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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 02-23-12, 04:19 PM   #1
mattista
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Back after a long absence. Older and arriving from FG/SS -> Commuting

Hi Everyone,

My only bike is a Surly steamroller (with narrow tires --25s) that in the past I used simply for urban transport. Recently I rode with a friend and we ended up on some gravel paths and I wasn't too comfortable. I'd like to do more rides on varied terrain and I'll also start commuting by bike in a few weeks so I'd like to make some changes to my setup. I began by thinking I could just throw some wider tires on and that would probably allow a more comfortable ride in a wider variety of terrain. I'm pretty sure 32s will fit. But before I put any money towards that direction I thought perhaps it's time for a new frame. My seat is quite high to get my legs properly extended. But that leans me further over the bars and I've had minor back pain/stiffness after long rides (the next day) as well as some pain in my hands and forearms. It seems to me if I go with a slightly larger frame I can bring the seat down a bit, take some pressure off my arms but the frame still seems to put the bars out further. I hate the look of a riser stem, but is that the best option? I'm happy with the steamroller and would probably just get the next larger size and move all my components over and add some bigger tires in the process. If I end up commuting a lot is the Steamroller a good fit for paniers and typical commuting accessories? Will 32s add some of the comfort and arm relief I'm looking for? Thanks for your help.
-Matt

Last edited by mattista; 02-23-12 at 04:37 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-23-12, 06:04 PM   #2
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A bigger frame won't change the length of your legs when extended.

Assuming you have the correct size frame to begin with, your best bet is probably a different stem. Bigger tires ought to help with the comfort thing.
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Old 02-23-12, 06:18 PM   #3
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Don't bring the seat down, you do want the proper leg extension after all, lowering your seat might not work out well for your knees. As far as I know Steamroller is a bit aggressive and that's the problem, it seems. You want to bring your handlebar up and closer to you. A bigger frame would make it even worse. A shorter stem with higher rise (or adjustable) might help depending on how much you'd need to compensate. If you have to compensate a lot, then perhaps a new bike will be a better long term solution. Something like LHT Otherwise, besides the stem, other ways to improve your comfort would be fatter tires and perhaps Ergon, or similar grips.

IMHO, if you can afford it, get a proper bike for your needs and don't spend any more money on your current bike, which is clearly no longer serving your needs due to its geometry. Besides, looking at pictures, it doesn't even have braze-ons for anything.
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Old 02-23-12, 06:45 PM   #4
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I've commuter-ized my Steamroller to some degree. I have a 120mm 40 degree stem to bring the cockpit upwards and back. Additionally, handlebars with rise or just a short drop like my moustache bars can be used to raise the cockpit. Even going up a size on the frame you may still need a riser bar to get the handlebar near to level with the saddle.

There are no rack eyelets on the Steamroller so adding load carrying can be difficult. I use a seatpost-mounted bag and a frame bag. There are also seatpost-mounted racks available. 32 or 35C Randonneuring tires may help with looser surfaces like gravel.
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Old 02-23-12, 07:22 PM   #5
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Time for a new frame and/or bike, but not the same as the one you already have. You'd have to be inventive to add cargo capacity to the Steamroller. Current model has a chain stay length of 398mm- you just ain't got the space to hang a pannier back there.

No reason why you have to ditch the SS/FG, but do find something that will allow wider tires and a rear rack.
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Old 02-24-12, 10:20 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone. Seems like I need to consider another surly frame where I can simply move all the components over, but have the braze-on and mounts that will allow for commuting gear (and less aggressive geometry). Wider tires should help with some comfort and a bit of a riser stem may help keep a more elevated position. Thanks for the tips. I'll keep looking and I welcome more thoughts and opinions.

-Matt
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Old 02-24-12, 10:28 PM   #7
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Cross-Check gets my vote. It has braze-ons, less aggressive geometry, and can easily be used SS/FG.
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Old 02-25-12, 08:17 AM   #8
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Cross-Check gets my vote. It has braze-ons, less aggressive geometry, and can easily be used SS/FG.
+1 According to your post I'd say the steamroller is unlikely to serve your long term commuting and comfort needs. IMHO the Cross Check is the perfect alternative. Hard to find a more versatile platform. And since you are already in the Surly camp it's not a leap of faith. I don't think you can go wrong with a CC.
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