Touring bike for long commute

Discussion in 'Bikes and Buying Advice - What Bike?' started by srw, 11 Jul 2012.

  1. srw

    srw It's a bit more complicated than that...

    I've got three legs of a possible long commute - all between 30 and 40 miles. Having done part of it yesterday on my Dawes Sardar it's confirmed what I thought I knew - a bike with 26" wheels, compact geometry, bar-end shifters and whose frame is about two sizes too small isn't the right one!

    Thinking with a completely blank sheet of paper I've come up with the following set of ideal factors:
    Steel frame and forks - titanium would be lovely but this is a workhorse, not a thoroughbred
    Flat bars with bar ends - most of the ride is in the city, and I prefer a slightly more upright position to see more easily. I don't know anything about flat bar shifters. I might be persuadable that drop bars are OK, but the bar-end shifters are a distraction I can do without at traffic lights.
    700c wheels, with a hub dynamo on the front that I can shift to my fast bike and the tandem for night riding. Which in turn means that it would need to take 25mm and 28mm tyres, as well as whatever size is ideal for commuting (perhaps up to 32mm?)
    Frame designed with clearance for mudguards and bosses for racks - yesterday's experience with a rackpack and saddlebag confirms that being able to carry panniers is better if I have anything to carry, so that the weight sits lower. And given the multiple sites I will sometimes have to carry things.

    Money isn't a huge constraint, but I don't want to spend megabucks on something I'm going to get over-protective of. Unfortunately our cycle to work scheme is a strict once-a-year affair just before Christmas.

    Any suggestions? My knowledge goes as far as the Dawes and Edinburgh bikes ranges. I'm not particularly mechanically adept, and prefer riding to fiddling, otherwise I'd be tempted to look for a second-hand frame to build up.
  2. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    first thought that springs to mind is looking at hybrids and the roadier end of the scale, or at least no suspension. A trawl through the German shops gives quite a few options that come with all the bells and whistles already. Bike24,, H&S bikediscount GMBH and Roseversand are all online presences that I've used and had quality service from. Discounts are starting on 2011 models as well so places like Wiggle, Tredz, CRC etc all have some good deals.

    Most of those will be alu or sometimes carbon but you can find some steel or ti amongst them. For a flat bar commuter I'd definitely be looking at disc brakes and preferably a hub gear to complement the dynamo setup. I know you don't want to spend too much but Thorn have their newish Mercury Rohloff model available. Yes Thorn have gone 700c and disc brakes and even put a decent length head tube on. It actually looks rather fetching which isn't something I've ever thought about a Thorn before. Though I don't like their option for forks and would go with a set from Salsa or the Surly LHT disc forks, if I wanted to stay with steel forks. My custom Ti tour/commute frame bears some remarkable similarities to the Mercury design the only real difference being that I prefer a dropout tensioning solution to an EBB.

    Start narrowing down the search for us by declaring some definite no-nos
  3. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

    Comes down to a choice of an Audax style fast tourer and a Cyclocross bike imo. Drop bars don't have to equal head down arse up.

    Do you remember the black 'un I rode on lonjog? Albeit it is an ali frame (a compliant and comfortable ali frame at that and nicer than one of my steel bikes) and carbon fork, I'd say it would be ideal. Drop bars but upright riding position if you want it by leaving the steerer tube long. Built to your specification by the nice people at Surosa in Oldham so hub dyno's not a problem. Rear rack and real guards no bother. I've ridden it loaded with panniers and bag from Horsham to Oxford, from Swansea to Haverfordwest, and on Cardiff to Swansea FNRttC. It laughs in the face of my commute.

    It happens to be my best bike, but only because I've promised the lovely Helen I'd never spend more than £1000 on a bike and then get it via cyclescheme, and whilst I fantasise about getting a better one I'm not sure what I'd get form a better bike that the black 'un doesn't deliver.

    Were it me, with a blank sheet of paper and money not no object I'd find a Genesis dealer and get them to source a Croix de Fer frame and forks and build it to my desired spec. Money no object? 953 stainless steel Enigma with all the trimmings. Or talk to Paul Smith at Corridori about a Van Nic....

