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Beginners guide to commuting?

DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
edited August 2009 in Commuting chat
So you're thinking about cycling to work?

I’m going to try and provide a beginners guide to commuting.

It is important to get this out there first:

It is advisable to read: Cycle Craft

The following three post will attempt to:

- Explain the different types of bikes commonly used that commute to work on bicycle.

- Recommend good/popular commuting bikes in each category grouped by price points.

- List the bare essential bike equipment you are likely to need on your commute (as well as some sage advice)

Please read on
Food Chain number = 4

A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
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  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    edited April 2009
    Types of commuting bike

    Below is an explanation of the main type of bikes most use to commute to work. (For the purpose of the examples I’ve used one bike manufacturer so that visual comparisons can be made).

    Hybrid
    The definition of a hybrid in the eyes of today’s traditionalist would be that of a Mountain bike frame with rigid forks (no suspension) and slick tyres. A hybrid is primarily designed for road and soft trail (gravel, mud and other off road surfaces) use. See image below for example of Hybrid and Mountain bike comparison:

    giant-escape-m2-06.jpgHybrid (above)

    prod_2840.jpg Mountain Bike (above)

    As you can see, the hybrid, a Giant Escape M2, has the same XTC frame as the mountain bike of the same name. The only real difference (excluding components) are the tyres, suspension and crank.

    Hybrid’s benefit from the agility of a mountain bike and a respectable speed of the road going tyres. Over longish distances 26inch wheels can become tiresome so many hybrids are fitted with the road bike standard 700c wheels – see below:
    5424501.jpg
    Giant Escape R2 (same bike as the hybrid pictured above only with 7000c wheels).

    Hydraulic or cable operated disc brakes do come with some hybrids (and cyclocross bikes) for extra stopping power. However, what should and always be relied on first is the forward planning and anticipation of the rider.

    Flatbar road bike
    A flat bar road bike has a traditional road bike frame with a flat handle bar. The idea behind this was to give the rider a more upright but largely static riding position.

    (see image below for comparison between flat bar and drop handle bar road bike)
    m7612_fcr2.jpg

    08SCR3.jpg

    Above is an image of the 2008 Giant FCR2 and SCR3. Like the hybrid and mountain bike comparison earlier both the FCR and SCR share the same frame with the main difference being the handle bars.

    Cyclocross
    These are essentially road bikes with wider, knobbly and harder wearing tyres so that the bike can be ridden over soft trails. Additional tweaks to the frame usually add more comfort. Ideally if your commute includes a ‘soft-trail’ (gravel, mud etc) through a park and you want to use a road bike then cyclocross is the way forward.

    prod_13249.jpg

    Road bike
    There are many myths about road bikes.

    Firslty, road bikes are not purely for racing. There are road bikes such as tourers designed more for carrying large loads and riding long distances. There are also single speed road bikes that fall into the category of road bikes as well as cyclocross bikes and flat bar road bikes (mentioned above).

    Secondly, drop handle bars are not as daunting as they seem. They offer a large number of different riding positions. The ability to shift your hands into different places on the handle bars means that you can also rotate your shoulders, upper and lower back reducing the potential for cramp and/or back/shoulder pain while riding the bike. Example below:

    dropbarpositions.jpg

    Some positions can reduce the effectiveness of the brakes or limit your ability to shift gears.

    Frame and riding position: Some road bike frames have been designed to provide a very upright riding position, adding spacers under the handle bars or flipping the stem can increase this.

    With the addition of carbon fibre (at the rear triangle, fork, seat post and/or the entire bike) as well as other often additional tweaks, at the commuting level, these are designed to absorb road vibration and add comfort.

    Example of road bikes with relaxed geometry for commuting/sportive etc :
    DEFY_1.jpg

    Example of a more race orientated road bike:
    tcradvanced0-09.jpg

    Example of a touring road bike
    prod_2235.jpg

    Example of a single speed road bike with bull horn bars (also available with flat and drop handle bars)
    m7930_bowery84.jpg
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    edited April 2009
    The following section (which I will update, recommendations welcome) will attempt to list the pros and cons for each type of bike (mentioned above) and list the common traits/characteristics found in the most common materials used to make bike frames.

    Hybrid:
    Pros:
    - Lightweight compared to a mountain bike
    - Wide range of gears,
    - Equally at home on road or on well made tracks and canal footpaths etc.
    - Doesn't have the "drag" on tarmac that you get with a mountain bike.

