Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

Road bikes or gravel bike for Houston commute?

Notices
Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.
View Poll Results: Which bike?
$1050: '19 Cannondale Topstone Sora
2
33.33%
$680: '20 Giant Contend 3 Claris
1
16.67%
$1100: '18 Specialized Ruby Tiagra
0
0%
$1100: '19 Cannondale Synapse Tiagra
1
16.67%
$200-500ish keep looking for a used bike
2
33.33%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

Road bikes or gravel bike for Houston commute?

Old 09-16-19, 10:49 AM
  #1  
hbc
oTo
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Houston TX
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Road bikes or gravel bike for Houston commute?

5'8". Approximately 32" inseam.Planning to use for commute 3 miles each way. Weekend rides on paved bike paths and between neighbourhoods (45min rides). Location is Houston: hot, humid, sometimes rainy days and terrible roads and broken sidewalks.

Looking to get something with a drop bar (never owned one) but concerned about road bike's durability at Houston roads (flats? maybe unnecessarily worrying?). Looking something that can go fast when I want to but also be able to take some rough roads. It'll be my only do everything bike. Not looking to race, so I narrowed down to endurance type or gravel type road bikes for the less aggressive ride positioning and wider tires for comfort. Tried looking on fb marketplace/offerup/craigslist, nothing of good value came up. Good used options are $700ish and more than a few years old. My budget is $600 to $1200.

These would be purchased new from a lbs or REI [*see actual prices below*]:

linky: 99spokes.com/compare?bikes=giant-contend-3-2020;*z.MD,cannondale-topstone-sora-2019,specialized-ruby-2018,cannondale-synapse-disc-tiagra-2019

$1050: '19 Cannondale Topstone Sora. Is a gravel bike necessary or will it just be dead weight and excessively slow tires? I like having the options of putting on fenders and rack which is not an option on the Contend or Ruby.+700x40c tires (others are 28).

$680: '20 Giant Contend 3 Claris. My next option was to go for the cheapest entry level road bike.+Save a lot of money. -Claris, AL fork and Rim Brakes.

$1100: '18 Specialized Ruby Tiagra [USED but from lbs, almost new]. Had to consider this since it would be a full carbon frame and still be under $1.2k. My only worry is that it is a women's frame? But I was told it is very similar to the Roubaix version and they will change out the saddle. The handlebars did look narrower.+Carbon frame, interesting front suspension. -No mount points, 2018 model, used, women's geometry. More expensive than Contend.

$1100: '19 Cannondale Synapse Tiagra [on sale on REI]. Not as much of a price cut as the Ruby but it looks like it has mount points for fenders and rack on the aluminum frame.+Road bike with mounts -Not sure of REI after sales service, more expensive than Contend.


I've tried riding all the bikes, and a few others except for the Synapse. I liked all of the rides. And honestly anything is an improvement from my old fully rigid Specialized mtn bike from the 90s.Other bikes tried but eliminated because of price/similarity to those 4 listed above: Cannondale CAAD Optimo Claris, Giant Escape (flat bar), All-City Space Horse (heavy but smooth riding), 2012 Specialized CruX Expert

Any advice on narrowing down my choice? Right now I'm between the Topstone and Contend (buying at full price MSRP) , but the Ruby and Synapse are on discount near me and look like great deals for the same money as the Topstone. Also need help deciding to go for endurance road bike or gravel bike. Or should I hold out and wait for some used bike to appear on craigslist etc? I'm also hesitant to spend so much on a commuting bike, since it's a replacement for one that's stolen (was stored on apt balcony, will now keep indoors) and maybe stolen again lol.

Edit: at work I will lock it up in an outdoor sheltered carport in a secured/fenced lot, pretty safe. At home I will now store it indoors, also safe. If it gets stolen it will most likely happen if I leave it locked outside while I'm inside a store etc.

Last edited by hbc; 09-16-19 at 10:57 AM.
hbc is offline  
Old 09-16-19, 01:40 PM
  #2  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 9,912

Bikes: Schwinn Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Diamondback Expert TG, Burley Samba

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1600 Post(s)
Liked 210 Times in 134 Posts
The difference between a "gravel bike" and an "endurance road bike" is pretty blurry especially in your price range. I'm sure any of those will be fine, if you find yourself flatting you can get armored or bigger tires. You can find a way to put fenders on any of them.

