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  1. #1
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Looking to do my first commuter build and need some suggestions

    I've been using my Specialized Tarmac for commuting but at 56 the form factor is beginning to take it's toll on my back so I'd like to build a really nice classic looking steel commuter. I'll still keep my Tarmac for fast solo rides when I want to get out and clear my head.

    My son is finally tall enough to take my Specialized Hardrock which was my family bike so my new build will be used for commuting and for family rides. I'd like to stay around $2,000, give or take a few hundred, but I want a bike that is reasonably fast and light (light for a steel frame). I was looking at a Rivendell Sam Hillborne but with the frame alone being $1,300 I think I'd be well over $2,000 after it's all said and done so I'm looking for other possible frames.

    I'd like some nice lug work on my frame and want to outfit it with nice components, a set of mustache handlebars and perhaps some hammered fenders. There are so many beautiful bikes and I've considered Vanilla (pricy and the wait is way too long) but that Townie is pretty sweet, Pashley Gov'nor and Speed 5 are nice but a bit heavy from what I'v read and I'm not sure about the riding position. Rivendell frames are nice but again I think I'd be around $3,000+ after it's all done, but I sure do love their lug work. I wouldn't even mind finding a nice older classic frame and building it up but I'm not sure which older frames are best suited to be commuters.

    Well, any suggestions you folks can provide will be greatly appreciated.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

    The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury

  2. #2
    Get off my lawn! Velognome's Avatar
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    cruz ebay, craigs list, and local shops keeping an open mind for the a frame and build from there. I'd put my money into running gear and paint on a vintage frame, particularly if it's a commuter.

  3. #3
    Aspiring curmudgeon icepick_trotsky's Avatar
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    That's a pretty healthy budget and opens up a lot of good choices. Since you like the Sam Hillborne, have you looked at the Soma San Marcos? Designed by Rivendell, but aroudn $800 for the frameset:

    San Marcos Frame Set | SOMA Fabrications


    Velo Orange also makes some nice frames that would work for you.
    Polyvalent: Polyvalent MK3 Frame and Fork - Polyvalent - Frames


    Pass Hunter: VO Pass Hunter frameset - Pass Hunter - Frames
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  4. #4
    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    Look for a nicer vintage hybrid, you can swap out the bars for moustache and use bar-end or thumb shifters. With your budget though I'd be inclined to just buy a new VO frame and build it up.

  5. #5
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icepick_trotsky View Post
    That's a pretty healthy budget and opens up a lot of good choices. Since you like the Sam Hillborne, have you looked at the Soma San Marcos? Designed by Rivendell, but aroudn $800 for the frameset:

    San Marcos Frame Set | SOMA Fabrications
    [/IMG]
    Thanks icepick_trotsky, I've been looking pretty seriously at the Soma frames and the San Marcos and Grand Randonneur have both caught my eye. I like the look of the Grand Randonneur but also like the San Marcos since it accepts a 700c wheel.

    Question, I have a set of Fulcrum S4 700x23C that came with my Tarmac which I kept before changing them to Mavic ES wheels and I'm wondering if I could use the wheels on the San Marcos or would it look to strange with a 23c wheel? Can a wider tire be put on a 23c wheel to make it function better with a commuter?
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

    The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury

  6. #6
    Aspiring curmudgeon icepick_trotsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    Thanks icepick_trotsky, I've been looking pretty seriously at the Soma frames and the San Marcos and Grand Randonneur have both caught my eye. I like the look of the Grand Randonneur but also like the San Marcos since it accepts a 700c wheel.

