Old 08-01-19, 08:59 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Montreal
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Bikes: commuter: Patria Roadster / cargo: Nihola Family

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Searching my ultimate all year fast commuter bike. Soma Wolverine?


I'm new to this forum and am looking for some ideas and opinions.

My current bike for my 10km one way commute in Montreal is a (German) Patria Roadster which I had bought 9 years ago when I was still living in the middle of Europe with mild winters and never thought of moving across the ocean. I had it configured with an Alfine 8 and some other changes, this it how it looks now (just see I can't post photos or links since I'm new to the forum, so then without... It's a sporty but robust steel frame, with Alfine 8, 28 mm tyre clearance under the fenders and a rack mounted)

It was used for heavy, year-round commuting all this time, and now shows underneath some rust, some of the powder coating flaking off. So before it breaks and I need very fast a new ride, I prefer to plan ahead...

Since I was moving 6 years ago to Montreal (4 months winter down to -25C, often slush, ice, much salt, but bike lanes are fast cleared from snow / hot summers / absolutely broken roads), my needs have shifted a bit. Additionally, I'm getting older with all what comes with it (getting 37 this year and have a baby).

I think I have a quite clear idea what I want, and am nearly sure this does not exist in a stock bike, and I know some of the requirements might need some tweaking or tricks to get it working together...
- steel frame (because I like it)
- IGH, Alfine 8 or maybe 11, but the 8 seems to be the more robust one and is quite a bit cheaper. For commuting, the Alfine 8 worked fine for me, I never wished a bigger ratio. All problems, especially in winter with its salt and dirt, were cable (and the part where the cable actual pulls on the hub) related.
- My current bike has under the fenders only space for 28 mm tyres, so in winter I had problems finding something (ran some old Vredestein Premiato 30 cyclocross tyres, these were the only knobby tyres I could fit). For the new one, I need at least clearance for 35mm or a bit more to allow some commuter spikes (Schwalbe Marathon Winter or 45Nrth Gravdal (38 mm)). In summer, going as wide as possible to smooth out the incredibly bad roads might not be a bad idea neither.
- Attachment points for mudguards and rack
- Sporty riding style like now. No ultra light, but I like to be fast. Robust build. Handling light loads a bit better then my bike now, I usually ride with one Deuter bag on one side with office stuff and my current bike feels then definitely more mushy. No extreme loads, for transporting the kid we have a cargo bike (Nihola).
- Due to the wider tyres, probably disk brakes (what do you think? Also: mechanical or hydraulic, especially taken into account the winter here?).
- Option for road bars, just because I want to try it out. For now, I never owned a road bar bike.

What do you think? I was having this already quite a while in mind, and I think something like the Soma Wolverine (or Surly Straggler and similar frames) sound like the best fit? I read people complaining about the Wolverine being too long, which sounds ideal for me, I have definitely a longer upper body (inseam something like 85 cm, body about 184cm). My current bike, frame size 56, has an effective length of 59 mm, a near-flat bar and a 10cm stem, and I think I actually would need it a bit longer. So a Wolverine 56 (length 57.5 cm) with a dropbar should be doable for me?

The next issue is of course Alfine and drop bar. I see two options:
- bar ends or Gevenalle shifter
- Di2.
The Di2 option sound actually interesting to me, since I could program the STI shifters to have one side shift up, the other shift down, which at -20C with big mittens sounds easier. Shimano lists for the Alfine Di2 only the STI shifter ST-R785, where I am not sure if this works only with the Alfine 11 or as well with the 8? It's software, so in theory it should be possible... And it is a hydraulic shifter, would in theory also a mechanical disk brake Di2 shifter exist and work? Are hydraulic break levers compatible to each other or are there different types?

So yes, a lot of ideas, not everything 100% clear yet. I guess first I should settle on a frame, or if someone knows an exactly fitting complete bike, why not. I know building it custom is for sure not cheaper. The Wolverine v3 are currently at a good price, if this will be my choice I think I'd order the frame soon, and the parts whenever things become more clear and prices are good. If I have this ready to roll in spring, this would be completely fine. I would like to try building as much as I can by myself, there are a couple of community bike places with all tools in the city, but of course I would give things I can't do (wheel building, not sure about hydraulics, bottom bracket and head set) to a professional.

What do you think? Is this absolute stupid or makes somehow sense?
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