How many started out "converting" but eventually purchased a commuter bike?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How many started out "converting" but eventually purchased a commuter bike?

    I'm enjoying my commuting. A little saddle sore from last week, but nothing I can't work through.

    I'm riding a Gary Fisher X-cal MTB with Big Apple Tires. I purchaed a seat post rack and "trunk". It's functional and getting the job done. However, how many of people start off like this and then purchase a specific "commuter" bike?

    Buying the Big Apples will have me committed to the X-cal for a while, but I have to admit there is a desire to get "faster" bike with a focus on commuting. My X-cal doesn't have all the set ups for racks, lights, and such.

    I really like the idea of the "Breezer" and I actually took a demo ride on a "Spot Brand". Those belt drive bikes with 8 speed internal hubs are really, really nice.

    I think one has to have more than a 2 week commitment, but I could easily see myself on Belt drive bike next year.

  2. #2
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    I have built a couple of purpose-built commuters, beginning with a frame order... never purchased what someone else would call a "commuter" bike.

    As a commute purist, I believe that one must look closely at the nature of their specific commute routes/options, then at other specific potential uses for the bike, and build a bike specific to those needs from the spokes up
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jelako View Post
    I'm enjoying my commuting. A little saddle sore from last week, but nothing I can't work through.

    I'm riding a Gary Fisher X-cal MTB with Big Apple Tires. I purchaed a seat post rack and "trunk". It's functional and getting the job done. However, how many of people start off like this and then purchase a specific "commuter" bike?

    Buying the Big Apples will have me committed to the X-cal for a while, but I have to admit there is a desire to get "faster" bike with a focus on commuting. My X-cal doesn't have all the set ups for racks, lights, and such.

    I really like the idea of the "Breezer" and I actually took a demo ride on a "Spot Brand". Those belt drive bikes with 8 speed internal hubs are really, really nice.

    I think one has to have more than a 2 week commitment, but I could easily see myself on Belt drive bike next year.
    As with CB

    Ride your commute...then figure out what you want

    Try not to get preconcieved ideas....do what works for you.

    There is a lot of hype out there.

  4. #4
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    I started with an inexpensive hardtail MTB, after deciding I liked bike commuting I found a deal on a CX bike. Really liked riding the CX bike, added a rear rack for commuting and I liked riding it slightly less. Took the rack off and used a backpack and didn't like my sweaty back. Put the rack back on and didn't like it again (go figure). Found a deal on a Breezer belt drive bike, added rack and fenders and it feels right.

    So while the belt drive bikes make good commuters in my opinion, it's really a bit of trial and error to find what works for you. In hindsight it feels obvious to have a dedicated commuter, but each of those bikes seemed like a perfect solution at the time I bought them. N+1.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I rode a mountain bike with knobbies as my One True Bike for a while. Once I had some saddle time on an actual road bike, I talked my Dad out of an old Trek sport/touring bike he never rode, and commuted that for a few years. I've always used some kind of road bike since then.

    Pay a little attention to where you actually lose time on your commute. I like the riding position and handling on a road bike, but when I was last able to commute by bike, I think traffic and intersections are what really drove how long it took. I could have been riding just about anything functional, and it wouldn't have mattered.
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  6. #6
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    I converted a really old Fisher steel hardtail, and converted it to 700c wheels too. Being a 1989 "Adventure" bike, it had braze-ons for racks, which I am using. I think it rides great as a commuter/tourer. I even take it out for some gravel rides, though I am not competing with the guys on pure cross or gravel bikes when I do so. The steel feels good. the bike handles well, loaded or not. And it rolls great on the bigger circ. wheels. And, I am not much of a purist.

    My commute is 12 miles of paved multi-path, and I haul quite a lot of weight normally with my laptop and clothes and food for the day. If I want the commute to be fast, I plan ahead on days I can, and leave some of the weight, and ride my road bike.

  7. #7
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    I have not bought any "commuters", but I have not tried any either. I can see the appeal of a belt drive/internal geared bike.