    Question, I have a set of Fulcrum S4 700x23C that came with my Tarmac which I kept before changing them to Mavic ES wheels and I'm wondering if I could use the wheels on the San Marcos or would it look to strange with a 23c wheel? Can a wider tire be put on a 23c wheel to make it function better with a commuter?
    Should be no problem to install larger tires. There is a trend in modern road rims to run wider than vintage rims did. This has the added advantage of running much larger tires easily. I couldn't find the specs, but someone in another forum suggested that rim is 21.5mm wide? 23mm is the width of the current tire, right? With that wide of a rim, you could run a lot of rubber. This chart is a base reference, but you could easily go a few spots in either direction:

    "Party on comrades" -- Lenin, probably

  7. #7
    Senior Member 3speedslow's Avatar
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    IMO, as a daily commuter;

    buy old, stick on new. Saves money and gets you a bike that gets the job done. Making it pretty is up to you but function is more important.

    My daily road warriorimage.jpg

    older hybrids are 700 wheeled, gets you wider tires which you will need and braze ons for racks if needed.Old MTBs will work also

    image.jpg

    I too like the Somas and Rivs but I save that one for special bike status and keep it pretty. I can ride to work on it but not everyday, every weather .

    Lots to choose from and not all wrong whatever you go with.Have fun with it and good.
    "Waiting for the crash"

  8. #8
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    Well since you were doing it with a Specialized Tarmac and your only problem was your back, understandably, then you could practically pick any higher end, vintage, lugged frame and make a go of it. It doesn't sound like you need crazy beefy tires since the Tarmac was getting the job done.

    I'd say find a nice vintage bike that has braze-on's or eyelets to accommodate racks or even a basket for your gear. When commuting the enemy is a backpack... it just makes you all sweaty.

    Your budget allows for practically anything, I'm jealous =) Off the top of my head...
    Miyata 1000, Univega Gran Turismo, Univega Specialissima, Raleigh Super Tourer, Trek 720, Centurion Pro Tour, Bridgestone RB-T ... maybe someone else knows of some quality European ones. I bet you could make something lighter by going more modern. I'm a fan of the hunt myself so I rarely go new. My Surly Traveler's check is fantastic and totally overkill, but... I usually end up commuting with some random old Peugeot that's Reynolds tubing, has no braze-on's, no eyelets, but with a nice Carradice Pendle bag w/ Bagman saddlebag support (copied someone's setup I saw here) I can carry gym clothes and everything I need for the day. If I need even more carrying capacity I have black Wald front basket I can mount easily with p-clamps. I support the desire for lugs though, they're always charming.
    Last edited by carbomb; 07-27-15 at 03:06 PM. Reason: spelling error

  9. #9
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    Some older (read 90's ) hybrids had/have longish top tubes like their mountain bike cousins from that era.
    If you have back issues make sure the older hybrid fits and doesn't leave you too stretched out.
    I love the early hybrids and I have a few.
    Do it all bikes.
    Good luck with your project.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    I've been using my Specialized Tarmac for commuting but at 56 the form factor is beginning to take it's toll on my back so I'd like to build a really nice classic looking steel commuter. I'll still keep my Tarmac for fast solo rides when I want to get out and clear my head.

    My son is finally tall enough to take my Specialized Hardrock which was my family bike so my new build will be used for commuting and for family rides. I'd like to stay around $2,000, give or take a few hundred, but I want a bike that is reasonably fast and light (light for a steel frame). I was looking at a Rivendell Sam Hillborne but with the frame alone being $1,300 I think I'd be well over $2,000 after it's all said and done so I'm looking for other possible frames.

    I'd like some nice lug work on my frame and want to outfit it with nice components, a set of mustache handlebars and perhaps some hammered fenders. There are so many beautiful bikes and I've considered Vanilla (pricy and the wait is way too long) but that Townie is pretty sweet, Pashley Gov'nor and Speed 5 are nice but a bit heavy from what I'v read and I'm not sure about the riding position. Rivendell frames are nice but again I think I'd be around $3,000+ after it's all done, but I sure do love their lug work. I wouldn't even mind finding a nice older classic frame and building it up but I'm not sure which older frames are best suited to be commuters.

    Well, any suggestions you folks can provide will be greatly appreciated.
    Why on earth would you want a steel bike for a commuter?

