Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Duradulo
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Joined: 1 Mar 2019, 10:58pm

Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby Duradulo » 2 Nov 2019, 9:12am

Hello, first post from a sometime lurker here.

Around a year ago I came a cropper on one of Reading's cycle farcilities leading to damaging my bike - a 1999 Dawes Galaxy (only owned by me for a couple of years). A replacement front fork got it on the road again but the newfound toeclip overlap, shortened frame and 1-2 inch higher front end don’t inspire confidence or spark joy in the ride sadly.

Before this happened I’d been saving for a second bike (having got quite into cycling) and so splashed out on a second hand Enigma Étape, which has been an absolute revelation. It’s not however something I want to leave overnight at work or take shopping.

So - looking for recommendations for a relatively inexpensive but fun to ride bike for commuting/winter rides (my commute is rural, 25 miles - often I will ride one way and leave my bike at work overnight). Requirements are:

  • Fittings for rack and mudguards
  • Responsive and light enough that it’s an enjoyable ride, rather than feeling like I’m powering an oil tanker
  • Decent brakes (mild preference for rim as I’m a Luddite, but equally I hate the cantis on my Galaxy)
  • Cheap to run - 8 or 9 speed is fine, not fussed for brifters
  • Ideally would take 32mm or wider tyres for bridleways etc

Budget is around £500 - happy to buy secondhand even if it means waiting for something suitable, just need to have a good idea what I’m looking for! I have a few ideas already but don’t want to prejudice matters.

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Graham
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby Graham » 2 Nov 2019, 9:20am

Duradulo wrote: . . . a 1999 Dawes Galaxy (only owned by me for a couple of years). A replacement front fork got it on the road again but the newfound toeclip overlap, shortened frame and 1-2 inch higher front end don’t inspire confidence or spark joy in the ride sadly.

Have you considered getting a replacement fork with the correct dimensions ?? It seems a terrible waste to have ruined an OK bike by fitting incorrect forks.
Maybe finding such forks is easier said than done ? It needs some knowledge to get all aspects correct / good-enough.

Duradulo
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby Duradulo » 2 Nov 2019, 10:02am

Graham wrote:
Duradulo wrote: . . . a 1999 Dawes Galaxy (only owned by me for a couple of years). A replacement front fork got it on the road again but the newfound toeclip overlap, shortened frame and 1-2 inch higher front end don’t inspire confidence or spark joy in the ride sadly.

Have you considered getting a replacement fork with the correct dimensions ?? It seems a terrible waste to have ruined an OK bike by fitting incorrect forks.
Maybe finding such forks is easier said than done ? It needs some knowledge to get all aspects correct / good-enough.


The frame is also damaged with a slight buckling behind the headtube, I’m not sure how much of an impact on geometry this would have with the proper fork, but it’s a bit of a concern. My original plan was to have the forks repaired, but I decided I’d always be nervous of their integrity. Finding a suitable replacement seems tricky and a new build is costly - I’m sure the frame and fork could be repaired by someone with the knowhow and equipment but that’s not me!

I’ll definitely be reusing or selling as much as possible from the bike as it’s otherwise in decent nick.

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531colin
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby 531colin » 2 Nov 2019, 10:56am

https://spacycles.co.uk/m2b0s143p2984/SPA-CYCLES-Steel-Tourer-Frame-and-forks-
Here you go....£375 frame and forks, swap your bits over.
Declaration of interest; I designed it, but some people on here have been kind enough to say they like it.

whoof
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby whoof » 2 Nov 2019, 10:59am

If you want 32 mm tyres, mudguards, rim brakes but not cantis then it's probably going to be some sort of hybrid* with v brakes.

If it's a hybrid then whether it fits your other spec depends on your definition of light and responsive.

*You could get a cyclocross bike that would probably have cantis and STI type shifters. You could then replace the cantis for v brakes and the STI for bar end shifters and v brake levers. This would add to the cost but might come on pub budget of you bought second hand.

slowster
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby slowster » 2 Nov 2019, 11:00am

Duradulo wrote:So - looking for recommendations for a relatively inexpensive but fun to ride bike for commuting/winter rides (my commute is rural, 25 miles - often I will ride one way and leave my bike at work overnight). Requirements are:

  • Fittings for rack and mudguards
  • Responsive and light enough that it’s an enjoyable ride, rather than feeling like I’m powering an oil tanker
  • Decent brakes (mild preference for rim as I’m a Luddite, but equally I hate the cantis on my Galaxy)
  • Cheap to run - 8 or 9 speed is fine, not fussed for brifters
  • Ideally would take 32mm or wider tyres for bridleways etc

Budget is around £500 - happy to buy secondhand even if it means waiting for something suitable, just need to have a good idea what I’m looking for! I have a few ideas already but don’t want to prejudice matters.

