UKC

/ Looking for commuting advice

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Muttly on 13 Mar 2018

Hello groovy gang.

If you were looking for a bike sub £500 in total including buying a lock, helmet and lights and preferably quite a bit under what would you do. The bike would be needed for urban travel, 15 mile each way commutes with five mile there and back journeys in the day. 

Would you look road bike, hybrid, mountain bike with road tyres cyclo cross? Ideally the bike might be versatile enough for family playing about too.

 

Thanks in advance.

Pids - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

If its not too hilly then single speed with road tyres, up to you if you want flat or drop bars - single speed means no gears to get clogged up with road grit on your daily commute, less maintenance, and cheaper to buy initially.

2
elsewhere on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Genesis Day One 20 Bike - 2016/2017  - on sale in small sizes

Verenti substance sora 2017

My local Halfords had some cheap end of range deals at the weekend

 

 

cb294 - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Buy used! A cheapo bike will be lots of hassle, and if new still be more at risk by thieves.

 

That said, I would look at a cyclocross bike with rack and mudguard fittings.

 

CB

nniff - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Buying second hand can be a good thing if you know what you're looking for and have some patience.  Alternatively, you could end up with something tarted up but worn out, or stolen.

The standard answer is Decathlon  https://www.decathlon.co.uk/triban-520-flat-bar-road-bike-sora-id_8322799.html or similar.

 

Post edited at 09:11
gethin_allen on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

You're talking about a fair bit of cycling there so I'd certainly go for a road bike. Get one that will take 28 mm tyres and mudguards and if possible disc brakes. You are going to need to be hot with cleaning and re-lubing stuff or you will wear stuff out very quickly over winter.

2
nniff - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Looking more closely at your OP, thirty miles a day, plus extra during the day is a lot if you do it every day.  For the past 2.5 years I've been doing that and the bikes have taken a hammering.  In the past year, I changed to a gravel bike with a rack and disc brakes when the mileage went up to 40/day and that bike handled it well.  Having said that, it's trashed a big chain ring and a chain - being in town with a broken bike is not good and that cost £120 to get sorted on the day.

If it's an urban commute, you're forever stopping for traffic and lights:  if you have rim brakes you wear through them (pads and rims) fast, so disc brakes are a good idea.  You will wear through tyres at a rate of about 50p/day, brake pads at about 20p/day and chain/cassette at about 30p/day - so running costs therefore of about £1/day (excluding those additional purchases like some decent gloves or a jacket!).  Bear in mind that you have got to keep on top of maintenance - a knackered bike on a Tuesday night at 7pm in the pouring rain is a serious PITA as you have no way to get home and no way to get into work in the morning and no way to get it fixed - always try to replace/fix something before it breaks.

You also need to consider mudguards - if you don't, you will get covered in the filthy black urban road filth.  Going into a meeting with spots of crap all over your face is not good, and they keep your shorts dry for the ride home.

6,000 miles a year is a lot.  In my experience, there are not that many people who do it - as you get further out from the centre of town the numbers drop off dramatically.  There are even fewer who do that sort of mileage every day - most do 3-4.  It's also tough - your first four consecutive days and first five day week will be painful.  If there are any hills involved, you need to think  carefully about what you carry with you.  My commute home is pretty much up hill the whole way - and so laptop days are never good, but that's the price for not doing 5 days/week.  The longest commute that I know of is 54 miles/day. He manages to get someone to take a week's worth of shirts in for him, and rides on a full carbon bike without luggage, and doesn't go into central London (where the traffic lights live).  He did 10,000 miles in total last year.

In practice, I found that 20 miles each way was too much for me - I hacked it for a year and then cut it down to 15 by driving some of the way (which included the big part of the hill).  Still happy to do it, but not day in, day out.

Clothing - go to Decathlon again.  The Decathlon 900 cycling gloves are really, really good at £20/pair (as good as £80 Castelli).  It's better to buy the best Decathlon clothing, it's still a fraction of the cost of others'.  None of the distance commuters that I see wear anything other than full road cycling gear.

So, in essence, I suppose what I'm saying is this: if you are going to do it every day, do it properly and be prepared to put some serious effort in to get on top of the workload.  It will get easier, but it will be a test for both you and your bike.  If you are just going to be doing it occasionally, fine.

