New to cycle commute

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
ustulation
Posts: 2
Joined: 24 Mar 2017, 4:38pm

New to cycle commute

Postby ustulation » 24 Mar 2017, 5:24pm

Hey guys, i live and work in Troon, but in a months time i am going to have a new office in Ayr to work. I don't want to leave troon as i love this wee town so thought of going for a cycle commute - last time i rode a bike was when I was in school, 15 yrs back :) .. So i took my colleague's MTB (19inch MX4 Rigidback) and have been riding it around troon for more than a week now just to get a feel. He's much shorter than i so the bike's not utterly configured for me, but that's OK - just until i get mine.

So far this is what i find:
Good:
1) I have to carry my custom-made heavy 5Kg laptop (workstation) to work on my back (laptop bag basically). This is not at all an issue just now on MTB as the commute is hardly a mile each way.
2) I go out cylcing more distance in the nights without the bag. The roads here are not butter-smooth but the MTB does handle it very well - no complaints

Not-so-good:
1) The cycle route here is usually along the coast line and windy. Riding into the head wind gets me down to lowest gear and crawling speeds (very good workout though)
2) Unless i have a blissful tail wind, acceleration and speed are not that great - i gess that's because of the wide tyres typical of MTB.

I looked at the kind of bikes there and boy ! there are so many and confusing - hybrid, cyclocross, road, touring and gravel.

Here are my needs:
1) I need to carry the 5 kg laptop on my back (or panniers - don't know if it's get tossed around though) - there's no getting around it. Will it be painful in drop-bar bikes to do this ? Or is it OK ?
2) Should be able to handle non-butter-smooth roads. While i will not deliberately ride on big potholes, it will occasionally go through some road cracks etc - so shouldn't be very fragile or easily punctured. i've heard both camps here - some go crazy saying that road bike is too fragile and it's going to be end of the world and others say it's too exaggerated - road bikes are strong enough for reguar roads and bumps here and there on them.
3) Main enemy is the wind - how much does road-bike (drop-bar bike) ease the effort compared to a flat-bar hybrid for a commute ? I'll gradually work on my stamina too, but i want minimal resistence in the wind unless the difference at commute speeds is hardly noticeable. In that case hybrids are wayy cheaper/affordable.
4) On the weekends i am planning to cycle around for a few hours for leisure - i would love to have speed but as a novice i wouldn't complain too much yet.

What bike should i go for ? Hybrids are very tempting due to how inexepensive they are (start at £130 for a 17 Kg bike - don't know if that's considered a prohibitive weight or doesn't make that much of a difference in commute). Cyclocross seem to have everything i need, but wayyy expesive (think they start ~ £650 or something).

Height: 186 cm
Inner-leg: 88-91.5 cm depending on how hard i press against the crotch :)

Sorry for the long 1st post, just wanted to get all the details out. Thanks !

thirdcrank
Posts: 28648
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby thirdcrank » 24 Mar 2017, 5:57pm

We do seem to get a fair few queries from people who have bought a "road bike" (which nowadays tends to mean a replica of a racing bike) but would like lower gears, the ability to carry luggage, fit mudguards and perhaps lights. I don't remember anybody buying some sort of hybrid (which can mean various things) and having problems using it for commuting. You have rightly identified headwinds as a problem, and don't we all.

My own feeling would be that your laptop would be best in a pannier with plenty of padding, but these days I see plenty of riders commuting with huge rucsacks so I'm cautious about giving advice.

AaronR
Posts: 272
Joined: 18 Jul 2014, 8:12pm

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby AaronR » 24 Mar 2017, 6:38pm

Altura make a pannier specifically for laptops, but as you say yours is custom made would be good to check sizing

https://www.cyclestore.co.uk/altura_urb ... lsrc=aw.ds

Otherwise you can maybe save some money by using standard panniers and make a padded sleeve to fit - or just put up with carrying it in a rucksack as your commute is quite short

Bike wise there is almost too much choice out there, but something like this

https://www.cyclestore.co.uk/kona_dew_s ... 6-ID_67198

Scores highly..... wide range gearing, tyres are a halfway choice, options for fitting mudguards and pannier frame, 700c wheels so options for slick tyres or wider knobbly/cyclocross tyres as an upgrade, aluminium frame from a manufacturer known for their frames

Not on commission for cyclestore, it will pay you to shop around, but their service is very good

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[XAP]Bob
Posts: 16887
Joined: 26 Sep 2008, 4:12pm

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby [XAP]Bob » 24 Mar 2017, 6:46pm

Get the bag on the bike - panniers/cavernous saddle bag...
Ensure room for proper mudguards (not rubbish clip on ones, full length ones with a flap)
Consider lighting options - including beam shape

Most bikes will handle a rough road, but the comfort between them will be drastically different.
I haven't looked at a map - how far is the expected commute, how much hill climbing is there?

How much would a car or bus cost (don't knock paying £700 on a bike if that's three months running costs for a car...
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

andrewk
Posts: 354
Joined: 20 May 2011, 3:19pm
Location: SW London

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby andrewk » 25 Mar 2017, 12:54am

Comfort - tyre size is the main determinant, avoid skinny racing bike tyres, go for tyres between 32mm and 42mm in width.

Efficiency - MTB tyres (knoblies) are very draggy, slicks or tyres with moderate tread are way more efficient.

Wind resistance - drop handlebar bikes can help but will only make a difference v. hybrids if you ride on the dropped part of the handlebar - some find this uncomfortable so ride on the hoods which is equivalent to a hybrid.

Commuting practicality - Puncture resistant tyres are invaluable, again wider tyres (as above) help here too. Panniers or laptop specific ones are more comfortable than a rucksac.

