Road bike for commuting, the wrong way to go?

Schisms
Schisms Posts: 5
edited June 2013 in Road buying advice
Hi,

I am looking to buy my first reasonable bike and have about £1500 to spend.

I have had a 20+ year old viking road bike for the last 5 years and really enjoy it compared to the cheap hybrid I had previously.

Anyway, I can now finally afford to buy a new bike. I will be using it predominantly for commuting and getting around London. Normally 2-10 miles. Although I would like to do the occasional longer ride.

I was planning on getting a road bike, initially wooed by the looks of the Bianchis but after reading a bit thinking of maybe a Cannondale CAAD10 or similar. I enjoy my current one, but it has very poor gears/breaks.

The one thing I have noticed when looking around is that these are so often talked about in terms of racing and very long distance touring rides. While I may look to do these they are not my reason for buying the bike.


Is a bike such as this the wrong choice for commuting? If so, what is the advantage of the 'recreation and urban bikes' over a road bike.


Any opinions would be much appreciated.

Thank you

Comments

  • JayKosta
    JayKosta Posts: 635
    For a commuting, or utility bike, things to consider are:
    1) riding position - more upright can be better for visibility. especially in crowded traffic.
    2) fenders, mud guards - is the spacing around the wheels large enough, and are there attachment points?
    3) Wheels and tires - durability and reliability can be more important than speed or lightweight.

    You might consider keeping the Viking for commuting, and getting a more performance bike for recreational rides. Braking can probably be improved by getting new/better brake pads. Shifting perhaps by a thorough cleaning and relube, including the cables and cable housings.

    Jay Kosta
    Endwell NY USA
  • jgsi
    jgsi Posts: 5,062
    Please do not be so sadistic as to submit a CAAD10 to cummunting duties, please not.
    It's like taking an Arabian thoroughbred for kiddy beach rides at Skegness.
    I will report you to CAC.
    cruelty against cannondales
  • pkripper
    pkripper Posts: 652
    You can commute on something on a much lower budget, but if you absolutely want to spend that much i reckon the best commute plus decent ride bike you'll get for that would be something like the van Nicholas entry level ti bike, that's 1400 or so
  • Schisms
    Schisms Posts: 5
    Thank you all for the suggestions.

    I can see your logic JayKosta re the three points you make:
    JayKosta wrote:
    For a commuting, or utility bike, things to consider are:
    1) riding position - more upright can be better for visibility. especially in crowded traffic.
    2) fenders, mud guards - is the spacing around the wheels large enough, and are there attachment points?
    3) Wheels and tires - durability and reliability can be more important than speed or lightweight.

    Especially point 1, I do feel very low in traffic sometimes. I guess that the next best thing with regards to position would be this kind of thing: http://www.cannondale.com/2013/bikes/ro ... tion-urban but it seems like a much less efficient (and fast) ride position.

    pkripper wrote:
    You can commute on something on a much lower budget, but if you absolutely want to spend that much i reckon the best commute plus decent ride bike you'll get for that would be something like the van Nicholas entry level ti bike, that's 1400 or so

    Pkripper, I obviously don't want to spend way more than is needed but feel that now would be a good time to buy the good bike I have always coveted. What is the advantage of the van Nicholas over the likes of the cannondale, to my untrained eye I struggle to see the difference?

    Thanks again,
  • notnot
    notnot Posts: 284
    A lower position is more aerodynamic - and therefore potentially faster if you're going at a good speed. However, for 2-10 mile rides round town I'm not sure a difference between say 20mph and 18/19mph from a less racy position on your bike will be anything to write home about - I'd go for visibility/comfort over small aerodynamic benefits. You may also find that traffic lights etc. mean you don't tend to get up enough speed to get many benefits from the lower position.

    Depending where you're leaving the bike, you might also think about how tempting it is to thieves. I ride a cheap mountainbike round town - which I'm comfortable leaving locked up wherever - and use a road bike for longer spins. Around town, you'll probably want pedals that don't need clip-in shoes, too?

