Going to start bike commuting. However I don’t yet have the bike… advice?
I have been doing lots of reading and there are lots of conflicting opinions.
I would consider myself to be an avid mountain biker, riding a few times per week for the last several years at what I would consider to be an intermediate level.
I have been considering starting a bike commute for awhile, however I don’t want to do it on my mountain bike. My mountain bike doesn’t have a big ring and in general a full suspension mountain bike with huge knobbies is a poor road bike.
My commute is going to be about 25 miles each way, however I can shorten it by using some of the bike rack buses.
I’m 6’4″ and 240lbs. I’m sure I am harder than most on my bikes due to my sheer size and weight.
My commute would be very hilly and all road. Should I be looking at “touring” bikes, road bikes, cross bikes?
Oh, and the fun part. My wife is going back to school so my budget is about $600
I am going to speak from experience here. I love my trek 520. I am 6’3″ 215 (been up to 235 while owning the bike, eek) and it has seen me through all sorts of activity. I’ve put an average of 3 or 4,000 miles on it a year since I’ve owned it and couldn’t be happier. I commute on it, and have done some loaded touring (not as much as I would like) and century rides.
Maintenance has been a breeze. After the initial break-in phase, I’ve rarely had to true or re-tension the wheels. I am hard on pads and will probably need new rims before too long.
So what I’m trying to say is possibly a used, steel touring bike could serve you well. You could put any sort of handlebar you want on it, and it has all the braze ons and eyelets for racks, fenders, etc.
I agree with dmtroyer. A steel tourer would likely be your best bet. A surly long haul trucker or any of the other major brand steel frame bikes.
I would put slicks on the mountain bike and give that a shot for a while. At least do it once to get a feel for what kind of gears you’ll want/need given the “very hilly” part.
I just bought a cross bike with low gear of 32″ vs 20″ on my MTB and wondering if that was a smart thing to do. Although, I’ve only been back into riding for a few months so I’m hoping it’ll be ok in time.
you could even get a pretty rugged cross bike (i’m thinking a cross check or double cross) and if need be, have the folks at the bike shop build up a more heavy duty wheel set for you.
I commuted roughly the same distance each way for awhile on an older Cannondale MTB with slicks. Sure, I could have gone a bit faster on a more road-worthy bike, but I also didn’t spend very much on it. It was fully rigid, though, and I had more comfortable bars on it (Nitto Doves).
I’m riding a Kona Smoke 2-9 as a commuter right now. You may want to check those out–they retail for under $400. Kona also makes a few other commuter-oriented bikes for under $600.
I really don’t want to do it on an MTB. Since I would need a new bike to do this anyway I mine as well get the appropriate bike. I’m definitely not going to commute on my 29lbs mtb without a big ring.
@dmtroyer – what is it about steel that makes you recommend it? Is it the durability vs aluminum? Is it the flex and give in the frame? How much heavier is steel than aluminum?
How much heavier are cross bikes than road bikes? I like the idea of the cross bike, however if it will seriously impact my speed I would rather just get a road bike.
I plan to push as hard as I can on the commute and shower at work.
Cross bikes aren’t really much heavier than a road. Basically they are a road bike that has cantilever or disc brakes and can accommodate bigger tires. Cyclocross is a sport which is pretty much ice and mud racing on road bikes.
In general, steel rides more smoothly, so with a long commute, you don’t want to be exhausted by the end of your commute. The steel frame wouldn’t wear you out as much.
A steel frame bike might weigh at most a pound or two more than a comparable aluminum one, so the weight penalty isn’t big.
How fast do you think you’d like to ride? I could easily average 15 mph on my rigid Cannondale MTB with slicks installed.
One thing to look for on a road bike, should you go that direction, is the ability to install full fenders. If anything, they help keep the elements off your bike, and with a homemade mud-flap, they’ll keep your feet dry, too.
If you want to save some money, I know where you can get a sweet KHS flite for twenty bucks.
If you want to save some money, I know where you can get a sweet KHS flite for twenty bucks.
Back on topic, I would suggest worrying more about comfort than weight on your commute. A 5-10 pound difference, while certainly perceptible, probably won’t do as much to your commute time as it would to a fast road ride; just think of it as a slightly better workout.
If ya want the most bang for your buck, maybe drop a couple of hundred bucks on a lighter wheelset with the aforementioned commuter slicks for your MTB, and I bet you’ll be just fine. (Plus, you can swap your old wheels with the knobbies back in when you want to hit the trails…)
On my road bike, I have fender eyelets, and had a set of freddy hardcores installed. I did not like them one bit. I switch to sks race blades and am much happier. They arent a full fender but do a really good job and you can put them on and take them off as you please.
