Author Topic: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?  (Read 11873 times)

superone!

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Hi! I work 30 miles from home and have been trying only to drive to work once a week. Instead, I ride my bike to the train, take 2 trains ($1.75), and then ride 9 more miles to work. It takes about 2 hours each way. It takes me about 2:30 to ride the whole 30 miles home from work, which I've been trying to do at least once a week.

However, I'm wondering if I had a newer, faster, bike, if I could get my 30 mile ride closer to the 2 hour mark? If I could, I'd like to start doing the longer ride more often.

My current bike:
I ride a 1967 Scwhinn Super Sport. Photo attached. Pretty much all original (no fancy upgraded derailleurs or brakes or anything, but I replace my chain and other parts as needed.) It's in good shape, but it is heavy steel alloy (~35 lbs before I add my pannier for work), has 10 speeds, which all work but are pretty clunky when they shift (sometimes skipping gears, hard to control with levers at the top of the fork--especially at high speeds). I bought the bike when I first started biking to work (back when I had a 6 mile commute each way! I miss those days!) but now I'm thinking it might be time to upgrade to a more "modern" road bike.

For the 30 mile ride, I'm averaging about 12 miles an hour. I'd like to get that closer to 15-16 mph, which would make the 30 mile take close to the same amount of time as biking and taking 2 trains. I'm in decent shape and working on my fitness level, but I just can't seem to get a lot faster. (That's not totally true, I was averaging 9 mph when I started biking, but I seem to have hit my upper limit).

The ride is about 1/2 on bike paths and the beach, without stoplights, and 1/2 in traffic, but mostly with bike lanes. There are a couple moderate climbs, but a lot of the ride is relatively flat (or I wouldn't be able to do it with my clunky gears--I've almost fallen off my bike a few times trying to shift as I start up a hill!).

My options are:
1) Keep at it with this bike and try to improve speed and control. Maybe work on tuning up my bike.
2) Trick out my vintage ride with some upgrades. (This might ruin the vintage value of my bike but could be cheaper than purchasing a new bike)
3) Purchase a new or used "modern" road bike. If I purchase a new one I'm thinking maybe something like this, next time nashbar has a sale: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_568270_-1___204687

Anybody out there have advice?

Retire-Canada

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Since most of your ride is flat the heavy bike doesn't affect you much. Once you accelerate the mass it doesn't require extra energy to keep it moving.

Areas where you can improve speed are:

- lower rolling resistance tires including setting them at the proper pressure
- lower more aerodynamic riding position
- tighter aerodynamic clothing
- ensuring your bearings are well lubricated
- ensuring your brakes are not dragging
- ensuring your drivetrain is operating properly
- improving your body's ability to ride faster

I have a 16 mile commute and I can avg 16mph on it if I push pretty hard. I'm a lifelong cyclist on a top of the line bike in decent shape. So your goal is not unreasonable. Most of it depends on you. I have friends that could go several MPH faster without trouble and several that will never ride 16mph for an hour+.

To figure out if the equipment is really holding you back find a bike shop near you. Plot out a route that's at least an hour long as a loop from and to the shop that replicates the type of riding you do on your commute as best as you can. Ride it on your current bike. Then get a test ride on a modern road bike and ride it. See what you think. Keep in mind a light bike can feel fast without actually being much faster so use a clock to gauge performance. Also keep in mind wind and temperature between the days to see if there are factors that are affecting the comparability between tests.

As an example I switched from a heavy touring bike on my commute to a light purpose built road bike same route ~ 16 miles. I felt super fast on the road bike because it was pounds lighter, but my actual time difference was only a few minutes since my commute was flat and I had already optimized the touring for speed as best I could [low rolling resistance tires at proper pressure]. I like riding the road bike more and motivation is a huge part of the equation with a long bike commute so I don't regret getting it, but it's not the rocketship I had thought it would be compared to my older/heavier bike.

-- Vik

robbyho

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Have you considered an electric bike conversion? I've been researching it for my commute (only 11 miles each way) and it would take about 110 weeks for it to pay for itself compared to driving. In your case it would take just 30 weeks given the same conditions. Plus you can go much faster 20 mph+ cutting your commute down big time. 

Hugerat

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Wow 30 miles each way is a serious ride if you are committed to it. I would say that, yes, you can improve your speed, and probably your comfort too with a new modern road bike. Vik is right, the best thing you can do is make sure your current bike has proper equipment on it, i.e. low rolling resistance tires and that it is properly maintained. Always inflate your tires to the maximum pressure indicated on the sidewall. Get it up on a maintenance stand or just flip it over and check if the wheels and crank spin freely with no slop in them.

