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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-21-17, 03:24 AM   #1
windywheels
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Help choosing a commuter bike

Hi,
I used to commute by bike some years ago and then stopped.
I decided to start again, for several reasons, and I would like to buy a commuter bike. What do you guys recommend?
I will be cycling 20miles / 36km per day, round trip, in London, UK.
I am female, 51 years old.

My old bike was a very entry level bike which I gave away to a friend, hence need to buy a new one.
I would like to commute starting 2 or 3 days per week and build it up to 5 days per week. I will also like to take it to some longer trips, at some point, like doing the London-Paris ride (4 days aprox.)

Some people said that I would get bored with an hybrid, which is the one I was going for.
What do you think?

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Old 04-21-17, 06:12 AM   #2
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It sounds like your situation is ideal for a drop bar road/gravel/cx bike, especially if you're planning to do longer rides or with a group.

Never been to London, but I hear it's wet, so you'll want something that can accommodate fenders, and disc brakes as well. They stop better in the wet. All the big name brands have some version of a road bike with these features. Some will be able to accommodate wider tires if you plan to take it on more mixed surface trails.

I'd say visit your LBS and see what's available there. They can help you with the fit as well as future support and maintenance.
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Old 04-21-17, 06:41 AM   #3
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I have a 30km/day commute which I've done on three types of bikes: a dutch bike, a hardtail MTB and a gravel grinder w/ road tires. So far, my favorite is the road bike!

Following mcours2006 suggestions, I'd suggest looking for an "adventure road" or gravel grinding type of bike (though the line it's getting blurred, some CX models focus primarily on racing). Wide tyres, disc brakes, mounts for panniers and fenders make them very versatile and drop bars are not that hard to get used to (:

Something like the Mango Bikes Point AR https://www.mangobikes.com/bikes/point-ar/
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Old 04-21-17, 07:05 AM   #4
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Thanks mcours2006 and kuroba! I think the gravel bike will be! I will be shopping this weekend, going to my LBS especially to measure it and see how they fit as I am 160cm tall.
I like the Mango bikes, thanks for the link kuroba. I didn't know them.

In London, during summer the weather is great but during winter is very cold and wet, yes.

I will probably check a road bike and add wider tires as I really don't like the road tires, which are thin. :-)
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Old 04-21-17, 07:38 AM   #5
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Most road bikes will come with 23-25 mm tires, but you should be able to accommodate 28 mm without much difficulty. A gravel or cx bike should be able to take much wider tires--up to 40 mm in some cases, if you ride on paved roads you likely don't need or want tires that wide.
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Old 04-21-17, 07:47 AM   #6
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You're welcome! At your height you'd probably fit a small frame. Any shorter and finding a bike gets challenging (I'm 152cms lol).

Check with your LBS about the tire clearance of the road bike you're interested. The Mango comes with 32mm tires which is plenty comfy for commuting (I use 27mm).

Whatever you get, share pics please we love seeing new bikes.
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Old 04-21-17, 08:49 AM   #7
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If I moved to London, (visited 5 years ago--saw thousands of commuters) and wanted a commuter bike, I would go here: https://www.condorcycles.com/pages/contact

Yes FENDERS. Maybe rack in the back for a trunk bag but I really like my Carradice for my work clothes and lunch. Tires wider than 23-25 perhaps, but make sure 28s will fit with plenty of room under the fenders. I think 28s need 50mm fenders.

A new bike! What fun!
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Old 04-21-17, 10:37 AM   #8
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Yes FENDERS. Maybe rack in the back for a trunk bag but I really like my Carradice for my work clothes and lunch. Tires wider than 23-25 perhaps, but make sure 28s will fit with plenty of room under the fenders. I think 28s need 50mm fenders.
The standard recommendation for fender size is usually 10 mm bigger than your tire. So if you're using 28 mm tires you can do with 40 mm fenders. However, I've find that aesthetically having larger fenders much wider than the tires is odd. I've got a set of 35 mm SKS Longboards on a set of 35 mm tires and it works quite well. I've also got a set of 45 mm SKS's on 38 mm tires, and it looks okay, but not as nice as the 35-35's.

