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Commuting with a Road Bike or a Hybrid: How much of a difference are we talking?

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Commuting with a Road Bike or a Hybrid: How much of a difference are we talking?

Old 06-24-13, 09:21 AM
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tariqa
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Commuting with a Road Bike or a Hybrid: How much of a difference are we talking?

Some say Road bikes are the best commuting bikes while others say it depends on the distance.

How much of a difference in times, comfort, etc is there between commuting with a road bike vs a Hybrid?

Personally I think hybrids are too slow and heavy but road bikes are way too uncomfortable to ride over an hour straight but if a road bike shaves time off of a commute, then I would probably opt for a road bike. Nothing frustrates me more then spending longer then I have to on the road so for that decrease in time spent on the road I would probably opt for the roadster over the hybrid..

What are your thoughts?
Road bike or Hybrid for long/short commutes?

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Old 06-24-13, 09:27 AM
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I would say that for me a road bike can average up to 2-3mph faster than a hybrid. That doesn't amount to a whole lot of time on a short to medium commute. There is also a middle ground with cyclocross or touring bikes, which are faster than typical hybrids, and more commuter friendly than pure road bikes.
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Old 06-24-13, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by tariqa View Post
Personally I think hybrids are too slow and heavy but road bikes are way too uncomfortable to ride over an hour straight
You can get some very light and nimble hybrids these days, and my experience is that a road bike is much more comfortable over long distances than a hybrid. Both can be very fast (edge to the road bike for aerodynamics, etc.), depends on the engine.
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Old 06-24-13, 09:33 AM
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My commute is 9.4 miles. Riding hard on a racing bike I could do it in 35 minutes, and riding easily on a hybrid it took 45 minutes. So to me, the answer is there isn't much of a time difference. Ten minutes is an eternity in a race, but not much time out of your day.
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Old 06-24-13, 09:34 AM
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I agree with SouthFLpix with the 2-3mph estimate. On my flat bar hybrid, I can average 17.5mph over 11 miles. On my road bike (weighs 8lb less), I can average just over 20mph over the same 11 mile route.

Comfort wise, if you get a good fit, the road bike should be as comfortable as the hybrid. Having more hand positions is nice (with the drop bars), and getting in the drops on downhills is always fun too.

If your commute is in a city with lots of lights, cars, pedestrians, I'd probably opt for a flat bar - because the geometry/bars allow you a little more control over the bike, especially at lower speeds (some may disagree). If your commute has very few obstacles, and allows you to reach good speeds, I'd go road bike.

If you're unsure - go out and ride both of them and see what you prefer.
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Old 06-24-13, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by tariqa View Post
Personally I think hybrids are too slow and heavy but road bikes are way too uncomfortable to ride over an hour straight but if a road bike shaves time off of a commute, then I would probably opt for a road bike. Nothing frustrates me more then spending longer then I have to on the road so for that decrease in time spent on the road I would probably opt for the roadster over the hybrid..
If your objective is speed go with the road bike. Even a fast hybrid is not as fast.

As to comfort, a well-fitted road bike, when trying to go fast, is more comfortable for long or short rides.

However, if you want to relax and speed is not your main objective (which it sounds like it is) then a hybrid would be okay. IMHO, the best of both worlds is a bike set up for touring. It has more relaxed "road bike" set up (i.e., a little more upright position, more stable geometry), but can also have fenders and racks placed on easily.

I've had hybrids and I don't anymore. To me they are too much of a compromise. The fast ones are harsh riding, and you are still sitting more upright and hitting the wind. The comfortable ones just don't seem efficient to me.
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Old 06-24-13, 10:20 AM
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I just started to get back to bike-commuting, and for my relaxed road bike / tour bike (it's braze-ons for racks, front and back), I can hold about 30km/h on flats. When i'm trying, my 10km commute is almost 30 minutes.