    I run mustache bars on my Cannondale ST bikes. Super comfortable and epic bikes. They have comfortable geometry, they'll pretty much out accelerate, out climb, any steel bike you'll alternatively consider. Why make riding the bike to work take longer? Steel on a commuter just means a slow, heavy, poorly climbing, flexy framed bike that rusts in my opinion.

    Spend the money on components, Phil Wood hubs, fancy hammered fenders, and the ultimate build. Or just get a 1986 Cannondale ST800 where the ultimate build is already 99% done.

    Here is one in 23" for $700:
    http://toledo.craigslist.org/bid/5054282973.html

    They tried to sell it on eBay but had no takers at $679:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-1986...-/181661289727

    You don't want stand over clearance, you want the biggest frame size you can safely stand over that doesn't give you too long of a top tube to reasonably fit you to the bike. If your bits are resting on the top tube, but you can safely have both feet on the ground that does NOT mean that isn't the best size for you. Standover clearance is about standing, not your fit ON the bicycle while riding it. The key is to get the handlebars up higher to make you comfortable. I use a quill extension on my ST 800 to bring the bars up because I'm tall, and that's on my 27" frame.

    Still looks like it has the original racks and fenders and water bottles (three) painted in Anthracite to match the frame. The black NGC9822 cantilevers are worth at least a couple of hundred. It comes with Superbe Pro triple front deraileur, and the Superbe Pro seat post. The Superbe Pro long cage rear derailleur is missing, what idiot put an RX100 derailleur on this bike and took off the Supebe Pro long cage? I can't believe they took it off, of course it would have indexed, Superbe Pro was an indexing group, its the shifters that are indexed NOT the derailleur. You could have used different cassette spacers to make it work with Shimano-7, but with a floating pulley upper derailleur pulley I'd be shocked if it wouldn't' have shifted perfectly with those shifters anyway. Shimano 7-speed bar ends, not as correct as Suntour Accushift barcons, but they work. I use Suntour Superbe Pro downtube shifters on Kelly-Take Offs on mine. The Nitto stem is missing, having been replaced with a Cinelli. The Stronglight Delta "lifetime" headset is still there. The Sugino AT half-step crankset is epic if the crank length works. They don't have a Sugino BB though, its a buttery smooth Suntour BB. Conti touring tires is what I run on mine, and that's what this is being sold with. Perfect commuter tires. The Brooks or Ideal saddle these shipped with is missing.

    What on earth would need replaced other than the Rear Derailleur and the Saddle? The Super Champion 58s were the standard touring/tandem rim gold standard forever. The front Sansin hub is ironic, Sansin actually made the Superbe Pro hubs.

    Excuse me for saying so but that's a nicer and better bike than anything I imagine you guys are considering. That's a "Grail bike" and for freakin' $700 if it fits. I don't like the Cinelli handlebars. These came with Nitto Grand Touring 135 bars. Which are actually very narrow. I sold off one of my two sets of 135s that came from my ST800s last week for just $35. Much too narrow for my frame. I tried to use the Nitto Mustache bar, but that was too narrow, I now use the heavy steel Nashbar Mustache bar.

    I still fondle my remaining Nitto Grand Randonneur set of handlebars though, and the Nitto M'bar. Both are beautiful. I wish either would have worked for me. I use a quill extender to bring the Mustache bars up above saddle height. Its not a racing bike. I also like Kelly Take-Offs putting the downtube shifters by the brake levers (poor man's STI if Superbe Pro shifters can be poor man's anything. I also swapped out the gorgeous gold pantagraphed Dia-Compe brake levers for Superbe Pro levers. I use Phil Wood hubs on mine, though I'm toying with using my set of 48h sealed bearing Sansin tandem hubs on my other ST800 and mounting a drag brake. A touring bike should have a drag brake like a tandem, in my book.

    You can see more of what an epic bike that is here:
    http://equusbicycle.com/bike/cannond...20-%200021.pdf
    http://www.vintagecannondale.com/year/1986/1986.pdf

    That ST800 frame is ridiculously strong, lighter than any steel bike you'll consider, and will be a more efficient frame than any steel frame (climbing, accelerating, better smile factor) in my opinion, and is just epic to boot. Because of weather considerations I can't think of a worse frame material than steel, for a commuter. If you're anywhere near Toledo, or even if you're in the UK, and that 23" bike fits, I think the best commuter/touring all purpose bike is already 90% built.

