Advice needed - new wheels or new bike?

Discussion in 'Components, Accessories and Clothing' started by benb, 12 Apr 2010.

  1. benb

    benb Evidence based cyclist

    Hi all. Just joined specifically to ask all your advice about my bike options.

    I've just started commuting to work (done it twice!). The distance is about 6 miles each way. It's fairly flat with just a couple of moderate hills.

    The surface is mostly roads and paths, but there are a couple of places where I need to go through a park over grass and dirt track.

    At the moment I'm on a Specialized Hardrock. It's an OK bike, but quite heavy. The tyres are really knobbly and chunky, and I'm finding it a little bit uncomfortable to ride - even a slight incline feels like a huge effort (maybe I'm just really unfit!). Slick tyes would help with this, right?

    My work does a cycle to work scheme where I can get a new bike with a salary sacrifice scheme, i.e. before income tax, which would save me 35% probably on the cost of a new bike.

    So, should I get new wheels with slick tyres, and a more comfortable gel saddle, or should I buy a new bike? If the latter, which type would be best suited to my journey.

    BTW, it took me just under an hour to do the 6 miles. I really want to get that down to 45 mins or less, as that way it's only 50% longer than driving rather than double. My route needs a little tweaking to get rid of some corners.
  2. Rob3rt

    Rob3rt Man or Moose!

    If I were you, I'd commute a couple of weeks as you are (but make sure you pump the tyres up properly), such that you can allow your legs to get used to doing it, this will allow you to better judge what you need.

    Slicks or less knobbly tyres pumped up properly will undoubtedly help.

    I'd say it is most likely your fitness/legs that are limiting you based on your speed (~6 mph is barely faster than walking). Upgraded equipment wont yield huge differences if you are unfit or weak in the leg department. Keep at it and you will get faster, 6 Miles in 45 mins should be easily doable, just requires some graft on your part.
  3. OP

    benb Evidence based cyclist

    I think I ended up doing more than 6 miles when I did it, plus I had to stop a few times as I got lost (brand new route, so had to keep looking at Google maps on my phone). So I was probably doing more than 6mph for most of it.

    With my existing tyres, would you recommend pumping them up to more than the pressure printed on the tyres until I can get some slicks on them?
  4. Rob3rt

    Rob3rt Man or Moose!

    I'd only pump my tyres up to the number on the side of the wall for warranty reasons. If you blow a tyre of the rim with over inflated tubes then legally its your responsibilty, not the manufacturers.

    I think you will be doing 10-12mph average in no time if you just get your head down, grinding your teeth and keep spinning those pedals for a few weeks.
  5. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    I'd only go to the max pressure stated on the tyre wall, things that will slow you down on the road:-

    knobblier tyres
    pressure too low
    weight of bike
    saddle too low
    suspension - this actually takes away some of your energy and uses it for bobbing up and down:biggrin:

    Putting slicker tyres, pumped to max, on a MTB should see you able to do 6 miles in 30 minutes or less.
  6. nigelb

    nigelb New Member

    My route is 7 miles each way, and on a hard tail mountain bike (with decent smooth road tyres) I was averaging 45 mins - record was 29 mins on a good day, 60 mins back up the hill, in the wet and the dark, on a bad day. Properly inflating the tyres is certainly critically important, get a cheapie track pump with pressure gauge from eg Tesco's.

    I decided to keep at it for a while, prove to myself that I would keep it up, before investing in a decent bike, but equally will riding the old bike put you off?

    Having had one bike nicked, and another bought cheap 2nd hand dying on me last Friday, I am now investing in a "proper" one. At least over the last year, my general fitness has improved, and I've also got much more of an idea of what sort of bike I actually want (and its not what I thought I wanted when i started cycling to work!).

  7. Rob3rt

    Rob3rt Man or Moose!

    Ever seen the old comedy sketch the "ministry of silly walks" or something along those lines, I saw someone riding a full suspension bike on sunday and the way he was moving was deserving of a place in a modern version of this sketch!
  8. jay clock

    jay clock Massive member

    Hampshire UK
    Don't spend money on a bike just yet. Get some slick tyres for the current bike and pump them up to the max. See how you get on. Once happy that this is going to last, splash your cash on the cycle to work scheme. What you you buy depends on your preferences - personally I would get a decent road bike to use at weekends etc, rather than getting a commuter bike, then use the old Hardrock for commuting.

    I am one of the very encouraging people on here, but I must say that 60mins for 6 meils (or even 45) sounds pretty slow. I would be amazed if you did not have it down to 30 mins pretty soon.
  9. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    Brilliant:biggrin:, my elderley neighbour got himself a snazzy new bike, £90 from Argos, and uses it for going on short rides and to the shops. I just smiled and said nice bike but I still chuckle every time I see him 'bobbing' past.
  10. Norm

    Norm Guest

    There are a lot of junctions on that route, I'm not surprised that it's slow.

    Rather than looking for the straightest route, you might want to try reducing the number of times you have to slow. I don't know that area too well, or what the roads are like, but all those cut-throughs after Cheam probably save only a hundred yards compared to just going straight up the A217 (which seems to have a cycle path if you are worried about cycling on the road) but may well be halving your average speed.

    Road tyres will help, my time dropped by over 10% moving from off-road to road tyres. I'd recommend something like Schwalbe City Jets in 26x1.5.
  11. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    I'd disagree, slightly, I think the aim should be for two bikes, get a solid commuter that you don't mind leaving outside shops etc. Then, once you're hooked on cycling, start pricing up your weekend bike. Nothing to say you can't use the weekend bike to commute on in the Summer when you feel like it.

    Scratch that - it's now 3 bikes, as above but keep the MTB as well:biggrin:
  12. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    Oh yeah, speeds, most people talk about rolling averages, so their computers stop recording when at lights etc. Given a bit of fitness and faster tyres you should be able to cover 6 miles, if no stops, in about 25 minutes.
  13. SavageHoutkop

    SavageHoutkop Über Member


    I started last year, similar distance. Your speed will improve with time (I'm not a fast cyclist but I would say now 45 mins would be a slow-ish trip in for me).

    Wait a while before buying anything for the saddle - your rear will need time to adjust :smile:
  14. OP

    benb Evidence based cyclist

    Wow, thanks for the many and quick replies everyone.

    Yes, I already have a decent stirrup pump.

    I see what you mean, but I'd rather it took a little longer but was more pleasant. The A217 is horrible, even using the cycle path.

    One think to bear in mind - I will be deliberately taking it quite easy on the way, as showering facilities are almost non-existent at work. So I will aim for 45 mins going and 35 mins returning.

    I think I'll get new wheels with slicks for now and see how I get on over the next few months. I think I will get a new saddle as well, as the existing one is very hard, especially the pointy bit that digs into that bit between your balls and crack!!
  15. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    Don't rush out to get a soft saddle, get your position sorted first. Most longer distance cyclists prefer hard saddles or minimal gel types. You need to make sure that your saddle height and fore aft position on the rails is correct. Then work on the tilt, whether you need it flat or tilted up/down at the front. Until that's right you really won't know what sort of saddle will work for you.
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