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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 06-18-14, 05:26 PM   #1
ramey
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Bike for commute

I'm looking for a reliable commute bike (~20 miles/day, 3 days a week), with a budget of $1600.

So far I've narrowed down to these 3 bikes:
caad10 5 : ~$1550 at REI
fuji roubaix 1.1 : $1419 at Performance Bike Shop
Giant Defy 1 : $1380 at LBS

An suggestion, which one is good or avoid ?

What kind of tyre should I put on? The road I ride is all paved smooth surface, except for ~2miles that is rough, still paved tho.


Thank you!
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Old 06-18-14, 05:48 PM   #2
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Road bikes are not really suitable for commuting because they lack fender and rack mounts and your tire choice is extremely limited. Consider a country bike instead:

Trek Crossrip
Specialized AWOL
Surly Straggler
Salsa Vaya
Raleigh Roper
Diamondback Haanjo Comp
Schwinn Super Sport CX
Fairdale Weekender Drop Disc

Also called the alternative road bike or all rounder. They will also accept fenders and take tires up to 35 C. You can add a rack for hauling stuff. And they all have disk brakes for reliable all-weather stopping power under load. They are ideal for both on and off road riding.

Last edited by NormanF; 06-18-14 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 06-18-14, 06:00 PM   #3
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while many of the road bikes dont have mounts for the fenders and racks. you can find racks and fenders with will work. However, that being said.....the bike's listed above is a great starting point.

I have the CrossRip and presently ride with 25's, but will be switching to Hutchinson Sector 28's in the very near future.
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Old 06-18-14, 06:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramey View Post
I'm looking for a reliable commute bike (~20 miles/day, 3 days a week), with a budget of $1600.

So far I've narrowed down to these 3 bikes:
caad10 5 : ~$1550 at REI
fuji roubaix 1.1 : $1419 at Performance Bike Shop
Giant Defy 1 : $1380 at LBS

An suggestion, which one is good or avoid ?

What kind of tyre should I put on? The road I ride is all paved smooth surface, except for ~2miles that is rough, still paved tho.


Thank you!
Can't speak to them all, but the Caad10 is a really nice bike but wouldn't make a very good commuter unless you are just getting yourself to work and even then it's hard(er) to get fenders on. The CaadX, however, is a pretty good option and what I bought. It will take fenders/rack (not sure how easy it would be to use both as I haven't tried that). It comes with 35mm tires so a bit more comfy and forgiving and you could go a bit wider or more narrow if you wanted. Plenty of other similar bikes out there. REI carries these though - at least some models.
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Old 06-18-14, 06:35 PM   #5
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REI carries one:

The Novara Zealo.

Has disk brakes. Great all-round commuter do everything bike.
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Old 06-18-14, 09:00 PM   #6
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Take a look at the Surly Straggler. Good all purpose bike with disk brakes.

Mike
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Old 06-19-14, 12:03 AM   #7
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Thank you all for excellent feedbacks.

My commute is 20 miles one way, I take public bus on way back. In the first post I forgot to mention that I wont be carrying anything so I don't need any rack mount. I'll be commuting 1 way 3/4 times a week.

I'm still overwhelmed with the number of options that are available.

Can you guys please help me decide which component should I get:

Which tyre is good for this distance ? 25/28/35 (brand ?)
Shifter/Cassette/Breaks: Shimano 105/Tiagra/Sora
Frame: Alloy/Aluminum
Fork: Carbon/Alloy/Aluminum
Anything else that I need to keep eye on ?

I weigh ~185 lb and hopefully get down to 160s by end of this year!!





Quote:
Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
Road bikes are not really suitable for commuting because they lack fender and rack mounts and your tire choice is extremely limited. Consider a country bike instead:

Trek Crossrip
Specialized AWOL
Surly Straggler
Salsa Vaya
Raleigh Roper
Diamondback Haanjo Comp
Schwinn Super Sport CX
Fairdale Weekender Drop Disc

Also called the alternative road bike or all rounder. They will also accept fenders and take tires up to 35 C. You can add a rack for hauling stuff. And they all have disk brakes for reliable all-weather stopping power under load. They are ideal for both on and off road riding.
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Old 06-19-14, 06:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ramey View Post
Thank you all for excellent feedbacks.

My commute is 20 miles one way, I take public bus on way back. In the first post I forgot to mention that I wont be carrying anything so I don't need any rack mount. I'll be commuting 1 way 3/4 times a week.

I'm still overwhelmed with the number of options that are available.

