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15+ mile commuters (1-way) - What do you ride?

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15+ mile commuters (1-way) - What do you ride?

Old 03-03-10, 11:58 AM
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pessimist
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15+ mile commuters (1-way) - What do you ride?

I have a 19 mile commute each way that's half flat, half hilly. The vast majority of it is either bike path or bike friendly roads. I've been riding it a few times a week in fair weather only for two years now, and I'd like to start trying to commute in by bike a lot more. At the moment I ride a mostly stock Cannondale CAAD9 5 and I find that it's jut not cut out for wet riding in its current configuration. (I love commuting on it on good days when I don't need to carry gear though.) Additionally it doesn't accept racks, and I don't like riding that distance with a bag, so I try to drive in my gear once a week.

I've thought about getting some p clamps and trying to put fenders on it, and I've also considered getting a Carridice bag for it, but whenever I go down that route I find myself thinking that I should probably just get a second commuter bike for messy days or days when I need to carry gear. I'm also not particularly happy with the degraded braking I get from the pads when they are wet.

So rather than trying to start another "which bike should I get" thread I mostly just want to know what other folks on here with long commutes ride, particularly in wet weather, and what if any issues they have with their current ride.
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Old 03-03-10, 12:13 PM
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I go 20 miles each way. I ride a Giant 9 speed. It donesn't have the eyelits for fenders, so, I either put on the quick fenders that are just strapped on, or get soaked when it rains. I ususally do a combo depending on how lazy I am to put on the fenders. I also took the winter off as I am lazy and ride the trainer in the basement. Hope that helps.
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Old 03-03-10, 12:35 PM
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It helps, sounds like my current setup basically except you actually ride in the rain and get wet I've been less committed and have just driven in on days when any measurable rain is forecast. I took the winter off too and rode my exercise bike indoors. I have a shower at work, so getting dirty is basically ok. The main issue I would have with getting seriously wet is that there's no good place for me dry out clothes for the ride home.
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Old 03-03-10, 12:39 PM
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When I ride in when it rains. We have showers and stuff, and a place to hang our bikes. I hang my wet clothes on the bike and most of them are usually dry by going home. For shoes, it helps to take newspaper and wad it up in inside of the shoe and at lunch put in new newspaper or turn around what you already have and it dries the shoes by the ride home.
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Old 03-03-10, 12:47 PM
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I also store my work clothes at work, so they don't get soaked on the way in. I usually just take home and add to the collection I have. I also have a somewhat waterproof lunch bag and when it rains, I will pack clothes or perishable is plastic bags so that they will avoid getting wet. I don't think I have ever found anything completely waterproof that didn't cost a kings ransom.
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Old 03-03-10, 12:51 PM
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I have sufficient room to store clothes at work, and I do that mostly because I don't like carrying a bag for the long ride. I never thought about just draping the wet clothes from the ride over the bike to dry though. I guess maybe I should just try getting soaked one day and seeing how it goes... I've always just assumed it would be pretty miserable and thereby avoided it. If I'm going to do that though I definitely need better brake pads at a minimum.
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Old 03-03-10, 12:55 PM
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I recently moved, but did not change bikes. The bike, which was set up for my pre-move commute has not been changed. Pre-move, my commute was 15 miles, each way, rolling hills, mostly rural with the last 4 miles or so urban. My commute bike is set up for 8 speeds, with a single chainring (42 chainring, 12-30 cassette). I use a friction shift bar end. The bike has fenders, rear rack, and 700C28 tires (Schwalbe Marathon Plus). Lighting comes from two parallel systems, a Generator powered headlight/taillight which is always there, always on, and Dinotte headlight and taillights which are there for the winter and come off during the summer.

The frame is a custom, steel frame.
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Old 03-03-10, 12:56 PM
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I don't know if you need better pads, just make sure you're not going too fast to not stop. Also, remember, in the rain, once you are soaked, you can't get any wetter.
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Old 03-03-10, 12:58 PM
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I ride an xtracycle. No problems at all with storage capacity. Issues? It's probably twice as heavy as my road bike.
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Old 03-03-10, 01:03 PM
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Ride a Trek Soho 2009 17 mile commute each way. I probably average 3-4 days a week set up for no flats carrying mini panniers. On snow and ice days I had my old commuter which is/was a Furio F6 Cannondale with studded tires. But after 5 years and 30,000 miles (when it was my only bike) its secondary status broke its heart and its bottom bracket for the last time. So a Worldbike is on order to take over for studded tire days. ( Actually planned to buy a second bike off of craigslist but saw the worldbike mentioned in a comment thread somwhere in bikeforums and its priced right to give it a whirl)


For 19 miles, 5 days a week, I set up two bikes if you can afford it.

