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  1. #1
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    MTB or Road Frame

    I'm looking at updating my commuter - an old proflex with slicks.

    I'm not sure whether to get a MTB style bike with 26" wheels and pu on skinny slicks, a road style frame with flat bars or something in between like the Cannondale Bad Boy.

    I like to ride at a pretty fast pace and do a mixture of riding on the raod when the traffic allows and on the footpath at other times, on and off the kerb as best suits.

    I've got a MTB and a road bike so I only need this bike for commuting.

    Any ideas

  2. #2
    bi-winning
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    Cyclocross bikes can make pretty good commuter bikes. More durable than a roadie, faster than mtb.
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.

  3. #3
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    Cross/touring bike with wider slicks. Has an elevated bar position so you still have many hand positions with the drops not being as extreme as a road bike. Larger tire clearance allows plusher, more durable tires. Usually has rack/fender eyelets.

  4. #4
    veldrijder
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    A steel road/touring frame would be my choice.

    Flat bars are a terrible idea - they're good for control on the tech stuff for MTB, but totally uncomfortable for any length of time on the road (and even off, it's a comprimise). The right drop bars set up properly are the most comfortable setup imaginable on a bike.
    Last edited by jmoote; 03-01-2008 at 06:46 AM.

  5. #5
    MW
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    +1 for a cross frame . . . or even a roadie that accepts rack+fenders+32c tires.

    Not sure if you're buying new or used, frame-only or complete . . . but Redline is probably a good bet. If you poke around, you can usually find great deals on their Conquest cross frame (there's a version that accepts disc brakes, if you want 'em). Heck, even their R7-series road frames accept full fenders with (I think) a 28c tire. Not sure if the R7s have rack mounts, though.

    The pre-2008 (Reynold 631 frame) Jamis Nova cross bikes are also great candidates (I have one )... rack, fenders, 32c slicks with room to spare ...nice carbon fork smoothing things out up front. You might still be able to find a "new" 2006-07 model for well under a grand (full 105 drivetrain + Ritchey everywhere else). Note that the 2005 models did -not- have fender eyelets on the carbon fork (not the end of the world, but kinda lame).

    If you put some thought into the numbers and go throw your leg over some bikes, you could also figure out a frame size + stem length that'd let you run a flatbar on a road/cross bike without thrashing the handling / riding position.

    How long is your commute, by the way? Just wondering why you're leaning toward flat bars instead of drops.

    Anyway, rambling now. But if you're setting up a new bike as your commuter, I'd definitely go for the 700c wheels . . . 26ers on a rigid frame will probably start to feel harsh once you mount up some narrow(er) tires.

    Just my two cents.

    --MW

  6. #6
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    Thanks

    Thanks for the input guys. I ride about 10 mile each way and use a back pack so I'm not interested in a rack or even fenders.

    I'd prefer flat bars because some of my riding is back streets and through the city so I'm constantly dodging people and cars etc, on the footpath for a while, then a cycleway then the road.

    I've riden my road bike a few times and the main thing I don't like about road bars is it limits your ability to get good peripheral vision and also makes it harder to bunny hop over kerbs or obstacles. I know flat bars are not efficient form an aerodynamic perspective, but they do put you a bit "higher" and definitely offer better and quciker access to brakes and gears.

    I noted the comment that 26" wheels will feel harsh when fitted with slicks - Can I expect a more comforatble ride with 700 wheels?? I was thinking it would be the other way around.

    I was looking at a second hand bike, preferably an older 9 speed with a good quality frame and eitehr 105 or Ultegra parts mix - with a 9 spd it's a lot easier and cheaper to get shifters for a flat bar - 10 spd ones are pretty limited.

    Does a cyclocross bike have the same geometry as a road bike, but allows space for wider tyres??

    Thanks again to all for their thoughts

  7. #7
    bi-winning
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger9

    Does a cyclocross bike have the same geometry as a road bike, but allows space for wider tyres??

    Thanks again to all for their thoughts
    cx bikes have different geometries than road bikes. the extent may vary. I'm not sure of all the specifics, but a higher BB is one example that usually separates a cx bike from a roadie.
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.

  8. #8
    More than a little slow
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    I'd look for an old road bike seeing as how you want a used bike.Don't discount road bars either, if you can get them up a bit higher than a roadie would have them you might find they work quite well. I have a set of On One Midge bars on my tourer that I am liking a lot, not quite road bars but certainly not flat. If you were looking new I would tell you to look long and hard at a CX bike.