    You say you ride a 56cm, but most people don't understand bike fit at all. They understand their size by fitting to the hoods, not to the bike. With drops you need to be comfortable riding in your drops on at least half your mileage, or the bike and your fit to it is too small.

    You size an ST800 not in the "I ride on he hoods I can't reach my drops" kind of way but like this:
    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm
    https://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?ID=41

    For the record that "Bobish/Rivish" Cannondale ST series was in production with 1" quill stems, fitment for fenders and wide tires, and sensible country bike geometry before Grant was even hired at Bridgestone and the Grant wet dream that is the ST800 build was being sold as a production bike eight years before Grant would start Rivendell. The Rivendell bicycle ethos you love, really was the Cannondale ST ethos, first. Just sayin'.

    Oh and one more thing. That Cannondale ST can even with its comfortable touring geometry can actually be raced in a pinch, because the frame is that good. It can climb like a mountain goat or sprint with a competitive group ride for a marker, or whatever the rider wants, or it never can ever, and just be a predictable controlled commuter/touring bike with a brass bell and leather bar wrap and a Brooks saddle (missing). It could though. Which whatever steel frame you probably buy probably couldn't. These really are grail bikes. You won't be comparing a steel commuter to your Tarmac, you could have a conversation about a touring bike comparing it to your Tarmac, if it were the ST 800. Which climbs better, which sprints better, which descends more predictably. When you're asking those questions of a Sport Touring bike you know its something special.

    In my opinion anyone who thinks "steel is real" has been inculcated with the marketing nonsense of small batch steel bicycle production concerns whose model depends on selling heavy, inefficient, poorly climbing, and flexy frames due to ease of fabrication entry and cheap costs. I promise you that a nearly thirty year old Cannondale ST800 would probably be one of the finest bicycle you've ever ridden, if you were to ride it, and if you were to be honest about how it rode.

    Does it have lugs? No. Lugs are beautiful, but they don't make for "Better" bicycles, just pretty legwork. If you want an art bike get a Rivendell or better yet, a vintage Olmo with pantagraphed Campagnolo. Put a long Rally rear derailleur cage on the Campy Gran Sport derailleur that comes with the Olmo, put on Mustache bars and style all the way to work.

    If you want an epically riding bicycle with a dream build that's, in my opinion, a better bicycle than anything steel you'll ever look at, at ANY price point, it was built three decades ago.

    ST800.jpg
    Last edited by mtnbke; 07-28-15 at 05:46 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Wow, that is one hell of a write up and I really appreciate your input. I guess I may have to rethink my touring bike process. I'll admit that I've always wanted a vintage, or vintage looking' bike and always wanted a steel bike but if making the hills in Georgia is made even more difficult with a good steel bike I may have to reconsider. For me all my bikes are well taken care of and my 2007 Tarmac look brand new so if I had a nice commuter it would also be kept in perfect condition. My interest in a vintage bike goes hand-in-hand with my Triumph Bonneville T100 which is new but looks vintage, and my Stella scooter which also looks vintage but is newer.

    I guess I like the look of vintage with all the modern upgrades.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

    The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury

  12. #12
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Within that budget you can build up a heck of a machine if you don't look at new. I'll get into some specifics in a moment.

    You can safely disregard the rantings of the poster above - he's an agenda poster who mistakes his opinions for fact. Personally I think those cheap tin cans he promotes ride like utter crap, they're overly stiff for commuting, they don't save much weight over many steel frames and their main selling point was being cheap. It's also ugly as hell to my eyes.

    We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. Many bikes can make for a great commuter - it really depends on your commute and your preferences. Lots of us like things a certain way...it's not really a science, it's just what we learn we like over time. My favorite commuter is a ti frame because it's impervious to weather and has no paint to scratch. I have it pretty well set up for my preferences. I have other bikes set up as commuter appropriate as well - I like variety. Is any one better? Not really - just different. I like versatile frames capable of changing with my preferences.

