General mid-distance bike

BobtheBuilder
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General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:40 pm

hello Gurus,

I'm looking to buy a new bike - the first in many a year!

I'm after something to do 30km+ rides on mostly sealed roads, with the odd bit on well-made unsealed roads. Nothing mega-fancy, but a few steps above a K-mart Huffy!

What I want is something fairly fast and light with: -

* fairly flat bars (not drop bars)
* rim brakes (strong preference anyway)
* not carbon
* enough clearance to put bigger tyres on if needed
* ability to put on mudguards and panniers
* basic componentry is fine as long as it functions well (I'm not obsessed with saving micrograms)
* no fixed ideas on gears, but simpler the better

Looking at the offerings at my "local" bike shops (over 300km away) most decent bikes seem to come with bells and whistles I don't want. Anything that is fairly basic seems to come with crappy rubber pedals and generally a cheap-ish feel.

Are there any bikes out there that have a fairly basic setup, but quality design and build and components?

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10speedsemiracer
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:22 am

BobtheBuilder wrote:hello Gurus,

I'm looking to buy a new bike - the first in many a year!

I'm after something to do 30km+ rides on mostly sealed roads, with the odd bit on well-made unsealed roads. Nothing mega-fancy, but a few steps above a K-mart Huffy!

What I want is something fairly fast and light with: -

* fairly flat bars (not drop bars)
* rim brakes (strong preference anyway)
* not carbon
* enough clearance to put bigger tyres on if needed
* ability to put on mudguards and panniers
* basic componentry is fine as long as it functions well (I'm not obsessed with saving micrograms)
* no fixed ideas on gears, but simpler the better

Looking at the offerings at my "local" bike shops (over 300km away) most decent bikes seem to come with bells and whistles I don't want. Anything that is fairly basic seems to come with crappy rubber pedals and generally a cheap-ish feel.

Are there any bikes out there that have a fairly basic setup, but quality design and build and components?


Budget ?
Mmm, SunTour

BobtheBuilder
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Thu Apr 12, 2018 7:51 am

10speedsemiracer wrote:Budget ?



Flexible budget.

Last time I bought a full-sized bike 15+ years ago, my rule of thumb was nothing new under $1000 is decent. Bikes seem to be cheaper now though.

I'd prefer to spend under $1500 but happy to be convinced otherwise.

I'm fixing up two old bikes to be town/visitor bikes, so looking for something decent for longer rides and happy to put some filthy lucre into it.

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10speedsemiracer
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:44 pm

Have a browse thru the Polygon range, and maybe a Cyclocross bike will be appropriate, or even one of the Path 29ers. Polygon are surprisingly good stuff for the $s, but make sure to check the shipping if you're located remote...in the meantime I'll have a further think about it. I like the Kona stuff for the sort of usage you're describing, but location may be an issue, in terms of getting your hands on one.
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Thu Apr 12, 2018 7:35 pm

I was also thinking something like a Giant Toughroad SLR 1 but am still looking at factors and comparisons.
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Thoglette
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby Thoglette » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:16 pm

I think you'd be well served by considering drop bar bikes - as Sheldon Brown said those who don't like them mostly don't like the way they're set up (i.e. very aggressively) . This will massively increase your range of choice (e.g. stuff like a Gios Spazio or Malvern Star Oppy S1 or S2 to name just some steel bikes).

Worst comes to worst, you swap the bars for your favourite non-drops.
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BobtheBuilder
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:36 pm

10speedsemiracer wrote:I like the Kona stuff for the sort of usage you're describing


The Paddy Wagon (http://www.konaworld.com/paddy_wagon_3.cfm) is just the sort of thing I'm looking for (even got SA gears!), but only a three-speed. Almost makes me want to buy it, but then I'd have yet another town bike and no speed machine!

10speedsemiracer wrote:Have a browse thru the Polygon range, and maybe a Cyclocross bike will be appropriate


Yeah, some of those look great too. The Path 9 does looks awesome! I'm even slightly tempted by the Path i8 (https://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/polyg ... mmut~67081), though not sure how a belt would go long-term in the tropics and it's still really a city bike by the description. Maybe I need to start life again in a city, as these are the bikes that are attracting me! The 29ers were nice, but a bit chunky for what I'm after - I should have been clearer in my specs, as some of those are too rugged for what I'm after - mostly road, but not so fragile that some gravel will crumple them. I rode with 30kg in my panniers through very rough tracks with pretty skinny tyres in my touring past - not optimal, but better than thickies on the tarmac, and still perfectly adequate.