I do highly recommend fenders of some sort tho.
stiffen your suspension so you don’t waste a lot of energy pedaling up hills and tie a car bumper to the front of your bike.
Just thought I would throw out a pitch for freeride. You could go build a bike there on the cheap or even free if you did some volunteering.
I was a mountain biker when I started and made the mistake of buying a hybrid Trek thinking I would be more comfortable on it. If I could go back I would buy either a cyclocross bike or a touring bike with mounts for fenders and a rack. 25 miles each way you’re not going to want a pack on your back and you will like having more than one hand position.
I have been eyeing up a Surly Long Haul Trucker.
“…and tie a car bumper to the front of your bike.”
Thanks for all the food for thought. I’m thinking now that a good steel frame road/touring bike with the ability to mount a rack is where I will be concentrating my efforts.
One last note about the MTB: I have no big ring! I’m not going to pedal 22.5 (just mapped it out) miles on roads without a big ring. I’m not going to put a big ring back on my mountain bike.
I have a Surly cross check with 700 X 38 flat resistent tires. This give me reliability at the cost of speed.
Over the winter, I had a crack in my back rim. I didn’t notice it for months. This made me – regardless of kevlar tires and tire liner strips – the flat tire /// KING \. So sometimes,even with good planning, you don’t get what you plan for.
ladieu, Is this Nick? Used to be roomates with Randy H. in Regent Square back in the day?
At $600 you be looking at used bikes if you want a drop bar touring rig. Most new ones start at $800-900.
You might be able to find a new cyclocross bike at that price, but I’d bet on it being aluminum.
Ah, I took “doesn’t have a big ring” to mean it wasn’t big enough for your tastes, not that it was not present at all… that would definitely be rough.
FWIW, I ended up with a crosscheck and I love it aside from my worries about gearing. LHT is not that much different and has much lower stock gears. But they are $1050 and $1100 new and I didn’t really see them discounted much, there are still some 08s around which will save you some but probably still not enough to get down to your price range.
But, overall buying a second bike drove home the point it’s the engine not the bike…
Depending on how fast your cadence is, A 4-1 ratio on 700c tires will take you to about 25mph+. On my bike, thats the second ring and the smallest cog. Touring and cross bike may have a little low gearing that a road racing bike, but it definitely not mountain bike gearing.
KHS Flite 220
Those are 3 new bikes that fall in your price range. All are steel frame and all have fender and rack mounts.
Honestly I don’t know what my cadence is. Probably something I will find out. I’ll stop by trek today and see what they have, according to kona’s website they are a dealer.
I bought my Paddy Wagon from Trek Shadyside. They also carry Surly, convince your wife with the additional money and stress you will save from not driving every day.
I have a 56-t “engagement ring” I’m willing to part with from my mountain bike. You’ll really have to jack up your derailleur to fit it in, though.
Oh, and it looks like the Jake is aluminum but the honkytonk is steel. I have the Kona Paddy Wagon and love it, steel is the way to go IMO.
That Kona Smoke 2-9 looks like a sensible option.
Another, if you can do the assembly work yourself and don’t need the support of a shop, are some mailorder bikes, a category in which you can find touring and cyclocross-style bikes in your price range:
(note that the “MSRPs” on that site are complete fictions; disregard them and comparsion shop using the actual price)
Yes the BD site is very tempting. The reviews of their bikes are a mixed bag. If you mention BD on other bike forums you will not doubt have start a 10 page flame war.
I have been looking at this bike, which seems to meet the steel/storage requirements
and also this cross bike seems tempting
No fender mounts on the second? I would suggest buying a bike with at least fender mounts, even you aren’t going to use them right away you may want them down the line.
yeah i noticed that, i tried to buy a surly on ebay last night, however the guys reserve price was too close to msrp.
looking at this one too
Yarrgghhh… too many choices.
I almost bought a BD bike when I got my road bike. The bikes themselves use pretty good components, and from the posts I have read, the company stands behind their product pretty well. As long as you are comfortable assembling the bike, then I don’t really see a problem.
I know the bikes I have suggested don’t have this, but if you can find a bike on BD that has tiagra or better shifters, I recommend them as the downshift button on the 2200 and sora shifters can be difficult to get to while in the drops.
Have a look at the windsor tourist there as well. its 599 but has tiagra components and a rack.
Looks like another reasonable mail-order bike, and not quite as ugly as most of the BikesDirect models.
I wonder if the bikes direct frames come with the decals clear coated or if they are removable.
I have a kilo TT from bikesdirect and the decals are clear coated.
I got it in 2007 and have been on it 3-4 days per week year round since then. I switched out the saddle right away and the stock tires were crap, but other than that, absolutely no complaints.
I know that isn’t cyclocross, but I was pleased with bikesdirect.
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