I've been lurking here a while and started commuting a few weeks ago. I live in Cary NC and take the bus to work in the morning and bike home (bus has a bike rack) 2 days per week so far and hope to increase to at least 3 days/week. The route I take home is about 11 miles and relatively flat (a few minor hills) through rural and suburban areas. So far I've been a wimp and avoided riding in the rain, in the dark, or when it's cold. Hopefully this winter I'll strengthen my commuting manhood some and at least ride in the cold.
I'm getting a case of new bike fever and am not sure what to do: buy a new bike, build a new bike, buy a frame and scavange parts off of my road bike, or do nothing. I would like a road bike that fits me better than my current bike, is more comfortable, and a little less "twitchy". The new bike/frame would be used for commuting home and maybe weekend rides with my kids.
I think my road bike is too big for me, like the top tube is too long. I feel like I am stretched out on the bike even with the saddle all the way forward, I feel like my butt is too far forward on the saddle. My saddle height is probably OK (set with heel over the pedal axle and slight bend in the knee). The bike is 25" C-T, I am 6'2" 185lbs with 34.5" inseam. I mostly grip the bars on top, I only go onto the drops in a headwind. I am riding 700x28 road tires and an anatomic gel saddle (narrow like a road saddle, not wide, and has a notch for your privates) and sometimes the ride is a bit harsh. Either that or I am getting soft and wimpy.
I have been researching this and think a steel frame cyclocross bike would suit my needs: steel frame for a more forgiving ride and some cross bikes have more relaxed geometry than a typical road bike (longer wheelbase, head angle not as steep). Maybe comments about steel being more comfortable than aluminum is hype but I read it more often than not.
I am riding a 1991 Raleigh Olympian road bike. The bike has a technium frame: 6061 aluminum main tubes, chro-moly fork and rear triangle, and mostly Shimano Exage components (hubs, crankset, deraileurs, brakes + levers). I believe Sora is the modern day equivalent of Exage (component quality somewhere between the crap on a muffy and entry level racing groups). I have not put a lot of miles on the bike and the components have held up pretty good.
I do not have a place to store my bike indoors while at work. A few people ride bikes to work and we chain our bikes to signposts in the parking lot. I'd love to have a shiny new bike with nice components like a LeMond Poprad, Jamis Nova, or Bianchi Volpe, but I am hesitant to buy a $1000+ bike for commuting knowing I'd leave it outside 2, 3, maybe 4 days a week. I could always put a cover over the bike but where to store the cover? Rack trunk maybe.
I think a middle ground is buying a Cross Check frame that fits me (and treat it with frame saver) and reuse as many parts as possible from my Raleigh. I would still need to get new brakes, stem, brake cable hangers, maybe BB. I can always upgrade components later.
Any thoughts, comments, advice?