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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 04-18-08, 09:31 PM   #1
o fish
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New commuter coming

Hello to all,
My first post I have to ask for help. I like to just hang in the back and look, but I am going to start to commute 15 mile to work one way. I am finding the purchase of a commuter to more difficult than my down hill bike was, maybe just to dam picky. I like the Trek soho. I all so do the grocery store thing to its only a mile from the house. Maybe someone can help me.
Thanks
Jeff in San Diego
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Old 04-18-08, 10:39 PM   #2
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15 miles, I'd go with something like a trek portland
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Old 04-19-08, 01:05 AM   #3
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The Portland is a good recommendation, as is any road-style bike. Over that distance a mountain bike or a hybrid will be a lot more tiring. The Surly Cross-check is also popular because you can set it up to do pretty much anything. They are like road bikes, but can take real fenders and have rack braze-ons, which are useful.

I'm going to buck the trend a little and suggest skinny tires, like 700x25. Once I switched I didn't want to go back, the increase in efficiency is really quite something.
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Old 04-19-08, 01:53 AM   #4
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Fittings for a rack and full fenders are paramount, IMO.

Plenty of people ride with backpacks or messenger bags and use half-size clip-on fenders but it would be nice if you bike at least gave you the option of having the above.

I second the vote that you get a road bike, probably in the entry level category as they have more "relaxed" or "upright" geometry but you still get the road bike-style handlebars which many people find more comfortable than flat handlebars, the kind you see on mountain bikes.

I also second your trying skinny tires. The downsides are that you have to watch the road in front of you for potholes/sinkholes/pavement lips.. nearly anything, really, and you have to get out of saddle, maybe hop the front wheel and sometimes, pull both wheels off the ground to save your wheelset. The upside is that you go faster with less effort which feels good, is fun, and is handy when you're tired and still want to go fast so you get to work on time.

I ride an aluminum road bike with 700x23 continental gatorskin tires as my commuting bike. Fast, efficient and lively. I have my eye on this bike because it's like my current bike but has accommodations for full fenders and a rack.

The Trek Portland is more expensive but it has a 105 drivetrain so it should shift smoothly and precisely- a joy on a 15mile commute. The discs should outperform any rim brakes in the wet, as well.
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Old 04-19-08, 05:49 AM   #5
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For one person, pretty much any bike can handle a grocery load. For a family with kids, I'd want a trailer just because of the volume. For 2-3 adults, you can handle most grocery trips with a rack and panniers, tho load balancing can get exciting. I find it's pretty easy to hit 50lb loads, just from moderate buying in bulk.
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Old 04-19-08, 07:37 AM   #6
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The Trek Soho is fine for short haul commutes but not for 15 miles.
You need a comfortable, light, efficient road bike with luggage capacity and tyre clearance: ie touring style. I would suggest a lighter style of tourer rather than a full expedition rig.
You should have room for 28mm tyres + fenders (if San Diago weather ever gets mucky). It is easy to fit narrower tyres when you have the clearance but you cant fit wider tyres to race-style bikes.
I prefer a bike with caliper brakes rather than cantilevers, but the long drop variety for extra clearance. Threaded rack and fender eyelets are essential. A road triple style of gearing should do the job.
You may have to hunt around for this useful style of bike but Cannondale make one for the Euriopean market.
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Old 04-19-08, 08:00 AM   #7
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Don't mean to hijack the thread....but aren't road bikes uncomfortable since your always leaning forward to grasp those dropped handlebars? Wouldn't mountain bike-flat handle bars be easier on the body, especially the crotch area? I mean 15 miles is a long haul, isn't comfort important?
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Old 04-19-08, 09:17 AM   #8
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First of all, I've looked at the Trek Portland, and I'm not too impressed. The biggest problem is the limited amount of rack/fender accommodations. And the price.

The drop style handlebars found on road, touring and cyclocross bikes are the best bars for long distances because they offer a lot of different hand positions. And you do want to lean forward somewhat otherwise your lower back will start to give you problems.

The other reason drop handlebars are ultimately more comfortable can be found by doing a simple experiment. Relax your arms at your side. Your thumbs should be facing mostly forward. Then bend your elbows 90 degrees without rotating your wrists. In this position, your thumbs should be above the rest of your hands.

