Designing the perfect commuter?

jonny jeez

Legendary Member
Can you help?

I have this idea forming in my head (don’t tell chitty!) that I might be able to design the perfect commuter bike (for me).

I'm not talking "dream machine" here but a really practical, ultra low maintenance bike with sufficient gearing and braking to allow year round long distance commuting (40 miles plus) per day with minimal "paraphernalia" and almost zero maintenance

I've recently been riding without a ruck sack and it has occurred to me that the majority of the sack is filled with repair and maintenance gear

Spare tubes
Puncture repair kit
Tyre levers
Spare batteries
Pliers
Pump
Chain tool
Spanners
Allen key set

So if you ride (a fair distance say 10 miles plus) with any of the following can you let me know as I would like to PM you some questions;

Solid tyres
Belt drive system
Hub gears
Trek Soho

Thanks
 

Moodyman

Guru
Jonny - I know you asked for a PM, but I thought I'd post here as others might be going through the same process.

My commute is 12 miles each way with big hills in between. Currently running a 26-inch wheeled, derailleur-geared hybrid. As good as it is, I started finding little faults with it.


I've just undergone a 6-month (delayed C2W voucher) screening process for the perfect commuter. My requirements were lengthy:
  • Good disc brakes for all weather stopping
  • Steel frame for comfort & durability
  • 27 inch wheels for speed
  • Wide gearing for the hills.
  • Good componentry
  • Comfortable saddle
  • Rack & Mudguards - if not already on the bike, then mounts to add after
  • Water bottle bosses
  • Ability to put wider tyres
This whittled me down to a tourer - Kona Sutra to be precise.

Then, I began to wonder about the winter drivetrain maintenance and wear. So I began to explore a hub-geared bike which did the above.



This whittled it down to either a Kona Dr Fine (Aluminium with Steel fork) or the Charge Mixer. I opted for a Charge Mixer - not delivered yet. Reasons:
  • Good quality steel frame
  • Highly regarded Alfine hub gears - enough range for my commute.
  • Decent tyres
  • Good compenentry
  • Clearance and mounts for rack & mudguard.
  • Good Shimano disc brakes
  • Flat barred (will add bar ends) for the urban leg of my commute - better visibility and easier on the spine.
  • Great customer reviews
  • Also backs up as a decent tourer / long ride bike.
I did consider the Trek Soho, but am not yet sold on the belt-drive technology. Not been around long enough to know its ups / downs.

Hope this helps you.
 
jonny jeez said:
Solid tyres

Hub gears
Have you thought of Marathon Plus tyres?
Not solid but seem to hold up alright!

I've got them on my brompton (yeah, yeah) (and also hub gears on it!).

I do 10 miles a day on mine and it really is minimal maintainence. No punctures since I had them fitted by the bike shop (I read some of the horrors some people have had getting them on/off, so with mine I decided to pay someone else to put them on instead...)
 

Moodyman

Guru
I second the SMP+.

Run them on the rear of my hybrid and will also do this with the new bike. I ran them on the front also for a while but this affected the handling (sluggish) due to the weight. I reverted to the stock Bontrager tyre on the front.

They're not bad to fit once you understand the technique. Need strong hands though.
 
Solid Tyres....Im using a greentyre on two bikes 700x28 Apparently although it looks thinner...using it on the fixie and also my main commuter.No p*nct*r*s since 2008.

Only capable of getting them on the front so that cuts down the risk by 70% in my estimation.More likely to get a p on the back no?

Reminds me I need to order two more.Never tried them on the front though...Not sure what the grip would be like.At a guess they probably slow you down as well.

Still I hate faffing about with the bike when im trying to get to work and a back wheel p can be a nightmare sometimes.How many times have I put a new tube in and it goes flat also.
 
OP
jonny jeez

jonny jeez

Legendary Member
SavageHoutkop said:
Have you thought of Marathon Plus tyres?
Moodyman said:
I second the SMP+.

.
thanks guys.

I run with a set of Armadillos right now and have yet (since wearing them for over 1500 miles) managed to have a ...eh..."visit".

So on this basis the Schwalbe's are fairly comparable. Problem is, to loose a repair kit "fully" I would need to loose the threat of a "visit" fully and nothing seems to do this except solids. So I am interested to see how Greens or similar handle/feel from someone riding with them (I know a few of you exist out there in commuterland)

Also MM, I am also not sold on the belt drive but the lack of maintenance etc is a real attraction (and would be the only reason to retire chitty to the shed)..I've heard of rear cog shearing that is a worry but want to hear from riders with real long distance and regular commuting experience.
 

Matthames

Über Member
Location
East Sussex
I would avoid solid tyres like the plague, tbh. P*******s are only a minor irritation compared to rebuilding an entire wheel every 5 minutes.

If I was building an ideal commuter bike that is maintenance free as possible, I would use schwalbe marathon tyres. As for gearing I would probably use a Rohloff 14 speed hub gear. To avoid carrying spare batteries I would probably have on the front hub a dynamo set up.
 

biking_fox

Veteran
Location
Manchester
I ride a hub gear commuting 10mi a day. No problems at all. Lovely.

