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Building the perfect commuter-suggestions?

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Building the perfect commuter-suggestions?

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Old 07-29-08, 10:56 AM
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mjw16
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Building the perfect commuter-suggestions?

I've been contemplating building a new, commuter-specific bike and wanted some input from other commuters. I've been riding a Surly Crosscheck for the last 5 of my 6 years of daily, year round commuting. First of all, I have to say, that it is nearly the perfect all around bike, especially for commuting, and I love it, in fact, unless I can do it on the cheap, I don't even need to do it. However, some issues have arisen which didn't used to affect me-admittedly, likely due to my advancing age, weight, and loss of flexibility/sensitivity to riding. My wrists/hands hurt, along with my lower back, the brake levers are a slightly longer than ideal reach, and the Shorty Six canti brakes simply suck regardless of constant adjustment. I've been constantly upgrading, tweaking things but just can't seem to get the perfect fit. Since year round commuting is part of our economic, fitness, and environmental goals, I was able to justify a new, perfect, one-time replacement of my current bike.

So, after much consideration (and a modest bike allowance), my ideal commuter spec is as follows:

1) 29er Steel frame ht mountain bike (Redline, Haro, Zion, or Raleigh)-comfy geometry, ride, durability.
2) 80 mm suspension fork-comfy for bumps, potholes.
3) 36 spoke wheels-durability
4) Mechanical disk brakes-improved performance esp. in rain/ice/snow, no wear to rims.
5) 1 x 9 drivetrain-gotta have some gears for steep parking ramp, otherwise it would be a s.s.
6) 1" mountain riser bar with Oury grips and bar ends for mult. hand positions.
7) Clipless pedals, from old bike.
8) Full compliment of fenders, lights, bottle cages, etc.

So, if I can piece this together on the cheap <$1000, I may go for it, but I'd like to get some suggestions as this will likely be my last build for a while and I gotta make it a good one :-)
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Old 07-29-08, 11:05 AM
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JeffS
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I'm surprised to see someone switch from a dropbar bike to flats after that many years. Where are you typically keep your hands on the crosscheck?
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Old 07-29-08, 11:06 AM
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I would not use a suspension fork. I would also use a handlebar with more hand positions.

Do those frames you listed have braze-ons for racks and fenders?
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Old 07-29-08, 11:19 AM
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Replace 4) and 5)

4) Mechanical drum / roller brakes.

Mechanical disc brakes freeze up on a cold, wet, commute, which can make life interesting. Roller brakes last an awful lot longer between having to be messed with. Getting pads for a mechanical disc brake more than a year or so old can be problematic, and can cost more than a whole new roller brake! Vandals like to bend discs, and discs make your bike attractive to thieves.

5) hub gears. Unless you can output a lot of power that it.

For long life of chain and cogs you need to fully enclose them, with something like a Hebie.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:27 AM
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2) 80 mm suspension fork-comfy for bumps, potholes.
I would just use really fat slicks. Like big apples. Suspension forks are overkill for the road but that's completely your call. They also cost alot more than say a surly 1x1 and need servicing from time to time which you probably won't do yourself.

4) Mechanical disk brakes-improved performance esp. in rain/ice/snow, no wear to rims.
I recommend you stick with avid. I've had horrible luck with hayes and shimano mech. discs.

6) 1" mountain riser bar with Oury grips and bar ends for mult. hand positions.
You may want to also look into trekking bars and H-bars.

Seems like a nice, well thought out build. Hope if works out for you.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:49 AM
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I ride my Specialized Crosstrail, 700X45 tires, with suspension fork locked and unlocked. I keep the tires at their max pressure of 85 PSI. It is way more comfortable when it is unlocked, and can absorb bumps, especially the sharp ones. Oddly, the steering is a little more "twitchy" when it is locked.

I really like the improved ride of the large tires, and the front suspension. It sure made my riding more enjoyable.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mjw16 View Post
I've been contemplating building a new, commuter-specific bike and wanted some input from other commuters. I've been riding a Surly Crosscheck for the last 5 of my 6 years of daily, year round commuting. First of all, I have to say, that it is nearly the perfect all around bike, especially for commuting, and I love it, in fact, unless I can do it on the cheap, I don't even need to do it. However, some issues have arisen which didn't used to affect me-admittedly, likely due to my advancing age, weight, and loss of flexibility/sensitivity to riding. My wrists/hands hurt, along with my lower back, the brake levers are a slightly longer than ideal reach, and the Shorty Six canti brakes simply suck regardless of constant adjustment. I've been constantly upgrading, tweaking things but just can't seem to get the perfect fit. Since year round commuting is part of our economic, fitness, and environmental goals, I was able to justify a new, perfect, one-time replacement of my current bike.

So, after much consideration (and a modest bike allowance), my ideal commuter spec is as follows:

1) 29er Steel frame ht mountain bike (Redline, Haro, Zion, or Raleigh)-comfy geometry, ride, durability.
2) 80 mm suspension fork-comfy for bumps, potholes.
3) 36 spoke wheels-durability
4) Mechanical disk brakes-improved performance esp. in rain/ice/snow, no wear to rims.
5) 1 x 9 drivetrain-gotta have some gears for steep parking ramp, otherwise it would be a s.s.
6) 1" mountain riser bar with Oury grips and bar ends for mult. hand positions.
7) Clipless pedals, from old bike.
8) Full compliment of fenders, lights, bottle cages, etc.

So, if I can piece this together on the cheap <$1000, I may go for it, but I'd like to get some suggestions as this will likely be my last build for a while and I gotta make it a good one :-)
Some comments:
- a 700C / 29" mountain bike should do the trick as far as an upright position goes, steel vs. aluminum frame is largely irrelevant, wheels and tires make a far bigger difference
- skip the suspension and go with bigger tires like the Schwalbe Big Apple
- Avid discs, mechanical or hydraulic [I've used both in temps down to -30C with no trouble at all. Continuous cable housing keeps the brake cable from freezing up, and DOT 4 brake fluid flows past -40C.]
- 1x9 will work great, or you could go for a 1x2 with two Surly SS cogs in the back, OR you could walk the bike up the exit ramp
- regular bars with bar-ends should work great, or H-bars look promising as well
- buy a used bike and save your money
- FYI: most regular mtn bike frames can fit a 700x38C wheel/tire with clearance for full fenders
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