You haven't said though if your current bike is comfortable. I suspect you would be more comfortable on a newer bike with STI shifters that would give you an additional hand position on the long ride, and make shifting much more comfortable. I would, however, strongly advise not buying the bike you linked to. You wouldn't do a home renovation with crap tools, and you shouldn't do a serious ride on a crap bike either. Mustachians don't skimp on tools. Most of the components on that bike are very low-end, and you should stay far away from any bike with an adjustable stem. A quality bike from a major manufacturer (Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Felt, Jamis, etc.) will probably run you at least $1,000 (new) but you'll be much happier every time you get on it. And if you decide to go used, there are always tons of yuppies who shelled out huge amounts of money for all carbon road bikes that have barely been ridden.

GuitarStv

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My hybrid bike (light weight aluminum, flat bars, 24 sp) ends up being about 2 kph slower than my summer bike (medium weight steel, drop bars, 30 sp).  I attribute nearly all of that to a more aerodynamic position and better gearing options.

Tight clothing, keeping your bike maintained properly, your fitness, and inflating the tires makes much more of a difference in my opinion that the bike you're on.

frugaliknowit

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The schwinn is charming, but from the way you are describing it's shifting, a POS for such a serious commute and nothing like modern road bikes.

No, I don't think you will shave much time off of your commute because the extra drag the retro-Schwinn creates from the weight and whatever is likely imperfect would likely only slow you down 1-2 MPH (guess).

Personally, unless you are strapped, I would not pour money into the Schwinn.  It's more of an antique to be ridden on occasion. 

A word of advise:  Do not buy any road bike you have not test ridden.  Road bikes are inherently uncomfortable.  They are designed for minimal wind resistance with maximum pedal power.  This is not the most comfortable position.  Everyone's body is different.  Having a road bike that does not suit your body is a NIGHTMARE.  For this reason, test, test, test before you buy.

Syonyk

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Have you considered an electric bike conversion? I've been researching it for my commute (only 11 miles each way) and it would take about 110 weeks for it to pay for itself compared to driving. In your case it would take just 30 weeks given the same conditions. Plus you can go much faster 20 mph+ cutting your commute down big time.

That was going to be my suggestion as well.  You probably don't want to bother converting your existing bike, but a newer pedal assist ebike will significantly improve your speed on a commute like this.

superone!

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Wow! Thank you for all of these replies and suggestions.

Unfortunately the electric bike idea is great--but won't work. They aren't allowed on the bike path on the beach, which is the biggest benefit of the long commute.

I think my biggest problem with my current bike isn't the weight, it's the shifting. I have to slow waaaayy down to shift a lot of times, because I don't want to fall off my bike riding one handed on drop bars in traffic, plus then the gears slip sometimes, so that requires readjustment. All of these things were no big deal when I was just doing my quickie 6 mile each way commute, but now that I've gotten more serious about cycling and trying to ride between 22 miles (if I take the train) and 42 miles (if I take the train in and bike the whole way home) almost every day, it seems like it might make a bit more sense to have something more up-to-date.

In terms of comfort, it isn't too bad. I have an old Brooks saddle on it that is pretty comfortable and the geometry is okay as long as I switch up hand positions.

I also really appreciate the advice to ride before I buy something. I've never bought a new bike from a shop, and I'd like to keep the costs as low as possible, which is why I was looking at that nashbar site. How important is it to have "top of the line" gear? I am thinking that I'm going to see an improvement in comfort and shifting with almost anything at the "bottom of the line" for real road bikes (i.e. from a bike store not a box store).

Syonyk

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Unfortunately the electric bike idea is great--but won't work. They aren't allowed on the bike path on the beach, which is the biggest benefit of the long commute.

So build a stealth ebike. :)

If you go with a direct drive motor, there's no gear whine.  You trade off a bit of cogging drag when the motor isn't running, but they're almost silent when running.

If you go with pedal assist instead of a throttle, there's no obvious throttle up on the bars for someone to see.

And if your tightly fitted rear rack has two very large bags installed that drop down below the lowest point of the in-hub motor, your battery pack lives in a standard-looking bag on top of the rack (or in one of the side bags), and you have a wide fender in the rear to keep rain and mud off your back...

