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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 10-04-10, 12:53 PM   #1
SactoDoug
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Considering a Carbon Fiber Bike for Commuting

Hello everyone,

If you don't want to read the background, then skip to the bottom of my post.

Background
Two weeks ago I started commuting to work to lose weight, save dough, and get in shape. My commute is 16 mile each way (32 miles total) which takes about 70 minutes (140 minutes total) each way through city traffic. I commute 2-3 times a week.

I took my old 20 year old BCA hybrid out of retirement for the task. I have done my best to take just the bare minimums with me by leaving a change of cloths, lunch etc at work the day prior. The thing is that my old bike has a 4130 Chrome Molly frame which is very heavy. It is actually heavier than my aluminum frame full suspension mountain bike.

I have a friend that rides a CF bike to commute a similar distance. He swears by it so I have decided to buy one for myself.

Question
I found a listing on eBay that looks too good to be true. As they always say, if it looks too good to be true, it usually isn't true. Is this a good deal or not? Here are the "stats" for the listing:

FRAME
BOTTECCHIA FULL CARBON FIBER MONOCOQUE

FORK
BOTTECCHIA CARBON-FIBER 1-1/8 FITTED WITH FSA IS-2 AHEADSET

WHEELSET
VUELTA XRP PRO 30mm RIM W/ AERO SPOKES & PRECISION SEALED BEARINGS

TIRES
KENDA 23c DUAL COUMPONDBLK/RED/BLK

CRANK
FSA OMEGA COMPACT 50x34T ISIS w/EXTERNAL BEARINGS

PEDALS
BOTTECCHIA SPD CLIPLESS ALLOY

SHIFTERS
SHIMANO 105 SHIFTER/BRAKE LEVER

BRAKES
CANE CREEK SCR3 DUAL PIVOT COLD FORGED

FRONT DER
SHIMANO 105 5600

REAR DER
SHIMANO ULTEGRA 6700

CASSETTE
SHIMANO 105 10-SPEED 12/25T

CHAIN
SHIMANO 105 10-SPEED

HANDLEBARS
VUELTA XRP PRO 31.8 OS 6061 ALLOY

STEM
VUELTA XRP PRO 31.8 OS 6061 ALLOY

SEAT POST
VUELTA XRP PRO 27.2 x 300mm 6061 ALLOY

SADDLE
BOTTECCHIA

Price: $1144 w/ shipping

If this is not that good of a deal, where are the weaknesses and can they be helped with relatively cheap upgrades?
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Old 10-04-10, 01:06 PM   #2
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Just don't ride it in the sun.
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Old 10-04-10, 01:10 PM   #3
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Just don't ride it in the sun.

By that, do you mean that the epoxy on the CF parts does not have UV protection? That would be a major defect since I would be riding it a lot in intense sunlight.
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Old 10-04-10, 01:11 PM   #4
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seems more like a weekend recreational or racing bike to me not a commuter.

Why not go to a proper bike shop, they offer service after the sale , and you will need maintainence
if the commute is daily, and a relationship with a bike shop is a good thing.

Myself 10 speed is pushing the market , not responding to demand, But if $50.00 chains
is what you want to be buying as consumables , go ahead..

Bias , I happen to like nice steel framed road bikes, but just have an older one
a 90's Bridgestone RB1.

If I were to return to a 12 mile + commute , Id put my Zzipper ''thriller'' road fairing on the bike again, probably not the RB1

so there is less weather going thru my clothes all winter.. new bike? disc brakes for all weather stopping
as opposed to re building worn rims ..
Mudguards [RB1 has no easy Mudguard mount.], to keep road spew down to a minimum,
a handlebar bag , front Dyno Hub for lights, LED head and taillight.
and a big saddle bag..
fairing out in front aerodynamically the rest of the kit is not making more of a hole in the wind,

I would still favor books on audio rather than Music on an MP3 player , but thats just me..
still able to hear the approaching traffic behind me , and a mirror to check them out.

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-04-10 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 10-04-10, 01:22 PM   #5
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So you will be commuting about 400 miles a month / 5000 miles a year if you ride 3 days a week.

Do you live in a city with streets that are all smooth as glass with no glass and debris where it never rains and have a deep enough pocketbook to maintain the higher end components on your bike when they wear out ?

If your commute is flat a lot of the benefits of a lighter carbon fibre frame will be lost and they won't handle the same abuse as a quality aluminium or steel frame and bicycles made from steel and aluminium can also be quite light.

When carbon fails it is not pretty.

Most dedicated commuter bikes can accommodate wider / higher volume tyres, can run fenders, and carry a load (if needed)... many cx bikes make for excellent commuters as they are light, strong,and can allow or more aerodynamic positioning which is the most important thing if you want to go faster and longer.
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Old 10-04-10, 01:33 PM   #6
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I was not aware that CF bikes were that fragile. So they are like exotic sports cars? You only take them out on the weekend in pristine weather and roads?

