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  1. #1
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    Durable commute bike

    What should I look for in a durable bike that can be used every day.

    The few parts I've identified:
    1) Puncture resistant tires. A kevlar tire seems to eliminate most flats, without noticably impacting performance. There seem to be additional options for going up.
    2) Pedals - Flat pedals seem to be fine. Toe clips and clipless pedals help a little with performance, but the 'clipping in' process slows start speed. With the stop and go on the commute it ends up a wash.

    And the holy grail:
    1) Drive train - How can you increase durability and reduce maintenance without negatively impacting performance? It seems more expensive components improve effeciency, but usally are lighter and less durable. Maintenance also gets to be a headache, especially during the rainy season.

    2) Wheels:
    What is the most durable wheel you can get?

  2. #2
    GATC
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    Quote Originally Posted by L Dude 7
    What should I look for in a durable bike that can be used every day.

    And the holy grail:
    1) Drive train - How can you increase durability and reduce maintenance without negatively impacting performance? It seems more expensive components improve effeciency, but usally are lighter and less durable. Maintenance also gets to be a headache, especially during the rainy season.
    I hung a big mudflap, almost ground level, off my front fender in effort to keep chainrings clean(er).

    I've noticed that some internal hub shift setups have a really wide gear range, so now I'm thinking that that kind of drive chain, plus a full enclosure chain guard, would make maintenance almost un-necessary. A coworker has a Trek bike (maybe from Holland?) like that and she has never touched her chain. Unfortunately there's some kind of difficulty w/ fixing a flat so it's been out of commission for a few weeks while she figures out what to do.

  3. #3
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I think you've answered your first two questions yourself. But re drivetrain, if you can get away with it (depending on your terrain) consider a single speed, either fixed or free. As for wheels, there are plenty of touring, cyclocross, and mountain wheelsets (beefy hubs and 40 spokes) that would make very solid commuting wheels.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    1 Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. Puncture resistance is comparable to that of car tires.
    2 Flat pedals, agreed. You wouldn't wamt a car that required you to wear special shoes.
    3 At least a partial chain enclosure and fenders. I get about 5,000 miles on each chain and never touch the thing. Internal gears if you have hills; single speed if you don't
    4 Wheels. I've had only one wheel failure. It was caused by the U-lock coming loose and bouncing into the wheel. Not sure what kind of wheel could have stood up to that. I'd recommend something like a 36 hole wheel.

    Paul

  5. #5
    jcm
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    English, or other Euro 3-speeds give you everything you need. Perhaps the strongest wheels ever built. They can be lightened somewhat. Drivetrains are bombproof. Excellent all-purpose bikes.

  6. #6
    Kwisatz Haderach fillthecup's Avatar
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    Drivetrains will benefit from the occasional cleaning and lubing, there's no getting around that unless you take the discardable bike approach. Chainguards make drivetrain maintenance that much more difficult, though fenders are a must. On my commuter I have the cheapest derailleurs my LBS sold ($15 per) and they perform fine. For ease of adjustment and near zero maintenance I like friction shifters.

    I have to disagree about clipless/clips being an impediment on a commute. Having one's foot slip off a platform during a moment of distraction, panic, or unusual effort just sucks. Once you're savvy with clip or clipless pedals getting in or out of them becomes second nature, and the benefit of having your foot secure during, say, a freezing icy winter morning outweighs the milliseconds it takes to clip or toe in. To me it's a safety issue more than one of efficiency. I use toe clips for commuting and clipless for touring.

  7. #7
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    I wouldn't be caught dead without my clipless pedals. They have saved me a few times.
    Incidenatlly, my one horizontal track stand was not due to riding clipless.

    One event that stands out involved crossing a set of wet train tracks. Even riding at 2 mph my bike slipped out from under me. When that happened I automatically pulled up with the foot I was falling towards and righted my bike. I had no clue how I managed to do that until I pondered what had happened. It occured that quickly.
    I've also had several high speed + pothole or bump encounters. Clipless pedals helped keep my foot from flying off the pedals. Trust me, feet flying off your pedals while riding 20-30 mph is a wee bit scary.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    English, or other Euro 3-speeds give you everything you need. Perhaps the strongest wheels ever built. They can be lightened somewhat. Drivetrains are bombproof. Excellent all-purpose bikes.
    The only problem is locating one. Does anybody make them anymore in the United States?

  9. #9
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    I'm not sure it's necessary, and you'll probably pay a premium if you find one.

