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Commuter Bike: Hybrid vs Cyclocross vs Touring?

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I'm on the hunt for a commuter bike. I've been riding my MTN bike 4 miles each way a few times per week since early Nov. but my commute is about to grow to 8 hilly miles each way, Mukilteo to Downtown Everett along Mukilteo Blvd. I estimate this will take me 45 minutes on my MTN bike. I want to shave some time off the commute.

 

I'm not a speed demon and not planning to do any long distance rides so I figured a hybrid would be the way to go for me but considering the significant investment involved, I don't want to buy a hybrid only to reallize a month down the road I should have gotten something else. Any advice?

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I'm sure you'll get a million different responses to your question. Here's my 2 cents:

 

http://surlybikes.com/bikes/long_haul_trucker_complete/

 

I have one that I use for everything. Commuting, errands, road rides, centuries, touring, mild off-roading (forest service and gravel roads).

 

It does everything very well, although it is considered a touring bike. I can't say enough good things about it.

 

 

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Surly has a good rep - but not cheap. If you're looking for a bargin I would suggest visiting this place: http://www.bikeworks.org/ in Seattle. They refurbish donated bikes and have a shop and salesroom. They have several nice steel frame bikes hanging on the wall now.

 

Full disclosure: I volunteer here and rebuild bikes and such.

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I commute on a old cannondale cycle cross bike with fenders and touring tires and love it.

 

Advantages of cycle cross: designed to be light and strong, almost as efficient as a road racing bike (with the right tires) but with slightly more upright body position better for going over bumps, better brakes.

 

Some touring and hybrid bikes will provide similar advantages but some will be designed more for comfort and not be any faster then your mountain bike with a set of thin road slicks on it (have you tried that?).

 

Surly has made some nice bikes but they aren't the only game in town. They used to be made in the usa but they have since moved production overseas and gotten adopted as the brand of choice of the hipster crowd.

 

My suggestion would be to go to a few of the decent bike shops in town and test ride cycle cross bikes from a few different brands. Maybe throw in a few of the more performance oriented hybrid/touring models.

 

If you really want to go fast get a proper road bike.

 

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I'm on the hunt for a commuter bike. I've been riding my MTN bike 4 miles each way a few times per week since early Nov. but my commute is about to grow to 8 hilly miles each way, Mukilteo to Downtown Everett along Mukilteo Blvd. I estimate this will take me 45 minutes on my MTN bike. I want to shave some time off the commute.

 

I'm not a speed demon and not planning to do any long distance rides so I figured a hybrid would be the way to go for me but considering the significant investment involved, I don't want to buy a hybrid only to reallize a month down the road I should have gotten something else. Any advice?

 

I really like my Kona. They seem to have really solid, comfortable designs that are reasonably priced. I've got a Jake the Snake that I commute on every day, and it's awesome.

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I've not put slicks on my MTN bike because I thought I'd get a commuter/road specific bike and save the $65 bucks.

 

I'll ride some bikes this weekend, there's a few good shops here in Everett.

 

I'm thinking I can pick something up for $600.

 

Thanks -

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I agree with the cross bike recommendation. I've steered friends that way as well for commuter bikes. But most cross bikes don't have dedicated rack attachments if you use a pannier system for commuting/errands. You can still get a rack/pannier setup to work, but its not as clean. Plus, no fender attachments.

 

Re: made in the usa - very few bikes are made in the US anymore. Those that are made here are sweet, but really expensive. Forget about almost anything you'd encounter in a regular bike shop if you want to stick to made in the US.

 

And I disagree with the mtb slick statement. No mtb w/ slicks can keep pace with a real touring bike on the road.

 

I have yet to encounter any hipsters out touring, so I guess I can't comment on that.....

Edited by pdk

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Surly crosscheck.

 

Fender & rack mounts. Bombproof. You can fit huge tires in there, and even put knobbies on it and ride singletrack. long haul trucker is a nice bike, but it doesn't sound like you're going to be doing a lot of touring, and the crosscheck has a shorter wheelbase which makes it a bit more nimble and, as I said, u can take it crosscountry, which isn't something u would want to do on a LHT. And u can still do light touring on the Xcheck.

 

And, it's pretty inexpensive.

 

The only downside is it doesn't have disc brake mounts, but oh well.

 

Salsa makes a good cross bike, too, but I haven't ridden it and I'm not sure if it has fender & rack braze-ons.

