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Building a very low maintenance ultra fast super commuter

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Building a very low maintenance ultra fast super commuter

Old 10-07-15, 12:15 PM
  #1  
charlesrg
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Building a very low maintenance ultra fast super commuter

I'm looking to build a fast and low maintenance bike.
I commute about 20 miles 850 feet elevation each way. Looking to build a super commuter with very very low maintenance while being really really fast. Currently the commute takes less than 1 hour and 10 minutes and I can afford 10 extra minutes but not more than that.

Winter is getting closer and snow might be as intense as last year while I can't afford spending time cleaning gears daily, so low maintenance is very important.

So far there are some items that I'm considering:

Disc Brakes
Fenders (must have)
Internal Gear Hub
Drop bars (must have)

I might not be able to buy this bike from a production manufacturer so I'm considering building it.

If you have experience with some low maintenance builds please share your opinion.
Having at least 3 gears is important as I've some pretty steep climbs both ways.
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Old 10-07-15, 12:42 PM
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Looks like you've got your mind made up. However, some of your requirements don't mesh with what you want. Derailleur bikes are lighter than internal gear hub bikes, therefore faster with equal power input. Fenders slow a bike down. You cannot have an "ultra fast" bike if you also want "fenders and IGH and low maintenance." You can build a "fast" bike but it'll still be slower than the same bike with all of the extras taken off of it.

If you have the money, buy a rohloff hub. It's 1200-1500 bucks but it's the best internal hub out there. It also has 14 gears. After that there are a few different types of hubs. I'm partial to the alfine and nexus shimano hubs. You'd go with the alfine if you want disk brakes.

If you want "low maintenance" then you either want a fully enclosed chain case/guard or you want a belt bike.

You're not going to find this bike in the US. I've looked. You're welcome to try, but I doubt it'll have everything you want. (Definitely not drop bars.)

For the record, there are many of us who ride with derailleurs in the winter and have no problems with our gears. Sure, ice gets stuck in the gears but there's nothing you can really do about that.
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Old 10-07-15, 12:44 PM
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3 gears? Pah!

I have a Shimano Alfine 8 speed IGH hub on my 2015 GT Eightball.

Its low-maintenance.
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Old 10-07-15, 01:12 PM
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What is difficult? I have a nice 19lb single speed that meets your needs. at 19lbs, the hills are not much of a problem for me (I commute every day 10 miles one way). But a conventional bike would work well.

but for a 20 mile commute, my favorite bike is a 24 lb ebike that bumps unassisted speed from 20mph to 25mph. That makes for a fun long distance commuter.
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Old 10-07-15, 01:24 PM
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I felt like my build was aimed at low maintenance and speed oriented. I just went for efficiency (and price) based on the Nashbar road frame with 8-speed and single chainring, downtube shifter, standard caliper brakes. Not a lot to go wrong that way and drive train maintenance is less important because the chain and cassette are very inexpensive.

Internal hub and disc brakes are going to add weight but I guess if you have a lot of snow and wet you might save time when all is said and done. I think the internal hub at least would be awesome, especially since you could add a chain cover.

Just to point out, the extra 10 minutes on your 20 miles would be 15 mph as opposed to your current 17 mph, which is a big difference. Which is to say, the different bikes having the same geometry and riding position probably wouldn't make a difference that large.
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Old 10-07-15, 01:32 PM
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Serously, the o.p. sounds like a 12 year old wrote it. It completely lacks reason and accountability. Really, really, really fast? WT_? If the o.p. can spin an 80 inch gear at 100rpm they will be really, really, really fast. Bikes aren't fast, bike riders are... or not. The difference in ET between my minimalist road racer and my fully tricked out commuter is around 10 minutes. Some of that difference is that I naturally hammer harder on the road bike because I know I should. If I hammered as hard on the commuter I could probably get the elapsed time difference down to around 5 minutes.
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Old 10-07-15, 01:49 PM
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If you really want no maintenance, build yourself a single speed. Otherwise, I hardly consider derailleur bikes a lot of maintenance. Cleaning gears? Something you need to do like once or twice a year. So infrequent that you may as well just ask your local shop to put them in their parts cleaner after the winter season is over. The only other "maintenance" required is turning your barrel adjuster once your cables get a little bit of stretch. ~5 min tops, every few months. Disc brakes are a bit higher maintenance than rim brakes are, as well.