    Just get a full set of fenders and know that you should still wash your bike fairly regularly during the wet season. Also, replace your chain with a SRAM chain so you can take it off easily if desired (shimano chains are difficult to remove/reinstall. That being said, I've never removed my commuter's chain in 5k miles. I just have one of those $10 chain cleaning tools I run my chain through about once a month with Simple Green and it gets remarkably clean. When chain is clean, I then clean the chainrings & derailleur pulleys which by this time have simple green all over them and aid in the crud removal. Then, rinse the chain, dry it & apply some Pedro's Extra Dry lube to chain. Like new.

    Also, don't spend a ton on a commuter. It is a utility device.

    What kind of bike are you thinking about getting? Hybrid/flat bar, or road bike? There are endless threads in this forum about which way to go. I have both, and like them equally well. My road bike is definitely faster (not much), but the penalty I pay is that I have to carry my gear on my back and it is a fair weather bike due to it's not having fenders (those are possible on some road bikes though). With my hybrid, it's outfitted with fenders, rack & panniers and so the bike carries the load. A touring road bike would allow a blend of both, but you might not like drop bars if you ride in traffic. Good thing about hybrids is that they are much less expensive than road bikes. Mine is a triple front crank, but I only use the middle chainring. I use about 6 gears in back. I could certainly get by with less gears than the 27 I have, but they aren't hurting anything not being used. In other words, it's no reason to discount a bike. Single speed is an option, but they still ave a chain, it still gets dirty and needs the occasional cleaning. It's a little easier to clean, but you still have to do it!

    Life is full of tradeoffs.

  10. #10
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    as tires get tougher, they tend to get heavier. Everyone finds a compromise they feel happy about. I suggest you look at 32c tires that weigh somehwere around 500 grams.

    Bar end shifters are great, get those. The fewer the speeds, the more reliable.
    I think 21 speed chains last halfway to forever, and with a set of bar ends, you get a spring tuneup and just clean it once a month.

    You want tough, 'the most durable' stuff is really expensive and made for banging around the 3rd world. A set of cheap cyclocross wheels will do the job nicely.

    You didn't mention the frame. If you don't have one, take a look at the Surly Pacer. Or this...
    http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...cat=REI_SEARCH
    I like the Burley touring frames (Vagabond is one of them) a lot. But the frame is several hundred, and the whole bike is something like $1700. Nice bike, tho.

  11. #11
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    While others here will suggest many brands for your use allow me to
    suggest a true American Classic.......Worksman. These bikes are
    built to your order then delivered to your door. The Worksman
    company has been in business in NYC for over 100 yrs building
    quality heavy duty bicycles for work and fun.

    You can order a cushy crusier with a 3 sp or 7sp hub and front
    drum(!!) brakes that are failsafe. Since you sound like a knowledgeable
    rider interested in commuter rides or grocery getter duty one
    of the Worksman Cruisers would be ideal. There is also the
    fact that for what these cycles cost they are a screaming
    bargain when compared to other hub equipped bikes.

    So give'm a look and keep an American worker working.

    http://worksmancycles.com/shopsite_s.../cruisers.html

    The quality and robustness of Worksman is such that unless you take up bicycle
    road touring you will never need another bike. As an example.....all Worksman
    cycles use motorcycle gage spokes (11ga) and wheels. You'll find none stronger
    on a bicycle. The rest of the bike is every bit as robust.

  12. #12
    Commuter First newbojeff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L Dude 7
    What should I look for in a durable bike that can be used every day.

    The few parts I've identified:
    1) Puncture resistant tires. A kevlar tire seems to eliminate most flats, without noticably impacting performance. There seem to be additional options for going up.
    2) Pedals - Flat pedals seem to be fine. Toe clips and clipless pedals help a little with performance, but the 'clipping in' process slows start speed. With the stop and go on the commute it ends up a wash.

    And the holy grail:
    1) Drive train - How can you increase durability and reduce maintenance without negatively impacting performance? It seems more expensive components improve effeciency, but usally are lighter and less durable. Maintenance also gets to be a headache, especially during the rainy season.

    2) Wheels:
    What is the most durable wheel you can get?
    1) Tires: Agree that puncture resistant are better for commuting.
    2) Pedals: Disagree about clipless. As others have said, clipless is much more secure and efficient when you are cruising and -- after a couple of weeks getting comfortable clipping in -- gives you much quicker starts when you can stand and accelerate using a "pull" on the pedals.
    3) Drive train: I recently upgraded to a mostly 105 drivetrain which has been a joy, but have not taken it through a winter yet.

  13. #13
    jcm
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    [QUOTE=L Dude 7]The only problem is locating one. Does anybody make them anymore in the United States?[/QUOTE

    Current American manufacture? Not that I know of, that is, if you are talking about bikes like the Schwinn racers or Columbias, etc. If you want a 3-speed, you can go with some of the suggestions already posted. Breezers are decent bikes, in my opinion, although I would probably want to pop for the Uptown 8. Worksman Cycles are indeed bombproof. I banged around on one for 17 years at a factory I used to work at. I can't recall that it ever needed work.

