Help me pick a commuter bike?

ioanna
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Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ioanna » Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:34 pm

I should start with stating that I don't know anything about bike components (yet) so when I read specs it all sounds like jibber jabber to me. What I would like to do is to be able to commute to work about 18km each way at least 2-3 days per week and be able to enjoy the ride. I have attempted the route with my current bike (a cheap hybrid which served me fine when I used to do an 8km commute), but found it a bit too slow, uncomfortable (pure pain after 15km actually) and in some places downright unsafe. I'm willing to spend up to ~$1000 to upgrade to something that will be hopefully faster and more comfortable.

My route goes along Moonee Ponds Creek trail for the most part, which is all paved but the surface is very poor in many places, making for an uncomfortably bumpy ride. I would also like to be able to go through some mild gravel/dirt bits to save time. There is often debris on the path surface which has caused me to nearly fall over in the past when cornering on the hybrid. It also has some sharp turns that are often combined with short but steep uphill/downhill bits, so I need decent breaks and the gearing to be able to make it up those uphills.

In terms of the riding position, I don't find an upright position very comfortable and the flat bars of my current bike make my wrists really sore, so I would prefer a drop bar style bike.

I've thought about getting a road bike, but the bumps and debris on the trail along with the sharp turns would make me a bit nervous on a bike with very thin tires. From what I've read so far, it sounds like a cyclocross bike might be a good compromise for my needs (i.e. not as slow as a mountain bike but much more capable on rougher parts than a road bike).

I would really appreciate any advise on choosing a bike for my needs, like specific models I can look for. It doesn't have to be a new bike, I'm happy to look for a second hand model etc.

fpstroy
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby fpstroy » Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:21 pm

CX Bikes make a good commuter. My CX bike has done about 10,000kms with a mix of commuting, touring and rail trails.

One issue with CX as a commuter is the tyres they come with it will wear down really quickly as they are made more for grass and light mud. You will probably want to replace them with something with more puncture protection in a couple of months. If your commuting a lot I like Vitoria Rubino Pro but also have some wider schwalbe marathons for when riding more gravel/mixed surfaces. Neither of these tyres are great for dirt.

A lot of CX bikes also don't also have very wide gearing, if you have super sharp uphills you might find the gearing a bit limited, they are designed to jump off and carry them up. I have a couple of hills on my old commute that are as sharp as stairs with very little run up that were pretty difficult to get up with stock gearing on CX bikes.

Given you want to jump through some dirt/gravel etc, you might consider a 29" hard tail mountain bike with slick tyres. The fatter tyres and shocks will eat up the bumps of that !! BAN ME NOW FOR SWEARING !! path, and you have super wide gears and good brakes. You don't get the the drop bars but shocks will make the bumpy ride more far more comfortable.

Also are you going to be riding in the wet? (do you need fenders/panniers etc)

Given your price range the below would be ok for a CX..

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/au/e ... prod146254

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Thoglette
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby Thoglette » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:07 pm

ioanna wrote:I've thought about getting a road bike, but the bumps and debris on the trail along with the sharp turns would make me a bit nervous on a bike with very thin tires. From what I've read so far, it sounds like a cyclocross bike might be a good compromise for my needs (i.e. not as slow as a mountain bike but much more capable on rougher parts than a road bike).


The category you're looking for is now known as a "gravel grinder". Essentially a bike that's midway between a CX bike (very racy) and a serious touring bike (very strong and heavy) and a road bike - fast over long distances. Room for big tyres & mudguards, plenty of places for racks but with a frame build with some life. These days disc brakes are almost ubiquitous although some curmudgeons prefer (modern) centrepulls with more flexible forks - see Jan Heine who has an opinion (strangely he has an opinion on most things)

There's a number of threads here: see LBS - "Gravel bikes? Never heard of them." for example. Your favourite search engine will find plenty of information on them. For something slightly different search for "randonneur". Similar concept, more focused on long distances (and lighter wallets :shock: )
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StevOz
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby StevOz » Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:05 pm


ioanna
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ioanna » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:24 pm

fpstroy wrote:Given you want to jump through some dirt/gravel etc, you might consider a 29" hard tail mountain bike with slick tyres. The fatter tyres and shocks will eat up the bumps of that !! BAN ME NOW FOR SWEARING !! path, and you have super wide gears and good brakes. You don't get the the drop bars but shocks will make the bumpy ride more far more comfortable.


