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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 12-31-12, 12:46 AM   #1
phulin
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How much value is there in better components for commuting?

I've been commuting for the past 6 months an an old Trek 1000 entry-level road bike, and I'm looking for something different (mainly something that can take wider tires). I've been looking at bikes on BD, and I have a few options I'm considering:

- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm
- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/cyclo.htm
- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx2.htm
- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...iberty_cxd.htm

I'm planning on checking Boston-area LBSes for used, too. I mainly use my bike for getting around, but sometimes I just want to go for a longer ride - there's nothing like a good ride in the sun, rain, snow, whatever for de-stressing and feeling free. I also have dreams of (maybe!) doing some light (2-3 day) touring.

I feel like I know how to decide between different kinds of frames or different brakes, but I don't think I know how to analyze how much to pay for better components. What is the biggest difference? As far as I can tell, it's just weight and maybe shifting smoothness. On my current bike, which has old Sora components, I have no complaints about braking or shifting - I had to fiddle a lot with the rear derailleur and indexing when I first got the bike (in terrible condition), but now it works great.

And honestly, it doesn't seem like 3 or 4 pounds will make much difference - my current bike is probably about 26 or 27 with fenders, saddle bag, lights, so that's maybe 200 pounds including my laptop or school supplies or whatever. Even if I were just going for a ride unloaded, I weigh a lot.

I'm sure this question has been asked before. But I want to get my own answers.
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Old 12-31-12, 01:14 AM   #2
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IMO, you pretty much nailed it already- increased price gets you a lower weight bike that should perform better. That being said, there has been some debate on the durability of the higher end components- lighter weight usually means less material, which wears down more quickly than something heavier with more material (think drive train stuff- rings, cogs, and chains).

It's up to you to determine your own sweet spot when it comes to that sort of thing.
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Old 12-31-12, 03:39 AM   #3
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IMO, you should only spend more money on higher end parts if you are willing to do it strictly for the added pleasure you'll get from having nicer parts (and don't forget to subtract the stress that having more bling on your bike adds if you lock it up anywhere vulnerable).

I've got the money to indulge myself when I want to. I've gone as high as Ultegra on my commuting/weekend ride bike. Now I've got a dedicated commuter and another road bike for long weekend rides. I've got Ultegra on the road bike and Tiagra on the commuter, with a full Ultegra gruppo on the shelf that I could put on the commuter if I wanted to. So that's my level even with indulgence in mind (and FWIW I feel pretty secure about my lock-up situation at work).

If value was my primary concern (even given limits on my tolerance of sub-par performance), I'd use my beater bike which has an 8-speed drive train with Shimano bar-end shifters. It performs wonderfully and I'm certain it's the most durable drive train I own.
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Old 12-31-12, 07:05 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phulin View Post
I've been commuting for the past 6 months an an old Trek 1000 entry-level road bike, and I'm looking for something different (mainly something that can take wider tires). I've been looking at bikes on BD, and I have a few options I'm considering:

- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm
- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/cyclo.htm
- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx2.htm
- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...iberty_cxd.htm

I'm planning on checking Boston-area LBSes for used, too. I mainly use my bike for getting around, but sometimes I just want to go for a longer ride - there's nothing like a good ride in the sun, rain, snow, whatever for de-stressing and feeling free. I also have dreams of (maybe!) doing some light (2-3 day) touring.

I feel like I know how to decide between different kinds of frames or different brakes, but I don't think I know how to analyze how much to pay for better components. What is the biggest difference? As far as I can tell, it's just weight and maybe shifting smoothness. On my current bike, which has old Sora components, I have no complaints about braking or shifting - I had to fiddle a lot with the rear derailleur and indexing when I first got the bike (in terrible condition), but now it works great.

And honestly, it doesn't seem like 3 or 4 pounds will make much difference - my current bike is probably about 26 or 27 with fenders, saddle bag, lights, so that's maybe 200 pounds including my laptop or school supplies or whatever. Even if I were just going for a ride unloaded, I weigh a lot.

I'm sure this question has been asked before. But I want to get my own answers.
BF member magohn uses a Fantom (third link in your post) and swears by it - http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...LD-ride-report - Seems like a very nice multi-purpose bike.