 

Regardless of what you pick, I would definitely select a bike with:

a) 700c wheels

b) steel frame

c) rack & fender mounts

d) frame clearance for wider tires (I commute on 32s) and FULL fenders. Those clip-on fenders are GAY and if u buy some I'll kick u in the nuts.

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This bike is probably out of your range but it's probably the best commuter bike around. It's made by former cc.com poster Col. Von Spanker. Road bike geometry, disc brakes, mt. bike hub spacing, great fender clearance.

 

http://www.baronbicycles.com/

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Drop bars vs flat?

 

I really like the disk brakes, is there a big difference between the hydrollic and mechanical? My MTN bike rim brakes suck bad in the wet.

 

I have little interest in a used bike, I honestly don't know much about fixing or adjusting and would prefer a new bike I shouldn't need to worry about or can take back to the shop for that stuff. It's just transportation to me, just ride and park with little hassle as possible.

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This bike is probably out of your range but it's probably the best commuter bike around. It's made by former cc.com poster Col. Von Spanker. Road bike geometry, disc brakes, mt. bike hub spacing, great fender clearance.

 

http://www.baronbicycles.com/

 

The Colonel is moving up in the world if he's a Baron now. :tup: I always liked that guy.

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Drop bars vs flat?

 

I really like the disk brakes, is there a big difference between the hydrollic and mechanical? My MTN bike rim brakes suck bad in the wet.

 

I prefer drop bars. I hate flats. But, that's a personal preference, I guess. I prefer the multiple positions drops give you.

 

I've never used mechanical disk brakes. I think mechanical disk brakes are cheaper, and have less modulation? I dunno.

 

I've heard that linear pull brakes (shimano calls them v-brakes) are a good option if you don't have disk mounts, and are the closest you can get to the stopping power of a disk. I've never used them, tho, and they require different brake levers. You could ask the shop about them. I'm thinking of putting some on my commuter.

 

Also, there are conversion kits to put disk brakes on frames without disk mounts, but I don't know anything about them or how well they work. Regardless, you'd have to get new hubs. $$$

 

good luck, tell us what you get!

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In addition to the surly crosscheck, check out the salsa la cruz. Steel, disk brakes, and fender mounts. I don't think it has proper rack mounts tho, but u could probably jury rig something. I think tubus makes a disk-compatable rack that might work.

 

The Singular Peregrine sounds PERFECT. Disk, PLUS rack AND fender mounts that don't get in the way of the disk calipers. I think it's a bit more $$$ tho :(

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I would avoid racks and panniers.

 

Riding with a smallish pack is more efficient (less wind resistance because it stays behind your torso) then an equivalently sized pannier.

 

A friend of mine went self supported from new york to texas on a race bike living out of a timbuktu bag with a bivy sac and a laptop to blog the experience ... (he was moving and shipped most of his stuff) ... he had toured with panniers and trailers before and felt this let him cover the most millage, with a trailer being the next best option and panniers by far the worst. On a separate trip he had a trailer and a friend with panniers just couldn't keep up when their was a head wind or on the long down hills down the easy side of the rockies.

 

I prefer drop bars. You can get lower for wind resistance, and they are narrower for tight spots like bridge sidewalks or squeezing between parked cars to get to the sidewalk.

 

A new bike will need to be adjusted as the cable's stretch but the shop should do it for free.

 

 

 

 

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more efficient

less wind resistance

cover the most millage

head wind

long down hills

drop bars

get lower

wind resistance

 

 

He's buying a commuting bike.....not racing across the country.....

 

And you're buddy's experience is not the end-all-be-all experience on panniers, trailers, messenger bag touring. Everyone has their own personal preferences, which run the gamut. Oftentimes speed is not the point in bike touring, or riding to the store for groceries. But that's a whole different topic altogether.

 

 

 

 

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Hmm, interesting. Personally, I'd have to disagree re: the pack vs. panniers. spam, I hate HATE riding with a pack. SO uncomfortable. Panniers FTW. I guess it's a personal thing. That's just me.

 

Also, I prefer having the weight closer to the ground, it feels SO much more stable to me than having a bunch of extra weight sitting up above the bike's center of gravity. Not to mention it's just less comfortable to have that all on your back while you're leaning forward like that. Plus, it gets all sweaty on your back, and you have these annoying pack straps. It always makes me neck and shoulders hurt.

