Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

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John_S
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Joined: 16 Sep 2014, 10:34pm

Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby John_S » 3 Apr 2015, 1:41pm

Hi All,

I am looking for a new bike and I'll be grateful for any thoughts & advice that people have about the bikes I'm considering.

I've been cycling for years but I've not had many bikes having owned two Raleigh mountain bikes when I was younger and I currently have a Trek 7.1 FX which I bought second hand. I think that the Trek is from somewhere around 2004 and I got it from a friend who is taller than me and so it's not the perfect size for me which is one of the reasons for wanting a new bike.

Firstly I thought that I should describe what I'm going to be using the bike for. It's primary use will be for 20 mile round trip daily commute which I do all year around whatever the weather. The route is pretty flat and is on a mixture of rural plus urban roads. The rural roads are in the main completely unlit with some being small single track roads and another part of my commute is on a main B road which is a 60mph road and also unlit. The bike will be used to commute all year around in all weathers so I'd like it to have good lights and also with two young children I unfortunately don't have as much time for maintenance as I would like so ideally it needs to be as low maintenance as is possible. In addition a small amount of time the bike will be used for family cycle rides which could be on a mixture of country roads and off road cycle paths. In respect of the family cycle rides I'm planning to get a trailer and so the bike would need to be capable to towing a trailer.

The four bikes that I'm considering are as follows:-
VSF Fahrrad Manufaktur T-500 ( http://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/katalog/trekking?product_id=673 )
Cube Travel SL RF ( http://www.cube.eu/uk/bikes/tour/travel/cube-travel-sl-rf-anthrazit-green-2015/ )
Genesis Smithfield ( http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/urban/bridge/smithfield )
Genesis Day One Alfine 8 ( http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/urban/urban-cross/day-one-alfine-8 )

One obvious main difference is that the VSF and the two bikes from Genesis all have a steel frames wheras the Cube is aluminium.

When it comes to being ready for commuting ideally I'd like dynamo lights, so I'd need to add those to the Genesis bikes. Also I'd need to add a rack and mudguards to the Genesis Day One Alfine 8 if I went for that bike. On the subject of lights the fact that the VSF comes with dynamo lights is a bonus but unfortunately having looked at the beam pattern on this website ( http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/headlights.asp ) I don't think that the B&M Lumotec Lyt would be powerful enough for my requirements. I'm sure it would be fine as a 'be seen' light on the urban parts of my ride but it would not be sufficient on the unlit rural parts of my commute whereas the B&M Eyc T on the Cube would probably suffice.

Having tried to look at the cost of components and using the example of the Cube versus the VSF the Cube components do seem to be of higher costs individually when compared to the VSF but perhaps the other side of this coin is that more money has gone into the VSF frame. With respect to Genesis the frames are a Genesis own brand and so I don't know if it's easy to compare the frames of these bikes with one another.

With respect to braking ideally I'd like disc brakes which the VSF doesn't have although I'm wondering if the other features of the VSF T-500 outweigh the fact that it doesn't come with disc brakes. The reason that I am keen to pick a bike with disc brakes is because I commute in all weathers and at least from what I've read the performance of disc brakes in the wet is better than V brakes and in addition with the mileage that I do the wear on the rims with be less on a bike with disc brakes meaning that the rims don't need replacing as often.

When looking at the bikes not one of them seems to tick every single box and standout as a clear front runner in my mind. That's one reason for asking for any thoughts/advice from people but in addition it's not going to be that easy to get test rides on the bikes from my shortlist.

Because not one of these bikes is a clear standout winner I'm wondering if I should stick with the Trek 7.1 FX for now and save for longer to hopefully get a bike of higher quality in the interests of it being a sturdy, reliable and long lasting bike. If I saved, for what might admittedly be quite a lot longer, I might consider something such as the Condor Fratello Disc or a bike from the Tout Terrain ( http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/bicycles/ ) range but it would be a long wait to save enough.

My apologies for writing such a long email and any thoughts/advice from people will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

John

Valbrona
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby Valbrona » 3 Apr 2015, 2:16pm

You said the odd one out is the Cube on account of an aluminium frame. Others might say it's the Genesis Day One because of drop bars - the first three have flats.