Finally, you need to modify your eating habits.  Dinner the night before and breakfast will see you though the morning but a sandwich at lunchtime is not enough.  I found that two Waitrose Belgian buns (£1 for two) at about 3pm does the trick.  Never ignore that wan, clammy feeling on the way home that says you are about to bonk.  A bag of jelly babies and a coke as fast at the earliest opportunity!

 

1
Bobling - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Top thread - I'm seriously considering the same so loads of useful info.  My commute would be Keynsham to Bristol up the Bristol and Bath cycle path for anyone who knows this neck of the woods.

Also how do you cycle commuters get clean, presentable work clothes to work?

elsewhere on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Bobling:

> Also how do you cycle commuters get clean, presentable work clothes to work?

in a pannier although those I work with will say I don't ;-)

Public transport or drive once a week?

 

hms - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Bobling:

roll them up carefully. Also depends on what your level of work smartness is - getting T-shirts in is easy, then keep a couple of smart jackets at work?

Jim Lancs on 13 Mar 2018

I have a Boardman cyclecross bike that Halfords was selling off ex-display for £600 a couple of years ago, and they threw in lights / mudguards / pump etc. 

Although that's a bit more than you're looking to spend, the cheapo cable disk brakes have proven to be a real boon in winter.  I would have needed a new set of wheels by now, so they've been 'money savers'.

But a lot of these cheaper bikes are aluminium and can be quite harsh to ride including mine. Winter urban roads are utter shite at the moment so don't overlook the advantages of being able to use bigger tyres as you can run them at lower pressures. Although you are planning a high milage there is a trade off between easier rolling versus being beaten up. That Decathlon bike can take up to 32mm which would be an attractive feature for me. To keep on cycling, you need to 'enjoy' it, so buy too cheap and it might end up as yet another unused shed ornament.

nniff - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Bobling:

> Also how do you cycle commuters get clean, presentable work clothes to work?

Everything gets packed in a rubble sack.  They're tough and properly waterproof, which is to say that rucksacks are not, but panniers may be.  They also hold things together in a reasonable block to stop them getting creased.   Two suits at the office, worn in rotation and periodically changed over and/or dry cleaned locally.  Shoes at the office.  Every morning, 4 items go into the rubble sack - shirt, tie, socks pants.  I don't have to think more than that - if there are not four items, something's missing. 

Shirt folded, tie folded on top,  with pants and socks,  into the rubble sack which is folded around them.  That then goes into the pannier or rucksack.  Other stuff that's necessary goes in around that.  I have a microfibre, quick dry towel in the office, although I rarely get sweatier than I would in the Tube, so I generally shower at home in the morning.  I'm fortunate not to be a stinker!  If it's really hot in the summer, then shower at the office.

Rule 1 - cycle clothing goes into the washing machine every day for a 15 minute quick wash - no ifs, no buts.  Shoes go in the boiler cupboard with boot bananas.  No ifs, no buts.  Consequently, none of that stuff smells either.

The last place I worked had heated lockers, which were utterly brilliant.  The real down side of cycling to work is wet mornings, because everything is usually still wet in the evening.  Really unpleasant in the depth of winter.  Cycling home in the rain is not nearly so bad.

Other essentials - puncture kit, Petzl e-light in the winter (for puncture repair), a gel, chap stick for lips and nose.

NorthernGrit - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to nniff:

You can get 10K miles out of a pair of Schwalbe Marathons which works out more like 17p a day on tyres, not 50. Yes mechanicals are a pain but mostly avoidable if you keep on top of preventive maintenance. It is certainly worth pointing out that cycle commuting is certainly not 'free' though - even after he initial outlay.

Also not being funny but who has ever bonked on a 15 mile ride?

jonnie3430 - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to nniff:

> If it's an urban commute, you're forever stopping for traffic and lights:  if you have rim brakes you wear through them (pads and rims) fast, 

You do? I haven't ever worn out rims on a bike through braking. I must have been doing it wrong.

paulcarey - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

I use a 1990 steel mountain bike with road tyres for an 11 mile commute in London. Because of the frame material its tough but on the heavy side. I end up replacing chain, sprockets etc about every 2 years. Wheels last a bit longer.  The other thing that I do at the end of each journey if its been raining is wash the drive train to get rid of the grit and prolong its life. I use a rucksack to carry stuff in but it has a waterproof hood that you can pull over it. . This keeps clothing dry. I don't like panniers as they spoil the balance of the bike for me. Shoes live at the office, as do trousers and I take in pants, shirt etc every day.  We have showers and dry secure bike lock up which is great.

