High end road bike for commuting or buy 2nd bike for commuting?
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  1. #1
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    High end road bike for commuting or buy 2nd bike for commuting?

    I have my nice high end bike I use for rides but wanted to start commuting and was thinking if anybody uses their nice high end bikes for commuting.

    Is it better to find a decent older bike for commuting?

  2. #2
    Shih Tzu Happens
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    It all depends on where you commute to...... Can you bring the bike inside at work, do you plan to lock it outside while you shop or are you not going to leave it out of your sight? I would probably just look on CL for a bike that I could feel comfortable leaving locked up if needed and maybe with a more comfortable geometry.

    For me it would depend on a lot of factors...

    How long is the commute
    What are the roads conditions like
    Can you put a rack on the bike or will you use a backpack.
    Etc, etc, etc

    Above all, get a good lock. I always lock mine up, even if I am gone for a minute.

  3. #3
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    Oops, double post.......more coffee-need to wake up

  4. #4
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    I've ridden everything

    There's lots of variables here: length of commute, condition of road, time of day, what you have to bring, where you store your bike, etc. I've ridden everything in (mtb, mtb w/slicks, "vintage" steel, hybrids) and hated all of them except my nice road bike. However, recent re-pavement/beautification here forced me to something different. I now put most of my winter miles on a cyclocross bike with rack. The rack isn't for the ride in, but to carry the tights, jacket, thermal base, shoe covers and gloves back home in the winter.

    I commute at 5-6am and it's pretty dark. The last straw was me hitting a pothole and swearing I just busted out my tires. I didn't, but still had to have the wheels trued. Now I run 700x32's and I don't really care what I hit. You will be amazed at the stuff you are forced to [or accidentally] ride through on a commute. With a road bike, you end up staring at the pavement in front of you looking out for obstacles, whereas with bigger rubber you get to look around. Having said that, within the next couple of weeks, I'll switch back to the road bike. I don't need a rack in the summer, and it just feels better.

  5. #5
    What the what???
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    With a rough commute, it might be worth it to have an inexpensive dedicated commuter and save the nicer bike for your other outings. Maybe a CL find?
    The Law of Headwinds states: If the ride out is easy you better leave something in the tank for the turn...

  6. #6
    Big is relative
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    A dedicated commuter like a Soma, Surly, or Gunnar. Build it up with eBay parts and leave it set up for your commute. You can install lights, fenders, rack, etc and just use it for commuting. Run some larger tires, something like a 28mm to start. Commuting means that sometimes you don't get to pick your line, sometimes you take the line you're given and it may have a pothole.

    If it fits in your budget, put the same brand of drivetrain as your roadbike. I ride campy on my road bike and while would have been cheaper to go with 105 or Rival, I ride campy on the commuter so I don't fumble around on either bike because of drivetrain differences.
    Retired sailor

  7. #7
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    I would recommend a second bike for commuting. To be consistent about commuting, you need to put fenders and racks on your frame for riding in the rain and carrying gear. You also need good front and rear lights. If you put all that gear on your main road bike, it becomes a tank or you are always having to install gear or take it off. Larger tires are also a plus. Like Bill, I've got the same components on my bikes so I can easily swap gear. For example, if I realize my commuter bike has a flat when I get ready to leave in the morning, I can easily swap wheels from one of my other road bikes.

    One of the nice things about commuting is that your regular road bike feels so light after riding your commuter bike all week.

  8. #8
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    Another factor to consider is component wear and replacement costs. More miles in less favorable conditions means more wear and tear, and more frequent parts replacement.

    My four-seasons, all-conditions commuter is 10-speed 105 and Ultegra. I can go through three or four chains on that bike in a year. That gets expensive after a while. It should also have a new cassette this spring, and it's time for new RD idler pulley wheels too.

    When the manufacturer changed the drivetrain spec to 9-speed, I initially thought it was a downgrade. Now I see it as a practical measure for ongoing cost savings in replacement parts.

    My three-seasons, fair-weather commuter is 8-speed. I get those chains for under ten bucks, and cassettes are under $20. Rather than replace idler pulleys, I replace the entire RD for less than the cost of the 10-speed pulleys.

  9. #9
    still shedding season
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel2
    One of the nice things about commuting is that your regular road bike feels so light after riding your commuter bike all week.
    That's true too...

    Second bike for all of these reasons. The riding while commuting is very different, at least for me. Roads around here are bad including about a two mile stretch on the shoulder of a busy road that's just about gravel. I'd never make it through that on lightweight 700x23's, but the 700x28 Contacts hold up really well. Rack, lights, fenders - all set up and ready to go.

  10. #10
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    What everyone has said, plus the benefit of having your recreational road bike available and in good shape when you want to ride it, rather than gunked-up, loaded-up, flet-tired, etc. Commute bikes are often used in wet, low-light, cargo-hauling conditions that take a maintenance toll on a bike. You can ride your nice bike on the weekend after commuting on it all week, but it will have a dirtier chain, grittier rims, and extra stuff that will make the weekend ride a little less perfect than if you'd put all that stuff on a separate bike.