Ten miles each way might easily put you in drop bar territory if you are young and quite fit and buy some cycling clothing that you will have to change in and out of.

If you are a slow pedallar and are happy to ride in your work clothes then you might want to lean towards flat bars.
I should coco.

Brucey
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby Brucey » 3 Apr 2015, 2:47pm

From that lot, for your use, I'd buy the day one. No question about it.

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

John_S
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby John_S » 3 Apr 2015, 3:23pm

Hi Valbrona,

That's a good point and I guess that Day One does stick out as being the only one on my shortlist with drop bars. I guess that there are probably more flat bar bikes on my list because when searching for a commuter ready bike with things such as mudguards and rack etc. it seems that more flat bar options come up as opposed to drops. It's not that drop bars won't necessarily be a good option it's just that I'd need to add more things after market compared to some of the flat bar bikes coming more commute ready from the bike shop but that's not a problem if it means a better bike in the long run. I've never owned a drop bar bike before, not through any dislike of them but that's just how it's worked out, with having two mountain bikes when I was younger followed by buying the Trek hybrid from a friend when I wanted something better than the MTB for riding on the road. Luckily I do have shower facilities at work so I don't have to stick to slow and steady in the work clothes trying to avoid working up too much of a sweat. One thing if I go for a drop bar bike such as the Day One do you that this will still be suitable for towing a childs trailer when compared to the more sitting upright style of the flat bar bikes?

Hi Brucey,

Thanks for the nod in the direction of the Day One.

John

PH
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby PH » 3 Apr 2015, 3:30pm

as said the big thing that sticks out between these bikes is the bars, it's a matter of personal preference and the one that's likely to be expensive if you get wrong. There is no reason that a flat bar bike should be any slower or less comfortable than a drop bar bike, an uncomfortable bike will be slower whatever the bar shape. I too like the fit and forget element of dynamo lights, but for 20 miles a day there's plenty of good battery options, many of which will out preform a dynamo light.
For me, no question about it, I'd have the Smithfield.

Valbrona
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby Valbrona » 3 Apr 2015, 5:14pm

John_S wrote:One thing if I go for a drop bar bike such as the Day One do you that this will still be suitable for towing a childs trailer when compared to the more sitting upright style of the flat bar bikes?


A comfy style flat bar bike would be better for trailer towing, but it could easily be done with drop bars. But if you intend to ride 20 miles a day though - and pretty much every day - perhaps your main focus should be on 'commuter bike'.
I should coco.

Merry_Wanderer
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby Merry_Wanderer » 3 Apr 2015, 5:44pm

I have never ridden one but to me the Genesis Day One looks to have all that you need. I would suggest test riding that and the Smithfield to see whether you prefer drops to flat bars. The drops shouldn't be any bar to towing a trailer - Mick F ob this forum has done LEJOG on a drop bar Mercian towing a trailer. The key to comfort is good bike fit for the rider. I have dynamo lights on my Brompton on a shorter but equally unlit commute and the B&M 60 lux Cyo works very well

John_S
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Joined: 16 Sep 2014, 10:34pm

Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby John_S » 3 Apr 2015, 5:48pm

Hi Valbrona,

The majority of the bikes use will be on my commute so that's definitely the area of focus to get right. I just wanted to know that the trailer towing with a drop bar bike is doable and safe.

Therefore thanks to Merry Wanderer for the comments about trailer towing. It sounds as if as long as I get the bike fit right towing a trailer should not be an issue with a drop bar bike.