Thus, the natural position for the hands is more like that found with drop bars than with other styles of handlebars.
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Old 04-19-08, 10:09 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.
The ride to work is not that bad 13 mile+ flat bike lane. There is one section of the bike lane that is goes down in a canyon and back out and the bike path is very old and run down. This is why I was steering a way from a road bike with skinny tires. The other was the mile and a half to the store for dinner. I didnít want a big bulky bike locked up. Maybe thatís just me. I like the Portland is very nice but a little out of my price range. I could also replace the straight bar with the drop down road bars on the soho. I do 2o+ on a maintain bike. I think that I am going to have to just jump in and go and make changes as I go along.
Thanks
Jeff
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Old 04-19-08, 10:28 AM   #10
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Pretty much any bike you like will handle the trip you layed out. Of course the choice is ultimately up to you as to which bike you settle on, there have been a couple of excellent suggestions made that could handle the terrain you are talking about. The Cross Check is a super nice bike that you can put skinny tires on or a set of knobbies. You could also do the same with the Long Haul Trucker and I`m not sure but possibly the Giant OC3 series of bikes (someone correct me if I`m wrong). The biggest advantage to getting a cyclocross style bike like the CC or a touring bike like the LHT is that it`s capable of going fast on the pavement as well as handling a bit of a rough ride. Plus, as others have pointed out, they have braze ons for racks/fenders.
I ride a race bike using a messenger bag to carry stuff in all summer long and I love it (my commute is about 20kms one way) but in the winter I ride a `cross style bike so I don`t have to sacrifice the summer speed but have more control than my Giant TCR with 700 x 23c`s would in the snow and ice.
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Old 04-19-08, 12:12 PM   #11
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Pretty much any bike you like will handle the trip you layed out. Of course the choice is ultimately up to you as to which bike you settle on, there have been a couple of excellent suggestions made that could handle the terrain you are talking about. The Cross Check is a super nice bike that you can put skinny tires on or a set of knobbies. You could also do the same with the Long Haul Trucker and I`m not sure but possibly the Giant OC3 series of bikes (someone correct me if I`m wrong). The biggest advantage to getting a cyclocross style bike like the CC or a touring bike like the LHT is that it`s capable of going fast on the pavement as well as handling a bit of a rough ride. Plus, as others have pointed out, they have braze ons for racks/fenders.
I ride a race bike using a messenger bag to carry stuff in all summer long and I love it (my commute is about 20kms one way) but in the winter I ride a `cross style bike so I don`t have to sacrifice the summer speed but have more control than my Giant TCR with 700 x 23c`s would in the snow and ice.
Did you mean OCR 3?
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Old 04-19-08, 12:15 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.
The ride to work is not that bad 13 mile+ flat bike lane. There is one section of the bike lane that is goes down in a canyon and back out and the bike path is very old and run down. This is why I was steering a way from a road bike with skinny tires. The other was the mile and a half to the store for dinner. I didnít want a big bulky bike locked up. Maybe thatís just me. I like the Portland is very nice but a little out of my price range. I could also replace the straight bar with the drop down road bars on the soho. I do 2o+ on a maintain bike. I think that I am going to have to just jump in and go and make changes as I go along.
Thanks
Jeff


You can get a road bike with room for fat tires. It's called a cyclocross bike. Many people use cross bikes for commuting because many cross bikes come with fat tires, eyelets for fenders & rack, etc.

If you do a search on exchanging a flat bar for a drop bar, you'll find it's more involved than you may want to deal with. It'll probably be cheaper and it'll definitely be easier to get a drop bar bike in the first place.
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Old 04-19-08, 12:26 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
Don't mean to hijack the thread....but aren't road bikes uncomfortable since your always leaning forward to grasp those dropped handlebars? Wouldn't mountain bike-flat handle bars be easier on the body, especially the crotch area? I mean 15 miles is a long haul, isn't comfort important?
Between my wife and I we have 4 different road bikes and 2 different mountain bikes. Two of the road bikes we'll sell this spring, and we got two newer ones in the fall (buy low, sell high). They all feel very different from each other.

