Looking for commuter advice...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Looking for commuter advice...

    I am looking for a commuter bike. If my commute was strictly urban sort of thing Iíd look at a simple single speed or fixie sort of thing, but I donít think my commute really lends itself to that. Itís about 15km each way, and begins with a steep climb basically right from the front door (straight up the Niagara Escarpment). Iím in town for the first part of the ride, out through suburbia, and then itís kind of country roads most of the way to work. It takes me ~45 minutes to get there, and about 30 minutes to get back on my old rigid aluminum frame mountain bike on slicks. As long as I donít have a headwind, I run out of gear on the flats (I think itís 44/11 in top gear, but on a 26Ē wheel with slicks). I could maybe get away with slapping a road crank on that bike, but ultimately that bike is going to need some work, and I think Iíd just as soon get what I want now rather than sink money into that. Iíve been mountain biking for 16 years, but Iíve never had a road bike, and really have no knowledge of roadie stuff. Iíd like a steel frame, and Iíd like to be able to fit racks and fenders, but Iíd really also like to have disc brakes. Iíve heard discs with racks/fenders is generally not possible, but I have access to a machine shop at work so I think I could make something work there, so long as the frame has disc mounts as well as rack/fender eyelets. I think I want 700c wheels, and I have no idea whether I want flat or drop bars. The bike that initially caught my eye is the Surly Crosscheck. I like that I can run a MTB or road rear hub, and that it has generous tire clearance, the price seems about right, etc, but the only flaw is there are no disc brake mounts. I could live without, but I really like discs, and if I end up riding in the winter it would be a real plus. Does anybody have any other suggestions? Jamis Coda Elite? Redline Conquest Classic?

  2. #2

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    I'm building up a CrossCheck for a friend right now. I like it and all, but like you I'm more into disc brakes for all-weather riding, and just lack of maintenance.

    I'd look up Civia Cycles if I were you. I'm also building one of these up - it's for me! Civia's Hyland is disc-specific, is made to work with racks and fenders, can be set up single-speed, internally-geared (my choice), or derailleur-equipped. The complete bike is on sale right now, but it is still pricey. If you have parts lying around, consider buying a Civia Hyland frame and building it up (the frame is on sale too, if I remember correctly). The small details of the Hyland are what make it - commuter/touring specific ideas that are made to work with discs, etc.

    The Hyland is made of aluminum, however, not steel. In my opinion, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially since you live in a place where they probably salt the roads in the winter. The tire clearance isn't quite Surly size either, but for a road commute, you probably don't need huge treads; even in the snow a 700x35c studded tire would work well.

  3. #3
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Sounds like either a cyclocross or touring bike would have everything you would want. You mentioned a Crosscheck, good choice. Also consider Surly's Long Haul Trucker.
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  4. #4
    local trails rider
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    Heres a disc cyclocross/commuter bike to consider
    http://www.traitorcycles.com/Bikes_Ruben.cfm

    Discs with fenders and racks are indeed possible. The bike and the accessories just have to be designed right. I've seen a couple of Trek Sohos in the rack at work: discs and fenders. Not sure the model is the same any more.

    Drop bars are good for a variety of hand positions, and obviously getting low to reduce drag.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jduffett
    I am looking for a commuter bike. If my commute was strictly urban sort of thing Iíd look at a simple single speed or fixie sort of thing, but I donít think my commute really lends itself to that. Itís about 15km each way, and begins with a steep climb basically right from the front door (straight up the Niagara Escarpment). Iím in town for the first part of the ride, out through suburbia, and then itís kind of country roads most of the way to work. It takes me ~45 minutes to get there, and about 30 minutes to get back on my old rigid aluminum frame mountain bike on slicks. As long as I donít have a headwind, I run out of gear on the flats (I think itís 44/11 in top gear, but on a 26Ē wheel with slicks). I could maybe get away with slapping a road crank on that bike, but ultimately that bike is going to need some work, and I think Iíd just as soon get what I want now rather than sink money into that. Iíve been mountain biking for 16 years, but Iíve never had a road bike, and really have no knowledge of roadie stuff. Iíd like a steel frame, and Iíd like to be able to fit racks and fenders, but Iíd really also like to have disc brakes. Iíve heard discs with racks/fenders is generally not possible, but I have access to a machine shop at work so I think I could make something work there, so long as the frame has disc mounts as well as rack/fender eyelets. I think I want 700c wheels, and I have no idea whether I want flat or drop bars. The bike that initially caught my eye is the Surly Crosscheck. I like that I can run a MTB or road rear hub, and that it has generous tire clearance, the price seems about right, etc, but the only flaw is there are no disc brake mounts. I could live without, but I really like discs, and if I end up riding in the winter it would be a real plus. Does anybody have any other suggestions? Jamis Coda Elite? Redline Conquest Classic?