Also, if you only have a 10 minute "safety" window, just leave 10 minutes earlier.
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Old 10-07-15, 02:06 PM
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Wow! that's some tough criteria to meet. I found one that meets most of the criteria... no drop bars, and you're not going to build it.


Focus - Bikes: 2015: AVENTURA IMPULSE SPEED 1.0
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Old 10-07-15, 02:17 PM
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Previous responses are right about IGHs being heavy. I rode a 2011 Kona Dr. Fine for four years on my commute, but it was noticeably heavier than my current drop-bar bike without the IGH, the Jamis Ventura Race. That said, consider the Spot Acme. Just remember that fenders, an IGH, and any kind of rack are going to add substantially to your weight.

Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
Wow! that's some tough criteria to meet. I found one that meets most of the criteria... no drop bars, and you're not going to build it.


Focus - Bikes: 2015: AVENTURA IMPULSE SPEED 1.0
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Old 10-07-15, 02:21 PM
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Impulse speed? I want hyperspeed!
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Old 10-07-15, 02:26 PM
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Weight, with the Focus bike, is not going to be an issue. The electric motor pedal assist makes all that go away. The bike weighs 54 lbs. However, it will not be too much trouble to go up a hill at 28 mph. I have a pedal assist that cuts off at 20mph. No problem keeping it there on railroad grade hills without much effort.

I have a fast commuter with drop bars. No IGH - but I rarely see snow:

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Old 10-07-15, 02:27 PM
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Infinite Improbability Drive
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Old 10-07-15, 02:34 PM
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Low maintence and light-weight, go for a 1x10 or 1x11 drivetrain. No front mech to deal with and better gear range that any internal hub options.
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Old 10-07-15, 02:52 PM
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This is my friends bike, a trek soho with alfine 8 hub, belt drive, disc brakes and some aftermarket levers that allowed him to add the drop bars.

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Old 10-07-15, 03:00 PM
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That trek soho is a sweet commuter! I don't know how fast it is. The rack, IGH, fenders, and disc brakes gotta add some weight - but they are all things that make it an excellent commuter - I'd ride it in a heartbeat!
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Old 10-07-15, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SloButWide View Post
Impulse speed? I want hyperspeed!
Hyperspeed is too slow. We'll have to go right to Ludicrous Speed.
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Old 10-07-15, 03:33 PM
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It sounds like you get some snow where you live but it's not how clear to me how cold it normally gets in the winter and what kind of road conditions are typical.

I live in a pretty cold climate and the bad news is that even on a 6 mile commute, my trip takes at least 10 minutes longer in the Winter than it does in the Summer. Part of that is due to the studded tires but part of that is simply because it's colder. Keep that in mind.

As far as low maintenance vs speed goes there are some tradeoffs. A single speed or fixed gear is really low maintenance but having a single gear affects acceleration, climbing, and top speed though it does make for a very light bike.

Next up are gear hubs. While I agree that derailleur systems aren't necessarily high maintenance, having an IGH makes a world of difference if you're riding through a lot of frozen and semi-frozen crud on a regular basis. But again there is a price to pay. If you ride in really cold temps, the oil or grease in a gear hub thickens and can make it more work to maintain the same speed compared to warmer weather. With a gear hub you also have fewer gears to work with typically, and/or greater weight.

