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Old 05-16-09, 10:01 AM   #1
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Very expensive commute yesterday - I feel N+1 coming over me

Yesterday was Bike to Work day in Seattle so to do something special on my normal bike commute I left the old, heavy commuter at home, put my stuff in a messenger bag and jumped on my "good" bike for the commute (my 2007 Davidson Ti). Big mistake. I cut about 10 minutes off my normal time, enjoyed the benefits of STI shifting that I normally only enjoy on weekends, and stopped on a dime. While I've sung the praises of vintage commuters here and elsewhere before, my creeping suspicion that it was time the upgrade the commuter has turned into a new search for a new bike.

In my past purchases I've always wanted to be "practical." That is, get a commuter that can be "used for something else," so I've had two pretty heavy touring bikes. My current commuter, posted here in the past, is a 1983 Univega Gran Turismo with downtube shifters...a great comfy touring bike but certainly not fleet of foot. Now that I realize that I am doing as much mileage commuting (2,500 miles per year) as I do on weekends and it's time to shed a few pounds and get a tool to match the job - hence, my search for something new - the "fast commuter."

Requirements -
Triple or compact, I don't care
STI
Able to take 28c tires + fenders, maybe even 32c's in the winter
Mounts for a rear rack and fenders
Light enough to ride on weekends for fun when it's wet and sloppy out (not uncommon here).
Considering disc brakes, given the 6 months of rain we have here (I'm an all-weather commuter)

Would like to end up with something appreciably lighter than an all-out tourer. A touring bike ready to commute (pedals, seat, fenders, etc.) is 30 pounds or more. I would like to hold this under 25.

Budget -
I've now got a super-secure parking spot at work (a bike locker near a full-time security guard station), so I'm comfortable leaving a pretty nice bike at work... and sell off some other bikes, parts, etc. to fund the transition. I think this will end up being N+1, then minus 2. (I would leave the Davidson un-fendered for dry weather weekend riding - it's my "century" bike).

Trying to justify this:

Co-Motion Nor'wester ($3500 - ouch)
http://www.co-motion.com/single_bikes/norwester.html

Or this..

Boulder Bicycles Randonneuse ($3200, but includes very pricey dyno front hub and headlights)
http://www.renehersebicycles.com/Randonneur%20bikes.htm

But these are much more "practical..."

Soma Smoothie ES - $500-ish, frame and fork:
http://www.somafab.com/extrasmoothie.html

Salsa Casserroll, built up like THIS:
http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/2008/cc...rillo0408.html


Or, with discs:

Trek Portland (tsl's bike). About $1700 now, complete bike.
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...land/portland/

Baron - new small maker in Seattle. About $1500 for frame and fork.
http://www.baronbicycles.com/index.htm

Gunnar Fast Lane. About $1200 frame and fork.
http://www.gunnarbikes.com/fastlane.php


This is a slow-motion search, may not even do it.....time to start test riding.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 05-16-09 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 05-16-09, 10:15 AM   #2
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Won't comment on the bike choice to use- as I don't know them but have to agree about the reasons. After I got Boreas- I decided that the OCR was going to be the foul weather bike. After riding it to the LBS in torrential rain and 20mph winds- I decided that I did not want such a wide variation in ride quality between the bikes. Ordered a TCR-C frame and only ridden the OCR once since.

I don't care if it is a bike that is going to see all sorts of weather and do high milage. The bike I ride has to please me in its comfort and performance. And the once That I rode the OCR since getting the TCR was a "Commute" back from work. 33 miles and it took 2hrs 40 on the OCR. The next time was on the TCR and it was 2hrs 5 minutes.

Only thing I would suggest is pay attention to wheel quality. Light Radially spoked Wheels may not be the best for a regular commute. They are a bit harsher than a hand built Ultegra/105 hub laced to a Mavic Open Pro/CXP33 rim with 32/36 spokes laced x 2.
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Old 05-16-09, 10:17 AM   #3
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My question on faster is what is actually making your other bike slower? If its the big tires, panniers and a bunch of commuter stuff, that you will then cram onto your new bike, wont it be then as slow as your current bike? Just curious. Simply adding fenders, going from 23's to 28's, adding some lights I dropped over a mile an hour on my road bike. Static weight isnt a terribley big factor if its just frame weight. Bigger slower tires, and commuting gear is what I find slows me down. This may not apply to you at all, and you may feel like a new bike, which is also cool. I was just curious, as some of the bikes you showed, did not look terribly nimble themselves.
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Old 05-16-09, 10:27 AM   #4
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Velotechnophilia- n. "...the love of technical improvements related to bicycling including, but not limited to, technical improvements in existing cycles as well as the search for new, technically advanced, bikes and equipment. Highly contageous. Often results in intrafamilial stress."