    So let's get into the basics - how far will you commute? What are the roads like? Weather? How much will you carry? Is there secure parking? The possibilities are really endless - disc brakes vs. canti vs u brake...etc. Some sickos here even like internally geared hubs. Do you want racks for panniers? Carry a back pack? Large saddle/bar bags. None is better, just different. Your weight, height, and riding preferences all play a role as well. Any material can be made into a good bike - some better for some purposes than others. I LOVE hot rodded vintage rides (modernizing older frames) and I think that they make a lot of sense for many riders.

    At your budget you have a lot of options.

    I'll post some photos of the bikes I commute with - all of which were well under $2000 as built (though often I got solid deals).

    My ti frame MTB drop bar build:





    Sort of a Riv inspired build...I probably wouldn't use mustache bars or bar cons if I had it to do over again:



    This is an old 60s Cinelli with lots of tire clearance - fun fast commuter:



    Koga Miyata Tourer built more as a light tourer - does EVERYTHING and extremely versatile.

    Last edited by KonAaron Snake; 07-28-15 at 11:40 AM.

  13. #13
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Depending on the length of the commute, the terrain, and security concerns, I would either go with a vintage steel touring bike, or a rigid frame mtb. Won't get close to using your budget. Use the remainder to open a Roth IRA/kids college fund/nice weekend with the wife/whatever.

    Another choice is to go to a frame building school, build your own to your specs. That would consume your budget. I went to frame building school (bucket list item), built a frame that mimicked my Schwinn Cimarron geometry wise. Sure, the Cimarron was cheaper, but I wanted to go to frame school. Depending on the school, be sure to take a fork with you, as the school I attended, we powder coated the frame at the end of the class. Nice to have a matching fork, and I added mid fork rack braze ons to it. Other student in the class was pretty envious that I came prepared. Main triangle weighed right at 4 pounds. Depending on your choice of components and fork, you can make a pretty light weight bike out of steel. Myself, I went another direction, added bamboo fenders just for the heck of it, etc.
    Last edited by wrk101; 07-28-15 at 11:40 AM.

  14. #14
    Keener splendor TimmyT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    Koga Miyata Tourer built more as a light tourer - does EVERYTHING and extremely versatile.

    Out of curiosity, what does this bike weigh, all in? You've got a lot of extra metal on there in terms of racks and fenders.
    Quote Originally Posted by Craigslist View Post
    Note to you BLOWHARD MORONS out there: The fork is not bent. Most PEUGEOTS of the '70s forks DID NOT line up with the head tube angle. This is normal. The last pic is from the 1972 Dutch catalog showing this EXACT MODEL in diagram. Keep your comments to yourself......
    It's pronounced, "Co-burn."

  15. #15
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimmyT View Post
    Out of curiosity, what does this bike weigh, all in? You've got a lot of extra metal on there in terms of racks and fenders.
    It's NOT light...but it has a triple and I'm not racing. I'd GUESS it weighs in the low 30s...maybe mid-30s with the sprung brooks and bags. If you moved all of those bits to a Cannondale it wouldn't weigh much less. It's a very comfortable bike and rides nicely. The tubus racks and aluminum fenders are actually lighter than you might think.

    I was commuting 10miles with fancy clothes, spare shoes, lap top, thick folders and various other stuff for a few years...the extra rack came in handy.

  16. #16
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    surly pacer frame would be a good base also Pacer | Bikes | Surly Bikes

    and steel is a great choice for frame
    '82 Nishiski commuter/utility
    '83 Torpado Super Strada ... cafe commuter
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    Soma rush Fixie
    '78 Univega gran turismo (son's Fixie/SS)
    06 Haro x3 (son's bmx)
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    looking for: De Rosa 58cm ELOS frame and fork internal cable routing

  17. #17
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    Depending on the length of the commute, the terrain, and security concerns, I would either go with a vintage steel touring bike, or a rigid frame mtb. Won't get close to using your budget. Use the remainder to open a Roth IRA/kids college fund/nice weekend with the wife/whatever.

