that? It should yield much cleaner data. Otherwise, just enjoy the ride and not having to buy gas as often.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    I have to admit that I don't quite get commuting speed goals. I think that if I were to commute the same route, in the same form, ten times and average 30 minutes, I'd do it in everywhere from 25-35 minutes. Sometimes traffic does something weird, sometimes there's road work, etc. etc. Air resistance has already been brought up too. I can also lower my time by making more dangerous choices in terms of rolling stop signs and traffic signals, lane splitting, etc.

    If you're interested in tracking your fitness, why not find a route near you with minimal stopping and traffic, and clock yourself on that? It should yield much cleaner data. Otherwise, just enjoy the ride and not having to buy gas as often.
    +1. You're on your way to work. What's the big hurry?
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    I have to admit that I don't quite get commuting speed goals.
    It's fun! For me it's really the only road riding I get in once trails are dry.
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    ^^ same here. I like my job and we have a shower available. If we have a rough day at work I'm too tired to ride hard, might as well race the clock on the way in.

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    It sounds like we have similar commutes.

    I commute on my Specialized Tricross 3 times a week 13 miles round trip, mostly all on dedicated bike paths except for a short stretch when I get to work (have to cross the overpass over the freeway) and a short uphill stretch of single track.

    I've also ridden my Giant Trance X3 over long distances on paved bike trails. Without question, my Tricross is faster. It's so much faster in fact, getting back on my MTB feels like I'm moving in slow motion, even hammering on the big ring.

    I average about 22 mph over the 6.5 miles one way trip, which gets me to work in less than 18 minutes. No way in hell I could do that on my MTB.

    I'm concerned about my performance to and from work as well and time myself every ride. If I would make a recommendation (as I'm going to do this myself), I would say look at a cyclocross bike for its on/off road capabilties, but put a bigger chainring on it for the downhills and flats. The tallest gear on my Tricross is 48-12 which is too low for most of the flats and hills I pedal on.
    Last edited by CowboyZ37; 07-29-2009 at 01:03 PM.

  41. #41
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    I commute on a cyclocross bike, and love it. Commute is 27 mi each way.
    Love, Impy

  42. #42
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    It sounds to me like you really want to buy another bike, and I think you should. Go out and support your local bike shop. I have been commuting to work on my bianchi axis for the past three years and have enjoyed the bike very much. When I first started riding to work the bike was set up bone stock and I tried to get to work as fast as possible. But over the past few years, I began to modify the bike to make it more comfortable for my commute. i first added fenders and then a brooks b17. I decided that I might want to do some light touring so I added a rack. I traded in my 25c skinnies for some flat resistant 32s. The bike just keeps getting heavier and heavier. i replaced all the shifting components to 10spd campy record with a triple up front, but I think it might be the heaviest record equipped bike ever. What I am getting at, is that super fast commuting for me wasn't really fun or feasible. After a while I began to prize reliability and functionality over pure speed. That is not to say I am a total slowski, it am just enjoying the ride more. Good luck

  43. #43
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    Well, I test road a Kona Jake today and it was pretty much awesome. Riding in the highest gear was a breeze compared to the high gear on my F9. I'm thinking the 58 cm that I rode was a tad tall for me, so we'd probably order one, and would trade out the tires for something not so knobby but just as wide. I still want to try out some hybrid bikes like the Connondale Quick 2 and maybe the Trek's mentioned on here. But so far I have definitely decided to go the route of a new bike for commuting.

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    Try out the hybrid bikes, but I have a feeling you're going to come back and say, "I settled on the Kona."

    Once you commute with drop bars, you won't want to go back to flat bars.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyZ37
    Try out the hybrid bikes, but I have a feeling you're going to come back and say, "I settled on the Kona."

    Once you commute with drop bars, you won't want to go back to flat bars.
    I'm already thinking you're probably right.