The path that I take to work is mostly on bike paths. There is about 4 miles of roads that have cracks, some pot holes, rocks, glass and are in general disrepair. The rest of the trip is smooth, very pleasant with a good portion along the river.
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Old 10-04-10, 01:43 PM   #7
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CF is not that fragile... it is a very strong and light material but does not handle the same abuse as steel and Al frames can.

Am looking at an aluminium framed CX bike here with 105 components and Ritchey parts and figure it curbs out in the low 20's... it's a fast bike that can also take the kind of beating commuting can dish out.

My custom made steel mtb weighs about 22 - 23 pounds and is set up for road and trail use and will hold it's own on the road against most other bikes and when the road or conditions gets ugly it excels.
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Old 10-04-10, 01:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SactoDoug View Post
I was not aware that CF bikes were that fragile. So they are like exotic sports cars? You only take them out on the weekend in pristine weather and roads?

The path that I take to work is mostly on bike paths. There is about 4 miles of roads that have cracks, some pot holes, rocks, glass and are in general disrepair. The rest of the trip is smooth, very pleasant with a good portion along the river.
They aren't that fragile and any modern CF bike has ample UV protection. Still, a CF bikes is not something I'd want to get from a source like Ebay. There may be damage to the frame that's not visible.

The comment about the "smooth as glass" streets has more to do with the narrow tires than the CF frame but that's also a YMMV statement. I'd hardly consider the streets I ride on to be smooth as glass and I ride on 23mm tires most of the year. If I rode on really bad roads for a significant part of my commute I'd probably want something wider.

I'd also skip the CF bike for commuting unless you can bring the it inside with you at work. You need to consider how much stuff you need to bring because you have to be more careful about how you mount a rack.

My personal belief is that over time CF will start to become more common on less expensive bikes. Some of the concern regarding its durability is warranted. Alot of if it isn't.
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Old 10-04-10, 01:52 PM   #9
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CF can suffer catastrophic failures if the bike has crashed before. For this reason, I would not buy a used CF frame from someone I didn't know very well.

Also, CF bikes generally aren't built with commuting in mind. That means, they won't accommodate wider tires (usually not more than 25mm), won't have eyelets for fenders and/or a rack, and really aren't that comfortable for the kind of riding you'll do in most cities. Plus, if you have wet/snowy winters, your bike will age very fast. For this reason, many people here have dedicated winter/rain bikes and a lighter/faster bike for nice weather days.
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Old 10-04-10, 02:04 PM   #10
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Oh, and your average speed with a CF bike really won't be that much faster if much of your riding is in traffic. What slows you down the most in traffic is, well, traffic.
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Old 10-04-10, 02:09 PM   #11
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I will be storing the bike in my office at work so no fears of theft.

Also, I do not plan to ride the bike in the rain or when it gets too dark in the evening commute. That means that about mid Nov until mid Feb. I won't be commuting. As much as I enjoy riding, I know how bad the drivers are here and would rather not run the risk of getting hit by a motor vehicle. Heck, this morning, I got honked at because some woman in a car could not wait 2 seconds for me to go past the freeway on ramp. I am sure if it was dark, she would have ran me over.
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Old 10-04-10, 02:17 PM   #12
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For about half that price you can probably get a decent road bike from craigslist I suspect. With the money you save you could commuterize it nicely.
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Old 10-04-10, 02:35 PM   #13
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While I do appreciate everyone's comments and concerns about commuting with a CF bike, does anyone have any opinions about this specific bike?
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Old 10-04-10, 03:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
If this is not that good of a deal, where are the weaknesses and can they be helped with relatively cheap upgrades?
I would not want to buy a frame for commuting which did not have rack eyelets.

Weight on a rack is _so much more pleasant_ than in a back-pack.

While in theory you could use a seat-post mounted rack, I've tried four. Three didn't work because my thighs rubbed on the clamp, and that was designed well on the other one but the pannier frames didn't keep them out of the wheels. You could use a quick-release mount, although then flat tires would mean unthreading the skewer.
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Old 10-04-10, 03:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SactoDoug View Post
While I do appreciate everyone's comments and concerns about commuting with a CF bike, does anyone have any opinions about this specific bike?
Link ?
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Old 10-04-10, 03:18 PM   #16
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I commute 18.5 miles one way and I use a cro-moly touring bike. I also have a CF road bike, which I have on occasion used to make the commute.

The disadvantages of the road bike: no good in the rain. Skinny tires and no fenders and it can't carry luggage. The road bike is much lighter than my heavy duty touring bike, but that only makes a difference when you're taking off from a red light, or climbing a hill (but not going downhill).

What I found is, I can take off insanely fast on my road bike, but once I'm up to speed, it's really no faster than the heavy touring bike. The CF faster in a bad cross wind because I don't carry luggage on it. My point is, don't expect to ride any faster on carbon unless you climb a lot of hills.

As far as your specific bike, I don't know. There are lots of folks on here who work at bike shops that might know. I've only owned 2 CF road bikes in the last 10 years and they were both Specialized.
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Old 10-04-10, 03:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
seems more like a weekend recreational or racing bike to me not a commuter.