Would you consider flat bars, or are you a drop bar person?
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Old 12-31-12, 10:02 AM   #5
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If you're going to use the bike for commuting, you'll end up replacing most of the components. The bike frame you probably won't replace, so with a new bike you're buying an initial setup and a place to hang replacement parts.

IMHO, parts up to about the XT/105 level buy you better durability (unless you ride in salt slush). Below that, you get to buy new parts sooner. Above that, it hurts more to replace them. If you ride in salt slush, buy cheap.
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Old 12-31-12, 10:29 AM   #6
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I'd do it. Just be sure to invest in a MORE locks too.
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Old 12-31-12, 10:46 AM   #7
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I do ride in salt slush. And I'm a drop bar person - it gets pretty windy around here sometimes, and it's really nice to have the drops then. It's too bad, because flat bar bikes and MTB parts are so much cheaper...

I like the Fantom CX2, but it has a steel fork, and I'm worried about rust. The disc brakes on the Gravity seem nice to have, although I'm not sure how much better the low-quality ones will be in the rain. I like everything about the Tourist, except for the fact that it's steel. And the Cyclo is the reason I asked the question...
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Old 12-31-12, 10:51 AM   #8
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(I also want the Tiagra-and-up style shifters with non-thumb return levers. I know the new Sora has them, but none of the BD bikes have that yet it seems...)
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Old 12-31-12, 11:40 AM   #9
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i bought a Fantom CX 2012 and it has compact gearing and depending on where and how much you are carrying while touring you might want a triple in the front. for commuting it is a great bike... fairly light, rides well, and shifts as good as my road bike... i sometimes think that i want a triple for touring and when I am tired.



mine has thumb levers to downshift. my biggest complaint about the bike. My road bike doesn't but you get used to it.
I have the steel fork and I like it. i think it rides as nice if not better than my road bike. scott s40 speedster.
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Old 12-31-12, 12:37 PM   #10
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As far as commuting components go, reliability is first, then performance, then price, with weight being a distant 4th.

(By "performance" I mean bike shifts when you need it to and brakes work adequately.)

In the OP's situation the ability to run bigger tires (and fenders if desired) and have lower gearing for carrying heavier loads for the proposed touring is going to be helpful.

The Tourist looks the best. I would personally break the bike down and treat the frame with Framesaver or T9 and run fenders with long mudflaps in the winter (or just leave on year round) to minimize the damage from road salt.

I would skip the cheap disc brake bike personally.
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Old 12-31-12, 12:37 PM   #11
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I already run long fenders (SKS Raceblade Longs) on my road bike. They work pretty well.

My original question was mainly, "are there any advantages to, say, 105 over Tiagra other than weight?" Clearly 105 does worse in price, but does it shift more reliably and more quickly? Will I have to fiddle with the adjustment less often?

I asked BD if the 2013 model has 2013 Sora; I know they sometimes don't update the pictures. We'll see what they say.

Last edited by phulin; 12-31-12 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 12-31-12, 12:51 PM   #12
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I'd say Tiagra level is fine.

I would not personally buy a new bike with Sora, but my wife's Jamis has Sora and she seems happy with it and it has not exploded yet.
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Old 12-31-12, 01:01 PM   #13
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I'd say Tiagra level is fine.

I would not personally buy a new bike with Sora, but my wife's Jamis has Sora and she seems happy with it and it has not exploded yet.
Yep... Tiagra level is usually fine, but I do have some Sora and find it OK too.
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Old 12-31-12, 01:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phulin View Post
I've been commuting for the past 6 months an an old Trek 1000 entry-level road bike, and I'm looking for something different (mainly something that can take wider tires). I've been looking at bikes on BD, and I have a few options I'm considering:
Some entry level bikes are fitted with evil and dangerous "modulators" which put a spring in the front brake mechanism. While that may prevent unintended dismounts by inexperienced riders who grab a handful of front brake, it also means that you may be unable to apply enough front brake to stop especially with some mis-adjustment or pad wear. That can be removed.

Better brake pads (which can be retrofitted) can stop you with less force on the levers especially in wet weather. They can be retrofitted.