Thoglette wrote:I think you'd be well served by considering drop bar bikes - as Sheldon Brown said those who don't like them mostly don't like the way they're set up (i.e. very aggressively)


Ok, convince me! I've had very little experience with them and always found them wobbly and not as comfortable just to cruise around in. On the water I'm a canoeist not a kayaker, so there could be a bias towards stability over speed! But, maybe it's time to give droppies a go. What are the pros?, now I've listed the cons. There are certainly more bikes to choose from as you said (not necessarily a good thing as I'm already bamboozled!).

Thoglette wrote:Gios Spazio


Wow, that's pretty!
Last edited by BobtheBuilder on Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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10speedsemiracer
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:41 pm

The rugged bit is what led me to suggest maybe a Cyclo-cross . Hang on, still mucking around with stuff like availability.
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BobtheBuilder
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:45 pm

10speedsemiracer wrote:The rugged bit is what led me to suggest maybe a Cyclo-cross . Hang on, still mucking around with stuff like availability.


Yeah, apologies, not after the rugged for this, just not the fragile!

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Ivanerrol
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby Ivanerrol » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:56 pm

Cyclocross bikes might be getting more out of your $1K budget.
There are some decent Flat bar hybrids around. Merida Speeder's, Specialized Sirrus's etc. Giant's have a great range.
Once you are looking at name brand flat bar bikes with road group sets (even Claris) your 1Kbudget is getting near.

Disc brakes are coming in a big way. In the coming few years you may find that rim brakes become a rarer option.
I was looking at flat bar roadies a couple of weeks ago. All new bikes featured discs. One brand was filtering rim brakes out altogether right across the range.
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:36 pm

BobtheBuilder wrote:Yeah, apologies, not after the rugged for this, just not the fragile!


Hmm, how about this Polygon Fx4. Flat bar with road bike geometry (but relaxed, not racy) and good bits for the money:
Image

Is $949 for a 9.9kg bike with Shimano Tiagra 2x10sp and discs. Granted the discs are mechanical and non-Shimano, but will still work effectively and mechanical may be a good option in your location. In comparison to the higher-spec models on the same frame, this one has Shimano vs SRAM, same wheels across the range, mechanical Tektro discs vs SRAM hydraulic discs...but it's $949 for a Tiagra equipped Cyclocross type of bike...

https://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/polygon-bend-fx4-urban-sport-disc-road-bike
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:49 pm

As a means of comparison, the Giant AnyRoad
Image
which is approximately similar, has a slightly lower spec driveline (2x9 Shimano Sora) but a more compliant fork. Still has mech discs, although TRP this time, not Tektro.
This one has a RRP of $1299 and I'm not sure it's 27% better, but is still a lot of bike for the $s
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Thoglette
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby Thoglette » Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:19 pm

BobtheBuilder wrote:Ok, convince me! I've had very little experience with them and always found them wobbly and not as comfortable just to cruise around in. On the water I'm a canoeist not a kayaker, so there could be a bias towards stability over speed! But, maybe it's time to give droppies a go. What are the pros?, now I've listed the cons.


The biggest question is your speed: as you travel faster you need to put more effort in which means you have to lean forward. Which also helps reduce the wind drag.

For noodling around at below 15kph then I prefer swept back (north road style) bars set about 4" higher than the flats on my drop bars. And my hands are half a foot close to the seat than flats. But perfect for walking pace rides with small kids and trips to the shops in civvies.

But once I start riding at a "jogging" pace (20 to 30kph) then a conventional position (hands on the hoods, almost a foot further forward and just below my seat height) is way more comfortable. The hyper aggresive modern positioning (bars 6" below the seat) leave the hood position where the bottom of my drops are - perfect for sprinting or really hiding from the wind.

So my commuting bike is set up in a "vintage" way (left of the two photos below). Most off the shelf bikes are set up like the right hand one. OK for racing but frankly no use for anything else (see the thread on the Canyon Grail) This is probably the set-up you've experienced.

Image
(Lovely bicycle VINTAGE VS MODERN FIT)

How you set up the bars is more important than the shape: this Rivendell is set up for longer, slower rides. Note that the bar is above the level of the seat and relative to the seat/pedal distance, much further back. The seat is also set further back.

Image
(stolen by BSNYC)

In summary, it doesn't matter what the bars look like, it's the positioning that matters. And to quote one well known American writing on this topic
Jan wrote:If you ride long distances, your power output will vary quite a bit. That is why you’ll want bars that offer several distinct positions.


Drops provide three or four positions to swap between, North Roads really only have one.