Can you guys please help me decide which component should I get:

Which tyre is good for this distance ? 25/28/35 (brand ?)
Shifter/Cassette/Breaks: Shimano 105/Tiagra/Sora
Frame: Alloy/Aluminum
Fork: Carbon/Alloy/Aluminum
Anything else that I need to keep eye on ?

I weigh ~185 lb and hopefully get down to 160s by end of this year!!
If you follow my recommendation, 35 C is a good tire to get. I've found Michelin City to be an excellent all round tire. Shimano 105 is a good budget brake/shifter groupset but I think in most of the bikes I mentioned, it will be Shimano Tiagra. With the exception of Salsa and Fairdale, the rest of the bikes will be double butted alloy with a carbon fork. The ride should be comfortable. You say don't need a rack for now but if your future commuting needs do change that's an option to have. Does it rain in your area? SKS or Planet Cascadia fenders are worth looking into if you ever do need them. With your budget, you don't need to upgrade the bike at this point - I should add that if you do ride after dark during the winter, a dynamo hub and headlamp would be a good investment in increasing the versatility of your commuter bike.
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Old 06-19-14, 02:44 PM   #9
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For a 20 mile ride where you don't need to carry anything just about any bike would work. Do you plan to use the bike for anything else or will you just be commuting to work? For just commuting the Novara above might be a good option. If you want a nice road bike for other types of riding but also do this 20 mile ride then the ones in your original post would be good options so long as you are not too concerned with rack/fender options.

As for tires, anything from 23mm to 35mm or more will work for a 20 mile ride. I've done over 100 mile rides on 23mm tires. 25mm tires seem to be a good size for road riding with just a bit more comfort. On typical road bikes like you listed above a 25mm or 28mm might be about as large as you can go. The tires that come with whatever bike you buy will be fine for doing 20 mile rides and longer. Wear them out and then decide if you need better flat protection, comfort, wet traction, speed, etc. and look for the tire that gives you the best mix of what you want.

Components are not as important as some people make it seem. Anything from Sora up would be fine for most types of riding. You get slightly lighter and somewhat smoother performance with higher level components. The conventional wisdom is that 105 is the best price/performance group.
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Old 06-19-14, 03:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramey View Post
Thank you all for excellent feedbacks.

My commute is 20 miles one way, I take public bus on way back. In the first post I forgot to mention that I wont be carrying anything so I don't need any rack mount. I'll be commuting 1 way 3/4 times a week.

I'm still overwhelmed with the number of options that are available.

Can you guys please help me decide which component should I get:

Which tyre is good for this distance ? 25/28/35 (brand ?)
Shifter/Cassette/Breaks: Shimano 105/Tiagra/Sora
Frame: Alloy/Aluminum
Fork: Carbon/Alloy/Aluminum
Anything else that I need to keep eye on ?

I weigh ~185 lb and hopefully get down to 160s by end of this year!!
I'm assuming with a 20-mile commute, 3-4 times a week, and carrying nothing you'll be showering and changing once you get to work?

If so, you're going to eventually want to ride through rain and maybe even snow, depending on where you live. So you'll need fenders - but no, you don't need fender or rack mounts, though those do make things easier. Google "p clips". They work. Marine-grade stainless ones will probably outlast your bike. Though you probably don't need fenders right away.

The best tires for your situation depend on what you're commuting on. With no loads to carry, riding only on roads/paved trails means 25s are more than sufficient and are probably the best choice.

I'll opine that you want at least Tiagra level or 10-speed shifters. Don't worry too much about the other components like derailleurs or brakes - bikes with Tiagra or better shifters will almost certainly have other components that are good and reliable. 105 is nice but is pushing your budget.

And regarding that budget? You are going to wind up spending a few hundred on other stuff like cycling clothing because you won't want to wash the same two pair of shorts twice a week. And if you do want to do that, you'll just have to replace them faster. You might find out the hard way that riding that much means you need to get better/more expensive shoes or shorts. You might want to get another helmet or two because they need to air out more than 24 hours between rides.
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Old 06-19-14, 03:57 PM   #11
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Friend of mine just bought one of these for $900... for some reason I wanted to hate it but it's pretty cool. Don't know about fender mounts.


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Old 06-19-14, 04:37 PM   #12
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An suggestion, which one is good or avoid ?
Best to test ride all three and decide which fits you best and which rides the way you prefer.

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The Novara Zealo.
I had a Road Buzz,the precursor to the Zealo. The fork was horrible and rode like crap,even with 42mm tires. This current incarnation has much less tire clearance than the RB;I don't think you could go past 35's.
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Old 06-19-14, 06:04 PM   #13
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I had a Road Buzz,the precursor to the Zealo. The fork was horrible and rode like crap,even with 42mm tires.
With a name like road buzz might expect that.
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Old 06-19-14, 06:24 PM   #14
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Will you be doing any other type of riding? When I think of commuting I tend to think of comfort and utility so I probably could not offer much regarding particular bikes outside of my experience. However if we knew your preferences some might be able to steer you in a better direction.

