Beating the system - the cycling commuting section
10 posts • Page 1 of 1
I have recently started commuting to work on my MTB which is something I have I have not done for at least the last 10 years. I have been cycling for many years but during the last 10 years with getting married and having kids, I found that the amount of cycling I did was greatly reduced. Consequently I gained a bit of weight and decided it was time to get some more exercise back in my life.
My current bike which I have had since the about 1998 is a Giant ATX 840 which I fitted with 26 x 1.5 slicks many years ago. The bike is still in good condition but could be due to have the cassette, chain, chainrings replaced soon as some wear has occurred.
My commute is only 10km to work which does involved a long hill where I'm crawling up it at between 11-14 km/h and is usually into the easterly wind and my average time is between 16-18 km/h.When I return home I'm usually also into the wind. It currently takes me between 35-40 minutes to work and 30-35 minutes going home. My route conists of about half dual use path and the rest is quieter suburban streets. I do some dropping of curbs and some short runs on footpaths if it Imeans avoiding traffic in places.
I am looking at speeding things up a bit so I am considering either :
A: buy a new bike, such as a flat bar road bike but nothing too expensive maybe up to about $700 ? maybe fit it with a panniers or basket which could also be used for riding to local shop for groceries etc. and then just use my MTB for pulling my son in his tag a long trailer and occassional trails etc.
B: keep the MTB and fit skinnier slicks to it, perhaps 26 x 1.25 higher pressure tyres and replace worn drivetrain.
I am wondering if having the 700 x28 (32) tyres will make any significant difference in speed compared to my current 26 x 1.5 setup? and would having a bike a few kilos lighter than my MTB make much difference ? Any ideas if I could reduce my commute time by
Welcome to the forum.
In my experience, skinnier tyres won't make a huge difference in your commute time on that bike and at your current fitness level. Skinny tyres will have a slightly reduced rolling resistance and a smaller aerodynamic profile (which is not too significant at your current commute speed).
When you get fitter again, you'll be able to ride faster. That's when the skinny tyres will start to make a difference to your times.
A lighter bike will make a difference, but so will a lighter rider!
In your shoes, I'd keep the MTB for 3 to 6 months and then move on to a "better" bike. You'll be more experienced by then and will have had a good amount of time to figure out the best bike for your needs.
Imagine a world with no hypothetical scenarios.
What I would recommend is to go and have a test ride on a flatbar roadbike.
See how it feels; even just a small ride wil give you a lot of info.
you wil either fall in love with the bike, and know option a is the way to go.
or go nah... might as well stick with my current bike..
I'm guessing option a wil suit you..
The dutch have one word to describe the aussie MHL, this word is ;
Commuting time on bicycles is often determined by the number of stops you've got to make for traffic lights, intersections, pedestrians and traffic congestion - not your top speed. Changing bikes won't make one iota of difference to that.
You haven't said where you are, but in Sydney, cars which rarely average better than 30 kph in peak hours even though speed limits are mostly 60 kph. Top speed doesn't matter that much. Same thing on bicycles, unless you have a completely off-road commute track like Sydney's M7 cycleway.
High pressure slicks (>90 psi) will make a noticeable improvement if you're running something much lower (e.g. < 75 psi). A down side for road bikes is that the low clearance between wheel and frame (and brake pads) is a big disadvantage in wet weather, as you pick up more mud and sand/grit etc.,. that can lodge in the pads and grind away on the rim; smaller contact patch means also you're more likely to slip and fall in wet weather. And you can't put panniers on most - so you've got to carry the weight on your back.
Chain and cassette maintenance are worth doing if you are getting chain slip. But you've said its barely 13 years old and you havent done much riding for at least 10 of those. So how many km's have you done on the bike ? If you commuted 20 km for every workday for 2 years, you'd have less than 9000 km - and that shouldn't have killed the chain ring. And you would have saved enough money to easily justify buying a new $1000+ bike.
Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us -Jerry Garcia
I have noticed some chain slip in some gears lately. I have replaced the cassette and chain some years ago and since that time most riding has been on pavement. Previous to that I was doing some off road stuff. I had a look at the middle chainring and it appears that a few teeth are quite a bit shorter than the rest of the teeth so I assume they are worn ? Cassette at this time has slight wear but maybe a bit of life left in it.
If I go to work by car it takes 12-15 minutes if there are no problems on the road and I pass through 7 sets of lights. If there is a crash or hold up it can easily take 30 minutes. With the bike the route I take only goes through 3 sets of traffic lights. I am in Perth so during the summer I am riding east into the winds and west into the sea breeze on the way home.
I have riden a road bike previously in the 90's and commuted to work on that but at a different employer and greater distance, but it was mostly flat ground and traffic was not as bad then as now. It was a Giant Kronos cr mo frame and served its purpose well at the time. After buckling a wheel and then changing jobs I stopped using the bike and sold it. Then I bought the bike I now have which at the time was used for off road and bike paths. Since that time its had regular use during the summer but has been forgotten in the cooler months.
My fitness is a lot better now and I have lost a fair amount of weight. Thanks for the advice everyone. I think I will stick with my current setup for a while then do as suggested take a few bikes out for a ride at LBS.
I'd say that's a good plan. I was in a similar position to you recently and was using my old MTB for commute and weekend rides. That was fine but the bike was older and a bit heavier etc so I wanted to get a new toy. If you need to justify it, I decided it was cheaper than a gym membership and better all round!
I also use road and tracks with a few rough sections along the way, plus a few curbs here and there so was torn between a MTB and a roadie.
I researched many options and many bikes. Test rode about 6 or 7 and couldn't believe how worth while that was. I eventually got a 29er and feel it's the right choice for me but would strongly suggest you test ride all sorts of bikes in terms if styles and brands. I was shocked at how different one felt from another. Good luck.
Never underestimate the power of ignorance
Bear in mind that the longer you persist in riding your older bike (and I don't think that the ATX series were that bad a bike back in the day) the more experience you'll get and the more you'll enjoy it when you finally upgrade.
My bike is an ATX 860 1998.
I've been thinking about putting on 1.25/1.3" tyres, but might stick with the 1.5s as I still like to throw around the bike a bit.
The fork on the front weighs 1.5kgs!, so I'm going to replace it with a rigid carbon one very soon (Trigon MC01 500g).
Apart from that, I'll keep it a while longer
And I know what you mean about the traffics changed!
It's well worth fixing up the old MTB to give you an option when you don't care to use your future roadie (eg, rain, shopping).
You might want to put on modern slicks, as their puncture resistance is just so much better than 15 years ago. If you have the old heavy "thorn resistant" tubes then you can ditch them for a standard tube with a modern tyre.
Parts are still around, and pretty cheap. You'll often find that the original manufacturer doesn't make them anymore, but there are exact replacement parts from other companies (eg, Shimano have stopped making cantilever brakes, but the Avid Shorty fits exactly, not even needing a change in cable length).
You do need to be prepared to get your hands dirty a bit, since some jobs that need doing don't require much expertise but do need time (eg, cleaning the derailleur or repacking all the bearings).
you don't need a new bike for that. you will get much faster all on your own, by getting fitter.
there's a guy at work who commutes that distance on a top of the range Giant with Dura Ace - he's cycling so i respect that and he's a good bloke, but honestly - it's like buying a ferrari to pick up the shopping.
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