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  1. #1
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Fast bike for quick rides?

    Okay, the title probably isn't very clear, but here is what I'm thinking about.

    I like a bike that is fast (basically fairly light, narrow tires - 700x23 - and the typical drop bars).

    Each of these things matters to speed. In the case of the drop bars, that may be a critical point because I typically have to ride into a 10-15 mph wind.

    Now, all that is easy enough to do, except I want to be able to do one more thing - have that bike setup so I can just jump on it without wearing anything special clothing, especially having to change into bike shorts.

    Sometimes this would just be to run an errand - maybe a mile each way and any bike would do for that. But often it would be to ride about 13 miles each way. That's where the weight and especially the drop bars come in handy. I don't go all the way down into the drops too much, but even riding the hoods helps a lot with the wind.

    I started with a comfort bike which was, well, comfortable, but when the wind hit you, it was like running into a wall. Besides, the big tires and weight made it slower than I like for that distance.

    As it happens, I have a Bianchi Volpe I can experiment with. It's not all that light, but it is lighter than that old comfort bike!

    Near as I can figure, pedals are not a problem. If I want to ride with ordinary athletic shoes or clipless, I can buy double-sided pedals.

    Unless I'm missing something, the big issue is going to be the saddle. I know I can't ride without bike shorts with the normal saddle on it (I've tried and it is pretty rough even for short rides).

    So, I was wondering if there would be any problem just putting a saddle on it like you would find on a comfort bike - I used to just wear regular shorts with that. Is there anything about that which could cause a problem on a bike like the Volpe? I know of two differences between this potential setup and that comfort bike:

    1. The seat had a suspension seatpost but this wouldn't (don't know if one can be put on it but ideally I'd like to avoid that).

    2. On a road style bike, even when on the tops of the bars, you lean forward more which, in turn, tends to put at least a little pressure on the private areas. It isn't so much about cutting off circulation, but just being irritating to some private parts. I guess the ideal solution to that would be bars that let you sit up more than normal on a road bike when on top of the bars, but still let you get low in the hoods or drops to deal with wind, but I don't know if there is anything like that.

    Hope I explained this okay. Basically I want to give up as little speed as possible with a second bike which doesn't require special clothing.

  2. #2
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Basically, you're looking for a short distance performance/errand bike....something very simple. Get a fixed gear or a single speed with a Brooks saddle so you can use non-padded shorts.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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  3. #3
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Fixer
    Basically, you're looking for a short distance performance/errand bike....something very simple. Get a fixed gear or a single speed with a Brooks saddle so you can use non-padded shorts.
    Fixed gear and single speed are out of the question - I have some serious hills any direction I go! And even if I could physically make it up them, it is most certainly not going to give me the average speed I want to maximize.

    But I am intrigued by your comment about the Brooks saddle. I have read things here and there about them and talked to a couple people, but I never heard any comment about not needing to wear regular bicycle shorts on that saddle. I was also under the impression that they are HARD - but happen to adjust to your body. So, if they are hard, I certainly would have though that padded shorts would be needed.

    Can you elaborate?

  4. #4
    cab horn
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    Well uh they are leather.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  5. #5
    Senior Member concernicus's Avatar
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    +1 for the fixed gear. use a low gearing. plus, your little legs will grow stronger.

  6. #6
    Senior Member geebee's Avatar
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    Just swap the seat to what you find comfortable in jeans.
    I used to ride a road bike upto 50 klm's in jeans 6 days a week. Around 50 k's the chaffing settles in.
    Or get a recumbent, ride all day in jeans.
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  7. #7
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Well uh they are leather.
    Yeah, but are people commonly able to use them on road bikes without biking shorts?

  8. #8
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by concernicus
    +1 for the fixed gear. use a low gearing. plus, your little legs will grow stronger.
    My cassette is a 12/27. I use them all. No way will I be able to maximize my speed with a fixed gear. I also don't expect to make any significant improvement in strength anyway. I spend months riding further and adding hill climbs that were so steep, I couldn't go straight up them even in my lowest gear. I had to zig-zag. Didn't make a lot of difference in how strong I am - made some, but not enough for a fixed gear to be attractive to my purposes.

  9. #9
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    I don't get the problem. I can ride 10-15 miles on my standard roadie+hard saddle in regular shorts. It may not be AS comfortable as padded shorts, but not bad.