    Cons:
    - Heavy compared to a road bike
    - Not suited to severe off-road conditions, mountain tracks etc.
    - Riding position can become uncomfortable after long rides
    - Isn't as fast as a road bike

    Single speed
    Pros :
    - minimal maintenance
    - zen like pedalling efficiency (Fixed gear)
    - looks cool

    Cons
    - can spin out on fast stretches
    - struggle up hills depending on gearing
    - Lack of gears can be unbearable during long rides

    Flatbar roadbike:

    CycloCross

    Roadbike

    Lastly Frame Material:

    1) Carbon fibre:
    - Natural tendency to fatigue failure (but I concede that modern resins and forming methods improve fatigue strength).
    - Impact often causes internal damage (delamination). This is difficult to detect, and can be impossible to detect with the naked eye.
    - By nature CF has zero ductility, so failure is catastrophic (it effectively shatters). OK for a race or weekend machine that is obsolete before it fails, less desireable on a commuter.
    - Not repairable.

    2) Aluminium:
    - Also has a natural tendency to fatigue failure - and I will agree that moden composites are closing the gap on aluminium in this regard - but aluminium is still an order of magnitude more resilient. But back to my favourite test bed, it is telling how many pros switch to more reliable alu for stems, steerers and handlebars for Roubaix.
    - Impact usually will cause bending (denting), but the structure will remain intact. So it may be bent, but you will very likely still be able to ride it home. You'll also know when it is broken and unsafe to ride because you can see the damage to the structure.
    - Depending on the alloy, impact can cause cracking (although this is almost always visible). Don't quote me on this, but I think 7000 series alu alloys are more prone to cracking than 6000 series alloys. Scandium alloys have great resilience so this is much less of an issue in this case.
    - Because alu frames are generally heat treated after welding, they are generally not repairable.

    3) Steel:
    - Steel is naturally springy so has a good resistance to fatigue failure. However, prone to crorossion, and it can be difficult to rust proof the inside of the frame. Can be prone to stress corrosion cracking (a form of corrosion induced fatigue failure) although this is very unusual.
    - Impact will cause bending - can typically be cold worked, so can be bent straight again.
    - Strength, fatigue resistance and repairability all depend on construction method and the particular alloy. A problem with steel is that although it has lots of strength, to make the frame very light requires very thin wall tubes which are then prone to denting. It can also be difficult to achieve good rigidity and keep weight down. But if you aren't racing, so what?
    - Modern alloys are typically a lot less sensitive to temperature and consequently can be welded in construction without heat treatment. This makes steel frames very easily repairable - this is why steel is still the absolute favourite of expedition tourers as steel is the only material that can be repaired by any guy who knows his way around an oxy-acetylene kit.

    4) Titanium:
    - Just perfect Wink . And if you do manage to really break it, so what - you can probably afford to buy a new one.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    edited March 2009
    Commuter Starter kit and advice:

    If you’re new to commuting by bike and are wondering about what equipment to carry/use then please read on…

    3 sage rules:

    Don't try to save money on a lock, if you are leaving your bike anywhere then secure it with a decent D-lock for the back wheel and a lock for the front wheel. Whatever you’re locking the bike against, make sure your locks secure not only the wheels but as much of the frame as possible. Thieves are opportunists do not give them the opportunity.

    Carry an innertube, tyre levers and a pump. Learn how to change a tyre, there is nothing worse than getting a flat stranded half way along your commute and having to walk your bike into work (and then walk/train it home) because you can’t change the tyre.

    Be visible, carry bike lights. Sure you may leave work and get home before it gets dark. However, one day you may work late, or stay behind for after work drinks, overtime etc. It may just be a very dark day. You may see other road users, they may not see you and it only takes one mistake either on your part or another persons. It’s just sensible to carry lights, even if you don’t plan to use them.

    Starter kit:

    The recommendations below can be bought after you buy a bike (regardless of what bike you plan to buy). Keep in mind they are just recommendations and almost everyone will have other suggestions as per their preference, we can all agree that these are the base essentials you’re likely to need...

