Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Tangled Metal
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Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby Tangled Metal » 4 Jul 2019, 8:25pm

This isn't a bike choice question exactly but asking for views on getting one type of bike for the main use vs getting one for secondary use.

Basically if you're a one (or two) bike person who does two (or more) types of cycling do you buy for the activity you mostly do or the one that a dedicated bike would have more benefit for.

So a tourer is a great, general purpose bike. Some better than others unloaded. If most if not almost all you're cycling is commuting but once a year for two weeks you tour with tent and kit. A tourer is the most practical and probably comfortable for two weeks touring, unloaded some can be less right for commuting.

Some road or fast hybrid bikes are probably better for commuting. It could take a pannier rack, two panniers, drybag on top and barbag for two weeks but not be at comfortable loaded this way.

We've always had the bike for me general use and coped with touring. A trailer once. Custom full frame bag another time. Last year a dedicated touring recumbent for me that had 70 litres ortlieb panniers on the back, 40 litres panniers midrack and a top tube bag fit bits on the boom.

I'm now wondering if it's better to live with a tourer through the year for the two weeks we'd truly benefit from it. Or a year of using a commuter bike and put up with its possibly minor negatives touring.

You could say similar about other bike options. Do you buy a hardtail (mtb or hybrid) for mostly commuting / Road use just so it's right for the less frequent off road rides? Or do you buy a road going hybrid bike for your greater frequency of riding and just do easier off road riding closer to its limit?

I own a planetx London road so called super commuter. It has handled rather too heavy loads touring. I've coped. It's actually fun off road. Tests bike handling skills but 37mm slightly nobbly CX tyres on it's fun. Slicks on it's a hoot but you'll come off on mud at times.

So cater for your main activity and cope with minor activity? Buy for your minor activity because that's harder on you / bike and live with it for main activities? What's your view on this compromise?

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Paulatic
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby Paulatic » 4 Jul 2019, 8:49pm

I’m in no position to advise from experience as I’ve 4 bikes and spares would make at least another two. :x
If I had to I reckon I could do everything I do with only one bike but that bike would have at least two sets of wheels and tyres to enable switching between purposes easily.
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Brucey
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby Brucey » 4 Jul 2019, 8:51pm

Its a good question; my view is that whenever I've used any bike as a commuting bike it has really suffered in this daily grind such that the expenditure required to keep it in really first class condition (i.e. suitable for loaded touring trips) has comfortably exceeded the running costs of two bikes, each better suited to the task in hand.

If you are determined to go for 'one size fits all' then there is much to be said for having two wheelsets for that one bike. Stuff like lights, mudguards, racks etc can be swapped around too.

Some Commuting bike priorities;

- low maintenance
- low consumables costs
- some luggage carrying capacity (eg two panniers not four)
- reliable lights; typically not used much outside built-up areas so you don't need the very highest power.
- reliable hard-wearing tyres (eg M+)
- shouldn't be a magnet for thieves and vandals
- doesn't have to have super-wide range gearing
- doesn't have to be super-lightweight

Touring bikes can differ in nearly every respect from commuting bikes. That is not to say that a touring bike might not make a good commuting bike but more that it is hardly likely to be optimised for the purpose.

The standards of maintenance will vary between the uses as well; the consequences of even a minor failure on a touring bike 'in the wild' are liable to be at the least inconvenient if not actually incredibly dangerous (eg when riding on alpine roads). By contrast if your commuting bike develops a minor fault or a breakage (outside of heavy traffic) then there is a small amount of disruption to the daily routine but little else of consequence.

cheers
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Tangled Metal
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby Tangled Metal » 4 Jul 2019, 9:27pm

I've read that some people have found tourers so tuned for loaded touring that when unloaded (or lightly loaded for commuting) they aren't that nice a ride. Not all tourers but some criticism of say Surly LHT/Disctrucker I've heard was like this. AIUI the chainstays are one of the longest and one features make the bike mess suitable for using as a commuting bike.

Personally I've just changed tyres. I generally use 32mm hypers or gatorskins but switch it to either 37mm m+ or PX CX ties for off road riding. The px CX tyres cope well because of the side nobbly tread. The gatorskins will be good enough for touring I reckon too. I ride a px London road. They've changed what they call it or what they say it's designed for since I got it.

Touring it's too tail heavy. Frame bag helps but there's not may heavy items that fits in that thinner bag. Water bag, locks and tent poles. The carradry bar bag is 8l but that causes the bars to swivel round when loading and you can end up dropping the bike if you're caught unawares.

Off on a tour soon but don't want to ride my touring recumbent (not ridden since last summer). Guess I'll be reminding myself why I got the 'bent by using the px bike.

BTW with wheel sets do you keep the same cassette on them. Does that make it a simple swap over or do you still have to fettle the gears?

rmurphy195
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby rmurphy195 » 4 Jul 2019, 9:52pm

Personally, tourer for commuting.

