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I used my road bike for a commute

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I used my road bike for a commute

Old 10-08-16, 01:14 AM
  #1  
zacster
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I used my road bike for a commute

After years of using a converted mountain bike for commuting, I was all ready to go this morning and found it had a flat. As I was in cycling clothes and it was getting late I decided to just grab my road bike instead. This bike is totally unsuitable as a commuter, carbon frame, Campy group, super light wheels, no lights, bell, rack or fenders.

I slung my messenger bag/pannier over my shoulder and took off, and I immediately realized why I don't do this often. I hate carrying things on my back, and then when I hit the hill in the park I realized how much that weighed me down. When I got to Manhattan, I realized that the Look Keo pedals were totally inappropriate for the traffic, and basically I had to take it easy, as tempting as it was to just take off. On the non-traffic areas though I definitely had an advantage.

Ultimately it took the exact same time as usual. It isn't how fast you can go on any one stretch in NYC, it is how many red lights you need to stop at.
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Old 10-08-16, 06:53 AM
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I only ride to work once a week and mostly on rural roads. I ride either a cannondale r2000 road bike or my recently acquired giant tcx. Even out here the lights are more important than the bike as far as time of commute. I always wear a backpack so even though it's somewhat heavy and annoying it doesn't matter what bike I'm on...
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Old 10-08-16, 07:00 AM
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I use road bikes for commuting full time. My route is more suburban, with lights relatively spread out. I couldn't imagine doing the 20-km ride with anything but a road bike.
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Old 10-08-16, 07:04 AM
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Work out another way to carry the pack, get some 2-sided pedals with platforms on one side, and I'll bet you'd like it!
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Old 10-08-16, 07:38 AM
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After years on a MTB based commuter I acquired an old road bike which I rode almost exclusively for a whole summer. Even now, with the new racked and fendered semi-touring commuter, I still like to ride the old roadie in to work. It has lights, air-horn, bell and saddle bag, plus a small frame bag. I've always used a back pack, which I rack on the other two bikes, but wear on the roadbike. What works for me is letting the straps out long and resting the bag on the small of my back, rather than tight against my spine. Even though I put a smaller chainring upfront, it's no climber, and I spend more time climbing out of the saddle than on my other bikes (practically no time on the MTB). I also went to wider tires, 700x32 vs the 23s it came with. My backpack is about 15-20lbs in the summer and 20-30lbs in the winter, but resting on the small of my back I don't feel it much as I use a take-a-look glasses-mount mirror and don't have to twist my body around often.

Aside from no fenders and downtube shifters I like this bike for its relative nimbleness, relative lightness and super comfortable super-flexing steel frame. And like you and many others I have found that although my three bikes settle in to three different crusing speeds, my commute times tend to be similar due to traffic, lights and conditions.

And even though the downtube shifters are less convenient, require a reach down to shift, I find that keeps me from fidgiting and constantly shifting. And I really like the direct feel of friction shifters, at least on my bike.
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Old 10-08-16, 07:54 AM
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I use the road bike whenever possible. It's a pretty durable bike, a Windsor Fens from BD, and I've fitted lights and a rack. But it's way more fun to ride than the upright bike and less tiring too.

I do have a Giant Seek 0 for winter riding. I don't use it in the summer much. I take it maybe once every month or two just to keep the cobwebs on it down. It's probably 20 pounds heavier than the road bike, and upright, so the wind can be a killer on it. But in the winter when the wheels may slip sideways with no warning (even with studs, icy ruts and wet gooshy snow can surprise you), the upright posture lets me put a foot on the ground very fast, push myself back up and keep going.
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Old 10-08-16, 08:30 AM
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There's a reason that just about nobody outside of the US uses road bikes for transportation and instead mostly ride upright Dutch geometry. As you pointed out, the overall time diff is often between zero and negligible. Even on my 9 mile each way commute the difference is 5 minutes ride time (though road or mountain then require considerable more time getting ready at each end).

