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Going from Road Bike to Commuter Bike

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Going from Road Bike to Commuter Bike

Old 04-06-23, 03:57 PM
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aliasfox
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Going from Road Bike to Commuter Bike

Apologies for cross-posting, but I didn't realize there was a Fit forum, and posted this in the Commuter forum. I think this might be the better place!

Later this year, I may be moving somewhere that has a lot of flat ground, has a temperate climate, and is bike friendly with lots of MUPs and bike boulevards. For trips and errands that are 7-8 miles or less in each direction, I'm considering assembling a bike that can do comfortable duty as a commuter - fairly upright/comfortable positioning, with a flat handlebar, where I could install a rack on the back to stash a bag. Figure I can save on gas for most small errands.

Why assemble a bike, rather than buy a fitness/commuter/hybrid fully assembled? Because I already have a fair number of parts from prior upgrade/fit changes that I can probably adapt, including wheels, brake rotors, cassette, and chain that still have life left in them. I even have some cockpit components that could get reused, though that's more fit dependent. Additionally, I'd prefer to look for something in steel, which isn't all that common on midrange commuter bikes.

My main question is this: how would I translate my understanding of roadie geometry into a more relaxing bike?

For reference, my rides right now:

- Lynskey R270, and IIRC, the stack and reach figures are ~575mm and ~380mm. I run a 100mm stem and 5mm of spacers. This results in a comfortable position cruising in the drops, and I've done metric centuries without any issue.
- Cannondale CAAD8 (2016), with 555mm and ~380mm of stack and reach. I run a 120mmstem and 15mm of spacers. This bike feels a bit aggressive while cruising, but good for quick accelerations and descending.

I'm more comfortable on the Lynskey, so let's go with that. Between frame, stem, and handlebar reach, I get 380mm + 100mm + 85mm, or 565mm of total reach. The 5mm of spacers means my total stack is about 580mm.

I'm looking at the Ragley Trig to use as the basis for my flat bar build. This bike as a 402mm reach, and 587mm stack.
- With an 80mm stem and flat bar (what I see on a lot of fitness bikes), this brings me out to ~480mm, or 85mm less reach than the Lynskey
- With 20mm of spacers, the bars ought to be about 27mm higher than the tops of my Lynskey's drop bars.

Would love any opinions on whether or not this would be (approximately) an appropriate fit for low-sweat commuter/duty duty, including just cruising around with others at ~10mph. And if not, what I might want to look out for.

Thanks!
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Old 04-07-23, 10:07 AM
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IMO a comfortable for very upright sitting bike will need a very slack seat tube angle which road bike frames typically do not have. Perhaps you might get a seat post with a huge amount of setback, but you will be missing some of the other changes in geometry that go along with the slacker seat tube.

I'm not saying you can't make it better for your new purpose. But probably not as ideal as one that is purposely designed with that intended use and position in mind.

Last edited by Iride01; 04-07-23 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 04-07-23, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
IMO a comfortable for very upright sitting bike will need a very slack seat tube angle which road bike frames typically do not have. Perhaps you might get a seat post with a huge amount of setback, but you will be missing some of the other changes in geometry that go along with the slacker seat tube.
I currently ride straight posts on all of my road bikes, but my take-off seatpost that I plan on using is an FSA with (I think) 20mm of setback, so hopefully that'll help with that aspect.
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Old 04-07-23, 11:19 AM
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Of course you know this...

Gone are my young days of being able to jump from one style bicycle to another without repercussions. Now days changing my ridding geometry more then a centimeter throws my comfort level off dramatically.

It is shameful...
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Old 04-08-23, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
Of course you know this...

Gone are my young days of being able to jump from one style bicycle to another without repercussions. Now days changing my ridding geometry more then a centimeter throws my comfort level off dramatically.