The comments I've highlighted in bold suggest that unless something crops up that is an absolute bargain, you don't want/need a standard off the shelf bike, which would probably only be better value for money if you did want brifters and 10 or 11 speed.

Duradulo wrote:I’ll definitely be reusing or selling as much as possible from the bike as it’s otherwise in decent nick.

I would suggest you look at Spa's steel touring frame. It would use up most of your budget at £375 (plus £10 for them to fit the supplied headset), but should be a better frame than your Galaxy was. I think you should be able to transfer over most or all undamaged parts (Spa's frame has fairly standard/traditional dimensions, e.g. 27.2mm seatpost), and Spa are also the best source of the value for money reliable components that you might need to complete the build, e.g. triple chainsets, non-brifter brake levers, 8 and 9 speed chains and cassettes and derailleurs, down tube levers and bar end shifters etc.

Spa's own standard drop barred build of the frame comes with 32mm tyres. I think that is the maximum width possible when mini-V brakes are fitted (which are fitted because they are compatible with brifters). However, if you do not limit your choice of brake levers to brifters, then you could fit full size V brakes which I think will allow 35mm tyres on that frame (and possibly a smidgen more). Spa sell a couple of drop bar brake levers compatible with full size V brakes (i.e. they pull more cable than standard drop bar levers like brifters), and the one I would recommend is the Tektro RL520. Full size V brakes should give you the braking and ease of set-up and maintenance that you are looking for.

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531colin
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby 531colin » 2 Nov 2019, 12:31pm

Re. tyre clearance on the Spa...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/52358536@N06/14930320539/in/album-72157624571269648/
that's quite an old photo, but its a 35mm Marathon ...the original one with a Kevlar strip, not the new "Greenguard" on a wide rim ("Grizzley carbide) with 10mm under the 'guard. The guard is touching the mini-vee wire, but its a very short arm brake, the Tektro rx 6 mini vee has longer arms so will give a bit more clearance (until the guard hits the fork crown). RX 6 also gives better rim/pad clearance because the brake arms are rigid.....less "lost motion" due to arm flexing.

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TrevA
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby TrevA » 2 Nov 2019, 3:31pm

The disc brake version of the Decathlon Triban 500, £529 with Sora groupset. I have the rim braked Triban 520 with Sora groupset and it’s my main winter bike and was my commuter before I retired. The rim brake version will only take 28mm tyres with guards, but the disc version should be fine with slightly wider tyres. I’m pretty sure you can fit a rack, you certainly can on my 520.
A cart horse trapped in the body of a man.
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Jamesh
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby Jamesh » 2 Nov 2019, 6:23pm

Roux menthe?

Boardman adv

Cannondale topstone.

Cheers James

gbnz
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby gbnz » 2 Nov 2019, 6:50pm

Duradulo wrote:Hello, first post from a sometime lurker here.

Around a year ago I came a cropper on one of Reading's cycle farcilities leading to damaging my bike - a 1999 Dawes Galaxy (only owned by me for a couple of years). A replacement front fork got it on the road again but the newfound toeclip overlap, shortened frame and 1-2 inch higher front end don’t inspire confidence or spark joy in the ride sadly.

Before this happened I’d been saving for a second bike (having got quite into cycling) and so splashed out on a second hand Enigma Étape, which has been an absolute revelation. It’s not however something I want to leave overnight at work or take shopping.

So - looking for recommendations for a relatively inexpensive but fun to ride bike for commuting/winter rides (my commute is rural, 25 miles - often I will ride one way and leave my bike at work overnight). Requirements are:

  • Fittings for rack and mudguards
  • Responsive and light enough that it’s an enjoyable ride, rather than feeling like I’m powering an oil tanker
  • Decent brakes (mild preference for rim as I’m a Luddite, but equally I hate the cantis on my Galaxy)
  • Cheap to run - 8 or 9 speed is fine, not fussed for brifters
  • Ideally would take 32mm or wider tyres for bridleways etc

Budget is around £500 - happy to buy secondhand even if it means waiting for something suitable, just need to have a good idea what I’m looking for! I have a few ideas already but don’t want to prejudice matters.


