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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 08-01-10, 12:21 AM   #1
KD5NRH
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Commute/Tour bike...which one

Looks like I'll have about $500 extra available for a bike soon with any luck. Looking to commute (only 3 miles each way with only one serious hill) and tour (lots more miles and lots more hills, all on the Official Road Surface of Texas; chipseal) with the same bike. I'm in an area with very little in the way of Craigslist opportunities, and the closest bike shop is 30 miles away, (the closest big one is 70) so watching for deals can take months.

I have a lead on a barely-ridden-and-stored-in-the-garage Dawes Lightning 1000 for $200 if I ever hear back from the guy to find out if it's the right size and get a look at its condition. I've also looked at the Windsor Tourist if I can add a few extra bucks to the fund, or the Dawes Lightning Cross, which seems possibly better suited for the roads here. Part of the problem is that racks, etc. also need to come out of the $500, so the less I spend on the bike itself, the more I can spend on swapping components and fitting it out.

I could, of course, easily commute on my Trek 7100 (If not for that hill, I'd be restoring one of the old three-speed tricycles with the huge basket in back.) by putting a good pannier rack on it, and I've been wanting to turn my old Ironhorse into a short-haul utility bike, but I've been wanting a touring bike anyway, so it makes sense to use that for the daily "pack mule," since it needs to be able to carry a lot more than I need at work anyway. To that end, I've been putting extra money toward the touring bike fund rather than fitting out either of the existing ones with cargo space. (Though I still want to put a rack on the Trek if there's enough left in the bike fund afterward.)

So, the issues as I see them:
  • Chipseal is as good as it gets around here.
  • Most routes are going to include at least some county roads, which may not have seen proper maintenance in a while. Not quite hybrid territory, but pretty close.
  • Commute load is a widescreen laptop, steel-toe boots, and regular work clothes.
  • It's Texas; it's hot. Two bottles and a Camelbak will be the absolute minimum water load for summer rides. (Other than the commute, obviously.)

Any thoughts?
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Old 08-01-10, 08:14 AM   #2
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Carrying loads, I like my touring bike. I have wider tires (700x35) that help to smooth over some nasty pavement and the longer chain-stays help keep the problem of heel strikes away. The bike comes into it's own when loaded down...kind of a nice luxury car feel. Unloaded, it's a good ride, but not as good.

That said, any bike that will take a wider tire (32 - 38) can smooth out the pavement for you (or make it more tolerable) and should be more than adequate for a 6mi round trip commute.

Mostly, find a bike that fits.
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Old 08-01-10, 03:19 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jtgyk View Post
Carrying loads, I like my touring bike. I have wider tires (700x35) that help to smooth over some nasty pavement and the longer chain-stays help keep the problem of heel strikes away. The bike comes into it's own when loaded down...kind of a nice luxury car feel. Unloaded, it's a good ride, but lot as good.

That said, any bike that will take a wider tire (32 - 38) can smooth out the pavement for you (or make it more tolerable) and should be more than adequate for a 6mi round trip commute.
That's pretty much what I was thinking. The Ironhorse will be more of a grocery-getter since the store's only a mile away, and a 15-year-old beater with baskets is less likely to attract thieves than a new road bike with panniers. The road is pretty smooth on the commute, and I'm used to a bit of rough, since I occasionally take dirt road shortcuts on the 7100 with 35s, so I may go as low as 28s on the touring bike and just plan routes to avoid the worst roads on longer rides.

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Mostly, find a bike that fits.
Always the fun part. Hopefully I'll get a chance to look at that Dawes this week.
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Old 08-02-10, 07:24 AM   #4
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Either of the ones you're looking at are good choices, in your size.
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Old 08-02-10, 07:50 AM   #5
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Any way you can leave the steel toes at work? I can't imagine hauling mine around every day, so I just lock 'em in my office.
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Old 08-02-10, 09:01 PM   #6
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Love my touring bikes. Buy the biggest you can stand over. My ideal size is a 60-61cm but almost all my bikes are 63cm. The larger frame will naturally make for the most relaxed riding position as the bars to seat height will be close to the same.
A touring bike is not about overall speed it is about steady travel over a long distance. The longer wheel base is going to make for a smoother ride so it wears on your less. The more relaxed riding position is going to produce less fatigue as well.

I find on the touring bikes I really like a 48x36x26 crank. Plenty of low end for the hills but enough gear to keep up a good pace on the flats or down hills. One of my bikes came with a 42x32x22 and just felt like I was spinning out all the time and jumping in and out of the 42 as much as I shifted the rear. The 36 center ring is a good working gear for a medium pace with a 11-28 cassette.

Tire selection makes a huge difference. Remember the smaller the width the higher the pressure, the harsher the ride.

I have 2 T700 Cannondales both wearing 9 speed drive trains close to the same gearing. One is a 58cm (little small but I cant bare to part with it and about to put dirt drops on it just to make it different) the other a 63. The 58CM is my dry commuter. Has a rack if I need a trunk bag or pannier but no fenders and kept intentionally minimalist and light in an attempt to make it fast. The 63 has fenders, Arizound etc and usually running a good 4-5lb heavier then the other bike at any given time.
I run 700x28 Conti Gator backs at 115PSI on the 58cm and 700x37 Conti Top touring at 75psi on the 63. The tires alone make a HUGE difference in the ride quality on essentially the same bike. The 700x37's make the ride plush like it is a Caddie and you do not feel as if you are being worn on. The 700x28 make the bike feel very sharp and precise but you feel every pebble on the road and we have some pretty good roads around here but you get 50 miles out and you start feeling that road wearing on you if the road is less then perfect.

Interestingly enough I really have nearly identical travel time on my normal commute with both bikes.

Look for a light tire. The old Top touring are pretty light weight for the size. Spinning up and keeping speed with a heavy tire does take extra effort.

I imagine that you deal with a fair amount of goat heads. You need to balance your flat protection with weight. You start getting bomb proof tires with liners and slime and you are adding a huge amount of spinning mass.

My next tires on the 63cm is going to be a set of Vittoria Randonneur pro with the reflective side walls (already have them). Reading good review's. Going to try 700x32 this go around.
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