Nicer tires can have lower rolling resistance and flat protection. Also an easy upgrade.

Campagnolo shifters have better ergonomics and function (they shift multiple cogs smaller provided that you buy Chorus or better, NOS 2010 Ultrashift levers, or most levers built in 2008 and before).

It's nice to have one tooth jumps to your 19 cog and easier to get there with more in back (ex: with a 12 starting cog 8 in back allow that with a 19 large cog while 11 get you to a 25) if you commute some days at a time trial intensity.

Carbon fiber brake levers don't freeze your fingers in cold weather although gloves make that a non-issue.

Campagnolo Record level hubs (and some years lower levels) have grease ports which double the disassembly interval for maintenance.

Unpainted titanium and stainless steel frames look nice after much longer because you don't end up with primer or rust colored nicks.

Otherwise "quality" isn't buying you anything.

Quote:
I feel like I know how to decide between different kinds of frames or different brakes, but I don't think I know how to analyze how much to pay for better components. What is the biggest difference? As far as I can tell, it's just weight and maybe shifting smoothness.
Shimano, Campagnolo, and presumably SRAM (I haven't looked at those) have better pin/ramp/tooth configurations than others and shift a little faster than others although other rings still work fine if you're not silly enough to try shifting under load.

Most of the time (I don't know about the SRAM cogs missing a whole tooth) companies use the same shift ramp and tooth configuration on all their cogs so they all shift the same.

Quote:
And honestly, it doesn't seem like 3 or 4 pounds will make much difference - my current bike is probably about 26 or 27 with fenders, saddle bag, lights, so that's maybe 200 pounds including my laptop or school supplies or whatever. Even if I were just going for a ride unloaded, I weigh a lot.
Gains headed up the steepest hills are proportional to the change in total weight. 4 pounds off a 200 pound bike + rider + luggage combination will net a 2% speed increase there.

With a lot of weight up high (as in a loaded pannier) you'll feel it out of the saddle. Otherwise it's not really an issue beyond the psychological impact.

Really heavy bikes are hard to get into a car trunk - I fear for my herniated disc when I need to maneuver my wife's IGH city bike in there. On a maintenance stand you notice but the angles are better so it's not an issue.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 12-31-12 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 12-31-12, 01:18 PM   #15
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Never bought a BD bike, my upgrade was to get past the whole derailleur thing, with an IGH

Rohloff did the design work up front, so no annual 'new improved' sales hook to use..
every trade show-year.

Commuting, with derailleurs the shifter shoves the chain sideways .. but it will do fine.
chains cassettes and chainrings wear , those are comsumables..

the simple pin thru a hole pivots work for quite a long time..
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Old 12-31-12, 01:45 PM   #16
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Okay, it sounds like the CX still has the old levers. So my choice is between the Tourist (steel frame, steel fork, Tiagra) and the Cyclo (al frame, carbon fork, 105), and whatever I may find as I go around my LBSes.
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Old 12-31-12, 03:05 PM   #17
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i think that when if comes to consumables (e.g. casette and chain) going low end is fine. imo, the only exception is chain rings. i have literally bent the teeth on low end chain rings. 6061 chainrings are complete crap.

when it comes to components the bearings in ultegra jockey wheels last so much longer than the bushings in lower end pulleys. likewise cranks are an area where there are significant increases in stiffness and strength as you go up. depending on how you ride i would say that 105 or ultegra (or equivalent) is the sweet spot for cranks. for the front derailleur it really makes no difference as sora on up shift just fine.
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Old 12-31-12, 03:41 PM   #18
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A somewhat related question is how BD manages to get better prices than the rest of the market - it seems that they tend to skimp on wheelsets in favor of better drivetrain components, so maybe that means that either they're getting really good prices on wholesale components, or they think that the component line has a much bigger marketing effect than the wheelset.
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Old 12-31-12, 03:44 PM   #19
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Cherry Picking is when you put something easily seen like an RD, but compensate
by speccing a modestly priced part,
like the BB, inside.. chain , hubs , etc.

they are just shipping un opened cartons from their import warehouse ,
untouched, since the China based assembly line workers put the product in the Box.

