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Old 06-21-03, 07:32 AM   #1
belfast-biker
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Converting a Racer into a Commuter? Why?

This months Cycling Plus carried an article on converting a racebike to a commuter.

If a racebike is supposed to be the dogs nads, why bother?

Can a racebike not handle a trip to work and back?

Some of it I could uderstand, like the suspension seatpost, or pedals with a cage on one side and SPD on the other (I use such a pair), but converting drop bars to flatbars....why?

We hear so much about the comfort of dropbars, the multiple hand positions...why change?

I suppose my point is, what makes a commuter and a racer so different for most people, since very little people on racers actually...race?
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Old 06-21-03, 08:53 AM   #2
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Some people believe they can watch out for traffic better with flat bars, but I always commute on drops, except when commuting on my mountain bike. (Mountain bikes do make good short-distance commuters, particularly if you have any dirt roads or potholed shortcuts on your route or need to carry a significant load.)

To me, the two crucial differences between a commuting frame and a racing frame are tyre/mudguard clearance and rack/mudguard eyelets on the dropouts. The racer will also TEND to have a harsher ride and quicker handling. My Capo and both Peugeots are superb commuters, although the long wheelbased Reynolds 531 Capo frame is a bit too soft for heavy rack loads. The PKN-10 takes 700Cx28 tyres (Specialized Armadillos), which I consider about right for commuting on decent roads. My Bianchi, which lacks eyelets and MAY be able to accommodate 700Cx25 tyres (it's already pretty tight with 23s), is an absolute blast to ride, but I rarely use it for commuting or general transportation.
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Old 06-21-03, 10:35 AM   #3
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C+ is available in the US only at extraordinary expense, so I'm unlikely to see the article unless I read it at Borders, but...

The problems with racing bikes as commuters -- problems which may or may not be meaningful or important to some riders -- include:

- Wheels/tires that are too fragile for potholes, glass-strewn roads, and other city road hazards;

- Lack of clearance and attachment points for fenders;

- Lack of rack mounts.

As for adding suspension, solving the wheel/tire issue will likely add all the cushioning anyone might need.

As for the bars, I don't know why they think it's so important, but just swapping the bars wouldn't help anything much, since they would still be the same height as the tops of the existing drop bars. Whatever measures one took to raise the stem -- changing stems, adding an extension, replacing the fork so as to have a longer steerer -- would work for drop bars as well as flat, without the extra expense of changing levers and other drivetrain parts.

I commute daily on bikes with drop bars set just slighltly below saddle height. I have no issues with seeing or being seen.

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Old 06-21-03, 11:59 AM   #4
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I agree with all the sentiments above. I've been commuting with drops for many years. I just cannot bear the drag of the in on my chest. Visibility by and of me has never been an issue.
Wheels and tyres are a problem no latter what I ride. I use 700cx23s variously shod. I think really to be OK on the streets in Liverpool I'd need caterpillar tracks, but Armadillos work best for me at present.
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Old 06-22-03, 05:26 PM   #5
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In relation to drop-bars, I think for some people access to the brake levers can be an issue. With flat bars, the fingers can be over the brake levers all the time, ready for that sudden emergency slow or stop. Staying on the drop levers can get pretty tiresome.

Having said that, I commute on a drop-bar go-fast style of bike and love it for the speed (lighter weight), acceleration (lighter wheels and tyres), braking and handling (shorter wheelbase and tighter seat/headtube angles) when compared with my touring bike. But if it's raining, the touring bike gets the nod because it has mudguards/fenders.
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Old 06-22-03, 05:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rowan
In relation to drop-bars, I think for some people access to the brake levers can be an issue. With flat bars, the fingers can be over the brake levers all the time, ready for that sudden emergency slow or stop. Staying on the drop levers can get pretty tiresome.
I can brake from the hoods fine and can actually ride for extended periods of time on them if I have to but that would of course defeat the purpose of having multiple hand positions of a dropbar.