The modern Brifters give you the benefits of gearchange that comes to hand easily, can keep hands on the hoods, brake and gears all at the same time, handy in traffic.

Still have the advantage of the dropped bars if you're riding to work against a headwind.

If the frame is too harsh for unloaded riding, fit slightly fatter tyres - my Condor was transformed by the switch from 700x28 to Vittoria Hypers 700x32 (nominal, they actually measure 35mm). I use this bike for day rides/going to the shops/just going out and enjoying the fresh air etc. so its usually lightly laden.

Second bike - the Brompton, very handy for various purposes, handy to keep in the boot of the car on holiday in the caravan
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Brucey
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby Brucey » 4 Jul 2019, 10:05pm

Tangled Metal wrote:
BTW with wheel sets do you keep the same cassette on them. Does that make it a simple swap over or do you still have to fettle the gears?


you can keep the cassette with the wheels (in which case using chains of a very well defined wear state or swapping those as well is a good idea) or you can swap the cassettes.

IME if you want to do a direct swap without fiddling around too much this is made more difficult by having more sprockets (so 11s is more difficult than 8s) and disc brakes. You can make it so that you can just throw different wheels in, but IME this usually requires quite a lot of messing about with shims etc even if the hubs are meant to be identical.

Many moons ago SunTour made shift levers which supported friction shifting, 6s index or 7s index, all via a tweak of a single control. This wasn't perfect for various reasons, but I think this idea is worth resurrecting; it would mean that you could (say) run basic/cheap/durable 8s shifting whilst commuting and swap easily to a wide-range 10s or 11s cassette for touring.

cheers
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TrevA
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby TrevA » 4 Jul 2019, 10:06pm

I think it depends on the length of your commute and what you take in with you. When my commute was 5 miles and involved a big climb on the way home, I was happy to commute on my tourer. Then I moved house and had a flat 9 mile commute. I’d still take my tourer but found that it was 3-4 minutes slower than my winter or summer road bikes. I’d still take the tourer if I had a lot to carry, but found myself usually plumping for the winter bike. The tourer was more comfortable to ride, but I found it a bit slow and ponderous and very hard work into a headwind.

Now I’ve retired, I find I’m hardly ever riding the tourer.

My touring bike is a Ridgeback Panorama with 37mm tyres. My winter bike is a Triban 520 with 25mm Gatorskins. I wouldn’t tour on the winter bike, though.

geocycle
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby geocycle » 4 Jul 2019, 10:15pm

Touring bike for commuting for me. Mine’s a thorn raven, way over specced for a mere commuter but bomb proof and needs v little maintenance. I tour a few times a year so using it every day since 2006 as a commuter has helped justify the cost of the rohloff. Great to unpack the panniers one day then ride to work the next day.

But everyone’s needs are different and depends on the commute length, riding style, facilities at work etc.

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mjr
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby mjr » 4 Jul 2019, 11:07pm

Neither. Get a roadster and it'll do both those and more, as long as it's not racing in any shape.
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PH
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby PH » 5 Jul 2019, 12:17am

Tangled Metal wrote:I've read that some people have found tourers so tuned for loaded touring that when unloaded (or lightly loaded for commuting) they aren't that nice a ride. Not all tourers but some criticism of say Surly LHT/Disctrucker I've heard was like this. AIUI the chainstays are one of the longest and one features make the bike mess suitable for using as a commuting bike.

In part it depends on the rider - I'm 6'3" and usually around 100kg, I've never had a bike I've found uncomfortably stiff and a couple I've considered too flexible. Some bikes do have that certain thing that makes them more fun to ride, but it's as individual as anything else in cycling and small changes can make big differences. I prefer my Hewit tourer built up with audax kit to the couple of lighter* audax bikes I've had. I prefer to tour on straight bars which don't suit the Hewitt. I had a LHT for a while, it was fine, I'd have been happy touring or commuting on it, it is at the heavy end of touring, there's a good choice of slightly less expedition ready tourers that might suit you better. I know someone who loves their Cross-Check, he's the only person I know who's stuck with just one bike for years, though in that time it's been fixed, S/S, Alfine 8, and 3 x 9, depending on what he's doing.
Back to the question! For ten years I toured and commuted on the same bike, custom Ti similar to LHT geometry, Rohloff and straight bars, I don't know what you'd call it, Hybrid would probably be the closest box to tick. The name didn't matter, it fulfilled a list of requirements and those were pretty similar for commuting and touring.

