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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 05-13-06, 05:15 PM   #1
MillCreek
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What I would look for in a commuter bike

Here are some of the features I would look for in a commuter bike. Bear in mind that I live in the often dark and rainy Seattle area and work in a business environment that demands a suit/tie in the workplace. Carrying capacity, ability to ride well in the rain, and have good stopping power are key requirements.
  • Flat bar road, commuter or cyclocross frame
    700 c wheels/tires
    Traditional or compact geometry
    Internal hub
    Chainguard or shielded chain
    Full fender coverage
    A dynamo light in the front
    Front and rear mechanical disc brakes
    Rear rack with possibly a front rack option
    Panniers that could carry a male business suit outfit
    Platform pedals

I wonder if a bicycle that meets these requirements is currently made as a stock item by anybody. Does anyone have anything to add to this list or do you have a suggestion for a bicycle meeting most of these requirements? I have often thought that if one of the Breezer or REI Fusion models were made with disc brakes, it would be pretty close to perfect.
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Old 05-13-06, 05:48 PM   #2
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I would like an automatic electric motor for acceleration purposes only.

I don't want some big honking battery and motor that has a 40 mile range at 25 miles per hour. I just want something lightweight that will quickly zip me from the stop light up to about 20 mph and then turn off so I can use my own legs to keep it going.

That would make me more compatible with motor traffic. I feel kinda bad holding up traffic when the lights turn green and it takes me awhile to get up to full speed. A little assist would be nice.
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Old 05-13-06, 06:52 PM   #3
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I think, in the US, the only way you're going to get there is to find the closest thing you can, and then start buying the other things to attach. Of course, just make sure the frame has the appropriate attach points, and clearances.

I disagree on the flat bar part of your ideal commuter. I think you just can't beat a drop bar.
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Old 05-13-06, 07:19 PM   #4
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Koga Miata has most of what you need and is imported by Harris Cyclery. Utopia Fahrrad, in Germany, has exactly your spec, but you will have to import them yourself.

The idea of specing out the required features and then searching for a bike worked out well for me. A chainguard is very difficult to add as an aftermarket item, so that's probably a good starting feature.

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Old 05-13-06, 07:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banzai_f16
I disagree on the flat bar part of your ideal commuter. I think you just can't beat a drop bar.
I don't think it is possible to get an off the shelf bike with and internal hub and drop bars. I would love to be proved wrong though.
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Old 05-14-06, 07:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adgrant
I don't think it is possible to get an off the shelf bike with and internal hub and drop bars. I would love to be proved wrong though.
Adgrant, when you say "off the shelf" I suppose you mean off of the shelf of a local bike shop.

I betcha that the LBS would change handlebars for you if you requested. I do wonder, however, how much it would cost you to switch out the handlebars, because you would probably have to change out the other hardware like the brakes, shifters, etc. Hmm..... I wonder.

Oh well.
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Old 05-14-06, 08:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike
Adgrant, when you say "off the shelf" I suppose you mean off of the shelf of a local bike shop.

I betcha that the LBS would change handlebars for you if you requested. I do wonder, however, how much it would cost you to switch out the handlebars, because you would probably have to change out the other hardware like the brakes, shifters, etc. Hmm..... I wonder.

Oh well.
Does anyone even sell drop bar shifters for an internal hub. What do they look like?

BTW I am currently looking for a bike to ride around Manhattan on. I am thinking touring, cross or something with flat bars and an internal hub. An internal hub would be ideal for Manhattan where I find myself doing a lot of shifting.
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Old 05-14-06, 08:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adgrant
Does anyone even sell drop bar shifters for an internal hub. What do they look like?
Well...hmmm. That's a little wrinkle I hadn't considered. Maybe with an internal hub you can't go with drop bars. If so, strike my previous suggestion.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:22 AM   #9
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I think if you gave up the internal hub requirement, your choices would expand exponentially. Off the top of my head, I can't think of an internally geared bike that comes with 700c wheels. Most inernally geared bikes are of the "cruiser/townie" variety.

Derailleurs are fine for commuting as long as you use the right chain lube and keep it clean. Fenders go a long way in keeping dirt off your bike. Most people, if they don't want derrailleurs go with a singlespeed.

Along those lines, Van Dessel makes a bike called the Country Road Bob. It's a singlespeed but it comes with all the cable guides you need if you want to make it a geared bike. You could get it then have an internally geared wheel built for it.

http://www.vandesselsports.com/crb.php?bike=9

Another bike that could meet your requirements would be the Bianchi Castro Valley. It comes with all the bells and whistles you need for commuting. It's a 9 speed with a single chainring up front. It has horizontal dropouts so you could do the same conversion to internally geared as I mentioned.

Also, there are not too many bikes out there with mechanical disc brakes and 700c wheels, save for the Trek Portland and a few cyclocross bikes. It's been debated as whether or not disc brakes are really that well suited to commuting. I put Koolstop salmon pads on my bike and my stopping power in wet weather is superb. Any touring/cyclocross bike you get will have cantilever brakes, and they will do an excellent job stopping you even in the rain.

Of course, there's also the fixed gear option. With that you always have that third stopping option of using reverse pedal force to stop or slow you and that doesn't care how wet it is.