Definitely get something that's robust and I would recommend 720mm wheels and mudguards. Cylocross or road bike with 28mm tyres. I have removed some stuff from my bike over the years (front derailleur as I never used it) and it has made me think about gears. I could probably get by on a 3 gear hub to be honest. May be something to consider? I would also recommend disc brakes too.

Oh and always have a plan B as I guarantee there will be days where you can't be bothered to cycle. Fortunately I can put my bike on the train if I need to.

nniff - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to NorthernGrit:

> Also not being funny but who has ever bonked on a 15 mile ride?


Someone who didn't have much of a dinner the night before, chased the strava segments on the way in, had a busy day dashing around and only had a sandwich for lunch and was carrying a laptop back home and pushing hard (uphill all the way).  That was the 20 mile commute.  Bonked once, caught it in time a few times.  Not happened since I've sorted out the Belgian buns in the afternoon. 

It's caught a few regulars out - Day one - 20 - sandwich - 20 - dinner - day two  skimpy breakfast - 20 - sandwich & busy day - 20 skimpy dinner.  Day 3 skimpy breakfast - 20 busy day & sandwich - 20/bonk or a variation on the theme.   Try it as an accumulation by Day 4 or so, perhaps with an 80 miler on the preceding Sunday.  You largely get caught out, because as you say, whoever bonked on a 15 mile ride, but 15 miles in open county at 18mph average is very different to 15 miles at 15 mph average with 57 sets of traffic lights.  Not that I've counted.

gethin_allen on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to NorthernGrit:

> You can get 10K miles out of a pair of Schwalbe Marathons which works out more like 17p a day on tyres, not 50.

But they weigh a ton and are horrible to ride on. Although because of this  they are good at avoiding punctures.

> Also not being funny but who has ever bonked on a 15 mile ride?

Depends if you're massively run down after a week's worth of commuting and work combined with poor eating.

trouserburp - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

I do half that and wouldn't want to do any more. Absolutely a road bike and don't underestimate what you're taking on - you will be a proper cyclist

I currently have an ex-hire road bike I got for £400 and before that a £200 abandoned one in a hospital auction, ran it into the ground over 2 years. Happy with both purchases but would spend more if I had your commute for any amount of time

Lock is partly dictated by insurance - it will specify bronze, silver or gold rated according to how much your bike costs, have to lock everything so chain and D lock is common. 

1
trouserburp - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Bobling:

Fold neatly ironed shirt into rucsac in the morning, take out scrumpled messy shirt on arrival. Trousers can stay at work and go home for a wash at the weekend. Shoes, ties, jacket stay at work

Always keep a spare shirt and underwear at work

Contrary to above I find turning up to meetings carrying a cycling helmet you can more or less get away with anything

elsewhere on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Knock something* off your budget to keep something back for pedals, shoes, mudguards, tools, panniers, rack etc etc etc 

* a lot

SPD pedals & shoes - will break the budget but winter MTB boots are so much nicer than faffing about with overshoes every morning. I was lucky and got some that look like nubock hiking boots so not wierd with normal clothes.

I just got a Verenti Substance Sora (yippee!). 700x37 tyres are *so* lovely but I'm comparing with 700x28  on my 4 year old, 10,000 miles, dirty and semi-incompetently maintained current bike.

Cable disk brakes because I'm not used to disks and hydraulic sounded complicated.

By the time front mudguard is on there will be lots of toe overlap

Maybe get schwalbe marathons as a commuter bike has to be practical. 

Post edited at 14:07
RX-78 on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

I Used to do similar and also further, had a 50 mile round commute through london (From SE area to Egham)  for a few years. Rim brakes were fine, but pads needed regular replacing. Punctures were a real pain (especially in the rain in winter in the dark with 10 miles to go before home) so get good tyres, I have used various schwalbe ones over the years. Cyclo-cross/gravel bike sounds ideal. I also used an old steel handrail MTB with skinny slicks for a while. Join CTC (Cycling UK now) for insurance, as the mileage means more likelihood of crashes.

Muttly on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Thank you all for replying. Food for thought. It would be an intermittent thing, a couple of times a week. I was basing it being possible on having enjoyed cycling and 12 mile each way commuted in my early twenties and enjoying 60+ rides for fun. It may not be doable and then I would have to buy a motorbike at some point but would love to fit a coupel of exercise days in. 

