Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

"Commuter" bike vs. road bike for commuting?

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.

"Commuter" bike vs. road bike for commuting?

Reply

Old 07-13-07, 10:55 AM
  #1  
dumplingdog
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
"Commuter" bike vs. road bike for commuting?

I tested a few bikes the other day in hopes of finding something for less than $500 I can use for my slightly hilly, roughly 6 mile commute to work. The Kona Dew, which I think is designed specifically for urban commuting, handled nicely and would more than meet my needs. But I also tested a fixed-gear road bike, which rated a little higher on the fun scale. I don't think I'd go for a fixed bike, since I've got a few hills between home and work and haven't been riding much in recent years. But the bike shop staffer who was helping me out proposed I go for a road bike -- he suggested a KHS Flite 220 -- with the handlebars swapped out and replaced with flat bars. That would give me a comfortable, upright position for a leisurely, low-stress commute, along with some of the sleekness of the road bike. Any thoughts out there on road bike vs. "commuter" bike handling for an urban commute?
dumplingdog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 11:44 AM
  #2  
bsyptak
Luggite
 
bsyptak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,906
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think it's a brilliant idea. The KHS is a steel frame so it will be more comfortable than the Dew's aluminum frame. I think it will be a great commuter bike. It's also got 26mm tires, which will be better for commuting. A little larger than regular road tires (23), so they will be a little more comfortable and absorb poor road conditions without doing damage to your rims.

Handling will be fine with the flat bars. Please post pics if/when you get it.

Ask the shop not to cut down your steering tube yet until you decide where you want the stem to sit. You can swap out the spacers above and below the stem until you get your desired height. Then leave one above and have them cut there. Give it a few weeks of testing various heights.

I like that KHS.
bsyptak is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 11:54 AM
  #3  
jagged
Senior Member
 
jagged's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 158

Bikes: Jamis Aurora Elite (2011); Trek 520 (2006); Specialized Globe (2005); Lemond Zurich (2003)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Both bikes can easily handle your 12 mile round trip commute. But because neither bike comes with fenders, I personally wouldn't call either a "commuter" bike.

Most commuters are interested in comfort. Wide tires are key for ride comfort. Frame material is secondary. You could have the stiffest frame imaginable, but if you put fat 700x37 tires on it, you'll feel like you are floating over the potholes.
jagged is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 11:55 AM
  #4  
solveg
Squirrel
 
solveg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Winfield, KS
Posts: 4,928

Bikes: 07 Rivendell Atlantis, 83 Schwinn Peloton, 94 Scott Cheyenne, 81 SR Touring Bike, 80's CCM,

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Just out of curiousity...

The roads I ride fore recreation are the same roads I would take to a workplace. Plus, I the distance probably wouldn't be further than I would ride a roadbike. Where does the extra need for fatter tires and comfort come into play? I can see specific reasons to make these choices... like working in an industrial part of town where there's a lot of stuff on the road, or making sure you have fenders and a rack, but why is a commuting bike by nature different?

oops: the jagged posted an answer moments before my question posted...
__________________
solveg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 11:57 AM
  #5  
Hoshnasi
Senior Member
 
Hoshnasi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Cerritos, Ca.
Posts: 562
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Do you not like the drop bars? If you ride on the hoods or the bar top you'll get an upright position. Dropping into the bars on hill climbs make them a breeze in most cases.
Hoshnasi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 11:58 AM
  #6  
caloso
Packfodding 3
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 37,510

Bikes: Ridley Excalibur, Gazelle Champion Mondial, On-One Pompino, Specialized Rock Hopper

Mentioned: 50 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1598 Post(s)
Nor do I get the argument that flat bars are better for commuting. The issue is keeping your head up and that's determined by the height and reach of the stem rather than the shape of the bar.

But what do I know? I commute on an old steel race bike with a fixed gear and road drops.
caloso is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 12:14 PM
  #7  
Falkon
The quieter you become...
 
Falkon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 1,283

Bikes: 1973 Raleigh Superbe, 2006 Trek 4300 with no original parts, 1984 Ciocc, Custom Keith Anderson

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I commute on a track bike with track bars [and brakes] and I also have a cross bike with a rack and panniers. It's all preference. I wouldn't ride my Electra 15 miles to work, because it's just not as efficient as the road bike. Sure, it's a bit more comfort oriented in the sense that I can wear clothes with big seams and not rub myself raw, but for any hills and straights where I like to move at a fast pace, it just doesn't cut it. For an all purpose commuter, I think of a touring or cross bike with a rack and fenders.
__________________
Originally Posted by TechKnowGN
San Jose has to be the most boring place I've ever been. And I live in Ohio.
Falkon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 12:43 PM
  #8  
dynaryder
PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes
 
dynaryder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: BicycleSPACE warehouse in SW Washington DC
Posts: 6,980
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
With the Dew,you can swap back and forth between skinny and fat tires as you see fit. You also have room for knobbie cross tires for winter use. And it'll take full fenders no prob. How much clearance does the road bike have for fenders/tires? Also,if you want more hand positions or the ability to get aero,for $20 plus bar tape you can put a REI trekking(safari) bar on it and keep your stock controls.
__________________