Now drop bars are available from 32cm to 60cm wide, so you can pick your width. And in any number of shapes, flares and drop depths. Two extremes shown below. Then there's all those other bar-types to consider

Image
(Cycling News)
Image
(Crust Bikes)
Last edited by Thoglette on Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mububban
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby Mububban » Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:30 pm

10speedsemiracer wrote:As a means of comparison, the Giant AnyRoad
Image
which is approximately similar, has a slightly lower spec driveline (2x9 Shimano Sora) but a more compliant fork. Still has mech discs, although TRP this time, not Tektro.
This one has a RRP of $1299 and I'm not sure it's 27% better, but is still a lot of bike for the $s


The AnyRoad is the bike I drove 50km out of my way to test ride as a commuter....didn't even test ride it. I got diverted to a proper endurance/all round road bike and love it, absolutely the right advice from the sales rep.
I wanted something lighter and faster for commuting than my old MTB, I considered the AnyRoad so it would still be tough but being realistic, riding on road and PSP the AnyRoad was overkill.

The "the odd bit of riding on well made unsealed roads" described by the OP though makes me think the AnyRoad might just be perfect.

Mind you if the unsealed roads are very well made, 25 or 28mm tyres on a road bike could easily cope.
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:42 pm

Thoglette wrote:
BobtheBuilder wrote:Ok, convince me!


Alright, I'm convinced to give it a go and have arranged to borrow a mate's Trek Crockett on the weekend and see if I like it. My countless hours of looking over road bikes online over the last week has convinced me maybe I do need to seriously consider dropbars.

If I like them, I'm narrowing down to: -

One of the Polygon Strattos S series - a bit fugly, but seems to be great value - https://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/polyg ... -road-bike - almost tempted to go the entry level S2 for $600 and get something better if I like it and have a chance to be in a city with actual physical bike shops!

Kona Honky Tonk 2016 - is at a reduced price, looks good and I like its appearance (am trying not to, because I want to buy on performance and value, not looks!) - leaning to my favourite - https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/road- ... /102810081

Gios Spazio Tourer 2016 - basically it's really retro and funky and looks like good build and specs - http://eliteracingcycles.bikeit.com.au/ ... /102827156

EDIT
And some of the versions of the Malvern star Oppy, like the A2, that every shop seems to be selling "reduced" by $300ish
https://ivanhoecycles.com.au/bicycle-bi ... py-A2/4923

(if anyone knows how to create hyperlinks in this forum, please let me know!)

And the million other possibilities.

Will report back after the drop-bar trial.

One more question - how high can you raise the stem of most dropbars? Or can't you and you need to buy an extra part?

Thank you so much for everyone's very helpful comments so far.
Last edited by BobtheBuilder on Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:50 am, edited 3 times in total.

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10speedsemiracer
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:08 pm

The height is governed by whichever stem you've fitted, and re-arranging spacers if there is enough steerer tube, but options for lots of height are a bit limited.
An alternative is to use an adjustable stem, but these are generally pretty poor and a bit flexy.
Another alternative is something like the Satori Aberhallo :
Image

I actually have one of these which I inherited as part of a bulk parts purchase. Have no need for it, and is in as new condition.
Happy to send to you for cost of postage, if you like, and probably have a shorty stem floating around to replace what will probably be a long-ish stem fitted to whatever you buy.
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby twowheels » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:08 pm

I like the gear reviews this youtube channel "Path Less Pedaled" https://www.youtube.com/user/russroca does. They also do Bicycle Reviews (Road, Gravel, Touring, Bikepacking) that might suit your circumstances.

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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:18 am

BobtheBuilder wrote:
If I like them, I'm narrowing down to: -

One of the Polygon Strattos S series - a bit fugly, but seems to be great value - https://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/polyg ... -road-bike - almost tempted to go the entry level S2 for $600 and get something better if I like it and have a chance to be in a city with actual physical bike shops!

Kona Honky Tonk 2016 - is at a reduced price, looks good and I like its appearance (am trying not to, because I want to buy on performance and value, not looks!) - leaning to my favourite .....


I like a Kona, but will try and be objective for sake of this.
The Kona is steel, but good, lightweight steel (Reynolds 520) so won't feel too much heavier than the Polygon, however the Polygon can be delivered to your door for around an extra $79 or so (using Katherine for delivery quote).
The Polygon has the better components, however I would argue that the Kona has the better frame for your usage, although would guess at maybe 2kg heavier.

And the subjective aspect is important. If you love your bike, you'll ride it more. I must admit to not knowing much about the MS Oppy bikes, but I do like a Malvern Star generally(refurbishing one at the moment as my new training bike, to replace a Shogun Samurai that got crashed and trashed).