*Lighter - there's surprisingly little in it, with similar kit around 500g

the snail
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby the snail » 5 Jul 2019, 7:42am

Personally, my tourer was perfect as a commuter, reliable, robust, low-maintenance, comfortable and practical. My requirements in a tourer or commuter are actually quite similar. If you've got a nice triple chainset then there shouldn't be any need to change gearing. If you start to overthink things and take what's written on the internet too seriously, it's easy to think you need a garage full of bikes. Really, you can do most things with a sensible tourer or hybrid.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby Tangled Metal » 5 Jul 2019, 8:37am

You see there are hybrids with lowrider bosses on the forks. Trek do one, an fs model iirc. Perfect bike for general use, commuting, etc. What about touring with trad 4 pannier system? Anyone know?

It's probably not as tuned for a film touring load, especially forks and shorter chainstays. But for a lass with small feet (my partner), indeed I've only got size 9s despite being well over 6' tall and tbh rarely find panniers a problem.

My bike has 435 long chainstays. LHT has 460mm. Spa steel tourer 460mm. Standover height is 815 for my PX "super commuter", 847.8 LHT and 870 Spa tourer. Not sure what that means about the standover height in guessing the PX has smaller main triangle, whatever that means in real terms.

Those comparisons were for 60cm bike size (I believe at 6'5" tall and average split between legs, torso and arms that's my size). I ride the xl in px bike but I have no idea what's the equivalent cm size to that. It shows to me they're totally different beasts the two tourers vs the commuter bike. Also steel vs Al and carbon fork.

Does all this equate to a better touring experience? At the moment we're limited by a 6.5 year olds capability. If a commuter carries the load needed I doubt the hour ride then something else style of touring will have the chance for showing up discomfort. Conversely I doubt half an hour commute each way (hour for my partner) would be a problem for a tourer vs something nipper. My partner might just notice a few minutes.

I used to ride a hybrid, flat bar with short travel front suspension. Heavier than current bike and more upright. Slower? No idea I was a lot fitter then. I did notice a 1 to 2 mph speed improvement for the same perceived effort by tucking right down in still air conditions possibly more. My current ride position is more stretched out and I reckon if I read as fit as back then I'd be probably 3mph faster. It's a nipper bike. Although that speed increase doesn't really make much difference to my ride on terms of enjoyment. I'm not into speed except if late for work!

I really need to try a loaded and unloaded tourer out. I'm relying on opinions of others. Whilst that's a good thing to get the opinions of the experienced I think it's useful to gain a bit of my own experience. Perhaps a spend of £740 for an ex demo Spa tourer? :D

Carlton green
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby Carlton green » 5 Jul 2019, 8:52am

An interesting thread, my thanks to the OP.

I’ve never really thought a lot about riding in these terms before, it’s been more of a case of aiming for one bike to do it all. That aim is perhaps a mistake on my part if also a reflection on a mindset formed in past ‘hard times’ (affording one Bike was something and who can afford two). If someone is restricted to one bike then it’s a case of which bike will do all things tolerably well - or what will you accept not doing - and to my mind you can easily enough commute on a touring bike but it verges on impossible to tour/haul heavy loads on a commuting bike. There is also some question as to what touring means to different people, to some it’s a month away from home with loads of camping gear, to others it’s a day ride in the countryside and then there’s everything in between. A commute in some relatively level city also poses different demands to say a rural commute in (hilly) Devon.

I no longer commute but if doing so now I’d be inclined to think about how my do it all bike might be changed to suit different needs. If one bike is all you have then perhaps having some fatter/heavier wheels and a change of transmission (wider range and lower gears) for touring is a way forward. For what it’s worth I concur with ‘the snail’ above, but I (now) wonder whether with a few simple changes it’s possible to make things a bit easier for yourself.
Last edited by Carlton green on 5 Jul 2019, 9:23am, edited 2 times in total.

andrec
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby andrec » 5 Jul 2019, 9:19am

A good quality tourer is ideal for commuting - nice ride quality from the decent frame, drop handlebars for getting through traffic queues, rack for a pannier, mudguards, strong wheels and tyres to cope with urban roads with potholes and glass. I don't own a 'commuting' bike, just tourers, road bikes and MTBs. I see no need for one. I'd commute on a road bike if I lived in a dry country, didn't need to take a bit of luggage to work and the roads were good.

pwa
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Re: Commuter for touring or tourer for commuting?

Postby pwa » 5 Jul 2019, 9:30am

For seventeen years I commuted to work and back on a tourer. The tourer was bought and specced for touring, which in this hilly part of the world made it also ideal for commuting. On a tourer you want a wide range of gears (with some very low ones) and a rear rack. For commuting I wanted exactly the same thing. And the Ortlieb panniers that kept my touring clobber dry also kept my work clobber dry. Also, the same bike is good for 20 mile jaunts around the lanes that we have here, so it is my go-to bike for most things. (Don't be fobbed off with so-called tourers that lack very low gears).

My other bike is a little used titanium framed audax focused bike that is certainly a bit swifter than the tourer but requires a bit more care over potholes and the like. I like it but if I did not have so much space I could live without it.