  8. #8
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    I got started with a Raleigh Talus 2.0, 26" hardtail. It was the cheapest thing I could get at a real LBS, with mounting points for fenders and rack. Once I put some road worthy tires on it, and got the stem set up for my personal preferences, it was pretty good.

    I couldn't resist the allure of n+1 and drop bars, so I went shopping again and came home with a Jamis Bosanova. A few months later, the Jamis wouldn't clear the big studded tires I wanted for the winter, so I wound up with a Kona Unit. Neither bike is much faster than the Raleigh (stop lights etc as mentioned above) as a commuter.

  9. #9
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    Not bought any dedicated commuter bikes, always use the bikes I have at any one time.

    At the moment I mainly use a Trek Slash 26" (for the last 9 months or so), which is my main ride. But will also take out my road bike when I am in a rush and stick to the roads (rarely as I hate road riding).

    That being said, I am on the lookout for a HT 29er for quick XC blasts as the Slash just forces me to behave like a 10 year old some days... I can hear it saying: "quick there is something you can jump! Oh another! Oh, how can you pass the pump track on the way to work, just one circuit! Oh lets climb that trail so we can descent the single track"!
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  10. #10
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    As a commute purist, I believe that one must look closely at the nature of their specific commute routes/options, then at other specific potential uses for the bike, and build a bike specific to those needs from the spokes up
    That pretty much sums it up, IMO. Except that some people might prefer buying one that fits the bill right out of the box rather than piecing together. Piecing together is more fun and can really dial in EXACTLY what you want, but a whole bike is usually a lot cheaper unless you already have a lot of extra parts, and not intimidating for people who aren`t sure about compatibility or have no interest in wrenching.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jelako View Post
    I really like the idea of the "Breezer" and I actually took a demo ride on a "Spot Brand". Those belt drive bikes with 8 speed internal hubs are really, really nice.
    If you like them and you can afford one, go for it. I had a chain drive IG bike for a couple years and enjoyed that- would probably have thought "the same but more" for a belt drive version.
    Recalculating....

  11. #11
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    When I first stared commuting it was on a borrowed Giant Hardtail POS (couldn't tell you what model it was). It had a rack and was functional. I fought with that heavy, clunky ugly beast through a winter of commuting. I think the frame was made of some sort of lead/concrete mixture... The chain was lubricated with sand, too...

    I then got a Ghost SE2002 alloy hardtail and started using a backpack - things got faster and I was pleased. It was bronze and white and lovely. That bike was with me for 12-15 months or so then was stolen.

    I replaced that with a Ghost SE2000 alloy hardtail (It might have been a 3000, I can't remember correctly). It was lighter again and better spec. I even raced it. It was a good bike. The commute got faster again. That bike lasted 18 months. It got stolen too.

    I then ponied up and bought a Ghost HTX Lector 5800 carbon hardtail. This thing is like a rocket ship compared to the other bikes I've owned. I think the excitement I felt when buying it almost matched that awesome day back in '96 when my mum bought me my Raleigh Activator 1. Good times. I've raced this one too. She now has a rigid fork, drop bars and semi slick Conti Speed King 2.2 tyres. All to make her faster on the asphalt. The commute is indeed faster than ever before.

    I don't think I need a purpose built "commuter bike" - but then again you never know...

  12. #12
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    Started with a hardtail MTB knowing I could always put slicker and skinnier tires. Then bought a 700C hybrid. But I think it all depends on what you have to ride on.

  13. #13
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    I rode converted mtb's as commute bikes for quite some time. They worked well enough for short, infrequent commutes. When I started commuting more often, I wanted a bike better suited to that type of riding. I wanted better road gearing, for one. I wanted more comfortable hand positions. I wanted better clearance for panniers. Etc.

    It took a couple iterations before I found a commute bike that did what I wanted. But I'm pretty happy with where I wound up. I have been thinking hard about a dynamo hub for it, and that will probably be the next upgrade for my commuter. I was recently talking to a buddy who has the same frame (blue Vaya) and he had Schmidt dynamo hub laced to his front wheel, and he got some nice lights to go along with it. I like how clean the setup is, and how there's no battery that needs to be charged (though apparently his headlight has a small one on it). I also think it's pretty killer that the taillight he has ramps up brightness when the voltage from the dynamo drops, like a brake light.