I'd suggest a flat barred road bike. They're light, responsive and can be an incredible ride, utilise rim calilper brakes with superb performance, most run using 8-9 spd systems and will take 32mm heavier duty tyres (NB. Something like Vittoria Ranonneur, which are fast and responsive to ride on, but heavy enough to cope with bridleways without an issue). I've never had issues carrying a heavy load, having routinely used such a bike for 4-5 day short tours over to the Lakes /Dales et al, loaded with tent et al

I've used a couple of flat barred road bikes as a commuter since 2002, the current being a Giant Rapid, prior to that a Saracen Helix. Decathalon used to do a superb example, but I believe they're limited to a single chainset at present?

I'd take the Giant Rapid range as a benchmark, prior to looking at the equivalents from other manufacturers. It's worth looking at the 2012, 2013, 2014 versions et al, as they're often at a cheaper price with no pragmatic downsides compared with this years version (Nb. Ash Cycles, stock the full range going back to about 2012)

On a pragmatic basis it's worth ensuring that they're fitted with rack mounting points (Nb. Though my Saracen version did 14 years using nothing other a couple of "P" rack clips). Also worth checking that a full rear mudguard will fit, as some bikes have insufficient clearance. And one huge negative factor I found in running caliper brakes all year, is that they are much higher maintenance than simple cantis/v brakes in the winter

Oh and your comment about your Enigma being a relevation is relevant! I've got a 3 year old Spa Tourer and had a previous steel tourer. Perfectly decent bikes, but riding one can be like going for a run wearing wellies, rather than decent running shoes :wink: (NB. I presume you're aware of the bias on the forum towards bikes designed in the good old days, when everything was made of steel & leather with pigeons for rapid communication :wink: )

Brucey
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby Brucey » 2 Nov 2019, 7:17pm

handlebar shape is not that important, except that it has to be comfortable for 25 miles, for you. I would definitely use dropped bars for that, no question about it, but only you can say if that is the right thing for you or not.

As for the rest its the old carthorse vs racehorse problem. You want it to carry a load, be reliable, have mudguards, lights, bombproof wheels and tyres, cost little and of course be lightweight and involving to ride. Sorry, these things are mutually incompatible; it is a question of making compromises.

Myself, in your shoes, I'd buy another used touring bike and just fit nicer wheels and tyres to it.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Duradulo
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Joined: 1 Mar 2019, 10:58pm

Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby Duradulo » 2 Nov 2019, 9:21pm

Wow, that’s a lot of replies - thanks all! Will have a proper peruse and reply later once I’ve looked into everything.

Rebuilding on a new (or old) frame is something I’d definitely consider, although my mechanical skills are definitely at the fettling-via-youtube-videos end of the spectrum. I’d been mainly put off by the complications of what’s compatible with what but buying from somewhere like Spa I’d be able to check that beforehand. Was impressed with Spa when I bought the wheels for my Enigma (replacing the tubs it came with) - the Spa Audax was one of the options I had shortlisted, along with Genesis Croix de Fer which seems to have a steady second hand supply, and owners I’ve spoken to rate it well.

Bowedw
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby Bowedw » 2 Nov 2019, 9:31pm

I tend to agree with Brucey and just add that changing to Shimano Cx50 cantilevers on my Galaxy which is a few years older than yours transformed the setting up of the brakes and their longer term performance without constant fiddling.Wheels with minimum of 36 spokes and strong rims would be good as well. So many quality older touring bikes, either mass produced or hand built available at knock down prices. Several for sale on this site at present ,depending on your size of course.

Jamesh
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby Jamesh » 2 Nov 2019, 10:47pm

Also buying a bike with 8spd gearing Vs 10spd will be cheaper to buy and maintain and will be easier to adjust.

Just a thought.

Cheers James

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TrevA
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Re: Advice on replacement commuter/light touring bike

Postby TrevA » 3 Nov 2019, 5:13pm

One thing to consider if buying a Spa touring frame, is that it doesn’t come set up for canti brakes. You’ll need to buy front and rear cable hangers if using cantis as it’s designed for vee brakes. Not really an issue, as Spa sell a Surly rear hanger that fits on the seat bolt for about a tenner. I’ve got mine set up for cantis but I’m still considering going for mini or full vees, as the braking still isn’t great with Tektro CR520’s. Also, the headset that comes with the Spa Tourer frame isn’t great either- Tange Terios - hard to adjust without binding or play. Consider a headset upgrade.

It’s a fairly simple job to swap the bits over from your old frame - my donor Bike was a Ridgeback Panorama, where the groupset and wheels were still ok, but the frame had rusted.
A cart horse trapped in the body of a man.
http://www.jogler2009.blogspot.com