Would such a mountain bike be a lot slower than a CX bike or a gravel grinder on the smooth and flat bits? The dirt/gravel bits would are at most a few hundred meters so it's not worth getting a mountain bike if it's going to be a lot slower for the rest of the commute.
Also, am I correct in assuming that a gravel grinder will be reasonably comfortable on bumpy sealed paths as well?

fpstroy wrote:Also are you going to be riding in the wet? (do you need fenders/panniers etc)


Yes, I would like to install fenders and probably some type of rack bag.

fpstroy wrote:Given your price range the below would be ok for a CX..
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/au/e ... prod146254


Looking at bikeexchange.com.au there seem to be about a dozen options under $1000... Presumably the models that are discounted from higher prices may have slightly better components? The link you gave me looks good but is it risky to order online without doing any kind of test ride first?

Thanks for the helpful info!

ioanna
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ioanna » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:26 pm

Also thanks Thoglette and StevOz for the helpful replies :)

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StevOz
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby StevOz » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:58 am


Trevtassie
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby Trevtassie » Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:27 am

What about one of these https://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/2016- ... -city-bike with a set of trekking bars so you have more hand positions... you are going to spend a fair bit sitting up or on the brakes on the type of path you describe...

fpstroy
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby fpstroy » Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:37 am

Trevtassie wrote:What about one of these https://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/2016- ... -city-bike with a set of trekking bars so you have more hand positions... you are going to spend a fair bit sitting up or on the brakes on the type of path you describe...


Not sure if its what the OP is after but that is an awesome setup for commuter!. nice recommendation and good price. .

Trevtassie
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby Trevtassie » Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:30 pm

Yeah, it does seem like pretty good value. Even if the frame isn't so good the rest of it is...

ioanna
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ioanna » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:27 pm

That does look like a really nice package! But maybe it's a wee bit heavier and more upright than I'd prefer. I really wish I could test ride it! I'm worried that because I'm only 163cm tall even the small size would end up being too upright due to having to lower the seat.

I might go test ride some of the suggested models that I can find in local stores like that FUJI one SteveOz suggested. I know it's hard to tell how good a bike will be for hour-long rides based on a 5 minute test ride, but it's better than nothing.

ioanna
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ioanna » Fri Jan 27, 2017 5:26 pm

So I went to a few bike shops in hopes of test riding some bikes to help me make up my mind, but as it turns out they have very few models available to test ride in my size (XS/S, 47-50cm) and many of the cyclocross/gravel bikes don't even come in a small enough size. I did test ride a Fuji touring bike (https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/touri ... /102870593) which I really liked. I wouldn't exactly call it light or nimble, but it felt really comfortable and pleasant to ride. I almost bought it really, but the unconventional position of the gear shifts put me off a bit. What do you guys think of that bike? Do the parts look good?

I'm now wondering whether I should just get a road bike and ride extra carefully... it seems a lot easier to find those in my size and to find good quality models second hand in my price range. I could avoid the creek trail and use roads, though I wouldn't have a dedicated bike lane all the way to work. Maybe I could get a road bike and fit some tyres that would be more suitable for commuting?

Decisions decisions! *sigh*

koshari
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby koshari » Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:33 pm

if your not bothered about "new" and "disc brakes" just get any rigid 700c commuter style like a merida speedway or giant citi-crx and be done with it, clearance for 35mm tires and generally going t for around 200-300 for ones in reasoable nic on the 2nd hand market,
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DavidS
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby DavidS » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:22 pm

If you are worried about bar end shifters, one of my bikes has these and you do get used to them. I switch between that bike and the flat bar so it can be done even if every other day you're using a different shifting arrangement.

That said, I did see my bike with brifters (I would like them too) but its not such a hassle that I can bothered with the conversion.

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ioanna
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ioanna » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:03 pm

koshari wrote:if your not bothered about "new" and "disc brakes" just get any rigid 700c commuter style like a merida speedway or giant citi-crx and be done with it, clearance for 35mm tires and generally going t for around 200-300 for ones in reasoable nic on the 2nd hand market,


I don't need it to be brand new, and disk brakes are in the "nice to have but not essential" category. However I really don't want another flat bar bike because I find them extremely uncomfortable for my wrists, especially when I have to shift gears. I've had RSI in the past and the twisting motion required to switch gears feels very unpleasant.

Would it be a terrible idea just get a second hand road bike (eg. something like a Giant Defy 2) and change the tyres to something like 28mm touring tyres to get better grip and more comfort?

