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Does my "ultimate commuter" exist?

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Does my "ultimate commuter" exist?

Old 07-06-15, 02:17 PM
  #1  
corrado33
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Does my "ultimate commuter" exist?

For the past 3 years I've commuted on a road bike with a relatively aggressive geometry. There's nothing inherently wrong with this bike, it rides great, but my own naivety led me to believe that I wanted to commute on a drop bar road bike that originally came with 23mm tires.

Lately I've been thinking about an ultimate commuter for me. Honestly I don't even know where to start in looking for a bike with these characteristics.

Things I want.
  • IGH: 8-12? speed
  • Preferably drum brakes (disks acceptable.)
  • Drop bars preferred
  • Not "cruiser geometry", I go fast when I commute, I want the bikes geometry to reflect that. I have no problem with an aggressive bike (I'm young and flexible) but I'm open to less aggressive options as well.
  • Ability to mount 28mm tires? (I've never had anything other that MTB and 25mm road bike tires. I think I'd want ~28mm?) However, 25s with full length, well fitting fenders would be fine if need-be. I currently have 25s on this bike with raceblade long fenders. They're... acceptable, but barely fit. It's mostly the bike frame's fault, as it was never built for fenders. I've also broken various bits 3 or 4 times over the past 3 years with these fenders so I'm about 50% on whether or not I like them.
  • Obviously fenders, but I can put those on if need-be.
  • Obviously rack mounts. I have panniers now, so I'd like to be able to mount my rack to the bike.
  • Edit: A dynamo would be a cherry on top of the cake. Forgot about that.

Sure, I could build this myself, but it's always cheaper to buy a bike with the things you want than it is to upgrade a different bike. I've really never looked for IGHs or drum brakes before. I don't know the brands, what's good, what's bad, longevity, maintenance. I've looked at Sheldon's site on the issue, but that's it.

I'm in the US. I don't have any problem with buying bikes online (my commuter is a BD bike) but I'd like to be able to try it first for fit.

Last edited by corrado33; 07-06-15 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 07-06-15, 02:42 PM
  #2  
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If you're OK with a relaxed (but not cruiser) geometry and a NuVinci N360 instead of a conventional IGH, you could put drops on a Novara Gotham to get what you're looking for. Linky: Novara Gotham Bike - 2015 - REI.com

Last edited by ret3; 07-06-15 at 02:43 PM. Reason: punctuation!
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Old 07-06-15, 02:43 PM
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The first place to start is determining your budget.
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Old 07-06-15, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
The first place to start is determining your budget.
~$1000+? It'd be my most expensive bike, but also the one I ride the most. I see no reason why a commuter should be more expensive than that.

Last edited by corrado33; 07-06-15 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 07-06-15, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ret3 View Post
If you're OK with a relaxed (but not cruiser) geometry and a NuVinci N360 instead of a conventional IGH, you could put drops on a Novara Gotham to get what you're looking for. Linky: Novara Gotham Bike - 2015 - REI.com
It looks nice, checks a lot of the boxes, but I think it's too dumbed down and definitely a bit relaxed. Almost for someone with no bike skills. (That's probably the market for this bike.) The belt drive and CVT would be nice, but I'd like to be able to change out the chainring and cog to adjust gearing if I wanted to. I also LIKE gears. (Not knowing what "gear" I'm in would drive me nuts.) Plus, the belt drive isn't really compatible with my current toolset. (I know, I'm making excuses.) I already have lights and a rack, so if I could get a nicer bike without those things, that'd be great. All of the accessories probably add $200-$300 to that bike.

EDIT: Ugh... "twist" shifters. I realize it's almost required with a CVT but still... ugh... grip shifters. Those are a royal pain in the behind to re-cable.

I'll definitely consider it though (and possibly go ride it at my local REI.)

Last edited by corrado33; 07-06-15 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 07-06-15, 03:01 PM
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This is within your budget:

Save Up to 60% Off Disc Brake Road Bikes - Motobecane Turino Disc
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Old 07-06-15, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Thanks for the suggestion, however, the first thing I care about is an IGH. (Really I just want to try one.) Everything else is secondary. (Besides fit of course.)
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Old 07-06-15, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
Thanks for the suggestion, however, the first thing I care about is an IGH. (Really I just want to try one.) Everything else is secondary. (Besides fit of course.)
Go to a store and try one then, but I wouldn't waste money on actually buying a low-end unit. The only IGH even worth considering is the $1,500 Rohloff. AFAIK, everything else falls far short of standard derailleur and gears.
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Old 07-06-15, 03:36 PM
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I like the Surly Straggler with the disc brakes. Someone has done a build similar to what you are looking for. However, I'm not sure that you are going to find too many options in the "complete bike" area that checks all your boxes.

