I ride 2x 15 km per day with moderate hills & have been bike commuting to some extent for the better part of 20 years. I am currently using an older mountain bike (steel frame) with slicks and a rigid fork, which has been bullet proof for city riding, but am now looking for a faster and hopefully more ergonomically correct ride that is a bit easier on my aging wrists & other bits that are starting to hurt from the jarring of bridge joints, pot-holes, etc.. My route goes up & down hills, so I don't want to get shocks due to the bobbing inefficiency on the many climbs.
I've been doing some research & there is a lot of talk about carbon forks & possibly chain stays providing a bit more comfort. I imagine that any new bike I get will have more compliant forks than the super heavy-duty rigid forks currently on my bike.
Can anybody comment if there is any validity to the increase in comfort arising from the use of carbon fiber on chain stays & forks? The bikes I am looking at (Rocky Mountain RC-70 & Norco VFR-1) will at the least have better geometry, so this will address the bike fit & ergonomics to some extent. I plan to hang fenders & paniers off this rig, so if carbon fiber is too fragile for hitting the occassional pot-hole or jumping a curb here & there under load, let me know as well.
Any input on RC-70 vs VFR-1 would also be appreciated.
While you will hear a lot of people talk about carbon absorbing road shock, and it does, not to the extent it sounds like you need. If you're talking about your aging wrists and so on I would look at a more modern mountain bike or a hybrid with some suspension. Big time cushy ride over the worst junk on the road.
Your tires are providing the vast majority of the shock absorbtion, and what they do not dampen, your body absorbs the rest.
A proper bike fit will sort out most of the ergonomic issues. Suspension, even just a front fork will help the bumps and jolts. I doubt you will notice much or any difference with carbon, though it may have a weight benefit.
If you are not riding trails, or off road, I would recommend a hybrid or touring bike. Higher gearing, and narrow 700Cx23 or even a bit wider tires at 100 PSI will knock about 10 minutes each way off your commute.
By the looks of it, both the Rocky and the Norco would fit your requirments. I know the rocky has 700Cx25, if the Norco does too, then a coin toss will probably do. I personally have always likes Rocky Mountains, but go with the one that rides the best. Lighter is always nicer.
I did a similar commute for several years from richmond to downtown. Did it a few times on a mountain bike when the road bike had problems. No where near as much fun, and it took forever.
Thank you all for your thoughts & input. I've been doing some test riding & I think the biggest difference is just the bigger 700C wheels & narrow rubber - smooths out the road a bit & much less effort. The latter makes me less tired which also equates to comfort at some level. Having rigid forks with a bit of a curve in them, regardless of material, must also help vs the thick, straight bad boys I have now. One worry I have about carbon is the durability in terms of hanging paniers on, potholes, curbs and the rough ride my bike gets in the crowded bike locker - not to mention theft. Thanks again for your help.
2005 Special Allez Elite (with a few customizatioins :)
If you have not purchased anything yet, I would look at the Specialized Sirrus line. I have an Allez which has basically the same layout (carbon front and back) and I absolutely love the setup. I have ridden other full carbon bikes and they are not nearly as comfortable as this (albeit they are a bit lighter). Take a look at them http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=22263
Thanks. I did like the Sirrus a lot, but didn't get it because I wanted discs. I realize there is some controversy as to whether mech discs are any better than rim brakes, but I live in a very wet climate & I find that road grim just eats through the rims, so I wanted to give discs a try. I have hydraulic discs on my mtb which are awesome (for downhill) due to power & consistency. I ended up buying a Kona Sutra. Happy so far, although I had to spend some time setting up the brakes properly. I'd say the mechanical version of discs are no more powerful than well set-up Vee-brakes, if not even a bit less so, but I'm ok with the trade-off.