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Thoglette
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby Thoglette » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:26 am

ioanna wrote:, but the unconventional position of the gear shifts put me off a bit.

Unconventional? That's where tourers always have their shifters. At least until these new-fangled brifters came around. :lol:

As you said, perhaps a kilo or so heavier than possible but once you add laptop; clothes; lunch; shopping etc that little bit won't be noticed.

The Fujis have a big (good) reputation. Haven't ridden one myself but your impressions match those of most reviewers
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brumby33
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby brumby33 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:34 am

ioanna wrote:So I went to a few bike shops in hopes of test riding some bikes to help me make up my mind, but as it turns out they have very few models available to test ride in my size (XS/S, 47-50cm) and many of the cyclocross/gravel bikes don't even come in a small enough size. I did test ride a Fuji touring bike (https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/touri ... /102870593) which I really liked. I wouldn't exactly call it light or nimble, but it felt really comfortable and pleasant to ride. I almost bought it really, but the unconventional position of the gear shifts put me off a bit. What do you guys think of that bike? Do the parts look good?

I'm now wondering whether I should just get a road bike and ride extra carefully... it seems a lot easier to find those in my size and to find good quality models second hand in my price range. I could avoid the creek trail and use roads, though I wouldn't have a dedicated bike lane all the way to work. Maybe I could get a road bike and fit some tyres that would be more suitable for commuting?

Decisions decisions! *sigh*



Ioanna,

Interestingly that you should bring up the Fuji Touring, these are a great bike for what you're wanting it for.

I used to have one back in 2005 but then it had the Tiagra STi Shifters but the newer ones have come out with bar end shifters.

I think these are easily converted to an STi system by a good bike shop, You keep the gearing with the Chainwheels and cassettes but you need to change the brakes and gear changing system which are incorporated with the brakes....easy and simple to use. When you start riding especially with decent sized hills, you're going to be changing a lot of gears so I think and STi will be better.

The frames on the Fuji Touring are exactly the same....I used mine on the 2005 NSW Big ride from Kosziusko to Kiama and I loved it. It actually fitted me better than my current Vivente touring bike.

Apart from the bar ends, they now have smaller chainwheels (front cogs) now they are geared down a lot better.

These bikes will handle chucking some baggage on and going for a very long ride too...hence their Touring adage.

I wish I never sold mine.....kicking myself ever since :(

Try and get used to the bar end shifters first but if they are cumbersome, get it changed over to the STi system. Shouldn't cost too much...but it's more labor intensive than cost intensive i think.

Cheers

brumby33
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koshari
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby koshari » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:40 am

ioanna wrote:I don't need it to be brand new, and disk brakes are in the "nice to have but not essential" category. However I really don't want another flat bar bike because I find them extremely uncomfortable for my wrists, especially when I have to shift gears. I've had RSI in the past and the twisting motion required to switch gears feels very unpleasant.
?


i agree entirely , this is why i replaced the flats with drops on my crx, cost me bugger all for some used drops and a pair of 8 speed sora brifters. very happy with the result.

the bike cost me about $160 and another hundred to replace the flats with drops and 8 speed brifters. other than this i had to replace the front derailleur with a replacement one to accommodate running 35mm tires as the frame band fouled with the bigger tires on the crx. again 18 bucks for a front derailler, i also replaced the triple front crankset with a compact road one. prolly cost $400 all up by now.

here she is at weigh in
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robbo mcs
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby robbo mcs » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:10 am

ioanna wrote:
koshari wrote:if your not bothered about "new" and "disc brakes" just get any rigid 700c commuter style like a merida speedway or giant citi-crx and be done with it, clearance for 35mm tires and generally going t for around 200-300 for ones in reasoable nic on the 2nd hand market,


I don't need it to be brand new, and disk brakes are in the "nice to have but not essential" category. However I really don't want another flat bar bike because I find them extremely uncomfortable for my wrists, especially when I have to shift gears. I've had RSI in the past and the twisting motion required to switch gears feels very unpleasant.

Would it be a terrible idea just get a second hand road bike (eg. something like a Giant Defy 2) and change the tyres to something like 28mm touring tyres to get better grip and more comfort?