    Edit; Fenders are the best, by the way. Try 'em and you won't know why you bothered to commute without 'em.
    Cheers, Dave

  9. #9
    MW
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    Quote Originally Posted by dskunk
    Don't discount road bars either, if you can get them up a bit higher than a roadie would have them you might find they work quite well.
    I'm getting off the original topic a bit, but Ritchey makes a 30deg stem that helps with this. I use one on my Nova with a single 1in stack spacer, and it puts the brake hoods level with the saddle. Using short-drop bars, the drop position is only about 2in below the saddle . . . a la racer-boy XC mountain bikes. They sell the stem in some pretty short lengths, too (down to 60mm, I believe), which lets you create an even more upright, mountain bike-ish position from the hoods.

    Totally a "fred" setup by roadie standards, but I it's the only way I've been able to make drops work for me: I get a very upright position from the tops, a slightly elongated version of my trailbike position from the hoods, and have a lower / more aggressive position available on the drops that's still quite comfortable and sustainable. This is all goodness, in my book.

    It took me the longest time to figure this out, though, because I -hated- drop bars when I first tried them (I found the riding position too long, too low, and too precarious-feeling).

    --MW

  10. #10
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    t took me the longest time to figure this out, though, because I -hated- drop bars wh

    t took me the longest time to figure this out, though, because I -hated- drop bars when I first tried them (I found the riding position too long, too low, and too precarious-feeling).

    --MW


    I understand your logic but am curious if you actualy tried flat bars as an alternative. I know most roadies dread the thought of flat bars, but for certain applications I can see they have some merit and may be a more practical alternative to significant changes to the shape of drop bars and changing stem angles/length.

    One of the main advantages I see with flat bars is that your hands are in a fair better position for emergency stops given the brakes and gears are always in the most practical location - at your finger tips. You can brake well with your hands on the hoods but I'm sure the leverage and efficiency is not as good as conventional MTB style braking system.

    Am I convincing myself ???

    Thanks all.

  11. #11
    MW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger9
    I've riden my road bike a few times and the main thing I don't like about road bars is it limits your ability to get good peripheral vision and also makes it harder to bunny hop over kerbs or obstacles. I know flat bars are not efficient form an aerodynamic perspective, but they do put you a bit "higher" and definitely offer better and quciker access to brakes and gears.
    I guess it really just comes down to whatever you're more comfortable with. I mean, on paper at least, a typical road / cross bike should be significantly -more- agile than an average mountain bike: steeper geometry, narrower bars . . . adds up to a more "flickable" bike that changes directions more easily.

    Of course, it can also mean a more "nervous" feeling bike . . . so, yeah. I guess we're in the realm of personal choice and comfort.

    For what it's worth, though, you can -totally- bunnyhop a road bike . . . it kicks ass! Pretty tough with razor-like 23c tires . . . but with nice 32c commuter / touring tires, it's not so different than a rigid mountain bike.

    I noted the comment that 26" wheels will feel harsh when fitted with slicks - Can I expect a more comforatble ride with 700 wheels?? I was thinking it would be the other way around.
    Getting in a little over my head now, but . . . for the same tire / casing width, 700c should roll more smoothly than 26in. This is the basic premise that drove the 29er movement into the mainstream and continues to make rigid 29er singlespeeds all the rage, right? Everything else being equal, the bigger wheel / tire radius just rolls over stuff more easily.

    But again, that's assuming the same tire / casing width. A fat 2.3in mountain bike tire is going to feel more plush than a skinny 23c roadie tire, whether mounted up to a 700c or 26in rim.

    Anyway, not trying to murk-up the waters here . . . just bouncing ideas.

    If you're looking to build this up from a frame, and if you're looking for flat bars / upright position, a road or touring frame that accepts 700x32c tires might be a good place to start. Take a couple measurements off your mountain bike (top tube length, center of saddle to center of bars, stem length) and use those numbers as a gauge when looking at frames.

    --MW

  12. #12
    MW
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    I understand your logic but am curious if you actualy tried flat bars as an alternative.
    Flats (okay, risers) on my MTB, which is the primary ride; drops on my cx/commuter, and Mary bars on my singlespeed.

    Years back, I actually did a lot of road riding on an MTB with flatbars and skinny tires. At the time, I simply had -not- made my peace with drops, and the setup worked well for me.

    location - at your finger tips. You can brake well with your hands on the hoods but I'm sure the leverage and efficiency is not as good as conventional MTB style braking system.
    Shifting from the hoods with integrated levers is a non-issue, but it's fair to say that drops do provide your "power" position for braking. That said, when I'm tooling around through traffic (and peds), braking from the hoods seems more than adequate for the speeds involved.

    Curious to know what others think here, since I'm frankly still pretty green to the world of drops and skinny tires.

    Am I convincing myself ???
    Nah, I don't think so. Bottom line is that you're the one who will ride the bike . . . and you're the one who knows what you're comfortable riding. Given your route and riding style and whatnot, it sounds like you're drawn to flatbars and a more MTB-esque position. Nothin' wrong with that.