But any bike like that with a drop bar is made for covering lots of miles quickly for hours, with padded shorts and the whole bit, turning every muscle twitch into forward motion and keeping you just barely comfortable enough to not give up. That doesn't sound like your ride, which is going to take maybe 20 minutes.. In fact a 90's MTB is a popular style bike for commuting. Is yours worn out or are you just tired of it, or what specifically don't you like about the ride? They take standard parts, nothing on it is too obsolete to service. A road bike is obvs faster but you can speed up your MTB with some slicks, and over 3 miles the difference in speed just really doesn't matter.
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 09-16-19, 02:36 PM
  #3  
hbc
oTo
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Houston TX
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I was using the fully rigid Specialized Hardrock but that was recently stolen. I thought this would be a good chance to upgrade and try out drop bars, go for longer rides on the weekend. I am not planning to have more than 1 bicycle (small apartment).
But you are right anything would work for my short commute, just wanted thoughts on if the extra $400 is worth it going from a Contend 3 to a Topstone. I did try out some hybrids like the Giant Escape and Cannondale Quick that are admittedly more suitable for short commutes.
hbc is offline  
Old 09-16-19, 05:28 PM
  #4  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 9,912

Bikes: Schwinn Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Diamondback Expert TG, Burley Samba

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1600 Post(s)
Liked 210 Times in 134 Posts
I'm sorry your bike was stolen, that stinks.

I guess I can't summon up any strong objection to any of them. The difference when you double the price is a lot less obvious with a road bike than it is with a MTB. And some of the really nice features (like much better wheels) don't even come with some of the $3000 bikes.

I really like the Contend's color. I miss my 2007 Tacoma in a similar color.

The bike I was looking at yesterday that struck my fancy is the new Specialized Domane, it's much like that Ruby with its suspension features, but they're making allowances for bigger tires and it's well over $2000 new. Specialized made a splash this year proclaiming the end of women's specific bikes in their lineup, so you have to wonder how seriously they were taking it before.

Gravel bikes really are a little bit different, and the Topstone really is a full on gravel bike. Like, you can buy a 4wd and that makes it appealing even if you seldom really challenge it. You'd probably want to swap out the tires for slicks. And it's got a lot of normal commuter features that a nicer road bike or fancier gravel bike wouldn't - fenders and racks. The steering is going to be just a little more mountain-bikey, a little more ready to go over things but not as nimble.
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 09-17-19, 07:51 PM
  #5  
FiftySix
I'm the anecdote.
 
FiftySix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: S.E. Texas
Posts: 796

Bikes: Norco CityGlide, Schwinn Willy

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
Liked 218 Times in 165 Posts
This is a pretty good scenario. Due to the short commute, you can pick virtually whatever bike you want for weekends and fun and simply use it for the 3 miles to work.

I'm envious.
FiftySix is offline  
Old 09-17-19, 07:59 PM
  #6  
FiftySix
I'm the anecdote.
 
FiftySix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: S.E. Texas
Posts: 796

Bikes: Norco CityGlide, Schwinn Willy

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
Liked 218 Times in 165 Posts
Originally Posted by hbc View Post
5'8". Approximately 32" inseam.Planning to use for commute 3 miles each way. Weekend rides on paved bike paths and between neighbourhoods (45min rides). Location is Houston: hot, humid, sometimes rainy days and terrible roads and broken sidewalks.
This to me says buy a bike that can mount tires at least 38mm wide. Maybe 42mm to 47mm wide.

If you ride like I do, you have to jump onto the sidewalk on occasion to avoid things that need avoiding. Sidewalks always feel better with wider tires.

Most of Houston seems to be concrete and asphalt, so that means pavement oriented touring or "urban" tires instead of off-road tires, IMO.

I do just fine going "off-road" with street tires around here.
FiftySix is offline  
Old 09-18-19, 10:19 AM
  #7  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 3,807

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 789 Post(s)
Liked 82 Times in 65 Posts
what he said. Start with the tire size - and a bike that can take 40mm tires is pretty good in an urban environment. Not sure what part of town you are in, but yeah, 40mm tires are great for junky broken up cement you can get in Houston. Really no reason to go less than 40mm unless you are a weight wienie. Tubeless tires have pretty much eliminated commuting flats for me (most of mine were pinch flats anyway). Typically, spending the extra $400 will get you lite weight (and maybe marginally better components).
chas58 is offline  
Old 09-18-19, 05:23 PM
  #8  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 9,912

Bikes: Schwinn Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Diamondback Expert TG, Burley Samba

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1600 Post(s)
Liked 210 Times in 134 Posts
As long as your bike is parked indoors or under cover you might not care about this part, but you can also consider how the sea air and the rain will treat your bike. Aluminum oxidizes and steel rusts, and it's nice to have things anodized, plated, etc. That comes with more expensive builds. Claris parts might be painted or galvanized while Tiagra parts are anodized or nickel plated. Modern plastic bits are actually pretty good and you probably don't need to worry about them for a long time, even if they don't feel premium.