 

I dunno, just my $0.02. I guess try both and see what you like. I see a lot of people commuting with packs, so it can't be all bad. I hate it, though.

 

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more efficient

less wind resistance

cover the most millage

head wind

long down hills

drop bars

get lower

wind resistance

 

 

He's buying a commuting bike.....not racing across the country.....

 

And you're buddy's experience is not the end-all-be-all experience on panniers, trailers, messenger bag touring. Everyone has their own personal preferences, which run the gamut. Oftentimes speed is not the point in bike touring, or riding to the store for groceries. But that's a whole different topic altogether.

 

He said he wanted a bike that will help him commute faster then his existing set up. He said nothing about touring or shopping for groceries.

 

I am describing my personal preferences and the reasons I feel they speed things up a bit on my commute.

 

If you feel your setup offers advantages for the use he describes please share the reasons behind them so he can make the best informed decision.

 

I am not a particularly fast rider and have never raced but I do appreciate the ability to get low on the one long down hill/flat bit that always seems to have a headwind on my morning commute.

 

I know people who go with packs and people who go with panniers and, in general the pack people tend to be faster. It probably isn't the most comfortable system but isn't bad compared to a normal climbing load.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think I paid $40 for my commuter, an old pre-shock MTB. Added $6 slick tires from performance. The headlamp cost twice what I paid for the bike.

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I've been experimenting with backpacks and rackpacks/panniers. There are several advantages to each but I trend to the old school and typically use a pannier when I'm on the road and need to lug gear. However, I have sensed that I'm a bit faster with my little backpack and no pannier.

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This one is on my list to test ride:

 

http://www.rei.com/product/797378

 

 

cool, that looks like a pretty nice setup. Pretty economical, too...let us know how it rides! Since it's an aluminum frame, I'd recommend test riding it somewhere a bit rough...sometime aluminum isn't very good at absorbing shock and they can feel a bit "sharp." Especially with an aluminum fork. But, I've heard that newer aluminum bikes are a lot better....

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What up Y'all. I got a bike co. now.

 

Flat vs. Drop: I bet if you did a visual survy of commuters on the Burke or Dexter you would find about 2% actually riding in the drops. That said I still prefer my drop bar bike. Also, with the 'performance' fit becoming more common added to 10cm of steertube spacers and a upright stem for a comfort fit there isn't much need for drop bars. I usually only get in my drops when I'm racing.

 

Pack vs. Panniers: I love the idea of panniers, especially when my back starts to hurt after toting my laptop and papers and other commuter crap. But alas, I can't bring myself to put a rack on the bike that I also train on on the weekends.

 

Don't do disc brake frame conversions, they don't work well. Disc brakes are far superior to canti's and dual-pivot. THERE WILL be people who say "I get plenty of stopping power from my regular brakes". Well I'm sure there are people who will say they get plenty of stopping power on their drum brakes on their '72 honda motorcycle, that doesn't mean dual Brembo's are a bad idea. And people said the same thing about v-brakes, and hydrolic brakes and disc brakes.

 

I ride 12+ hours a week all year round on both styles and for commuting and winter ride discs are phenomenal.

-No rim slurry

-Out of true rims are inconsequential

-Brake pads last a LONG time

-Less force to stop quickly (different than more stopping power)

 

That said I still race with dualpivots dura-ace setup, but we don't use the brakes that much...

 

If you have additional questions feel free to hit me up:

 

geoff@baronbicycles.com

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I ended up getting the Scott Sub 20 at Bothell Ski and Sport for $499. I have about 100 commuter miles on it and really like it for the money. I'm a little dissapointed the top gear does not seem significantly faster (if at all) than my old mtn bike, according to my GPS the top speed on the Scott is only 29mph and I was able to hit 26mph on my mtn bike. Any ideas on if I can replace the big chain ring on the crank with a bigger one? Disk brakes are definetly the way to go for wet steep hills.

 

The ride is definetly stiff (aluminum frame) but not unbearable and I appreciate the weight saving for climbing.

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Short answer is yes, you can change out the big chain ring, but you'll need to look at compatability of it with your drive train. I don't know about this specific bike but many "commuter" ones have a large ring in the low 40's. Something up close to 50 would help.

 

Also, do you have 26" or 700c wheels. The narrower 700s are speedier, but not as versatile.

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