disc commuter?

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salty
Participant
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ok, my last attempt to build a new bike went way off the rails with some $5k wunderbike. but, one positive from that discussion was i got a nice set of panniers that work on my current bike with no heel strikes – i love them and it’s added a lot of utility for (reasonably) cheap.

still, the more i think about it (and ride in the rain, like last night) i really want disc brakes. I think that’s the only real “must” – IGH and belt drive are out, dynamo is a “maybe”.

Also, I’d like to build the bike myself, both for the experience of it, and so I get exactly what I want. I know it will cost a little more, and disqualifies some pretty nice bikes that don’t come frame only – the kona sutra is pretty close to what I’m looking for. But, all the pre-built bikes in this genre, it has drop bars and road gearing, I think I want moustache bars and MTB gearing. I know I could buy a full bike and swap parts but by the time I’m done it’s sounding expensive anyways.

Unfortunately, I can’t find too many bare frames – Salsa Doublecross DC is about the only thing I can come up with. There’s the Gunnar Fastlane but it’s way too expensive. Surly is coming out with a disc trucker in Feb which sounds a lot like what I want – should I just wait?


rsprake
Participant
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Some Double Cross.


orionz06
Participant
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Without looking, is the geometry of any of the bikes without the bars you want such that just adding the bars would be an issue? Seems like finding the bike that has the most features and adding the rest might be easy.


brian j
Participant
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Hmm, I thought the Kona was touring bike with a triple?

Swapping out drop bars (or any bars, really) for m-bars may be more complicated than just swapping them out. Ideally, you start with basic levers and bar end shifters. If not, you’ll need to do some re-cabling and possibly purchase new levers. That’s no fun.

As an amateur bar fetishist, I can say that I prefer drop bars to m-bars any day of the week. M-bars look really cool, but if you don’t get the cockpit just right, they are uncomfortable. If you like the curvy, try out a set of Albatross bars.

Why not just set up a Surly Karate Monkey for commuting/touring use?


dmtroyer
Participant
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There are a smattering of pre-builts in this category (more and more every year). Frame only, not so much.

Soma Double Cross DC

Civia Bryant

Surly Troll


Drewbacca
Participant
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Soma Double Cross is the only frame that I know of (prior to this thread at least). I’m thinking about building up a Jamis Bosanova myself. I particularly like the disc frames that place the rear brake caliper within the triangle and allowing for a non disc specific rack.


salty
Participant
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Yeah, I meant Soma not Salsa, oops. The Civia Bryant looks interesting too and is available as a frameset for a decent price. And definitely agreed with putting the caliper on the chainstay – that makes so much sense. I’m assuming Surly will get that right on the LHT but I don’t know for sure.

I know swapping bars gets to be a whole mess so I’m definitely trying to avoid that. Maybe I should talk about bars, I actually don’t mind drop bars too much but I hardly ever use the “drop” part when commuting, so as long as I have another bike for longer rides I thought I’d try something different. I’ve never ridden anything but flat and drop bars so I don’t really even know if I’d like moustache, albatross, etc.

BTW, Kona is a triple but it’s a road triple 50/39/30 – I’d rather have something MTB-like, 48/36/24 or similar.


Pierce
Participant
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Maybe somebody else can counteract this claim… but there is a reason touring bikes don’t come with disc brakes

They’re a PITA to adjust. I think the common clearance on each side of the rotor is like 1-3mm (probably closer to one)

In order to make that happen you need to have an extremely true rotor and your rotor always needs to be exactly perpendicular to your caliper

Assuming they’re true, you then need to shine a light down (or up) to see how close the pad is to the rotors, then adjust, then repeat, making sure the rotor is still true

Additionally, depending on the model, the calipers move in on both sides (this is how they’re adjusted for wear) This usually involves threads on one side and a springy thing on another.

The thread side is prone to locking up and requires semi-regular lubrication to remain usable. If it does get locked up, better models like the BB7 can accept a socket, others make you use a small hex wrench, (m6 maybe) which will probably break before you can fight through the corrosion on the threads

So adjusting these brakes in my experience usually takes at least half an hour, usually more depending on when the last time it was done

Compare this to my old style single-pivot sidepulls, which I can adjust in about ten minutes and I have waay more leeway in clearance and much easier adjustments


dmtroyer
Participant
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@Pierce I am of the general opinion that all brake styles can be a PITA to adjust. The single-pivot sidepull on my fixie is always freezing up and I can never get the toe-in set properly on my direct pulls that doesn’t result in premature pad wear or squeal.


Pierce
Participant
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Yeah, I was about to add that there’s probably somebody else on here that can adjust disc brakes in like five minutes :P


Drewbacca
Participant
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“Yeah, I was about to add that there’s probably somebody else on here that can adjust disc brakes in like five minutes.”