There's a tendency to equate road bikes with racing bikes and in fact two of our road bikes were marketed as entry level racing bikes. Of the other two, one has a very relaxed "touring" geometry, and the last is somewhere in between.

The riding position on the touring bike with my hands on "tops" is similar to the one on my MTB. The only bike among the 6 that I would classify as uncomfortable is the one that I can't adjust to fit me very well. We've taken the MTBs on some longer rides and they were just fine but honestly in terms of comfort (including level of effort), the road bikes, even the "racing" ones are better for that purpose.
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Old 04-20-08, 08:57 AM   #14
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Any over-the-road bike with disc brakes is going to be overkill in San Diego. You've got little to any wetness to muck up your brakes & rims. And it adds, in this case, unnecessary weight. 13 each way on a heavy bike is going to get tiresome.

You didn't mention your budget. Performance has an 07 Schwinn Fastback CX for $829. Not sure how much the 08 is (usually on sale). You could try the 08 in the store for sizing purposes if they don't have the 07, but order the 07. If you join their Team Performance membership for $20 (remember to cancel at the end of the year), you'll get 10% back in store credit. That makes the bike $750 which is a screaming deal.

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=3040
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Old 04-20-08, 09:18 AM   #15
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I found this on cragslist Itís a little over my budget. Please tell what you think.

Surly Long Haul Trucker 52cm, just completed the build of this bike, only has approximately 4 miles of test riding and must sell. One of the most comfortable touring bikes on the market. This bike has several upgrades over the stock build. The upgrades are as follows; hand built XT wheel-set with super strong Mavic EX721 36 spoke rims, FSA Cartridge headset, Nitto Grand Raudonneur handlebars, Sora front derailleur, Brooks B17 saddle, Ultegra chain, Deore XT 11-34 cassette, Xpedo pedals, selfĖextractors (for removing crankarms without tools), anti-chain suck device, chain stop, spare spokes and an uncut full length steerer. Cost hundreds over the stock build, asking $940

Thanks
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Old 04-20-08, 09:33 AM   #16
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I found this on cragslist Itís a little over my budget. Please tell what you think.

Surly Long Haul Trucker 52cm, just completed the build of this bike, only has approximately 4 miles of test riding and must sell. One of the most comfortable touring bikes on the market. This bike has several upgrades over the stock build. The upgrades are as follows; hand built XT wheel-set with super strong Mavic EX721 36 spoke rims, FSA Cartridge headset, Nitto Grand Raudonneur handlebars, Sora front derailleur, Brooks B17 saddle, Ultegra chain, Deore XT 11-34 cassette, Xpedo pedals, selfĖextractors (for removing crankarms without tools), anti-chain suck device, chain stop, spare spokes and an uncut full length steerer. Cost hundreds over the stock build, asking $940

Thanks
jeff
That's a nice setup at a good price. I guarantee that bike will be gone within a few hours.
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Old 04-20-08, 10:37 AM   #17
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Not a big fan of the 26" wheels on the 54 and under LHT.
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Old 04-20-08, 11:12 AM   #18
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For 15 miles, if you wanted the Soho, I would put Trekking "butterfly" bars on it. This is a CHEAP upgrade. It gives you many hand positions to change it up (reduce fatigue). The bar fits hybrid bikes using their standard brake levers.

Nashbar Trekking Bars = $17
Ergon Grips = $28 (REI)
Cork Tape = $17 (LBS)
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Old 04-20-08, 11:25 AM   #19
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The whole idea of a "commuter bike" smacks of marketing ploys. The Trek Portland is marketed as a "commuter bike". It's nice, don't get me wrong. We bought one for my spouse. This commuter bike (and others in it's category), lacked adequate fenders, lights, reflectivity.

Truth is, any bike can be "commuter".
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Old 04-20-08, 11:43 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
Don't mean to hijack the thread....but aren't road bikes uncomfortable since your always leaning forward to grasp those dropped handlebars? Wouldn't mountain bike-flat handle bars be easier on the body, especially the crotch area? I mean 15 miles is a long haul, isn't comfort important?
Depends on the stem and seat setup. A touring bike uses drop bars but the stem is selected so that when on the hoods or straight section you're sitting fare more upright than on a pukka road racing bike. On my touring bike the flat inner section is up even with the top of the saddle. That means the drops are comfy to use even for an older and less pliable body and still get around a 40 degree forward lean or more to help fight those dastardly headwinds when needed. The rest of the time it's a very comfy reach for riding the hoods.