Myself 10 speed is pushing the market , not responding to demand, But if $50.00 chains
is what you want to be buying as consumables , go ahead..
Lesee.. $.30 a day for a bike I'd want to put chains on a bike I'd want to ride ride, vs. $3.50 in gas plus $5-$6 of life for a car I'd want to drive. 10 speed chains are essentially free.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 10-04-10 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 10-04-10, 03:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
Link ?
I was not sure if it was OK to post eBay links. They are as follows.

Here is the original listing but it appears that they removed the text. I guess they are editting it:

http://cgi.ebay.com/2010-MONOCOQUE-C...item2c57c5bb12

I am also considering this listing from the same seller that has a few upgraded parts:

http://cgi.ebay.com/BOTTECCHIA-CARBO...item2c576f2dfe
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Old 10-04-10, 03:37 PM   #19
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Bottechia is a rather famous name in cycling circles and Ottavio Bottechia was the first Italian to win the Tour de France and died under mysterious circumstances back in 1927.

The bicycles that bear his name have been made since 1926 as Bottechia partnered with the Italian builder, Carnielli and it has been one of the most successful Italian bicycle companies of all time as they built a wide range of bikes to satisfy wide market needs and has enjoyed very high sales numbers.

I am not familiar with these modern carbon fibre bikes that bear his name and like so many famous names would not be surprised if all this production was outsourced to Asian contractors.

I would ask for feedback in the road forum as this type of bike is something most commuters would not look at... the parts spec seems to be quite good and it is no entry level bike you are considering here although still at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to carbon fibre road bikes.
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Old 10-04-10, 05:01 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by SactoDoug View Post
I was not aware that CF bikes were that fragile. So they are like exotic sports cars? You only take them out on the weekend in pristine weather and roads?
Well ... they make mountain and cross bikes out of carbon fiber. One area where CF really shines is on decent roadway, when a metal bike is going to send every crack in the pavement up your spine. Anyway, as far as potholes and the like go, it's your wheels and not the frame that's going to suffer.

As far as I can tell, the crank set is the weak point on that bike. Do you already have SPD shoes?
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Old 10-04-10, 06:15 PM   #21
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when it's not raining, I ride my CF Spec Roubaix. when it's raining, I ride the Trek Soho for the drum brakes. sometimes I throw in the Xootr Swift folder for variety.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pharasz View Post
I commute 18.5 miles one way and I use a cro-moly touring bike. I also have a CF road bike, which I have on occasion used to make the commute.

The disadvantages of the road bike: no good in the rain. Skinny tires and no fenders and it can't carry luggage. The road bike is much lighter than my heavy duty touring bike, but that only makes a difference when you're taking off from a red light, or climbing a hill (but not going downhill).

What I found is, I can take off insanely fast on my road bike, but once I'm up to speed, it's really no faster than the heavy touring bike. The CF faster in a bad cross wind because I don't carry luggage on it. My point is, don't expect to ride any faster on carbon unless you climb a lot of hills.

As far as your specific bike, I don't know. There are lots of folks on here who work at bike shops that might know. I've only owned 2 CF road bikes in the last 10 years and they were both Specialized.
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Old 10-04-10, 06:45 PM   #22
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For commuting, I'd skip that carbon road bike (with very little in the way of commuting utility) and get a commuter-worthy cx bike with 25-28mm slicks (or 32, depending on the roads you ride).

Quite frankly, for $1000 to $1200 you have a ton of options, especially if you are looking into the distributor direct bikes such as the one you posted.
The photos and format are remarkably similar to bikesdirect (also located in Houston). Coincidence????
Opinions vary here, but I've purchased two bikes from BD and feel they are solid values for the money spent.

Why get carbon for $1200 when you can get titanium for a little more? This one has rack mounts, too. http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._pro_ti_xi.htm
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Old 10-04-10, 09:07 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
One area where CF really shines is on decent roadway, when a metal bike is going to send every crack in the pavement up your spine.
Let some air out of your tires! Try 90psi.
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Old 10-04-10, 09:27 PM   #24
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So for us fatties who need to run high psi to avoid pinch flats, cf is a good choice!
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Old 10-04-10, 09:28 PM   #25
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This sounds like a fun problem to have. =) Its one of the fun things about commuting figuring out what you will ride. I would lie to see a pic of your old hybrid.

If your hybrid is really that heavy any legit entry level road bike you would buy would seem fast in comparison. That said I don't know if I would go for a carbon fiber frame, but I have a Titanium frame so I am pretty happy with it. I would have concerns about the durability also, but if you are just riding to work and back it would probably be just fine. For that price If you have that much money to spend and you can do the assembly it seems like a pretty good deal to me if you really want Carbon. If you want to soak up bumps and road noise buy a suspension seatpost, get some wider tires and the perfect seat. That will matter much more than any frame will. Have fun as other have said for that price range there are a ton of new bikes you can get.
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