For example I value comfort and utility most when riding with speed further down on my list. In my case I ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker. However if you value speed and keeping up with friends during group rides my Surly would probably be the wrong choice.
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Old 06-19-14, 06:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramey View Post
Thank you all for excellent feedbacks.

My commute is 20 miles one way, I take public bus on way back. In the first post I forgot to mention that I wont be carrying anything so I don't need any rack mount. I'll be commuting 1 way 3/4 times a week.

I'm still overwhelmed with the number of options that are available.

Can you guys please help me decide which component should I get:

Which tyre is good for this distance ? 25/28/35 (brand ?)
Shifter/Cassette/Breaks: Shimano 105/Tiagra/Sora
Frame: Alloy/Aluminum
Fork: Carbon/Alloy/Aluminum
Anything else that I need to keep eye on ?

I weigh ~185 lb and hopefully get down to 160s by end of this year!!
As for tires, it really comes down to what sort of roads you're going to be commuting on. I ride about 20 miles each way, spring through fall (yes, I wuss out during the winter months) three or four times a week. My commute is on good roads through suburbia, so I use 700x23 tires on my regular road bike. Once the light starts to fade, I put lights on the bike. If you're riding on crappy potholed roads with various debris (broken glass, gravel, etc) with regularity -- wider tires are nice.

As for components... As the componentry moves "up" in Shimano's line (i.e, 105 > Tiagra > Sora), it gets lighter and, to some degree, prettier. The bearings and springs and other internal "guts" of things might be made of higher quality / more durable materials as well... The brake pads themselves are a larger determiner of stopping distance than the brakes (i.e., the metal part) is. Likewise, how clean you keep your chain is a better determiner of how well things will shift than the name stamped on the derailleur and shifter.
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Old 06-19-14, 08:25 PM   #16
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Friend of mine just bought one of these for $900... for some reason I wanted to hate it but it's pretty cool. Don't know about fender mounts.


That is a tasty morsel. I want.

I've seen a few of these around, being used by commuters.

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Old 06-19-14, 08:52 PM   #17
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Not everyone's commute is the same and for OP a road bike might work fine. I commute in socal where there is no need for fenders, I carry small amounts and use a backpack or carry nothing at all some days. I commute on my CAAD9 with no problem. I have had so called commuter bikes in the past that were heavy, had wide heavy tires and rack and panier and personally I prefer to ride fast whether I'm commuting or riding for recreation so I've gotten rid of my other bikes and have my CAAD road race bike and a 80's steel road race bike and that's all I need. I commute on 700x23 tires on one and 700x25 on the other. I commute 5 days a week by bike and put in over 100 miles a week on average and my bikes are perfectly comfortable and I have not had an on road flat in 2 years (knock on wood).

To answer OP question. Test ride bikes. Get the one that makes you happy. For a road bike in your price range I would get full 105 groupset at minimum (although I'm a SRAM guy so I would recommend that but it's a preference). Road bikes will limit tire width but there are plenty of great tires in 23 and 25. Any of those bikes should come with decent tires so ride them till they wear out unless you are getting lots of flats from road debris and then you may look at something with more puncture resistance. Aluminum bikes are fine but I would get one with a carbon fork (which should be any of the ones you mention). Steel bikes are also a worthy option but fewer steel road bike readily available.
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Old 06-20-14, 11:23 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by ramey View Post
Thank you all for excellent feedbacks.

My commute is 20 miles one way, I take public bus on way back. In the first post I forgot to mention that I wont be carrying anything so I don't need any rack mount. I'll be commuting 1 way 3/4 times a week.

I'm still overwhelmed with the number of options that are available.

Can you guys please help me decide which component should I get:

Which tyre is good for this distance ? 25/28/35 (brand ?)
Shifter/Cassette/Breaks: Shimano 105/Tiagra/Sora
Frame: Alloy/Aluminum
Fork: Carbon/Alloy/Aluminum
Anything else that I need to keep eye on ?

I weigh ~185 lb and hopefully get down to 160s by end of this year!!
A road bike is certainly fine for that length commute, but you may want to consider some alternatives - ride a few to figure out what you like.

I have been doing 17 miles each way on a road bike, as do many other commuters by me. It is a racing oriented bike though and has some drawbacks that made me look for a second bike for more comfort and flexibility.