    -D

  10. #10
    Senior Citizen lyeinyoureye's Avatar
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    If wind is that much of a problem, I'd say a DIY bent with a bit of fairing on the front is your best bet.

  11. #11
    Yet another vegan biker
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    I don't get the problem. I can ride 10-15 miles on my standard roadie+hard saddle in regular shorts. It may not be AS comfortable as padded shorts, but not bad
    Exactly. Besides, the solution isn't bigger fluffier seats, its toughening up your butt by racking up more miles.

    I don't go all the way down into the drops too much, but even riding the hoods helps a lot with the wind.
    I commute on old touring bikes all week long and I wanted a snappy bike I could tear the paths up come the weekends. To that purpose, I built up a 1987 Sakae Litage frame (about 3 pounds). The frame is too tall if I was to have to ride for long distances. But that long top tube lets me stretch out and get into a fairly aero position.

    I also used old-style box-rims on my wheelset. They are lighter AND cheaper than the modern aero design rims. To keep them light I used light tubes and IRC Paperlite 700 x 23's.



  12. #12
    Mooninite shakeNbake's Avatar
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    I ride my bike (click the sig) 10 miles everyday without bike shorts.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRCF
    Yeah, but are people commonly able to use them on road bikes without biking shorts?
    every day for the last 7 years...

    they are comfy. just get one.

  14. #14
    Senior Member edp773's Avatar
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    OCR3/Trek1000
    Born Again Bicyclist! I found my Faith.

    Giant Cypress, GF Wahoo, Trek 7.3FX, Schwinn Sprint

  15. #15
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by derath
    I don't get the problem. I can ride 10-15 miles on my standard roadie+hard saddle in regular shorts. It may not be AS comfortable as padded shorts, but not bad.

    -D
    I have never figured out why I have the problem with a road bike but not with the comfort bike (at least not in the distances I'm talking about), but as I recall, when I try to ride without bike shorts, my butt gets sort of a burning/stinging sensation. Very uncomfortable and if I'm doing the 13 mile trip, by the time I'm ready to come back home, I find myself trying to stand as much as I can.

    As for the other posters suggestions about needing to ride more to toughhen up, I've done 7500-7800 miles the past two years with many rides over 50 miles - even some over 75 plus one century. If that isn't enough to toughen up the butt, well, it just isn't going to get any better!

    I have, from time to time, seen people talk about being able to ride in regular shorts on a road bike, but not very often, so I have to wonder if it is just one of those things some can do - or maybe they just happened to get the perfect saddle for their body. I've tried 4 saddles I think. The present one is the best I've tried, but I wouldn't describe it as great - don't know if the problem there is with the seat or if its me. Sort of lik how some can ride with regular shorts and I never have been - maybe genetic! (grin).

    I guess I could just try putting a comfort saddle on and see what happens, but I don't think the difference is just the saddle - I'm betting a lot has to do with the riding position.

  16. #16
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
    If wind is that much of a problem, I'd say a DIY bent with a bit of fairing on the front is your best bet.
    I sometimes think about a bent, but I'm not ready for that yet. There are some issues I have with them. For one thing, I wonder how much I'll lose in speed uphill - that is, whether that loss will be greater than the speed I gain on the rest of the ride. I've never been good on hills anyway.

    I also am not real fond of how visible you are sitting down below the parked cars - and I don't think the little pennants are all that noticeable.

    Finally, one of the nice things for where I ride is that there are always buses I can ride as they all have bike racks. So I don't have to worry about any kind of mechanical problem. Of course, normally that wouldn't be more than a flat tire but even then, sometimes it is nice if I've already ridden a long way to be able to grab a bus and fix the tire at home. If it is early in the ride, I always fix it. Oh, and twice I got three flats in the same day! Most bents won't fit on a bus bike rack.

    Still, it is something I may do someday, especially if I can actually get to ride one for awhile first.

  17. #17
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZachS
    every day for the last 7 years...

    they are comfy. just get one.
    Well, maybe - there are some people who said they didn't like them.

    More important, I need to get a better idea of whether most Brooks users have no problem riding with regular shorts or if you and the other poster are sort of an exception.

    Hopefully more will pass on their experience.