Bike type - a touring bike or tekking bike (fully equipped hybrid with rack, mudguards, and hub dynamo lights) would seem to be the best, most practical type. You can always add mudguards, rack and battery lights to a hybrid or cross bike.

Wide gear range - required for all those hills unless you are very fit.

Cost - anything new for less than £300 is likely to be crap and have rubbish components which will fail early and lead to expensive replacements, basically a false economy. Personally, I would look at £600 and up for a reliable, comfortable and practical commuter.

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[XAP]Bob
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Joined: 26 Sep 2008, 4:12pm

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby [XAP]Bob » 25 Mar 2017, 1:18am

£4-5 for a day return (11 minutes) if you're anywhere near the stations...
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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SimonCelsa
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Joined: 6 Apr 2011, 10:19pm

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby SimonCelsa » 25 Mar 2017, 5:05am

I believe the commute from Troon to Ayr is approximately 8 mile & pretty flat.

A good distance for a commute & as you indicated, wind would be your main enemy.

Thus get something light-ish & strong with fittings for guards & rack.

Something like this perhaps http://www.tredz.co.uk/.Specialized-Sir ... wodSWYJhg#

Basic, reasonable components & fully upgradeable if the cycling bug grabs you,

all the best, Simon

or what about something a little heavier, more expensive, less practical but probably quite fun!! : https://www.edinburghbicycle.com/pashley-speed-5.html

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foxyrider
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Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 10:25am
Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby foxyrider » 25 Mar 2017, 9:25am

I'd look at something like the Trek 7 series hybrids, choice of price points and available as "city" bikes with guards and rack fitted. Oh, and it comes in a wide range of sizes!

As others have said, don't underestimate how hard a life a commute bike has - a £200 hybrid has a fairly short life expectancy when faced with fifty miles a week - it could cost you as much again keeping it running for a year! If you want more longevity i'd look at spending closer to £500 - it'll still need maintenance of course but hopefully not replacement wheels, bearings etc!

The essentials I would want for this use would be, by priority, mudguards, lights, rack/panniers. Don't forget yourself, suitable clothing such as shorts/liners can make the difference between it being purgatory and a pleasure. Decent waterproof jacket, gloves and stiffer soled footwear will all make it more enjoyable.

Hope it works out for you
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

Bonefishblues
Posts: 6722
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby Bonefishblues » 25 Mar 2017, 9:52am

I think in your circumstances I would advise (unusually) something with drop handlebars. If wind is your major enemy, then the ability to get lower on the bike will make a very noticeable difference indeed.

This one, perhaps?

https://www.edinburghbicycle.com/roux-etape-150.html

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[XAP]Bob
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Joined: 26 Sep 2008, 4:12pm

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby [XAP]Bob » 25 Mar 2017, 9:57am

As a single point of reference.

I have what was a ~£200-£250 BSO* in the garage.
I used it to commute just shy of ten miles for two years (then switched to 'bents)

In that two years I spent (significantly) more on the bike than it's original cost - and the only things that are original:
- Frame
- Seatpost and saddle
- Rear V Brake
- Brake levers
- Handlebars (not stem)

I took out a couple of rear wheels (axle failure), replaced the front fork (hence the new stem and front wheel) to get a disc brake at the front, broke a bottom bracket and replaced the whole chainset to increase the gearing somewhat at the same time). Added bar ends, lights, rack, mudguards...
Early upgrades were in terms of tyres - slicks are definitely worth it (assuming on road) - and pedals (got loaned some clipless pedals, never looked back)

The reason it was an OK bike for me was that I already had it - It wouldn't have been a good choice (financially) otherwise.
A more appropriate bike to start with (something touring oriented, more like £5-600) would have survived much better, and actually not cost me as much...


*BSO - Bike Shaped Object, derogatory term for a cheap bike...
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

ustulation
Posts: 2
Joined: 24 Mar 2017, 4:38pm

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby ustulation » 25 Mar 2017, 1:35pm

Brilliant ! thanks guys for the details.

Bonefishblues wrote:I think in your circumstances I would advise (unusually) something with drop handlebars. If wind is your major enemy, then the ability to get lower on the bike will make a very noticeable difference indeed.

This one, perhaps?

https://www.edinburghbicycle.com/roux-etape-150.html


Wow - that looks like a pretty good deal considering it's a touring bike from a know cmpny with ~ 44% price reduction ! I hope there's no catch there.

Also i was looking at aero extensions like these: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/profile-design-legacy-alloy-aerobars/?lang=en&curr=GBP&dest=1&sku=5360456740&kpid=5360456740&utm_source=google&utm_term&utm_campaign=UK_PLA_Components&utm_medium=base&utm_content=mkwid%7cs2HdDr6LY_dc%7cpcrid%7c67090789142%7cpkw%7c%7cpmt%7c%7cprd%7c5360456740uk

It seems they can go onto any flat handle-bars and you have very flexible reach depending on which part of your forearm/elbow you place on the pads. They appear to be a fantastic concept but don't see them discussed as much. So is there a downside to it ? Any thoughts ?

Bonefishblues
Posts: 6722
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby Bonefishblues » 25 Mar 2017, 2:18pm

Cough looking like a would-be triathlete cough would be high on my list :D

I have no personal experience but the EBC is very highly-regarded and I they wouldn't be selling something if it wasn't good quality.

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[XAP]Bob
Posts: 16887
Joined: 26 Sep 2008, 4:12pm

Re: New to cycle commute

Postby [XAP]Bob » 25 Mar 2017, 2:26pm

Aerobars are used by time trial lists/triathletes for good reason. Beware braking and control (as well as neck ache)
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.