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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 12-01-13, 01:04 PM   #1
WestMass
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Upgrade advice - generator hub / disc brake / gearing

Greetings,

It look like I'm going to be making some significant changes to my commuter in the fall. These are my possible changes. My front brake and chainrings need to be replaced regardless.

1) Swap my carbon kona for for a disc trucker fork
2) swap my front canti for a front disc brake
3) Go from 46/36 chainrings to 50/34 or maybe 48/32
4) Swap my front mavic avskium wheel for one that is disc compatible and also get it built with a generator hub.
5) Swap my current Kona bars for the Salsa Cowbell bar (I have the 3T ergonova bar on my road bike and i love it - so I thought something with flared drops on my commuter might be cool too)


What this bike is for:
1) Commuting
2) Mixed-Terrain centuries (most noteably, D2R2)
3) 1 to 2 cat 5 cyclocross races a year for fun
4) Hopefully experimenting with some short touring soon. (s24os / weekends)

What do you think?? (opinions on running a front disc brake and rear canti, on those particular handlebars, generator hubs, and compact or 48/32 gearing especially helpful)
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Old 12-01-13, 01:16 PM   #2
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I wouldn't spend money on a new fork, new brakes, and new wheels. I'd stick with cantilever brakes and go for a new front wheel with a generator for commuting; you can keep the existing front wheel for uses (2) through (4). Insofar as gearing is concerned, I'm a big fan of cross gearing (46-36 or 48-38 or something along those lines) but YMMV. This really depends on your fitness and the kind of riding you do. If the handlebars are comfortable, I see no reason to change them.

It sounds like you may be getting antsy for a new bike (totally understandable); I'd go for that before sinking a bomb in changing over your existing bike. Figure out what you want first before opening up that credit card.
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Old 12-01-13, 02:34 PM   #3
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with a front disc you get 70-80% of the benefit of disc brakes at half the cost. i run a front xt disc and rear tektro V brake on my B commuter. i would buy a cheap carbon fork instead of the obscenely heavy trucker disk fork. i recommend the nashbar carbon cx fork on the cheap end.

compact gearing is great for commuting and training but not so much for cx.
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Old 12-02-13, 03:49 AM   #4
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Building one bike for such varied uses is always a problem. If you just want an all-round leisure/commuting bike, that is do-able but a competition CX racebike for on/off road endurance and daily commuting ticks too many boxes.
I suggest one CX race bike and one commuter bike with disc/hub generator with luggage rack/fenders as required.
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Old 12-02-13, 08:37 AM   #5
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I agree with the others. It's N+1 time. You're fine with all the changes right up until you add racing to the mix.

As much as I'm a fan of dynamo hubs--I have two, both disc brake compatible although the Ribble uses rim brakes--CX racing with one is probably not a good idea. Remember they weigh a good pound-and-a-half (at least my Shimano DH-S501s do), plus the lights, wiring, and stuff. Living on the third floor, I carry my bikes every day downstairs and back up. The dyno hubs move the balance of the bike forward and its a noticable amount of additional heft. Since I'm in no real rush, I can be careful of the wiring too.

I can't imagine hefting a nose-heavy bike over the barriers while at the same time being respectful of the wiring. Adding a dynamo taillight to the mix, you'd also be leaving your rack on for racing. Swaping the wheel doesn't help, because now you've lost your disc brake, yet the lights, rack and wires are still on the bike.

On a D2R2 sort of ride, remember that it'll take some extra HTFU to get the rig up all those hills. I've also found that off-road, (and commuting in the snow) I have to shift my weight back a bit more to keep the heavy nose from plowing in the loose stuff. Those things are doable and simply a matter of extra training.

Gearing is very personal. I can see wanting a lower low for D2R2. But that same crankset would probably be a pain on the commute and really out of whack on the CX course. But, bear in mind that comtemporary cranksets are relatively easy to change. Ninety-five percent of the time, I run a standard and 12-23 on my Litespeed. It takes me about an hour to swap to my compact, swap the pedals, move the FD, swap to the 12-27 cassette, and adjust the shifting. This includes getting everything out, cleaning up afterwards, putting things away, and degreasing the drivetrain that I'm removing.

As for the flared drops, again it's a personal thing. I didn't like them when I tried them, but I learned that I liked the narrower position on the hoods. So when I dumped the flared bars, I also replaced all my 42s with 38s.

Last edited by tsl; 12-02-13 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 12-02-13, 10:27 AM   #6
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I'm pretty okay with not racing 'cross. I really only do one or two races a year, mainly because I own a cyclocross bike, not the other way around. This is helpful stuff keep it coming!
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Old 12-02-13, 10:34 AM   #7
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Schmidt Dyno hubs and disc Brakes on 2 bikes , 1 6 bolt; 1 centerlock.