So for 28 mm tires you could get away with 30 mm fenders if you mount them a bit tighter.
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Old 04-21-17, 10:50 AM   #9
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The standard recommendation for fender size is usually 10 mm bigger than your tire. So if you're using 28 mm tires you can do with 40 mm fenders. However, I've find that aesthetically having larger fenders much wider than the tires is odd. I've got a set of 35 mm SKS Longboards on a set of 35 mm tires and it works quite well. I've also got a set of 45 mm SKS's on 38 mm tires, and it looks okay, but not as nice as the 35-35's.

So for 28 mm tires you could get away with 30 mm fenders if you mount them a bit tighter.
Standards-shmanders. I used 28s with my Berthoud 40mm fenders and it worked fine for 2-3 years of commuting and a 200k and 300k brevet with the attendant training rides. No rattles, no rubbing, but there is very little room for error. I'm running 23s and 25s with those 40mm fenders now and am much happier. Some fenders basically ride over the tops of the tires (longboards)and width is not much of an issue. Some fenders wrap around the tire more (Berthouds) and clearance is more of an issue. In London, I would like as much coverage as possible.

Last edited by Classtime; 04-21-17 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 04-21-17, 11:03 AM   #10
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Yes, your fenders are still within the recommended clearance.
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Old 04-22-17, 08:30 PM   #11
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Old 04-24-17, 05:05 AM   #12
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Hi all! thanks for the input. I've being checking these two bikes during the weekend, what do you think?

https://www.evanscycles.com/speciali...-bike-EV279738

https://www.wheelies.co.uk/p94669/Ma...brid-Bike.aspx
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Old 04-24-17, 05:45 AM   #13
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If your commute has lots of hills then you may consider the Marin as it has a triple. A 26-34 combination is enough to get you up any incline. Otherwise I'd opt for the Specialized with the disc brakes. It has a double, and the lowest gearing combo you have is a 32-34, is still good enough for all but the steepest of inclines.

The Spec also has carbon fork as opposed to the aluminum on the Marin. It may give you a bit more cushion on the front end if your commute is on rougher roads.

The Spec costs more, but you are getting disc brakes and a carbon fork, and may also retain its value better over time if you were to sell it in the future.
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Old 04-24-17, 07:40 AM   #14
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Hi mcours2006, what about between this:
https://www.wheelies.co.uk/p94670/Ma...brid-Bike.aspx

and

https://www.evanscycles.com/speciali...-bike-EV279738

My commute doesn't have lots of incline but as I would also like at some point to do some touring I would like to buy something that would take me to some other places even with steep inclines.
My limit is £700 really, the Marin is at £800 but I can get it with a discount.
Also, if I go for the the Marin has 3 sizes, the small one up to 5ft 3ins and medium from 5ft 3ins.
I am 5ft 3ins, which one would I go for the one right at the limit or the one starting with my high?

I've tried the small one but couldn't get a medium to try.
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Old 04-24-17, 07:44 AM   #15
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Personally, I found flat bars a bit uncomfortable on my 15km commute, after half an hour my wrists started hurting, so neither would be my pick for a 20km commute.

I'd go for the Marin if your commute includes a steep hill.
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Old 04-24-17, 08:15 AM   #16
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Kuroba, I am reluctant to use the drop bars as I have carpal tunnel syndrome and my hands get numb when using them. I don't know if it is because of my posture and probably placing more weight on my hands but they didn't work for me.
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Old 04-24-17, 09:32 AM   #17
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The second Marin and the Spec look quite similar in terms of the specs, but is priced more than 100 pounds more. Both have the necessary mounts for fenders and racks, and hydro disc brakes. The Marin frame does stand out over the Spec, as does the colour, so if your discount brings the price down to where the Spec is then go for it.

