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Bike Ninja
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been thinking about purchasing a commuting bike and have just way too many questions going on right now, and am looking for the experienced guys for some answers.

Ok, I'm looking to start trying to commute by bike at least 2-3 times out of the week at first. I like the idea of 1) saving money on gas 2) Low emissions / saving the world one bike rider at a time 3) And being able to have more time on the bike!

Lots of questions so bear with me. Maybe this thread can help other newbie commuters.

I plan to do about 60 miles round trip about two times a week just to start things off. If I get real comfortable I might even try 3 times a week. I will be carrying a decent load: Change of clothes, shoes, hygiene stuff, some paper work, netbook, wallet, cell phone, small bike tools, bike pump, and other misc items.

My questions are:

1) What drivetrain for a long distance commuter bike? Bike will be left outside so I really want the cheapest drivetrain possible, but something that is also going to last.

1.5) Bike Frame: For commuting, is a certain material recommended since you will be carrying a decent load on top of the rider weight? I'm guessing an extra 15-20 pounds or so?

2) What if you don't have showers at your place of work? How do you guys do it? And do you guys smell after sweating for so long? Have you asked your co-workers to smell you? Are baby wipes good enough to get clean?

3) Theft: With bike theft rising, I understand that the u-lock method to a fixed immovable object so that it secures your wheels and frame is the way to go. But can u-locks be broken? What about a big chain link with a hardened steel master lock?

4) Commuter trunk bag? What works best with a standard rear rack? Any recommendations? I want something that I can remove and take with me, like a regular bag. something with a lot of trunk space as well.

5) Tire Size?
 

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Shrewdest Unit Mover
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You will find a wide variety of answers in this forum. I'll throw in my $.02:

1) I use a mixture of 105/Ultegra 9-speed.

1.5) Soma Double Cross. I'd say a lot depends on your weather. I'm in Phoenix, AZ so steel is OK for me. Some would prefer aluminium for rust resistance.

2) I use the sink and witchhazel in spray bottle that I keep at work. Even in the summer. If you shower before you leave, you should be OK. Deodorant can be helpful when you're done cleaning up.

3) We only have outdoor parking and I use a U-Lock. It's a highly visible area next to the smoking section in the courtyard. I guess it's pretty safe.

4) I used a Carradice Nelson Long flap with a saddle rack to keep the bag from swaying. It holds clothes and a few items fairly well. I keep shoes and belt at work.

5) For my mostly asphalt route, I'm running Conti Gatorskins in a 28c at the moment.
 

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Here's a thread about a bike I built for a 14 mile commute and some touring:

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=195078

How long is your long commute?

1. 7, 8, or 9 speed, downtube shifters, square spindle bottom bracket... Old School. No intergated shifting...

1.5. Frame material doesn't matter, but I like steel. Treat the insides with framesaver, and you're good for a long, long time. Weight doesn't matter unless you have a long or steep climb.

2. I have a shower.. not sure what others do without.

3. A small size u-lock (eg, On-Guard) is harder to attack that larger locks, and is less hassle to carry - so long as you have something it can fit around. Add a cable if you want for wheels, or don't use quick-release.

4. If you're riding in wet weather i prefer a dry-bag style pannier, like those made by Ortleib, but made in Asia for much less by Axiom. I have a Carradice bag for other uses, but this rubberized pannier is always, always dry inside. It needs a bike rack, of course, but that's OK.

5. 700x28, at least. Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard (TG) or equivalent.

I prefer hub-powered genertor lights, because they are always always available, regardless of when you last remembered to recharge the battery. This is a minority, maybe solo, view here.
 

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Travels by Map
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If you're doing a 60 mile round trip a couple times a week then you shouldn't need a big bag unless you don't have an office at work. If you do have an office or locker, leave whatever you need there. Bring clean clothes and take home the dirty stuff on the days you don't ride your bike. When I had a 56 mile round trip, I brought clothes and a clean towel for the shower on one of the days I drove and left them in my desk drawer. I also had a pair of shoes, belt, shampoo, and soap I left at work all the time.
 