You'll have a somewhat tail heavy bike if you do that, but hide the controller in a bag (you won't need to adjust it when riding once you get things set up properly), and not one person in 1000 will be able to tell you're riding past on an ebike.  Just don't ride like a jerk and nobody is likely to care.

frugaliknowit

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Assuming you are male (you have a "mans" bike...), you REALLY want a "split saddle".  Waaaay more comfortable...!!!!!

Examples:  https://www.google.com/search?q=split+saddle+for+bicycle&espv=2&biw=1097&bih=559&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=vjUxVbKoO8rpsAXup4HgCg&ved=0CCsQsAQ

Syonyk

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2015, 10:41:48 AM »
How important is it to have "top of the line" gear? I am thinking that I'm going to see an improvement in comfort and shifting with almost anything at the "bottom of the line" for real road bikes (i.e. from a bike store not a box store).

I would generally agree with that.  You're not going to get a $200 bike from a proper bike store, and for a road bike, you'll probably be looking at around $1000 out the door for something decent (and it will be radically better than your current bike).

Below a certain price point ($500-$600 for hybrid commuters, a bit higher for road bikes), components are chosen for cost, cost, and cost.  Which, generally, leads to them being unreliable junk.

Once you hit that minimum price (and if you're shopping at an actual bike store, they usually don't sell anything below this price), you start having reasonable components that work well.  They do what they're supposed to, reliably.

As you go up from there, to maybe 2-3x the base cost of a bike, things get nicer.  The feel is better, the bike is stiffer, it's a bit lighter, and the benefits are significant for the added cost, though they may or may not be worth it for any given commute/use case.

Above that point, things start to get silly, and you're paying "more for less" - you pay a lot of money to get lighter wheels that are likely to be less robust for a commute, you get super light components, etc.  Unless you are a sponsored racer, you don't need this, and more to the point, you don't *want* it for a commute - the weight reduction often makes things worse for daily riding in terms of long term reliability.

For a commute bike, you're right in that a base "bike store" road bike is a good spot to be.  Depending on your weight, you may want to consider a heavy duty rear wheel or heavy duty spokes, and you may want to go with heavier/more robust tires and tubes for a commuter, but there's no reason to spend absurd amounts of money on something.  You might want to go up a level or two from the very base model, but that's something that is best determined at a bike shop, test riding stuff.

Don't forget fenders and lights. :)

skunkfunk

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2015, 10:57:57 AM »
You can make an electric bicycle pretty unobtrusive. Just don't go too fast! If it isn't too much of the journey, don't use the motor near the beach.

WhatIsFrugalAfterAll

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2015, 11:42:31 AM »
So as a triathlete.. i.e. this is something I train for several hours a week.

On my upright hybrid bike, I can average say 16 mph for 30 miles.
On my year old road bike I can average maybe 20 mph for 30 miles
On my newest tri bike I can average 22-25mph for 30 miles.

(I honestly don't ride my hybrid bike if I can help it though, so those numbers are the biggest guess).

The big help for me, is as you move into my faster bikes, I am lower and lower to the ground.. = less of me to hit the wind. All 3 of my bikes have similar tire size (23-25mm) and flat, so it is not a tire thing. Of course if you have knobby tires, that is a big gain for not much money to switch to something slick.


Really the 2 biggest things to biking fast are to have a reasonable bike (no you don't need a 8k bike, but a 1k bike is going to be better than a $300 bike), and learning to be uncomfortable. It hurts to bike hard. Hurts a lot. Embrace the hurt, and you will get a little bit faster each week.

skunkfunk

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2015, 11:44:49 AM »

On my newest tri bike I can average 22-25mph for 30 miles.


My god, man.

2ndTimer

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2015, 12:46:05 PM »
Based on my own experience, I don't think you can improve your speed all that much but I KNOW you can greatly improve you comfort and pleasure with a better bike.  I have done quite a bit of modification to mine over the years and it is no faster but much more easy and pleasant to ride.  The right seat, bars, shifting, etc. have greatly improved the experience.

WhatIsFrugalAfterAll

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2015, 12:52:56 PM »

On my newest tri bike I can average 22-25mph for 30 miles.


My god, man.

Its really easy to go fast when you are so much lower to the ground. All the wind missing your chest..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hour_record

The world record on a tri type bike on a track is 32 miles in 1 hour...


Who needs ebikes anyway ;)

Syonyk

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2015, 12:56:37 PM »
If you can do that, great. For the other 99%, an assist reduces time spent significantly.

kendallf

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2015, 01:18:43 PM »

On my newest tri bike I can average 22-25mph for 30 miles.


My god, man.

Its really easy to go fast when you are so much lower to the ground. All the wind missing your chest..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hour_record

The world record on a tri type bike on a track is 32 miles in 1 hour...