"Twisting motion" to shift gears? Do you have a twist grip shifter? They are pretty uncommon now. Most flatbars have a dual lever setup, thumb to shift down, index finger to shift up, very ergonomic, no move ent of the hand or wrist.

koshari
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby koshari » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:36 pm

FWIW Ionna what actually is your current hybrid?
btw agree with robbo regarding rapidfire flat bar shifters they are heaps better than grip shifters, i just like the extra hand positions of drops.
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ioanna
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ioanna » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:19 pm

@koshari Your rig looks cool but I definitely don't have the mechanical skills to attempt something like that at this stage ;). And yes, regardless of the gear shifters I just find the wrist position on flat bar bikes very comfortable after the first 20 minutes.

My current hybrid is a cheap steel frame one that I got second hand a few years old and I'm pretty sure it was crap even when it was new. It was built as part of a community program to teach people about building bikes, so it's probably not even built properly. I upgraded the saddle to make it bearable but everything else on it is as cheap as possible. I used to have a Progrear CX400 hybrid which was slightly better quality (cost $700 originally), but it was really upright and I also found it very uncomfortable to ride.

I think I might actually go get the Fuji. I'm pretty sure I can get used to the bar end shifters and it was oh so comfortable and smooth to ride.

ioanna
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ioanna » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:34 pm

Thought I'd report back the result of my quest for a new bike. I ended up getting the Fuji touring bike and I've commuted to work a few times already. Overall I'm really happy with it, I've finally found the joy in cycling that I've missed since I was a kid :D

With a few adjustments to my route I am managing to get to work in about 45 minutes even without having built much cycling-specific fitness yet. The drop bars are working great for alleviating wrist soreness and the less upright riding position is also helping with saddle soreness. The wide gear range is really handy for some big hills I have to tackle in new route. I've gotten used to the gear shifters but I do have multiple little bruises on my thighs from hitting my legs into them ;).

Now I just need to kit it out with mudguards, pannier bag and lights. Are there tail lights that are designed to fit on a rack? With me being so short I have to have my seat fairly low, and if I attach a tail light on my seat post and also have a pannier bag, the light will not be visible.

RobertL
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby RobertL » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:58 pm

ioanna wrote: Are there tail lights that are designed to fit on a rack?


Yes. Most lights these days are just held on by some sort of rubber strap. A lot of racks have a flat area that is most suitable for mounting that sort of light. You should be able to easily find something at your local bike store that will be suitable.

westab
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby westab » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:10 pm

+1 to what RobertL said - also if they don't have a rubber strap most will have a belt hook or similar. If you are getting mudguards and have a rack..... a couple of cable ties and your set. (I have steel mudguards on my T1 Allegro with a light cable tied to it)

Also with rear lights if you are commuting in the winter time (or dark) I have had always had a min of two lights running at night; so if one fails you are still visible - I have not had two fail at the one time in over 12 years of commuting.
I use Azur Performance Dual Eyes (they used to be made by Tioga) that seem good - and check them after a ride and replace the batteries as required. (Summer - alkaline / winter - rechargeable). They are bright enough without being to overpowered in my opinion - there are brighter ones out there.

As far as setup goes - have one of your friends in a car check that you are visible from approx 50m away - this is what Mrs Westab does for me each season when daylight saving stops here just to make sure that my rear lighting is still effective and I get home safe.

Enjoy your riding - it won't take long till you find the ride getting easier and the times coming down. Enjoy Westab :D

Edit - mine has bar end shifters and they are no problem - but I did grow up with downtube shifters and ones connected on the headset.
Not fast, no style, but still get there.

ironhanglider
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Re: Help me pick a commuter bike?

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:28 pm

ioanna wrote:Thought I'd report back the result of my quest for a new bike. I ended up getting the Fuji touring bike and I've commuted to work a few times already. Overall I'm really happy with it, I've finally found the joy in cycling that I've missed since I was a kid :D

With a few adjustments to my route I am managing to get to work in about 45 minutes even without having built much cycling-specific fitness yet. The drop bars are working great for alleviating wrist soreness and the less upright riding position is also helping with saddle soreness. The wide gear range is really handy for some big hills I have to tackle in new route. I've gotten used to the gear shifters but I do have multiple little bruises on my thighs from hitting my legs into them ;).
Now I just need to kit it out with mudguards, pannier bag and lights. Are there tail lights that are designed to fit on a rack? With me being so short I have to have my seat fairly low, and if I attach a tail light on my seat post and also have a pannier bag, the light will not be visible.


You just know that a dyno-hub and StVZO lights (German light standards) are next. Best of all the taillights are specifically designed for use with racks. I've got one of these coming.
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Cheers,

Cameron
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