I like disc brakes because they are so easy to adjust! :P

But on that note, be sure to go with mechanical disc brakes like the BB5/BB7… hydraulic disc brakes are more trouble than they are worth (and unfortunately what most companies are using).


ben
Participant
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I think a normal quick method of adjusting disk breaks is to loosen both bolts on the caliper a little, then squeeze the brake lever to align the caliper on the rotor. Then simply tighten the bolts while still holding the brake lever tightly. For me, this method minimizes the pads rubbing against the rotor and only takes a couple minutes.

Hydraulic brakes have way better stopping power and modulation than the mechanical ones that I have used. They do require more maintenance, but you can send it to a bike shop if you feel uncomfortable bleeding the lines and whatnot. That being said, on the road I think that it’s hard to beat standard dual pivot brakes on machined rims. (I was just talking about this with some people IRL, they mostly agreed)

Put up some pics when you get it finished!


salty
Participant
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Yeah, I’d heard good things about BB7s. I’m not going to sweat the adjustment too much; I always heard what headloss said – or at least that they didn’t require as much adjustment?

My main concern is that they grab faster in wet/snow/etc – which is true, right? I try to ride the front brake a little in bad conditions to keep the rim dry, but it’s easy to forget, especially when you’re not expecting to stop. I just don’t like that “squeeze and nothing happens” feeling.

I really like that Civia Bryant – I might have to order one. It would be great to have a new bike this winter instead of waiting until Feb for the LHT – although I see Surly has a page up now for the disc trucker where they mention the rear disc mount is in the right place, and the full bike build is pretty much spot on (drop bars, but otherwise…)


salty
Participant
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that jamis bossanova looks nice too… if i wasn’t hung up on this non-drop-bars thing i’d have a ton of options. maybe i need to reconsider that.

although, i still kind of want to build a bike from the frame up.


salty
Participant
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on the road I think that it’s hard to beat standard dual pivot brakes on machined rims.

why is that? is “discs are better” a myth? does that include rain and snow?


BradQ
Participant
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Discs are awesome.

I find them exceptionally easy to setup and adjust until it comes time to bleed a hydraulic system.


Drewbacca
Participant
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“Hydraulic brakes have way better stopping power and modulation than the mechanical ones that I have used. “

Honestly, I can’t say that I notice a difference, which is why I say the hydraulic variety aren’t worth it. I suppose the choice between a cable and hydraulic is a personal one. If you can actually feel a difference, then I understand your preference, but I can’t.

The biggest benefit of the hydraulic discs is that it’s pretty much a set it up and forget about it until you need new pads (ideally at least). The hydraulics automatically readjust the toe-in every time you apply the brakes. On the flip side of that coin, if you remove the wheel and aren’t careful and squeeze the brake lever while there is no rotor or spacer between the pads, you will need to vent the brakes and reset the pads/pistons. I tend to take my front wheel off a lot, so the hydraulics are a non starter for me for that reason alone. Additionally, since you can’t fine tune the toe-in, hydraulic disc brakes have a tendency to SQUEEEEEEL and there really isn’t much that you can do about it except hope for good alignment. My cable actuated brakes are as quiet as a white winter.

I like to fine tune my brakes, and cable actuated allow me to tinker. Forget about working on your hydraulic discs at home, the mineral oil is cost prohibitive in my opinion (although bleeding isn’t really that difficult).


Drewbacca
Participant
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It’s funny that your hang up is the drop bar, I’m in the opposite position and aching for more handlebar real-estate. Are you set on a steel bike? The Kona Dew seems to meet your requirements… same geometry as the Sutra, MTB gearing, disc brakes…

What about the Salsa Vaya, it’s practically the twin brother to the Kona Sutra and available as a frame.

http://salsacycles.com/bikes/vaya_frameset/


salty
Participant
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I don’t know, I will have to research the handlebar thing some more. I ride drops now but in traffic I still think I prefer sitting upright like on a MTB – but I don’t want flat bars since there’s only one hand position. I thought that was exactly the point of moustache/albatross/etc bars?

Salsa Vaya is definitely on the list now – thanks! {hm, looks like QBP is going to get my money no matter what}


cburch
Participant
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Squeeling generally means glazed ot contaminated pads Mineral oil, or more likely DOT fluid isnt that expensive and comes with most bleed kits. Pulling the lever without the wheel isn’t really a problem with newer systems. At worst you shove a pad spreader in and squeeze the lever a few times. Bleeding the new systems is easy too. It takes me at the worst half an hour to adjust hose length and bleed a new set up and maybe 10-15 minutes to do a maintainance bleed. Front and rear. Changing pads is also really easy on the newer systems from Avid and Shimano. While mechanical discs are probably more than enough for the road, especially BB7s, if you can’t tell the difference then you are either not using the bike to it’s potential or whoever set up the hydros did a shit job.


edmonds59
Participant
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I set up a bike with a moustache bar, and I found that when you get the levers on, it turns out there is really only one effective hand position anyway. And finding the right location for brake levers is tricky, unless you get those funky bar end levers that point forward.

