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Upright, light and fast - does it exist?

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Upright, light and fast - does it exist?

Old 08-14-11, 05:32 PM
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JaclynMcKewan
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Upright, light and fast - does it exist?

For the past couple of years, I've been almost obsessed with comfortable, upright riding. I guess that came from 20 years of riding only a hand-me-down road bike with drop handlebars - as dumb as it sounds, because that was my first "grown-up" bike, I assumed that all adult bikes were like that. 3 years ago, when I discovered that there were bikes for adults that are more upright, I put my bike by the side of the curb and let someone take it.

I ended up buying a cruiser, the Giant Simple Seven, and I was in pure heaven at the cushy tires and completely upright position. I mainly used it for errands and "joyrides" around the neighborhood. Then, when I realized that my new job was within easy cycling distance (under 3 miles) I started riding to work too.

Last year I became interested in Dutch bikes, and when I was recently able to try one in person, I purchased a WorkCycles Oma. Based on things I had read (and a test ride that I took), I didn't think the weight would be a problem, but I'm starting to think I don't like having such a heavy bike. If you want, check out my thread in the Utility Cycling forum for the long drawn-out story on that.

So, I think I will end up selling one of those bikes - either the cruiser or the Oma, since I think some of their uses overlap. However, I'm starting to think that I was a bit hasty in eschewing all road bikes, because it would be nice to have a lighter, faster bike for longer trips. So I'm wondering, is there such a thing as a lightweight, somewhat fast bike that is still somewhat upright? I realize that sitting up straight sacrifices some speed, and I'm okay with that - I'm also okay with having some bend, I just don't want to be all hunched over. But in my searching, it seems that all the really light bikes (20-25 pounds) have a completely bent position. All the more upright bikes are at least 30 pounds.

Although I guess there's more to speed than just being lightweight, right? I suppose the type of tires/wheels comes into play as well, which just goes to show that I really have no idea what I'm looking for. I guess I want something that is at least somewhat all of these things: fast, light, comfortable and upright. I'm looking for something good for 7-12 mile rides. I'm not much of an athlete, so I don't anticipate doing longer than that in the foreseeable future.

Is the Jamis Citizen a good option for what I'm describing?
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Old 08-14-11, 05:46 PM
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Lots of options out there. The Trek Soho fits the bit pretty nicely. It really depends on how relaxed a geometry you want.
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Old 08-14-11, 05:59 PM
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There are bikes with skinny wheels that are lightweight
with straight handlebars. Usually they are more upright
than roadbikes(dropbars). The Jamis Citizen would not
fall into this category, suspension and wide tires slows
it down a bit. Ask your LBS if you can test ride a roadbike
with straightbars, they'll know what you're getting at and
you can get a feel of the geometry and ride.
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Old 08-14-11, 06:14 PM
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Lot's of things are going to affect your speed, but the amount of $$$ you're willing to spend will determine how heavy the bike will be.
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Old 08-14-11, 06:56 PM
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Above around 15mph aerodynamics will be what holds you back, not tire size or frame geometry. An upright riding position is simply not efficient. You won't be able to go very fast.
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Old 08-14-11, 06:59 PM
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dahut
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Get a flat bar road bike and add drop bar ends.
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Old 08-14-11, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by dahut View Post
Get a flat bar road bike and add drop bar ends.
https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/.../cafe_noir.htm Comes 90% assembled. Ask a friend w/some bike-mechanic acumen help you put it together. Or pay a lbs a reasonable fee. Order the bike on a Wednesday and you'll have it by Saturday.

I almost bought this bike, but got this one instead: https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx2.htm My commute is over 20 miles so I wanted drop bars. Also, I only wanted a double crankset up front. They're less touchy than triples IMO.