Surly Straggler with Alfine 8 IGH and dynamo lights Album - Viral Photos and Albums
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Old 07-06-15, 04:07 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
I like the Surly Straggler with the disc brakes. Someone has done a build similar to what you are looking for. However, I'm not sure that you are going to find too many options in the "complete bike" area that checks all your boxes.

Surly Straggler with Alfine 8 IGH and dynamo lights Album - Viral Photos and Albums
Very interesting. I definitely don't need a "complete" bike that fits my suggestions, that's why most of the things above are "preferred." I really like your suggestion, especially since I get surleys at cost.
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Old 07-06-15, 04:48 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
For the past 3 years I've commuted on a road bike with a relatively aggressive geometry. There's nothing inherently wrong with this bike, it rides great, but my own naivety led me to believe that I wanted to commute on a drop bar road bike that originally came with 23mm tires.

Lately I've been thinking about an ultimate commuter for me. Honestly I don't even know where to start in looking for a bike with these characteristics.

Things I want.
  • IGH: 8-12? speed
  • Preferably drum brakes (disks acceptable.)
  • Drop bars preferred
  • Not "cruiser geometry", I go fast when I commute, I want the bikes geometry to reflect that. I have no problem with an aggressive bike (I'm young and flexible) but I'm open to less aggressive options as well.
  • Ability to mount 28mm tires? (I've never had anything other that MTB and 25mm road bike tires. I think I'd want ~28mm?) However, 25s with full length, well fitting fenders would be fine if need-be. I currently have 25s on this bike with raceblade long fenders. They're... acceptable, but barely fit. It's mostly the bike frame's fault, as it was never built for fenders. I've also broken various bits 3 or 4 times over the past 3 years with these fenders so I'm about 50% on whether or not I like them.
  • Obviously fenders, but I can put those on if need-be.
  • Obviously rack mounts. I have panniers now, so I'd like to be able to mount my rack to the bike.
  • Edit: A dynamo would be a cherry on top of the cake. Forgot about that.

Sure, I could build this myself, but it's always cheaper to buy a bike with the things you want than it is to upgrade a different bike. I've really never looked for IGHs or drum brakes before. I don't know the brands, what's good, what's bad, longevity, maintenance. I've looked at Sheldon's site on the issue, but that's it.

I'm in the US. I don't have any problem with buying bikes online (my commuter is a BD bike) but I'd like to be able to try it first for fit.
In the $1000 range:

Raleigh Cadent i11 Raleigh Cadent i11 - Join the Revolution! | Specializing in bicycle sales and service for DC, VA, & MD

Raleigh Misceo 4.0 2015 Raleigh Misceo 4.0 i8 - Joe Bike (and you can still find the 2014 model for about $1000, and this had the Alfine 11 hub)

MEC Hold Steady MEC Hold Steady Bicycle (Unisex) - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available (there is a higher end model called the Chance with an Alfine 11 hub too)

Soma Wolverine Soma Wolverine frameset or custom build - Joe Bike

And any Surly Troll or Ogre frameset can run an internal hub including Rohloff, but a Rohloff hub alone is higher than your price range.

The commenter above about the Rohloff being the only IGH worth trying is not really accurate, but it is the only one that has range comparable to a derailleur bike (aside from the Pinion drive, also above your price range).

The Shimano Nexus 7 is proven and reliable but is on worldwide back order currently.

The Shimano Nexus and Alfine 8 are well regarded for commuting, very reliable and basically add one lower gear to the Nexus 7 range.

The Shimano Alfine 11 has been hit and miss but if you get one that doesn't leak oil, you've got an awesome hub (I have two on bikes now and have never had issues with either), and you can gear the cranks and cogs to get more high end or low end range for any IGH. The three extra gears over the 8 are all on the taller side, first gear on the Alfine 11 is the same as first gear on the Alfine 8.