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Blah, Blah, Blah
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nate said:
If you're doing a 60 mile round trip a couple times a week then you shouldn't need a big bag unless you don't have an office at work. If you do have an office or locker, leave whatever you need there. Bring clean clothes and take home the dirty stuff on the days you don't ride your bike. When I had a 56 mile round trip, I brought clothes and a clean towel for the shower on one of the days I drove and left them in my desk drawer. I also had a pair of shoes, belt, shampoo, and soap I left at work all the time.
I agree here. Leave your clothes at work if at all possible. I leave one pair of brown shoes and one pair of black at work (I have to dress business style).

1. Whatever you have for used parts or can get for cheap. A belt drive bike with internal geared hub would work awesome, but if you don't already own that, it may not be worth going out to get it now. I'd also suggest steel and in the touring/cross bike style, not race bike or mtn bike.

2. Wet wipes and pit stick at work, just keep it there

3. I have a cable lock to secure front and rear wheels

4. Waterproof bag and rack(s), you do not want a backback for that long of a commute

5. minimum 700x28 for mostly paved ride

I also always have a small hand pump, extra tube, rain pants and some plastic bags in my bag

I like my minewt USB light. Can charge it at work from my computer and it is super small and bright enough.
 

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First question would be where are you? are you going to be riding 30 miles in a city or 30 miles mixed or 90% of the time on country roads?

Does it rain a lot where you live? Do you have big hills?

Do you really want to dedicate 4 hours a day, 2-3 times a week to commuting?

Commuting beats the hell out of bikes. "Rode hard and put away wet" is pretty normal.

You'll want a drivetrain that can take a beating day in, day out. You may want to go as far as to get something that has a friction option so you can still shift when everything's f'd up and yer still an hour from home.

Rather than focus on frames, I'd start with wheels. How much do you weigh? You'll want a set of the strongest, lightest wheels you can find, preferably handbuilt so they're easy to true. Figure 32 spoke Open Pros or Velocity Aeroheads on Ultegra Hubs. 36 spokes if you're hard on wheels.

Tires- depends on you. If yer my size, say 210 pounds or so, you'll want 28s or 32s, unless it's a 90% country ride, in which case you just want 25s.

There's not enough info to go on here- fill in some blanks and you might get some better responses- good luck!
 

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Bike Ninja
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
buck-50 said:
First question would be where are you? are you going to be riding 30 miles in a city or 30 miles mixed or 90% of the time on country roads?

Does it rain a lot where you live? Do you have big hills?

Do you really want to dedicate 4 hours a day, 2-3 times a week to commuting?

Commuting beats the hell out of bikes. "Rode hard and put away wet" is pretty normal.

You'll want a drivetrain that can take a beating day in, day out. You may want to go as far as to get something that has a friction option so you can still shift when everything's f'd up and yer still an hour from home.

Rather than focus on frames, I'd start with wheels. How much do you weigh? You'll want a set of the strongest, lightest wheels you can find, preferably handbuilt so they're easy to true. Figure 32 spoke Open Pros or Velocity Aeroheads on Ultegra Hubs. 36 spokes if you're hard on wheels.

Tires- depends on you. If yer my size, say 210 pounds or so, you'll want 28s or 32s, unless it's a 90% country ride, in which case you just want 25s.

There's not enough info to go on here- fill in some blanks and you might get some better responses- good luck!
Doesn't rain a lot where I live. I'd forego riding in the rain though ahead of time and just use the car if it did rain.

No big hills on the route that I take. Might be one medium incline about 5 miles long. I definitely need gears, so I'm looking for a triple since I want this bike to be versatile. I'm hoping it's not 4 hours. I've timed myself and on a 15 mile stretch with about the same medium inclines(well there is one really steep one but only 1/4 of a mile long) it takes me about 45 minutes on a road bike, with a nice drivetrain, and it's about a 18-19lb "race bike" I guess you could say. I'm not that slow but I've never tried putting a lot of weight on a bike and then seeing how I'd do. I'm sure all the pounds I'll shed by commuting more will equalize that weight difference :idea:

I'd prefer building the wheels from scratch, so if you know which exact rims and spokes to go with let me know. Probably want really strong wheels. Right now I'm clydish at 6'0 185 pounds.

But if I can buy a set that's pretty cheap and strong please link it. I'd like to spend no more than $150 on wheels if possible.

I do not understand what you mean by friction option.

I also want quiet hubs and silent free wheels. I hat loud clicky freewheels.
 

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SilentAssassin said:
Doesn't rain a lot where I live. I'd forego riding in the rain though ahead of time and just use the car if it did rain.