 

LastBoyScout on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Sounds like you need a hybrid.

Have a look on eBay - I bought a mint condition Whyte hybrid for £300 from someone that bought it on the bike to work scheme and then changed jobs and stopped using it. RRP £750 at the time.

I swap between that and an old road bike for my commute - I prefer the narrower road bars for filtering through stationary traffic. I've also occasionally used my mountain bike with slicks on it if the others are off the road.

Definitely go disk brakes, so you don't wear out your wheels. Definitely fit mudguards.

Upgrade to puncture-proof tyres - fixing a wheel on a cold, dark night is miserable.

Rechargable bike lights are brilliant, but I still carry a spare set in case of failure/forgetfulness.

I am lucky enough to have a shower at work and keep a towel and clean clothes there - change them on the days I need to drive in.

I can recommend Aldi kit for commuting - very good for the money and hard wearing, their merino socks are particularly good and I've got a shoftshell jacket that is my winter staple. Equally, while I've economised on some bits, I wear a pair of Castelli tights for comfort and fit where it's important. In the summer, I'm mainly just wearing out some old roadie kit.

I personally favour a rucksack rather than panniers.

Denzil - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

For carrying gear with you I would recommend the Alpkit waterproof rucksacks. I commuted 64mile round trip on a motorbike for 14 years (all weathers apart from when there was snow on the roads). Rucksack never leaked - ended up changing to a new one when one of the straps gave out, but replaced it with the same.

Muttly on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

Can any of you advise me about big size? I have a 31inch leg and I am 5'9" ish. or point me in the direction of some reliable information please.

ebdon on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

I commute around 20 miles a day and my advice would be:

Get a road bike or at least somthing with drop downs

You will regret a hybrid or a mountain bike they are sooo slow (i used a hybrid for years untill i got frustrated with it and have never looked back)

Get some decent tyres i have gatorskins and very rarely have punctures (i used to gst them all the time with cheep tyres)

Use a panier rack for your stuff and avoid a sweaty back

Try spd pedals

I have never felt the need for disc brakes for my commuter bike. Also if you buy a cheap nasty bike and cycle 30 miles a day through winter it will fall to bits after a year

Post edited at 20:15
tom on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

I spent 3+ years doing a 25mile (round trip) daily commute in and out of central London.   The bike (80s steel frame) was nothing special.  What I found essential were: full mudguards (for you and the person behind), drop bars (to allow multiple hand positions), good wheels + tyres (I always found Gator Hardshells to run much better then Marathons with no loss in durability), gears (for your knees), spare socks (for the illusion of dry feet), and nutrition (mental more then physical). Never used panniers, but I count that as a big mistake.  Wheels and tyres lasted the full time, went through a fair number of chains and cassettes though (I wasn't the best at cleaning...) Invest in a good lock, it will last and should cover you fairly well insurance wise in the first year. 

Post edited at 20:37
TobyA on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

> But they weigh a ton and are horrible to ride on. Although because of this  they are good at avoiding punctures.

Hmmm, weird. I got probably 10k out of my first pair of Marathon Pluses and can't say they felt any different to ride on from any other tyres beyond them never puncturing! I now have a second pair, a pair of Marathon Plus Tours (more tread, good on gravel and light off road) and Marathon Winters (don't need them much since moving back to the UK, but were pretty essential in Helsinki.

I was so impressed with the Marathon Plus that I got those whatever the folding "Plus" road bike tyres Schwalbe make for my road bike too. Great tyres, haven't punctured them yet either.

elsewhere on 13 Mar 2018
The New NickB - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to puppythedog:

> Can any of you advise me about big size? I have a 31inch leg and I am 5'9" ish. or point me in the direction of some reliable information please.

For a road or CX bike you are probably a 54, however sizes can vary a bit between manufacturers. Definately try before you buy.

Toerag - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to jonnie3430:

> You do? I haven't ever worn out rims on a bike through braking. I must have been doing it wrong.

I have - on a mountain bike! I noticed the rims flexing when pumping the tyres up. Having said that, they were 15 years old....

elsewhere on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Toerag:

One set of rims only lasted just a year commuting (3000 miles) before a rim cracked having got badly worn.

Replacements seem to be a bit better but rims still getting a bit concave.


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.