MAMIL culture is largely limited to a US phenomenon for a reason.
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Old 10-08-16, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
MAMIL culture is largely limited to a US phenomenon for a reason.
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Old 10-08-16, 08:21 PM
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After spending so much $$ on my carbon road bike, which I intended to ride only on weekend rides, I decided that the ride experience gave me so much pleasure it would be a crime not to use it on my commute as well. I set it up with pinned platform pedals that are a great alternative to clipless. I can wear any shoe or sneaker I want and my feet stay put unless I consciously lift and relocate them. At the same time, I can start and stop instantly, with no delay clipping in and out.

Regarding carrying stuff, I bought the lightweight Arkel Randonneur rear rack, which hangs from my seat rails and is further secured with a carbon-friendly rubberized clamp that fits around my seat post. To the rack I attached a lightweight plastic basket I bought at The Container Store (it weighs next to nothing), using four cable ties. The rack attaches and detaches in seconds, so I can easily use it for my commute and remove it for weekend rides. I put whatever I need to carry in a super-lightweight nylon backpack, place it in the basket, and secure it with a bungee net (backpack and bungee net also bought at The Container Store). This has been a great solution for me.

For me, it's not just speed that counts. It's the overall feeling of joy I get riding a beautifully engineered machine - the smoothness and efficiency. It puts a smile on my face every time I ride.
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Old 10-08-16, 09:24 PM
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I find the question interesting: what would the all American commuter/utility bike look like? Maybe the question needs to be specific to the individual city, or maybe NYC vs everywhere else.

At one point or another, I have commuted on almost every bike I have owned in the last 10 years. Road, MTB, SS, Rando, recumbent. It needs speed, for our auto centric distances and our notorious American impatience. Tires that can handle bad surfaces. Some carrying capacity, for a change of clothes and computer, but not enough to slow it down much. Reliability, always being ready to go. And lights for poorly lit streets and roads and don't run out. And real fenders, not those undersized, noisy POS decorative ones on every utility bike ever sold in the US.

That pretty much describes a classic allroad rando bike, which is what I commute on 99% of the time. So it turns out, the all American commuter bike may be French.
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Old 10-08-16, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
There's a reason that just about nobody outside of the US uses road bikes for transportation and instead mostly ride upright Dutch geometry. As you pointed out, the overall time diff is often between zero and negligible. Even on my 9 mile each way commute the difference is 5 minutes ride time (though road or mountain then require considerable more time getting ready at each end).

MAMIL culture is largely limited to a US phenomenon for a reason.
Virtually no one uses road bikes for commuting in the US either. There are also more MAMILs in just about every European country than the US.
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Old 10-08-16, 11:22 PM
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The longer the distance, the less traffic (lights) - the more a road bike makes sense.

However, I personally find not having mudguards and rack for carrying stuff a real nuisance on a commuting bicycle.
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Old 10-09-16, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by catgita View Post
I find the question interesting: what would the all American commuter/utility bike look like? Maybe the question needs to be specific to the individual city, or maybe NYC vs everywhere else.

At one point or another, I have commuted on almost every bike I have owned in the last 10 years. Road, MTB, SS, Rando, recumbent. It needs speed, for our auto centric distances and our notorious American impatience. Tires that can handle bad surfaces. Some carrying capacity, for a change of clothes and computer, but not enough to slow it down much. Reliability, always being ready to go. And lights for poorly lit streets and roads and don't run out. And real fenders, not those undersized, noisy POS decorative ones on every utility bike ever sold in the US.

That pretty much describes a classic allroad rando bike, which is what I commute on 99% of the time. So it turns out, the all American commuter bike may be French.
Rando bikes seem like the perfect all arounder. Or constructeurs.
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Old 10-09-16, 04:48 AM
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It is one thing if your road bike has all of the necessary gear for commuting, which then makes it less of a road bike, and another entirely if it is almost race ready. My roadie falls into the latter category, not that I race. So, two sided pedals? No way. Fenders? No way.