    Consider Disk on the front lots of rigid forks have disc mounts, Mavic makes a disk 700c wheel...

    Consider a Vee brake on the rear lots of frames become available with this type of set-up...

  6. #6
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    I built my commuter from the "X" cyclocross frame from Nashbar.com: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes//Produc...2_173397_-1___

    It has disc brake tabs, and threaded mounts for rack/fenders. I run it with disc brakes, and I use planet bike fenders in the winter...easy mount, all you have to do is bend one of the fender supports around the brake caliper. You don't have to modify the front, at least with PB fenders. You can see the bent rear fender support if you look closely in this pic. You just loop it down around the caliper and make sure it doesn't interfere with cable movement. I don't use a rear rack but I'm sure you could make it work.
    This frame has MTB standard 135mm rear axle spacing...perfect for 29er wheels with disc hubs. I run 36 spoke 29er wheels and 700c vittoria cyclocross tires currently (schwalbe kojack 700x35 in this pic).

    I have used drop bars and currently I'm using bullhorns...I had never ridden drops before this bike... they are awesome for commuting. Nothing like hiding from the wind. I get the same benefits from the bullhorns in terms of riding position.

    I'd say a cyclocross bike is ideal for you. I was strictly a MTB guy before this one, but it is the ideal commuter in my opinion. Disc brakes aren't legal in 'cross racing yet, so there aren't that many 'cross frames that offer disc mounts. They are out there though.


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    (no excuse for that either)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    I'd look up Civia Cycles if I were you. I'm also building one of these up - it's for me! Civia's Hyland is disc-specific, is made to work with racks and fenders, can be set up single-speed, internally-geared (my choice), or derailleur-equipped. The complete bike is on sale right now, but it is still pricey. If you have parts lying around, consider buying a Civia Hyland frame and building it up (the frame is on sale too, if I remember correctly). The small details of the Hyland are what make it - commuter/touring specific ideas that are made to work with discs, etc.

    The Hyland is made of aluminum, however, not steel. In my opinion, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially since you live in a place where they probably salt the roads in the winter. The tire clearance isn't quite Surly size either, but for a road commute, you probably don't need huge treads; even in the snow a 700x35c studded tire would work well.
    That does look pretty slick. I'd like to keep costs down to ~$1000ish if I can, and I do seem to be stuck on the idea of steel too. Maybe I'm just jumping on a trend, but I really want to see if there is something to the hype...

    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Heres a disc cyclocross/commuter bike to consider
    http://www.traitorcycles.com/Bikes_Ruben.cfm
    Wow. Those are gorgeous! Complete build is getting a little pricey for me, but comparing to the Crosscheck, for frame/fork only the price difference is not bad, and for complete build the Traitor is definitely spec'd a little nicer.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Consider Disk on the front lots of rigid forks have disc mounts, Mavic makes a disk 700c wheel...

    Consider a Vee brake on the rear lots of frames become available with this type of set-up...
    Hmm... Good thought! Maybe I can even get away with front disc only, and forget the rear brake altogether?

    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy
    I built my commuter from the "X" cyclocross frame from Nashbar.com: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes//Produc...2_173397_-1___

    It has disc brake tabs, and threaded mounts for rack/fenders. I run it with disc brakes, and I use planet bike fenders in the winter...easy mount, all you have to do is bend one of the fender supports around the brake caliper. You don't have to modify the front, at least with PB fenders. You can see the bent rear fender support if you look closely in this pic. You just loop it down around the caliper and make sure it doesn't interfere with cable movement. I don't use a rear rack but I'm sure you could make it work.
    This frame has MTB standard 135mm rear axle spacing...perfect for 29er wheels with disc hubs. I run 36 spoke 29er wheels and 700c vittoria cyclocross tires currently (schwalbe kojack 700x35 in this pic).

    I have used drop bars and currently I'm using bullhorns...I had never ridden drops before this bike... they are awesome for commuting. Nothing like hiding from the wind. I get the same benefits from the bullhorns in terms of riding position.

    I'd say a cyclocross bike is ideal for you. I was strictly a MTB guy before this one, but it is the ideal commuter in my opinion. Disc brakes aren't legal in 'cross racing yet, so there aren't that many 'cross frames that offer disc mounts. They are out there though.
    Thanks for the info. Like I said above, I'm pretty keen on the steel frames, but damn, at that price... Definitely on the list...

    Thanks for the replies... Got more to think about for sure. Also came across the Soma Doublecross frame with disc mounts--anybody got experience with these?

  8. #8
    weirdo
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    The dark side is strong in Jduffett! Check out some dropbars if you have a way to. Some people just plain don`t like them, but the advantage is huge if you can get used to the position. Especially if you`re topping out in 44 x 11- that`s really moving along. Any rental shops around you? Buddies about your size who have road bikes?