IMO flat bars with bar end add-ons would give the best hand position options for a touring bike, short of those wacky “trekking” bars. And those are just crazy.


brian j
Participant
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+1 to what Edmonds said. If you want to be upright with multiple bar positions, check out an Albatross bar (or even an FSA Metro). Also, if you kinda like drops, but want a higher setup, look into flared drops set up MC style.

FWIW, I think Albatross bars are the nicest commuter/noodling around bars on the market. Surly is making something similar this year, too.


dmtroyer
Participant
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I have albatross on my commuter and use no less than 4 hand positions regularly. I think the key for me is that I have them just a smidge lower than my seat and a relatively long stem.


eMcK
Participant
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There are ton’s of 700c “commuter” bikes out there these days with mountain bike bars and disc brakes. Most have triples, but they aren’t full on mountain bike gearing, but should be plenty low enough for almost everyone.

Start as low as $500, should be easy to find one that suits your needs. Have the shop swap to whatever bend-y bars you decide on.

All braking systems require maintenance, and in bad weather I’ll take hydraulic discs over anything else. Ever pull apart a set of BB7’s after a few salty winters? Might as well throw them out and start over.

And it has been pretty sweet not to worry about grinding away my rim walls with my brake pads every year.

I really like inexpensive Shimano brakes for commuter bikes. They rarely squeal, use mineral oil (no nasty DOT fluid) and are easy to bleed at home.


dmtroyer
Participant
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The salsa vaya may be my new lust bike


Drewbacca
Participant
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“If you can’t tell the difference then you are either not using the bike to it’s potential or whoever set up the hydros did a shit job.”

I speak from experience with several different hydraulic brake set ups, so I’m pretty sure I’m not pushing the bike to a point where I notice a difference.

I did have a set of contaminated pads (from the factory), and before replacement I sounded like a train coming down the street. They aren’t too bad now, but my mechanical discs are quieter (and the faulty Shimano m485 left a bad taste in my mouth). My girl friends Focus Maleta rubs ever so slightly and it drives me up a wall that there is no way to adjust the toe-in (I haven’t taken the time to bleed and reset yet, hopefully that remedies that situation). Maybe the problem is with the intro level Shimano hydraulics? Or maybe I’ve just had a bad run of luck with them. *shrugs* Either way, I’ll try to be open minded about trying a different set up in the future since you and others here have had better experience.


Drewbacca
Participant
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I love the Salsa Vaya, they have a few built up at Freeze-Thaw if you’re ever in the State College area.


cburch
Participant
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FYI, Thick is now a stocking salsa dealer as well.


salty
Participant
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Yeah, I think I’ll head down to thick and get the ball rolling and see what Chris has to say, I assume he can order civia too since it’s also qbp. Vaya and Bryant are pretty close to the same frame afaict.

Although, I found something else intriguing today too: http://www.cyclelicio.us/2011/rei-novara-gotham/


Pseudacris
Participant
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oooh, I like the looks of that Gotham. Your link has a link to the review of that Nuvinci hub.


cburch
Participant
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yup he can order civia. i’m eyeing one as a light cargo/commuter bike one i get things a bit more settled. all salsa dealers have qbp but not all qbp shops are salsa dealers. kind of like squares and rectangles.


Pierce
Participant
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“Ever pull apart a set of BB7’s after a few salty winters? Might as well throw them out and start over.”

That’s basically the state of my one BB7 right now, waiting to be reassembled

Maybe I should consider hydraulics… There was a time when I relished the stopping power of my disc brakes


Kayla
Participant
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That Nuvinci hub…woah. CVT on a bicycle just sounds way too weird.


salty
Participant
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I think I’m headed down to thick tomorrow to (hopefully) order myself a bike.

Some info for a future generation to stumble upon – I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to the Salsa Vaya, Civia Bryant, and Soma Double Cross DC. Surly Disc Long Haul Trucker would be in the running but still 4-6 months away and I don’t want to wait. Some Cross-check stats are thrown in since that’s what I ride now (but there’s no disc version).

Initially I was leaning towards the Bryant but they don’t publish max tire width and I can’t really find any good info online – it looks like 35s will fit but beyond that I don’t know. I’d like to have the option to go a little wider especially if I’m going to be riding in the winter. Soma DCDC takes up to 38mm and the Salsa Vaya takes up to 45mm, just like the LHT & CC.