Who needs ebikes anyway ;)

There's a big difference between 22 and 25 mph averages.. like a ~30% average power increase.  You should be turning pro soon if you are averaging 25 on solo 30 mile rides.  :-)

To the OP, that Super Sport is easily capable of getting you to at least the 15-7 mph average you're after.  Just make sure it has properly pumped up tires, oiled chain, greased hubs, etc.  It's more about basic fitness than the bike until you're quite a bit faster. 

Take a look on CL and you can likely find a mid-range road bike from the last 10 years or so for <$500 that will have 700c wheels (I assume the Schwinn is 27") and indexed shifting.  You'll pick up a bit of speed from slightly skinnier tires and the indexed shifting is easier for novices (but harder to keep tuned to shift properly).  Look for something with 9 or 10 speed shifters, 105 or Ultegra level would be good.


superone!

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2015, 02:06:21 PM »
Assuming you are male (you have a "mans" bike...), you REALLY want a "split saddle".  Waaaay more comfortable...!!!!!

Examples:  https://www.google.com/search?q=split+saddle+for+bicycle&espv=2&biw=1097&bih=559&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=vjUxVbKoO8rpsAXup4HgCg&ved=0CCsQsAQ

Actually, I'm a lady, so no split saddle needed :)

Also I'm doing my first triathlon in August--just for fun, I don't think I'll get anywhere close to 20mph!!

You are all excellent for commenting. Now I'm feeling really torn. I was hoping to purchase something under $1000 -- probably closer to the $600 range. I guess I'll start looking at used gear, which is totally fine, but harder to find the right fit at the right price.


NoraLenderbee

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2015, 02:41:27 PM »
Wow! Thank you for all of these replies and suggestions.

Unfortunately the electric bike idea is great--but won't work. They aren't allowed on the bike path on the beach, which is the biggest benefit of the long commute.

I think my biggest problem with my current bike isn't the weight, it's the shifting. I have to slow waaaayy down to shift a lot of times, because I don't want to fall off my bike riding one handed on drop bars in traffic, plus then the gears slip sometimes, so that requires readjustment. All of these things were no big deal when I was just doing my quickie 6 mile each way commute, but now that I've gotten more serious about cycling and trying to ride between 22 miles (if I take the train) and 42 miles (if I take the train in and bike the whole way home) almost every day, it seems like it might make a bit more sense to have something more up-to-date.

In terms of comfort, it isn't too bad. I have an old Brooks saddle on it that is pretty comfortable and the geometry is okay as long as I switch up hand positions.

I also really appreciate the advice to ride before I buy something. I've never bought a new bike from a shop, and I'd like to keep the costs as low as possible, which is why I was looking at that nashbar site. How important is it to have "top of the line" gear? I am thinking that I'm going to see an improvement in comfort and shifting with almost anything at the "bottom of the line" for real road bikes (i.e. from a bike store not a box store).

You do not need top-of-the-line gear or a thousand-dollar bike. The components and shifting on bikes today, even lower-end bikes, is much better than it was years ago. Coming from a nearly 50-year-old Schwinn, you will find a new (used) bike an amazing improvement.
Besides, if you do a 30-mile commute, you deserve a better bike. ;)

The_Crustache

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2015, 03:05:04 PM »
Besides, if you do a 30-mile commute, you deserve a better bike. ;)

I agree with you. Much props to OP, but don't you think this is unmustachian? ;)

Syonyk

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2015, 03:40:10 PM »
No.  Trying to do a long commute on a shitty bike ranges from inefficient, to harming your body if the bike doesn't fit right, to rather painful and unsafe (if the bike has, say, frame mounted shifters and you have to take your hands off the bars to shift and crash into something or someone).

Buying a $10k bike to commute on would be silly, but buying a decent $600-$1000 bike for a 30 mile commute to replace a vintage bike is entirely reasonable.

superone!

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2015, 03:41:16 PM »
Besides, if you do a 30-mile commute, you deserve a better bike. ;)

I agree with you. Much props to OP, but don't you think this is unmustachian? ;)

I struggle a bit with this. The thing is I *have* a bike, and it works to get me from point A to point B. So I *want* a newer more comfortable one, but I don't *need* one. However, I would be saving $1.75 in train fare for every day I rode all the way home. At that rate I only need to ride a new (let's say $600) bike home ...345 times for the investment to pay itself off ...?