    Or, check out your local thrift stores and pawn shops, or Craigslist. I found my Englander at a small bike shop. It was very dirty but completely fitted out. Just needed a good clean and polish. Best thing about the old Euros are that they cost so little and deliver so much.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by L Dude 7
    What should I look for in a durable bike that can be used every day.
    And the holy grail:
    1) Drive train - How can you increase durability and reduce maintenance without negatively impacting performance? It seems more expensive components improve effeciency, but usally are lighter and less durable. Maintenance also gets to be a headache, especially during the rainy season.
    To simplify your drivetrain look at bikes with internally geared hubs. This will limit your selection a bit, but you'll end up with a relatively maintenance free geared bike for daily use/abuse. The gearing range is often as wide as MTB gearing. Fixied or SS riding isn't for everyone, and although its the most simple form of drivetrain, I think you'll be very happy with internally geared bikes. Do you have many hills, do you plan on riding loaded with groceries or goodies in your panniers?

    Look at Breezer (Citizen or Villager, possibly Uptown), Burley Runabout 7 (this is a slick setup), ect. Harris now sells a Bianchi internal gear conversion, San Jos8... but you'd have to go there to pick it up.

  15. #15
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsyptak
    Also, don't spend a ton on a commuter. It is a utility device.
    I disagree. Why would you spend a ton on a roadbike you'd never race or a mtb that'll never see a mountain and cheap out on a bike you spend 5 days out of 7 on? Don't go crazy, but a commuter needs to be reliable and for that you need to spend your money wisely. As other people have mentioned, an internally geared hub or a SS/FG are the simplest drivetrains to maintain. Fenders, lights, mudflaps, etc. are necessary. Your choice of pedals depends on how far your commute is and how many stops you have to come to.

    Spend your money in the right places on the right things. Hand built wheels around internally geared or flip/flop hubs, and if you can afford it, a dyno hub up front to power a headlight. Your gonna get flats eventually so make sure you have a patch kit and spare tubes and a pump. If you commute in winter, you might want to get metal tire levers since plastic ones may break when it's below freezing. And good chains and locks to keep your investment from walking.
    HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



    We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

  16. #16
    A poor cyclist
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    Have you considered Powergrips? My daily bike has a cheap setup of platforms w/powergrips that cost me about $35. That's a lot cheaper than clipless. While nothing is as good as clipless pedals and special shoes, these will greatly improve your performance and safety. They are easy to get in and out of (I ride in a lot of traffic w/lights) once you get used to them. Also, when you don't want to use the straps, you just stomp down on them and you hardly know they're there.

    While a $20 bike and a $2000 bike will both get you from A to B, the money you spend is up to you. Spend as much as you want, but don't let your bike get stolen.
    Call me Joe. That's my name

  17. #17
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    I'm still trying to figure out how clipping in slows start speed.
    Would someone care to explain this to me?
    Everyone I know can clip in and out in a split second. Standing in your saddle while clipped in results in a drastic increase in initial speed. Several seconds and I am at around 15-20 mph. I frequently accelerate faster than the cars in front of me. This leads me to believe that I do not have an acceleration issue.

  18. #18
    Honking drivers see you noriel's Avatar
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    Powergrips are nice if you don't want to go clipless, as are the mtb FR pedals like the 647 or similar copies, as you can go clipless and still have enough pedal surface if you don't want to.

    I ride a fixed gear for commuting, but you may be interested in an internally geared hub. Very clean look, and low drag.

    What size wheels are you looking at? 26" or 700C? Bombproof wheels are usually on the heavy side. I use Velocity DeepV's in my 700C fixed gear. I'd go with handbuilt, 36 hole, 4x setup if you're looking for durable, set-and-forget wheels.

    Mix in a set of fenders and lights, and I think you're ready to go. Oh yeah, don't cheap out on your lock. I'd spend at least 10% on my security. It beats walking home.
    Noriel
    ----------------
    Geared-->SS-->Fixie.
    Somewhere between I got a dual slalom and mod trials bike.
    I think I'm through with derailleurs.
    I guess uni's are my next step.

  19. #19
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    At the risk of starting a small war, riding sans clipless pedals means I can ride in the shoes I can wear at work and don't have to carry another pair. Just food for thought.

  20. #20
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    No biggie.
    I keep 1 pair of dress shoes in my desk and a pair of sandals. Of course, not all have that luxury.

    I still fail to see why it is slower coming from a stop.

