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Help Picking a Bike for Commuting and Towpath Tours

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Help Picking a Bike for Commuting and Towpath Tours

Old 01-13-20, 04:28 PM
  #1  
willwebb
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Help Picking a Bike for Commuting and Towpath Tours

I currently ride a 2011 Jamis Bosanova which is a discontinued steel ďlight tourerĒ with panniers and room for 35mm tires with fenders. It has a mix of Tiagra and Sora drivetrain with a triple up front (50/39/30). I am looking for its replacement / upgrade.

I will use the bike to commute 7 miles each way year-round near Washington DC. Winters are not extremely snowy, but roads can be icy during morning and evening commuting times. I run 35mm Marathon Winter studded tires most winter months out of fear of black ice. My commute is on paved roads or paved bike paths. I also intend to train for and ride longer charity rides, including centuries. Finally, I also often ride on the C&O Canal Towpath, which is a clay/dirt path that can be a bit rough, especially when itís been wet. I intend to ride the Towpath its full 185 mile distance (and maybe continue on all the way to Pittsburgh) over a multi-day tour, but it will be a credit card tour staying in B&Bs.

Iím looking for a bike that can handle all of the above. Iíll use fenders while commuting and touring and take them off for long charity rides. I need to commute with a change of clothes, lunch, and a laptop, so I think panniers may be best. I looked at touring bikes, but I think a gravel bike may be a better fit and closer to what Iím used to with the Bosanova.

Iím 52 years old and in average (at best) shape. I appreciate the granny gear on my Bosanova and spend a fair amount of time in it on the hilly parts of my commute.

I have two general questions and then a question about two specific bikes. The first question is about frame material. Iím assuming steel would be best given its intended use, but I would like to get input on that.

Also, do you think I would be ok with a 1x drivetrain or should I be looking at 2x?

Jamis just updated its Renegade series, and Iíve been looking at the S1. https://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/renegades1.html I will check it out on a test ride, but Iím curious about your impressions of the bike. It comes with a Shimano GRX 1x.

I also am looking at the Niner RLT steel version. https://ninerbikes.com/products/rlt-9-steel

Iíd love to hear any feedback on my questions, including suggestions for alternative bikes that I might not be thinking of.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-13-20, 05:26 PM
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edthesped
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Salsa Vaya or RLT steel.... I've done the GAP/C&O on a Vaya multiple times and it's more than sufficient.
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Old 01-13-20, 05:34 PM
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Out of curiosity, what is wrong with your Bosanova and what do you hope to improve with a new bike?

Just wanting a new bike is OK, but knowing what you don't like about the Bosanova will help us offer better suggestions.
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Old 01-13-20, 05:58 PM
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Fair question. Iíd like the option of running wider tires. It also was an early disc brake road bike and has an odd sized rear hub that Iím not sure will be able to be replaced. That makes me wary of spending on upgrades, like wheels for tubeless tires.

Iíd also like to give a new drivetrain a try.

And, I admit thereís a fair amount of ďnew and shinyĒ thatís influential here.

But, I think the Bosanova that I have is a great bike and gorgeous. Iíll be asking for advice on how to repurpose it after I ďupgradeĒ.
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Old 01-13-20, 07:57 PM
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It's a neat bike


I found your other post and your rear hub is 130mm and you can usually shove a 135mm hub in there, It is only a 5mm difference.

At the same time, I understand upgrading due to wanting something new, I've done it. The two bikes you mentioned are similar, are you able to test ride the bikes to get a feel for them? One may connect with you more than the other. Most manufactures have at least 1 bike in the light touring / gravel bike category so you have lots of options and the majority will come with carbon forks. I'm sure others will be around with more suggestions, but add the Kona Rove ST to your list, it comes in a cool purple color.

My personal bike for commuting is a Soma Fog Cutter, which is marketed as an endurance road bike, would also work, but I haven't tested mine with a load to see how it feels.
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Old 01-13-20, 08:50 PM
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Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply. I may even rethink the Bosanova. I may start with a proper fitting and a new saddle and see how that goes.

But, dang that purple looks nice on the Rove . . .
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Old 01-14-20, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by willwebb View Post
Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply. I may even rethink the Bosanova. I may start with a proper fitting and a new saddle and see how that goes.

But, dang that purple looks nice on the Rove . . .
Small world - I'm riding a 2010 Jamis Aurora Elite in Washington, DC. Very similar to your Bosanova, including the 130mm disc rear spacing. I've been having some fit issues since day one of my cycling life (just a few short years ago) and went up to Proteus bikes in College Park for a fitting. While I was pleased with the process and the fitter, we hardly changed a thing and the outcome wasn't particularly successful. The local DC Facebook group has pointed me to Smiley as the end-all-be-all bike fitter in the region (https://bikefitbysmiley.com/). I'm playing with saddles myself trying to find something great (so far tried a Brooks B17, B17 narrow, and Specialized Power).

That said, I've ridden with people that LOVE their Renegades in this area and I've also heard people rave and rave about the Rove. Proteus bikes keeps a lot of Renegades in stock if you're looking for a test ride. I'm in the process of building up my own bike from the frame and fork - a Black Mountain Cycles Road+.

Cheers!

Last edited by Smitty2k1; 01-14-20 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 01-14-20, 09:42 AM
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For the longer charity type rides I would think you would be better off with a 2X drivetrain. Whatever the frame, I would make sure it can take really large tires because after you stuff fenders in there you will have less space for tires.
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Old 01-15-20, 09:35 AM
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willwebb
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Originally Posted by Smitty2k1 View Post
Small world - I'm riding a 2010 Jamis Aurora Elite in Washington, DC. Very similar to your Bosanova, including the 130mm disc rear spacing. I've been having some fit issues since day one of my cycling life (just a few short years ago) and went up to Proteus bikes in College Park for a fitting. While I was pleased with the process and the fitter, we hardly changed a thing and the outcome wasn't particularly successful. The local DC Facebook group has pointed me to Smiley as the end-all-be-all bike fitter in the region (https://bikefitbysmiley.com/). I'm playing with saddles myself trying to find something great (so far tried a Brooks B17, B17 narrow, and Specialized Power).

That said, I've ridden with people that LOVE their Renegades in this area and I've also heard people rave and rave about the Rove. Proteus bikes keeps a lot of Renegades in stock if you're looking for a test ride. I'm in the process of building up my own bike from the frame and fork - a Black Mountain Cycles Road+.

Cheers!
Nice to meet another Jamis rider in DC, Smitty! I also looked at the Aurora before I bought my Bosanova. Tough call between the two.

I really appreciate your recommendation for the bike fitter. I will seek him out for a fit. I checked out his website and it sounds like he'll fit my current bike and also make recommendations for a new bike.
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Old 01-15-20, 08:23 PM
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Continuing the small world theme, I commute 12 miles into DC on a Jamis Renegade Elite purchased from Proteus last fall. I carry a similar load to what you describe (laptop, lunch, clothes, etc) using panniers and a handlebar bag. Only about 500 miles on the bike but itís been great so far!

Regarding your specific questions, I donít think frame material matters much. I was initially looking at steel but went with carbon to get a 2x system with hydraulic brakes in my size. I prefer 2x to keep close spacing with as wide or wider range than possible with 1x.

Happy to address any questions.
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