The Kona appeals to me visually, as a merger of new and old, with a decent set of bits attached to it. The Polygon appeals because of the value represented in the deal, $1000 for a Shimano 105 equipped bike with good bits bolted to it. Plus, those calipers (Shimano 105 br-5800) will easily swallow up 28mm tyres, and are very effective stoppers (I've fitted two sets in recent times to different bikes).
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:16 am

10speedsemiracer wrote:the Polygon can be delivered to your door for around an extra $79 or so


Or free if I get it sent to someone in Darwin ... whereas the Honky Tonk (correct link - http://www.bikezonefitzroy.com.au/a/roa ... /102810081), is $120 and, even though it's reduced by $300, landed will be $270 more than the Polygon S5.

10speedsemiracer wrote: I would argue that the Kona has the better frame for your usage, although would guess at maybe 2kg heavier.


... because ...?

According to the specs I've winkled out it's 9.3kg (Polygon) vs. 10.9kg for the Kona. I'm so unfamiliar with light bikes that I have no feel for how much of a difference that would make.

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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:36 am

BobtheBuilder wrote:
10speedsemiracer wrote:the Polygon can be delivered to your door for around an extra $79 or so


Or free if I get it sent to someone in Darwin ... whereas the Honky Tonk (correct link - http://www.bikezonefitzroy.com.au/a/roa ... /102810081), is $120 and, even though it's reduced by $300, landed will be $270 more than the Polygon S5.

10speedsemiracer wrote: I would argue that the Kona has the better frame for your usage, although would guess at maybe 2kg heavier.


... because ...?

According to the specs I've winkled out it's 9.3kg (Polygon) vs. 10.9kg for the Kona. I'm so unfamiliar with light bikes that I have no feel for how much of a difference that would make.


OK, so 1.6kg. Negligible in my view. The
because
is due to frame construction, Polygon is alloy, Kona is Reynolds 520 steel (same as 4130 Cr-Mo steel), and an excellent, resilient material for a tough frame.

Personally I prefer the steel frame, but choose what suits you. I doubt you would feel any significant effect of 1.6kg in the frame.
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:28 am

I'm pretty sure I'll go for the Honky Tonk.

Last consideration is; am I an idiot for buying it without a test ride or seeing it in person first? Darwin's Kona dealer has just closed its doors (and not sure if they even stocked that line) and I won't be near a dealer for at least six months.

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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby twowheels » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:55 am

BobtheBuilder wrote: am I an idiot for buying it without a test ride or seeing it in person first? .

Your circumstances are different to someone who lives next to a Kona dealer.

Early in the thread you indicated a flat/riser bar preference though. Did your test of friend's drop bar sway you?

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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:44 pm

twowheels wrote:Did your test of friend's drop bar sway you?


No, I've just got in from a week away and my mate's bike is waiting here for me to have a go on tomorrow.

But the more I've read, the more drop bars seem to be what I should be going for.

I grew up on non-drop bars, riding around the burbs and the bush, commuting to school, work and uni through streets and rough bush tracks, then spent a good while in inner Sydney, using bike for most of my transport (and rarely getting in a car, let alone having a licence), jumping up and down gutters, across parks, etc., working for a while as a bike courier, so basically didn't ever come across a need for a really fast bike for the open road and liked the stability and manoeuvrability of flat(ish) bars, which I stuck with when doing bike touring.

Anyway, that's the biographical reasons for my bias. But I really want something zippy to do 20 - 100km rides for fitness and fun and I live in a place with light (and considerate) traffic and lots of open roads, and everything I'm reading says drop bars are really what you want, so, if the drop bar test ride is good, I think I'll go the Kona and ride off into the sunrise!

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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:30 pm

This is similar to what I've gone thru, but reversed.
I'm building up another Kona, but a Dew Deluxe flat bar for me,
Image
as a means of messing around with different discs and drivelines, and also rehabbing a couple of injuries.
I've ridden drop bars almost exclusively since the 70s, but have refurb'd and built up lots of flat bars for other people, and have always had good experience with the Kona bikes. Have done a few of the Dew bikes, and they build up nicely. Hope you enjoy the Honky Tonk.
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Re: General mid-distance bike

Postby BobtheBuilder » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:21 am

If I can trouble the hive mind again, this time about sizing ...

I've didn't actually know my height, so yesterday was an opportunity to measure myself up.


Height - 176 cm / 5'9”
Inside leg - 81 cm / 2'18”
Fingertip to tip - 183 cm / 6'0”

The bike shop website says it has sizes that would suit me M 55cm and L 58cm. I'm thinking large would be the go.
(https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/road- ... /102810081)

Not sure if this is a concern, but the Kona website says the same bike (2016 Honky Tonk) comes in sizes 54, 56, 58, 61cm
(http://2016.konaworld.com/honky_tonk.cfm)

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