    Another choice is to go to a frame building school, build your own to your specs. That would consume your budget. I went to frame building school (bucket list item), built a frame that mimicked my Schwinn Cimarron geometry wise. Sure, the Cimarron was cheaper, but I wanted to go to frame school. Depending on the school, be sure to take a fork with you, as the school I attended, we powder coated the frame at the end of the class. Nice to have a matching fork, and I added mid fork rack braze ons to it. Other student in the class was pretty envious that I came prepared. Main triangle weighed right at 4 pounds. Depending on your choice of components and fork, you can make a pretty light weight bike out of steel. Myself, I went another direction, added bamboo fenders just for the heck of it, etc.
    Ha ha, thanks but I already max'ed out my Roth for this year and have the funds for next year already. The kids college fund is healthy and so is my Money Market and university retirement, so the $2,000 is pretty much fun money that I get to spend on a nice classic commuter and family bike that will keep my Specialized Tarmac, my Triumph Bonneville and my Stella scooter company in the garage.

    I want a commute that looks classic with all the bells and whistles, is reasonably fast for a steel bike and comfortable. My commute is short, about 10 miles each way but the city streets can be a bit iffy with potholes and street car rails. I can store it in my office at work so I don't have to worry about someone taking my nice bike.

    Again, I don't just want a beater commuter bike, I want a nice classic looking bike that I can really enjoy so I guess my guest is for a bit more of just a commuter to bang around town on which is why I was considering a Rivendell or something like that for a bit less cash. I can swing the Rivendell price but I don't want to spent another $3,000+ on a bike even though I love my Tarmac.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

    The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury

  18. #18
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    Ha ha, thanks but I already max'ed out my Roth for this year and have the funds for next year already. The kids college fund is healthy and so is my Money Market and university retirement, so the $2,000 is pretty much fun money that I get to spend on a nice classic commuter and family bike that will keep my Specialized Tarmac, my Triumph Bonneville and my Stella scooter company in the garage.

    I want a commute that looks classic with all the bells and whistles, is reasonably fast for a steel bike and comfortable. My commute is short, about 10 miles each way but the city streets can be a bit iffy with potholes and street car rails. I can store it in my office at work so I don't have to worry about someone taking my nice bike.

    Again, I don't just want a beater commuter bike, I want a nice classic looking bike that I can really enjoy so I guess my guest is for a bit more of just a commuter to bang around town on which is why I was considering a Rivendell or something like that for a bit less cash. I can swing the Rivendell price but I don't want to spent another $3,000+ on a bike even though I love my Tarmac.
    I think this sounds like a great candidate for any number of sports tourers...or even an older Italian road bike. A classic old tourer can certainly fit the bell. Something with decent tire clearance, or perhaps even a 650b conversion. Do you mind buying in pieces and assembling, or were you looking for complete?

    Heck - a Bridgestone XO-1 would come in at your budget (sort of the pre-riv Riv).

  19. #19
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    You can safely disregard the rantings of the poster above - he's an agenda poster who mistakes his opinions for fact. Personally I think those cheap tin cans he promotes ride like utter crap, they're overly stiff for commuting, they don't save much weight over many steel frames and their main selling point was being cheap. It's also ugly as hell to my eyes.
    Thanks so much for that!

    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    So let's get into the basics - how far will you commute? What are the roads like? Weather? How much will you carry? Is there secure parking? The possibilities are really endless - disc brakes vs. canti vs u brake...etc. Some sickos here even like internally geared hubs. Do you want racks for panniers? Carry a back pack? Large saddle/bar bags. None is better, just different. Your weight, height, and riding preferences all play a role as well. Any material can be made into a good bike - some better for some purposes than others. I LOVE hot rodded vintage rides (modernizing older frames) and I think that they make a lot of sense for many riders.
    My commute is not bad, about 10 miles each way.
    I weigh about 200lbs and I'm 5'10"
    I want a classic look so anything but disc brakes would be great.
    I live in Georgia so the weather is pretty nice most of the year.
    Even though the commute is not long the streets kinda' suck in some areas and my Tarmac's Mavic Esyrium EX wheels hate it so I need to give them a break.

