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All season bike for a really long commute in NW Oregon

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All season bike for a really long commute in NW Oregon

Old 01-21-14, 03:22 PM
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All season bike for a really long commute in NW Oregon

Howdy

I'm new here, and new to cycling. I think I have a semi complex quandary, and looking for some opinions from people who've done long commutes...

I have a 70 mile round-trip commute that I'm currently working up to. In fact, tomorrow will be my first go at the full front-door-to-front-door trip. I've done several 40-45 mile trips in preparation at all the various sections and highways of the trip, and hold up pretty well.

I'm currently riding an extra bike a friend gave me - a Kona Jake le Snake cyclocross bike with 90psi race tires, stiff aluminum frame, and short gears. Being still a total noob, my thoughts about this setup are:

-Gearing is too short... I top out on the flats way too soon and feel like I could be going a lot faster with a bigger sprocket
-Really want to switch to a fatter rain tire... currently have hard racing slicks on there now, and go flat and slip around too much
-Really like the wide forks for tire and fender options - think I'm stuck on the cyclocross frames for an all season, all year commuter
-I have a bit of discomfort on the posterior on this race saddle I've currently got... around mile 30 or so, I start getting up off the saddle more and more frequently. Suck it up/it'll get better, or should I look at a different seat?

This bike is kind of an indefinite loan. I know he wants it back once I get a bike of my own built/bought, so it's not exactly mine to do whatever I want with. I think I really like the frame, and am considering asking him if he'll sell me the bike. It's an older model... Orange with big stylized yellow shadowed green JAKE THE SNAKE blazed across the bar. It's obviously been kicked around a bit, but no damage. I'd call it "good condition." All older Shimano 105 hardware.. just about needs new cassette, cables, brakes I'm told. No idea really what would be an appropriate price to offer.

Money is a major factor. I'll obviously save and spend what I have to have a good riding bike for my really long commute, but I don't really have any income at the moment. I'm presently going back to school and living on savings right now.

So the question is... What's my best course of action? Offer my bro $400-500 for his and (assuming he takes it) start replacing/upgrading parts to better suit my specific needs? Or would I be better off looking for a used good condition frame and start building up something that will better suit me?

And if buying my current commuter is not an option.. I can pretty much keep this bike for as long as I need to build my own... I can take a decent amount of time to buy parts- so long as I can get it done without having to dump a bunch of money into this Kona to keep it running. What should I be looking at in terms of building from the ground up? Carbon? Aluminum? Chromoly? The 35 miles of road I have to ride have some fairly rough sections... It's all paved, but some are deteriorating asphalt and I have to dodge pits, cracks and potholes pretty aggressively on a couple of sections. I'm wondering if maybe a lightweight chromoly frame (if they make them light enough?) wouldn't be significantly more comfortable than aluminum...?

Sorry for the long post. Thoughts appreciated

-Ben
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Old 01-21-14, 03:25 PM
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35 miles each way? A Honda ..
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Old 01-21-14, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
35 miles each way? A Honda ..
I've driven everywhere my whole life- I'm done driving, unless I have to haul more than I can fit in my pack.
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Old 01-21-14, 03:44 PM
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You want to go faster? I doubt there would be any benefit to that. I'm sure you are near the point of diminishing returns: a large increase in effort will give you a small increase in speed. And do you really have that much energy to spare? Once you are at work, you need to make it through the day.
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Old 01-21-14, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
You want to go faster? I doubt there would be any benefit to that. I'm sure you are near the point of diminishing returns: a large increase in effort will give you a small increase in speed. And do you really have that much energy to spare? Once you are at work, you need to make it through the day.
Like I said, I'm very new to cycling... so I could be totally wrong. But when I'm topped out on the flats, peddling pretty fast to keep up with the bike, it just really seems like I could be going a good solid 3, 4, 5 mph faster if I had a bigger sprocket to jump up to
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Old 01-21-14, 03:49 PM
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Problem is Physics, not physique, pushing a body sitting high on a 2 wheeler ... air resistance ..

70 miles is a day's work in itself , you getting paid to sleep to recover for the trip back?

I'm very new to cycling..
& rather unrealistic, young studmuffin,
.. ride to the Bus , and ride back from It. there's a rack on the front these days.

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Old 01-21-14, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
How about a Velomobile ?.. the aerodynamics inside the streamlined body
are better than pushing a body sitting high on a 2 wheeler ...

70 miles is a day's work in itself , you get paid to sleep to recover for the trip back?
I actually have a pretty sizeable break opportunity in the middle of the day where I can snack and nap... plan to take full advantage of it, till I'm crusty enough to get through the full 12 hour day
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Old 01-21-14, 03:52 PM
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People who understand the physics of cycling tell us that power required is directly related to the THIRD power of speed. Or something like that. So if you are going 10 mph (for example), to go up to 20 mph, you have to multiply your power by 8.