My commuter/mtb has all of these things, but is also 3x10 XT gearing that shifts with a feather touch, hand built dynamo front wheel, matching rear wheel, the fenders and a rack. Shifting on this is better than my road bike. I put V-Brakes on it, not disks, because the frame had those, and they also are one finger, light touch. All of this added up to a well performing bike that I'm more comfortable riding in the city. And to top it off, this bike LOOKS like a crappy old bike with a scratched up Trek frame from 1990. This goes a long way towards theft prevention as it doesn't draw attention to itself. Dynamo lighting falls into the category of lights that don't run out.

So a bare bones road bike vs. an all-out city bike, and the city bike is the winner for commuting. So does this mean I don't use my roadie? Of course I do, just not through am/pm rush hour traffic on Second Avenue carrying clothes for work.
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Old 10-09-16, 05:46 AM
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According to Wiki on MAMIL - "The word was reportedly coined by British marketing research firm Mintel in 2010."
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Old 10-09-16, 06:29 AM
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I don't believe that there is any necessary gear for commuting, and I'd rather not have that gear on my road bike. That's one of the big advantages of having two or more bikes for commuting: the option of riding the road bike when you feel like it, or a bike with all of the accessories when you need to. The road bike is more fun to commute on, and what I'll use more often than not.
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Old 10-09-16, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
There's a reason that just about nobody outside of the US uses road bikes for transportation and instead mostly ride upright Dutch geometry. As you pointed out, the overall time diff is often between zero and negligible. Even on my 9 mile each way commute the difference is 5 minutes ride time (though road or mountain then require considerable more time getting ready at each end).

MAMIL culture is largely limited to a US phenomenon for a reason.
I don't know what that last sentence means. For me, the road bike is just way more comfortable to ride long distance. I have a 24 mile one way commute, and the difference can be up to 15 minutes. Also I get to the end of a 50 mile day feeling a lot less worn out on the road bike than on the upright. That's mainly because the upright weighs a good 20 pounds more which I really feel on hills, but if there's a significant wind, it can be murder. I have spots on my route where from now through about May I'm facing a prevailing westerly wind that's ripping across almost a mile of bare farm fields 5 miles from the end of my route. Pushing against that in an upright posture, I've been down in my lowest gear on level ground, growling and swearing. I've actually stopped and walked. Never on the road bike though.

Prep/end ride times are identical between my bikes. Prep on both = cram ID, wallet and food into the bag, suit up (same for both), grab whichever bike, move Fly6 if I took the other bike last time, plug in and turn on all lights, slide the bag onto the rack, roll. About 60 seconds, either way. I can be rolling 15 minutes after crawling out of bed but it's usually 25.
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Old 10-09-16, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I don't believe that there is any necessary gear for commuting, and I'd rather not have that gear on my road bike.
If it's all the same to you, I kind of feel that serious lighting is actually necessary gear for my commute, 24 miles in the dark over almost exclusively 50 to 55 MPH 2 lane roads.

Also for short distances I'll use a backpack to get my clothes and food to work, but for 24 miles I'm putting it in a bag on a rack. Backpacks suck for more than about 10 miles or so.
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Old 10-09-16, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
It is one thing if your road bike has all of the necessary gear for commuting, which then makes it less of a road bike, and another entirely if it is almost race ready. My roadie falls into the latter category, not that I race. So, two sided pedals? No way. Fenders? No way.
I don't have any interest in racing, I have a road bike that has only ever been used for commuting (I only ever ride to go somewhere). Sometimes in the summer I strip it down to minimal load for fun (basically what it shipped with). It's never had 2 sided pedals on it, not sure why that would be a necessity. Never had fenders either. I don't mind getting a little dirty. When I'm running like that, I toss everything into a backpack and toss a light on the seatpost and another on the handlebar (probably Knog Blinder 4V on the back and a Cygolite Metro up front) which takes about 2 minutes if they're not already on, and go.
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Old 10-09-16, 07:19 AM
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Carbon frame w/Campy in NYC? Did you have a safe place to lock it up?
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Old 10-09-16, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Jerrys88 View Post
After spending so much $$ on my carbon road bike, which I intended to ride only on weekend rides, I decided that the ride experience gave me so much pleasure it would be a crime not to use it on my commute as well. I set it up with pinned platform pedals that are a great alternative to clipless. I can wear any shoe or sneaker I want and my feet stay put unless I consciously lift and relocate them. At the same time, I can start and stop instantly, with no delay clipping in and out.