No big hills on the route that I take. Might be one medium incline about 5 miles long. I definitely need gears, so I'm looking for a triple since I want this bike to be versatile. I'm hoping it's not 4 hours. I've timed myself and on a 15 mile stretch with about the same medium inclines(well there is one really steep one but only 1/4 of a mile long) it takes me about 45 minutes on a road bike, with a nice drivetrain, and it's about a 18-19lb "race bike" I guess you could say. I'm not that slow but I've never tried putting a lot of weight on a bike and then seeing how I'd do. I'm sure all the pounds I'll shed by commuting more will equalize that weight difference :idea:

I'd prefer building the wheels from scratch, so if you know which exact rims and spokes to go with let me know. Probably want really strong wheels. Right now I'm clydish at 6'0 185 pounds.

But if I can buy a set that's pretty cheap and strong please link it. I'd like to spend no more than $150 on wheels if possible.

I do not understand what you mean by friction option.

I also want quiet hubs and silent free wheels. I hat loud clicky freewheels.
Two 30 mile rides in a day is hard and you need to be realistic. Do you think you'll average 20mph for 30 miles twice a day while commuting? That's what you would have to do if using your 15 miles as an accurate example.

Getting up early, having to save something for work, saving something for the ride home, commuting taking place when there is more traffic (unless you're rural), carrying extra gear, riding in the dark, and the general grind is going to make it take longer than you think. Even if it is less than two hours each way, it will not be by much.

That said, enjoy it. Although I didn't ride my 56 miles as often as I liked, the times that I did ride were well worth it.

I second the suggestion for durable tires that are fatter than your race tires and at least 32 spoke wheels. High spoke count will let you keep riding even if you break one. For the tires, changing a flat in the dark, when it's near/below freezing, and/or raining is absolutely miserable and demoralizing.
 

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oh lonesome road for you
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That's ambitious.

- The shower thing might make it untenable, it just sort of depends. But as long as you're otherwise clean you can towel off and change and probably be fine.

- 30 Miles one way is a really long commute even in a car, IMO.

- Move closer/get a different job?
 

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If your commute is gonna be that far and you are riding 2-3 days a week, I would try to keep your bike and load as light as possible. You don't want to carry any more gear than necessary. Do like others mentioned, and carry most of your clothes and gear to work on days that you drive. Get or build a fast but durable bike, doesn't matter if it's steel, alum, ti or carbon as long as it fits you and can handle fenders and a rack of some sort.

Fenders are important because you will be caught in the rain some times with a commute that long, even if you plan to drive on rainy days. Thunderstorms have a way of popping up. Resist the urge to build a heavy, bombproof bike unless you are traveling on crappy roads, trails, and tend to hit potholes a lot.

My commute is about 22 miles RT and I ride to work about 4 days a week. I can carry everything I need in a Carradice Barley seatbag, which is lighter and affects handling less than panniers or a rear rack bag. On days that I drive, I carry extra clothes, food and return home with dirty laundry.

I've been commuting on a touring bike for the past year or so, but will probably buy a sport touring frame like a Gunnar Sport for my next bike. My touring bike is about 1-2 mph slower than my racing bikes that I ride to work occasionally, which adds about 5 minutes to my commute. My commute distance will increase to about 30 miles RT next year, and speed will be even more important to me then, so riding something like the Gunnar would save me about 10 minutes commuting each day. Plus it's more fun riding faster. I've been commuting on my Merckx Corsa a lot over the summer, and it has reminded me how much more fun it is to ride than my Bob Jackson touring bike. The touring bike is a work horse and great for carrying lots of gear, but it's slower and just less fun to ride.
 

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I have a very similar commute to what you are talking about. I do a 60 mile round trip 3-4 times a week. I would suggest a cross bike for the ability to use larger tires and to mount fenders. For drivetrain I would use a compact double crankset (triple is a waste) and shimano 105 (or Rival/Apex or Centaur depending on what you prefer). I have access to a shower and park my bike in my office so I can't help you out much there, but leaving shoes and stuff to get cleaned up at work is a good idea. I would just build up a set of open pros or open sports with ultegra hubs and DT comp spokes if I was starting from scratch and put some panaracer 28c T-serves on there. Many people will tell you to use a rear rack and or panniers. I prefer a backpack myself. I use the small Seal Line pack and it works really well and is super comfortable if you adjust the straps so it hangs low on your back. Keep in mind that doing 30 miles twice a day gets a little boring and you will need to find different routes to spice it up a bit if you want to stick to it. It really doesn't take as long as you think each day. It takes me about 1 hour and 40 minutes each way and I go through a mix of city and country with rolling hills and some big climbs.
 

