Frame for Drop Bar Disc brake commuter

Frame material for drop bar commuter bike

  • Steel

    Votes: 5 45.5%
  • Aluminium

    Votes: 3 27.3%
  • Carbon Fibre

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Titanium

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Bamboo

    Votes: 3 27.3%

  • Total voters
    11

annirak

Über Member
Location
Cambridge, UK
I'm now commuting between 16 and 20 miles round trip each day on my hybrid. The riser bars and upright position are driving me nuts. It's time for drop bars.

I can't afford to have both a nice commuter and a nice sportive bike, so whatever I get has to do double duty as a sportive bike and a commuter. However, I snapped an axle on my hybrid after only two years, presumably from cycling with panniers, so now I'm concerned that if I buy a light road bike and use it for commuting, it might not survive.

I ride on roads and canal paths (so, tarmac, gravel, compact dirt, some shallow mud). I ride all weather, so I want disc brakes and fenders. I don't like riding with a rucksack, so a rack is necessary for commuting, though I would remove it for sportives.

I've been working through various options for manufacturers and bikes, but I'm beginning to think I need to work out what kind of frame the bike needs before I go any further. I don't feel I need a relaxed posture, but I do want something that damps a bit of the road buzz.

What kind of frame do you think is the best choice for a fast commuter?
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Whyte do more rugged road bikes with discs, but depends on your budget. But if you ride on mud, then a CX might be a better option. Many will take a pannier rack

A nice steel frame with carbon forks will give you a more comfy ride than alu/carbon IMO. Croix de fer or similar? You don't mention budget, assume under a grand otherwise you could get two bikes with no great drama for commuting and road riding. A budget in that order will rule out titanium, one with discs will be easily £2k+
 
OP
annirak

annirak

Über Member
Location
Cambridge, UK
Whyte do more rugged road bikes with discs, but depends on your budget. But if you ride on mud, then a CX might be a better option. Many will take a pannier rack

A nice steel frame with carbon forks will give you a more comfy ride than alu/carbon IMO. Croix de fer or similar? You don't mention budget, assume under a grand otherwise you could get two bikes with no great drama for commuting and road riding. A budget in that order will rule out titanium, one with discs will be easily £2k+
You're right, I left out the budget. I also left out groupset preferences--that's because I want to focus more on the frame material than the actual bike.

The point is that, even if it takes me a lot longer to be able to afford the "right" bike, I think it's worth it. I am going to ride this thing every working day. Sometimes, the panniers will be overloaded. I can't wash it after every ride; I can't even wash it every day. It's got to be able to take some abuse. I do most of my riding commuting, so want riding it to be fun. In that sense, the commuting duty is far more important to me than sportive duty. I currently do one sportive a year, but I put in over 80 miles per week commuting.

If a Ti frame is the "right" answer, it'll take a while, but I'll make it work. Maybe I'll have to buy a bike with the groupset I want, and buy the "right" frame later.

I've looked at the Croix de Fer previously and it looks like a pretty nice option. So the Steel + Carbon fork combo will take the abuse more happily? Are there any disadvantages to that approach?
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Probably a heavier bike, steel fork potentially more resilient than carbon. If you want something to take abuse and lug loads, perhaps have a look at the spa cycles tourer/audax options

I am not sure if Ti is the right material. Steel might be better. What terrain is your commute? If flattish, why not get a single speed, light, low maintenance, no faffing with gears

If I was you, I'd have two bikes, one for commuting and one for best (plus a couple more for other occasions :whistle: )

Or why not build a bike to your exact spec, if wanting something not available off the peg (what I did with the Genesis)
 

KneesUp

Guru
Steel is a great material for bikes - it lasts well, it's strong, which allows for narrower tubes (which look nice) it's repairable, and it's failure mode isn't catastrophic.

I run an old MTB frame as my only bike* and it's pretty spot on really - with drop bars and a short stem with a steep-ish angle it is long-ride comfy. It has 26" wheels which are lighter and stronger than equivalent spec 700c wheels, and it doesn't look very much worth stealing. It has a rack mount at the back - none on the forks, sadly, but I don't need those yet. With slick tyres on it's great for pretty much anything except really slippy stuff (mud and ice) but I have another wheelset with knobbly tyres for that. It feels fast enough for me, and utterly unbreakable.

