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Your commuting bike choice: purely practical or were there other factors?

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Your commuting bike choice: purely practical or were there other factors?

Old 08-04-15, 10:41 PM
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tjspiel
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Your commuting bike choice: purely practical or were there other factors?

So there are purely practical considerations like cost or a particular set of features. But there is a whole lot else that can influence which bikes we choose to ride. Some of it may even be subconscious and plays on our desire to live a certain lifestyle. Advertising attempts to push these buttons.

Different types of bikes can be associated with different lifestyles or images. With mountain bikes, maybe it's adventure, toughness, or being out in a natural setting. With road bikes, maybe it's being fit, athletic, or competitive. With a city bike, perhaps it's living the good life, - riding to cafes, bringing home fresh bread and wine in a wicker basket, - and looking good while doing it. With cruisers, perhaps it's a happy go lucky/casual/let's go to the beach kind of life. With fixies, it's being a hipster but not wanting to be called one.

Then again maybe it's not image or lifestyle exactly, but you just like the way some bikes look, or they trigger a sense of nostalgia.

In my case, the most practical bike I have is the winter bike. I built it up from a frame and I'd say about 80% or more the choices I made were for practical reasons. Aesthetics played a small role as did what I'd call my riding style.

My road bike? From a commuting perspective, it's not the most practical bike, but I did buy it because I was very much into triathlons at the time and felt I needed something more suitable than what I had. So it was practical in that sense. Still, it's been about 5 years since my last triathlon, and I continue to commute on it quite a bit. I do so because it's fun, but if pushed I'd have to acknowledge that it fits a certain image I have of myself and my lifestyle. It's representative of some things I value: - fitness, hard work, speed, quickness, freedom.

The fixed gear is another discussion.

So what influences what you choose to ride? Is it all about function vs cost, or are there other factors?

Are North Americans different than Europeans in this regard? Is buying a bike in Copenhagen more or less like buying a vacuum cleaner here?

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Old 08-04-15, 11:14 PM
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Hmmm...mine were obtained with economy in mind. My"long haul" commuter is an 87ish Peugeot roadie with lomg chainstays. It is very comfortable and I have upgraded it to modernish components. My two "short riders" are 90s mountain bikes. One of them is a 91 Canadianadequate Peugeot and the other a mid 90s Univega. Each bike cost me $50. I like vintage bikes.

I just picked up a Trek Soho single speed for $10.50. It is in perfect condition. Someone was selling 20 bikes and assorted stuff for $ 300, split it with a friend. I'll sell most of my half but keeping that soho for at least awhile.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:25 PM
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Main commuter was selected for a variety of reasons, cost and resilience being key, then i made modifications in case of theft. I wanted it to be extremely recognizable if stolen. It was just put to the test and passed with flying colors, it got snatched last night, but due to a fb post which made the rounds a complete stranger recognized it from only one photo, saw the balloon tires and front porteur rack and stole it back for me.
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Old 08-05-15, 12:56 AM
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My main commuter is a belt drive internal hub winter proof bike that I got specifically to be able to commute through the winter. It rotates with three internal hub folding bikes, because if I get up late and miss the train I take a folder so that even if the bus rack is full I can still take the bike inside the bus.

In summer I add in my road bike and hybrid into the rotation, both of which have derailleurs, which I don't like exposing to rain and snow in winter.
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Old 08-05-15, 01:03 AM
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I don't have to bike commute and it's faster and easier not to, so I want something that I want to ride, and if I get bored with it I'll look for another one. Right now my commuters are a MTB (now returned to full MTB after a stint with slicks) which I've been exploring local single track on the way to work, and a 1990's Cannondale cross bike that will replace my Super Sport for the winter.