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Figure you'll want to build the lightest strongest thing you can.

Surly Pacer or Salsa Cassaroll aren't light frames, but they can be built down to around 20 pounds. Big tires instantly add weight, but it's protection you need.

Friction option means being able to switch off the indexing on your derailleurs- you can do this with downtube shifters and bar end shifters. When (not if) your shifting goes all out of whack and you are still 20 miles from home and it's dark and you cannot get your rear derailleur to stop skipping, it's nice to be able to just turn off the indexing and finish your ride. Shifts take a little more finesse in friction mode, but they work.

about your time estimate- think longer.

Doing 30 miles twice a day 3 times a week is hard. A 60 miler on the weekend is easy- you go when you're ready, 4 hours later you're done.

Commuting is different. Lousy day at the office? had to skip lunch because of a meeting? Tired from stress? doesn't matter, you've still got to ride home.

For wheels, find the bike shop in your area that does the best wheel builds and tell them what you're going to be doing. Figure you'll probably spend closer to $400. It will be worth it.
 

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Bike Ninja
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, I don't plan on commuting until about a month or so on bike. Not sure if it's doable without a shower routine I think. I've heard of baby wipes option but I don't know. Seems a little bit tough without the shower option, especailly considering it's a 30 mile one-way trip. Think I'll have to try and dry run with all the gear first on a weekend. See if baby wipes can get me comfortable.
 

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I Can Quit Any Time
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My current commute to and from work isn't that long (10, 13, or 16 miles round trip, depending on where I'm based on a given day), though I put in a bunch of extra miles doing training and touring rides and going to and from school (adds about 26 miles, twice a week), the grocery store, etc., because I don't own a car. I also previously had a 30-mile RT daily commute, 5x a week.

I tend to throw my hands up in despair every time I look at wheel and rim prices (which seem to come in only two flavors: Everybody Hates Them or Trade Your Firstborn), so I'm going to have to just say 'amen' to what everyone else says :)

Where frames are concerned -- I second the 'cross frame suggestion. If you can't afford one, though, road bikes from the early 90s often have pretty comfortable riding geometry (at least for me -- I should probably note that I have a short back and long legs, though, compared to the average guy).

Frame materials: you might also want to think about the temperature extremes where you live. If you plan to ride in winter, and your winters routinely freeze, you might save yourself some pain by running an aluminum or even (if you find one you can afford) a titanium frame. If you're a dedicated steel aficionado and can afford more than one bike, you might think about keeping a separate aluminum winter bike. I tend to keep my steel frames indoors in winter and ride a cheap aluminum beater instead -- salt eats steel, and the constant freeze/thaw cycles probably won't help if your bike stays locked outdoors while you're at work.

WRT transmission/drivetrain -- I have to agree with the folks who suggest giving yourself the friction option; likewise, I agree that a compact double is a better plan than a triple. You get a similar range at a slightly lighter weight, and triple derailleurs and related parts can be hard to adjust and keep in tune.

Even a standard double will probably serve just fine, though. I even know one guy whose 'daily driver' is a 1x8 setup with 53t chainring and a mountainbike cluster with a pretty big range. It seems to serve him fine (it's probably worth noting, though, that this is a guy who could probably climb Mount Everest on a track bike; he has legs like steel cable: very intimidating :D).

The bike I ride most often is a 1993 or 1994 Specialized Allez Pro. It has down-tube shifters that can run in indexed or friction modes. I wasn't sure about them, at first, and seriously considered installing brifters, but now I've come to love them (still want brifters, or at least MTB style thumb shifters, on my 'cross bike, though, so I don't have to let go of the bars to shift gears).

If you haven't used them before, down-tube shifters are super-intuitive: for the RD, push down for a lower gear, up for higher; for the FD, use the opposite pattern. Mine were like old friends after about 10 minutes. At this point, I'm pretty sure I could shift with confidence in a dark train tunnel; my hand knows where to find the shifters automatically. Go muscle memory! If indexing gets wonky, all I have to do is grab the little dee ring on the shifter and flip it to 'friction' mode, and I can still get home (or to the nearest bike shop, which is almost always closer in Louisville -- we have tons of bike shops).