    Helmet
    Lots of myths and strong feelings about helmets (which can be discussed elsewhere). They won't save you from every collision but they can increase your safety in some accidents and in rare cases they can do more harm than good. (Until the law changes) Its your decision as to whether you wear one or not. I do.
    Helmet

    Clothing
    When the time is right and you realise that you need to wear lycra with your road bike you want to purchase the following:

    Jersey, Jacket, Padded shorts, Tights, 34 lengths, bibs, Gloves

    (Adjust accordingly as the weather demands. So when cold wear a long sleeve top, gloves and trousers instead of shorts etc)

    Shoes and pedals
    Shoes
    Pedals
    (note* There are a large number of pedals and shoes out there. many commuters use SPD so that they can wear mountain bike shoes. A benefit of this is that they can walk around in the Mountain bike shoes without slipping)

    Lights
    Cat eye lights

    Lock
    D-lock for the back wheel
    Cable lock for the front wheel

    Pump
    Mini pump for on the road punctures and quick roadside repair
    Track Pump to properly pump your tyres up

    You will eventually need a [/u]cycle computer[/u] to check out your miles:
    Cateye Strada Computer

    Bag
    For short 5mile journeys a rucksack will do but if you are carrying larger amounts or want something more cycle specific then consider:
    Panniers
    Courier/Messenger bag
    Rucksack

    Winter months and muddy trails
    mudguards

    Also don't be afraid to buy accessories online, there are bargains to be had and loads of money to be saved and usually more choice.

    Some good bike related websites:
    www.wiggle.co.uk
    www.Ribblecycles.co.uk
    www.cycle-clothing.co.uk

    Welcome to the world of fast hard miles.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 10,052
    I recommend the Specialzed Tricross Sport at £750 as ideal as it has all the fittings for panniers and mudguards, plus being light, quick for a CX and comfortable over distance
    Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
    2009 Specialized Tricross Sport
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5
    2012 Felt F65X
    Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
  • I think it's worth clarifying that road bikes covers quite a wide range of machines. I'm not convinced that a incredibly rigid racing bike with (really) skinny tyes is particularly appropriate for a commute* - although perhaps it is if you indulge in SCRing. Alternatively, at the other end of the road bike spectrum*, you have touring bikes with fatter tyres, a more comfortable riding position, fittings for panniers and mudguards, ... .

    And lots in between. Almost inevitably, I suffer from "I chose best" bias and think a Fratello's audax approach is the perrfect compromise between speed, comfort and practicality! :lol:

    Also, is Sora really a minimum? Would 2200 (is it?) not work absolutely fine for a commute? And probably well enough for someone dipping their toes in the cycling water?

    * doubtless some will disagree with me on that.
    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    I think it's worth clarifying that road bikes covers quite a wide range of machines. I'm not convinced that a incredibly rigid racing bike with (really) skinny tyes is particularly appropriate for a commute* - although perhaps it is if you indulge in SCRing. Alternatively, at the other end of the road bike spectrum*, you have touring bikes with fatter tyres, a more comfortable riding position, fittings for panniers and mudguards, ... .

    Yes but you are splitting hairs. On one hand you are saying:
    I'm not convinced that a incredibly rigid racing bike with (really) skinny tyes is particularly appropriate for a commute*

    And on the other hand you are saying:
    Alternatively, at the other end of the road bike spectrum*, you have touring bikes with fatter tyres, a more comfortable riding position, fittings for panniers and mudguards, ...

    Which is a contradiction. So basically what you are saying is that a road back can be great for commuting. Which, is what I was saying. What you've got to remember is that what I've written isn't the definitive rule. It's a guideline for people who come here and ask What bike should I get for commuting. All I've done is give them options as I see it.

    Also, is Sora really a minimum? Would 2200 (is it?) not work absolutely fine for a commute? And probably well enough for someone dipping their toes in the cycling water?

    2200 would work but as I said to my friend who was going to buy a £150 bike,
    "Your better off spending a little more so that you can benefit from the quality. If you have something frankly rubbish, it will only serve to put you off not encourage you to go further".

    I'm going to write in disclaimers to my original posts.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • TheBoyBillyTheBoyBilly Posts: 749
    A good effort, DonDaddyD, for those unsure of where to start in choosing the right bike for them. My only problem with drop bars is that access to the brakes from the tops in an emergency is not so good as with straight bars, obviously really, so I would comment on that when giving out advice. It's not such an issue on my seafront commute over cycle paths but on busy roads it culd be a problem for a newbie. I always feel more secure in this respect when occasionally doing the same journey on my mtb.
    To disagree with three-fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity - Oscar Wilde
  • Useful stuff DDD. A few more things to add in there maybe:

    1) Mudguards and rack mounts? panniers or rucksack?
    2) The single speed option?
    3) Frame material? Steel? Alu? Carbon?
    4) Compact double or triple?
    5) Road bikes are tough. They are not flimsy things that will collapse at the first site of a pothole (unless they are Cervelos :evil: )
    6) Tyres, tyre width and puncture resistance.
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,108
    I think it needs to be a bit more objective if its going to be a sticky, with pros / cons for different types of bike rather than the "aren't road bikes brilliant" approach. I also think that there are different arguments for a pure commuter, and a bike that you might also want to use at the weekends. The arguments in favour of hybrids / slicked up MTB's / single speeds are a lot more compelling where you are looking for a bike solely for use as a commuter.

