Fast commuter

annirak

Über Member
Location
Cambridge, UK
I'm thinking of replacing my commuting bike. It's been nearly bomb-proof over the last 4 years: only 2 belts, a pair of worn-out tyres, and a set of brake pads in all that time... But I tried taking my kid to school using my road bike to pull the trailer and it cut 10-15 minutes off of a 35-40 minute (each way) commute. That's a pretty big deal!

So I'm re-evaluating my bikes. My road bike is a cheap alu bike with carbon forks, rim brakes, Schwalbe One tyres and claris group. My commuting bike is steel, disc brake, flat-bar, belt-drive, Nuvinci (enviolo) hub and Continental Contact+ tyres. It's heavy due to the hub, but with the trailer, I don't think that's what's slowing it down. I suspect it's either the belt or the hub burning power. I could probably swap in a chain for under £50 since a chain ring, a single-speed sprocket, and a single-speed chain are pretty inexpensive. However, I have doubts that the belt is the real problem. I think it's far more likely that the hub is what's slowing me down. It could also be the tyres?

So if I were to get a new bike, or convert my commuter, what should I look for? Alfine + belt? Alfine + chain? I really like the durability and low maintenance of the belt drive, but if it's costing me 2.5 hours/week, I think I can afford to do some maintenance!
 

raggydoll

Über Member
If using your current road bike cut 15 minutes off your journey, why don't you just stick a set of mudguards on that and use it to commute?
That's what I would do.

Be fast enough and being claris etc, consumables will be cheap to replace as they wear out.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
The Nuvinci hub is draggy, so I reckon that's your main problem.

The belt has slightly more drag than a chain.

An Alfine with a chain or belt would be an improvement, but a derailer is still impossible to beat.
 

Cycleops

Legendary Member
Location
Accra, Ghana
An Alfine with a chain or belt would be an improvement, but a derailer is still impossible to beat.
For efficiency yes but maybe not for low maintenance, but having said that I bought our gardener a aluminium frames step through with a Alfine 8 and he had to swap it for another after a few month, now it looks like that has gone south too as I see he’s now replaced it with a derailleur.
 

si_c

Guru
Location
Wirral
What about the Genesis Day One? Hub gear, disc braked drop bar road bike... oh, and it's steel too, what's not to like?
 
OP
annirak

annirak

Über Member
Location
Cambridge, UK
If using your current road bike cut 15 minutes off your journey, why don't you just stick a set of mudguards on that and use it to commute?
That's what I would do.

Be fast enough and being claris etc, consumables will be cheap to replace as they wear out.
There's a couple things that I'm not really willing to give up from my commuter: disc brakes and durable tyres. I don't think I can fit a high-durability tyre on the rims I've got. While I'm willing to do a bit of regular maintenance to cut my daily commute down by that much, losing time to punctures is a problem especially since it's a lot more complex due to the trailer. Even duranos started picking up punctures pretty quick when I was commuting daily on that bike. I think I'd need to get a new set of rims. The frame isn't built for disc brakes, and there's just nothing I can do about that; it's new bike territory.

The Nuvinci hub is draggy, so I reckon that's your main problem.

The belt has slightly more drag than a chain.

An Alfine with a chain or belt would be an improvement, but a derailer is still impossible to beat.
That's about what I figured. If that's the case, belt + conventional hubgear sounds like an improvement!

For efficiency yes but maybe not for low maintenance, but having said that I bought our gardener a aluminium frames step through with a Alfine 8 and he had to swap it for another after a few month, now it looks like that has gone south too as I see he’s now replaced it with a derailleur.
That's good to know. I think I'll look for Alfine 11.

What about the Genesis Day One? Hub gear, disc braked drop bar road bike... oh, and it's steel too, what's not to like?
I looked at that back in the day. In the end, there were two things wrong with it: 1) it was outside my budget, 2) it didn't have a slotted frame for a belt. I have a belt-capable frame now, so I'm more inclined to look at converting it than completely replacing the whole bike--unless it's the frame that's slowing me down! I don't think that's likely, though.

E Bike.........
I've debated about that on and off for years. I love the idea, but I know myself too well. I use the commute as a fitness program. If I had an e-bike, I'd use the assist. Then I'd use it more. Then I wouldn't be getting quite the same fitness benefits as I do if it's all me. I don't think there's a clean way to get away from that so as much as I like the idea, I don't think it's the right answer for me.
 

jowwy

Guru
I've debated about that on and off for years. I love the idea, but I know myself too well. I use the commute as a fitness program. If I had an e-bike, I'd use the assist. Then I'd use it more. Then I wouldn't be getting quite the same fitness benefits as I do if it's all me. I don't think there's a clean way to get away from that so as much as I like the idea, I don't think it's the right answer for me.
just use the assist on the hilly bits were you drop below 15mph and then switch it off.....if its an E road bike, you should be able to keep shifting on the flatter sections, but improve speed on the uphills with the assist
 

vickster

Legendary Member
OP is in Cambridge...are there (m)any hills?
 

raggydoll

Über Member
There's a couple things that I'm not really willing to give up from my commuter: disc brakes and durable tyres. I don't think I can fit a high-durability tyre on the rims I've got. While I'm willing to do a bit of regular maintenance to cut my daily commute down by that much, losing time to punctures is a problem especially since it's a lot more complex due to the trailer. Even duranos started picking up punctures pretty quick when I was commuting daily on that bike. I think I'd need to get a new set of rims. The frame isn't built for disc brakes, and there's just nothing I can do about that; it's new bike territory.
You can get plenty of puncture proof tyres in all sizes.
I use 23mm specialized armadillos on one of mine. Never had a puncture ever (in 7 years).

Also always used rim brakes and never had any issues with them. Lightweight, cheap and easy to maintain and never felt that they didn't stop me fast enough.
Everything is personal preference though and if disc brakes is your preference then disc brakes you shall have! :smile::bicycle:
 
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