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  1. #1
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    Advice needed for fast commuter bike

    Hi,

    I'm just starting a regular cycle commute to work. It's 15 miles each way, mainly along road of varying quality. I am currently using an old Giant Boulder Alushock with slicks, but I have to be honest I find even in the faster gears it could be performing better, added to that I am fairly unfit and carrying a bit too much weight (another reason for commuting by bike).

    My prioirty is to make the journey as quick as possible, but I would still like to take the bike along tracks and the odd trail.

    I have spoken to a few shops but I am aware I am talking to people who are salesmen.

    I just wondered what advice I could get as to the kind of bike to choose. I'll be very greatful.

  2. #2
    Mirror slap survivor
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    If you're out of shape then the bike isn't what's making you slow.

    I think if you do your commute on the Giant for a few months you'll find the bike miraculously gets faster.
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

  3. #3
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Get a road bike after you get in shape
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  4. #4
    I can't Breathe
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    A Giant is perfect for starting out. Once you get in better shape, and once you are sure you really like biking (we wouldn't want you buying a nice bike and then just letting it sit there to collect dust), I would suggest looking at a Cannondale and/or Trek product.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frogbox View Post
    Hi,

    I'm just starting a regular cycle commute to work. It's 15 miles each way, mainly along road of varying quality. I am currently using an old Giant Boulder Alushock with slicks, but I have to be honest I find even in the faster gears it could be performing better, added to that I am fairly unfit and carrying a bit too much weight (another reason for commuting by bike).

    My prioirty is to make the journey as quick as possible, but I would still like to take the bike along tracks and the odd trail.

    I have spoken to a few shops but I am aware I am talking to people who are salesmen.

    I just wondered what advice I could get as to the kind of bike to choose. I'll be very greatful.
    1. Put a rigid shock on your bike. It will lighten up your bike, making it more efficient on the road. The rigid fork will also help you improve your skills when you go off-road.
    2. Think about getting a cyclocross bike, the Surly CrossCheck seems to get much love around here. So does the Kona Jake.
    3. Have you considered turning your bike into an 'e-bike'?
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  6. #6
    member. heh. lambo_vt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schwinnrider View Post
    If you're out of shape then the bike isn't what's making you slow.

    I think if you do your commute on the Giant for a few months you'll find the bike miraculously gets faster.
    +1

    If you just started a new bike won't make you any faster.

  7. #7
    Senior Member cycle16v's Avatar
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    Frog- I agree with the rest of the gang. I was in your shoes a while back. I noticed I got a lot faster as I started strenthening my body (because of cycling) and started losing weight.

    Another tip? Stop going out to lunch and eat a good hearty salad with a protien like chicken or tuna. You'll save the lunch money for that new bike and you'll be surprised to see the weight come down even faster.

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    I think if you enjoy the ride you will be more likely to stay with it. I have a Specialized Roubaix Pro with a second set of wheels fitted with 28mm tires that can handle pavement as well as packed gravel trails. My commute is 24 miles each way. I don't carry any bags and have a secure place to store my bike at work. I'd hate to do it on anything but a road bike. If you have the money go for it.

    I have done test rides of various cross bikes but did not find them as comfortable as my carbon road bike. Just make sure the frame will clear 28s.

  9. #9
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    if you want a bike that can go faster on the road and still hit the trails then you are describing a cross bike, but like others have stated before your the one pedaling it so a new bike may speed you up a little bit, but you have just got to get out there and ride before you can expect to go faster.

    Commute for a couple of months and get an idea of exactly what you want before you drop a grand on a new bike that might not be the perfect fit.

  10. #10
    Senior Member snowman40's Avatar
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    I started commuting on my mtn bike (Mongoose A50r) then switched to my Fuji as it was slightly faster. After a few months, I took the Fuji in for maintenance (dry wheel bearing (last time I use water to wash but that is a different story), wheel truing while they were at it) so I started using the mtn bike again, I noticed I was out of gears and I was only doing 17 mph on flat to downhill. Needless to say I was ecstatic and disappointed at the same time.

    As soon as I am allowed to I am getting a new bike.

    Anyways, stick with what you have and if you enjoy it, then get a new one.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the advice guys, as I suspected my fitness plays a big part despite what the salesmen have been telling me.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by baron von trail View Post
    A Giant is perfect for starting out. Once you get in better shape, and once you are sure you really like biking (we wouldn't want you buying a nice bike and then just letting it sit there to collect dust), I would suggest looking at a Cannondale and/or Trek product.
    Giant makes frames every bit as good as other brands. Your statement implies that Giants are lower end.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  13. #13
    Nobody, et al.
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    +1 to ryanwood there - sounds like you want a cross bike, but I'd give it at least a couple months before you buy something new.

    That way you get a chance to see other options, get opinions, maybe ride some other people's bikes to get an idea what really works.

    In the mean time, like the no1mad said - see if your front fork can be locked - that will make it a little more efficient until you decide what you like.
    My belt buckle has my name on it: "DAD"

  14. #14
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    Two things -
    1. I would get a bike fitting to make sure when you buy a new bike, you get the right size. I prefer to do this before buying a bike so you don't end up in a "oh, I'm sure this bike will fit you because we have it in stock - wait, I mean because it's the right size...yeah..." I even just pay for it outright to make sure it's not attached to buying a bike - a basic fit for that kind of thing, around here, is like $30. Getting the right sized bike is about both comfort and speed.
    2. Some sort of road bike is generally the fastest. A Specialized Roubaix is a road bike that's designed to be very shock absorbing without shocks. A cyclocross bike would be fine. Generally anything that comes with skinny tires is pretty fast. There's some debate about which tire size is ideal (I don't mind going up to a 28c, but feel like bigger than that and I start to lose speed) but the fact is that if the bike comes with huge tires, it probably wasn't designed to be decently fast.