    Nothing wrong with buying a more expensive bike than you need because you like it or you'll likely ride a shiny bike more often :) Though there may be more practical bikes that would fit the bill...
  • mikenetic
    mikenetic Posts: 486
    It seems to be a controversial opinion for many, but any bike being used as a commuter should be able to fit a full set of proper mudguards. Spraying a mix of road dirt, diesel, glass and water on yourself, your bike, and other commuters is not cool. That's one of the reasons why most road bikes are less than ideal commuter rides.

    My recommendation (because I have one, and it's the best commuter bike I've owned by a country mile) is a Surly Cross Check. It's also perfectly suited for longer rides.

    I built it up myself using 105, Mavic Aksium Race wheels, Conti GP 4 season 28s, Ritchey finishing kit and a Fizik saddle. It's well under your budget, you could build it up for about £1200 all in. Get an LBS to build it for you and it'll still be under your budget.

    Practical, discrete, comfortable, fast enough, and as you can buy a frame set and start from there, configurable to your heart's content.

    39hQFfz.jpg
  • edhornby
    edhornby Posts: 1,780
    carry on using the viking for commuting, treat yourself to some swisstop green cartridge brake pads and mudguards are always good for non-dry days, keeps the dirt away from your backside and feet

    planet x sab ali and carbon racer for 800 quid is a cracking bike
    "I get paid to make other people suffer on my wheel, how good is that"
    --Jens Voight
  • pkripper
    pkripper Posts: 652
    The only reason I suggested ti is that its pretty forgiving as a material and is probbly more comfy than a caad, and will also probbly have a slightly more relaxed geometry. Oh, and it doesn't really rust or corrode and there's no paintjob to worry about.

    It's a ventus, that's the model I was trying to think of. As for mudguards, you can bosh a set of crudguards and 25mm tyres on and it'll be a sweet ride.
  • clarkey cat
    clarkey cat Posts: 3,641
    great suggestion from Mikenitic. I used to use a Hewitt Chiltern for commuting and it was perfect.
  • Mindermast
    Mindermast Posts: 124
    I don't see any trouble with road bikes in normal traffic. There is no need to assume a time trial position and, anyway, you will probably find yourself on the brakehandles or on the upper part of the handle bar most of the time.

    Mudguards are an issue though. I ignore it, because I don't have any bike with mudguards and use rainwear instead. I can't even try clip-on mudguards, because there is not enough space at the brakes.

    Durability of wheels and tyres: I never had trouble with my wheels. You will need tyres with reasonable puncture protection, that's all. Just don't get wobbly rims, they are of no use anyway. If you have any doubts, search for Martyn Ashton on youtube.
  • ricky1980
    ricky1980 Posts: 891
    To OP,
    there is nothing wrong with getting a road bike for commute. If you want to have fun on your way in and back then road bike will give you the thrill. CAAD 10 seems to be a good choice, it's aluminium, robust and generally maintenance free.

    in terms of ride position: you want a road bike means u are going to be low down. there are bikes out there that are more relaxed like the CAAD 8 or Synapse. The head tube is at a more vertical line as well as being bigger so you gain a slightly more upright position. what the bike manufacturer nowadays call "Sportive" bikes. anyway you will still be low down regardless.

    So if the above affects you then DO NOT get a road bike.

    Ride comfort - you can tweak that by a number of choices 1) frame construction - steel/titanium/aluminium/cheap carbon all have different characteristics some are more giving then others 2) rear triangle suspension system 3) rim width and tyre width. 4) saddle and seat posts

    basically you got a lot of combination of things that you can choose to tune the ride comfort so don't get bogged down on this. basically get a frame that is comfortable for you in the first instance.

    last and least important...mud guards...there are so many types of them out there for road bikes, so you need not to worry about it. however you will look pretty ridiculous if you hang a pannier at the back, and to be fair you will struggle to find one that fits.