  46. #46
    jrm
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    I really like my Double Cross

    Im still getting the fit "right" using a flat on one freegle bar. Next step is swapping the freegle bar out for a easton low rise. This will allow me to move the stem down the steertube so my hands will be right over the front axle while the seat-bar drop between the freege and easton riser remains the same.

    i like the way it rides alot. It rolls and corners great. its stable at speed descending and accelerates well. Having disc brakes on a CX bike is something im still getting used to. Its almost stops to quick. i guess its something to get used too.

    The build is:

    53cm Grey Ano Soma Double Cross Disc Only frameset, Kona Project II disc only fork, FSA mega Exo compact energy crankset 36/46, SRAM 85011-30 Cassette, Shimano 600 shifter/brake pods, Shimano 105 FD, Shimano LX RD, Time ATAC pedals. DT Swiss 470X rims DT spokes & XT hubs, Avid BB7 calipers and 160mm rotors F & R, Redline OE seat, Dimension Seat Post, Salsa 110 x 0 SUP Stem and On -one Freegle/Easton E70 lowrise bar(s) and lastly Oury grips.

    Some bad on the bike rack at work pics...
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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabeiac
    Well, I test road a Kona Jake today and it was pretty much awesome. Riding in the highest gear was a breeze compared to the high gear on my F9. I'm thinking the 58 cm that I rode was a tad tall for me, so we'd probably order one, and would trade out the tires for something not so knobby but just as wide. I still want to try out some hybrid bikes like the Connondale Quick 2 and maybe the Trek's mentioned on here. But so far I have definitely decided to go the route of a new bike for commuting.
    I have a Kona Jake I use for 'cross racing. I have very few road miles on it, but I lent it to a friend for a few months so she'd have a road bike, and she used it for commuting, hills, long rides, speed work - pretty much every road role except for group rides and races. She was very happy with it and has since bought a Jake of her own.

    I think it's a fun bike and I found it to be pretty quick in my size (52) but a little sluggish in the 54 I test-rode initially. Apparently bike fit is important. It was also hugely better than my mountain bike for 'cross racing. Go figure.

    You already found one of the big negatives to the bike in the tires. They're pretty poor off-road as well. I also sometimes had trouble with the chain dropping, but if you're not slamming it onto the ground after a barrier series, this may not be an issue. Anyway, the fix is a $10 part, so it's no big deal. I killed the headset mid-season. It's one of the old loose-ball type headsets. Part of that was using a fork-mount rack. I'm also not a big fan of the interrupter levers, or the brakes as stocked. I don't know how much the interrupters contribute to the problem and how much it has to do with spring tension, straddle wire angle, etc., but they're not the most powerful brakes in the world - be aware. Also make sure there's an inline adjuster or barrel adjuster on your front shift cable somewhere. Mine stocked without one.

    When my friend was borrowing the bike, she put a rack on it. She said that having a rack made it handle slowly and poorly. I haven't tried it that way, so I can't say if it's any worse than putting a rack on any other road bike. It seems to accept fenders easily, which is a definite plus here in Seattle. My friend also ripped off the left crank arm. It's a problem common to FSA cranks, and can be managed - you need to keep an eye on the pinch bolts on the crank arm, and recheck the torque after the first 60 miles or so and every now and then after that.

    All negatives aside, though, this was a good enough bike for me to claw my way into some mid-pack finishes when I raced it last season. Once I got the tires and chain dropping issues sorted out, any problems I had in my races were to do with the rider, not the bike. I'd say pretty good value for less than a thousand dollars. Note that if you do decide to race, disc brakes aren't legal on a 'cross bike so you want to find out how much your local series enforces the rules, and which ones they care about.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  48. #48
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    My Pista is on the slow boat to Australia so I picked up a Giant Bowery at an LBS. This thing as a commuter is awesome! I love it! The shop put a flat bar and carbon seatpost for me free of charge. I really like having a flat bar in downtown Melbourne.