    In the Specialized line, the Allez is their less expensive road bike, and the Sequoia is their less expensive "endurance" (comfortable, shock absorbing) road bike.

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclefreaksix's Avatar
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    Not much I can add to what has already been said. Work on the engine (you) for increased speed. Slick tires will help as will a rigid fork. However you can spend this time riding the bike as is and saving up some money, then when you're in better shape and have the money you can get a very nice road bike, touring bike, Cross bike, etc...

    And you will still have your original bike for the trails.

    Congrats on starting to commute by bike, it's highly addictive.

  16. #16
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    As above, stick with what you have until you are a bit fitter and can tell what you want out of a bike.

    The long, fast commute with occasional roughness ideally calls for a road bike with more generous tyre clearance. CX bikes can do this job but the racier versions lack useful threaded eyelets (for rack, fenders and even waterbottles). Tourable, general purpose CX bikes usually have these eyelets.
    There is a class of road bike halfway between race and tour that is very useful. Some call them light-tourers, randonee, audax, winter trainers, club racers. Generally characterised by lightweight frame, clearance for 28mm + fenders, lightweight luggage rack and a riding position for all day comfort.
    The major difference between light tourers and CX is that they use versions of the road caliper brake (which is easier to setup and maintain but offers less clearance than a CX style brake) and they sit lower and closer to the road (CX bikes sit high to avoid striking obstacles). You need to become "bike aware" before you can even tell the difference in a test ride.

  17. #17
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    Many beginners have their saddle too low. When the pedal is at the bottom you your just be able to put your heel on the pedal with your leg straight. This will give the right amount of knee bend when you deal with the front of your foot. Set the handlebars low enough so your weight is over the pedals. Bar ends will improve comfort as you can then vary your hand position. Dont be in a rush to get a new bike, but when you do, keep the Giant as a back-up.

  18. #18
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    ridged fork, suppestion goes agaist the pedaling montion slowing you down not to mention weight
    clipless pedals and shoes, alows you to use upstroke while pedaling
    wheels, deep dish wheels, bladed spokes, light weight ect. soul 4.0 are the best vaule for money
    tires, 23c slick is fastest
    fit, get pro fit
    aero clip on bars, can speed you up by 2-3mph
    good gearing ratio

    beyond that weight and aerodynamics. really the biggiest factor is your legs, second would be wheels/tires.
    real cyclist can bunny hop potholes on a recumbent.

  19. #19
    I can't Breathe
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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
    Giant makes frames every bit as good as other brands. Your statement implies that Giants are lower end.
    I was under the impression that they are. If I'm wrong, I stand corrected, but I have never heard anyone else tout the Giant brand by comparing it to Trek or Cannondale.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by baron von trail View Post
    I was under the impression that they are. If I'm wrong, I stand corrected, but I have never heard anyone else tout the Giant brand by comparing it to Trek or Cannondale.
    Giant makes bikes that cost $300 and bikes that cost $8000. The idea that they are not the equal of the other major factory brands comes, I think, from the popularity of their lower-end bikes which offer serious bang for the buck. But they compete at every level.

    Ken

  21. #21
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    Take a good look at some steel road bikes as well as cyclocross bikes. Some folks have mentioned the Cross Check, but one of the main reasons you may like it is the steel frame. The ride is more supple for only a slight gain in weight. Folks getting into shape, carrying a bit of weight, or riding on bad roads tend to like that. My dad got a Bianchi Veloce for those reasons. I ride steel as well because you can beat the crap out of it and lock it to anything with out wrecking it.
    You will be rolling much easier on 700x25 tires no mater what the thing is made out of, you might as well have your teeth left at the end of the ride.

  22. #22
    I can't Breathe
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksargent View Post
    Giant makes bikes that cost $300 and bikes that cost $8000. The idea that they are not the equal of the other major factory brands comes, I think, from the popularity of their lower-end bikes which offer serious bang for the buck. But they compete at every level.

    Ken

    Thanks. I had no idea.

  23. #23
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    My initial comparison between a road bike and a MTB with slicks is they are the same. My commute on both takes the the same amount of time. But then I'm using the same engine on both, and the engine finds it's comfort zone regardless of the machine. The end result, on average, over 17 miles, is no difference in time. I was surprised and will continue to prove myself wrong. Can't wait to get the hybrid with new tires to jump in on the contest. It may be the same too ... ugh I really want my road bike to be fastest - but maybe I just need a really good new Specialized Tricross :-)
    Last edited by rumrunn6; 03-04-09 at 03:30 PM.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  24. #24
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I really don't think it matters whether you buy the bike first or lose weight first. Do what makes you happy.

    And I don't think the type of bike matters much. I ride on all types of surfaces on road bikes with narrow tires. So try a few bikes to get an idea of what you want.

    I do recommend the narrowest tire you're comfortable on, since you want speed. I find 28mm tires are fine for me. And get tires with the least tread you can find. Tread is bad unless you ride on extremely loose surfaces, which I doubt you have on your commute. Pump your rear tire up to 100 psi if you weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. Pump it higher if you weigh more. Tires that are rated for less than 100 psi can take 100 psi safely. Pressure in the front tire matters less since it bears so much less weight. A little less can make it a bit more comfortable on your hands.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  25. #25
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    Well I cycled in on my Dahon Matrix today, no faster, but I did find the ride a lot easier so I think I maybe feeling a little benefit already. I am sorely tempted by the Specialized Triple Allez, particularly as the office has a scheme that would give me significant saving, but I'm holding off for the moment. The trip home will be interesting as this is where I really struggled last time.

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