C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport,Dahon Speed Pro TT,Brompton S6L/S2E-X
dynaryder is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 02:16 PM
  #9  
dumplingdog
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks all for the replies.
Re flat vs. drop bars, after testing both, I just found the flat bars to offer a more comfortable and sustainable stance. If speed were my primary concern, I can surely see how the drop bars would put me in a more aggressive and aerodymamic position. But I'm most interested in a comfortable ride, one that won't give me a stiff back or neck kinks.
dumplingdog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 02:33 PM
  #10  
dumplingdog
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by Falkon
I commute on a track bike with track bars [and brakes] ...
...also, is there a difference between the type of brakes one would use on the track, compared with ones that would be used on the street? Is there something about road-bike brakes that would make them less comfortable to use in an urban commute?
dumplingdog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 02:45 PM
  #11  
bsyptak
Luggite
 
bsyptak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,906
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
The KHS does have long reach brakes and fender and rack eyelets. It should fit fenders. I'm guessing it has decent clearance for slightly larger tires. It is more a recreational road bike which usually come with wider tolerances all around.

Most track bikes don't use brakes at all. Falkon is just saying he/she is not crazy!

You might have the lbs install bar ends on the KHS too. They give you 1-2 more positions.
bsyptak is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 02:49 PM
  #12  
caloso
Packfodding 3
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 37,510

Bikes: Ridley Excalibur, Gazelle Champion Mondial, On-One Pompino, Specialized Rock Hopper

Mentioned: 50 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1598 Post(s)
I believe that brakes are illegal on the track so there's no such thing. (Although some track bikes have drilled forks that allow for brakes to be installed for street use.)
caloso is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 03:06 PM
  #13  
Falkon
The quieter you become...
 
Falkon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 1,283

Bikes: 1973 Raleigh Superbe, 2006 Trek 4300 with no original parts, 1984 Ciocc, Custom Keith Anderson

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by dumplingdog
...also, is there a difference between the type of brakes one would use on the track, compared with ones that would be used on the street? Is there something about road-bike brakes that would make them less comfortable to use in an urban commute?
Track bikes don't come with brakes, but many are drilled for them. It's just a road bike brake and lever. The point was that just about any bike can be a commuting bike. Track bikes are generally tight geometry and tight clearances. There's no way I could put fenders on it. that's for sure.
__________________
Originally Posted by TechKnowGN
San Jose has to be the most boring place I've ever been. And I live in Ohio.
Falkon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 03:11 PM
  #14  
Novakane 
Senior Member
 
Novakane's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Canada's Capital
Posts: 556

Bikes: Sekine RM40 1980, Miyata 1000LT 1990, Raleigh Mixte Sprite 1980, Raleigh Grand Prix 1979

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
I'm not familiar with the bikes you mentioned, however another thing to keep in mind is what they have the attachment points for. As you warm up to the idea of using a bicycle for commuting you might find that you'll want fenders for the muddy days and possibly a rack to carry things.
Given the choice you might want to go with the drop-bars as well since straight bars tend to bend the wrist at an unnatural angle.
Novakane is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 03:11 PM
  #15  
dumplingdog
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by bsyptak
Falkon is just saying he/she is not crazy!
Oh, right. Got it.
dumplingdog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 03:22 PM
  #16  
Owner
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 230

Bikes: a green one and a black one

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by dumplingdog
Thanks all for the replies.
Re flat vs. drop bars, after testing both, I just found the flat bars to offer a more comfortable and sustainable stance. If speed were my primary concern, I can surely see how the drop bars would put me in a more aggressive and aerodymamic position. But I'm most interested in a comfortable ride, one that won't give me a stiff back or neck kinks.
Have you tried different bikes with drop bars? It could be the bike more than the bars. I hadn't ridden a bike in a long time before I started commuting recently, and the first bike I test rode when shopping for a commuter was a Trek Portland. That felt super twitchy, more so than I remembered from high school, and I decided I'd gotten too old for drop bars. I looked only at different flat bar bikes after that, until I tried an old touring bike with drops that was priced very attractively. The touring bike felt completely different from the Portland -- rock steady. I ended up going with that. I really like the different hand positions the drop bars offer.
Owner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 03:25 PM
  #17  
CB HI
Cycle Year Round
 
CB HI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 13,508
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1219 Post(s)
Fenders on some bikes may be a challenge, but can still be done.

CB HI is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 03:44 PM
  #18  
mtnwalker
Senior Member
 
mtnwalker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,952

Bikes: '84 Centurion Accordo RS, '06 Gary Fisher Marlin, '06 Schwinn Fastback 27, '06 Litespeed Teramo

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Flat bars vs Drops. Coming from a mountain bike only rider until 8 months ago I can confidently tell you that drops are much more comfortable than flats as far as I'm concerned. Its true that drops will take some getting used to. Your lower back will ache and your shoulders and neck will too. But that is just your body getting accustomed to a riding position you're not used to. But once you have strengthened your core and muscles, riding the drop bars becomes a must.