Once you get up to about 18 or 19 mph, you're going pretty hard, and getting an extra 1 or 2 mph takes, well, I don't know how much extra power, but a lot. You will get very tired, and why should you if you have so far to go and can go only 1 mph faster? Just how fast are you going? If you are in your top gear, how fast are you pedaling? If you are pedaling less than 90 rpm, you might be damaging your knees. Don't fool yourself into thinking that turning a big gear with a low cadence will make you stronger. Actually, it will, but you will wreck your knees before you are old.
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Old 01-21-14, 03:55 PM
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Not sure what my cadence is... a buddy just brought that up today, and had basically the same sentiment. Yesterday, I averaged 20.5mph for just shy of 40 miles. I was obviously driving it pretty hard, but not what I'd call a "race pace" (to use a running term I'm sure must cross over to riding)
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Old 01-21-14, 04:05 PM
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I'd move closer to work or multimodal commute if I had that long a commute. 70 miles a day, if you can even sustain it, will consume your entire life outside working and sleeping.
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Old 01-21-14, 04:05 PM
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NW Oregon ? Hammond? or Portland?

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Old 01-21-14, 04:14 PM
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It's not going to be that bad.. I'm new to cycling, but I'm a long time runner and alpine climber. Endurance is my thing. But even if I'm wrong, and 35 each way just becomes undoable, then I have the option of coming to that realization and just continuing to park and ride. Not selling my motorvehicle, just wanting to leave it in my driveway.

So... that part of the equation dealt with.... anyone have any thoughts on the buy-the-one-i-got vs. start building my own question?
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Old 01-21-14, 04:18 PM
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Importantly- I should also mention that the 35 (70) mile commute is only two days a week, with a day in between. I think people naturally assume I mean 5 days a week... so that's obviously a big thing.
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Old 01-21-14, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s
I'd move closer to work or multimodal commute if I had that long a commute. 70 miles a day, if you can even sustain it, will consume your entire life outside working and sleeping.
even tooling along in the mid 20s we are talking about 3 hours in the saddle every day. i once worked with a pro-level ultramarathoner who ran 20 miles to and from work every day so maybe if you are really into endurance sports you might find this fun. if you do find this fun, i recommend you think about trying competitive endurance cycling/rando -- it's a thing.
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Old 01-21-14, 05:21 PM
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To answer a couple of the OP's actual questions:

Commuting bike: A cyclocross bike seems to be nearly the type you want, for a faster commute rather than a slower one. But tire selection may make a bit of difference to your speed- a fatter, heavier tire will make you slower, but will likely have fewer flats and be more comfortable. I'd go for 700x32's if you have some rough patches. I believe the Jake has room for them. Shimano 105 is good stuff.

Speed and gearing: I don't spin out at 30 MPH on my racing bike! And it has a high gear of 50 front and 12 rear- which is not that high. How short are the gears on the Jake? A new cassette with an 11 small sprocket might be in order, if you really do spin out the 46/12 (?) you have.

Saddle: Yeah, you need a different one. I can do 100 milers on my racing bike with a Fizik Arione with little or no azz pain, but if I were to commute long distances regularly, I'd use the bike with the Brooks Professional. The Brooks saddles will mold themselves to your bottom over the miles- a touring friend once told me he'd be more upset if somebody stole his Brooks saddle than if they stole his bike and I believe it.

Fenders and cold-weather gear: Get them. It rains in the PNW, and you should enjoy your ride as much as possible.

Rack and Panniers: Get them.

Lights: Get a generator hub and an LED headlight. Commuting 1 1/2-2 hours every morning and evening, you'll be caught out after dark a lot! And a bunch of rechargeable lights won't even last one trip.
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Old 01-21-14, 05:43 PM
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You're going to find a fully loaded and outfitted commuter is more akin to a touring bike than a racing bike. Averaging 20 mph is possible, but will be difficult to sustain on a regular basis. You'll inevitably have to slow down for traffic, lights, stop signs and turns, not to mention headwinds, rain, etc. A realistic estimate would be 2 hours each way just riding, and then prep time and maintenance added. If you have the time, go for it.
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Old 01-21-14, 06:07 PM
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I've been doing a 40mi round trip commute on a race bike and think I would prefer exactly what you're riding, i.e. a cross bike. Jake the snake is an excellent bike so I would go ahead and make a deal with your buddy and start upgrading to your needs. There's always a risk of problems when buying a used bike. In this case you have the advantage of an extra long 'test drive' so your risk of having a problem is low.

I would stay with racing slicks; 25mm should be a good size. Good tires shouldn't be 'hard' and will have lower rolling resistance and aero drag than fatter tires.