How fast you can pedal probably matters a bit more than the weight, but things you could change could be the tires, unless you really just want a reason to get another bike
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Old 06-24-13, 10:40 AM
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MY road bike saves me about 4-8 minutes (depending on wind) over MY hybrid along MY 15 mile one-way commute.

some factors that play into it:
  • MY road bike has drop bars, MY hybrid does not: i can get more aero on the road bike when lake michigan is acting all windy and obnoxious.
  • MY road bike has better, lighter, faster tires: more speed.
  • MY road bike has better wheels w/ better hubs: more speed
  • MY road bike is ~10 pounds lighter: faster acceleration from stops.
  • MY road bike has more aggressive geometry: i can more efficiently put power into the pedals compared to MY hybrid.
  • MY road bike has derailleur transmission, MY hybrid has an IGH: IGH's are cool, but slightly less efficient than derailleurs. because MY hybrid is my foul-weather ride, the slight efficiency penalty is more than off-set by easy maintenance-free riding in crappy weather, IMO.

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Old 06-24-13, 10:50 AM
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A properly fitted and adjusted road bike should not be uncomfortable. I would argue that for an in-shape cyclist, a road bike should be more comfortable than a hybrid -- particularly on longer rides. A road bike allows you many different hand positions, allowing for more comfort, better aerodynamics and more efficiency and speed. Comfort is also determined by your tires and your saddle. Wider tires generally provide more cushioning but can increase your workload if they are heavier and you ride on a lot of hills. Saddle comfort is an individual matter depending on your sit bones, fitness, weight, and style and amount of riding.
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Old 06-24-13, 11:08 AM
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Depends on the road bike - depends on the hybrid. The notion that all road bikes are equivalent and all hybrids are equivalent is stretching things more than a bit.
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Old 06-24-13, 11:33 AM
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I recently switched from a rigid mtb to a drop bar bike with fat tires (I'm running 26 by 1.5); this allows me to have what I think is the best of both worlds. I recently built the bike up from a frame I had sitting around; it's a 1993 Bridgestone XO-2.

There are plenty of road bikes out here that take a fat tire and which make a good commuter. A cross bike like the surly cross check will work well; so would a touring bike. Alternatively (and a lot cheaper) just find a vintage road bike that takes fat tires. You won't pay a lot and you'll have a great commuter.
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Old 06-24-13, 11:42 AM
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My 4 mile commute takes 20 minutes whether I ride my road bike, fixed gear, or old MTB. It's the stop lights that determine my commute speed, not the particular bike. However, if your commute has long stretches of open road or path, then it will make a difference.

As to comfort, if you can't be comfortable on a bike for more than an hour, it hasn't been properly fitted to you. Racers and century riders certainly can ride for many hours without discomfort, if their bikes are properly fitted. Finally, drops are much more comfortable for me because they offer so many more hand positions than flat bars.
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Old 06-24-13, 12:42 PM
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i suppose it also depends on what kind of road bike you get? steel, aluminum, or carbon? that's will change the whole weight/speed factor.

i commute on a MTB with slicks and a rack, and since it's a mid 90's MTB its chromoly, and probably weighs a good 30+ pounds, not including the rack and cargo.
if you buy an expensive, light road bike, well there ya go.

anyone know how much the surly cross check weighs? for an average frame size - say 52cm?
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Old 06-24-13, 01:03 PM
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Old 06-24-13, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
As a flat bar aficionado I disagree with just about every point you made.

*A hybrid is simply that...a hybrid between a mountain bike and a road bike. They can be as racy as a high-end road bike or as tough as a DH mountain bike
*A bike with true race geometry is far more aero than both the typical hybrid and the majority of road bikes sold.
*Road bikes and hybrids can accommodate the full range of tires. I run 25mm on my hybrids and road bike.
*There are many hybrids that are roughly comparable in weight to the equivalent road bike. For example, my customized orbea diem weighs ~19 lbs without pedals while my road bike weighs ~18 lbs without pedals. Both my carbon fiber hybrids are lighter than the 21 lb lugged steel road bike I sold a year ago.
*Most medium to high end hybrids have a relaxed road bike geo. In fact, many of them are simply road bikes with different stems, bars, and seat posts. Most road bikes sold have a relaxed geo. Few would find an aggressive race geo to be comfortable for daily riding.
*I have owned 8 hybrids (and destroyed 4) and none of these bikes had an IGH. For example, my "A" commuter currently has full ultegra 6700 compact, mixed XT/LX hydros, and r770 shifters (ultegra level).
I have a feeling you misunderstood him. He was talking about his road bike vs his hybrid.
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Old 06-24-13, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
As a flat bar aficionado I disagree with just about every point you made.
dear lord, i thought one would be able to infer that i was talking about MY road bike and MY hybrid. oh well, there i go assuming once again.

