Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
jamespetts
Posts: 15
Joined: 23 Oct 2019, 12:51am

Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby jamespetts » 23 Oct 2019, 12:52am

I live in London and need to replace my ageing and worn out bicycle, a Ridgeback Comet, that I have had and used heavily since 2005.

I use the bicycle almost exclusively for commuting (circa 15km each way), and like to ride quite fast, although also need to be able to carry panniers which are sometimes quite heavy. I am quite tall (1.85m).

On my existing bicycle, I have always found the gear ratios somewhat low (i.e., the top gear is not quite fast enough), and this is after I had the front chainring replaced to a larger (53t, perhaps; I have not counted) unit about 8-9 years ago, which improved matters somewhat, but not entirely.

When I bought my existing bicycle, I was on somewhat of a budget, and have never been entirely satisfied with the quality/reliability of the gearing. I am able to spend a little more now, and so would like high quality components. I am especially keen on reliability, relative lightness and being able to go quite fast.

Looking in shops now, what I am finding is that all the hybrid bicycles have gear ratios that are far too low. I had a test ride of a Specialized Sirrius Sport XL this afternoon: the top gear was far too low, and the frame felt cramped compared to my existing bicycle.

I was able to try an XXL size of a lower range Specialized Sirrius in another shop, but was only able to sit on it rather than ride it, as this particular bicycle needed repairs (one of the brake levers was missing). This geometry felt a great deal better.

I did also try sitting on a road bicycle in another shop last Friday, but I could not get used to the different handlebars (and especially brake lever positions) after spending about 16 years regularly riding a bicycle with straight handlebars.

Can anyone recommend anything sensible? I cannot find any hybrid bicycles with a frame size approximately equivalent to the Sirrius in XXL (see here for details) and with a 52 or 53t front chainring.

I could in theory get a bicycle custom built, but that seems like a lot of money to spend just for going to work. The only suggestion that the person in the shop could come up with was to get a Sirrius and then immediately change the chainring, which might yet be the only viable option, but that seems so wasteful, so I thought that it would be at least worth exploring whether there are any other sensible options.

One thing that seems potentially interesting but I do not know enough about is the hub gear. I understand that these are extremely reliable, which would make me very happy, but I have no idea what the top ratios on these are like compared to my existing bicycle. I do not need a great many gears (my commute is mostly flat), but I do want the highest gears to be quite high. I have seen some bicycles with hub gears (albeit these often seem to have heavier steel frames), but I do not know whether these are suitable. I could not find any in geometry that came close to what I suspect that I would find comfortable based on the information currently available to me.

Any assistance would be much appreciated.

GOHughes
Posts: 43
Joined: 31 Jan 2009, 1:32pm

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby GOHughes » 23 Oct 2019, 10:05am

You could look at the T300 from vsf farrhadmanufaktur. These are quality bikes with cromo steel frames, high end components and fully equipped for commuting with rack, mudguards and hub dynamo.

Largest frame size is 62cm, which might suit. There is also an 68cm XXL with additional frame tube for strength though I thnk this for exceptionally tall people.

The biggest chainring on both is 48T, but this could easily be replaced. The T300 is also available with a Shimano nexus hub gear, though this would give you a top gear of only 88" as it is set up with a 38T chainring and 18T rear sprocket. That said your current 53T chainring if combined with the smallest 11T sprocket would give you a top gear of 135", more suited to a time trial than commuting!

They are fairly expensive - the T300 is about 900.00. They are only available from two places in the UK, Chris's bikes in Cambridge and Bikefix in London.

https://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/en/fah ... ingrad.php

I have had aT100 for years and have recently bought an open framed S300. Both are reliable, well built and equipped and finished to a very high standard.

PH
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Joined: 21 Jan 2007, 12:31am
Location: Derby
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Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby PH » 23 Oct 2019, 10:37am

jamespetts wrote:Can anyone recommend anything sensible?

Not entirely sensible, but I'd recommend quitting your job and joining a pro racing team. At 52 x 11 you ought to be able to pedal up to 40mph, just how fast are you?
I also think you might benefit from a bike fit session, either paying for one or using a DIY guide. I'm a little taller than you (188cm) and happily ride most 58 to 62cm frames. You will find that a bike similar to the one you're used to feels "Right" but that's isn't necessarily the case.
As for bikes - on a flat route the weight is unlikely to make much difference, try it for yourself by adding a kg which will likely be the maximum difference between frames. Good choice of tyres, to match the usage, is likely to make more difference, through the biggest and cheapest advantage will be had from getting your position right, both in terms of efficiency and aerodynamics.
The list of bikes that would suit is almost endless. I'd choose a lightish steel touring frame and build it up with decent level components and whatever gearing you want.
I hope that doesn't come across as negative - have fun choosing :wink:

Brucey
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Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby Brucey » 23 Oct 2019, 11:42am

re hub gears; you can gear those up to give an absurd top gear if you like, often more easily than with derailleurs. For example you can start with 53/13 and then top gear in a 3s hub is x4/3 that. Note that not all IGHs accept such a small sprocket. But...you will have fewer gear ratios than with a modern derailleur, and efficiency is slightly less in the highest gears. Also although IGHs are basically reliable and long lasting, they need to be kept in correct adjustment. If the adjustment is wrong, this manifests itself as slipping and when the gear slips damage is likely. Damage is even more likely if you are a 'masher', which given what gear ratios you use, seems likely (unless you go everywhere at 35mph...).