Also, how LONG is your commute? If it's over 10 miles, then drop bars really are a good idea because you have multiple positions for when your hands get tired.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MillCreek
Here are some of the features I would look for in a commuter bike. Bear in mind that I live in the often dark and rainy Seattle area and work in a business environment that demands a suit/tie in the workplace. Carrying capacity, ability to ride well in the rain, and have good stopping power are key requirements.
  • Flat bar road, commuter or cyclocross frame
    700 c wheels/tires
    Traditional or compact geometry
    Internal hub
    Chainguard or shielded chain
    Full fender coverage
    A dynamo light in the front
    Front and rear mechanical disc brakes
    Rear rack with possibly a front rack option
    Panniers that could carry a male business suit outfit
    Platform pedals

I wonder if a bicycle that meets these requirements is currently made as a stock item by anybody. Does anyone have anything to add to this list or do you have a suggestion for a bicycle meeting most of these requirements? I have often thought that if one of the Breezer or REI Fusion models were made with disc brakes, it would be pretty close to perfect.
Check out Thorn.

http://www.sjscycles.com/thornwebsite/
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Old 05-14-06, 11:18 AM   #11
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REI has a couple of Novarra's which meet all your requirements except 700c wheels and disk brakes. This may or may not be an option.
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Old 05-14-06, 11:28 AM   #12
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The 'SilverMoon' model, by Utopia Fahrrad in Germany, as suggested by Paul, is almost identical to my specs. How interesting. With the 14 speed Rohloff, it lists for 2300 euros, which is currently $ 2975 USD, and then you have shipping and customs on top of that. 7 and 8 speed internal hubs go for somewhat cheaper. Ay caramba! But why can't the domestic North American market develop and sell something like this?
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Old 05-14-06, 11:32 AM   #13
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My road has drop and my MTB has flat bars. Entirely as a matter of personal preference, I prefer flat bars when riding in city traffic. And balindamood, I have seen the REI Fusion and Transfer models, which are sold as their commuter bikes. Their 'Safari' touring bike would come close if you added fenders, a chainguard and a dynamo setup.
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Old 05-14-06, 12:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
Off the top of my head, I can't think of an internally geared bike that comes with 700c wheels. Most inernally geared bikes are of the "cruiser/townie" variety.
Biria makes one. I test rode it at a LBS. I ended up going with the Breezer for other reasons, but if an LBS carries Biria, they should be able to order any model.
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Old 05-14-06, 12:21 PM   #15
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Why specify traditional or compact frame. What does that exclude - oh yes you dont want a recumbent or step-through ladies. What is wrong with changing when you get to work.
I think you should include rear lights in your spec list.
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Old 05-14-06, 12:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MillCreek
Here are some of the features I would look for in a commuter bike. Bear in mind that I live in the often dark and rainy Seattle area and work in a business environment that demands a suit/tie in the workplace. Carrying capacity, ability to ride well in the rain, and have good stopping power are key requirements.
  • Flat bar road, commuter or cyclocross frame
    700 c wheels/tires
    Traditional or compact geometry
    Internal hub
    Chainguard or shielded chain
    Full fender coverage
    A dynamo light in the front
    Front and rear mechanical disc brakes
    Rear rack with possibly a front rack option
    Panniers that could carry a male business suit outfit
    Platform pedals

I wonder if a bicycle that meets these requirements is currently made as a stock item by anybody. Does anyone have anything to add to this list or do you have a suggestion for a bicycle meeting most of these requirements? I have often thought that if one of the Breezer or REI Fusion models were made with disc brakes, it would be pretty close to perfect.
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Old 05-14-06, 01:49 PM   #17
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For a US made commuter bike, try ANT.
http://www.antbikemike.com/bostonroadster.html

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Old 05-14-06, 04:57 PM   #18
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I saw somewhere, may Harris Cyclery, a little post that goes in the end of a drop bar (using the same hardware that barcons use) for mounting the grip-shift internal hub shifter.

-Dave
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Old 05-14-06, 08:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MillCreek
Here are some of the features I would look for in a commuter bike. Bear in mind that I live in the often dark and rainy Seattle area and work in a business environment that demands a suit/tie in the workplace. Carrying capacity, ability to ride well in the rain, and have good stopping power are key requirements.
  • Flat bar road, commuter or cyclocross frame
    700 c wheels/tires
    Traditional or compact geometry
    Internal hub
    Chainguard or shielded chain
    Full fender coverage
    A dynamo light in the front
    Front and rear mechanical disc brakes
    Rear rack with possibly a front rack option
    Panniers that could carry a male business suit outfit
    Platform pedals

I wonder if a bicycle that meets these requirements is currently made as a stock item by anybody. Does anyone have anything to add to this list or do you have a suggestion for a bicycle meeting most of these requirements? I have often thought that if one of the Breezer or REI Fusion models were made with disc brakes, it would be pretty close to perfect.
Is this what you are talking about?http://gb.cannondale.com/bikes/06/ce/model-6SS3.html
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Old 05-14-06, 08:50 PM   #20
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There are plenty of internal-gear bikes, but most are 26" wheeled and have upright bars.

There are designs for custom bikes that have 700c wheels, internal hubs and drop bars. I own one with a Rohloff internal hub, 700c wheels and drop bars. See the ANT website if you want more information about those.

The hub shifter on my bike is mounted on a clamp-on adapter that fits on the stem quill; HubBub makes them. It is a nice device and makes shifting convenient with the drops.
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Old 05-15-06, 07:49 AM   #21
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Binachi makes a single speed version of the Volpe. That might be a suitable candidate for an internal hub transplant.

I just discovered in a seperate thread that a bike shop in Newton, MA is modifying the bike in question (a Bianchi San Jose), swapping out the wheels and replacing them with a Nexus hub and better wheels.

Last edited by adgrant; 05-15-06 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 05-15-06, 02:05 PM   #22
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Burley and REI both have bikes with some of the things you're looking for. You'd prolly do best starting with a Surly frame and building your own.
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Old 05-15-06, 04:04 PM   #23
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Internal hubs are an excellent choice for city riding. You can shift from a stop position. Also, city road filth tends to gum up normal hanging derailures, but internal hubs are not affected.
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