    I have no experience with Soma, but they have a top notch reputation. For $1000, I imagine you can get a pretty good new bike, but probably not as much as you`d get for $700 used. My .02

  9. #9
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    Just FYI, I built mine for under $1000 with mostly parts from Nashbar, Pricepoint, and Performance. I've changed some stuff out, but I think I was into it for about $900 originally. Depends on what deals you can find on the big stuff (wheelsets, fork...I got the carbon fork from nashbar. You could definitely go cheaper on the fork, but a carbon fork with disc tabs is just cool)
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  10. #10
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    The Salsa La Cruz would probably be the perfect bike for you, but although it has fender eyelets, it doesn't have the rack mounts. However, there's pictures of it in the Salsa forum where people have mounted racks.

    I'm looking for a commuter, and this one's at the top of my list. Steel, disc brakes, fender eyelets, can get the frame separately and do a custom build or a complete for ~1600...

  11. #11
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    KHS Urban X. Cheap and good. Multi-gear of 21 speed running 48/38/30 x 12-32

    with Fenders, rack and MTB 26 inch tire. So u can inter swoop with yr current MTB

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jduffett
    As long as I donít have a headwind, I run out of gear on the flats (I think itís 44/11 in top gear, but on a 26Ē wheel with slicks).
    At 90 rpm, a fairly typical cadence, you're traveling about 27mph with 38x559 tires. Spin up to 120 rpm and your traveling 36mph. Do you seriously require more gear on a commute?

    Traveling 15km in 30 minutes is an 18.6 mph average, 12.4 mph ave. to cover it in 45 min. I assume there's some hills and/or prevailing winds involved.

    Can't see how the 44:11 combo would not be ample for the speeds involved.

    I can only dream of running out of gear on my commute

  13. #13
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    I have to throw the Kona Sutra's hat in the mix. Disc brakes front and rear racks check it out. I have had mine for close to a year now I've even rode a little cross with it highly reccommend it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphod123
    At 90 rpm, a fairly typical cadence, you're traveling about 27mph with 38x559 tires. Spin up to 120 rpm and your traveling 36mph. Do you seriously require more gear on a commute?

    Traveling 15km in 30 minutes is an 18.6 mph average, 12.4 mph ave. to cover it in 45 min. I assume there's some hills and/or prevailing winds involved.

    Can't see how the 44:11 combo would not be ample for the speeds involved.

    I can only dream of running out of gear on my commute
    Sorry, I was wrong on the 44 ring... It is a 42.

    42:11, 175mm crank, 32-559 (26x1.25 Fatboy), which puts the 90/120 rpm numbers at 25/33 mph. You are right, on the way home I've got a prevailing tail wind, a big downhill, and aside from that big downhill I think the 'flat' part must be a little down as well. Google tells me my route is actually 17km, or 10.6 mi, so avg on the way home is a little better than 21 mph. I have no idea what my cadence or speed is when I'm feeling like I've topped the thing out, but I'd definitely like to have a little more gear. Maybe that extra two teeth would do the trick.

  15. #15
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    for "ultimate urban commuting" i've always dreamed of something like a hardtail 29'er with drop bars and slick tires.
    I ride a 26'er with tubes and rim brakes.
    Yeah, I'm basically living in the stone age.

  16. #16
    jrm
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    Soma Doublecross frame with disc mounts

    I have been on a double cross for about 4 months now. It started with a flat bar and disc brakes. I ran things i had laying around such as MTB BB7s, DT X470/XT 29er wheelset and a mix of components. Three things that hit me were that the brake and wheelset combo made the bike an anchor, that in nor cal disc brakes are overkill, and i should have gone iwth a wide drop bar instead of the flat bar. So, i replaced the discs with o v brakes and a mavic OP ultegra wheelset rolling WTB 30/32 all terrainsaurass, and bought a cheap CL 46cm bell lap bar. Im really liking the bike now.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bucksaw87
    for "ultimate urban commuting" i've always dreamed of something like a hardtail 29'er with drop bars and slick tires.

    Absolutely. That will be my next project for sure. I have been dreaming of something like that since I finished building this one.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  18. #18
    weirdo
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    Hardtail 29er with slick tires and drop bars. That`s what a is roadie, isn`t it?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar
    Hardtail 29er with slick tires and drop bars. That`s what a is roadie, isn`t it?
    think road bike on steroids...suspension fork, more of an upright MTB cockpit, you know, something that can take some stair drops and bunnyhop some parking bumpers (and ride away in one piece)
    I ride a 26'er with tubes and rim brakes.
    Yeah, I'm basically living in the stone age.

  20. #20
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Monster Cross!
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 Ė May 16, 2010

  21. #21
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by bucksaw87
    think road bike on steroids...
    Yup: can take a few bumps without slowing down but starts wheezing after a mile or two

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