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Old 09-10-08, 09:34 AM   #1
saryon
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Foul Weather/Road Conditions Bike

Hello group! I have been a long time lurker and decided it was about time I posted.

Let's begin, I have been commuting by bike for the last 5 years. During this time I lived in Phoenix or Tempe, AZ. I used either my road bike when I was working for a consultant and it was a longer ride (>10mi) or my cruiser when I was a PhD student and it was a flat 3mi to campus. With that being said, I just started my new position at the University of Colorado-Boulder and live outside the city in an adjacent town (east side of Longmont) and have a 20mi commute. Yesterday was my first day and it was about an hour and 15min ride.

So on nice days (no water), I plan on riding my road bike (aluminum/carbon with full ultegra). But on the not so great weather or road condition days I would still like to ride. I am thinking about buying a semi inexpensive bike to do with this. I think it is down to either the Motobecane Fantom CX cyclocross bike and adding some fenders or the Motobecane Fantom 29. I am personally leaning toward the cyclocross bike because I could travel a bit faster, but I have not really experienced cycling in any weather. Any suggestions or comments?

Saryon

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 09-10-08, 09:51 AM   #2
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I would go with a cyclocross bike instead of a mountain bike for that length of commute.

Actually a road bike is fine in rain if you can fit fenders. Tread doesn't help in the rain at all. Slicks work just as well and probably better on the streets than knobbies.

I used to work for a company that had an office in Boulder and I spent a fair amount of time there in the early 90's. Maybe it was just a fluke year but whatever snow they got didn't seem to stick around long so I don't know if it's worth outfitting a bike with snow in mind.
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Old 09-10-08, 10:02 AM   #3
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Tjspeil, I have heard that quite a bit from people around here. The challenge with my bike is that it is a race frame and has no eyelets anywhere to mount anything. Furthermore, with a small pouch on the seat and a tail like I doubt one of those little fin type fenders would fit either.

This morning, I decided that I would try the bus... so I grabbed my fiance junk mountain bike (we picked it up for $13 bucks) and rode the 3 miles to the bus stop. It took me nearly 2 hours from my door to my office (20 min ride to the bus stop, 10 min waiting, 45 min bus ride, 20 min walk) where my direct ride was only 1:15 plus a 10 min shower.

So maybe my best best would be to reconfigure a bit and find a way to get a fin like fender on the back and spend the money on good winter cycling clothes?
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Old 09-10-08, 10:16 AM   #4
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Welcome to Colorado! We moved here just over three years ago from Florida -- FL is not quite as hot as AZ but about 10x more humid...

I won't hold it against you that you work at CU (doctoral student at CSU, here!), but I think the Fantom CX would be my pick. First, that's a SWEET looking bike that I think might make for a speedier commute. I've even thought about getting one, but I'm not sure it would be THAT much of an improvement over my Campy-equipped Bianchi Eros from the late-90s. I'm more than likely holding out to justify the price of a Surly LHT some day...

In the three winters we've lived here (just a bit north of you...), we've had quite a variety...

In 2005/2006 we had a snap of VERY cold weather (0's at night, 10's during that day) that lasted for about a week but other than that not much in the way of snow. One thing I've found about the relatively dry weather is that even if it's 25 degrees, if the sun is out you're not cold. (YMMV on a bike, btw. Yet to be determined for me as I just started commuting in May...)

In 2006/2007 we had the bizarre Month O' Blizzards from mid-December to mid-January and the snow never seemed to melt. It didn't get as cold as the year before, but it stayed moderately cold for long enough to keep the snow from melting. I shoveled a crapload of snow and had a pile at the side of the driveway for most of the winter. To put it in perspective, though, the HS where I worked at the time had NEVER EVER had to worry before about there being snow on the field when baseball and soccer seasons started in March. That's how unusual that was.

In 2007/2008 winter had a late start IIRC. I remember the week before Thanksgiving I was on my roof hanging Xmas lights in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt. Of course, on Thanksgiving Day it was 15 degrees... We didn't have near as much snow as the year before. It was more like the first winter we lived here in that the snow we got was generally gone before I had to worry about shoveling. On the flip side, we had snow as late as May. Usually just a light dusting that time of year, but still.

So three years and three VERY different winters. I'm curious what this year will bring as it is the first year of bike commuting. I'm not sure how far into the winter I'll make it before wimping out.

Probably more information than you needed, but the weather here is nothing if not crazy!!

-- Scott
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Old 09-10-08, 10:19 AM   #5
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What did you study in grad school, and what do you do with the university now? (Fellow grad student here).
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Old 09-10-08, 10:27 AM   #6
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I am a post-doc working in the Civil Engineering department with a new professor in Environmental Engineering. My focus has been on drinking water treatment but may shift a bit toward reuse water and wastewater while I am here at CU.

ScottEE2, if it makes you feel any better my fiance has applied to CSU for graduate school.
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Old 09-10-08, 10:38 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by saryon View Post
Tjspeil, I have heard that quite a bit from people around here. The challenge with my bike is that it is a race frame and has no eyelets anywhere to mount anything. Furthermore, with a small pouch on the seat and a tail like I doubt one of those little fin type fenders would fit either.

This morning, I decided that I would try the bus... so I grabbed my fiance junk mountain bike (we picked it up for $13 bucks) and rode the 3 miles to the bus stop. It took me nearly 2 hours from my door to my office (20 min ride to the bus stop, 10 min waiting, 45 min bus ride, 20 min walk) where my direct ride was only 1:15 plus a 10 min shower.