    Some have suggested a Soma San Marcos or a Grand Randonneur (which I'm leaning towards) and I like them both, but I'm really trying to build something that looks vintage and classic like this Rivendell without the Rivendell price:

    cc519-2overview of bike.jpg


    433150b1ce36c003ebcef5fe7c8ef0e0.jpg
    Last edited by MulliganAl; 07-28-15 at 01:10 PM. Reason: photo upload
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

    The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury

  20. #20
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    Thanks so much for that!



    My commute is not bad, about 10 miles each way.
    I weigh about 200lbs and I'm 5'10"
    I want a classic look so anything but disc brakes would be great.
    I live in Georgia so the weather is pretty nice most of the year.
    Even though the commute is not long the streets kinda' suck in some areas and my Tarmac's Mavic Esyrium EX wheels hate it so I need to give them a break.

    Some have suggested a Soma San Marcos or a Grand Randonneur (which I'm leaning towards) and I like them both, but I'm really trying to build something that looks vintage and classic like this Rivendell without the Rivendell price:

    cc519-2overview of bike.jpg


    433150b1ce36c003ebcef5fe7c8ef0e0.jpg
    Gotcha - so you're looking for something that looks vintage, not a vintage bike. You want a new bike. I THINK Raleigh makes some stuff like this, or did. VO also has a few vintage inspired frames.

    I can think of one other option you might have...there are some builders in Europe that make quality custom bikes at much lower prices than most US builders charge. Hetchins and Mercien both come to mind. In italy Daniele Marnati does, and his work is excellent. You would probably come in a little over $2000 for a complete build...depending on your build choices. The frame prices could come in significantly under $2000...and it would be a frame built with your exact preferences, including paint. It might be worth it.

  21. #21
    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    My friend is selling his Colnago Master X-Lite frame and fork for 850...plenty of money in your budget left over for the rest of the build....though not sure you would necessarily want to commute on it - though it is beautiful and not very far from Atlanta
    Colnago Master X Light Frame and fork

    I second an old touring/sports touring bike. Or something from Soma. They aren't lugged, but I have heard good things about Milwaukee Bicycle Company - their frames are made by Waterford and you can "upgrade" your fork to also be made by them.
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    There are a lot of good suggestions so far. I will not add to it but to identify a little with you. My commute is 11 miles. I am only slightly lighter than you. I don't think my roads are as bad as you describe but the MUP I ride on has some sizable bumps on it from tree roots.

    What I rode to get into shape was a steel 97 RockHopper. Double butted steel that weighs < 27 lbs stripped. Loaded with fenders, rack, and stuff including clothes and shoes it is close to 40 lbs. The gearing is good enough though lately it is too low for my avg MPH (16.5-17.5). Now I only use it for forecasted wet days and hauling my weeks worth of clothes and lunch food.

    [IMG]1997 Specialized RockHopper, on Flickr[/IMG]

    What I really enjoy riding to work is my 1991 Pinarello Montello! I average a little more, 18.5ish but the ride is completely different for a couple of reasons. 1. weight. 2. tires with the RH using very heavy 2.3" width tires and the PM using 23(?), not 21's or 25's. The RH requires constant pressure on the pedals. The PM requires that I keep up with the bike to get any kind of pressure on the pedals.
    I use a backpack on the PM, which I really don't care for, but it doesn't have much in it.

    [IMG]1991 Pinarello Montello 60 cm, on Flickr[/IMG]

    So if you want it to look classic, use a classic. With your budget, you could get something used that looks better than either of mine and still get all the other gear you need, like jerseys and bibs for every season.
    Bikes don't stand alone. They are two tired.