For that distance I would be looking at minimizing my effort on the ride which means getting comfortable in as aero a position as possible. You might need to try a few saddles or you may get used to the one you have. 20.5mph is a very good speed, particularly if you're riding with a backpack and fenders. You are unlikely to gain much, if any, speed by changing gearing. I am assuming you have at least a 46-12 as your largest gear. If you get a cassette with an 11 you should have plenty of gearing for riding to work.

If, at 53 yrs old, I can commute 150-200 mi/wk you shouldn't have any trouble doing 140/wk as it sounds like you already have the fitness.
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Old 01-21-14, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83
I've been doing a 40mi round trip commute on a race bike and think I would prefer exactly what you're riding, i.e. a cross bike. Jake the snake is an excellent bike so I would go ahead and make a deal with your buddy and start upgrading to your needs. There's always a risk of problems when buying a used bike. In this case you have the advantage of an extra long 'test drive' so your risk of having a problem is low.

I would stay with racing slicks; 25mm should be a good size. Good tires shouldn't be 'hard' and will have lower rolling resistance and aero drag than fatter tires.

For that distance I would be looking at minimizing my effort on the ride which means getting comfortable in as aero a position as possible. You might need to try a few saddles or you may get used to the one you have. 20.5mph is a very good speed, particularly if you're riding with a backpack and fenders. You are unlikely to gain much, if any, speed by changing gearing. I am assuming you have at least a 46-12 as your largest gear. If you get a cassette with an 11 you should have plenty of gearing for riding to work.

If, at 53 yrs old, I can commute 150-200 mi/wk you shouldn't have any trouble doing 140/wk as it sounds like you already have the fitness.
Thanks for the reply.

I just talked to my bro... and surprisingly, he said NO, and in really no uncertain terms. Wasn't expecting that.

So I guess I now begin building my own.
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Old 01-21-14, 07:21 PM
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At least that gives you an idea for a general blueprint to copy. When I was commuting 20mi each way on my mtb it was surprising how close a 700c x 23 roadie and my xc racing mtb with 1.95 tubless tires set hard were in speed. 3-4 days a week I could sustain 20mph and the roadie was 21mph avg. The slightly lower mtb gearing with higher rpm was much less affected by hill changes even though the roadie could dive the hills faster. Fit and power effective output are more important than the gear-inches on paper.
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Old 01-21-14, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Ben Beckerich
So I guess I now begin building my own.
Too bad, since that one would be a pretty good platform to build from.

You seem to have all the right ideas, though. A CX or touring frame will fit wider tires and full fenders. Most CX frames (and all touring ones) will handle a rear rack too. They're hard to find, but one with disc brakes will make things nicer in the wet.

As for tires, tread compound makes a lot of difference in the wet--more than just plain width. If you don't need to go wider than 28mm, consider Continental Grand-Prix 4-Seasons.

Cycle_maven's suggestion of a dynamo lighting system is a good one. They're more expensive than battery systems, but 70 miles R/T in a day will severely tax a battery system.

They're no longer made, so if you can find one used, a Trek Portland is near perfect as a four-seasons, all-conditions, high-speed commuter. I bought one of the first ones made, and it's still the one bike I would keep if I could own only one.
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Old 01-21-14, 08:31 PM
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I've got good fenders ready to be installed (weather up here has been uncharacteristically dry this winter), am trying different waterproof booties, and I guess will probably plan to ride bare assed in my rain gear and change into regular clothes when I get there. I can then ride back in regular clothes (or raingear if it's raining). That way I'm not carrying extra weight, exactly. Definitely need to upgrade my lights- I have a bar light and sport a headlamp on my Petzl Meteor helmet. I currently only have one red light in back, and it's actually partially concealed by my saddlebag... so that needs to be fixed ASAP. Tonight, even.

Anybody know anything about Origin-8? I've spotted a few new old-stock '11 chromoly cyclocross frames at 6.1lbs in my size, new for less than $300... I know cromo can ride better. Seems to me that's only about 2lbs more than I'd get with just about any aluminum frame in my budget... any thoughts on that?
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Old 01-21-14, 08:34 PM
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And considering such a long haul with a pretty good mix of flats and low hills, what range should I be looking at for chain rings? And 2 or 3 sprocket?
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Old 01-21-14, 08:58 PM
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One thing to consider.
If you have to buy parts anywhere near retail prices, and have to pay a bike shop to do some work, you will save a lot of money by buying a finished bike. Instead of buying parts and putting it together.
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Old 01-21-14, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes
One thing to consider.
If you have to buy parts anywhere near retail prices, and have to pay a bike shop to do some work, you will save a lot of money by buying a finished bike. Instead of buying parts and putting it together.

but who buys at retail?
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Old 01-21-14, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel
but who buys at retail?
Not me.
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