    If you must, one bike will do fine. If you can, you'll appreciate a separate bike, alot.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PdxMark
    If you must, one bike will do fine. If you can, you'll appreciate a separate bike, alot.
    And none of this means you have to settle for a POS for the second bike either.

    My commuters are newer and nicer than some of my club member's "good" bikes. And I've splurged on handbuilt wheels for them both too.

    I've made sure that, while I may be riding my second bike, it doesn't feel second-rate.

  12. #12
    Potatoes
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    +11ty on a second more utility bike.

    That is, unless you have a smooth long commute and are only planing to be a fair-weather commuter. I have a commute that's normally rather start-stop and over varied surfaces in congested areas. I also don't mind a bit of rain, so a 32c tire with fenders is a must plus a bike that I can lock up outside anywhere and can carry a decent load since I normally grab groceries on the way home and on the weekend.

    Commuting for me isn't a race- best to go slow or if you want to feel better about it: "put in some base miles". I save my legs for the weekend rides.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by brucew
    And none of this means you have to settle for a POS for the second bike either.

    My commuters are newer and nicer than some of my club member's "good" bikes. And I've splurged on handbuilt wheels for them both too.

    I've made sure that, while I may be riding my second bike, it doesn't feel second-rate.
    To add to this, there's no reason a bike you can commute on has to be heavy, either. Aluminum Honjo fenders weigh less than most plastic fenders and lights don't have to be permanently mounted... there are a few really nice options for racks that don't weigh a ton.

    What you have to decide is what you want to commute on- do you want a pickup truck or a GT? Do you want to be able to carry a week's worth of groceries or do you just want to be able to comfortably carry your usual work load (clothes, computers, etc.).

    I see a lot of people building bikes as car replacements only to realize that they really don't ride that way- what they really want is a fun bike that can on occasion carry a couple 6ers of beer...

  14. #14
    BIKE GEEK
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    I took an old Schwinn MTB and put about $200 into it for fenders, slick tires, clipless pedals, lights, saddle, downtube shifters, etc...

    I really like having a "beater" commuter bike. I don't feel bad riding through all sorts of muck and curb hopping when I am riding home from a rough day at work. Plus, as said above, my road bike feels like a dream machine now when I throw a leg over it .

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by plag
    I have my nice high end bike I use for rides but wanted to start commuting and was thinking if anybody uses their nice high end bikes for commuting.
    Sure. I had a Litespeed frame built up so that it would fit perfectly and match my taste in gearing. My hand built wheels only start going out of true once bent. It's pleasant to ride 20 miles round trip. It's pleasant to carry up stairs when I don't have a first floor office.

    While nice parts are more expensive to replace than cheap ones, they're not in the same league as what I'd spend to get my car there and back in gas (about $3.50 a day), maintenance ($2), or tires ($.33) to say nothing of the depreciation I'd eat if I got a newer car sooner (about $5 a trip).

    Lights take 30 seconds to put on and off. I used to live in an alpine desert environment where rain was rare (but we got snow - I have a second set of wheels with 28mm cyclocross tires for that); it's still not too bad in Silicon Valley.

    Is it better to find a decent older bike for commuting?
    No, although a second nice bike would work even better and still cost less than you'd spend to commute by nice car.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 04-07-2010 at 09:46 AM.

  16. #16
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    Commuting you'll also end up doing errands on the way home, so a rack and bag affair to go with the fenders can be really useful for the head of lettuce. I use an aging Trek hybrid for the commute, admittedly a short one.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the input guys, Its a pretty nice area the whole trip and only about 7 miles each way. I would definitely be putting the bike indoors in a secure area. I would be riding home at night and would need a light setup also. Lots of great points. Ive been checking out Craigslist but not much on there but old beaters.

  18. #18
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    If yer just doing light, short commutes with minimal gear and yer not riding in the rain, look for a steel race bike from the early 90s or before.

    Most bikes from say, 92 or so on back can fit wider tires- I can put 28s on my early 90s serotta, 30s on an old colnago.

    Makes for a comfortable, reasonably pothole and gravel resistant fast bike.

    Lots of really pretty ones on ebay for not too much cash- they're too new to be classics, to old to be raceable.

  19. #19
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    No reason to put up with a clunker of a commuter. Actually, you want something that flexible in purpose and rock solid dependable. I think the key in a commuter is not to look expensive. To the average thief, red and yellow decals on a skinny tire bike equals expensive whether it is or not. I have 10 year old XT components on a dull looking Surly. Not flashy at all, and that is what I want in a commuter. Also, being a true commuter means you have to be ready for anything. Fenders for rain and the ability to slap on some light nobbies for the first snow are useful abilities. Thinking through what you're going to do to ride with a change of clothes, what you're going to do when you get to work. If you've sweat enough in the summer months, what are you going to do about a shower? I don't really enjoy walking down the hallway sweaty in front of my co-workers in my shorts and blaze orange commuter clothes even though they know I'm a rider. I find a bathroom close to the entrance where I can slip in and out under the radar. I know some don't care about that, but I like to keep some sort of professionalism in the workplace even though I ride a bike to work.

