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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 06-07-11, 09:09 AM   #1
KBentley57
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Touring bike vs Road bike - Any suggestions?

Hey guys, haven't been around long but I've been riding about 20 miles a day for the last bit getting back in shape, and enjoying the cool morning air. I'm riding on an El cheapo Mt Bike from wally world, mainly because it's heavy, shifting sucks, and it has an awesome spring to absorb my power..lol.

anyhow, I'll be commuting to school this fall and I had originally planned on buying a road bike in the $1200 +/- 100 range for the trip. It's only 6.5 miles each way, and it won't be a problem. I could do it now, on this wretched bike if I wanted. However, I plan to ride more when I get there. There is some beautiful scenery and places that I want to explore, and, go on some longer rides (~50 mi).

I know it would be much easier to carry my stuff on a bike with racks in the rear instead of in a backpack, but I'm concerned about the longer rides with the touring bike. Also, I didn't see so many touring bikes (with the racks included) near my price range. All of them are significantly more expensive than what I was wanting to spend.

Any suggestions? Specifically, will one do something the other wont on each type of trip? Specific bike recommendations? Anything will be useful, just want some ideas.

Thanks for the input! Happy riding.
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Old 06-07-11, 09:26 AM   #2
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You can put a rack on most road bikes and enjoy both worlds. Just make sure it has mounts on the seat stays and the dropouts.
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Old 06-07-11, 09:28 AM   #3
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1200 clams seems like a lot when you haven't even done the commute consistently yet. Wait a month. 1200 is also a lot to lock up on campus.

I also don't think you need a tourer for those distances.
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Old 06-07-11, 09:34 AM   #4
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You don't need a touring bike if you want to go on some longer rides. It's when you want to bring stuff with you that a touring bike starts to make a lot of sense.
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Old 06-07-11, 09:39 AM   #5
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Find a nice mid eighties Japanese road bike with sport touring geometry and you will have the best of both worlds... it will be a little lighter, quicker, and nimble but will also handle a decent amount of gear and longer rides.
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Old 06-07-11, 09:42 AM   #6
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given the likelyhood of theft I'd dial back from a $1200 road bike and consider this:

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/galaxy.htm
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Old 06-07-11, 10:23 AM   #7
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Besides the ability to carry more stuff touring bikes have more relaxed, upright seating position. Most typical road bikes would have more aggressive, forward position which is tiring for average cyclists on long rides. Although, as Sixty Fiver said, there are some road bikes in between.
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Old 06-07-11, 10:25 AM   #8
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thanks for the input guys. The only thing that concerns me is once you drop below $1000, you start getting the sora and tiagra components instead of the 105. I plan on putting thousands of miles on this bike over its lifetime and would hate to have to spend more money in the future to upgrade them instead of spending it up front. I'm not so concerned about the theft at the moment, just on the type and quality of bike I need.

Any gripes against the tiagra? Will they last a while? If so, I may be open to more lower-priced options then.

Thanks again for all the input!
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Old 06-07-11, 10:28 AM   #9
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I wouldn't get a touring bike unless you plan to do some loaded touring. For commuting and light touring, a sport tourer like a Salsa Casseroll, Gunnar Sport or Soma ES would provide a livelier ride and lower weight.
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Old 06-07-11, 10:33 AM   #10
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In between road bikes and touring bikes (geometry wise) are sport bikes.

It's what most people got in the 60s/70s.

They'll take a rack, but they won't be slow.

it's what I have, a Gunnar Sport.
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Old 06-07-11, 10:35 AM   #11
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IMHO, get a cheap bike for the commute...less than $300. You don't want to lock a $1200 bike up on campus because it will get stolen. If it were me, I would use the bike you already have for the commute because there is less chance it will be a target for theft, and it will be a good workout for you. You could even put slick tires on it to make the ride a little easier. Then spend $1200 on a road bike you want to use for real riding.
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Old 06-07-11, 10:44 AM   #12
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More than I realized to think about!

By the way, for those of you with Nice bikes, do you carry any sort of insurance on them?
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Old 06-07-11, 10:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by KBentley57 View Post
thanks for the input guys. The only thing that concerns me is once you drop below $1000, you start getting the sora and tiagra components instead of the 105. I plan on putting thousands of miles on this bike over its lifetime and would hate to have to spend more money in the future to upgrade them instead of spending it up front. I'm not so concerned about the theft at the moment, just on the type and quality of bike I need.

Any gripes against the tiagra? Will they last a while? If so, I may be open to more lower-priced options then.

Thanks again for all the input!
Tiagra is fine. I have probably 5k miles on the Tiagra group on my old 80-something Bianchi beater.

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Old 06-07-11, 11:27 AM   #14
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I agree with everyone who has said to get a beater bike for locking up on a college campus. For me back in the 90's it was a campus green Schwinn Varsity. Nobody ever messed with it, because nobody wanted it.
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Old 06-07-11, 11:41 AM   #15
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Yea, overhaul your 'retched bike' with clean grease, cables , etc.
make it work , without flash. there is a greater likelihood
it will be in the campus bike rack with both wheels on it, at the end of the day.
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Old 06-07-11, 11:46 AM   #16
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+1 to the sugestions to have a "beater" for campus. I second Sixty Fiver's recommendation to find a basic 1980's road bike and make sure it is all tuned and ready to ride. It will be far more pleasant than your current bike and won't attract too much attention.

If your commute was 1-2 miles, I'd say stick with the Wal-Mart POS. For 6-8 miles, I'd be pining for something more pleasant to ride.

Then, save money on the side for a nice road bike for your longer weekend rides (and who knows, club rides during the week).