Regarding carrying stuff, I bought the lightweight Arkel Randonneur rear rack, which hangs from my seat rails and is further secured with a carbon-friendly rubberized clamp that fits around my seat post. To the rack I attached a lightweight plastic basket I bought at The Container Store (it weighs next to nothing), using four cable ties. The rack attaches and detaches in seconds, so I can easily use it for my commute and remove it for weekend rides. I put whatever I need to carry in a super-lightweight nylon backpack, place it in the basket, and secure it with a bungee net (backpack and bungee net also bought at The Container Store). This has been a great solution for me.

For me, it's not just speed that counts. It's the overall feeling of joy I get riding a beautifully engineered machine - the smoothness and efficiency. It puts a smile on my face every time I ride.
I was going to make a joke about the real crime of running pinned plaform pedals on a road bike (carbon or not)...but I'm afraid it would be taken wrong. Instead I want to point out that this, THIS, is why I love bikeforums: cyclists sharing what works for them, and the reasoning behind it.
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Old 10-09-16, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
If it's all the same to you, I kind of feel that serious lighting is actually necessary gear for my commute, 24 miles in the dark over almost exclusively 50 to 55 MPH 2 lane roads.
all my bikes have good lighting. I tend to procrastinate and leave home late on recreational rides. Right now my commuter is the only one that doesn't have lighting, but that has to change soon because I'll be riding home in the dark. Rack accidents or tampering took out both taillight and headlight on the commuter. Probably going to up-armor the replacement lights.

I gave my son my previous commuter to ride at school. It had a rack I made on it, and I haven't made a new rack for the commuter I'm using now. I really don't mind carrying my bag on my back that much. I haven't ridden my road bike to work recently, but I always liked it.
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Old 10-09-16, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
If it's all the same to you, I kind of feel that serious lighting is actually necessary gear for my commute, 24 miles in the dark over almost exclusively 50 to 55 MPH 2 lane roads.

Also for short distances I'll use a backpack to get my clothes and food to work, but for 24 miles I'm putting it in a bag on a rack. Backpacks suck for more than about 10 miles or so.
A light is necessary for you and your commute, but that doesn't make it "necessary equipment" for commutes. Different people, different commutes, you can't say that your light is necessary equipment for other people. Like your handle says.

Another example, I don't use a backpack either but that doesn't mean I have to use a rack on my road bike. It's not "necessary" on a road bike - there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Just to be clear, I'm not exactly a newbie with a short commute and I don't skip a commute for any conditions, so it's not like I'm advising people while unaware of the challenges. We all tend to work out our own particular solutions, but many of those solutions do not require any "necessary equipment", and in particular for those with shorter commutes as you mentioned, and who prefer to pick and choose when to ride in.
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Old 10-09-16, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
There's a reason that just about nobody outside of the US uses road bikes for transportation and instead mostly ride upright Dutch geometry. As you pointed out, the overall time diff is often between zero and negligible. Even on my 9 mile each way commute the difference is 5 minutes ride time (though road or mountain then require considerable more time getting ready at each end).

MAMIL culture is largely limited to a US phenomenon for a reason.
And I am curious to know how long your 9 mile each way commute is on a dutch geometry bike.
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Old 10-09-16, 09:48 PM
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I've been commuting nearly daily since 1998, probably 80% on a road bike. It just works for me. It might not work for you. Remember that the only thing that makes a bike a commute bike is that it is ridden to work and back.
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