    Heck, you could just go shopping for a used 29er hardtail / full rigid, slap some touring tires onto the rims, and be all set. That's kinda cool, come to think of it.

    --MW

  13. #13
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    I hadn't considered the 29er option but that is an option worth considering - only problem is that they are still pretty rare (here in Australia) and I always prefer buying second hand and saving quite a few $s.

    Thanks for the thoughts - I'll probably end up getting a good second hand road bike and put some flat bars on it and give it a go. At least this way if I'm not happy I can always sell and go to plan B.

  14. #14

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    I previously used a mountain bike with slicks for commuting. The ride was good, and I really liked the gearing because my commute is HILLY. However it was fairly slow and I felt like it was going to slide out from under me in the corners. I like riding fast, at least on the way home, and the mountain bike was really limiting my "fun factor."

    I recently built up a CX bike and so far it's been awesome for commuting. I'm used to riding "on the hoods" from my road bike. I have considered putting another set of bar levers on since at times I do ride more upright on the bars...but I've never had an issue not being able to make it to the hoods. Braking on the hoods should provide ample stopping power...enough to lock up your rear wheel and make you worry about going over the bars!

    Going flat bar is probably less expensive, especially if you plan on using integrated brake/shifters...which can be fairly expensive. Personally I prefer road bars, even though I rarely ride in the drops...however if I'm pushing against a nice head wind I like having the drops there! I would say I ride about 70% on the hoods, 25% on the bar, and 5% in the drops. I also tend to keep one hand on one of the hoods and have the other on the bar fairly often too.

    For me road bars feel faster in turning since you're hands are closer to the stem (at least when you're on the bars.) Generally if I'm in a "dodging" kind of mood I'm riding on the bar, and not the hoods since I can react much faster on the bar. However if I'm dipping into a turn then I'm usually low in the drops or I'm on the hoods and leaning in.

    But if it's the braking that's holding you back just remember you can get those inline brake levers for when you're riding on the bar.

    Jared

  15. #15
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    Sounds like your riding style and terrain is similar to mine. I've got a road bike and use it mainly on weekends when I'm not MTBing, so I'm comfottable in both worlds.

    I like you want something that is faster and more spirited than a MTB with skinny tyres, but I was not sure how road wheels would hld up to daily commuting, particularly as I ride on and off kerbs a fair bit in my attempts to avoid traffic.

    I've got some hilly terrain and when I'm lazy I drop into the granny, but really could live without it if I had a lighter bike.

    One other advantage of the flat bars is that it makes your peripheral vision better - easier to see what's behind or around you as you are in a more upright position. The upright position also makes it more comfortable to get out of the seat and stand when you need a bit of visibility or avoid obstacles.

  16. #16
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    Hey Roger9,

    I currently ride a Cannondale Bad Boy (the lowest priced, entry level model with rim brakes) and it came set up with a flat bar. When I started commuting to work a few years ago, I started with a fully rigid MTB, then a full suspension MTB. I also have a road bike that I have used a few times.

    Advantages to the road bike

    Quicker/tighter in turns.

    Using the drops for aerodynamics in headwinds and to gain speed.

    Lighter


    Advantages to my flat bar Bay Boy

    More upright position/easier on back.

    Brakes easy/quick to reach in emergency.

    Flat bar allows better control over rough/bumpy pavement.

    Easy/more predictable handling for bunny hopping and curb jumping.

    The Bad Boy model I have comes with 700cc wheels which make it really fast. Some 26" slicks are a good option if you plan on using a MTB for the commute. I think mwnovak had a good suggestion with the 29er. Look for an entry level, budget model and put some cross tires on it with low-resistance rolling center tread. It would be a fun bike that you could trail ride with and upgrade later since the 29er movement is growing and is broadening availability of parts.



    Check out my response in the "Nightshift Commuting" forum.
    RIDE OR DIE...

  17. #17
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    Bad boy

    The Bad boy was my first choice as I own a six13 and a Prophet. I was attracted by the disk brakes and the headshok, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised I really don't need either fornt suspension or disk brakes for commuting - and I will only be using the bike for commuting.

    What I have always found is that having a light bike is the preferred option - seems to make everything work better.

    When I had a look at a Bad Boy like yours I thought the parts mix for the money (here in Australia) was pretty average and it got me thinking about buying a second hand road bike with a good quality frame and putting flat bar and shifters on it.

    A good Cannondale CAAD 5,6 7 etc framed bike for example can be found pretty cheaply and you have one of the best frames around - light and stiff. Ditto for Giant, Specialized etc, I don't care if it's 2 years old provided it is good in the first place.

    Most of the flat bar bikes available on the market definitely tend to use the budget frames of the particular range.