Cheap components won't serve you well -- on my old 30-mile round trip, and I pretty much destroyed 3 cheap component groups before I understood the difference between good bike parts and not-so-good bike parts. One good-quality component group can last years; cheap ones won't last months on a round trip like yours. If a new Shimano 105-equivalent component group is out of reach financially, I would get the best used components you can find.

If you're riding a road or 'cross bike, the Shimano 105 group is a great bet. My Allez currently runs a 7-speed 105 group -- 53/39 in front, 12-twenty something in back (I want to say 23, but I seem to have dumped that memory sector or something). You can usually find 7- and 8- speed 105 components on eBay for decent prices (and downtube levers are usually dirt cheap, because they're old technology). 105 bits are quite light, very durable, and (from what I've heard) less finicky than some of the even lighter, more expensive options. I do not find myself doing anywhere near as much maintenance on the Allez's drive train as I do on my hybrid that sports Shimano's Tourney components.

In case you're worried that you might really need more than seven or eight cogs, I do live in a hilly area, and the Allez is both my primary fair-weather commuter and my century/unloaded touring bike. I keep pace with in-town traffic pretty well and I hang with middle-speed groups just fine on long rides; I have no doubt that with a less-lazy rider, my bike would hang with the fast groups just fine. I even take it off-road sometimes (informal cyclocross training ... hehheh) -- I'm running 700x28s with a little tread (no knobs, though), which work fine on grass or dry trails. I've put about six hundred miles or so on it since I bought it in June, and the only thing I wish it had was an 11-tooth cog, which would make my top gear just a bit faster :) For that, though, I could just swap out the 12t, and -- quite frankly -- commuting doesn't really require it.

As for the shower: summers where I live (Louisville, Kentucky) are brutal -- very hot, very humid, and very long -- and I've found that one can only get so sweaty before one is completely saturated. Riding 7.8 miles in Kentucky, in July, will get you there -- at least, it will get me there. In July, I was just as sweaty after a 7.8-mile commute as I was after a 70-mile group ride at 14 MPH average. I don't have access to a shower, so I keep a stash of wash cloths and a towel at the office. I shower before leaving home, then when I get to work, I rinse my hair as well as I can using water from the sink (gets the salt out), then use one of my wash cloths to scrub down as needed. You can even use a wash cloth to sort of daub the sweat from your hair.

Admittedly, some of my co-workers probably find my 'bird bath' routine a little odd, but thus far nobody's said anything. I make sure to clean up after myself on the not-so-rare occasions that I get water all over counter. Since I keep my hair short, this keeps me presentable.

A combination of 'clinical strength' antiperspirant/deodorant and an extra tube of lesser antiperspirant as a back-up kept at my desk keeps me dry and fresh. I haven't needed it the back-up with the Clinical Strength deodorant, but I have been known to forget to apply deodorant before leaving home, as I am one of those people who feel grateful that we make it out the door with pants on.

Also, you can get 'dry shampoo' from camping supply places and so forth. I'm guessing that this is basically some kind of powder stuff that absorbs sweat and oils and leaves your hair smelling fresh. I haven't used the kind for people, so I can't attest to how well it works, but I used the equivalent on my last doggie (an oily-coated Lab/Husky mix) when she was recovering from surgery and couldn't have a bath, and it worked nicely.

I also use a backpack and haven't died from it yet. Somehow, five extra pounds on the rider feels lighter than five extra pounds on the bike ;) Fit does make a difference, as does the scale of the pack (one that covers the entire surface of your back can be a bit oppressive). I use the schlep-stuff-in-Monday; schelp-stuff-out-Friday plan, and I keep peanut butter, jelly, and bread at work in a vain effort to convince myself to eat out less often.

Some days I just shove my access badge, bank card, wallet (a tiny little credit-card holder type thing) and phone in a little pouch that Velcros on to my bike and that's it. I use more or less the same setup, plus a small bar bag for snacks and whatnot, for long rides.

Sorry this is so long, and good luck!
 

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For wheels, I'd recommend Shimano Ultegra or 105 hubs with Velocity Dyad rims, 36 spokes in the rear, and 32 in the front. You can use butted spokes if you want. Triple cross lacing pattern. Tough, reasonable weight, and the hubs are easily maintained.
 