Consider keeping your existing bike for the nice days and getting a true(r) commuting bike for the others.
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Old 03-03-10, 01:09 PM
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The 1x8 or 9 is a good option. One needs to add some sort of chaindrop prevention mechanism. Paul makes a good one, though pricey. A cheaper option would be a Shimano 2200 FD. That's what I use. AFA fenders go I use SKS Raceblades. They're not the best, but are better than nothing. Wouldn't waste my money on new pads unless absolutely necessary. Just ride more carefully w/plenty of stop time. My commuter is set up very similar to Sauerwald's except gearing differences. Being able to dry one's clothes by hanging is most times good enough. My rule of thumb for riding my 40 mi rt commute is not to ride in any of my work clothes and not work in my ride clothes. And always carry raingear.
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Old 03-03-10, 01:18 PM
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I've attempted to put fenders on my 2009 Giant Defy, but it's never worked out. I've thought about the cheaper clip-on type fenders, but I've never heard good reviews with them reliably staying in place and am therefore reluctant to try them. So I've just dealt with the wetness and changed out of the shorts and tights, which actually aren't bad when wet. The only issue I truly mind in the rain is that lovely brown stripe that goes up my butt and lower back due to sand and road grit. But I just say, "oh flippin' well" and go. If the drivers behind me think I have had an accident in my pants, then so be it ;[.

Semi-waterproof booties are awesome. So are good gloves. And some type of beanie for the ears. As long as those things are warm and dry, I find I'm quite comfortable. Except I have to carry a backpack with a textbook, notebook, clothes, and shoes. No place to store them at the school. That's the biggest discomfort factor year-round. But I think that would be helped tremendously with a women's saddle. The extra weight just plain hurts me crotch after about 15 miles 8(. Since it sounds like you'd only be carrying clothes, though, it most likely won't be a problem for you, although I understand your wish to go without a bag.
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Old 03-03-10, 01:25 PM
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When I used to ride 15 miles each way, I had a GT Arette I bought from a friend -- one of the old steel/chromoly frames; stiff and lean but quite light -- with fairly high-pressure 700 x 38s on (I own its cousin now, which only gets to do about 8 - 10 miles daily at the moment). At any rate, the 700x38s eat distance efficiently and handle well in wet (and even light off-road) conditions, which make them an optimal solution -- for me. Others might disagree. I'm not sure how skinnier tires would do, since I haven't ridden them since I was about 12, but I have a buddy who rides an ancient fixie on what looks like a couple of loops of coaxial cable (okay, they're not quite that skinny), and he hasn't crashed in the rain yet

The best thing about the Arette was that it weighed nothing, which I really appreciated, especially since my job was very, very physical (grooming and exercising horses; throwing bales of hay around; cleaning stalls; etc.). There's an appreciable difference between riding my current GT (a Legacy, also a light steel/chromoly frame) and riding my other hybrid (a 40-lb behemoth), even on short commutes.

I think weight (not ounces, but differences greater than, say, five pounds), handling, fit, and comfort, are probably the most important measures -- just about everything else you can work around, if you have to. Any bike that's fairly light, has good stiff handling, is properly fitted, and is comfortable to ride should do fine. A heavier bike with the right gearing can also be surprisingly comfortable on a long haul.

IMO, brands and models don't really matter that much. I don't know a single other cyclist, commuter or otherwise, around here who rides GTs, but I love mine. If Cannondales work for you, you can probably find one well-suited to be a secondary commuter, if you want; but I think yours is probaby fine. Regardless, most respectable bike manufacturers will probably offer something that would suit you, and even an old steel road bike frame from a thrift store can be reasonably fitted up for long rides.

As for fenders: based on my experience, I think they might've kept some of the wheel-spray out of my mouth on wet or slushy days (bleh), but I didn't have them and got around fine without them when I was doing my long commute (besides which, fenders do nothing to prevent you from inhaling moths ... ergh). Likewise, had I not been the only cyclist on the route I rode, my fellow cyclists might've appreciated their spray-reduction functionality.

However, I consider them optional. I still don't use fenders (mostly because I never get around to ordering them), and haven't died of Freshman Stripe or the dreaded 'Trench Butt' yet. During the time of my long commute, I kept a change of clothes at work, and if the weather was reasonably warm, I didn't worry about staying dry. When it was cooler, I wore a rainsuit (the cheap kind; I probably looked like one of Gorton's fishermen rolling through the hills of the Bluegrass). When it was cold, I dressed like the bastard son of a ninja and the Norwegian army (that hasn't changed).