Potential drawbacks to consider
1. Limited options for carrying stuff on most road bikes
2. comfort due to riding position (esp with backpack) and vibrations (for aluminum). Many touring/adventure touring/ cyclocross type bikes will have a more relaxed geometry which can help, the examples given plus many more (many endurance road bikes are more relaxed as well). Steel or carbon can help with vibrations.
3. Fenders - this winter me and my bike got filthy form rain and dirt. Next winter I want full fenders.
4. Tire size - you can commute on 23mm stepping up a bit improves ride, less worrying flats, and minimal speed impact. 28s are a good middle ground for a road type bike, 32-35 give more comfort for bikes that can take them without a huge speed and weight sacrifice. SOME roadbikes can take 28s, otherwise look at cyclocross, touring, etc.

I decided on an adventure tourer/gravel bike, that could handle racks, fenders, and wider tires. I also went for steel for comfort plus a very relaxed geometry. I will still ride my road bike some of the time but a few min extra on my commute is generally worth it for comfort.

As for components set, its up to you. I wanted 105 at a minimum, as my road bike had good stuff (but older). I wound up with SRAM APEX, which is close to 105 level I guess.

Ultimately, ride some bikes and get what is comfortable for you!
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Old 06-20-14, 12:26 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramey View Post
Thank you all for excellent feedbacks.

My commute is 20 miles one way, I take public bus on way back. In the first post I forgot to mention that I wont be carrying anything so I don't need any rack mount. I'll be commuting 1 way 3/4 times a week.

I'm still overwhelmed with the number of options that are available.

Can you guys please help me decide which component should I get:

Which tyre is good for this distance ? 25/28/35 (brand ?)
Shifter/Cassette/Breaks: Shimano 105/Tiagra/Sora
Frame: Alloy/Aluminum
Fork: Carbon/Alloy/Aluminum
Anything else that I need to keep eye on ?

I weigh ~185 lb and hopefully get down to 160s by end of this year!!
Look, the #1 thing when buying a bike is that you get a frame with the right size and fit. All of this other stuff is relatively irrelevant compared to fit.

For tire size, anywhere between 23c-28c is the fastest. I'd just stick with what came with the bike (what's important is to get a skinny slick if you want to be fast, anything knobby will slow you down with no benefit since you're biking on pavement, anything wider will make you a little slower but perhaps be a little more comfortable - but 25c has been comfortable enough for most people).

If you have a price point, they're all basically going to come out at around the same component group level. Here's a breakdown:
Sora/Tiagra - In their modern versions either is a solid groupset. Not as "polished" as more expensive groups but functionally not much different. It's like buying a Toyota Corolla.
105 - More expensive, a little smoother. Might last longer.
Ultegra - The smoothest (and might last longer), but it's expensive, but most of that cost goes into feel. It's like buying a bmw - in some ways it's cooler, but functionally it does exactly the same thing as the less expensive version.
Dura-Ave - You pay a lot more money for it being somewhat lighter weight. Not worth it for anyone but racers, imo.

Frame: Alloy usually means aluminium so those are usually the same. I like full carbon myself, the ride is smoother on models designed for that, imo for commuting I'd rather have a good full carbon frame than have a cheaper frame with more expensive components.

You can buy a full carbon 2014 Specialized Roubaix for $1725 -
Specialized 2014 Roubaix Base Road Race Bike

Or the 105 version of the same bike for $2,025 (though this is getting a bit above your budget) -
Specialized 2014 Roubaix Sport Road Race Bike

I prefer a carbon front fork, no matter what other frame material is used, because it's usually a little nicer on the hands. But almost all road bikes come with a carbon front fork now.

You could also go the other way - only spend $800-$900 on a aluminum/steel bike and see if you stick with it.

Again though, really, bike size and fit are going to make more of a difference to your riding than any of these other factors.

Of these bikes that you mentioned:
caad10 5
fuji roubaix 1.1
Giant Defy 1

I would go with either the Fuji Roubaix or the Giant Defy. Doesn't matter which one. The caad is designed for racing, which in an aluminium frame means it probably has a harsher ride than the other two, both of which are "endurance" style bikes more designed for a smoother ride. (To be clear, they'll be equally fast in speed, the difference is whether your handling is razor-tight or not - I personally prefer more relaxed handling as it's not as fatiguing to keep track of.)

Though as I said, I would personally prefer the Specialized Roubaix Base at $1,725 for it's full carbon, relaxed geometry frame, if it was me.

P.S. You know, don't let yourself get to overwhelmed here. Everything in the $800-$2000 price range is decent bikes. You'll most likely be happy with anything you get in that price range, as long as you get the right size and fit.