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Old 12-31-12, 04:17 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I like the Fantom CX2, but it has a steel fork, and I'm worried about rust. The disc brakes on the Gravity seem nice to have, although I'm not sure how much better the low-quality ones will be in the rain.
Steel forks are common;they don't get as much water in them as a frame does so I wouldn't worry about rust issues. Lower end discs work fine if they're set up properly. The big issues on lower end discs are how easy they are to set up/change pads,and noise from drag because only one pad adjusts. Proper setup will usually take care of the drag;you just bias the caliper towards the outer pad. Drag is just annoying,it doesn't effect operation or pad life.

My $.02,I'd go with the Gravity for the discs if you're going to be in rain and slush. The 8spd drivetrain will last way longer than 10spd and the chains will be alot cheaper. You've also got a triple which is nice if you've got hills. Upgrading the calipers later won't be a big deal or cost that much,and you might not even want to.
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Old 12-31-12, 04:18 PM   #21
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A somewhat related question is how BD manages to get better prices than the rest of the market - it seems that they tend to skimp on wheelsets in favor of better drivetrain components, so maybe that means that either they're getting really good prices on wholesale components, or they think that the component line has a much bigger marketing effect than the wheelset.
I suspect they purchase last year model component sets that have dropped in value. Nothing wrong with them, just not "the latest and greatest". Wheelsets can be easily replaced and even high end bikes don't put really light wheels on the bikes.

I suspect that they also cheap out on seat posts, seats, handlebars. But in general, those are easily replaceable and don't matter much to the mechanical quality of the bike. The most complaints I see about BD bikes is bad assembly and no proper lube in crankset bearings. There are more positive posts about BD than negative ones and we all know people love to complain, but don't always speak up about good experiences.

As for component levels..... at the low end, you get better quality for dollar spent. After 105, you are paying more for weight than quality. Newer generations of Tiagra and even Sora seem to be better than older generations according to posts I've read on the forums.
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Old 12-31-12, 04:20 PM   #22
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A big name manufacturer has a lot of expenses -- R&D, marketing, service, dealer mark-up, etc. -- most of which Bikes Direct doesn't have to worry about nearly as much. When you buy BD, you're essentially getting a generic product. The frame design may be a few years old. People on the street won't 'ooh' and 'ah' over it, and if you have a problem you'll probably end up putting it in a box and shipping it back to them (unless your problem is something like poor fit, in which case you'll be either dealing with it or taking a loss on resale).

On the topic of rust, I wouldn't worry about it. It takes a lot of neglect for a steel bike to rust to the point of it being a problem. If you keep the contact points greased, the bike will do fine.
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Old 12-31-12, 05:02 PM   #23
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...My original question was mainly, "are there any advantages to, say, 105 over Tiagra other than weight?" Clearly 105 does worse in price, but does it shift more reliably and more quickly? Will I have to fiddle with the adjustment less often?...
IMHO (concerning derailleurs) if it's reliable and shifts gears the way I want it to, then that's all I care about. Expensive derailleurs are usually lighter and operate smoother throughout their travel range however the latter is only really a concern with indexed shifters. I run old fashioned non-index shifters so I can trim the shift as needed so cheap stamp steel derailleurs work for me. However I've had plenty of expensive aluminum derailleurs come through the shop that needed to be replaced because the spring boss had sheared... something I've never experienced with my cheap steel ones.






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... It's up to you to determine your own sweet spot when it comes to that sort of thing.
+1
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Old 12-31-12, 06:16 PM   #24
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This kind of inquiry interests me. I took possession of a used older road bike for peanuts and invested a little bit into brake pads and fenders. Nothing too fancy, but just practical stuff. So far, the biggest bang I got was from adjusting and lubricating stuff -- hardly an expensive proposition. I had my LBS true the rims, but the spokes are rusted and so I'll probably be on the look-out for new wheels come spring.

How do folks feel in general about starting with something used as a baseline?
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Old 01-01-13, 09:54 PM   #25
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Okay, Nashbar's 20% sale got me. Ordered http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...36_-1___203559, along with PB Freddy Fenders Hardcore.
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