  18. #18
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    I guess I could just try putting a comfort saddle on and see what happens, but I don't think the difference is just the saddle - I'm betting a lot has to do with the riding position.
    Maybe you could post a picture of your bicycle to show the relation of your seat to the handlebars. It could be that you need your handlebars raised.

    What is the condition of your drivetrain on the Volpe? Are your wheels true?

    I have ultegra on my bicycle. It's light and fast. However, when the front derailleur is out of adjustment the chain will scrape the guide and it slows me down. My fast bicycle becomes slow.

    The Volpe is not a bicycle built for speed. However, I would think it should be more than adequate to meet your requests.

    Could your bicycle require some maintenance? Does your riding position need to improve?
    Would you like a dream with that?

  19. #19
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgiaboy
    Maybe you could post a picture of your bicycle to show the relation of your seat to the handlebars. It could be that you need your handlebars raised.

    What is the condition of your drivetrain on the Volpe? Are your wheels true?

    I have ultegra on my bicycle. It's light and fast. However, when the front derailleur is out of adjustment the chain will scrape the guide and it slows me down. My fast bicycle becomes slow.

    The Volpe is not a bicycle built for speed. However, I would think it should be more than adequate to meet your requests.
    I normally ride a Felt F-35 now, but the Volpe is sitting here so it seemed like a natural to use for these little rides if I can make adjustments to eliminate the need for special shorts.

    I think most people would find that I have things set up to allow a little more erect posture than most. I spent a very long time trying to get used to a lower position, but never could. I was always sliding up to the front of the seat on the Volpe. It is just me - when driving a car, I also tend to slide the seat up a lot. Yeah, I've a little short, but I still do it more than others my size would.

    Even on the Felt, which is smaller, I changed things to raise the bar a little bit. Still, even with that reduction in aerodynamics, it is still far more aero than a comfort bike!

    The Volpe would be fast enough for these needs. Everything works fine. Just need to come up with conversions that let me ditch the need for bike shorts mainly.

  20. #20
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    most people around here ride with regular clothes. many of them have brookses.

  21. #21
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've a little short, but I still do it more than others my size would.
    I'm only 5' 6" in height. I find my 51cm Bianchi fits nicely.

    Hope it works out.
    Would you like a dream with that?

  22. #22
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    My roomate and both ride our brooks with no padded shorts on. Mine's still in the break in so I only do that up to about 10 miles right now, but it will do up as it breaks in. She goes 20+ miles with no padding and no issues. I think it's pretty normal for those with a Brooks. (btw I have a B17S and she has a B72)

  23. #23
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceridwen
    My roomate and both ride our brooks with no padded shorts on. Mine's still in the break in so I only do that up to about 10 miles right now, but it will do up as it breaks in. She goes 20+ miles with no padding and no issues. I think it's pretty normal for those with a Brooks. (btw I have a B17S and she has a B72)
    Thanks for those commenting on using Brooks without special shorts. Also need to here from anyone who finds that doesn't work in case I'm only hearing from a select group!

    BTW, maybe part of this issue with regular shorts has to do with the kind of underwear. I normally just wear ordinary stuff (Hanes or something). Are you folks who don't have problems wearing anything special.

    Another thing now that I think about it - I mentioned that when I try to wear regular shorts, my butt will get a burning sensation. I've had this happen with bike shorts too sometimes - just not nearly so bad and not all the time. When it does, I get the feeling that there is a problem with moisture. In fact, awhile back when my air conditioning wasn't working at home and I was just sitting around in a underwear - and still too hot - I got some of the same feeling.

    So I guess that has to be factored in. Either I need underwear that deals with that better or some other solution, though I still don't know why this didn't happen on normal rides back when I had a comfort bike. I could wear the normal underwear or swim trunks under my shorts back then.

  24. #24
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    I have three brooks on three different types of bikes - hybrid(B17), folder (champion flyer S-I think that is the name it is sprung) and Roadbike - (team pro s-presoftened) - I go without bike shorts on all three if going under 15 miles - I have not had a problem . I have only had the saddles three months - not a problem with breaking in for me. and normal but not cotton underwear (in summer I find cotton gets and stays too sweaty)

  25. #25
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by farrellcollie
    and normal but not cotton underwear (in summer I find cotton gets and stays too sweaty)
    Hmmm, this is interesting - all mine are 100% cotton. Perhaps that explains a lot. What are yours made of?

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