P.P.S. I think rack mounts are nice, but if you're not riding in the rain or right after the rain fenders are not nearly the big deal that other posters have made them out to be. Fenders are important if you're a "ride all the time in the rain" kind of commuter, not so much if you're only a fair weather commuter.

Last edited by PaulRivers; 06-20-14 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 06-20-14, 12:48 PM   #20
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I wouldn't consider anything but a road bike for that commute. Generally including touring bikes and flat-bar road bikes under that category. (but not cross-bikes or hybrids).

I couldn't recommend between your three choices but please don't get hung up on the component levels. Or the budget - don't be afraid to go cheaper. I'm a year-round every day commuter, the last couple of years on a Nashbar build with Sora and lower components. It's just not an issue.

You can put fenders on just about any road bike btw, given a little imagination. I've been carrying my clothes in a frame bag, although in your case driving the clothes in on the 1-2 days you drive means it's not a concern. Either way, mounts for a rack are irrelevant.

With the 1-2 miles of rough paved road I'd look for something that could take 28mm tires.
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Old 06-20-14, 01:25 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramey View Post
I'm looking for a reliable commute bike (~20 miles/day, 3 days a week), with a budget of $1600.

So far I've narrowed down to these 3 bikes:
caad10 5 : ~$1550 at REI
fuji roubaix 1.1 : $1419 at Performance Bike Shop
Giant Defy 1 : $1380 at LBS

An suggestion, which one is good or avoid ?

What kind of tyre should I put on? The road I ride is all paved smooth surface, except for ~2miles that is rough, still paved tho.


Thank you!
If you've got $1600 I'd say none of those.

All-City Space Horse is what I'd get.
Back up would be a Surly Cross-Check.

Both have all the mounts for fenders and racks and everything you could want, and can take many different sized tires from narrow to fairly wide.
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Old 06-20-14, 05:57 PM   #22
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If you've got $1600 I'd say none of those.

All-City Space Horse is what I'd get.
Back up would be a Surly Cross-Check.

Both have all the mounts for fenders and racks and everything you could want, and can take many different sized tires from narrow to fairly wide.
Both good choices. I really like a number of the All-City bikes and would consider one for a N+1 someday. I would also consider the Straggler if disc brakes are of interest.

Really a lot comes down to what you find comfortable riding regularly, if you want to prioritize comfort or speed, and how "flexible" of a bike do you want.
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Old 06-21-14, 12:32 AM   #23
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If you've got $1600 I'd say none of those.

All-City Space Horse is what I'd get.
Back up would be a Surly Cross-Check.

Both have all the mounts for fenders and racks and everything you could want, and can take many different sized tires from narrow to fairly wide.
I'm in the same boat as the poster with the same budget and a daily 20 mile RT commute - been looking at the Space Horse and the CC myself.
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Old 06-21-14, 09:39 AM   #24
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I'm in the same boat as the poster with the same budget and a daily 20 mile RT commute - been looking at the Space Horse and the CC myself.
Space Horse was the #1 choice for both my wife and I, but we couldn't afford the extra $300-400 bucks. Even after seeing them at our LBS, being so gorgeous, we couldn't do it. I ended up with a Cross-Check, and my wife a Specialized Tricross. I mean, we both absolutely love them and are happy, but we still lust after the Space Horse.
Even the Mr. Pink is great - just lacks some rackmounts.
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Old 06-21-14, 11:18 AM   #25
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....In the first post I forgot to mention that I wont be carrying anything so I don't need any rack mount. ....!
If this is going to be your ONLY bike, I would suggest not discounting utility of being able to carry things. Racing bikes (like the caad10 5) are really meant for racing. I would just make two points to consider: (1) For most people (who aren't serious about racing), a racing bike is not useful or needed. (2) The weight savings of carbon fiber or other high end materials and components are irrelevant for the average person. If you buy a bike that has the option of attaching fenders and racks, you can always take them off and still ride fast if you want (not serious racing fast, but fast enough for most people). A steel frame touring-type bike with tiagra components may weight a few pounds more than a carbon fiber bike with higher end components. That weight difference is important for serious racing, but it doesn't really matter if you are commuting at 15 mph. The extra weight provides utility, and I wouldn't discount the value of that. If you buy a racing bike and decide you need to carry something (food, clothes, laptop computer, etc.), then usually your only option is to strap on a hot and uncomfortable backpack. I've commuted thousands of miles with a backpack and also with panniers. Panniers win hands down.

If you want to commute and train for racing at the same time, then that is a different story.
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