  18. #18
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    I went from commuting on a MTB to riding a Cross Bike. I was originally considering a 29 mtb, but then through divine intervention, got introduced to the Cross Bike. It's just that...a cross between a road bike and a mtb with 700/29er wheels. Smoother and faster ride than a MTB, more durability and versatility than a road bike.
    I also had a concern about going from flat bars to drops, BUT after one week of riding and adjusting to the new cockpit...I wondered what took me so long.
    A GREAT steel cross bike is the Surly Cross Check...yes I'm bias, I own one, but then why would I recommend something I know nothing about? I just wish i would have know about them sooner.
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  19. #19
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    Make your own?

    Could you make your own "Bad Boy"

    I started out with a Raleigh Mojave Frame, Basic Judy Fork, Deore Drivetrain. (Complete)
    Entry level 29'er Disc wheels (Mavic 317's laced to Deore 525 Rims) 28mm Forte Tires (With full Kevlar belt)

    It's 31#, so yeah no lightweight but it fast like a road bike, but stable like an MTB.
    Perfect commuter for me.

    Best part is, swap the wheels back to the original 26'ers and you have a spare MTB!
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  20. #20
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    I use my Monocog 29er for my commuter. Of course it's also the only bike I have right now. Run 34/17 on it. I'm going to pick up a smaller 26" wheeled bike for a commuter/urban ride around soon.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrekJeff
    ...
    A GREAT steel cross bike is the Surly Cross Check
    ...
    I would also suggest a cross bike (and a steel one), and the Surly is definitely worth a close look. The Cross Check is about the most versatile bike made: steel for comfort and durability, rear dropouts that accomodate gears or single speed, relaxed geometry compared more-nervous road bikes, the ability to run 130mm road hubs or 135 mtb hubs, fits tires up to 45mm, hip utilitarian style, huge range of sizes, reasonable price, used models are around, etc.

    I already own a 29er hardtail, and hate roadie drop bars, so I opted for a more road-oriented model - On-One Pompino, with the midge bars mentioned by dskunk in post #8. Just picked it up at Price Point cheap: http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/165...-Bike-2007.htm
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  22. #22
    MW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1
    I already own a 29er hardtail, and hate roadie drop bars, so I opted for a more road-oriented model - On-One Pompino, with the midge bars mentioned by dskunk in post #8.
    Ranging a little off topic here, but . . . how are those Midge bars? Is there still a comfortable position on the brake hoods, or are they at too much of an angle?

    --MW

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwnovak
    Ranging a little off topic here, but . . . how are those Midge bars? Is there still a comfortable position on the brake hoods, or are they at too much of an angle?

    --MW
    I got the bike Friday and it came without tires, so I haven't taken it out yet. But I've been on the midge bars briefly in the past and liked how they felt in all the positions, including on the brake hoods. But I don't have enough miles to give a difinitive opinion. I've tried to get used to normal roadie bars for commuting, but couldn't, and these felt better to me immediately. Nice and wide, too. My mtb bars are 28"...

  24. #24
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    Midges do rock. When in those drops you aren't as low as the other road style drops. Mine are Salsa Bell Ringers, which are also flared out a little more than regular road drops. If I were to change out, I'd throw on some midges or the "H" bar.
    The angle of the hoods aren't really a factor and the lever position/angle is very nice.
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  25. #25
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    I just cut down some riser bars I had around.... and put them on my new commuter... they are wider...and weigh half (the stock kona bars were 500g )


    this is a pic without the upgrades and fenders

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/cmadrigal/2314674893/" title="My new commuter: 2008 Kona Dew Plus by cmadrigal, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2200/2314674893_6cef841971_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="My new commuter: 2008 Kona Dew Plus" /></a>

  26. #26
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    My vision on my commuter (late 80's Schwinn World Sport) has never ever been a problem. I have Salsa Short'n'Shallow bars and I can swing my head around with no problem. It's a steel tank that can run over everything on the road. I'm actually looking for another to set-up SS/Fixed for training use. The hoods are just about even with my saddle and completely comfortable. I ride a mix of paved trails through woods and shotty roads. I also commute uphill to work and down hill home about 4.5 miles each way.

    I just need a rear rack now because I'm tired of a sweaty back, even when its 30 degrees out.

  27. #27

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    Sounds like you already know exactly what you want from your responses. Makes me wonder why you even asked.

    Like many have said, cross bikes are the nuts for commuters for the following reasons:

    1. Can fit huge(by roadie standards) tires.
    2. They come with more durable wheels.
    3. Their geometry is far more relaxed than a true road bike.
    4. Eyelets for fenders and racks.
    5. They come with cross levers. This allows you to truly have another fully viable position. This position being the upright, flatbar position so you can see well around you.
    6. The drops are always there for windy days that would murder you on a normal hybrid.

    This is a cross lever incase you don't know:

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