Sounds like an interesting and noble project! Could not find a pic of the fully built Gunnar... that would be nice to see.
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Old 05-16-09, 10:39 AM   #5
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My question on faster is what is actually making your other bike slower? If its the big tires, panniers and a bunch of commuter stuff, that you will then cram onto your new bike, wont it be then as slow as your current bike? Just curious.
I think I've tried to realistic about the weight savings.

Touring grade rack (vs. a lighter rack I could use for commuting); 32 or 35c touring tires (vs. 28's); slightly lighter wheels; carbon fork instead of steel fork; generally upgraded components all around -- I think I can hit my weight goal. I don't mean to sound too much like a weight weenie but when you finish specing a bike that is "rugged enough" for commuting vs. "bombproof" for touring you will end up saving a few pounds.

Just as an example...Tubus's lightest rack (carries plenty for commuting) is a pound lighter than its standard rugged touring rack.

Plus - while I grew up on downtube shifters - I do ride faster w/STI's in rolling hills (my commute); my brakes on my commuter need a serious upgrade.

It's not really worth trying to do this if you don't ride the bike much, and having a touring bike baked into your commuter is a great idea. I've done it twice.

But if you're doing the same ride, 20 miles a day, good weather and bad - it starts to add up.

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Old 05-16-09, 11:22 AM   #6
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Between this thread, the touring thread and the planning for some upcoming long rides as well as a few other things I would say I have to agree with the thoughts of the OP. I have been commuting a lot this year. Before I would ride a few days to work on my MTB but the lost energy due to the front shock and the harsh ride due to the AL frame just bugged me - so I would stop. Last summer I was given the old steel Puch - it rides better but is heavy. Today I went to the LBS and bought some brake shoes and pedals for it. I asked about mounting fenders and starting to add racks to it - it is so old and wo any barze ons or mounting points (heck the wheels are bolted on and the crankes are cottered) he could not find anything that would work. I am now thinking of dumping two bikes and picking up a touring bike. Been looking for a Surly LHT for a few weeks now but all this touring bike talk is getting me to think about something more serious yet flexible. If you find a touring bike that is light enough to do a decent century on (unloaded), carriers your computer, lunch and work crap well, would make a good grocery getter (and I mean a weeks worth) and will handle rough roads let us know.

BTW - I found this link that may be helpful in your search: http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/to...tance-touring/
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Old 05-16-09, 11:33 AM   #7
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BTW - I found this link that may be helpful in your search: http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/to...tance-touring/
thanks - I'd seen that link. Most of those are heavier touring bikes.

There is a really interesting "light" touring bike in there - the Jamis Aurora Elite. That's one that should be on my list, they advertise it as around 23 pounds. (It's an upgraded version of the Jamis Aurora with lighter tubing and higher grade components).

In fact, I think the Elite illustrates the point about the weight difference you get with "lighter" touring or commuting bikes -- it has a road crank (vs. mountain), a little lighter weight rims, 32 spokes instead of 36...you end up with something about 3 or 4 pounds lighter than a more rugged touring bike. As a result, I don't think the Elite is quite tough enough for fully loaded touring (esp. for a bigger rider like me), but for lighter duty is seems like a great value.

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Old 05-16-09, 11:53 AM   #8
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After getting over the fear that I was about to read that something terrible happened to your Davidson Ti, I realized you were just talking about getting new bike fever. As I was reading your requirements I was thinking that it sounded like a good job for a Soma Smoothie ES, then I saw that it was one of your bikes to consider. The Casseroll would be another good choice. The only problem I have with the Portland is the aluminum frame (and the silly make believe fenders). Most of the other choices would be great, but out of my price range.
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Old 05-16-09, 12:02 PM   #9
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I looked at the picture of the Jamis - the one thing I was looking for was a bit of a head tube angle and some rake in the front fork - it is these little thinks that will give you a nice suspension in the front and dampen road shock in the bars.

Not sure what the weight would be but the Roberts transcontinental caught my eye, it has Columbus Novachrome & Reynolds tubing which is very light and rides extremely well. I posted the question on the touring section earlier today. It may also be impossible to get in the states.

My thought was to get a good frame and build it up with good light but sturdy road parts & wheels. Have a bike for centuries and longer - there is a local Ultra cycling club here and I would like to try one of thier rides.

Given the current exchange rate the Roberts frame would be about $1500 - pricey but heck, the idea is just in the research phase right now. It took me two years to settle on my Tarmac.
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Old 05-16-09, 12:04 PM   #10
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20 minutes saved per day - assuming 150 days of commuting/yr?? = 3,000 minutes.

$3,000 bike

Cost $1.00 per minute saved over a year.