I definitely think that if you're going to carry any amount of stuff, a rack and trunk bag or panniers might be a good idea. If your Cannondale doesn't have the attachment points for a standard rack, there's at least one seatpost-jobber out there worth its salt. This is definitely something about which I'd consult with your LBS if you can.

The utility of racks and their friends for long solo rides can't be underestimated. When I did have to carry stuff, back in the day, I carried a backpack. Up long, evil, hills (and, fortunately, down the other side, but still!). Sometimes in 90+F heat. I don't recommend it I also understand that the weight of the rack/panniers combination tends to be offset by the fact that they A) don't jostle around on your back or mess with your center of gravity and B) won't make your back sweat like Jabba the Hutt in Miami in August.

As for braking -- my experience has been that, over time, you tend to acclimate to riding in wet weather, and you learn to ride slower and start braking much sooner. If you're me, you don't learn not to whiz through puddles going, "WOOHOO!" -- but you're clearly thinking ahead and planning and so forth, which indicates that you're probably not me

That being said, if disc or enclosed brakes (not sure how to visualize the latter...) make you feel more comfortable, they might be well worth the investment, because feeling comfortable and happy are what will keep you commuting by bike.

I don't know if this is any help at all. Good luck!

Last edited by kokorozashi; 03-03-10 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 03-03-10, 01:38 PM
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From the sound of it most of you just suck it up and ride in the rain, on a decently wide assortment of bikes. I think a second, more commute oriented, bike is in my future but I can probably hold out on it until the fall and focus on getting some better foul weather gear in the interim. I can (and will) give some SKS Raceblades a try to see if they work for me. Maybe that and a Carradice bag to carry rain gear in are all I really need at this point.
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Old 03-03-10, 01:39 PM
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My commute is 47km one way (94km return), and I ride a 1976ish Colnago Super with full aluminum fenders and 28mm tires. The full fenders make a huge difference and, really, make my commute possible. I've got them p-clamped on.

I use a larger Carridice knock-off on the dry days and I've got a rather massive dry-sack I carry on the wet days. Sadly, most days are wet days here. For me, it was really a matter of finding a back-pack that fits and keeping the weight sensible, for example, I rollup all my tools in a sheet of canvas and strap it under my seat and try not to have to carry shoes. As much of a chore as it is to carry a backpack, riding my road bike shaves enough time off my commute to make it worth it.
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Old 03-03-10, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by kokorozashi View Post
I don't know if this is any help at all. Good luck!
It all helps! Part of my problem is that I don't really know any bike commuters other than a few people who ride a mile or two into downtown Philadelphia, which is a very different sort of commute than I have. The result is that I don't have much information to go by. (Thus my general "what do you folks do" question.)

I feel bad admitting it, but I actually hadn't ever thought about spraying OTHER bikers/joggers (Probably since I've just avoided the rain altogether thus far.) The trail I ride in on for a decent portion of my commute can be crowded in the summer, although I'm not sure what it looks like on rainy days. I would feel pretty bad if I soaked someone as I passed them.
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Old 03-03-10, 01:56 PM
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Look at cyclocross bikes. My regular commute is 4 miles one-way (unless I take a long way home) but I occasionally have to go to a different location 12-13 miles one-way. I ride year-round so I need fenders, a rack, wider tires, and space for lots of lights. I prefer drop bars over flat bars. So 2 yrs ago this May, I built up a Bianchi Castro Valley frame and fork with a 2x9 drivertrain as a commuter. (Took some finagling to rig a front derailleur without brazed on cable stops but found a solution that works - a 1x9 would have worked, too for my terrain.) Using PlanetBike's hybrid/touring fenders, I use 32mm tires and 35mm studded tires just fit. The bike would probably take 38s w/o fenders. This has gotten me through a really nasty winter for these parts (portions of the main bike trail/MUP remain snow covered several weeks after our last major snow storm). While the bike is much heavier than my road bike, I was able to remove the commuting gear and rack (wet day, kept the fenders), mounted 23mm tires and rode it on a very hilly century last fall when my road bike was out of action with a busted rear brifter. There's been a week or so this winter where I wished I had disc brakes and/or an MTB I could use in more serious snow, but the bike has been a champ. Other than weight (compared to my road bike), this cross bike commuter is about as close to a 1-bike-does-all for me as I think I could get.