The Cannondale is an enormous improvement over the Sporty. The MTB needs a better fork, because even though the knobbies are a huge improvement over the Nimbus tires on the dirt, the fork is crap and the bike is heavy. Maybe next year or later I'll look into a higher quality MTB. I'll never be done tinkering.
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Old 08-05-15, 01:38 AM
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Would describe my prime commuter as pragmatic; tough steel frame, strong wheels, wider resilient tires to take commuting abuse, simple gearing and components. Now with approx. 20000 km of year around commuting have replaced usual rolling components - three tire sets, a few chains, one cassette and bottom bracket. Also replaced one dérailleur. Wheel set is good, just regrease the bearings every couple years and check trueness. Regreased headset once. Selected all the parts when it was built up with utility and longevity as a guide, initial build cost wasn't a prime focus - the parts have proven to be a good investment.
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Old 08-05-15, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by martianone View Post
Would describe my prime commuter as pragmatic; tough steel frame, strong wheels, wider resilient tires to take commuting abuse, simple gearing and components. Now with approx. 20000 km of year around commuting have replaced usual rolling components - three tire sets, a few chains, one cassette and bottom bracket. Also replaced one dérailleur. Wheel set is good, just regrease the bearings every couple years and check trueness. Regreased headset once. Selected all the parts when it was built up with utility and longevity as a guide, initial build cost wasn't a prime focus - the parts have proven to be a good investment.
Just to be clear, you didn't actually do 20,000km of commuting in a single year, did you?
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Old 08-05-15, 06:12 AM
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I choose my bikes based on practicality, simplicity and fun to ride.... FG and SS bikes meet all of my riding needs for commuting and recreation.
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Old 08-05-15, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ShortLegCyclist View Post
My main commuter is a belt drive internal hub winter proof bike
Similar here, I wanted belt drive and IGH when I went looking for a Trek SOHO. I couldn't find one so I got a Novara Gotham.
  • Belt Drive
  • Nuvinci 360 hub
  • dynamo lights
  • Metal fenders
  • disc brakes

The goal was a low maintenance bike. It is not fast; but it is a good set up for a short bike commute.


For fun riding I ride a Bacchetta Giro 26att
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Old 08-05-15, 06:56 AM
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I commute with the bike I already have. I didn't go out of my way to get a commuter bike. It seems to work out just fine.
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Old 08-05-15, 07:55 AM
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The vast majority of my time on a bike is commuting, so I have built up two commuting bikes that also double as touring bikes. My CF road bike mostly hangs on the wall. The commuting route options I have call for onroad and offroad capability, and all weather capability, so my commuter bikes take wider tires and fenders. The only aesthetic consideration is getting ti water bottle cages to match my ti frame, but otherwise, I'm all about getting the best tool for the job. I've put a lot of thought into the function and comfort of my bikes without regard to the form.
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Old 08-05-15, 08:07 AM
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I started bike commuting almost on a whim, so it was with whatever bike I had. In this case it was an older hand-me-down hybrid Bianchi. I then decided that I liked to get back into riding, so I bought a better hybrid, but it was essentially a flat-bar road bike. I bought another road bike and then restored my older vintage road bike. I rode all these bikes to work, but then felt I needed a dedicated commuter, so I stripped down the original Bianchi and built it up again for the sole purpose of commuting--racks, panniers, fenders, thicker 32mm city touring tires for three seasons, and studded 35mm for winter.
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Old 08-05-15, 08:19 AM
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I've never given anything but practical thought to any of my bike choices. But I'm like that, I just want the objects I use to serve their purpose.

Originally I had a hybrid which I outfitted per season with whatever I needed. Now I have a road bike that I try to keep light in the summer, and a Giant Seek 0 which only gets ridden in the winter or when I have to carry cargo. It's heavy but it has what I need in winter - fenders, internally geared hub, disc brakes and it can take wide studded tires.
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Old 08-05-15, 08:21 AM
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In the summer I use an older S-works Tarmac for commuting. There's nothing special about it that makes it suitable for commuting but it just happens to be the bike I ride in the summer. I used to use an old Bianchi with clip on fenders in the winter but wanted something with full fenders so got a cross bike. I wanted something reasonably light in case I decide to do some cross races. I bought a used carbon S-works cross bike and have been very pleased. It's outfitted with full fenders and is very comfortable. I don't particularly need the light weight but I have a few hills so don't complain.
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Old 08-05-15, 08:25 AM
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I'm a pretty practical guy but I have strong aesthetic preference for lugged steel frames with horizontal top tubes...and quill stems. My newest bikes do give up on some of this, though.
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Old 08-05-15, 08:29 AM
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My 2 primary commuters; A new Gazelle which was picked and outfitted strictly for comfort, durability, and utility. A 1974 Schwinn Continental for the same reasons with some nostalgia as I prefer C&V bikes in general. As the Continental is a drop bar road bike thats pristine and outfitted with period lights and accessories, I only ride it on nice days.