Seems reasonable to me!!
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Old 05-16-09, 12:17 PM   #11
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20 minutes saved per day - assuming 150 days of commuting/yr?? = 3,000 minutes.

$3,000 bike

Cost $1.00 per minute saved over a year.

Seems reasonable to me!!
Thats 50 hours year. I think I would be putting in for a pay rise to cover the extra time at work I would be spending.

@ $20 an hour- thats $1,000 pay increase- Think I would put it to the governor that if he made the rise to $5,000 a year- you could do the ride quicker and hence spend more time working for him
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Old 05-16-09, 12:21 PM   #12
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I vote for the Smoothie or even the Double Cross if you want disc brakes. You should be able to do a 105 build for less than $1600 on either and keep your weight down to 22 lbs if you use light wheels.
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Old 05-16-09, 12:21 PM   #13
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Thats 50 hours year. I think I would be putting in for a pay rise to cover the extra time at work I would be spending.

@ $20 an hour- thats $1,000 pay increase- Think I would put it to the governor that if he made the rise to $5,000 a year- you could do the ride quicker and hence spend more time working for him
I didn't figure he would get to work any earlier - just sleep in another 10 minutes, and arrive home 10 minutes early to help with the chores.
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Old 05-16-09, 01:10 PM   #14
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I vote for the Smoothie or even the Double Cross if you want disc brakes. You should be able to do a 105 build for less than $1600 on either and keep your weight down to 22 lbs if you use light wheels.
I've seen photos of your Double Cross build and it looks like a terrific bike. I was in your fair city a few weeks ago (I used to live in Evanston - go Wildcats) and was reminded how rotten many of the roads are, especially in the city. Certainly argues for bigger tires.
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Old 05-16-09, 02:06 PM   #15
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I too thought you crashed your Davidson when I first saw your thread . As you may know I just started commuting on my new (used) Lemond Poprad after commuting last year on my Litespeed. I had tried an old steel bike as a commuter and even converted my sons decent old GT mountain bike into a drop bar commuter. Neither was even close to the same riding time as my Litespeed and I missed my STI shifters. I am happy to say that the Poprad, though not quite as fast as my Litespeed, seems to be just the ticket. If you aren't stuck on buying a new bike I would recommend a used Poprad with disk brakes. You also might consider a new Fisher Presidio which is the same bike with some nice upgrades. Of all of the bikes you listed I would recommend the ones with Reynolds 853 or True Temper Ox Platinum frames. Both are top quality tube materials that are light, weld well, and will give you a great ride. I don't want to start a debate,so I won't name names, but I don't see why some of the steel bikes with lower grade frames are so expensive. Whatever you get don't forget the pictures.
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Old 05-16-09, 02:26 PM   #16
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a used Poprad with disk brakes. You also might consider a new Fisher Presidio which is the same bike with some nice upgrades.
Would love to find a Poprad w/discs. A colleague just bought one and it looks great. I have a couple of searches out now...

The Fisher does not seem to come in a size large enough with me (largest is 59cm, and I think that's close to "real," since it doesn't have a sloping top tube).
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Old 05-16-09, 02:26 PM   #17
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Here is one that might be of interest to you. It is a Lynsky titanium frame cyclocross / commuter. You could build this up with some nice wheels and have a super commuter.
http://www.lynskeyperformance.com/a/...om-level-1.php

On the sizing of the Poprad, mine is a 55cm with a 55cm seat tube but the top tube is 57cm. I think a 57cm would have been too big and that is what fits me in every other bike I have tried.

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Old 05-16-09, 02:42 PM   #18
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Here is one that might be of interest to you. It is a Lynsky titanium frame cyclocross / commuter. You could build this up with some nice wheels and have a super commuter.

Yep, I've seen that. Definitely out of my price range!

A similar bike that was on the market for a while was the Litespeed Appalachian, also known as the Blue Ridge. There was one in my neighborhood (literally, about a mile from my house) that was sold on eBay last winter for around $1800....I almost bid on it but it was completely decked out with racing wheels and racing gearing, so it would have needed a lot of changes for my purposes. I should have bought it; I could have used the components on a different bike...

A cheaper version of the Ti idea would be a Habanero 'cross frame, for about $1,000 (frame only).
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Old 05-16-09, 04:07 PM   #19
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Go for it - even $3k is trivial compared to the joy and benefits.

I've commuted on my keeper bikes and every build or refurbished/flip bike my size. For bike to work day I commuted on a rebuilt Schwin steel frame (new tires, cables, pads) and then sold it that night. My bikes run from $20 yard sale to my Colnago titanium (approx $1400 my cost). I don't like commuting on my heavier cross bike but it's a good winter commuter.
I'm building (cost just under $1k) a unique commuter - track frame, SA 3 speed hub, drum brakes, honjo fenders, generator hub, high tech German LED light. I hope I like her.
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Old 05-16-09, 04:58 PM   #20
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When you decide, give an update on time saving. Mostly Im curious. Five pounds of of static weight, considering a very fit 160lb rider, plus 20 pound bike, 180lbs. 3% weight differance. Increased rotating mass of 28 or 32's probably makes much more differance.