If you want to roll your own, Nashbar has their aluminum cross frame on sale for $99 in all sizes; specs say it has mounts for fenders, rack, and takes 38mm tires; and the touring frame and fork in the larger sizes for $78.
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Old 03-03-10, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by pessimist View Post
From the sound of it most of you just suck it up and ride in the rain, on a decently wide assortment of bikes. I think a second, more commute oriented, bike is in my future but I can probably hold out on it until the fall and focus on getting some better foul weather gear in the interim. I can (and will) give some SKS Raceblades a try to see if they work for me. Maybe that and a Carradice bag to carry rain gear in are all I really need at this point.
http://www.totalcycling.com/index.ph...urrency&id_USD There're domestic websites w/t product, too. Maybe try BF classifieds. Mine were purchased form www.bikepartsusa.com w/a bunch of other stuff so the shipping cost was spread around.

There're alot of commuter bikes available now w/full coverage fenders, rack and free shipping. A dedicated commuter is almost a necessity. Saves wear and tear on one's weekend roadie/mtb. I got a Fantom CX from BD and have put over 12,000 miles on it w/just minor adjustments and replacing the stock tires w/SMPs. 500.00 shipped. I had to add a rack, bags, fenders, etc.
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Old 03-03-10, 02:05 PM
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I've got a 23 mile (one way) commute that I do sporadically on a Surly Long Haul Trucker. It is set up with SKS fenders, rack and lights for night riding. I run 32c tires and the 45mm fenders work well for me in the rain. I also have Jandd Hurricane water proof panniers that keep my laptop, clothes, and paperwork dry.

Since most of the rain we get down here in Florida is during the summer, I don't have much gear for wet weather.

http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FFHP

As for issues with my bike...I don't really have any other than I wish it accelerated as fast as my road/racing bike.
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Old 03-03-10, 02:17 PM
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a touring bike is always a good choice for longer commutes.



and you can still pre-stage your stuff at work and take the road bike on those nice summer days.
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Old 03-03-10, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ks1g View Post
Look at cyclocross bikes.
+1. I'm a big fan of fender clearance. Keep in mind what full fenders do that Raceblades don't: they protect your drivetrain and other parts that don't appreciate grit and grime. When I finish a commute in the rain, I'm always amused to note that the bottom bracket is the cleanest part of my bike.
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Old 03-03-10, 02:53 PM
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Since most of my commutes are in the rain, I ride a touring bike with a rack, panniers, fenders, and several lights. I use only one pannier for the commute - most of the space is taken up by clothing for the weather - rain jacket, rain pants, shoe covers, an extra layer for warmth, a couple of sets of gloves. Then I carry extra batteries for lights, a few tools, and some snacks. If it's not raining when I leave to work I don't where the rain gear but I need to carry it with me just in case it rains on the way home. I do have a road bike that I love to ride (but not in the rain) and when I'm confident that it will be a dry day, I most definately commute on the road bike. When on the road bike, I can carry everything I need for the day in my jersey pockets. I, like others have mentioned, have a 5 day supply of work clothing waiting for me at the office. I don't haul that stuff back and forth each day.
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Old 03-03-10, 02:55 PM
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I'll chime another vote for a touring bike - purpose built to be comfy on the long haul. Plenty of room for fenders and wide tires, and all the brazons for racks you could want.
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Old 03-03-10, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by pessimist View Post
So rather than trying to start another "which bike should I get" thread I mostly just want to know what other folks on here with long commutes ride, particularly in wet weather, and what if any issues they have with their current ride.
Aren't those both the same question?

My commute's shorter, so I don't really have a right to answer, but I'd probably go for a touring bike if my commute were that long and I could convince my wife I really needed that Surly LHT!
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Old 03-03-10, 03:14 PM
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I have 3 bikes I alternate, although 1 doesn't see much use on my commute.

My most used is my Cross Check, which is outfitted for randonneuring. SON hub, dyno lights, fenders, 32mm tires, Carradice Pendle in back and Berthoud GB28 up front. Plenty of carrying capacity for days when I need to haul a few items of clothing along with my lunch.

On light-carry days (lunch only; maybe some paperwork) I'll take the singlespeed. An '88 Trek 400 rolling on 28mm tires. Full fenders, and I'll swap the Carradice onto there for the day. No front bag, currently awaiting upgrade to dedicated dynohub.

On I-don't-give-a-crap days, I'll take the cruiser. 40+ pound '87 Schwinn Highlands MTB converted to upright ute/cruiser. V-O tourist bars, Wald 157 giant basket, 65mm fenders over 2.2" street tires. It's a tank, and it takes forever to get anywhere, but it's fun to ride.

My commute is 13 - 18mi each way, depending on what route I take.
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