Aux/secondary levers might solve the problem of people wanting to brake from a more upright position. they're cheap and fairly easy to install. Specialized sells them as does IRD. I think Paul Component also markets a set.
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Old 06-23-03, 03:50 AM   #7
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Entry-level road bikes are OK as commuters, but some of the high-end ultra-light models cant really take the punishment. Try a drop test to see if the bike is commuter-ready. Stand the bike on the ground, holding by the saddle. Let go. The bike will drop to the ground. If the tubeing gets dented or heavily scratched, or you start to cry, dont commute on it.
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Old 06-23-03, 10:20 AM   #8
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I do most of my miles commuting (20 miles one way). In my opinion I bought the bike to ride, and I ride it. Of course it isn't a multi thousand dollar bike, but it has 23c tires on it and I have little problem. The way I figure it, I ride similar roads on the weekend, why not during the week? I don't notice an increase in the amount of flats I get during the week as opposed to weekends. In any case, the only drawback I see is doing club rides with the rack on the back. Just doesn't look as cool as an out and out racer. I don't have a lot of pride on that end though so it is a small con.
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Old 06-23-03, 10:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul L.
way I figure it, I ride similar roads on the weekend, why not during the week? I don't notice an increase in the amount of flats I get during the week as opposed to weekends.
On the other hand, I ride roads on my commute that are hard to describe as "recreational," traveling as they do through some of Philadelphia's less attractive and well-maintained sections.

My tolerance for flats on a commute is very low, much lower than on a weekend ride. Commuting, I'd prefer not to arrive at work grimy and late (it's not a problem if I do, it's just not something I want to have happen), and commuting often takes place in weather that makes flat-changing unpleasant.

So I go with the kevlar-belted touring tires on a heavy-duty touring rim on my commuting bikes.

Weekends I head in the opposite direction, out into the countryside, where the roads tend to be cleaner and better paved. The 23c tires are not a problem here, and I don't mind stopping to fix a flat anyway, since if the weather is nasty I can just reschedule the ride.

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Old 06-24-03, 11:14 AM   #10
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I hadn't thought about weather. We rarely have rainy days in Arizona so that is not a problem here. Glass, refuse, and other things that destroy tires are abundant though as they never wash off the roads. I can't get even Kevlar tires (on the back anyway) to last more than 1000 miles (due to gashes from debris not wear). I find many of our country road shoulders around here are even worse than city streets. I think this is due to the fact that normal traffic uses the shoulder more in town and tends to move the debris over to the curb. I guess I could use my mountain bike, but I just don't want to do those kind of miles (20 each way) on a mountain bike. I guess the rain makes the biggest difference. If I was changing a flat or two a week in the rain then I would probably reconsider. Getting a flat in a bad neighborhood on an expensive bike is not a good thing either.
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Old 06-24-03, 05:27 PM   #11
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I used to commute to work on a Trek hybrid which was fine until I got a Cannondale road bike. Now when I'm on the Trek I feel like granny--especially when there is a stiff head wind.

Now I try to commute 2-3 days per week on my road bike. Takes some organization as I have to have all of my clothes (and food since there are few restaurants near where I work) at work for the week. It's well worth it--most of my commute is on a smooth, protected path on the beach. It's like a mini vacation at the beginning and end of the day.

Anyway, the bike's holding up fine after 2000 miles. I just am very careful to keep it clean of sand and salt.
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Old 06-24-03, 08:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by belfast-biker
but converting drop bars to flatbars....why?
My 2 cents is that flatbars make it easier to maneuver obstacles. I can bunny hop with drop bars, but I can bunny hop much better with flat bars.
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Old 06-24-03, 09:28 PM   #13
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Originally posted by MichaelW
Try a drop test to see if the bike is commuter-ready. Stand the bike on the ground, holding by the saddle. Let go. The bike will drop to the ground. If the tubeing gets dented or heavily scratched, or you start to cry, dont commute on it.
Very Pythonesque!
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