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Old 07-09-12, 04:36 PM   #1
Chicago Lefty
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Bike Recommendation - Limestone Paths

So I have been riding a 2003 Hardrock Comp mainly for commuting/fitness for the last couple of months. My daily commute is 34 miles round trip (I do it about 2-3x a week). I'm ready to upgrade to something faster and easier to ride. The mountain bike is a difficult ride to justify riding into work much more than I have been and would like to start riding a bit more. Ideally, I'd like to get a road bike. Main reason is the speed and options for hand positions. Also, I feel like I can get more bang for my buck in terms of a used road bike vs. a newer hybrid.

My main concern with going to a road bike is that about 1/2 of my commute is usually done on a well maintained limestone path, the Illinois Prairie Path. I see a few road bikes on there, but have been told by my LBS owner that a road bike is not a good idea on crushed limestone. I carry almost nothing to work so bags and storage is not an issue.

Basically my question is, will I regret purchasing a road bike and doing 16 miles a day on a limestone path? What's the widest tire most road bikes will accept?

Thanks for any help steering me in the right direction.
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Old 07-09-12, 04:44 PM   #2
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Get a touring bike, a cyclocross bike, or a hybrid, something that can handle 28 or 32 mm wide tires. On a packed limestone path, that should be fine. I have 28s on my fixie and ride it on limestone all the time in relative comfort. I have a rode bike with 25s and it feels noticeably worse.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 07-09-12, 04:50 PM   #3
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There are several bikes that would do well on a combination of gravel/limestone and road. Touring/cyclocross bikes are both good choices. If you want even wider tires, then there are bikes like the Salsa Vaya, which can be ridden on pretty much anything that calls itself a road and accepts 700x42 tires.

A lot depends on your budget.
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Old 07-09-12, 04:51 PM   #4
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How about 1.5 slicks? You'll be faster that way.
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Old 07-09-12, 05:06 PM   #5
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Upgrade what you have with slicks, bar ends and a rigid fork. If that is still not fast enough, work on upgrading the engine.
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Old 07-09-12, 05:10 PM   #6
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How about 1.5 slicks? You'll be faster that way.
I feel the front shock, weight, and gearing are all leading to me using a lot of extra energy and overall being quite a bit slower.

Budget is tight...looking to spend around $6-700. From what I've seen there are some quality 5-6 year old bikes out there in that range, but only entry level hybrids. Also, used and new hybrids seem to be hard to find around here at the moment.
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Old 07-09-12, 05:20 PM   #7
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Upgrade what you have with slicks, bar ends and a rigid fork. If that is still not fast enough, work on upgrading the engine.
+1 ^ This is excellent advice, considering your budget concerns....

PS.

You might want to powdercoat paint it and get a new saddle too!
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Old 07-09-12, 05:31 PM   #8
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Sorry I should have mentioned that the mtb ive been riding is my sisters and she wants it back soon.
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Old 07-09-12, 05:36 PM   #9
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The Prairie Path is pretty well maintained in my experience - I was riding a touring bike w/ 28mm tires on it last week with no issues whatsoever, and plenty of people ride on 23s or 25s. A used 80's steel road/sport touring bike, something like this: http://chicago.craigslist.org/wcl/bik/3128831153.html should work fine, and easily fit tires up to 32mm/1 x 1 1/4in. Just using that as the first thing that popped up when I searched Chicago CL for "Lombard" (though if you're tall enough to fit that one and it's in good shape, that is a pretty decent deal).

For something less "vintage" I see used Surly Crosschecks and Pacers for sale a lot in Chicago - modern carbon and aluminum road bikes frequently don't have clearance for the tires you need (though some do, especially cyclocross bikes), steel bikes like the Surlys and others from Salsa, Soma and other modern manufacturers (well, branders anyway) will more often have space for 28mm+ tires and fenders (which I'd recommend too, keep that limestone dust out of your bottom bracket).

If you're open to a "vintage" bike, your $6-700 can get you geared up very, very nicely. And the IPP is probably the best maintained limestone path I've ridden on. One thing also, which you've seen is plenty of broken glass - so kevlar-reinforced tires are helpful as well. Good luck!
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Old 07-09-12, 06:38 PM   #10
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Sorry I should have mentioned that the mtb ive been riding is my sisters and she wants it back soon.
How tall are you?
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Old 07-09-12, 07:03 PM   #11
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6ft tall...It was a 19" frame. A bit small.

Last edited by Chicago Lefty; 07-09-12 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 07-09-12, 07:42 PM   #12
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6ft tall...It was a 19" frame. A bit small.

I have several recommendations for you, Lefty!

They are as follows:

1) The Nashbar Steel Cyclocross ~ $750
www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_526536_-1__202403

2) The Nashbar CX-1 Cyclocross ~ $550
www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_535089_-1_202339

3) The Marin Muirwoods 29er ~ $750
www.marinbikes.com/2012/bike_specs.php?serialnum=2262&Muirwoods_29er

4) The Marin Muirwoods 26er ~ $630
www.marinbikes.com/2012/bike_specs.php?serialnum=2207&Muirwoods

* Just get bar ends for the Muirwoods...

Good Luck!

PS.

The Muirwoods are built like tanks! They have wide tires and love terrain challenges...They're like stealth urban assault bombers! They're tons of fun and have that get-outta-my-way kinda bravado.

They ain't too slow neither!

Last edited by SlimRider; 07-09-12 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 07-09-12, 07:43 PM   #13
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salsa Fargo with 50mm marathon supreme tires. That would be a nice setup.
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Old 07-09-12, 08:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
I have several recommendations for you, Lefty!