It is shameful...
My Bianchi and my Lynskey are very similarly shaped, so Iím lucky there. I wouldnít expect to be on the commuter machine for more than half an hour at a stretch, nor be putting in more than 6/10 for effort - and even then, that would likely be infrequent dirt trails rather than riding to meet up with people. Also, Iím 38, so hopefully I have a few more years before my bones and muscles lock me into one positionÖ
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Old 04-08-23, 01:55 PM
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Generally, fitness bikes are sized smaller but with a slightly longer top tube. Thats because fitness bikes are usually equipped with shorter stems and flat handlebars that sweep slightly rearward instead of reaching forward 70-85 mm. For example, my ideal road size is between 56 and 58 cm depending on the manufacturer. While I can straddle a 25" Trek FX with difficulty, the reach is a intolerable. A 22" works but the handlebar feels high. I can control a bike better wit lower hands. A 20" with a longer stem is ideal. Basically, size it like a mountain bike.
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Old 04-09-23, 07:34 AM
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You might find this article interesting. Itís from Dave Moulton who made a lot of bikes under the Fuso name and knows a lot about bikes and bike fit.

The article stresses the importance of not raising bars too high. Regardless of torso angle, if you need to pedal hard but comfortably, the arms should be opposing the upward reaction force of the pedals under maximum pedal force.

Dave Moulton's Blog - Dave Moulton's Bike Blog - Riding Position Simplified

Good luck in your project.

Otto
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Old 04-10-23, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
Generally, fitness bikes are sized smaller but with a slightly longer top tube. Thats because fitness bikes are usually equipped with shorter stems and flat handlebars that sweep slightly rearward instead of reaching forward 70-85 mm. For example, my ideal road size is between 56 and 58 cm depending on the manufacturer. While I can straddle a 25" Trek FX with difficulty, the reach is a intolerable. A 22" works but the handlebar feels high. I can control a bike better wit lower hands. A 20" with a longer stem is ideal. Basically, size it like a mountain bike.
My experience with mountain bikes dates back to my 20th century Giant hardtail, so I'm not entirely sure how well that translates! I'll see if I can grab a mountain bike for a little ride at some point. I did get a chance to play with a Pure Cycles Urban Commuter in the showroom, and in a M, it seems like it's pretty close to what I'm looking for - but their website doesn't have a full geometry chart. I also looked at an REI Coop CTY 1.1, which in a size L felt a bit too big - though I didn't get a chance to straddle this bike, so not sure how much value there is in that impression. That said, it felt big and has stack/reach numbers bigger than my my target, so I'm hoping I'm still in the right ballpark.
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Old 04-10-23, 08:33 PM
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I looked it up. It's sort of a gravel bike. Normally, gravel bikes take the road or endurance bike geometry and lower the bottom bracket for stability, extend the top tube for quicker steering with a shorter stem, and possibly steepen the seat tube a little to keep the front wheel planted on steep climbs. This one has a high bottom bracket, short top tube, and steep seat tube. In a way it reminds me of a 1990-ish rigid-fork MTB with a shortened top tube. Regardless, if you're around 6' tall (I assume that from your description of the Linskey), by all means get the large. Medium will be too cramped and XL won't feel nimble. To make a flat-bar commuter of it consider a normal setback seatpost and a slightly longer stem, maybe 11 or 12 cm.

This whole exercise would be a lot easier if you just bought a Trek FX or Cannondale Quick. In fact, before pulling the trigger I suggest a trip over to Cannondale.com to compare the geometry chart of the Quick to the Ragley. If anything, to get an idea what you'd need to do differently.
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Old 04-11-23, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
I looked it up. It's sort of a gravel bike. Normally, gravel bikes take the road or endurance bike geometry and lower the bottom bracket for stability, extend the top tube for quicker steering with a shorter stem, and possibly steepen the seat tube a little to keep the front wheel planted on steep climbs. This one has a high bottom bracket, short top tube, and steep seat tube. In a way it reminds me of a 1990-ish rigid-fork MTB with a shortened top tube. Regardless, if you're around 6' tall (I assume that from your description of the Linskey), by all means get the large. Medium will be too cramped and XL won't feel nimble. To make a flat-bar commuter of it consider a normal setback seatpost and a slightly longer stem, maybe 11 or 12 cm.