I'm working on a 1984 Schwinn world tourist to be my primary all weather backup bike, its basically a road bike with upright bars and fenders, and a unique early index shifting system with freewheeling front chainrings that allow shifting while coasting, or pre selecting a gear when stationary which is very handy in stop-and-go traffic. Its a plain, practical, image free bike that also happens to be a lively, easy riding bike.
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Old 08-05-15, 08:32 AM
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I'm a pretty practical guy as well, but I approach it a bit different. I have six bikes currently (will be getting rid of one soon.) They all do different things well. They are each practical for their intended functionality.

When it's time to ride to work I evaluate what I'm hauling, the weather and my mood and then pick the practical bike from my collection that I'm going to ride that day.
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Old 08-05-15, 08:33 AM
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In my first year, I owned a hybrid. It's what they sell you when you're over 50 and wander into a bike shop saying you want to buy a bike for the first time in 35 years. For my part, I also didn't know how it would end up, and told them I planned to ride back and forth to work two or three times a week, three miles in each direction (at the time). On paper, it was the right choice.

I rapidly discovered it wasn't the right bike for me. It weighed a ton—especially the wheels—climbed like an anvil, opened my chest wide to catch even the faintest puff of headwind, gave me heel-strike issues with rear rack, and didn't really like to wear its fenders.

But, as I've said here many times, “The purpose of your first bike is to teach you what you want and need in your second bike.”

It taught me that I love cycling. The expected 20-25 miles a week became 100. It taught me that weather—even a Great Lakes winter—is no problem at all. It taught me that I like a close-ratio cassette. And it taught me that, while low-end stuff works just fine, I prefer better quality components.

That winter, I bought a seven-year-old fixer-upper road bike. It was really beat. By the time spring came, I'd replaced nearly all the components, including the wheels. The first ride made me go “Whoa!” It was exactly what I'd been looking for. Still, it wasn't quite perfect.

I'd also learned through that first winter that rim brakes ruin rims. One winter completely wore out the braking surface on the stock wheels that came on the hybrid. I now own individual wheels that cost more than that whole bike did, so I'm certain there were quality compromises there as well. But that steered me to my Portland.

By mid-summer that second year, I had a list of bullet points for my personal ultimate all-seasons, all-condition commuter.:
  • Road style frame
  • Drop bars with integrated brake/shift levers
  • Room in the frame and fork for my snow tires
  • Disc brakes
  • Fender mounts
  • Rack mounts
  • Triple chainrings with 175mm cranks
  • Non-ferrous frame because steel rusts in the salt.
I found it waiting for me at the LBS, a two-year-old NOS 2006 Trek Portland. It's been extensively modified since then—the major change being a new wheelset with a dynamo hub—but it's still exactly the right bike for me.



It's so right for me, that my back-up commuter, intended for the three-seasons and most conditions, is equipped very similarly. The major difference is that it fits “only” 28mm tires under full fenders, and has rim brakes.



That said, on nice mid-week days when I don't have to haul anything, my Litespeed works just fine.

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Old 08-05-15, 08:44 AM
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I will admit I have a tendency to put aesthetic over practicality. With that in mind, my daily commute bike is a late 40's English 3-speed. Sure, it's heavy, slow, and sometimes requires repairs my LBS is unwilling to do. But it gets me around and I really enjoy riding it. My commute isn't terribly long or hilly, and I have covered parking at both ends of my commute, so I don't have to worry about it sitting outside in the rain all day.

I am working on building up a winter commuter, though, with drum brakes, dynohub, and IGH out of my old Free Spirit so I don't have to rely on rim brakes on steel rims all winter long like last year.

The other important consideration is cost: I got both of my current bikes for free and can't really justify going out and spending money on a new bike
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Old 08-05-15, 08:51 AM
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I started out with a mountain bike. Planned on using it on weekends riding around local trails. Somehow it rarely happened. But that was alright. Commuting on the mountain bike was more exercise.