What it sounds like based on your original post, is that your commute takes about an hour and 10 minutes during the fair weather months. An hour and 20 minutes is unacceptably long in your mind (and would be for me too). I'm afraid that what you will find is that if there's any snow/ice on the roads or the temp is down below 30, that you will be bumping up to and exceeding that limit no matter what you ride, except for maybe an e-bike.
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Old 10-07-15, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
What it sounds like based on your original post, is that your commute takes about an hour and 10 minutes during the fair weather months. An hour and 20 minutes is unacceptably long in your mind (and would be for me too). I'm afraid that what you will find is that if there's any snow/ice on the roads or the temp is down below 30, that you will be bumping up to and exceeding that limit no matter what you ride, except for maybe an e-bike.
20 mile commute in an hour and 10 minutes - that's an average speed of 17+ mph. So, at times, the OP has to be exceeding well above 20-25 mph on descents since he has 800+ feet of climbing each way (he must live at the bottom of the other side of the hill to have to climb both ways.) It's rare that I see snow, but occasionally ice - I tend to creep along fairly slow in those conditions (I don't have studded tires.) Is it safe to "fast commute" at those speeds in snow and ice conditions?
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Old 10-07-15, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
I live in a pretty cold climate and the bad news is that even on a 6 mile commute, my trip takes at least 10 minutes longer in the Winter than it does in the Summer. Part of that is due to the studded tires but part of that is simply because it's colder. Keep that in mind.
This.

All other things being equal, I've noticed that below about 50 degrees I lose about 1 mph for every 10 degrees in temp drop, even though I feel like I'm working just as hard. So once the temp hits zero I'm riding about 5 mph slower than I do in nice weather.

Then once the need for studded tires hits I lose another couple mph off my average speed. My 8 mile winter commute is easily 15-20 minutes longer even though I'm pushing myself harder than I do in the summer.
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Old 10-07-15, 03:59 PM
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If you want fast and very low maintenance then build yourself a fixed gear or singlespeed.
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Old 10-07-15, 04:13 PM
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Or buy an old touring bike with lots of clearance for tires and fenders and convert to an IGH in the rear.
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Old 10-07-15, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
Hyperspeed is too slow. We'll have to go right to Ludicrous Speed.
We've gone PLAID.
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Old 10-07-15, 04:57 PM
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So long as you have an aggressive aero position, good gearing, and good bearings in your wheels, I think you'll have to look elsewhere than the bike to find speed. Your own training would help, so would warm clothes that aren't draggy, so would luggage that isn't draggy, so would your route and tactics, so would fairings if you want to follow @wphamilton down that path.
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Old 10-07-15, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
Low maintence and light-weight, go for a 1x10 or 1x11 drivetrain. No front mech to deal with and better gear range that any internal hub options.
Yes, this. Also lacks the internal drag of a hub, far lighter, and I think reliability of IGH vs. derailleur is mostly a wash. Especially if you're using mid-range or better components, which are much more precise than the low-end parts most commuters are familiar with.

I'm not even really sure what is meant by "low maintenance," tbh, or what disqualifies a derailleur bike from it. You don't need to waste time doing lots of cleaning on any reasonably good quality bike. Of course, it's a good idea to rinse the salt and grime off of it occasionally and to lube the chain regularly, but you need to do that with an IGH bike as well. You want reliability, the answer is to buy nice parts.

Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
If you want fast and very low maintenance then build yourself a fixed gear or singlespeed.
A fixed gear or SS is not as fast as a multi-geared bike, period.
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Old 10-07-15, 06:04 PM
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I tinker with my bike from time to time. But, I've never considered a standard derailleur bike as "high maintenance". And, everything is easy to maintain and can be fixed by anybody.

A single speed or IGH bike will have many of the same issues such as chain lubrication and wear, unless you go with a belt drive, and even that will wear. And, apparently the hubs are a pain to rebuild.

To average 20 MPH or so, you may need to leave off some of your goodies, although I'd disagree that fenders would make a serious difference in the overall performance of the bike.

I prefer narrow tires, but I'm not riding on ice either.

Perhaps consider a cyclocross Alfine bike... Maybe:I can't say if I'd personally choose the Alfine plus wide tires for a fast commute. (you can change tires based on expected conditions). But, it certainly would be worth consideration.
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