So far as large frames go you arguably don't need a super large frame but if that is what you prefer you can get one is several Dutch brands.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

jamespetts
Posts: 15
Joined: 23 Oct 2019, 12:51am

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby jamespetts » 23 Oct 2019, 11:48am

Thank you all for your replies. I will have a look at the VSF T300 - one of the two places in the UK that sells these is actually a short walk from where I work. I shall have to visit there when I get a moment.

As to speed, I do not cycle anything like as fast as PH has suggested - I can get up to 20mph in favourable conditions with well inflated tyres when working hard. Perhaps I just prefer to pedal more slowly and forcefully than some?

As to hub gears, I have been looking at the Cube Editor, but I cannot find anywhere that carries it in London where I can test ride it. How might I go about working out how the ratios of one of these things compares to the ratios of any given dérailleur? Also, may I ask what a "masher" is (on the basis that your assumption that I do not go everywhere at 35mph is indeed quite correct). I am definitely attracted by the idea of easy shifting and low maintenance with these, and would probably prefer this if I could get the ratios correct.

I have also looked (online) at the Cube ST Speed ST (a dérailleur equivalent of the Editor), which seems interesting (50t chainring on the front, available in XXL, light, good looking geometary), but I cannot find anywhere at all that carries this in the UK.

Thank you again both!

GOHughes
Posts: 43
Joined: 31 Jan 2009, 1:32pm

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby GOHughes » 23 Oct 2019, 12:05pm

Hub gear calculator here. Make sure you uncheck the box at the top where it says 'Brompton-compatible data only':

http://xldev.co.uk/bgc.html

jamespetts
Posts: 15
Joined: 23 Oct 2019, 12:51am

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby jamespetts » 23 Oct 2019, 12:11pm

GOHughes wrote:Hub gear calculator here. Make sure you uncheck the box at the top where it says 'Brompton-compatible data only':

http://xldev.co.uk/bgc.html


Thank you for that. The difficulty with that is in obtaining all the data required for the comparison for both bicycles to be compared.

Brucey
Posts: 36756
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby Brucey » 23 Oct 2019, 5:48pm

alfine 8 gearing compared with a derailleur setup here

http://ritzelrechner.de/?GR=SNI8&KB=41&RZ=16&UF=2200&TF=90&SL=2.6&UN=MPH&DV=teeth&GR2=DERS&KB2=42,53&RZ2=11,12,13,14,15,17,19,21,23,25&UF2=2200

you can fiddle with the settings to your heart's content. If it all goes horribly wrong just reload it from the link above.


It occurs to me that your extant bike might have a screw-on freewheel rather than a cassette, in which case it might have a 13up or 14 up sprocket cluster. This may make you hanker after larger chainrings; the alternative is a cassette hub and these can have sprockets starting at 11T, giving a massive top gear.

No comparison of gear ratios is going to be useful unless you know exactly what gears you have right now and which gears you use most.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

jamespetts
Posts: 15
Joined: 23 Oct 2019, 12:51am

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby jamespetts » 23 Oct 2019, 5:58pm

Thank you for your reply: that is very helpful. Here are pictures of my front and rear gears on my current bicycle:

20191022_135236[1].jpg


20191022_135218[1].jpg


Does this give any idea as to what I currently have? I am not sure how easy that it is to judge from these pictures.

I did contact Bikefix - they have one of the T900s in stock, but only in a 57cm frame, although they can order a larger one. I will try this, but I suspect that it will be hard to judge from this whether one in a larger size will be suitable - I can at least test the gear ratios, however.

Thank you all again for your help so far.

Edit: As to the gears that I mostly use, when riding on the flat for any distance, I am in top gear for most of the time.

thelawnet
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Joined: 27 Aug 2010, 12:56am

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby thelawnet » 23 Oct 2019, 10:18pm

Hmm.

Any bike will be unreliable if not maintained and adjusted well. I'm not sure about the position of your front derailleur there, and the clean but rusty chain suggests no oil.

Hub gears can be lower maintenance.

You could take a look at this https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Marin-Presidio ... 129690.htm

I'm not sure if 20" is big enough.

Image

slowster
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Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby slowster » 23 Oct 2019, 11:04pm

jamespetts wrote:Does this give any idea as to what I currently have? I am not sure how easy that it is to judge from these pictures.