The nice thing about the Cafe Noir is the adjustable stem. If the bike is a little too big or small upon delivery one can make a small tweak and be good to go.
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Old 08-14-11, 07:38 PM
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I nearly purchased a Jamis Coda Elite instead of my Surly Long Haul Trucker last year in July.

https://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...codaelite.html

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Old 08-14-11, 07:49 PM
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Flat bar road bikes sound like what you are looking for. I have a marin mill valley & a trek fx 7.5 I like them both. The trek is more comfortable, the Marin is faster.
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Old 08-14-11, 07:50 PM
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Scott SUB40 is my commuting weapon. It's tops when it comes to whippin' in between long parallel lines of cars stuck at lights.
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Old 08-14-11, 11:33 PM
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This isn't 100%, but it's how I see it:

Light weight = easier to lift and carry;

Aero riding position = easier to go faster.

If speed is what you want, you're not going to get it by only chasing after lighter bike weight.

OP, your starting post only asked about speed, really. Riding position matters more than bike weight.
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Old 08-14-11, 11:51 PM
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Light Mid-90s MTB + Dimension cruiser bars + wide butt saddle = 24 pounds without the rack and it's bolt upright.

Not appreciably faster than a Raleigh Sports on the flats but much easier to climb hills with it. I think this particular one would be nicer with a setback seatpost and shorter stem, but not necessary for all examples.


Vacuum haul by Lester Of Puppets, on Flickr

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Old 08-14-11, 11:51 PM
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A friend of mine rides a bike like this (click on pic for link):



He sits very upright, but he can scoot.
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Old 08-15-11, 03:36 AM
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You can't buy speed. It's in the legs. Fabian Cancellara could make your current (commuter) bike go faster than you could make his current (race) bike go. It's easier to go fast (providing you have the legs for it) if you don't push as many air molecules out of the way, so a bike that puts you in a more aerodynamic position will help you accomplish that goal. If you don't care about the amount of effort needed, and really want to be upright while riding, build up your legs (a lot) and keep your current bike.
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Old 08-15-11, 04:00 AM
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I saw a Cannondale 800 today. Its a roadbike type of bike with flat handlebars. It is similar to the Trek 7.-series.
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Old 08-15-11, 06:08 AM
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The more upright you get, the more aerodynamics works against you. However, I think the whole concept is sometimes overplayed with many cyclists riding bikes with ridiculous handlebars drops that are clearly uncomfortable. I've got all of my bikes set up with the handlebars the same height as the saddle. I am more upright than most when riding on the tops and hoods, but can comfortably ride in the drops for as long as I want (something most cyclists with huge drops cannot do).

Anyway, check out the new Salsa Casseroll if you are looking for a faster bike that allows a more upright position. The Casseroll has a very tall head tube, making it very easy to raise your handlebars higher. I can easily average 18-20 mph in group rides on the Salsa, so the taller head tube isn't holding me back.
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Old 08-15-11, 06:21 AM
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Hmm. Trek FX 7.7 or Specialized Sirrus Pro?
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Old 08-15-11, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
The more upright you get, the more aerodynamics works against you. However, I think the whole concept is sometimes overplayed with many cyclists riding bikes with ridiculous handlebars drops that are clearly uncomfortable.
I concur here, especially since the aerodynamics doesn't really start coming into play unless one is going in excess of 10mph or so.

For most people cruising, that just not a big deal. Obviously, for people trying to eek out speed wherever possible, sure. But, it generally doesn't happen in most metro areas, given stop lights and whatnot.
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Old 08-15-11, 06:40 AM
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A lightweight, upright bike is a valid style, not because they go faster but they are easier to handle and lift and generally more fun than heavier bikes.
Cruising tyres don't need to be skinny, you can get all the high tech fabrication in a wider style. My Schwalbe Big Apple tyres are not fast but they are efficient at cruising speed.
Cruiser style bikes are not very efficient, OK for a couple of miles, eating an ice cream much not much more. Flat-bar road bikes such as Specialized Sirrus are very common.
You can opt for a hub gear such as Shimano Alfine.
Breezer Bikes make some good lightweight city style machines.

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Old 08-15-11, 06:46 AM
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Just to get some clarification --

JaclynMcKewan, are you asking for top-end speed, or acceleration?