    Personally, this is the kind of stuff I want before thinking about a belt drive or an internal gear hub. The belt drive setup is really nice. I like it a lot. But it either limits your frame choices, or forces you to look at having a frame builder modify your frame.

    And honestly, I think if I was going to build a belt drive bike, I'd be doing it with a Pinion gearbox rather than an IGH. Which further limits frame choices.

  14. #14
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    I bought a Santa Cruz Highball for mountain biking. Then quit my business and got a job a couple of miles from my house. Put on some Big Apples,softer seat and Extra chunky grips and started commuting. Very fun bike!!!

  15. #15
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    I started on my road bike for my first season. Then I sold it and bought a nicer road bike which I didn't want to leave outside work all day. At that point, I built a commuter (Surly CrossCheck. I've also added a Nashbar SS CX bike to commute on since then.

  16. #16
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    I started on my road bike and still ride that when the pavement is clear of any ice. I bought a really cheap used hybrid for the winter and rainy days that I could mount full fenders and a rack on. In my first ride on that bike I realized I hated the upright flat bar positioning so I converted to a mcgiver drop bar setup on it. I'm now in the process of doing a more legitimate conversion.

  17. #17
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    I did both. I converted a 650b hardtail. Put racks and fenders both front and rear. Not being a speed demon I use what I call all terrain tires/mild knobby. I ride on a mix of pavement with a few rough patches. Eventually when I decided to commute full time and ditch the car completely I bought a 700C bike with the same front rear racks. For me it doesn't make a noticeable difference in time btw the 2 bikes.

    I would never commute on a full suspension, single speed or fixie. Racks and fenders add a lot of convenience.

  18. #18
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    I commuted a singlespeed when I lived in Manhattan. Actually there was a lot to like about it. The bike I started with was a 70s-eta 10-speed, and not even a nice one in its day. Throwing out a ton of the drivetrain components left a fun, sporty ride with a much more direct drivetrain feel. It was also kind of cool not to have gears to think about. It's silly, but sometimes when I have choices, I feel obligated to make them. Having just one gear meant I never "had" to shift into the right gear for restarting after an intersection and never got caught in the "wrong" gear. I learned a bit from that, actually - now I'm a lot more inclined to get out of the saddle for a couple kicks when the going gets tough or I've been stopped at an intersection. Not efficient, exactly, but I'm fit enough to waste a little energy here and there.
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  19. #19
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    I commuted for about 3 weeks on my mtb, and then bought a road bike, which has been my 'dedicated commuter' ever since. Now I'm commuting on a carbon road bike.

    For me, I (unfortunately) spend 80% of my riding time commuting, so I figured I might as well be on something I like to ride. Plus, I often extend my ride home by 10-40 miles, so I want to be on something comfortable and performance worthy for longer rides.

    I have my old aluminum frame road bike that I've been thinking about converting to a commuter/backup bike, but I just like riding the CF bike so much I haven't done it.
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  20. #20
    jrm
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    Riding my road or CX requires a commitment to wearing cycling clothing, carrying clothes and having to change in and out of work cloths at work. After about 12 years of this i began to burn out on this so in the last year or so i built up a on one pompino SSCX. It took me some time but ive gotten used to riding in street clothes and its a lot easier moving through a train station or bus wearing trainers than dedicated riding shoes. It also allows me to attend after work social events. Build: Large On one V4 pompino SS frame in raw, mavic a33 rims laced to origin 8 hubs, 28c panaracer tserv tires, shimano tiara v-brakes/levers, ultegra 6600 crankset w/ 42T salsa chainring-16T shimano freewheel, thomson seat post, charger saddle, e70 easton stem, surly open bar and oury grips.

  21. #21
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    Funny, I've done the contrary

    After nearly an year and half without riding I built last year a new bike. I was for commuting and for "some rides" at the weekend. I build a classic commuter, a Surly LHT with SpeedRide tires, rack and panniers and fenders. It was nice for commuting but not great for anything else.

