Making the perfect commuter

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  • Making the perfect commuter
  • Swalsey
    Member

    I'm building a commuter (theoretical until my leg heals!) and the main features need to be:
    – non-steel (rust)
    – Discs (durability)
    – Full length Mudguards
    – Rigid
    – 700c wheels (long distance & road)
    – Good handling (not a lanky BB and wierd head angle)
    – low maintenence compontnts

    How would you do it – adapt a 29er? Cyclocross? 29er forks? Hub Gear? Belt drive? Drop bars?

    The idea of starting this thread is to get other peoples opinions / ideas / experience in one place as I know I'm not alone in wanting to make the ideal commuter! Show me if you have already done it!

    Hmm, the Trek belt drives might be a starting point, but the finest you could do in my opinion would be as follows;

    Custom Ti belt driven Rohloff frame. I believe there are some belt driven Rohloffs out there, and that's a pretty tidy option for me.

    Then fit discs, a dynamo front hub, SKS guards and the rest.

    bassspine
    Member

    I don't believe rust is a significant problem in a normal bikes lifespan. Unless you park it in the canal, that is.
    Steel is a good material for a commuter because a)it makes for a comfier ride and b)it often makes for a frame that's less appealing to chavskum bike teefs

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    I don't believe rust is a significant problem in a normal bikes lifespan

    Usually I would agree but I started cycle commuting a year ago and one winter of riding on gritted roads caused real rust problems on parts of my 15 year old Kona that was previously perfect condition. Not so much on the frame but areas like brake bolts, spoke nipples etc. Really irritated me and I'm now on the lookout for a cheapo (free) old bike to take out during frosty weather when the roads are gritted.

    andrewh
    Member

    I use a rigid steel Claude Butler MTB, converted to singlespeed, with Magura rim-brakes and reasonable wheels (Deore/221).
    Only maintenance required so far this year, around 4K miles I recon, is new brake pads and an oil of the chain. I've not even cleaned it other than a wipe of the braking surfaces on the rims, makes it less attractive to would-be theives.

    Perfect comuter. Not the fastest but I'm not scared to leave it in town.

    acjim
    Member

    It's not truly pimpy but I think the Kinesis Decade Tripster would be a good base for a fantastic fast commuter. Build up with gears of your choice, avid bb7s and some nice wheels (I've been using Mavic Speedcity's for a year and they seem good), add some lovely wooden mudguards for a bit of bling


    +

    oh and some decent led's for the dark

    bassspine
    Member

    sorry franksinatra, I forgot about the fasteners etc. yep, fully agree, rusty stuck fasteners are a major pain.

    A friend of mine rides a harley all winter, at about this time of year he paints it with a mix of engine oil and grease. It looks a heap, but in spring it cleans off revealing shiny unrusted Milwaukee iron.

    rolfharris
    Member

    http://www.tritoncycles.co.uk/products.php?plid=m11b252s18p5654&rs=gb

    Aluminium

    Discs

    Can take full guards

    700 Wheels

    Hub gear for reliability

    Pretty light too.

    rootes1
    Member

    Re steel coat the insides with dinitrol – great car product and cheaper than the cycle specific framesaver stuff – having said that had my Brompton for 3 years and that's not gone rusty despite use in all weathers, every day with open tubes etc and no treatment

    Premier Icon BigJohn
    Subscriber

    Clips'n'straps

    Mrs BigJohn's pub bike has got a full chain guard so you don't get your nice trousers oily and torn.

    Swalsey
    Member

    Thanks for the replies so far – I'm getting some good ideas, especially those wooden mudguards in acjim's reply 😉

    thomthumb
    Member

    at the moment i have a pompino that i use. has previously been used in fixed/free, cross/road/touring tyre set ups always with drops although i've been thinking that flat bars and bar ends might be good.

    would be ace if it have discs though. i think singlespeed is perfect for commuting – no need for gears; roads not that steep, no need to be as fast or efficient as possible and it means the drive train lasts for years.

    djglover
    Member

    I would go steel for comfort, infact I did

    Premier Icon tthew
    Subscriber

    OK, so here's what I did. For a commuter I wanted reasonably cheap as well as most of the OP's requirements, so I got an mid 90's Marin hybrid off ebay, (originally thought about a flat bar Dawes Galaxy, but they attract proper money). I made sure that it was a high spec model so it would have a good frame and reasonable wheels and bits on it. It needed a few parts replaced, (headset, chain, chainring) and then the mudguards, rack and road tyres fitting. Total cost was about £180.00

    Surprisingly I absolutely love it. It rides brilliant, I've chosen it over my proper road bike on a few occasions when the weather has been shonky, including a 100 mile charity ride.

    When the wheels get replaced, or an expensive gears job rears it's head I'll probably go single speed for ease of maintenance, but as it stands it really ticks all the boxes I think.