If it's acceleration from a dead stop you want, then yes, a lighter bike will help. It will also help - somewhat - when climbing. But aerodynamics matter more once you're up to speed, and once you get past 25-30 mph, gearing comes into play, too.

Don't forget, though, that the bike is still a small part of the bike-and-rider (plus maybe cargo) package. But, you could say that a 20-lb bike can be loaded with 20 lbs of cargo before it feels as heavy as an unloaded 40-lb bike.

One more thing to consider about riding positions has nothing to do with speed or aerodynamics -- it's comfort. I got my wife a Townie earlier this year. It's a hoot to ride; it makes me feel like a kid again. You'd think that it would be as comfortable as sitting on a couch, which it is -- except that couches don't bounce up and down. Riding over bumps on the Townie puts more jolts straight up my spine than I get on my own "hunched-over" bikes. I would not want to ride that Townie over maybe ten miles at the most, and although you said you're not planning to do more than 7-12 miles at a time, I'll bet that it won't be long until you're going out for 30 or more.
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Old 08-15-11, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by relyt View Post
Above around 15mph aerodynamics will be what holds you back, not tire size or frame geometry. An upright riding position is simply not efficient. You won't be able to go very fast.
Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
JaclynMcKewan, are you asking for top-end speed, or acceleration?
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what I want - maybe it's not necessarily speed at all, but distance. Right now I have a cruiser and a heavy Dutch bike. Both are great comfortable bikes for the short distances I go (under 5 miles). But I'm trying to do more cycling in place of driving, and I've been thinking that I want something that will make it easier to travel longer distances. I have not gone far on either of my current bikes, but have heard that on these type of leisurely bikes, you will get tired on longer trips. Also, I have heard that the Dutch bikes don't go much faster than 12mph unless you are superman/superwoman. I have never measured my speed exactly, but on these bikes I'm pretty slow, probably 8-10. I realize that sounds ridiculously slow, but again, I take fairly short trips.

Going 15mph would be an excellent speed to me, although I know that's probably nothing to most of the people in this forum. So I guess I just want a bike that is still somewhat upright/comfortable, but won't tire me out at 7-12 miles. For example, my parents live 11 miles away - if I could bike to their house, visit for a few hours and ride back, that would be great.

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Old 08-15-11, 09:44 AM
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Well, consider this -- the typical "touring" bike, which gets ridden maybe a hundred miles at a shot, looks like a road bike. These riders don't bother with a huge saddle-to-bar drop like track racers or Pro Tour riders, but they're not sitting bolt-upright like on a Townie or a Dutch-style bike, either.

They're also not shooting for supreme aerodynamics. They're looking for comfortable weight distribution. The rider's weight isn't leaving, of course. When some cyclists want less weight on their hands, they're going to put more weight on their butt; some of them forget that part and start wondering why their butts hurt so much.

I was going to start writing about what bikes I use now and why, but the heck with that. I've told people that their first bike is just used to decide what to get for the second and third bikes. You're partway down that path now. At the end of your post, you asked about the Jamis Citizen; I'd say to also look at the Coda and Allegro series, and maybe even throw a leg over their Aurora, Satellite, or Quest models. Just because those last three model ranges have drop bars doesn't mean that they're hardcore race bikes -- they just gain several more hand positions to make longer distances easier.
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Old 08-15-11, 10:24 AM
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I don't know why "comfort" bikes make you sit bolt upright. That's not really comfortable for more than a few minutes -- OK for a trip to the corner store, maybe, but not much more. My commuter, with drops set with the tops level with the saddle, offers far more all-day comfort (and obviously far more efficiency) than my old comfort hybrid did. Unless you like perching on a stool for hours at a time, I don't think an upright posture is all that desirable. It's hard on the butt and jolting to your spine.
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Old 08-15-11, 10:26 AM
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Have you ever considered one of these?



Might be just as comfortable but with more street cred.
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Old 08-15-11, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Oakenlols View Post
Have you ever considered one of these?



Might be just as comfortable but with more street cred.
What kind of bike is that? I saw one before, and didn't get a chance to ask.
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