Schmidt E delux headlights also great.. I got over polishing things, so I got Black anodized ones.
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Old 12-02-13, 12:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestMass View Post
3) 1 to 2 cat 5 cyclocross races a year for fun
The thing that others seem to be overlooking is that you could do 1 to 2 cat 5 CX races a year without even taking off your rack and you probably wouldn't be the most awkwardly equipped guy out there. I think you're right to just note that but not let it factor into your plans for the bike (though it might be enough to steer me away from dynamo hubs or toward a second front wheel).

I used to have a Kona Jake set up with front disc brake and rear cantis. It was great. I happily used that setup until the 2013 Jake came out and I jumped on it to get full discs (which wasn't really much of a functional upgrade really). If you want to dip your toe into disc brakes, this is an OK way to do it. I agree with spare_wheel that you may want to rethink your fork plans. Aside from being heavy, the trucker fork is a bit shorter than the one you have now and would probably look wrong too. Kona makes a steel disc fork which you can get for $70 that is the right length and would look OK on your bike. It even has mount points for a rack. It is heavier than a carbon fork, if that matters to you, but probably not as heavy as the trucker fork.

Regarding the gearing, I personally think compact gearing sucks for commuting. The gap is very poorly situated for stop and go riding. You'd spend a lot of time switching between the big ring and the little ring. Compact gearing really works best for the situation where you can spin up to cruising speed and then leave it on the big ring until you hit a hill. I had my old Jake set up with a 46-34 crankset for a while and that worked OK. I typically used the 46T ring for everything except my steepest hill. Starting out cross-chained with a 46T ring work alright most of the time. You could do that with a 50T too, I guess, but it's a step closer to ridiculous. The other nice thing about 46-34 is that you can get a 34T chainring dirt cheap, but the 50T costs about three times as much. I'm pretty sure you can't fit a 32T ring to your crank, and even 33T are hard to find in that size.

What don't you like about 46/36?

I'd definitely make the handlebar switch. I've got Salsa Bell Lap bars (the predecessor to the Cowbell) on three of my bikes, and the little bit of flare is very nice. I also like the bump in the drops, which you don't get with the Cowbell, but I know a lot of people hate it.
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Old 12-02-13, 12:40 PM   #9
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Shimano 48/38 or 46/36 or 44/34 are easy to find in the trekking lines.

A Shimano disc dynamo hub starts at around €20 ... full wheel for around €100

no problem at all.
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Old 12-02-13, 12:45 PM   #10
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Regarding the gearing, I personally think compact gearing sucks for commuting. The gap is very poorly situated for stop and go riding. You'd spend a lot of time switching between the big ring and the little ring. Compact gearing really works best for the situation where you can spin up to cruising speed and then leave it on the big ring until you hit a hill. I had my old Jake set up with a 46-34 crankset for a while and that worked OK. I typically used the 46T ring for everything except my steepest hill. Starting out cross-chained with a 46T ring work alright most of the time. You could do that with a 50T too, I guess, but it's a step closer to ridiculous. The other nice thing about 46-34 is that you can get a 34T chainring dirt cheap, but the 50T costs about three times as much. I'm pretty sure you can't fit a 32T ring to your crank, and even 33T are hard to find in that size.

What don't you like about 46/36?
+1. I borrowed a bike with a 50/34 compact a few years ago, and hated it -- seemed like I was always shifting the front at the speeds I ride. And then needing to do a bunch of rear shifts to correct for that awkward jump in front -- if I hadn't dropped the chain. My impression was that a 50/34 compact is like a triple with the most-useful ring removed.

Perhaps with time, I might have grown to appreciate it, but I think I'd be happier with a 46/34 if I had an extra 110 BCD crank in my hands. Especially if I'm no longer able to buy 13-X cassettes in the future.

P.S. I like handlebars with a little bit of flare, too. They seem to be more ergonomic when I'm in the drops.
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Old 12-02-13, 01:02 PM   #11
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My impression was that a 50/34 compact is like a triple with the most-useful ring removed.
Exactly! I have a theory that compact gearing was invented to punish people for being weight weenies.
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Old 12-05-13, 11:57 AM   #12
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I bought a Disc LHT fork for my Steamroller and it was well worth it. I needed a more upright position because of a neck injury, so I gained a much longer steerer tube also.
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Old 12-05-13, 12:48 PM   #13
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I run 38-48 on my crosscheck commuter with a 30-12 cassette out back. Work for me, mostly flat with some small hills and inclines. I use the 48 for 85% of the riding unless I'm climbing. For one of my winter bikes I run 1x8 with a 42 up front and a 30 something cassette.
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Old 12-05-13, 05:40 PM   #14
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My old cross bike had a 46/36;I hated it. 10t difference isn't enough for a double,and the 46 spun out on the bigger downhills. But just as I got tired of it and picked up the 50/34 rings to swap on,it was stolen.
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