Personnely, I think you should go for it, I just bought new golf clubs that at best will marginally improve my scoring, but its fun.

I agree, its more likely that the shifters will make more difference, in that you will tend to ride more efficiently. It would just suck if you spend $3500, outit it for commuting and find out it is still ten minutes slower than your Davidson.

Think of me as taking your wifes side of the argument, so you can be prepared to justify your purchase. hehe
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Old 05-16-09, 05:51 PM   #21
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hence, my search for something new - the "fast commuter."

Requirements -
Triple or compact, I don't care
STI
Able to take 28c tires + fenders, maybe even 32c's in the winter
Mounts for a rear rack and fenders
Light enough to ride on weekends for fun when it's wet and sloppy out (not uncommon here).
Considering disc brakes, given the 6 months of rain we have here (I'm an all-weather commuter)

Would like to end up with something appreciably lighter than an all-out tourer. A touring bike ready to commute (pedals, seat, fenders, etc.) is 30 pounds or more. I would like to hold this under 25.

Trek Portland (tsl's bike). About $1700 now, complete bike.
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...land/portland/
Well, you've saved me a lot of work in replying!

You already know how much I love my Portland as a four-season fast-commuter and general all 'rounder.

Filling in a couple of blanks, mine is the 56cm and weighed 23 pounds, showroom stock. In commute-ready trim--pedals, lights, batteries, full fenders, Tubus Cosmo rack, and cages--it's 27 pounds.

The disk brakes are the source of much of the extra weight. The hubs need to be heavier, there's the rotors, and the calipers themselves are heavier. That, plus the heavier hoops required for the boutique spoke pattern, account for roughly three of those excess pounds. I'm willing to pay the penalty for the disk brakes, but the fancy spoke wheels will be going. I'm hoping to shed a pound on a new wheelset.

FWIW, I find the Gunnar Fast Lane intriguing, since it's the closest equivalent in steel.

Myself, I'm headed for Ti for both the weight savings and the durable non-painted finish. When I get that kind of money saved, the bike I have made will be very close to what I have in the Portland. Still, I like the Portland well enough that I'm in no particular hurry.
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Old 05-23-09, 12:36 AM   #22
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Test rode one of these tonight - Orbea Diem. Carbon fiber frame, eyelets for fenders and a rack in the rear, plenty of clearance for 28c or 32c tires + fenders.

http://www.orbea-usa.com/fly.aspx?la...d=167&taxid=74

Very nice - we weighed it on the scale at the bike shop - 20 pounds even with pedals and a seat.

3 problems:

- Need to convert from flat bars to drop bars (I don't like flat bars after about 5 minutes). Bike shop will work with me on swap of bars and shifters for what's on the bike now.
- Oddly, only one set of rivets (or whatever they call them in a CF frame) for water bottle. My LBS is also a framebuilder and says no problem to put in extra ones.
- Biggest problem - there is no good way to mount the rear fender on the frame where the chainstays meet the frame. We would have to fabricate a bracket or drill a hole in the frame. I have complete confidence in the LBS in doing this work but they warned me that if frame ever failed I might have problem getting a warranty claim.

Super nice bike, very light, very comfy even with the stock 23c tires (which I would change). But I wonder why they would make a bike designed for "urban riding" and "commuting" without better provisions for commuting (which some reviewers have noted as well, I realize now).
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Old 05-23-09, 05:52 AM   #23
jwh
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I'm thinking about one of these for the same purpose.
I know it's not a popular brand name but it's alot of bike for the money. ($1795.00)

It even has fender mounts.

Last edited by jwh; 07-19-09 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 05-27-09, 04:54 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh View Post
I'm thinking about one of these for the same purpose.
I know it's not a popular brand name but it's alot of bike for the money. ($1795.00)

It even has fender mounts.
I agree, the BD bike is a good deal. However, every time I look at it, I think that the Habanero Ti bike (similar Asian-made Ti frame) might make more sense. I hear great things about working with Habanero, and I think by time you bought the BikesDirect bike and changed out a few things that aren't quite right you would end up almost at the same price as a Habanero w/full Ultegra kit.

Meanwhile, my search continues....still thinking about the Orbea. Thinking about a Curtlo. Thinking about a Gunnar Sport. Wishing the perfect used bike would pop up on Craigslist...
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Old 05-27-09, 08:44 PM   #25
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Well, you know which one has my vote.
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