    As an example - single speed:

    Pros
    - minimal maintenance
    - zen like pedalling efficiency
    - looks cool

    Cons
    - can spin out on fast stretches / struggle up hills depending on gearing.
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    I think we can possibly broaden the handlebars bit. I realise there are many fans of the drop-bars here but there are so many other ways to get multiple hand positions.

    I've now found bliss with my flat handlebars - I've put the grips how they should be (I had the flat meaty bit for hand support angled too far towards me, no wonder I was bending my wrist too far), and added bar-ends for a little variation.

    Also you get all those other shapes - bullhorns, risers, yuma 'butterfly' bars, etc...

    On my commute as it's on a busy and often stop-start road in terms of traffic, parked cars, lights, potholes etc - I'm on my brakes and gears a helluva lot, and find the flattie most comforting.
    4537512329_a78cc710e6_o.gif4537512331_ec1ef42fea_o.gif
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    DonDaddyD wrote:

    Tyres: Thin tyres have tons of technology poured into them to increase the rolling resistance while simultaneously increasing the puncture resistance and grip. They may look daunting but many provide everything you need and expect from a tyre in abundance.

    Pedant alert!

    This should read "decrease the rolling resistance"

    Good stuff though DDD, even if looking at so many Giant bikes has left me feeling a little queasy :twisted:

    :lol:

    9rco_epsrecordwh.jpg

    That's better.
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Inflite SL 7
    On the Strand
    Crown Stables
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    edited March 2009
    @Mat

    Your comment about pros and cons is valid and I'll add that to the recommendation section. I do, however, think that I've been honest as per my experience and attempted to demistify some of the myths about roadbikes and hybrids.

    @Sarajoy,

    In terms of having a basic flat bar and drop handlebars. Drops will always offer more options. Even if you put bullhorns onto the flat handle bars, drops will have more options. Fact is you wouldn't have needed to buy bar extensions if you had drop handle bars.
    DonDaddyD wrote:

    Tyres: Thin tyres have tons of technology poured into them to increase the rolling resistance while simultaneously increasing the puncture resistance and grip. They may look daunting but many provide everything you need and expect from a tyre in abundance.

    Pedant alert!

    This should read "decrease the rolling resistance"

    Good stuff though DDD, even if looking at so many Giant bikes has left me feeling a little queasy :twisted:

    amended to decrease. I never realised that Giant has one paint job and multiple colours that make their bikes look like lollypops.... I need a new bike :wink:
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • Eh? Pointing out that road bikes encompass both full blown racing bikes and more relaxed touring bikes is neither splitting hairs nor a contradiction. Different road bikes can have completely different characteristics - some road bikes could be appropriate for commuting and some much less so.

    And is 2200 rubbish? I confess I've never used it but I assume it works properly. And if it works properly, what stops it being good enough for a commute? Sounds like snobbery rather than a reasoned argument against 2200.
    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    @Mat @Sarajoy,

    In terms of having a basic flat bar and drop handlebars. Drops will always offer more options. Even if you put bullhorns onto the flat handle bars, drops will have more options. Fact is you wouldn't have needed to buy bar extensions if you had drop handle bars.
    While that's true - there are so many options in the middle, different shaped bars, which was mainly what I was trying (maybe not being very clear) to point out. Flats and drops aren't all that's available or worth trying out.

    Also who says I would have got on with drops? Horses for courses!
    4537512329_a78cc710e6_o.gif4537512331_ec1ef42fea_o.gif
  • SewinmanSewinman Posts: 2,131
    Great effort. I think it is slightly flawed though - being able to use the road bike for sportives and long rides etc is an irrelevance for 'what commuting bike'. Someone new to commuting should go for a hybrid - more comfortable, better brakes, grippier etc.
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    Edit:

    have rewritten the bit about road bike and sportives. As well as taken out the sora/mirage recommendation.

    what would be really helpful is if someone provided something about Single speeds and made recommendations for good commuting bikes.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    Don't get narky with me, DDD! :D

    Well I'm very happy with my Specialized Vita Sport - available for a touch under £400.

