Looking for a commuting bike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Looking for a commuting bike

    I have a nice 9-10 mile each way commute that I have been doing on an off for the last couple of years. It can be flatish all road, or hilly with dirt roads. I recently swapped to using my rigid 29er SS (my only real bike right now) and love it except for a couple things…
    1) I prefer drop bars on the commuter
    2) I hate swapping out my wheels/gearing every time I want to mtb

    So I am searching for cheap reliable commuting options, hopefully under $400 total, but the cheaper the better as long as I don't sacrifice too much quality/reliability.

    I must have:
    1) single speed
    2) drop bar
    3) able to take some minor dirt/gravel roads

    I prefer:
    1) Decent Steel frame (doesn't have to be high end, but not an anchor)
    2) No chain tensioner

    Some options…

    1) Kona Paddy Wagon - almost new $390.00
    2) Myiata 310 - needs some work, $100ish (can prob find tons of similar bikes to this)
    3) Fantom Cross Uno - $399 (if they ever come back in stock)
    4) State Warhawk - $579 (but I have to wait a while)
    5) Keep waiting for something else, (San Jose, other CX bike, etc.)

    Hopefully I provided enough info. Give me your thoughts.

  2. #2
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    Looking for a commuting bike

    Nashbar SSCX has good reviews. I just ordered one at their 20% discount deal.

  3. #3
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    Raleigh Furley.
    "I love being on a bike. It helps me feel free. I get it from my dad", by Guillaume Blanchet

  4. #4
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    Of the list above, I would look first at the Paddy Wagon. I don't see rack and fender braze- ons, but you didn't list that in your specs. If you don't like it, the Kona could likely be resold for your purchase price.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by khardrunner14 View Post
    2) I hate swapping out my wheels/gearing every time I want to mtb
    I know it's not what you're asking for, but have you ever thought about making your 29er a dinglespeed? I've done it with a couple of bikes now, and it's a handy way to add some flexibility.

  6. #6
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    Never thought of dingle… though that doesn't help with the drop bars and tire swapping. Good thought though, thanks!

    Appreciate the thoughts. Will the kona be alright on dirt roads? I think it has clearance for 32mm tires, but not sure with the caliper brakes and the racier geometry.

    The furley is above my price range right now, though eventually it could be a possibility.

    Not sure I trust the reliability on the nashbar sscx. I don't have experience with their bikes. Might be worth a look though. Thanks!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by khardrunner14 View Post
    Never thought of dingle… though that doesn't help with the drop bars and tire swapping. Good thought though, thanks!
    Well, if you really want inspiration here's my dropbar, dinglespeed 29er from last year:



    But having said that, I can't really recommend putting drops on a standard 29er. I rode it like that for a year, and eventually decided to replace it with a dropbar-specific 29er frame. Although Commuterboy has run drops on his Ogre for quite a few years now.

  8. #8
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    Nice looking bike, but not what I am looking for to commute on. I have a 26er that I will monster cross out someday though. Thanks for sharing!

  9. #9
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    How bad are the dirt roads? 28 to 32 mm tires should be fine for well maintained dirt, might be a little narrow for mud or seasonal logging roads.

    I would want disc brakes, but the discs available in your budget might not be much better than good calipers. If your riding in snow and mud, it might be worth taking the 29er on those days, and the road bike on the better days.

  10. #10
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    roads are pretty well maintained. Some larger stones (as opposed to pea gravel), pot holes, etc. I've ridden down to 23's on them with a crux I had, but that wasn't much fun. These roads are used year round as people live on them. They are back farm roads that still haven't been paid.

  11. #11
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    The difference in footprint and shock absorption between a 23 and a 28, or a 28 and a 32, is more than I would have guessed. That said, my Bosanova came with 28s and I rode them happily on dirt and gravel until I got the pennies together to step up to 37s. It seems like a number of the "gravel grinder" bikes are coming with 32s mounted, and 28- 32 is pretty common for cyclocross tires.

    Can you borrow or rent something nice rolling on 28s or 32s to test the theory?

  12. #12
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    I've ridden a bunch on 35's on these roads and it wasn't bad. Did some on an old bianchi strada LX on 28's. I don't remember hating it. Seems like the Kona would be the way to go, or wait for a better deal on something else.

  13. #13
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    Is the Paddy Wagon a local sale? Can you test it out with the stock tires on your dirt road before you buy it?

    I would jump on the Kona at that price (if it fits right). That said, I am impulsive, a happy Kona rider, and have no skin in the game. If discs are not a deal breaker, the PW is a great bike. Raleigh Furley, as suggested above, would be worth looking into if the price is right and discs are worth the extra cash for you.

    The bike shops around here charge different labor rates for "Bike Shop" bikes (not just the ones they carry) and "department store bikes." If you are your own mechanic, this might not matter. If you use an LBS for tune- ups a few times each year, this could mean a few hundred dollars over the life of the bike.

  14. #14
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    Not something I will be able to ride around here before I buy. I've looked at geo specs and it should work just fine.

    I do my own maintenance, so I am not worried about that either. I'm not concerned about discs, more price than anything. I need something as cheap and reliable as possible.

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