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Road Bike for Short Inner City Commute

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Road Bike for Short Inner City Commute

Old 01-14-21, 11:54 PM
  #1  
carloscedeno
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Road Bike for Short Inner City Commute

Are road bikes good for a short inner city commute of around 15 minutes or am I better off with something else?
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Old 01-15-21, 12:45 AM
  #2  
surak
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Depends. Do you already have a road bike or something else? Are you comfortable riding one for the route you'd need to take? How will it be stored at your workplace? What weather conditions will you ride in?

If you'll be mixing with traffic and pedestrians, where you could benefit from a more heads-up riding posture, then some flat bar bike could be better. If you'll be mostly unimpeded then a road bike would be fine or even preferred if you like going fast.

If you have a road bike set up more for longer rides, say with minimal commuter niceties like fenders, rack/pannier/pack system to carry your stuff (granted a backpack won't be horrible for 15 min), or you have road clipless pedals and expect you'll need to unclip a lot in stop and start traffic, then a dedicated commuter (could still be a drop bar road bike) would be better. Same thing if you have one built for nice smooth roads with narrow tire clearance but your commute is bumpy, then you could be better off repurposing a cushier bike that can take wider tires like a CX, gravel, touring, hybrid, or MTB.

Then of course there are dedicated commuter bikes that aren't great for recreational riding but sturdier and more weatherproof, with say dynamo lights, chain guard or belt drive and internal gearing. There's less to fuss over about those from a maintenance perspective.

Personally, all my road bikes are setup for fast, longer distance riding (my commute pre-WFH was 16 miles one way), so I wouldn't ride them as-is for shorter trips. Though if I wanted to, I would only need a few steps to make it work: swap out my powermeter pedals for some one-sided SPD pedals, mount a u-lock, and change out the saddle bag for a larger seatpack.

If I had to lock it up outside though, I would have second thoughts for sure, because my road bikes are nice and thieves know it.
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Old 01-15-21, 03:43 AM
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Enjoying your day

It's great to start your day with a 15m ride. Only you know what that entails. Flat smooth roads I love my Single Speed, see me fly. If you're heading for the hills some gears are going to help. Don't get sold on something before you've walked your route and remember you're only going to get faster and fitter, start with something you can get up to speed on before shelling out the big bucks.
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Old 01-15-21, 08:52 AM
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My street is "the main drag" for cyclists because it funnels some fairly large neighborhoods into the middle of town without being the fast trunk road. So I see a lot of bikes during commuting times. There seems to be no specific preferred type of bike for commuting -- it's more like whatever folks had in the garage when they decided to start riding, or someone gets a fancy new bike that fits their imagined self image, or wants something that they can also take on long rides, etc. etc.

Folks who enjoy riding road bikes will tend to ride them everywhere. Why not. Life is short. A fancy road bike is certainly not inappropriate for a short commute unless theft is a potential problem.

I let my own habits guide me. I owned a road bike for a long time, along with a "clunker," and discovered that I was more motivated to ride the clunker, so I don't own a road bike any more.
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Old 01-15-21, 09:42 AM
  #5  
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When you say "inner city" do you mean the financial district or the ghetto? Many American cities have both. If the latter, consider that others may want an attractive bike and harming you to get might be just part of the game. If I have to ride through sketchy neighborhoods, I want (and used to ride) an old steel bike that is well past its better days. I used to only clean that which I needed to work on. Rode sewups because you could always ride them and leave the neighborhood, even with a flat, and changes could be done in 5 minutes. Took real pride in finding beat up looking parts that worked well.
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Old 01-15-21, 10:20 AM
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I think it is much more important to ask how is your bike equipped. Will it accept fenders? A rack (if you need one), protect your pant cuffs from getting greasy? Have a saddle that won't be impacted by rain/snow, Accept wide enough tires to discourage flats. Plus depending on the quality be able to be confident where you lock it, it will likely not find its way to another persons house. In my experience the style of the bike is much less important.
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Old 01-15-21, 12:41 PM
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Backpack and BMX!
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Old 01-15-21, 04:09 PM
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I bought a road bike to go at work. After one month I changed it with a common city bike. Too much holes on the road, a too much race position that isn't comfortable.
I think is better an old MTB of the right size, with road desing tyres .
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Old 01-17-21, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post

Then of course there are dedicated commuter bikes that aren't great for recreational riding but sturdier and more weatherproof, with say dynamo lights, chain guard or belt drive and internal gearing. There's less to fuss over about those from a maintenance perspective.
This. Road bikes are not designed or built for routine, convenient transportation. "Horses for courses," as they say. This being Bike Forums, where n + 1 is advocated, I'd recommend that you get one if you want the easiest possible trip to work. Bonus -- if the commuter bike is discovered to have an overnight flat, your road bike is a spare. Short trips are bad for your car and parking is tight in cities, so it is not your backup, even if they don't salt the roads.
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Old 01-17-21, 08:30 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by carloscedeno View Post
Are road bikes good for a short inner city commute of around 15 minutes or am I better off with something else?
If your commute is only 15 minutes, you're doing it wrong. I'm sure you could find a longer route if you tried.