They mostly have different length chainstays: LHT = 460mm, Vaya = 450mm, Bryant = 440mm, DC/CC = 425. The Bryant is probably the best compromise; the CC is a bit short and I have to keep my panniers back to avoid heel strikes. But, OTOH I’d like not to have a super-long wheelbase.

So, I think the Vaya is the front runner. No idea yet on the bars, I’m going to try to look at some albatross bars in the shop but I think a flared drop (like the bell lap on my cross-check) may be the way to go. I think I’ve decided on Avid BB-7s and a MTB drivetrain with something like 24-36-48 and 11-32 (9spd), most likely barcons if I get drop bars. We’ll see how the money adds up, I might get a dynamo hub…


Drewbacca
Participant
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“Initially I was leaning towards the Bryant but they don’t publish max tire width and I can’t really find any good info online.”

I sense a future Summer bike. ;)

Just curious, for clarification purposes… are those tire sizes with or without fenders? Also, were the chain stay lengths measured or from a book? It’s good info to have, and I’m glad that you posted those numbers, I’m just curious for the sake of consistency if I ever measure chain stay length.

I was trying to decide between the Salsa Casseroll (no disc *sigh*) and the Jamis Bosanova but now I’m throwing the Byrant into my possible purchase decision, thanks to this thread. Best of luck today! :)


mr marvelous
Participant
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I really haven’t read thru this whole tread and maybe I should before I comment, but what about using a cyclocross bike as a commuter like this one http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCProduct.jsp?spid=62219&scid=1101&scname=Road someone told me that cyclocross bikes are his only choice for commuting but I don’t know.


salty
Participant
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headloss – those are the published numbers, I haven’t seen most of these frames in person.

I think the tire numbers are the widest that will fit so you might have to go a bit narrower for fender clearance. But, I think the tire markings are a bit nebulous anyways, so I’d like to have some slop too. I’d like to be able to fit a Marathon Winter with fenders (which is marked both 700x40c and 42-622 – so how wide is it really?!), although they do have a 35mm size as well.

mr marv – I ride a cyclocross bike now, it’s definitely close to what I want and if it had disc mounts I’d probably just keep it. But, if I’m changing bikes I might as well tweak it a little bit – the other bikes (aside from the Soma Doublecross) I’m looking at are a little more touring oriented, just a bit longer wheelbase and more relaxed geometry (of which chainstay length is one component)… but the differences are pretty subtle.

I went to Thick, Chris has a Vaya coming this week, although he thinks it’s a 54 or 56 which is going to be too small for me. He kind of dissuaded me from starting from a bare frame – he thinks it would be a lot cheaper to buy the full bike and swap out some components, so we’ll see. I didn’t actually order it today, I’m gonna go look at the bike they get in and do a little more research in the meantime…


reddan
Keymaster
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@salty: aside from the dynamo wheel we talked about, I’ve got a set of Marathon Winters in 35mm that I have not yet mounted. You’re welcome to borrow ’em for fender fit testing.

WRT to fenders, the recommendation I’ve seen is to shoot for 7-10mm of clearance betwixt tire and fender. So, if you’re planning to run 35mm tires, you likely want fenders in at least 42.

I’ve become a big fan of metal fenders (stainless steel Berthouds are da bomb, but the aluminum ones from Velo-orange are also quite spiffy…). Slightly more work to install, but they’re just so much nicer than any plastic ones I’ve tried. Also, metal fenders are sturdy enough to support a battery- or dynamo-powered tail light, if you like options other than rack or seat post for mounting such gadgets.


salty
Participant
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Heh, you’ve got so many parts I want – maybe you just have a whole bike somewhere too?

I’m a bit disillusioned at the moment, there are too many things I don’t like about the stock Vaya build (crank, rims/hubs, brakes) that now I’m worried it’s going to get expensive either way. OTOH the build kit for the Disc LHT is pretty much exactly what I want (aside from dynamo). Maybe I should just exercise some patience.

any opinion on these? http://www.treefortbikes.com/product/333222368547/143/Velo-Orange-Stainless-Steel.html

I note they’re 45mm but for 35mm tires. I guess that’s no big deal. I’d definitely like longer fenders than what I have now.


reddan
Keymaster
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Those stainless VO fenders use the same hardware as the aluminum Zeppelins I’ve got…you’ll need a marker, a center punch, a drill, and a hack saw or Dremel w/ cutoff wheel, as well as the usual assortment of hex wrenches and suchlike.

As long as they fit in your frame, I’d say those look like a lovely option.

Also, Thick Bikes sells/stocks/orders V-O parts…if you’re going through Chris for the bike, might as well get the components through him too.

(Not to sound like a Velo-Orange fanatic, but it’s also worth checking out their various front and rear racks…many of ’em are stainless steel, and include fittings to bolt racks directly to the fenders…makes for a very strong, rattle-free, integrated system.)

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