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I do 42 miles round trip 4x a week most weeks... 1100 feet of rolling hills around 4-7% grade. All on my 2008 Tricross Sport.

It will take you longer than your weekend rides. My bike weigh's 42# (I'm 5'11" 160) when I step out the door in the morning, you really feel those extra pounds on the way up the hills.

Find public transit options on your route and carry bus fare, I keep a few bucks in my trunk pack. I use Transit Pack from performance bike, was ~35. Been using it for 2 years now.

I use 25 or 28mm Gatorskins. I like the 28mm over the 25s. They usually last me about 2k miles.

Only a few months left :( I wont ride from mid-November to March. 20 miles in the dark during northern Virginia rush-hour traffic (even with my Dinote's blazing away) is not my idea of fun.

Finally, eat, sleep, and don't push it more than a couple times a week. I used to basically TT my way into work and home every night by Thursday I was falling sleep as soon as I had dinner and forget about Friday night. Now I do my fast / interval rides on Tue/Thu and just spin on Mon/Fri. It's sad how much more energy it takes to add 3mph to my average speed for the ride.

Good luck!
 

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I do a 40 mile round trip 3 times a week (usually) from March through November on my road race bike with 23c tires. Let me play Devil's advocate here; unless you're riding rough roads you should not be too concerned about having a special bike for the ride. If you're riding over 20 miles each way you're going to want your bike to be fast. A slower bike will make a real difference in the time it takes and be less enjoyable, which counts for something.

FWIW, if you have 10 speed bikes you'll want your commuter to be compatible in case you have a rear wheel or tire problem that you discover in the morning.

I ride with a small back pack but if my ride were a little longer I think I'd go with a rear rack and single pannier so my back wouldn't be covered. A pannier is larger (for the laptop) and carries the weight lower.
 

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Bike Ninja
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
davidka said:
I do a 40 mile round trip 3 times a week (usually) from March through November on my road race bike with 23c tires. Let me play Devil's advocate here; unless you're riding rough roads you should not be too concerned about having a special bike for the ride. If you're riding over 20 miles each way you're going to want your bike to be fast. A slower bike will make a real difference in the time it takes and be less enjoyable, which counts for something.

FWIW, if you have 10 speed bikes you'll want your commuter to be compatible in case you have a rear wheel or tire problem that you discover in the morning.

I ride with a small back pack but if my ride were a little longer I think I'd go with a rear rack and single pannier so my back wouldn't be covered. A pannier is larger (for the laptop) and carries the weight lower.
My nicer "racier" bike I won't use due to the risk of theft. Commuter bike will have a budget of about $400. I'm hoping to keep things simple and buy just the bike as a whole now. I don't mind going used either.
 

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I have been commuting for a number of jobs over a number of years. The only thing I do not have experience in is locking up the bike as i was always able to bring the bike in with me. Had a cummute as short a 8RT and as long as 44 RT. I have used mtn bike and road bike for both. I always used a back pack and had no issues with one as long as it is the right one! Some fit your anatomy better than others. As far as the other stuff you need to make your own decisions based on your commute. What are your road conditions? This can determine your tires and type of bike. I went with 25's on the road and put 1.5 slicks on the mtn bike. The mtn bike was the long commute and had some rough country roads so just felt more manuverable and safer on the mtn bike (MTB'r at heart). The road bike I used on a 36 miler RT but roads were smooth and was part of usual road ride anyways so no real changes there.
I second the fact you will ride lots slower for commuting. You can ride fast but you will be tired at work and your body will also run hotter making you sweat more and take longer to cool down. Whatever you base ride is take it down a notch from there. I always used baby wipes to wipe down, stick my head under the sink for the salt, and deoderant away after. I never had anyone complain and even joke about it so I figured no issues.
Since you have to leave bike out I would go either steel w/frame saver or aluminum. LX, 105 or comparable SRAM, Campy components. Ideally used, as they will take a beating and look like less eye candy for theft as used stuff tends to be scuffed a little bit.
I have seen alot about having a touring bike but I believe any bike is sufficient. Decide for yourself based on your road condition. Enjoy as you will notice you are in better shape, fell better, use less gas
 

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A $400 budget pretty weel defines the level of components and wheels you can by. If me I would buy whichever used road, touring or cross bike I could find, that fit and I could afford. Most of the recommendations so far are way over your budget.

Bent
 
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