* my only bike that's currently built up with enough parts to ride at least :smile:
 
OP
annirak

annirak

Über Member
Location
Cambridge, UK
I am not sure if Ti is the right material. Steel might be better. What terrain is your commute? If flattish, why not get a single speed, light, low maintenance, no faffing with gears

If I was you, I'd have two bikes, one for commuting and one for best (plus a couple more for other occasions :whistle: )

Or why not build a bike to your exact spec, if wanting something not available off the peg (what I did with the Genesis)
Even though the terrain on my commute is pretty flat, it can be pretty windy. I went from riding a 21-speed to riding a 6-speed for a week. After that, I was pretty sure I could ride a single-speed, but, at 8 miles each way, it would be quite a lot more tiring, and I'm not sure my knees would take it well... I generally pedal around 90rpm, and even with that, I get the dreaded knee ache from time to time.

I really am considering a custom build. Not sure whether I would pay a LBS to do it or do it myself. I don't have all the tools, so that's a point in favour of the LBS.
 

raleighnut

Legendary Member
Location
On 3 Wheels
I'd go for a steel framed 'Audax' bike but in the meantime why not switch the 'riser' bars on the hybrid for some flat ones, even if you need to change the grips it should be less than £30 to swap and that would get you 3 inch or so lower.
Top Tip- The best glue for fitting new grips is cheapo Hairspray and to get them off slide a thin cross point screwdriver under then insert the little plastic tube on a tin of WD40 along side and squirt some in, remove the screwdriver then jer jer jiggle it until the grip comes loose, then simply wash the inside out with 'Fairy Liquid' and rinse well. Once they are dry they are ready to go back on.
 

MikeW-71

Veteran
Location
Carlisle
I ride on roads and canal paths (so, tarmac, gravel, compact dirt, some shallow mud). I ride all weather, so I want disc brakes and fenders. I don't like riding with a rucksack, so a rack is necessary for commuting, though I would remove it for sportives.
A CX (or "Adventure" as some are termed now) bike seems the logical choice here. Use some wider tyres with tread for commuting, and have some narrower slicks to pop on for a Sportive.

I'm using a Giant Revolt for this purpose as it can take a rack and guards and has discs, though since I'm only ever on road, I just run 28mm slicks. OK it's not as quick as my Carbon Defy, but it is as quick as my Alu Defy.

If you want to go custom, the Genesis is a great base frame for that IMO.
 
OP
annirak

annirak

Über Member
Location
Cambridge, UK
I'm not sure how relevant this is, but I may also need to pull a trailer with this bike.

Aluminium CX is the direction I have been heading.

For those folks who have picked bamboo in the poll, Is there a reason for this? Can you explain why you picked bamboo and/or provide some sources where one might find bamboo bikes? I can't guarantee that this bike will always be locked up out of the elements, the parking at work isn't that reliable. I've read some concerns that the bike might not fare so well in the wet over the long term.
 

raleighnut

Legendary Member
Location
On 3 Wheels
I'm not sure how relevant this is, but I may also need to pull a trailer with this bike.

Aluminium CX is the direction I have been heading.

For those folks who have picked bamboo in the poll, Is there a reason for this? Can you explain why you picked bamboo and/or provide some sources where one might find bamboo bikes? I can't guarantee that this bike will always be locked up out of the elements, the parking at work isn't that reliable. I've read some concerns that the bike might not fare so well in the wet over the long term.
If you are going to pull a trailer then you really need a steel frame.
 

mythste

Veteran
Location
Manchester
I'm not sure how relevant this is, but I may also need to pull a trailer with this bike.

Aluminium CX is the direction I have been heading.

For those folks who have picked bamboo in the poll, Is there a reason for this? Can you explain why you picked bamboo and/or provide some sources where one might find bamboo bikes? I can't guarantee that this bike will always be locked up out of the elements, the parking at work isn't that reliable. I've read some concerns that the bike might not fare so well in the wet over the long term.
Because I want someone else to take the plunge so I can confirm/deny those points in future.
 

mcshroom

Bionic Subsonic
I would go steel or aluminium rather than anything more exotic if you are planning on towing a trailer. Steel will be slightly more comfortable but will probably be a little heavier have a little more flex IME, so it depends on which you prefer. I know on longer rides I feel slightly less knockedwhen I've used my steel tourer rather than my aluminium singlspeed, but that could be as much about having lots of low gears as the material.

A CX bike sounds like a good idea, though also the Revolution Country Explorer at Edinburgh Bicycle Coop is by all accounts a good touring bike (perhaps a little heavy for the Sportiving).
 
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