Individual preference of the rider will put the stem and bars somewhere between my more upright extreme and the full on level back crouch of the road racer style.

Back to the OP... there's a lot to be said for a cyclocross frame set up to be a commuter. Clearance for nice 28's or more for dealing with potholes and curbs mounted on more rugged 29'er style rims and generally a slightly higher stem height. And a lot of the cyclocross options come with brazeons for mounting racks and fenders. You may not need the fenders down your way but the racks for errands is sweet. Nicer than a backpack which makes your back sweat more in the summer.

Truthfully any bike be it a rigid mountain frame, 29'er, cyclocross or full on roadie can be used for commuting. The mountain bikes and 29'ers just need to be picked from the more open cockpit XC racing style and set up with skinny road tires and they can fly along quite nicely. It's only when you start hitting some serious speeds or fighting serious headwinds on a regular basis that looking for options to let you get into a more aerodynamic crouch really start to become paramount in your setup style.
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Old 04-21-08, 10:18 AM   #21
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The Surly Cross-check is also popular because you can set it up to do pretty much anything. They are like road bikes, but can take real fenders and have rack braze-ons, which are useful.

I'm going to buck the trend a little and suggest skinny tires, like 700x25. Once I switched I didn't want to go back, the increase in efficiency is really quite something.
+1 to both the Cross-check and the tires. Have about 150 commute miles on my new Cross-check and I LOVE IT... running it with 28mm Bontrager commuter tires (same as come on the Portland) that were given to me, and it's nice...
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Old 04-21-08, 10:47 AM   #22
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Ok, I didnt read ALL the responses, this is just something I had to say...

Dude, I grew up in SD (Fallbrook, N. Co) Get as many gears as possible! Those hills will KILL you!

Billy
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Old 04-21-08, 09:22 PM   #23
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hanks for all your input. I just pick up my brand new Surly LHT off criagslist. I have Road it around the block a few times and love it. The books b17 is a little hard but I will give it time to wear to my butt. Not sure if I like the drop bars.
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Old 04-21-08, 09:28 PM   #24
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And that thanks for the help.
I drove the route the morning with the gps and its 15.3 mile but I think I can shave off a half mile and 623 feet climb.
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Old 04-22-08, 07:03 AM   #25
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First of all, I've looked at the Trek Portland, and I'm not too impressed. The biggest problem is the limited amount of rack/fender accommodations.
I own a Trek Portland and am wondering how closely you looked. Box stock, the Portland can be equipped with front and rear racks, and full fenders. I don't think that's very limited at all.

The rear dropouts have nicely tapped holes--separate ones--for rack and fender mounting. The seatstays have upper rack mounts in the usual position, near the seatstay bridge. The seatstay bridge, chainstay bridge and fork crown are all drilled (and the fork crown tapped) for fender mounting. The front fork has mounts for a lowrider rack, which can double as fender mounts.

IMHO, the stock fenderettes are decorative only. I run SKS P-35s on mine in the three seasons, switching to PlanetBike Cascadias in the winter.


My Portland, shown with Tubus "New" Cosmo rack and SKS-P35 fenders. The front fender is mounted using the lowrider rack mounts on the fork.

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And the price.
No quibble there. In the automobile commuter species, some drive a bucket o' bolts worth more for scrap value than resale value, and some drive luxo barges worth more than my house. Bike commuters are no different.

As far as the Portland's pricing within the Trek line, it's $140 more than the similarly-equipped Pilot 2.1. Factor in the additional cost of the disk brakes, triple, included clipless pedals and you're getting there. True, there's still a bit of a premium for the Portland. I figure it's because the frame is handbuilt in Wisconsin rather than robot built in Taiwan or slave-labor built in China.

As for whether the Portland is appropriate for the OP, I'd say probably not. If his commute is as flat as he says, there's no need for the triple. If the region is as dry as I think, there's no need for the disk brakes or fenders.

Last edited by tsl; 04-22-08 at 07:09 AM.
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