The NuVinci hub mentioned above I also have, and I have to tell you it is a boat anchor. Best use for those is in e bikes with torque to spare IMO. That Novara Gotham is one heavy commuter bike as a result.

There are also IGH hubs from Sturmey Archer and SRAM/Sachs (thought the new G8 and G9 hubs have been discontinued due to not being able to compete with the Alfine and Rohloff hubs).

I love IGH's and the main reason I have so many bikes is to have experience with as many of them as possible... even the NuVinci.

Next I'll probably get sucked in and get a Pinion bike, but thankfully they are so expensive that that won't be soon ;-)
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Old 07-06-15, 05:06 PM
  #12  
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Thank you for such a detailed response. I figured that the comment about the only IGH worth buying was the Rohloff was a bit of a stretch. I'm definitely going to look at the bikes you mentioned, as well as the hubs themselves.

Thank you again

EDIT: I may end up building a bike since the offerings are so lacking. The 8 speed nexus with a roller brake looks great. My commuting bike rarely sees large hills, so a roller brake will be fine. (I may throw a disk on the front, or another roller brake.) If you haven't noticed, I'm trying to build a bomb proof/weather proof/low maintenance bike that I can still have fun on during my ride to work. Oh and my commuter currently has a triple crankset, I rarely leave the middle ring. When I do, it's on a long downhill. I've never used the small chainring on that bike. Honestly, never. So 8 speeds will be fine.

Last edited by corrado33; 07-06-15 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 07-06-15, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
Thank you for such a detailed response. I figured that the comment about the only IGH worth buying was the Rohloff was a bit of a stretch. I'm definitely going to look at the bikes you mentioned, as well as the hubs themselves.

Thank you again

EDIT: I may end up building a bike since the offerings are so lacking. The 8 speed nexus with a roller brake looks great. My commuting bike rarely sees large hills, so a roller brake will be fine. (I may throw a disk on the front, or another roller brake.) If you haven't noticed, I'm trying to build a bomb proof/weather proof/low maintenance bike that I can still have fun on during my ride to work. Oh and my commuter currently has a triple crankset, I rarely leave the middle ring. When I do, it's on a long downhill. I've never used the small chainring on that bike. Honestly, never. So 8 speeds will be fine.
You could put drop bars on this bike and be all set:

Best Commuter Bike: New PUBLIC D8i Alfine 2015

Also this one:

City bikes, vintage bicycles, european bicycles, retro bikes, linus bike, commuter bikes, vintage bikes, city bikes, european bikes, retro bicycles, commuter bicycles, roadster - Linus Bike
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Old 07-06-15, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by ShortLegCyclist View Post
You could put drop bars on this bike and be all set:

Best Commuter Bike: New PUBLIC D8i Alfine 2015
Interesting. According to peterwhitecycles.com, the only difference between the alfine and nexus is that the alfine is designed for disk brakes where as the nexus has roller brakes. He actually says that

The internal gearing [of the nexus] is identical to the Alfine disc version above.
Why then would they choose the mount the alfine without the disk brakes on that bike? Admittedly Mr. White was talking about the 2011 version of both, have things changed?
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Old 07-06-15, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
[*]Edit: A dynamo would be a cherry on top of the cake. Forgot about that.
I would have a belt drive as the cherry on top!
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Old 07-06-15, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
I would have a belt drive as the cherry on top!
True true. I just don't know if I'm willing to make that leap yet. It WOULD be a bomb proof/low maintenance choice....

I was planning on going and riding that REI bike when I got off of work. Even if just to try out the CVT.
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Old 07-06-15, 06:05 PM
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Look up English Club bikes from the 40s and 50s. I don't know they had drum brakes but I think they had most everything else you mentioned. I would love to build one up myself.
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Old 07-06-15, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bmthom.gis View Post
Look up English Club bikes from the 40s and 50s. I don't know they had drum brakes but I think they had most everything else you mentioned. I would love to build one up myself.
My 1935 Raleigh Sports Model X has a 3 speed IGH, and drum brakes as OE.
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Old 07-06-15, 06:39 PM
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So awesome!
...and do you have any pictures?
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Old 07-06-15, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
Interesting. According to peterwhitecycles.com, the only difference between the alfine and nexus is that the alfine is designed for disk brakes where as the nexus has roller brakes. He actually says that



Why then would they choose the mount the alfine without the disk brakes on that bike? Admittedly Mr. White was talking about the 2011 version of both, have things changed?
It could be that the Nexus isn't available in the bright silver that they made a point to highlight. Also while I'm not sure it's still true today it was only the premium or "red band" version of the 8 speed Nexus that was equivalent to the Alfine internally. Not all Nexus 8 speeds were.