    To conclude, if you want a bike that you can use on a daily basis and enjoy the journey as well as taking it out for a long ride at the weekend, then a road bike is going to be the only thing out there.
    Road - Cannondale CAAD 8 - 7.8kg
    Road - Chinese Carbon Diablo - 6.4kg
  • iPete
    iPete Posts: 6,076
    Nothing wrong with using a roadie but its the capability of the London streets to coat a bike in crap that make using the nice bike a no no.

    In London get yourself a nice SS or FG, something that can take full guards and use that for commuting. If you are strong enough a SS bike won't hold you back if you want to venture out of town.
  • patrickf
    patrickf Posts: 536
    Nobody has mention disc brakes yet. Personally my plan is to change to a disc CX frame for my commuter when funds will allow.

    I destroyed a set of rims in one winter this year. I don't fancy having to do that every year.
  • Schisms
    Schisms Posts: 5
    Thanks so much for all the advice. There seems to be a vague (majority) consensus that a CX is the best for this, due to the increased durability, and ability to add full fenders etc. The CAADX DISC ULTEGRA seems nice. My one worry is the speed with the wider tyres, I know I am by no means a pro racer, but will I notice the difference nonetheless, or is it really minor at my level?

    I am still tempted by a more full road bike, but maybe more in the Synapse rather than CAAD10 direction.

    I guess I need to actually try some bikes now, rather than just browsing their stats.
  • mikenetic
    mikenetic Posts: 486
    Stick a set of 25c or 28c tyres on it from a good manufacturer (Continental GP 4 Seasons are a good bet) and you'll roll along pretty well. I'd stay away from 23mm tyres in town.
  • notnot
    notnot Posts: 284
    25C will be fine for riding round town and leisure rides http://roadcyclinguk.com/news/racing-ne ... ested.html They could actually have lower rolling resistance, as well as the extra comfort. You could try 23C as well if you fancy though.

    Are you doing anything where speed is critical? Marginally wider tyres won't suddenly mean you grind to a halt or can't accelerate past 20mph. The main thing that will make you faster is likely just spending more time cycling on something - so pick something you like riding.
  • RDW
    RDW Posts: 1,900
    As others have suggested, commuting in London will be pretty harsh on your bike, while an expensive road bike will be a prime target for thieves. You'll need proper insurance and a serious lock (ideally with secure parking):

    http://www.lfgss.com/thread17938.html

    IF the brakes can be fixed to work safely (and you have space for an n+1), I'd be inclined to service the Viking and use it for commuting - a posh bike probably won't be significantly faster for this purpose:

    http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c6801

    (tongue in cheek article, but with a serious point).
  • Schisms
    Schisms Posts: 5
    I enjoyed the BMJ article a lot,
    RDW wrote:
    , and it backs up what you were all saying about the marginal difference I will notice if I chose one of the racers.

    I think I will likely go for a CX bike, will need to try the CAADXs but they seem a reasonable option, with a good lock (thanks for the link) etc.

    Thank you all for your help, it has likely saved me quite a bit of cash, and pointed me in a more appropriate direction.
  • ricky1980
    ricky1980 Posts: 891
    go to the shops and try the bikes, see which you prefer to sit on and also think about what you gonna be riding it for...you said u wanted to do some weekend rides so bare that in mind. CX is ok for that but ain't gonna be a lightweight machine.

    also the bike's look i think is important, cos you want it to look good with u on it. so forget about thieves...they will steal you bike given half a chance. so don't leave it out of your sight, if you have to, make sure it is locked up in a good location with surveillance etc.

    Bike theft in london is rift, so DON'T let it outside your sight and never just leave it next to lamp post. Even the crappiest bike there is 20 quid in it at scrap yard.
    Road - Cannondale CAAD 8 - 7.8kg
    Road - Chinese Carbon Diablo - 6.4kg
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    CX bike would be my choice. Maybe 2nd (lighter/faster/sexier) set of wheels/tyres for the weekends ;-)

    Put the Viking on ebay!