So maybe my best best would be to reconfigure a bit and find a way to get a fin like fender on the back and spend the money on good winter cycling clothes?
I don't remember it raining a bunch in Boulder but generally full fenders with mud flaps are best. The kind that you're talking about keeps your back dry which is good but doesn't keep the grit out of the components on your bike.

If you're an outdoorsy type and I'm guessing you are, then setting some money aside for good winter clothes (not just for cycling) is a good idea. Winter in Colorado is mild compared to where I live but there's a lot to enjoy in the winter and you don't want the lack of good winter clothes to ruin a good time.

You might be able to find a good used road bike with a lot of clearance and eyelets for fenders if you want to save some money.
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Old 09-10-08, 10:54 AM   #8
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I commuted from boulder to broomfield for a few years (15 miles one way). I started off with a giant tcr 0 (alum/carbon roadie). Then wanting something to soak the bumps and handle wet days, I switched to a mountain bike with slicks. Probably overkill. So yeah, your cyclocross idea seems like a step in the right direction. Surly fanboy here, so I'd recommend to check out a crosscheck or LHT, but really any steal roadie that has fender/rack braze-ons and wider tires is my vote.

One good thing about Boulder is that the winters are really not as bad as you might think as far as snow/ice. Seems like it usually only snowed heavily two or three times a year and when it did it melted pretty quickly. Nothing compared to some midwest (chicago, cleveland) or northeast (boston) winters.

Now my commute is easier here in houston (short and flat), but no where near as fun as those Boulder foothills.

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Old 09-10-08, 12:02 PM   #9
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ScottEE2, if it makes you feel any better my fiance has applied to CSU for graduate school.
Well - it does soften the blow a bit.

Either way, welcome to Colorado -- this is a great place to live (and bike). I stopped biking in FL when I was sideswiped by a half-blind retiree years ago...
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Old 09-10-08, 12:27 PM   #10
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You're on the right track with the CX. Another option would be a genuine touring bike such as a Surly Long Haul Trucker )LHT). But really for the price you can't beat the Fantom option.

Remember to factor in a rack and a couple of mid to upper priced panniers to pack your gear. Getting it off your back on longer rides really adds to the ease and enjoyment.
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Old 09-10-08, 12:57 PM   #11
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+1 on the cyclocross bike. The handling at speed will be much closer to that of your road bike. It has rack mounts if you want to run that sort of thing, and the weight is pretty good. In the depths of winter you can run studded tires and probably still have room for fenders.
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Old 09-10-08, 03:35 PM   #12
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Welcome!

Used to live in Gunbarrel meself, and commuted to campus.

If you look on the Denver CL you'll see a 56 Surly Crosscheck FS in Boulder for $160 list. Worth checking out if it would fit you.

When I lived there I had a purpose built, rigid MTB that I liked very much for the winter.

Winter's here are mild compared to the NE and the upper MW, but they still have plenty of cold and snowy.

What typically happens is that it gets cold, some snow comes down (1"-5") and then it's sunny again. It's sunny, but it's still cold for a week or two. The roads are bad for 1-3 days (poor cleanup infrastructure) and the snow sits in fields and lawns, but after those 1-3 days the roads are clean again until the next storm, a week or two out.

It's typically dry, and though typically below 32degF we do have days, even in Jan or Feb, where the temps can get up in the 50s or even 60s in freak years. We always joked about being able to go ski Berthoud Pass in the am, then come down and climb in Eldo in the early afternoon (after a healthy burger from Mt. Sun) and then get some MTB'ing in at Hall ranch as the sun set.

Definitely get good clothing. I would spend more money on that than anything else. I have 4 bikes (too many) ranging from a dedicated commuter to a roadie, a 'cross bike and even a MTB. I could honestly ride year round on my roadie excepting the few bad road days we see (last year there were maybe 5 total). In fact, last year I rode my roadie (Cannondale Crit frame) with a backpack until mid-January when I picked up my Surly.

If you really want something for those *few* really bad days I would say pick up a junky MTB off of CL or do some tweaking to a really cheap frame you find on CL...don't splurge for the Motobecane unless you really just want it. Focus on clothing instead, to keep the cold at bay...hat, gloves, long-johns, socks, shoe covers (or even winter shoes), etc...

I actually relish my fenders more in the summer than winter thanks to the rains we get.

If you want anymore advice just ask...I grew up here, but I've lived and commuted by bike in as hellacious places as Orygun and the UP of Michigan!
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Old 09-10-08, 04:54 PM   #13
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+2 on the cross bike. The commute length and the fact that you are doing it on a road bike now means I think you'll be happier with the CX bike. Plus it can sub as a road bike for you if your road bike is out of commission. And I didn't even mention the fact that you'll be able to race cyclocross. . .
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Old 09-10-08, 06:05 PM   #14
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They have clip in fenders for road bikes. Unfortunately I forgot the name. I had them mounted on a CAAD8 frame without any issues.

UD

Quote:
Originally Posted by saryon View Post
Tjspeil, I have heard that quite a bit from people around here. The challenge with my bike is that it is a race frame and has no eyelets anywhere to mount anything. Furthermore, with a small pouch on the seat and a tail like I doubt one of those little fin type fenders would fit either.

This morning, I decided that I would try the bus... so I grabbed my fiance junk mountain bike (we picked it up for $13 bucks) and rode the 3 miles to the bus stop. It took me nearly 2 hours from my door to my office (20 min ride to the bus stop, 10 min waiting, 45 min bus ride, 20 min walk) where my direct ride was only 1:15 plus a 10 min shower.

So maybe my best best would be to reconfigure a bit and find a way to get a fin like fender on the back and spend the money on good winter cycling clothes?
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