It might also just be as simple as what they were able to source at the cheapest cost. Perhaps even the available spoke counts are different between the Nexus and the Alfine.
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Old 07-06-15, 08:41 PM
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I LOVE my Pilen step thru - the Pilen Lyx from Sweden. I got mine from JC Lind in Chicago. It only comes in 56cm but the ride is sublime if it fits you. The geometry is a lot like an old school 80s mountain bike. There are several reviews online. Google Pilen Lyx.

Pilen also makes a sportier version that I have not seen or tried - the Pilen Sport.

Pilen Lyx Step Over | J. C. Lind Bike Co.
Pilen Lyx Step-Through | J. C. Lind Bike Co.

Pilen Lyx | www.pilencykel.se
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Old 07-06-15, 10:26 PM
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@corrado33, do you have a weight limit for this bike? I built myself a bike with front and rear drum brakes as an experiment, and I didn't like it because it was so heavy. IGH also adds weight. Mine had derailleurs. Weight and cost are two compelling reasons most bikes have derailleurs. Same for caliper rim brakes, though disc brakes are becoming cost effective and not terribly heavy.
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Old 07-06-15, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bmthom.gis View Post
So awesome!
...and do you have any pictures?
I haven't recovered them from my crashed computer, but will try to get a couple tomorrow.

Here's the one picture I have available, the one on the left. Looked sharper when it had the Luterwasser bars now on the bike in the center.

True roadster geometry unlike the later Raleigh Sports, spear point fender, KW drum rear hub, drum front hub, Quadrant top tube shifter. Very elegant yet sporty ride.


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Old 07-06-15, 11:20 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by ret3 View Post
If you're OK with a relaxed (but not cruiser) geometry and a NuVinci N360 instead of a conventional IGH, you could put drops on a Novara Gotham to get what you're looking for. Linky: Novara Gotham Bike - 2015 - REI.com
Went and road the Gotham today at REI. It's definitely a nice bike (you could load a ton of stuff on it with it's lengthy wheelbase) but it's definitely far too upright for me. It's often quite windy here and I'd have no protection from the wind whatsoever. I like the CVT. It was interesting for sure. The bike was also heavy, probably due to both the IGH and lengthy geometry overall. Unfortunately the tech at REI was incompetent as he had the crank hitting the kickstand. Do they even ride those bikes when they put them together? Did he even spin the pedals when he checked on it before I rode it? Who knows. (I wanted to break out my multitool and fix it since it was annoying me on my ride around the block.)

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
@corrado33, do you have a weight limit for this bike? I built myself a bike with front and rear drum brakes as an experiment, and I didn't like it because it was so heavy. IGH also adds weight. Mine had derailleurs. Weight and cost are two compelling reasons most bikes have derailleurs. Same for caliper rim brakes, though disc brakes are becoming cost effective and not terribly heavy.
I hadn't thought about that. I think when I've been saying "drum" brakes I've been meaning the brakes that are external to the main part of the hub (like the brakes that attach to the nexus.) Do they have similar brakes that'd attach to a dynamo? Those wouldn't seem like they'd add a ton of weight. Maybe it'd be smart to do drum in the back and disk up front. In all honesty, my daily commute is really flat, and I don't often stop and start. However, riding around town I do both (stop and start and go up and down hills.) I surely don't want a tank of a bike. I ride with panniers so I'm not inherently opposed to weight though. I guess I've never really compared a light and heavy bike. My "heavy bike" is my winter commuter which I expect to go much slower on. (It's also an old upright MTB.)

Oh and @kickstart... Beautiful bikes. Very beautiful.

Last edited by corrado33; 07-06-15 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 07-07-15, 01:53 AM
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spare_wheel
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Isn't wanting an IGH and a "ride fast" commuter a bit of a contradiction. I could see a 2-3 speed hub being a "ride fast" commuter but IGHs have significant efficiency and weight penalties and are not designed for mashing.
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