i've edited my previous post to make it crystal clear that i was speaking only of MY experiences commuting with MY bikes. YMMV, of course.

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Old 06-24-13, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
dear lord, i thought one would be able to infer that i was talking about MY road bike and MY hybrid. oh well, there i go assuming once again.

i've edited my previous post to make it crystal clear that i was speaking only of MY experiences commuting with MY bikes.
When you write something here on BF, please keep in mind, unless otherwise noted, you are writing for all of humanity, past, present and future. Please choose your words more carefully next time.
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Old 06-24-13, 01:24 PM
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Speaking for all of humanity, past present and future, ten minutes faster twice a day is a LOT of time saved.
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Old 06-24-13, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
dear lord, i thought one would be able to infer that i was talking about MY road bike and MY hybrid. oh well, there i go assuming once again.
i've edited my previous post to make it crystal clear that i was speaking only of MY experiences commuting with MY bikes. YMMV, of course.
apologies, steely dan. i am a little thenthetive about flats vs drops . (if i commuted on the lakeshore path my bikes would all have drop bars.)
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Old 06-24-13, 01:59 PM
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A road bike will most always be faster but I find them more uncomfortable only because of the reach to the hoods and having to look up is harder on my neck. For short commutes the road bike is always best. For longer commutes like over 1 hour, I would opt for a Hybrid or most any flat bar bike with slicks and a geometry adjusted so you can be slightly more upright to watch your surroundings in traffic but not fully upright so you can remain aerodynamic in windy conditions.
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Old 06-24-13, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
My road bike has more aggressive geometry: i can more efficiently put power into the pedals compared to my hybrid.
There you go...................geometry and FIT.

I believe fit is the problem that most people have.................if you can't pedal the dang thing it's like a car with a slipping transmission.

If you have a long reach to the hoods............you have a fit problem.

I ride the tops on my Pro Wings and can see as well and am a lot more comfortable than when I rode "wings stuck out" on my hybrid.

Think about it.......the riding position with riser or flat bars, with grips at the ends of the bar, is closely akin to that of a duck as it lands on a pond. The duck is TRYING to slow down.
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Old 06-24-13, 06:17 PM
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I bought a hybrid and rode it for about 9 years. During all that time I said that it was totally fine, I really quite liked it and was very comfortable riding it.

This spring I decided that $1000 wasn't that big of a deal to me and given all the people who had been trying to convince me to give it a try, I should order a road bike.

I've got about 1100 miles on the road bike right now. It turned out to be an eye opener for me - I tried riding the hybrid again a few weeks ago and I HATED it. It's like pedaling a brick.

I won't be able to ride the road bike this winter, but I don't know if I can go back to the hybrid either. I may wind up buying a cross for foul weather.
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Old 06-24-13, 07:09 PM
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I was commuting on a Trek 8.3 but switched over to a Specialized Roubaix and love it. My commute is 4.8 miles one way. I carry a small back pack so I'm really not toting much. Take it for what it's worth.
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Old 06-24-13, 07:42 PM
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I know this doesn't really directly answer your question, but I commute on a cross bike and I like the flexibility it provides. For most of the year I run 28 mm Marathon Supremes for flat resistance and they're nice. During the summer I'll sometimes run 23 mm Michelin Pro Race tires. I find my cross bike to be quite comfortable.

What is it about a hybrid that makes you more comfortable vs. a road bike?
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Old 06-24-13, 08:02 PM
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Another vote for cyclocross here... and when conditions get really foul, a good old mountain bike. I don't care much for hybrids.
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