  20. #20
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    I have been riding a Surly Cross-Check for about a year now. I built it with Ultegra/DA 9-speed. It has a rack, panniers, fenders and nearly the worlds best head and tail lights. I am just as happy to ride it as I am my fast bike, a Litespeed Ultimate all D/A and Mavic sl-3 wheels. I will ride my Surly for rain rides also, so it gets a lot more use than I originally planned. I love the Surly because I built it right for me, my needs and desires. I recommend a bike designed to work with your needs. I am glad I am not putting the wear and tear on my good bike and I like riding my "work" bike. I say build the bike you need for the work to be done and ride your high-end bike for recreation. If you choose right, the work and recreation bikes purpose line will be very cloudy.

    You know what...It would be a hard decision if I had to get rid of one of these two bikes.
    Last edited by cpcritter; 04-07-2010 at 07:16 PM.

  21. #21
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    You might want to start riding your good bike to work, if you can fit your stuff in a backpack. After commuting on it for a while, you 'll probably be more in tune to what you want in a commuter. I had a 7 mile commute each way in college, and found that distance really fun to hammer, if I felt like it.

  22. #22
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    I commute on a fixed gear. No maintenance! And the weight is almost the same as my geared bike for 1/3 the price(less parts).

    It does not save money, but saves the hassle of maintenance.
    A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste!

  23. #23
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    +1 with bigger tires at night. For me riding before daylight means at least 28 tires. My Lynskey road frame clears that size. So I mounted those tires on a second set of wheels. It's almost like having a second bike (which I have but it doesn't clear 28s). I'll also use the 28s if the weather is wet or threatening.

    Pretty soon I'll have enough early daylight to use my regular road wheels. Then the real fun begins.

  24. #24
    Failboat Captian
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    I haven't read all the posts, but I'll throw in my $.02 because I have been through that decision process. I ended up with a dedicated single speed commuter, but not a CL find, for a number of reasons.

    First off, are you going to commute a lot? Hopefully so, and if so, you don't want to deal with breakdowns while commuting. Plus, you have other needs for a commuter that a good road bike doesn't really meet. For example, I use a seat post rack (hate having a backpack on my back), or you might also use panniers if you choose. You don't want to have to be pulling equipment on and off your bike all the time. Plus, on your good roadie, it might ruin a nice paint job.

    Then there are the safety items such as fenders and lights. Again, you can just leave them on the commuter. You WILL want fenders. I also have a bell on my bike because part of my commute is on a bike/walking/horse, etc path. Oh, and I also put reflective tape on the rear facing parts of my commuter. I woudn't do that to my good road bike.

    As for the maintenance, I don't have to clean my commuter if I don't want. I'm lucky in that I have a flat enough commute to use a single speed, so I don't have to worry about keeping the drive train all that clean. I also run 28c tires with Slime tubes. Since I started using them a few years ago, I've worn out a few tires, but never had to change a flat (2 sets of tires, but still on the original tubes). That's especially good in the rain. Plus, the bigger slime filled tires hold air for months. It's nice not having to worry about adding air in the morning when I'm reay to go to work.

    This all came after about 9 months of year-round commuting 17 miles each way on my good road bike. For the longer commute (my current commute is less than 10 miles), the faster bike was nice, but I was also able to bring it into my office, whereas now, I have to leave it in a bike rack in the parking garage.

    Then there is the consideration for the long weekend ride. I want my good road bike to be clean and ready to go when it's time for a leg busting ride. I don't want to have to deal with taking stuff off, cleaning it or dealing with any other issues. And when it's Monday morning, I don't want to have to deal with putting stuff back on in order to commute.

    The reason I don't necessarily recommend a lousy Craigs List find, is that I spend about 80% of mike saddle time on my commuter, so I want a decent bike. That said, if you can find a good one on CL or here on the RBR classifieds, there is no reason not to do that.

    So there you go. That my story, and I'm sticking to it.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by plag
    Thanks for the input guys, Its a pretty nice area the whole trip and only about 7 miles each way.

    My communte is 6 miles. Aside from protecting your good bike and all that......I don't find it worthwhile dealing with the special shoes, lycra and all the business that required on a high end road bike just to go 6 miles. Much rather just get on the bike with what I wear to work (office casual) and not deal with the whole change of clothes routine just for a 10 min ride (or however long 6 miles takes). I can see where if you wear a suit you have to change anyway so you may as well. But otherwise for only 7 miles I'd go with something you can get on wearing just about anything.

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