  21. #21
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyossarian
    I disagree. Why would you spend a ton on a roadbike you'd never race or a mtb that'll never see a mountain and cheap out on a bike you spend 5 days out of 7 on? Don't go crazy, but a commuter needs to be reliable and for that you need to spend your money wisely. As other people have mentioned, an internally geared hub or a SS/FG are the simplest drivetrains to maintain. Fenders, lights, mudflaps, etc. are necessary. Your choice of pedals depends on how far your commute is and how many stops you have to come to.

    Spend your money in the right places on the right things. Hand built wheels around internally geared or flip/flop hubs, and if you can afford it, a dyno hub up front to power a headlight. Your gonna get flats eventually so make sure you have a patch kit and spare tubes and a pump. If you commute in winter, you might want to get metal tire levers since plastic ones may break when it's below freezing. And good chains and locks to keep your investment from walking.
    Consider this. Virtually no SUV over $25k (whatever, pick a reasonable $ amt) ever gets driven offroad. Why? Because they're too nice. What fool would drive their $65k Land Cruiser over boulders? Sure, the Cruiser can easily do it, but it's not too prudent. Most offroad vehicles are 10-30 year old Jeeps that have minimal value as compared to a new Toyota Landcruser. If the Jeep happens to tip over, just tip it back & keep driving. Who cares.

    The analogy is similar to my thoughts on a commuter being a utility bike. I'd never spend $2k (nor $1k for that matter) on a bike and then ride it in the rain every day. It just doesn't make sense when a $400 bike will get you from point A to point B just as well. I run serviceable parts that will cost little to replace. My v-brakes grind my cheap rims after every rainstorm until I dig out the sand from the pads. No big deal. I never worry about who will steal my bike wherever I lock it. It's by no means a piece of junk ('03 Giant Cypress SX, $569 MSRP), but it has never needed a single part replaced in 3.5k miles except tires.

    My commute is 8.8 miles each way and the Giant serves me extremely well, rain or shine. I also have 2 other bikes (SS and CX) that I ride in nice weather only (because they don't have fenders). I have no interest in putting fenders on them because the Giant is bulletproof for that purpose and I rather like riding the SS & CX in their pristine form.

    On the Nexus idea, I do like it, but most bikes I've seen are so heavily laden with other crap or just heavy for no reason that they end up weighing 42 lbs stock on the floor. And to me, it's just not that big of a deal to clean my drivetrain once a month. It makes me happy!

    Everybody has a different opinion of what works and what doesn't. We're all just giving our opinions here and the OP has to make his/her own decision as to what works best for them. It's the best America has to offer: freedom of choice!

  22. #22
    Biscuit Boy Cosmoline's Avatar
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    I've had good results with my steel frame Electra Rat Rod. Like almost all "US" bikes, these are actually made in Taiwan, but they're good quality and very reasonably priced. I put in an alloy seatpost and swapped out the rear tire for a double wide sun and since putting butted 13 ga. spokes on there I've stopped breaking them. If the bike can survive me, it can survive anyone. It's slow up hills but very stable. It rides like a railroad car. If I had a device to lock the handlebars in place for long stretches I could read a book or go in back and sleep.

    http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b52/Gussick/bike2.jpg

  23. #23
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Build your own? I am building up a pseudo city bike. Old steel frame (probably CroMo), 3sp hub, dyno hub, Not sure on the rims yet, but they will handle at least a 35 width tire,fenders, racks, Nitto North road bars, pedals? probably the clip/platform style, best of both worlds. My rides are pretty flat so the 3sp is plenty good. Most of the parts are scavenged. I usually build my own wheels if I have the time. The rear hub and dyno hub are NOS Sturmey Archer that I picked up on auction years ago. I also haunt the thrift shops in search of unusual bikes. Typically under $50. I have probably 15 different wheels hanging in the shed. Including a 2 sp coaster brake and some nice 20" bmx mags for a future trailer. I realize this isn't for everybody.
    I commuted on an English built 3sp for about 3 years, then my brother rode it at college for another 3 years and commuted on it for another 4 years. All this with minimal maintenance. Still have the bike and with a new set of tires it would be rideable. Needs a major overhaul, but is still in great shape for its age and the amount of abuse it has taken. I like everything about the Breezers but the aluminum frame but that is a personal choice. My biggest problem is finding a comfortable frame to ride. I am 6'-2" and typically ride a 60/62cm frame. Not easy to find in an old English 3sp hence the decision to build my own.

    Aaron

  24. #24
    Prairie Path Commuter
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    DataJunkie Nice I-Like-to-Bikeism but you wouldn't happen to know what it means? Specificly, what is a nanny complex and what does this have to do with being an advocate? It does not make sense. Oops! . . .Maybe I just answere my own question.

  25. #25
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    its about my support for mandatory training for cyclists. @ robmcl

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