As far as fit is concerned you'd really have to try them out to see. My guess is that the smaller one would fit you better.

You can get a set of bar ends to give yourself a few more hand positions if you are dead set on flat bars. But as I stated in my first post if you go for longer rides or group rides then a drop bar is more ideal.
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Old 04-24-17, 10:34 AM   #18
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It is probably a very silly question and sorry about it in advance, but can bars be exchanged? can I have straight bars and change to drop bars if/when I need them?
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Old 04-24-17, 10:56 AM   #19
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It is probably a very silly question and sorry about it in advance, but can bars be exchanged? can I have straight bars and change to drop bars if/when I need them?
Yes, it can be done, but it is sometimes surprisingly expensive. It depends on the bike. You will probably need new shifters and brake levers, and they can cost a lot. Before you buy, ask what it would involve.

Some upright handlebars such as those that come on the bikes you're considering can accept bar-ends which add a position or two to your existing handlebars. I have a pair on a bike I have, and I like them. I get enough variety that way.
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Old 04-24-17, 12:35 PM   #20
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Worry about the tour and race bike later.
Look for a real commuter like a used 3 speed Pashley Princess. Once a year maintenance. Lube the chain and ride. The trucks can see you and you don't need to shift gears every 10 seconds. Sure they start slower, but can coast 4 blocks up to red lights. Shift to 1st when you stop, simple.
You need finicky triple deraillers like a hole in the head.
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Old 04-24-17, 12:53 PM   #21
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It is probably a very silly question and sorry about it in advance, but can bars be exchanged? can I have straight bars and change to drop bars if/when I need them?
Not recommended at all for a newbie to attempt for various reasons, all of which will end up costing too much money than is worthwhile. It's a lot of money to spend if you are unsure you'll like the style. How do you know that a dropbar bike is going to exacerbate your carpo condition? Have you any experience riding a drop bar road bike?

FWIW, you can find a road bike with relatively upright riding position that isn't all that much different than the hybrids you cited. Many people who ride drop bars never use the drops anyway.
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Old 04-24-17, 01:09 PM   #22
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It is probably a very silly question and sorry about it in advance, but can bars be exchanged? can I have straight bars and change to drop bars if/when I need them?
it is probably much cheaper to buy a bike with drop bars and install a flat bar and trigger shifters. Brifters are where the big costs hide .... get them with the bike and save a ton. Swap when you get home, and if, two years hence, you like a flat bar, sell the other gear on EBay.
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Old 04-24-17, 01:22 PM   #23
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It is probably a very silly question and sorry about it in advance, but can bars be exchanged? can I have straight bars and change to drop bars if/when I need them?
butterfly bars and H-bars give more position choices than just plain old straight/riser bars. You could switch from straight/riser bars your bike might come with to one of those and not likely need to replace any other parts.

The one single most important thing is that you like riding the bike; if the bike doesn't do that for you, it will make it a lot easier for you to ride it less and less...
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Old 04-24-17, 02:09 PM   #24
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I hate flat bars, but there's a large variety of bars that are compatible without​ making any changes other than the bars.
With drop bars one is basically locked into them unless other components are also changed.
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Old 04-24-17, 04:18 PM   #25
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Flat bar bikes are great for commuting and the bikes you have posted are just fine for that role. Look around London and tell me what types of bars is everyone else using? I have been to London many times and flat bars reign supreme, there is a reason for this.

With the bikes you posted the Marin Terra Linda SC4 700 is the one I like. It has wide range gearing with the 34 tooth rear cog, disk brakes, and as much as it shouldn't matter, I really like the colour. I would prefer a little wider tire than the 28 mm that it has now. I recommend when the time comes to replace, go with a little wider tire, 32 mm to help absorb some of the road shock.

Fenders are a must even if you ride in on only fair days. The ride home could be miserable and fenders will keep you a little less wet and the bike a little less dirty.

Good luck on whatever you buy.
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