This whole exercise would be a lot easier if you just bought a Trek FX or Cannondale Quick. In fact, before pulling the trigger I suggest a trip over to Cannondale.com to compare the geometry chart of the Quick to the Ragley. If anything, to get an idea what you'd need to do differently.
I'm actually 5'10", but with really short legs (30" inseam pants often drag a bit on the floor). I guess that makes my torso comparatively long - I'm not a fan of shirts that are advertised as "untucked" length, as they often barely end up hitting my belt (let alone leave any length for raising an arm). I'm also not the most flexible, which is why my Cannondale is perhaps a bit less comfortable for longer rides.

With regards to geometry, the Ragley in L is actually very, very close to the Trek FX3 in L. Reach is 402mm vs 398mm, stack is 587mm vs 586mm. 74 vs 73.5 degree seat angles, with the head angles being the biggest differentiator - 70 for the Ragley, 71.5 for the Trek. Even the BB drop, 66mm vs 65mm, is very similar. The Ragley has a lower standover by 16mm, but that's potentially influenced by wheels and tires - and they're both lower than my road bikes, so no concern there.

With regards to "why build rather than buy," I have a few reasons:
- I want a steel frame. I haven't yet met a skinny tubed steel frame I didn't like. It might not be quite as fast, but I've found them comfortable - my Cannondale CAAD8 is fun, but she's definitely a bit crashy over bad pavement. And with a bike that's 70-80% commuting with an upright position, I'm not concerned about speed. I have my Lynskey for that.
- I have half a bike worth of parts in boxes. Wheels, cassette, disc rotors, chain - all takeoffs from other bikes. Even saddle, seatpost, and stem - though it's always an open question whether or not I'll be able to use those on a new build.
- I want a build project. What's the fun in just grabbing an FX, a Sirrus, or a Fastroad straight from the store? The Cannondale was my pandemic build, and I enjoyed it enough that I'd do it again - but instead of a more aggressive bike, it's time to build a less aggressive one.

Also, with the kit I already have, I think I can build up a 2x11, 105 equipped bike for comparable cost to a Microshift equipped Specialized Sirrus 4, or slightly more than a Deore equipped Trek FX 3. The closest Giant is a couple hundred less, but is Sora equipped.

I did discover the Wilier Jaroon last night - the frameset's pretty (hidden welds!), has a brand name, and isn't exorbitantly priced. The 15mm shorter reach probably means a longer stem...
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Old 04-11-23, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
I'm actually 5'10", but with really short legs (30" inseam pants often drag a bit on the floor). I guess that makes my torso comparatively long - I'm not a fan of shirts that are advertised as "untucked" length, as they often barely end up hitting my belt (let alone leave any length for raising an arm). I'm also not the most flexible, which is why my Cannondale is perhaps a bit less comfortable for longer rides.
The standover, stack, and reach of the Ragley are somewhat close to Trek FXs in the same size. Maybe you should take a ride over to a Trek dealer and try them on for size, just to get an idea. It looks like Trek measures standover at the midpoint of the top tube, while Ragley measures it where it joins the head tube. You can interpolate the difference. Arm length will make a difference, too. If they're proportional to your torso (gorilla proportions) you can reach longer and lower. If they're proportional to your legs (dachshund build) you're going to need the handlebar closer in.
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Old 04-11-23, 10:02 AM
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I do think I'll have to at the very least stand-over an FX to get a better idea (and a Sirrus, and a Quick, and a Fastroad). As mentioned above, the CTY 1.1 with a 614mm stack felt taller than I think I want, so I know what my range is for handlebar height (taller than the ~575 on the Lynskey, lower than 614mm on the CTY). Reach is just a bit harder to judge, and buying multiple stems is definitely a bit more expensive than throwing in or taking out a few spacers (and that's why I happen to have nearly a whole spare cockpit on a shelf!).
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