    I started "mtbizing" it untill I gave up and replaced the LHT with an Ogre frame. Then dropped the drop bars. Then the fenders. Then the rack and panniers for bikepacking bags.

    Ended up with my current bike, a 29"/29+. Only commuter like feature left is the dyno hub and lights, which are great.

    I figured I wanted a bike that was fun when it matters, which is offroad at the weekends.
    I was totally surprised how great the current setup is commuting. Light tubeless wheels with mtb tires (Ardent 2.4) are faster than heavy tubed tires with middle of the road semi slick tires, at least for me.

    Go with a fun bike and try it on your commutes. You might save a new bike

  22. #22
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    I started out on a MTN bike.
    Then bought a commuter; a $500 Motobecane CX bike.
    Great for commuting! I beat the crap out of it, and it just keeps going. the 2 things I did to it that I really like; I changed the tires to heavy slicks (there is nothing worse than getting a flat at 6:30 in the morning when it's dark and cold and you need to get to work)- no flats with these. And, I put on fenders. My butt has been dry ever since...

  23. #23
    Did I catch a niner+?
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    From this:


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    And finally settled on this:
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  24. #24
    z1r
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    When I built my first "commuter bike" back in '97, I did what CommuterBoy suggested. I determined what my particular needs were. I was living in San Francisco at the time and did a LOT of mountain biking. Had to ride a lot of fire roads and or paved roads on the way to the single track. I'd been riding an MTB to and from work but they rolled so slow and were heavy.

    Right from the start, the moment I saw my first CX bike, I knew that was the perfect bike for me. I wanted something faster than an MTB, but with fatter and knobbier tires than a roadbike. Too many potholes and the SF roads were all too often wet. I knew I needed fenders, but didn't want a bike that was only good for commuting. I also wanted something that could be ridden on many of the fire roads and trails I liked to MTB on. I suppose you could say I bought my CX bike for the purposes of riding gravel. I used to run Ritchey Alfa Bite Trail Mix tires. 700x40.

    I'm a bike junkie I guess. I can't pass by a bike rack without checking out all the bikes to see what they are and how they're set up. Same goes when I commute, I check out other people's rides. One thing I've noticed is that the majority of commuters I see here have purpose built commuter bikes. Some were built from just a frame, some are altered production bikes, but most have been setup to suit the rider's needs/wants.

    I do see a good many folks riding bone stock bikes, but one thing I've noticed is that they don't typically smile a lot. Whereas, those riding bikes that they have built/modified into commuters tend to seem much happier, more content, like they are actually enjoying their commute rather than riding out of necessity.

  25. #25
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  26. #26
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    I think CB nailed it in the first post tbh, but for my twopenneth

    I rode an old Trek hardtail for several years. I picked up and old early 90's "racer" for commuting and set it up SS. I can go faster on the racer but due to traffic and lights etc I'm not that much faster overall on my commute distance of 7 miles or so, maybe 5 mins.

    What I would say is that the MTB was generally a slog and I ached by the end of the week however I rode, not so much with the racer.

  27. #27
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    My daily ride is still an MTB from the early 80s (84 Stumpy Sport). Tranquilized with racks and bags/panniers. Yee Haw!
    "...the virus is all part of the plan to take down the cabal, man! The Bushies, and the oBamas. On the reals!" - anonymous

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by z1r View Post
    I do see a good many folks riding bone stock bikes, but one thing I've noticed is that they don't typically smile a lot. Whereas, those riding bikes that they have built/modified into commuters tend to seem much happier, more content, like they are actually enjoying their commute rather than riding out of necessity.
    Me too.
    "...the virus is all part of the plan to take down the cabal, man! The Bushies, and the oBamas. On the reals!" - anonymous

  29. #29
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    There are no rules here.....commute with what you want and with what you like. I know guys that like huge fat tires with a 26 so they can leave the road on the way home and take a trail. Some prefer roadie bikes and those are cool too. Making a Frankenstein bike out of something is also fun to do. Make it yours....make it fun....and make it to how you like it as nmo one else rides it but you.

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