When it was stolen in 2010 I purchased a hybrid. That was really cool! Faster with less effort. I tried it on the trails. But discovered while it was possible it wasn't comfortable for me.

When the hybrid was stolen in 2014 I purchased a mountain bike. Still haven't tried the new bike on any trails. Recovered the hybrid a couple of months after it was stolen. Mostly I ride the mountain bike tho, both commuting and weekend rides.
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Old 08-05-15, 09:01 AM
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I ride my singlespeed (Fantom Cross Uno) the overwhelming majority of the time. Given the terrain here, it's not a bright choice. But it's lower-maintenance and may be lighter than my Fantom CX. Less to break, less to fix, less to clean, less to replace.
Also, the Uno has mini-V's on it which I like better than the cantis on the CX.
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Old 08-05-15, 09:20 AM
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my main commuter is a motobecane Fantom CX with fenders and rack. I like it plenty fast enough and i can get in the drops if the winds are blowing. I only wish that it had disk brakes otherwise it would be perfect for a commuter/ light tourer. (did the GAP last year)

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Old 08-05-15, 09:33 AM
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I had just learned how to ride a bike and was impatient to get a bike that I could ride every day after work, to practice basic cycling skills such as turning, riding in a straight line, descending without panic, etc. I stopped by a LBS and saw a Breezer Uptown 8 on sale for $100 off. It was billed as a "commuter bike" and had the stuff that I thought I might need for commuting - rack, fenders, lights, etc. along with internal hub and twist shifter for super simple gear changes. It looked like a good commuter bike for an adult beginning cyclist.

N+1 disease though has infected me and now I want a road bike. Just like tsl said, riding the Breezer has taught me a lot about what I want in my 2nd bike, that would not have been possible by just talking to people and doing a lot of reading. I want drop bars for varying hand positions, a wider gear range (I'm not a strong cyclist, but a 38T chain ring imposes a lower ceiling than, say a 46T or 50T), and more easily removable wheels. I do like the upright position for surveying my environment and so would prefer a bike with the appropriate geometry.

The 2nd bike would then become my fair-weather commuter and pleasure ride and the Breezer would be the rainy-day/it-might-rain commuter bike and the one to take if I ride anywhere that will require me to leave it unattended (albeit locked up) for several hours. Thinking about either upgrading the Breezer's crankset to a Patterson Transmission or the 8-speed IGH to an 11-speed after getting bike #2 .
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Old 08-05-15, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
So what influences what you choose to ride? Is it all about function vs cost, or are there other factors?
Best tool for the job or whatever is on hand.

Best tool:
- I custom built a bike as an ultimate commuter when I was doing a 38mi r/t commute on a regular basis. It also serves to run errands, and I could certainly press it into service for light to moderate touring, gravel biking, adventure biking, etc. Basically covers anything and everything I'd do on a bike save for dedicated off-roading. With a liberal sprinkle of neo-retro VO parts, I think it also has a certain amount of flair, but bottom line is everyday practicality and comfort.
- For a while I had a Birdy folding bike, which served very well for bike-bus-bike commutes and adventures, and was a decent, if not best in class, bike for air travel.

Whatever is on hand:
- Old Schwinn Super Le Tour frame, 2sp take-off wheelset, flat bars, waterproof saddle, Wald front basket -- lockup bike on the work end of bike-bus-bike commute
- Old Cannondale M800 "Beast of the East" mtn bike with 1.5" slicks, parts bin build, 1x8 drivetrain -- shop rat bike, locked up where theft is any concern, served as commuter bike when a previous commuter bike was stolen.

All of these are based more on practicality than anything else; secondary is whatever was lying around to build with, style, availability when needed, and unique-ness.
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Old 08-05-15, 10:47 AM
  #25  
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I bought my touring bike for the purpose of commuting. I've made many changes/improvements to the original bike for the main purpose of commuting. I continue to make changes to the bike for that purpose. I would say that the changes are practical first, but there is definitely a factor of quality. I could easily pick lower quality parts and accessories that would be functional (practical?) but I thrive on reliability and comfort.



When I feel like getting a better workout, the weather is great, and I have a much smaller load to haul... then I commute on my carbon fiber road bike. It's fun, but not practical for a lot of my commutes.
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