    Also where you've linked shoes and pedals - best add the MTB kind in there too - maybe a small discussion as to why clipless pedals are worth having a think about.
    4537512329_a78cc710e6_o.gif4537512331_ec1ef42fea_o.gif
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    sarajoy wrote:
    Don't get narky with me, DDD! :D

    Well I'm very happy with my Specialized Vita Sport - available for a touch under £400.

    Also where you've linked shoes and pedals - best add the MTB kind in there too - maybe a small discussion as to why clipless pedals are worth having a think about.

    Thanks will add the specialized.

    Gonna leave the clipless discussion for another thread. I may even start that one up. It'll go on for pages and pages. what I will do is write a bit about the number of varieties of clipless pedals.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    Ooh also a +1 on what Sea_Green_Incorruptible added way up there ^^^ particularly mounts for guards/pannier racks, gear options (like I def use almost the full range where I am, lots of people won't), and tyres.

    Mind you I might be getting a little bit ambitious - is it worth linking to some of the dead useful Sheldon Brown pages?
    4537512329_a78cc710e6_o.gif4537512331_ec1ef42fea_o.gif
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,147
    i do think this is more than a little road bike bias, fair enought there are lot of cheap nasty hybrids out there.

    what i would say is rather than trying for long posts about every possiblity i'd say boil it down to a few points.

    such as road bikes are more than tough enought to handle potholes etc.

    dropbars offer more comfort and speed over distance.

    while you do have more postions to brake from compared to a hybrid thin tires partically when wet are worse.

    also worth bearing in mind while there is commuters and commuters while some ride impressive distances so ride far and fast thus a road bike is a good choice others are just pottering a few miles if that so having a bike that is unfazed by lumps and bumps while not sounding like a landie is a good choice.
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    Well I thought it was balanced and well delivered.

    Oh well. I guess I'll have to drop this off the page and seperate the points out so its easier to digest.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • Eau RougeEau Rouge Posts: 1,118
    You didn't mention Time-Trial bikes. One of the guys where I work has been using a Felt TT bike to commute on recently, aero-bars and all.
    :)
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    DDD it felt very well balanced for someone looking to get into cycling on roads as a hobby - those ambitious enough that some day they may want to do sportives, and cycle a lot for leisure.

    I've come here as I'm getting into the commute, and like having a versatile bike which in my mind does the job comfortably - one that I might occasionally take out for an ambling leisure ride or off down the pub or to the shops. The trigger to my doing it is the last push for fitness and weight loss.

    It's possible I may do the odd longer ride for leisure. In fact the boyfriend (who rides a great big hybrid to and from work) fancies us riding together to Cardiff some day once I've got my fitness levels up and maybe we've done some middling-distance rides...

    ...but my main hobbies of a weekend or holiday away are dancing, sailing and skiing. Not to mention beer. Oh, and enjoying a walk in nice surroundings in the sun. I just don't feel like I'm ever going to need a racer - so a lot of the good advice for would-be club road cyclists is beyond me and possibly other commuters.
    4537512329_a78cc710e6_o.gif4537512331_ec1ef42fea_o.gif
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    Sewinman wrote:
    Great effort. I think it is slightly flawed though - being able to use the road bike for sportives and long rides etc is an irrelevance for 'what commuting bike'. Someone new to commuting should go for a hybrid - more comfortable, better brakes, grippier etc.

    Disagree - I've had a Hybrid, a Ridgeback one. It was no comfier than any of my road bikes, and the brakes certainly weren't better - in fact it was a worse bike in basically every regard. I replaced it with a Specialized Allez which cost around £100 more and was infinitley better.

    Also - Grippy? Many people assume that the sort of knobbly tires fitted to commuter hybrids are grippier - this is not the case for road riding. Over to the late great Sheldon Brown:

    Tread for on-road use
    Bicycle tires for on-road use have no need of any sort of tread features; in fact, the best road tires are perfectly smooth, with no tread at all!
    Unfortunately, most people assume that a smooth tire will be slippery, so this type of tire is difficult to sell to unsophisticated cyclists. Most tire makers cater to this by putting a very fine pattern on their tires, mainly for cosmetic and marketing reasons. If you examine a section of asphalt or concrete, you'll see that the texture of the road itself is much "knobbier" than the tread features of a good quality road tire. Since the tire is flexible, even a slick tire deforms as it comes into contact with the pavement, acquiring the shape of the pavement texture, only while incontact with the road.
    People ask, "But don't slick tires get slippery on wet roads, or worse yet, wet metal features such as expansion joints, paint stripes, or railroad tracks?" The answer is, yes, they do. So do tires with tread. All tires are slippery in these conditions. Tread features make no improvement in this.