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Old 06-07-11, 12:21 PM   #17
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Depending on the bike theft situation at your campus (look at what other folks ride and what kind of locks they use), the Wal-Mart bike may be ideal (not a theft magnet) for commuting. Depending on the design, you may be able to lock the suspension and you can put road slicks on for a slightly faster ride. 80s and 90s road bikes as suggsted above are good candidates, and also lend themselves to single speed and fixed gear conversions if you have a flat enough ride and want a lower maintenance drive train. For a 6-7 mile ride, I'd consider sticking with a backpack and using a helmet-mounted light if you will be riding at night so there's less stuff to move off the bike when you park or if you need to use a bus with a bike rack.

My commuter is a Bianchi with cyclocross frame geometry. Plenty of mount points for racks and accessories, I can mount wider tires (35mm with fenders), and a drop-bar geometry I prefer. I could do at least light touring with it, and I at least don't have a problem with heel strike with panniers. My son has a Jamis Coda (flat bar road bike with MTB-style drivetrain) at college; it's also viable as a distance bike (he used it for a 184 mile C&O Canal trip and I borrowed it a few time before I bought the Bianchi) and takes racks & fenders. I'd add bar ends or maybe clip on aero bars, or replace the flat bar with a moustache or trekking bar if I was going to tour with it to provide more hand positions.
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Old 06-07-11, 01:21 PM   #18
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Great stuff guys. I may have to look into getting some road tires and toughing it out for a while.
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Old 06-07-11, 02:00 PM   #19
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Get whatever bike you want for school, and don't let the $$$ of it deter you from riding it. Most thefts are crimes of opportunity. Other times, thefts can be deterred by locking your bike up properly. Even more more thefts can be deterred by having a decent enough lock and using different deterrent strategies (locking skewers, using 2 locks, uglifying your bike, etc.).

Colleges usually have a lot of people walking around, especially when in session. Secondly, a lot of colleges require some sort of permit or id to to access the campus. Third, just because there are racks available, doesn't mean you have to use them. Some professors let students bring their bikes into class or lock them in an office. Other times you can lock your bike up by the campus police station or somewhere that is more secure. Fourth, due to increasing violence on campuses, a lot of schools have set up cameras to help monitor.
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Old 06-07-11, 02:01 PM   #20
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Get whatever bike you want for school, and don't let the $$$ of it deter you from riding it. Most thefts are crimes of opportunity. Other times, thefts can be deterred by locking your bike up properly. Even more more thefts can be deterred by having a decent enough lock and using different deterrent strategies (locking skewers, using 2 locks, uglifying your bike, etc.).

Colleges usually have a lot of people walking around, especially when in session. Secondly, a lot of colleges require some sort of permit or id to to access the campus. Third, just because there are racks available, doesn't mean you have to use them. Some professors let students bring their bikes into class or lock them in an office. Other times you can lock your bike up by the campus police station or somewhere that is more secure. Fourth, due to increasing violence on campuses, a lot of schools have set up cameras to help monitor.

Here is the usual image. Notice that just the front wheel was secured with the Ulock and the frame probably with a cable.
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Old 06-07-11, 02:47 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by KBentley57 View Post
thanks for the input guys. The only thing that concerns me is once you drop below $1000, you start getting the sora and tiagra components instead of the 105. I plan on putting thousands of miles on this bike over its lifetime and would hate to have to spend more money in the future to upgrade them instead of spending it up front. I'm not so concerned about the theft at the moment, just on the type and quality of bike I need.

Any gripes against the tiagra? Will they last a while? If so, I may be open to more lower-priced options then.

Thanks again for all the input!
I've got a 2005 cyclocross bike with 8 speed Sora components that I bought new, and a (new to me) 2004 9 speed Dura Ace road bike that I just recently bought. The cross bike has been through many winters, 5,000+ miles and still works lovely. The shifts aren't as "crisp" as the Dura Ace but as long as it is adjusted properly (as with the other bike) it shifts fine and I have zero concerns for the reliability.

Sora is not as easy to shift from the drops when compared to Tiagra because it's hard to reach, but really I don't think reliability itself is going to be a problem with the "lower" end Shimano road components.
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Old 06-07-11, 02:53 PM   #22
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The reason I didn't mention the security part is I will have my own, or at least shared office, so I probably won't be locking it up outside that often, except on errands. But I've read a lot of good advice today on the locking techniques. That pic is crude! Who would only lockup their front wheel

Also been researching different bikes online. I've found that there are name brands with good components, and "generics" with good components for significantly less money. Any thoughts on name brand vs generic?
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Old 06-07-11, 03:39 PM   #23
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No problems with Tiagra here. I ride over 100 miles a week and never had any issues a slight adjustment couldn't take care of.
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Old 06-07-11, 04:20 PM   #24
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My 2008 Kona Jake came with Tiagra components. I've moved them around to three different bikes because I like tinkering, but I would guess I've put around 5000 miles on them (including a lot of time in the rain) and they still work perfectly.
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Old 06-07-11, 05:07 PM   #25
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Here's something to know about for a commuting road bike: the Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX rack. Whether you have disc brakes or not, the extensions on the bottom pull the rack back a couple of inches so that you avoid heel-strike issues on road bikes with shorter chainstays or very tall bike where the rack has to be farther forward to make it level as in my 1982 Trek 715 that I commute on. This changed my life, at least the commuting part of it, because it allowed me to everything off my body and onto the bike. Here are some shots:





Was finally able to get a pannier big enough to carry my laptop which greatly increased commute frequency. If anyone is interested in the most awesome pannier ever, you can order this one from Troy at Philosophy Bags. Canvas and leather, made in USA. Not cheap but the quality is amazing and Troy is great to work with. He made this one custom.
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