Cheers,

John

MikeF
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby MikeF » 3 Apr 2015, 7:12pm

I'd buy the one that I found best to ride especially for that amount of cycling. It's difficult to judge by just looking at specs, but then it's not always easy to test ride as you note. Personally I don't particularly like flat bars, although I find they're fine in urban riding and shorter distances. I haven't used a Lumotec Lyt, but I have a battery B&M Ixon Pure and I think you would need something better than 25 Lux. Day one seems most expensive and doesn't have mudguards, but it appears they can be fitted. Cube Travel has slightly more relaxed geometry. To a certain extent it depends on how much you can or want to spend. How tall are you? That might also affect your choice. Is your bike stored at a safe place at work? You don't want to have any bike stolen, but an expensive one is a bigger loss. :wink:
"It takes a genius to spot the obvious" - my old physics master

John_S
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Joined: 16 Sep 2014, 10:34pm

Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby John_S » 3 Apr 2015, 7:54pm

Hi MikeF,

Thanks for your message and I definitely agree that I should buy the one that I find best to ride but all 4 bikes are, to varying degrees, relatively difficult to find in stock in a bike shop but I will try if/when I can.

With respect to my height I'm 5'11''. Regarding a safe place for the bike whilst at work it's okay because the bike storage is at least out of public view but you can never say never because you can either be unlucky by having your bike in the wrong place at the wrong time or just have someone determined enough to steal your bike and so I don't want to say it'll be 100% secure.

Also I should have mentioned I wondered if anybody had any views on the Shimano Alfine 8 IGH for all weather use all year around. I'm hoping that it'll be suitable for my year round commuting needs but there seem to be a couple of horror stories that you can read about hubs failing but then with any part whereby enough of them are sold there will be some which fail and it's perhaps more likely that people who have a bad experience to talk about will write about it on the internet as opposed to someone who has not had any trouble. I'd pretty sure that a Rohloff hub would be more reliable than the Alfine in the long run but a Rohloff is out of my price range.

Thanks,

John

John_S
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby John_S » 3 Apr 2015, 8:06pm

p.s. I also should have mentioned, just in case it led to any confusion, that in respect of the link I included to the VSF T-500 it's not the step through frame version that I'm considering.

VSF make the T-500 in two versions including the step through frame and it's only a photo of the step through that is on the manufacturers website but there's a photo of the other version on this website.

http://blog.chrisbikes.co.uk/2014/02/vsf-fahrrad-manufaktur-t500-alfine-8.html

Thanks again for any thoughts and advice!

John

Brucey
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby Brucey » 3 Apr 2015, 8:25pm

re the alfine 8. I think it should be OK provided that you are pro-active about maintenance and adjustment.

Once you have the wheel out it takes less than five minutes to remove the external parts from the RH side of the hub, being the cassette joint, the sprocket, and the seal rings. Once you have done that you can add some more lubricant to the hub and make sure that the RH seals are still working OK. If you do that once every few months, keep it adjusted properly, and give the hub a proper regrease once a year, it should last OK.

BTW I do not think the shimano lubrication scheme is adequate. I recommend a semi-fluid grease instead. Better still add a lube port and use it.

Most of the horror stories are from people who were reactive, not proactive about maintenance of their hubs. Obviously if you behave this way, you will always break the hub before you do any maintenance; how could it be otherwise?

cheers
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John_S
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Joined: 16 Sep 2014, 10:34pm

Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby John_S » 3 Apr 2015, 10:56pm

Hi Brucey,

Thanks for the thoughts and tips about the Alfine 8 and maintenance.

If I get one of these bikes I'll have to look up some more advice on Alfine 8 maintenance as well as look for some videos if there are any. I'm intrigued about you mentioning about adding a lube port.

Cheers,

John

D363
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby D363 » 4 Apr 2015, 10:15pm

I've just sold a day one with a dynamo hub after owning it for about a year. I think it's true role is the type of use you'd be putting it to (assuming decent security where you leave it all day) and think it would be a good bet. Having said that I found the Alfine setup to be decent but possibly not more than that. Low maintenance yes, but a little bit moody on the road at times (multiple shifts changing down under certain conditions, not that often, but sometimes). Whether the current bar end shifters are an improvement over the versas in that regard I don't know, possibly they are.
Depending how flat your flattish route is, the single speed version might be worth considering, if they still do it.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Commuter Bike: a choice of 4 - any advice appreciated

Postby [XAP]Bob » 4 Apr 2015, 11:21pm

20 miles a day on flat bars is OK, I did it for more than 2 years...

The Lyt is an excellent little light - but if you have fully unlit rural sections then a higher spec B&M is a simple drop in replacement, and the Lyt will sell on...
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