    Squirm

    Knobby treads actually give worse traction on hard surfaces! This is because the knobs can bend under side loads, while a smooth tread cannot.
    The bending of knobs can cause discontinuities in handling; the tire grips OK for mild cornering, but as cornering force exceeds some critical value, the knobs start to bend and the traction suddenly goes to Hell in a handbasket.

    Combination Treads

    Many tire makers market "combination tread" tires, that are purported to work well both on pavement and dirt. Generally, they don't.
    The usual design is to have a smooth ridge down the center of the tread, with knobs on the sides. The theory is that the ridge will provide a smooth ride on pavement, with the tire inflated fairly hard, and the knobs will come into play off-road, with the tire running at lower pressure (or sinking into a soft surface.) Another aspect of this design is that the knobs are intended to come into play as you lean into a turn.
    In practice, combination tread tires don't work all that well. They do OK in dirt, but they're pretty lousy on pavement. They're much heavier than street tires, and if you corner aggressively, the transition from the center strip to the knobs can cause sudden washout. They aren't quite as slow and buzzy as true dirt tires, but they're much worse in this respect than smoothies.
    If you mostly ride on pavement, but also do a fair amount of dirt, a combination tire on the front may be a good choice for you, with a road tire on the back. See the section on mixing/matching tires.


    I don't know where this notion of Road bikes being uncomfortable comes from. Providing the bike fits then there's no reason for them to be uncomfy.
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Inflite SL 7
    On the Strand
    Crown Stables
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,147
    Eau Rouge wrote:
    You didn't mention Time-Trial bikes. One of the guys where I work has been using a Felt TT bike to commute on recently, aero-bars and all.
    :)

    i've seen aero bars fitted to a old MTB with knobblies in RP very odd use of a bike...
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    One of the Directors in my Office - fairweather cyclists - commutes on a Cannonale Hybrid complete with TT bars and a Pannier Rack! It's a very confused looking bike, poor thing.
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Inflite SL 7
    On the Strand
    Crown Stables
  • TheBoyBillyTheBoyBilly Posts: 749
    "what would be really helpful is if someone provided something about Single speeds and made recommendations for good commuting bikes."

    I have a Specialized Langster running it's stock 42/16 ratio on freewheel. It does the job on a fairly flat commute. I have RaceBlades mudguards fitted but carrying gear is done with a rucksack as there is litttle scope for a rack. Other brands fair better in this respect. It takes very little maintenance bar cleaning and (very occasionally) adjusting the usual suspects. It, for me, is bullet-proof commuting and very rewarding once you are into it. Fixed running is an aquired taste - and I'm not really that fussed if I'm honest. Other nice singlespeeders are the On-One Pompino, Pearce Touche and Kona Paddy Wagon.
    To disagree with three-fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity - Oscar Wilde
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    I wrote this post about an hour ago then my internet died! Hope it's still relevant:

    This is brilliant DDD - a few tweaks and lots of additions and it'll be an invaluable guide.

    My edits: the "pros" of a hybrid seem to be in comparison to a MTB - it's counterintuitive saying it's lightweight when compared to a roadie it's anything but.
    Sewinman wrote:
    I think it is slightly flawed though - being able to use the road bike for sportives and long rides etc is an irrelevance for 'what commuting bike'. Someone new to commuting should go for a hybrid - more comfortable, better brakes, grippier etc.

    I have to disagree with this. If you're spending several hundred pounds on a bike then a) you clearly enjoy (or expect to enjoy) cycling and b) you will want (or at least have the opportunity to) take the bike on leisure rides as well as just on the commute. As soon as you're riding for fun, and that fun takes you beyond a few miles pootle on roads/good tracks, then a hybrid is going to be unsuitable and/or a waste of money if you then have to either upgrade it or buy another bike for the long road rides/off-road fun you had planned.

    I think THE biggest consideration when buying a bike for commuting (where it will be your only bike) is what else you might want to do with it - then you can tailor your choice accordingly from MTB to roadie (with, obviously, a niche for genuine hybrids if all you'll be doing is a gentle pootle with the family or whatever).
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    Edit: Its a sticky oh well!

    Thanks Biondino I'll update accordingly.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    Thanks - a pro saying it's lightweight compared to an MTB can be paired with a con saying it's heavier than a roadie!
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