    (hope the images work, I've not done this before!) (edit, they do. Loving that Condor ^ b.t.w.)

    trail_rat
    Member

    for commuting – SS for simplicity
    Full length mud guards
    700C
    kevlar belted tires with reflective sidewalls
    Brooks saddle so i can ride without my chamois
    V brakes
    Lots of lights and reflective tape and a pannier rack ……

    sounds suspiciously like my Tricross SS 😉

    markenduro
    Member

    you need one of these:

    Kona sutra with 26-36-46 sensible gearing, bb7 discs, schwalbe marathon 32mm tyres, heavy but bombproof bike.

    Premier Icon ton
    Subscriber

    ton's commuter, now with wiiiide guards.

    topangarider
    Member

    Got a Kona Dew Deluxe on the bike to work scheme – not hub gears or singlespeed, just nice and reliable 8 speed stuff – lovely.

    Stuck full mudguards and a rack for the pannier on and hey-presto! These also make it look a duffer so it didn't get knicked when someone broke into the bike shed and stole the Merlin Malt 2 and Trek 1.5!!

    I like the marin above purely for that reason (no offence!)

    mocha
    Member

    Mines a fixed wheel Surly Crosscheck, full SKS guards, dynamo lights, Brookes saddle and a Carradice saddle bag. Brakes are canti's but I barely touch them. 25 miles a day for the last 6 years.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    I'd get a Revolution Courier and throw SKS guards on it, then attach every reflector I can find on the garage floor from 20 years of bikes to it. In fact, I did! Mine has v-brakes but that doesn't bother me at all, I wouldn't fit them to a serious MTB now but I don't see any issue on the road- there's a disc version available though.

    And all in all, it's perfect for the job- it's inexpensive, it's reliable, it's tough, and it's not very nickable- they cleverly specced low-key parts, dull grey and black for most of the colouring, and it runs 1×8 with basic Alivio which goes on pretty much forever (and costs 50p to replace if it does ever break). Hubs are decent Shimano, which cuts the maintenance to a minimum.

    I know you specced discs but IMO they're not really that big a deal, and they do make the bike more attractive and therefore more nickable.

    Premier Icon tthew
    Subscriber

    Topangarider

    I like the marin above purely for that reason (no offence!)

    😀 None taken.

    It looks better in 3D than in the pictures.

    theflatboy
    Member

    thomthumb – Member

    at the moment i have a pompino that i use. has previously been used in fixed/free, cross/road/touring tyre set ups always with drops although i've been thinking that flat bars and bar ends might be good.

    would be ace if it have discs though. i think singlespeed is perfect for commuting – no need for gears; roads not that steep, no need to be as fast or efficient as possible and it means the drive train lasts for years.

    me too, except i couldn't do without a disc for stopping power in traffic/with loaded panniers any longer, so recently completed converting it as so:

    apparently it's a hideous abortion of a bike, but i love it! it also gets ridden a huge amount more than my other bikes, despite costing about 10% as much 😆

    acjim
    Member

    For rides over 10 miles it has to be drop handlebars IMO, and if you can lock up your bike at work why not get something decent?

    When I lived in London and rode to work I used a dinged up old speccy rockhopper SS. It was great, didn't get noticed by the thieves and was quick enough on the flat. Since moving out west and into the country I've moved on to a geared drop bar cx bike – it's much better for mixed conditions, proper hills, etc. If I had the money I'd love to upgrade it to a nicer version and if I was loaded it would have to be a Moots or some other Ti custom lovely (keep dreaming…).

    ken_shields
    Member

    IMO a CX bike gives you the best options and unless you go with a full on race bike will probably come with mudguard eyelets and rack mounts. Not many have disc mounts tho and your choice of forks will be quite limited too

    Here's some suggestions (variations on a theme).

    CX bike with flat bars

    CX bike with risers

    CX bike with drops and discs

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    To my mind the perfect Town/City commuter has to be cheap and is best theft proofed by it’s lack of desirability, the scum are bound to be attracted by pretty logos, shiny paint jobs and disc brakes, all of which indicate to the trained and un-trained eye a bit of cash has been spent…

    If your after low maintenance and “low desirability” how about drum brakes? Not high on many thieves wish lists but lower maintenance than discs and if you have to have an internal gear hub then the older Nexus/Nexave hubs come in a drum brake fitting version.

    As for the frame, steel or Aluminium doesn’t really matter but again if your looking to reduce it’s desirability to thieves then remove the logos and maybe even go as far as scratching up the paint/applying a few patches of battleship grey in key areas to give it that extra shite look…

    Make sure you ditch any QRs…

    Think of it like “banger-nomics” drive/ride a nail to work Monday-Friday save the fancy kit for fun at the weekends…

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