I still have my mountain bike and I still go out on the trails but now I'm wishing I have drop bars on that sucker. It sure would help a lot on the climbs. Hmmmm, I wonder how weird a hardtail would look like with drop bars?
mtnwalker is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 07:24 PM
  #19  
bhtooefr
Roadmaster Snobbery Club
 
bhtooefr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Newark, Ohio
Posts: 749

Bikes: 2002 Dahon Boardwalk 1, 2011 TerraTrike Path 8

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'm a definite drop bar proponent.

For one, I see no disadvantage to drops compared to flat bar. You say, you can't ride fully upright on a drop bar? Oh, but yes you can. And, with cross/inline/interruptor levers, you can hit the brakes, too, while in that position.
bhtooefr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 07:54 PM
  #20  
Sci-Fi
Senior Member
 
Sci-Fi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,323
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Mod and ride your bike they way you want it. Some like drops, others like flat bars, while a few more like north road or mustache bars. The main thing is what is most comfortable for you not anyone else. They aren't going to be riding your bike along your route/commute.

If you need to carry or haul stuff, then make sure your bike has provisions to add a rack. Many commuters have fenders installed. Lot of options and preferences to consider...just make sure you don't close the door on any of them...you'll never know what you want to use your bike for next.
Sci-Fi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 08:03 PM
  #21  
mike
Senior Member
 
mike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Snowy midwest
Posts: 5,392
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Originally Posted by solveg
Just out of curiousity...

The roads I ride fore recreation are the same roads I would take to a workplace. Plus, I the distance probably wouldn't be further than I would ride a roadbike. Where does the extra need for fatter tires and comfort come into play? I can see specific reasons to make these choices... like working in an industrial part of town where there's a lot of stuff on the road, or making sure you have fenders and a rack, but why is a commuting bike by nature different?

oops: the jagged posted an answer moments before my question posted...
The answer is actually right there in your questions.

Road bike, mountain bike, "commuter bike", the best bike is the one that gets you to your destination the easiest, most comfortably, and the most reliably.

Most people ride fairly nice streets and roads to work, so a road bike is most appropriate. So, I don't think you need any special or wide tires just because you are commuting to work. Your bike won't know where you are going, so it won't be asking for any special skins.

You might want to reconsider the flat bars. I had troubles with flat bars because you simply don't have any other positions for your hands. After awhile, my hands went numb. I like drop bars (road bars) better. They are designed to provide multiple hand positions AND give you half a chance if you are heading into a strong wind. You might try the drop bars and then change them to flat if you find you really need to. Road position will take about three days to get used to.

Hope your new ride is sweet! Sounds like it will be.
mike is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 08:12 PM
  #22  
Cyclon
2 Wheel Junkie
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: SoCal
Posts: 352
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Originally Posted by mtnwalker
I still have my mountain bike and I still go out on the trails but now I'm wishing I have drop bars on that sucker. It sure would help a lot on the climbs. Hmmmm, I wonder how weird a hardtail would look like with drop bars?
It could be a cyclocross+MTB mix.
Cyclon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 09:32 PM
  #23  
terceiro
squeaky clean
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: O-H-I-O
Posts: 47

Bikes: 1985 Specialized Allez SE, Diamondback Response Sport

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by CB HI
Fenders on some bikes may be a challenge, but can still be done.

CB HI: how did you get that rear fender on? I'm desperate to find some way to get more coverage than some clip-ons, and it appears that you've fit some SKS P45s on your ride. How did you get it under your (presumably) non-long-reach brakes and 700c wheels?
terceiro is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 10:26 PM
  #24  
dumplingdog
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hey Gang,
Thanks once again for the tips.
One more elated thing I wanted to get some feedback on: "commuter" tires and frame vs. the road bike's. My commute's through pretty heavy traffic and over some downright post-apocalyptic pothole conditions. Will a road bike, like the Flite 220 I'm considering, hold up under those circumstances, or am I better off with something sturdier and with thicker tires, like the Kona Dew I test-drove or a Bianchi Bay City, which also looks pretty nice?
dumplingdog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-07, 10:28 PM
  #25  
bsyptak
Luggite
 
bsyptak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,906
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
You drop bar zealots are swimming upstream without a paddle. And you continue to forget to mention that bar ends can be added to flat bars if desired. That's a disservice.

Not a single commuter specific bike (fenders, lights, internal gears) marketed today has drop bars.

I've got nothing against drop bars. I've got a road bike and a CX bike, the latter I use sometimes as a commuter. But drop bars are most definitely a viable choice. I've got a flat bar hybrid too, and for my 18 mile round trip, it works fine. It's not like any of us are commuting 50 miles each way. And since flat bar bikes probably have 95% of the market, I'm guessing it's because that's what people want.

I think it's best to be open minded. If a person comes to the board saying they want a flat bar bike, who are we to try and sell them something they don't want? If they come saying they want a road bike, then go with that too.
bsyptak is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service