    (on the other hand I might just be tempted to find an old steel Rockhopper that fits you and put slicks on it.....)
  4. OP

    srw It's a bit more complicated than that...

    You are an evil man MacB. I like the business-like look of most of Thorn's bikes, and this one has that in spades. I like Rohloffs, having got one on one of the tandems. I'm not sure I (and, as pertinently, Mrs W) can really stomach the price...

    I realised this morning that I hadn't mentioned transmission, and a hub gear has clear advantages over derailleur for maintainability and lack of intervention. The German sites are an interesting thought - what I'm probably after is a speedy version of a European city bike rather than a British bike.

    As far as no-nos - I'm not a fan of (the concept of) carbon or alloy for a durable bike. I'm not someone who likes bike maintenance. I don't need to worry about stealability - I've got secure parking in all locations.
  5. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

    rust never sleeps and a modern alloy frame will outlive us all.
  6. theclaud

    theclaud It's teeceegawnmaaaad

    To think I spent eight days touring with you, and had no idea about any of these perversions! Is there anything else that you'd like to get out in the open while you're at it?
  7. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    :biggrin: can't help myself sometimes, I would be loathe to spec a bike of this nature that couldn't accomodate a hub gear if needed, but I also like the option to run gears. There are a few around now, and becoming more common, where they use adjustable dropouts with replaceable inserts. So you can whack in whatever inserts you want for the current build, rohloff, gear hangers, etc. I like the ones that put a disc caliper on the chainstay rather than the seatstay, means any rack can be used. Even if you are running gears you still have the option to increase/decrease the wheelbase for the riding you're doing. Slam them forward for a bit of unladen speed and push them right back for more leisurely comfort.

    As well as mentioning the Thorn Mercury there's this from Shand:-

    that image is the one sporting the Rocker dropouts from Paragon that I like...but not cheap...whereas this gent is currently making me a 29er frame at a far more reasonable price and using some Rocker dropouts I supplied:-

    If you prefer an OTP build then having a search around Gravelgrinder style bikes will give a few options.

    Unlike Greg I don't think that drop bars are the be all for this kind of bike, alternate bars or straights with bar ends are effective as well. But it's a decision that really is better made flat bar rohloff tourer is 45mm longer in the TT than my drop bar bike, same head tube length on each though. Some of the OTP hybrids at the roadie end of the scale are just road frames with flat bars, so not a longer TT and a fair old saddle to bar drop.

    If you're ever in the Farnborough area then you're welcome to drop in for a nose or test ride.
  8. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

    Flat bars have their place.

    On S type Brommies and XC MTBs!:wacko:
  9. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    If it wasn't for the fact that I know your naturally sunny disposition I'd think you were taking the piss in a grumpy manner
  10. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

  11. Piemaster

    Piemaster Guru

    UK City of Culture
    I've recently been considering something similar, but to make it affordable everything from the Pompino would have to transfer over to a new frame initially (alfine drivetrain) before an eventual rohloff upgrade. Those sliding/swinging dropouts look the biz and I've never been overly taken with track ends and tug-nuts - far too much messing for the 'P' word happens.

    Have considered a Singular Peregrine (never seem to be in stock) Surly disc trucker (like the cost) but a couple of others to think over now too. I want something with large enough clearances for Schwalbe marathon winters with 'guards (Pompino won't do both), disc brakes, rear rack and prefrably drop bars
  12. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

    Singular more or less braze to order

    Woodruff Chimera would suit the OP's tastes no? With a rohloff and gates belt drive?
  13. 2pies

    2pies Über Member

    I'm guessing that's exactly where the new Secteur is positioned. Looks pretty nice with space for wide tyres, disk brakes etc. If I was looking for a new commuter, I'd be hard pressed to look elsewhere.
  14. mcshroom

    mcshroom Bionic Subsonic

    Egremont, Cumbria
    How about a Genesis Day One Alfine - link
  15. OP

    srw It's a bit more complicated than that...

    I may have some perversions, but a desire for a belt drive is not one of them.

    I shall now dither for England and look at many different websites before taking a trip to a shop.
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