Biggest hassle is the brakes - blocks still wear out.


I did ponder some US shaft drive bikes. Looked very weird without a chain, reviews were solid. Would be another bit of maintenance to avoid.
 
OP
jonny jeez

jonny jeez

Legendary Member
Matthames said:
I would avoid solid tyres like the plague, tbh. P*******s are only a minor irritation compared to rebuilding an entire wheel every 5 minutes.

If I was building an ideal commuter bike that is maintenance free as possible, I would use schwalbe marathon tyres. As for gearing I would probably use a Rohloff 14 speed hub gear. To avoid carrying spare batteries I would probably have on the front hub a dynamo set up.
Thanks Matt, the wheel rebuilding thing is something I've not heard of...whats the issue?
 

Jezston

Über Member
Location
London
I'll be watching this thread with keen interest as I'm having similar thoughts about my next bike. Currently have a Kona Dew Plus and the disc brakes (despite being mechanical rather than hydraulic) have put me off wanting to go back to regular brakes.

I'm very interested in hub gears due to 1. Not needing so many gears anyway; 2. A great deal less maintanance; and 3. Being able to change gears when stationary - very useful when commuting through town centers with lots of stop-starts.

Only downsides to hub gears so far have been that there's a distinct lack of options with shifters when it comes to drop handlebars - I'm a bit sick of flat bars due to only having one position and getting uncomfortable on long rides. Currently stuck a very hokey heath robinson affair upturned and chopped drops into bullhorn configuration which while fun is possibly a little dangerous!

The other problem is it seems alfine hubs are pretty darn heavy - I checked out the Charge Mixer in a shop, and checked the weight of another Charge bike which is identical except is single speed, and the hub-gear equipped version was A LOT heavier.
 
OP
jonny jeez

jonny jeez

Legendary Member
Jezston said:
I'll be watching this thread with keen interest as I'm having similar thoughts about my next bike. Currently have a Kona Dew Plus and the disc brakes (despite being mechanical rather than hydraulic) have put me off wanting to go back to regular brakes.

I'm very interested in hub gears due to 1. Not needing so many gears anyway; 2. A great deal less maintanance; and 3. Being able to change gears when stationary - very useful when commuting through town centers with lots of stop-starts.

Only downsides to hub gears so far have been that there's a distinct lack of options with shifters when it comes to drop handlebars - I'm a bit sick of flat bars due to only having one position and getting uncomfortable on long rides. Currently stuck a very hokey heath robinson affair upturned and chopped drops into bullhorn configuration which while fun is possibly a little dangerous!

The other problem is it seems alfine hubs are pretty darn heavy - I checked out the Charge Mixer in a shop, and checked the weight of another Charge bike which is identical except is single speed, and the hub-gear equipped version was A LOT heavier.
some of the same thoughts I have had.

In addition (on the hub gear front) I have heard that they dont shift well under pressure (uphill) and need a lot of pre-thought. I want to see if this is true, as it could well be outweighed by the convenience of static changing and low maintainance, if it is not too bad
 
Matthames said:
I would avoid solid tyres like the plague, tbh. P*******s are only a minor irritation compared to rebuilding an entire wheel every 5 minutes.

If I was building an ideal commuter bike that is maintenance free as possible, I would use schwalbe marathon tyres. As for gearing I would probably use a Rohloff 14 speed hub gear. To avoid carrying spare batteries I would probably have on the front hub a dynamo set up.
Why? I've done a few thousand miles and haven't had any problems apart from a few loose spokes on the back.Surprisingly recently I found half the spokes on the front had come loose and i was using an armadillo on it.Recently though I have taken to having a spoke key within easy reach....mainly for the fixie.

Have you actually got any experience of running Greentyres?

Oh yeah I usually forget it's fitted when commuting.
 
OP
jonny jeez

jonny jeez

Legendary Member
hackbike 666 said:
Why? I've done a few thousand miles and haven't had any problems apart from a few loose spokes on the back.Surprisingly recently I found half the spokes on the front had come loose and i was using an armadillo on it.Recently though I have taken to having a spoke key within easy reach....mainly for the fixie.

Have you actually got any experience of running Greentyres?
it's you!!!..couldnt remember who it was who ran with Green's...a pm is enroute
 
jonny jeez said:
So on this basis the Schwalbe's are fairly comparable. Problem is, to loose a repair kit "fully" I would need to loose the threat of a "visit" fully
... I don't carry a repair kit - with a Brompton the idea is if I do get a puncture I'll catch the bus with it if necessary (or walk her home). Besides, hearing how hard the marathon plusses are to get on/off I figured it's not worth it to try roadside. Better inside, out of the rain, with all the kit you'll need on hand.
 

gouldina

New Member
Location
London
SavageHoutkop said:
... I don't carry a repair kit - with a Brompton the idea is if I do get a puncture I'll catch the bus with it if necessary (or walk her home). Besides, hearing how hard the marathon plusses are to get on/off I figured it's not worth it to try roadside. Better inside, out of the rain, with all the kit you'll need on hand.
People keep saying this but I had no problem at all with mine. My Panaracer was harder actually.
 
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