Just as a counterpoint to road bikes - my area has lots of places to ride any kind of bike. My last go-round, I got a nice hard tail mountain bike, not a road bike at all. It's got 2.8" tires and a 5" suspension fork. I've really been enjoying it. It can easily take anything my commute will throw at it. But I have MTB trails along my ride to work, and further on if I have the time to make a big ride of it.
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 09-19-19, 06:56 AM
  #9  
FiftySix
I'm the anecdote.
 
FiftySix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: S.E. Texas
Posts: 796

Bikes: Norco CityGlide, Schwinn Willy

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
Liked 218 Times in 165 Posts
Hope you've been staying out of the high water, HBC. The recent heavy rains sure don't make bike testing or riding easy.
FiftySix is offline  
Likes For FiftySix:
Old 09-19-19, 12:29 PM
  #10  
hbc
oTo
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Houston TX
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanks for the advice guys.
Yeah it's been pouring the last few days but I still managed to try out a used 2012 Trek FX 7.4 hybrid ($200, fair condition) and a 2008 Trek XO2 ($400 good condition).
Decided to go for the XO2 since it seems like it was in good condition. Came with a 38mm tire.

archive.trekbikes.com/us/en/2008/trek/xo2#/us/en/2008/trek/xo2/details


I would appreciate some advice since I'm new to this, does the cassette and chain look OK? It looks like there is some wear on the cassette but is it time to replace (imgur.com/a/9EFdEtF) ? I can take more pictures if that helps.
Anything else I should check for before I start using it regularly? Also probably need to buy some flat pedals for commuting and swap to the clipless pedals for longer rides (and buy shoes/cleats).

I'll have to research more about maintenance and pick up the essential tools in the next few weeks. The only thing I did on my old bike was just a wipe down and lube chains/drive train.
Glad I didn't go for a new bike as the tools/accessories will add up :/


Found out I can't post pic/links so here's an imgur upload: imgur.com/a/9EFdEtF
hbc is offline  
Likes For hbc:
Old 09-19-19, 03:20 PM
  #11  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 3,807

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 789 Post(s)
Liked 82 Times in 65 Posts
uh, this for Houston (especially the east side):

chas58 is offline  
Likes For chas58:
Old 09-19-19, 03:25 PM
  #12  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 3,807

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 789 Post(s)
Liked 82 Times in 65 Posts
Originally Posted by hbc View Post

I would appreciate some advice since I'm new to this, does the cassette and chain look OK? It looks like there is some wear on the cassette but is it time to replace (imgur.com/a/9EFdEtF) ? I can take more pictures if that helps.
good call. The FX bikes are good, but I find them kinda slack and slow handling (not sure the geometry is good for higher speeds anyway - seems to like the 10-15mph range).

For the chain - you need a chain tool to check it. Of course your LBS will check it for ya for free - cause they will be happy to sell you a new chain. If the chain is fine the cassette should be fine. Long as it doesn't skip teeth under power.
chas58 is offline  
Old 09-19-19, 11:30 PM
  #13  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 9,912

Bikes: Schwinn Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Diamondback Expert TG, Burley Samba

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1600 Post(s)
Liked 210 Times in 134 Posts
Thatís a solid cross commuter. Enjoy!
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 09-20-19, 12:33 AM
  #14  
rseeker
Senior Member
 
rseeker's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Southeast US
Posts: 690
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 235 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 39 Posts
Five 500-year rain events in five years, what could it be ...

I hope you and yours are staying safe.
rseeker is offline  
Old 09-21-19, 07:29 PM
  #15  
GamblerGORD53
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Elevation 666m Edmonton Canada
Posts: 1,334

Bikes: 2013 Custom SA5w / Rohloff Tourster

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 638 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 6 Posts
Any SA hub bike will do in Texas. I spent a week there in 2003 and rode 7 cities. Right now I'm car travelling with my SA 3 CCM on the roof. Went all the way east. I rode in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, not much problem.
GamblerGORD53 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
ironnerd
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
10
04-19-19 04:02 PM
johngwheeler
General Cycling Discussion
56
08-29-17 03:59 PM
Aleko
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
10
12-19-15 02:37 PM
Beach Bob
General Cycling Discussion
26
08-19-15 07:07 PM
Long Tom
Road Cycling
22
01-23-14 01:01 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.