    Draft College Republicans

  49. #49
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    Bianchi San Jose if I do say so myself:

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3319513467/" title="IMG_0173 by Djirikian, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3593/3319513467_b7370a50fb_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="IMG_0173" /></a>

  50. #50
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    How did I miss this thread? To answer the original question, yes the 'cross bike is faster than the XC bike. I built mine for basically the same reasons you're considering, and I have never regretted it. Super fun bike.

    My commute is part dirt road/part pavement...5.5 miles (maybe 1.5 miles of dirt), and I built this bike just for it. 8 speed rear, no front D.

    Nashbar 'X' frame and carbon 'cross fork.... the rest is in a constant state of change...since this pic I've swapped tires to vittoria 'cross tires, and traded out the rear derailleur for a short cage, and removed the fenders for the summer months... oh, and I got a new Selle Italia saddle.

    ...And just to throw some fuel on the fire, when I first built this bike it had total MTB gearing (now I have a road crank on it with MTB 8 speed rear)...but when it was full MTB gearing and the only difference between in and my XC bike was wheel size, I noticed a huge difference in overall speed. 29er or 700c wheels makes a big difference in my opinion.

    Last edited by CommuterBoy; 08-19-2009 at 08:08 AM.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  51. #51
    jrm
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    Double Cross Version 2.0

    Well recently pitched the flat bar for some salsa bell laps and sunrace thumbie shifters. Then after realizing the disc brakes were overkill and the combo of the disc brake hardware made the bike an anchor i switched out for v brakes. Its alot lighter and more fun to ride. Oh also ive foudn the greatest mixed surface tire in the 30/32 WTB all terrainasuras. Theyre a bit porky @ 420g but theyre great. Bad part is that they were discontinued for the "path" tire. You can still find um though.

    Heres a pic of the bike with the bell laps and thumbies, but with the disc brakes still on there. Ill have to take more pics once i have the Vs on there. Next is fenders..full dork ride..
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  52. #52
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    Hm, 38.5mph? I hit 44mph on a downhill section. Yeah right.

    I average about 16mph on my 14mile commute to work. It takes me about 50 minutes. And I'm riding a carbon fiber road bike.

    I'm looking into what to ride into work after I sold my rain bike. Seems like a stupid move now...

    I'll have to convert one of my mountain bikes for the task. So I've ordered up some CX tires for my rigid 29-er single speed. I won't go very fast. But who cares. I'll just leave a little earlier.

  53. #53
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    I built a Voodoo Wazoo out of parts from a tired-out Trek 1000. I have pretty much worn out all the old parts now and replaced them with better stuff. I prefer 8-speed and cantilever brakes for reliability. I just got some very hard-to-find Shimano ST-R500 shifters; I'm installing them tonight.

    I've got an 8.5-mile, very hilly comute of 75% gravel roads. With the cross bike, in the evening I have the option to do 20 with 50% gravel, or take the original route and divert onto out-and-back ATV trails in a WMA. I usually ride the mountain bike when I'm wanting to divert onto the trails though.

    I was commuting on the mountain bike all the time, but it was getting a lot of wear and tear on expensive parts, especially on wet days. Cyclocross bikes rule over mtbs in mud. I ride road gearing in back and mountain in front.

    I have a road wheelset and I use this bike for road group rides too. I plan to enter the local 101-mile Roubaix-style race next year with it.

    It's fun learning how to handle a very rigid bike on rough terrain; I think it's improving my skills. I worry about hammering too much of the brain-jarring ruts long-term, but I'm learning to use my arms better.

  54. #54
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    ^^ Nice. I have a road crankset and run mountain gearing out back (8 speed). I did a century on mine about a year ago... not a full on race though. I'm with you on the 'cross bike improving my skills for the MTB. Keeps you on your toes, and you really have to work the trail. Any more pics of yours?
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  55. #55
    fresh fish in stock...... SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    I commute on a cyclocross bike, and love it. Commute is 27 mi each way.
    me too!.....but my commute is only 1/2 as long as yours...
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