Count the number of teeth on each chainring and on the sprockets (or just count the teeth on the largest chainring and smallest sprocket if you only want to know your current highest gear).

Then change the nominal chainring/sprocket sizes that Brucey has used in his link to the actual number of teeth that you have counted.

jamespetts
Posts: 15
Joined: 23 Oct 2019, 12:51am

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby jamespetts » 25 Oct 2019, 12:51am

I had a test ride of the Farhadmanafaktur T900 to-day at Bikefix in London. They had in stock an older model, it seems, with chain drive and rim brakes: the latest version has belt drive and disc brakes.

They only had the 57cm version, but this did not seem too small: the geometry of this bicycle is rather more similar to my existing bicycle than the sportier geometry of the Specialized Sirrius, and the reach was greater.

It was definitely heavier than my existing bicycle, having a steel frame and the Rohlof hub. It was quite rideable, although the top gear again seemed too low - but not as much as the Specialized bicycle that I had tried earlier in the week. It was excellent not having to work with front and rear dérailleurs and be able to change gears without pedalling, although the gears seemed to be too closely spaced: when accelerating, I often found myself changing two gears at once and reached the top of the range very quickly.

I also tried a different bicycle entirely, a touring bicycle from "Tout Terrain". This was an entirely unsuitable bicycle for my purposes as it was far too slow, although if I were riding all day, it would have been preferable: it was clearly built for comfort rather than for speed. However, I was interested in this as it had the Shimano Alfine 11 gearbox and a belt drive. Both of these features I liked; the Alfine 11 seemed to have a similar range to the Rohlof but greater spaces between the gears such that I never felt the need to change up multiple gears at once.The belt drive was delightfully quiet and the idea of not having to oil it makes me very happy. The people in the shop also said that it would be possible to change the chainring on the Farhadmanafaktur or even a belt drive bicycle to increase all the gearing ratios.

This does return my thoughts to the Cube Editor 2020, which has a somewhat sportier frame than the Farhadmanafaktur and is lighter, but I am concerned that I cannot find anywhere to test ride this. There is a service where I can order online and return the bicycle after 30 days' test riding, but I would have to keep what would be a very bulky box somewhere to do so.

The Marin Presidio 4 DLX is interesting - that seems to have the Alfine 11 hub and the belt drive, although the reach of 423.19mm on this bicycle is barely more than the 414mm of the Sirrius that I tried and found wanting so far as reach was concerned. The Marin brand is purportedly available through Cycle Republic, although the website does not list the Presidio 4 DLX as being available. I will have to ask at Cycle Republic whether this can be ordered in. However, I note that they do carry other bicycles in the Presidio series, so I could potentially test-ride these for the geometry and then order a Presidio 4 DLX online if that were suitable.

Does anyone have any observation as to the relative merits of the Marin Presidio 4 DLX and the Cube Editor?

jamespetts
Posts: 15
Joined: 23 Oct 2019, 12:51am

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby jamespetts » 26 Oct 2019, 12:16am

I tried a Whyte Stirling and a Specialized Sirrus to-day: I could not get on with the Specialized geometary at all, but the Whyte was quite good, and had better (taller) gears than the Specialized, too.

However, I am very interested in the low maintenance reliability of hub gears and belt drive. I have ordered (for testing, with no commitment to buy) a Marin Presidio 4 (2019 ed.) and will see how that turns out. I am somewhat concerned at the small looking chainring, but I will see how this translates into actual gear ratios when I test ride it.

GOHughes
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Joined: 31 Jan 2009, 1:32pm

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby GOHughes » 26 Oct 2019, 5:07pm

Bikefix may have neglected to mention that the T700 from vsf farrhadmanufaktur has the 11 spedd Alfine hub and Gates belt drive. Again, though, the gears may need some alteration as I suspect that you would find 46/22 too low given your stated preference for higher gears.

You would find it cheaper to change the rear sprocket rather than the chain ring, especially with a Gates belt drive. That said, Shimano do specify upper and lower limits (for chain rings and sprockets) as the Alfine 11 hub can be subjected to excessive torque outside of its usual operating limits, though I understand that 2019 models of the Alfine 11 are more tolerant.

jamespetts
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Joined: 23 Oct 2019, 12:51am

Re: Tall person seeks fast, reliable commuting bicycle

Postby jamespetts » 26 Oct 2019, 5:17pm

Thank you. I am aware of the Farhadmanafaktur T700, which I have not yet ruled out of consideration. However, I think that I prefer the stiffer, lighter aluminium frame to the steel frame from which those bicycles are made. At present, subject to test riding, the Marin Presidio recommended by somebody in an earlier post on this thread seems to be the leading contender, but I do intend to visit a more specialist bicycle shop in west London next week to try a number of different hub geared bicycles and also perhaps reach a final conclusion on the steel versus aluminium question.