As for which bike, pick the one that's comfortable. If you're looking for an excuse, n+1, baby, n+1. The only excuse you'll ever need.
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Old 01-17-21, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by carloscedeno View Post
Are road bikes good for a short inner city commute of around 15 minutes or am I better off with something else?
You can use any bike that will accept a rear pannier rack for commuting 15 minutes.

Just make sure the bike is NOT attractive to thieves and get the most secure lock for it.

I have a cheap $250 road bike I use for all things - race training, 100 mile rides, commuting, hauling groceries, deliveries

I make it look ugly with paint, fake rust (some of them are real...), and never cleaning, except the drivetrain (barely) as my daily routes takes me to very poor neighborhoods:

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Old 01-18-21, 12:02 AM
  #12  
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Yes, a road bike is fine for a 15 minute commute.
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Old 01-21-21, 08:22 PM
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If it's a 15 minute ride, you can ride basically anything. A road bike is great if that's what you have.

Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
This. Road bikes are not designed or built for routine, convenient transportation. "Horses for courses," as they say.
This place blows my mind sometimes. For a 15 minute ride, it literally doesn't matter. There was about a year and a half when I lived 2 miles from work. I had 3 bikes at the time, two of which were drop bar bikes and one of which was more of a commuter bike hybrid with fenders and flat bars. And I just rode whatever I felt like riding that morning, because it took 12 minutes to get to work. It was honestly the best commute I've ever had because it just didn't matter. No matter what I did, it was easy. Bike commuting ain't flying to the moon.
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Old 01-21-21, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
If it's a 15 minute ride, you can ride basically anything. A road bike is great if that's what you have.



This place blows my mind sometimes. For a 15 minute ride, it literally doesn't matter. There was about a year and a half when I lived 2 miles from work. I had 3 bikes at the time, two of which were drop bar bikes and one of which was more of a commuter bike hybrid with fenders and flat bars. And I just rode whatever I felt like riding that morning, because it took 12 minutes to get to work. It was honestly the best commute I've ever had because it just didn't matter. No matter what I did, it was easy. Bike commuting ain't flying to the moon.
When an exposed chain shreds the pants of a $2,000 suit it does matter.
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Old 01-21-21, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
You can use any bike that will accept a rear pannier rack for commuting 15 minutes.

Just make sure the bike is NOT attractive to thieves and get the most secure lock for it.

I have a cheap $250 road bike I use for all things - race training, 100 mile rides, commuting, hauling groceries, deliveries

I make it look ugly with paint, fake rust (some of them are real...), and never cleaning, except the drivetrain (barely) as my daily routes takes me to very poor neighborhoods:

Why do you have the seat set so low? How does your "heel drop" technique make up for this?
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Old 01-21-21, 09:04 PM
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I think whether the bike is a comfortable fit or not would be most important.

If it isn't, ride whatever is.
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Old 01-22-21, 12:12 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Why do you have the seat set so low? How does your "heel drop" technique make up for this?
edit: off-topic to thread. Let's discuss it in a more appropriate thread, not here

Last edited by cubewheels; 01-22-21 at 03:31 AM.
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Old 01-22-21, 03:35 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
When an exposed chain shreds the pants of a $2,000 suit it does matter.
I have a reflectorized velcro strap that prevents that. Occasionally I forget it, but I can use a rubber band or just tuck it into my sock.
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Old 01-23-21, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
When an exposed chain shreds the pants of a $2,000 suit it does matter.
Ah yes, sorry, I neglected to consider the many thousands of working class heroes across this fine nation looking for the right bike for getting to work in their custom suits.
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Old 01-24-21, 12:14 PM
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It doesn't matter. In the past 40 years I've used mountain bikes, geared and single speed road and cross bikes and touring bikes.

The only special commuting thing I do is if the bike has a frame pump under the top tube, I switch it for a mini pump. Part of my commute is on a train and it makes it easier for me to grab the top tube and load it.
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Old 01-24-21, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
When an exposed chain shreds the pants of a $2,000 suit it does matter.
50 years ago we used pant clips. They are still made. (I rode the 3 miles to school in jacket and dress pants.)
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