They are as follows:

1) The Nashbar Steel Cyclocross ~ $750
www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_526536_-1__202403

2) The Nashbar CX-1 Cyclocross ~ $550
www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_535089_-1_202339

3) The Marin Muirwoods 29er ~ $750
www.marinbikes.com/2012/bike_specs.php?serialnum=2262&Muirwoods_29er

4) The Marin Muirwoods 26er ~ $630
www.marinbikes.com/2012/bike_specs.php?serialnum=2207&Muirwoods

* Just get bar ends for the Muirwoods...

Good Luck!
For the price range you state, either of the Nashbar CX bikes seems ideal, with a change of tires. Bikesdirect has some CX bikes too that may fit the bill.

A vintage sport type bike would also work well frame-wise. Just remember, unless it has been updated, you'll have downtube shifters (or stem). They'll work fine, and some people like them, but I much prefer brifters myself.

As others have said, 28 or 32 mm tires will probably be ideal for your purpose. Good luck!
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Old 07-09-12, 09:04 PM   #15
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My road bike is fitted with the biggest tires it would take: 700x28 "all weather".

I ride about 100 - 150 miles a week on crushed limestone and it does well. But I keep an eye out for soft stuff and go slowly over any gravel sections.

... The more I ride it the more comfortable I get with it on limestone.
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Old 07-09-12, 10:00 PM   #16
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I used to ride the prairie path from St. Charles to Naperville several times a week. It's funny that my most commonly used route for the commute was almost exactly 34 miles too. I did it on a variety of bikes such as a fixed gear with no tires ever wider than 25mm, a single speed cyclocross bike with 32mm tires, and an old rigid mtb with 2" touring tires. All of them did fine when it was dry and honestly all of them were close enough in speed that it really didn't make much difference which bike I was on. Maybe that is because I have almost always used a rack and panniers.

If you get caught in or after a heavy rain though or during a time of thaw in winter or spring, the wider tires of the mtb are the way to go. The narrower tires just cut through that packed limestone like a hot knife through butter when the trail gets wet and soft. IMO fenders are an absolute must for regular commuting on something like the prairie path. The bike, drive train, you, and your gear just stays so much cleaner with fenders, especially when you factor moisture in. If I got caught on a bike without fenders on the trail when it was raining heavily, I would usually have to hose myself down before going into the garage when I got home.

If I was still doing that commute and had to pick one bike to do it with, I would probably go with another single speed cyclocross or touring style road bike that could take at least 38mm tires with fenders. I would seriously consider a IGH if I though I needed multiple gears. Keeping the drive train clean is so much easier that way. Even if you avoid most of the white muck by not riding the trail when it is wet, the dust is still a pain in the rear during dry conditions.

Something like this might do, but they always seem to sell out of them before I decide I want one enough to pull the trigger.

http://bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott_wt5.htm
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Old 07-10-12, 03:31 AM   #17
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For the price range you state, either of the Nashbar CX bikes seems ideal, with a change of tires. Bikesdirect has some CX bikes too that may fit the bill.

A vintage sport type bike would also work well frame-wise. Just remember, unless it has been updated, you'll have downtube shifters (or stem). They'll work fine, and some people like them, but I much prefer brifters myself.

As others have said, 28 or 32 mm tires will probably be ideal for your purpose. Good luck!
Also the Jamis Satellite Sport just might be well worth your while at $560. It will take size 32mm tires, along with rack and fenders.
www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/road/satellite/12_satellitesport_gy.html

Make certain that you try the Marin Muirwoods 29er, sometime soon too!

Last edited by SlimRider; 07-10-12 at 04:46 AM.
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Old 07-10-12, 07:29 AM   #18
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Thanks for the recommendations everyone. Very helpful...I'll look into a few of those options.
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Old 07-10-12, 08:08 AM   #19
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No specific bike recommendations, but I ride on a limestone path occasionally & the 32mm tires are way better than the 28's. (I happen to have two bikes that I ride on that trail, one with 28's & one with 32's)
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Old 07-10-12, 09:24 AM   #20
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I agree with everyone who says get a touring bike with 28mm (1 1/8") or 32mm (1 1/4") tires. Metric sizes with 700c wheels and English with 27" wheels. I ride limestone and dirt roads all the time with this setup and have absolutely no problem. Also, you are right, you can go way faster than you can with mountain bike.
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Old 07-10-12, 11:57 AM   #21
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...Something like this might do, but they always seem to sell out of them before I decide I want one enough to pull the trigger.

http://bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott_wt5.htm
Me, too. Been wanting one of these for a couple of years now. My 33 miles rt commute is all on asphalt, but this would be my choice for limestone. The dust alone can grind a standard chain/der/cassette set-up down to nubs. Much less maintenence on one of these. I'd upgrade the tires to 28 or 32mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus and just deal will the added rolling resistance. Kendas are crap at best.

My commuter is one of these: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx2.htm 4+ years and going strong. 1 complete re-build recently and I replaced the rear hub as the stock one was beginning to freeze up. Used a Parallax.

The Nashbar CX has a little better comps than mine did out of the box, but not any more as I upgraded the drivetrain.

Don't think you can go wrong w/any of the recommendations. I'm a little partial towards the WT5, though.
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Old 07-10-12, 12:37 PM   #22
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I have a trek 850 that I put tread on the back that was less nobby, almost bike path type of tread and I put wheel on front from a hybrid bike. It has no fron suspension. Seems to work fine on lime stone and really goes well on paved bike paths. Theres are easy, cheap mods you can do yourself. Just go to your local used bike store and buy a pair of forks and rim/tire (or take them off another bike). You wont need much more than a wrench and an allen wrench.

Used forks should be less than $20, should be able to get a used rim for $20-$50 tops depending on the quality/condition. That'd be a lot cheaper than buying a new bike. Might be extra cost if you need different headset but they are not expensive and tires and tubes are fairly cheap.
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