  23. #23
    Aspiring curmudgeon icepick_trotsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    Thanks so much for that!



    My commute is not bad, about 10 miles each way.
    I weigh about 200lbs and I'm 5'10"
    I want a classic look so anything but disc brakes would be great.
    I live in Georgia so the weather is pretty nice most of the year.
    Even though the commute is not long the streets kinda' suck in some areas and my Tarmac's Mavic Esyrium EX wheels hate it so I need to give them a break.

    Some have suggested a Soma San Marcos or a Grand Randonneur (which I'm leaning towards) and I like them both, but I'm really trying to build something that looks vintage and classic like this Rivendell without the Rivendell price:

    cc519-2overview of bike.jpg


    433150b1ce36c003ebcef5fe7c8ef0e0.jpg
    Planet X (a UK retailer) has reissued new models of a few old European marques at a decent price for lugged steel. I'm not sure who is manufacturing them, but it might be the same factories as the Taiwanese Rivendells (Sam Hillborne, etc.)


    Holdsworth Mistral Frameset | Planet X


    Holdsworth Cyclone Frameset | Planet X


    VINER RECORD Steel Road Frameset | Planet X
    "Party on comrades" -- Lenin, probably

  24. #24
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    Here you go.

    Maybe they are a little large, but this is the direction I would go in.

    Find something that someone else has sunk a bunch of money in and you benefit at a great price.

    Boulder Bicycle Brevet 700c | eBay



    Rivendell Bleriot Bicycle | eBay


  25. #25
    Senior Member gugie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
    Why on earth would you want a steel bike for a commuter?
    Well now, since you opened up that can of worms, the "steel is real" folk will come out of the woodwork...

    "In my opinion anyone who thinks "steel is real" has been inculcated with the marketing nonsense of small batch steel bicycle production concerns whose model depends on selling heavy, inefficient, poorly climbing, and flexy frames due to ease of fabrication entry and cheap costs.I think it's exactly the opposite. We've been told that frames need to be stiff, with no data supporting it except "its what racers use". Greg Lemond famously rejected a frame design because it was "too stiff". Ease of fabrication? Welding big fat aluminum beads is easier than small steel ones, which is easier than learning to properly braze a lugged or fillet brazed frame. Cheap costs is why you have all of these fat aluminum frames sucking the air out of the low-cost, high volume space. I promise you that a nearly thirty year old Cannondale ST800 would probably be one of the finest bicycle you've ever ridden, if you were to ride it, and if you were to be honest about how it rode. I sold Cannondales in the 80's. I owned one and put several thousands of miles on one. My 1973 reraked low trail 650b with 42mm wide tire sports touring bike is the sweetest ride I've ever had. But that's just my opinion. It's apparent you like yours. You don't have to disparege other bikes (steel) to like yours.

    As for me, I just sold my aluminum framed commuter bike, but it wasn't a lightweight, and had a CrMo fork, just like your ST800. IMO To answer mtnbke's question, thought, I've broken an aluminum frame and a carbon fiber frame from just fatigue, but have yet to break a steel one. I bent one up once in an accident, but never broke one. I know this is not universally true, but steel typically gives plenty of warning before it outright fails.

    Lugs? You're correct, they just don't necessarily make a better ride. The arguement that you can repair by replacing a tube is true, however, in reality almost no one ever does. So that's a personal preferance, and I wouldn't try to convince someone one way or the other, just bring up the facts and let them decide. And you can definitely save money if you go with TIG over lugs.

    How much stuff do you have to commute with? How far do you go, Is it a lot of stop and go traffic, or do you have a long, straight shot? Do you plan on riding year round, rain or shine? Do you prefer to carry your swag front, rear, or both?

    +1 on upcycling a vintage frame. Here's a current build in progress, starting from an early 70's Italvega. This will be my year round commuter:


    For the money you were thinking of spending, and the look you prefer, I think one of the classic 80's touring bikes would be a good place to start looking.
    Last edited by gugie; 07-28-15 at 03:21 PM.

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