Does that math/logic work?! I clearly want it to, but I struggle with the justification. This is why I decided to start riding the 30 mile commute once a week for a while to see if it is something I'll keep doing, rather than jumping right into buying a newer bike. At this point, I know I'm going to try to keep doing it at least once a week for the foreseeable future, but I'd love to do it more often--if I can make the time for it.

The closer I can get to the 2 hour mark that I get with my train/bike combo (which is 2 1/2-hour train rides and 11 miles of cycling) the better, since the combo-pack commute can be tiresome in a whole different way--try getting on a crowded rush hour train with a 35lb bike plus panniers, carrying it up and down stairs and escalators--I'd really rather have the longer ride!

superone!

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2015, 03:49:03 PM »
No.  Trying to do a long commute on a shitty bike ranges from inefficient, to harming your body if the bike doesn't fit right, to rather painful and unsafe (if the bike has, say, frame mounted shifters and you have to take your hands off the bars to shift and crash into something or someone).

Buying a $10k bike to commute on would be silly, but buying a decent $600-$1000 bike for a 30 mile commute to replace a vintage bike is entirely reasonable.

The safety thing is totally an issue. I just avoid shifting in some places when I really should be shifting, just because it feels too risky to take my hand off the handlebars to shift on the frame. If I ever get in a serious bike accident, dollars to donuts this is how it will happen.

TrMama

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2015, 04:04:34 PM »
Besides, if you do a 30-mile commute, you deserve a better bike. ;)

I agree with you. Much props to OP, but don't you think this is unmustachian? ;)

I struggle a bit with this. The thing is I *have* a bike, and it works to get me from point A to point B. So I *want* a newer more comfortable one, but I don't *need* one. However, I would be saving $1.75 in train fare for every day I rode all the way home. At that rate I only need to ride a new (let's say $600) bike home ...345 times for the investment to pay itself off ...?

Does that math/logic work?! I clearly want it to, but I struggle with the justification. This is why I decided to start riding the 30 mile commute once a week for a while to see if it is something I'll keep doing, rather than jumping right into buying a newer bike. At this point, I know I'm going to try to keep doing it at least once a week for the foreseeable future, but I'd love to do it more often--if I can make the time for it.

The closer I can get to the 2 hour mark that I get with my train/bike combo (which is 2 1/2-hour train rides and 11 miles of cycling) the better, since the combo-pack commute can be tiresome in a whole different way--try getting on a crowded rush hour train with a 35lb bike plus panniers, carrying it up and down stairs and escalators--I'd really rather have the longer ride!

I'm a long time bike commuter, former rec level triathlete. Based on the train fare alone, you'll likely never break even on costs if you upgrade to a new bike. Yes, you can ride that bike to work 345 times to pay for it, but you'll have to replace some parts along the way. You'll get a flat, your chain/gears/tires/cables/bottom bracket/etc will wear out. They wear out even faster if you ride a fancy race bike and ride in wet weather.

However, I still think you should upgrade your bike. As you already know, biking is way less stressful and good for your fitness level. I bike 16mi round trip on a fancy carbon road bike (bought pre-MMM) and I'm pretty sure I'm not saving much money. However, I'm slightly less fat and out of shape than I would be if I drove or took a train. I'm also way, way happier.

Syonyk

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2015, 04:46:33 PM »
Are you hair-on-fire in debt?

If not, I think a modern bike is an entirely reasonable purchase.  The difference in effort between an old bike and a new one is significant.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2015, 06:09:19 PM »
What about moving closer to work? The elephant in the room is the 30 mile each way commute.

2ndTimer

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #27 on: April 17, 2015, 06:26:43 PM »
I'm a lady too, and I find the split saddle to be way more comfortable. 

kendallf

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2015, 07:06:44 PM »
No.  Trying to do a long commute on a shitty bike ranges from inefficient, to harming your body if the bike doesn't fit right, to rather painful and unsafe (if the bike has, say, frame mounted shifters and you have to take your hands off the bars to shift and crash into something or someone).

Buying a $10k bike to commute on would be silly, but buying a decent $600-$1000 bike for a 30 mile commute to replace a vintage bike is entirely reasonable.

The safety thing is totally an issue. I just avoid shifting in some places when I really should be shifting, just because it feels too risky to take my hand off the handlebars to shift on the frame. If I ever get in a serious bike accident, dollars to donuts this is how it will happen.

FWIW, I think you should be able to get used to shifting those without a safety issue if you work at it.  Before the days of STI shifters, we raced with bar end or down tube mounted shifters and managed just fine.. though it was a skill to be learned.  I still have a vintage race bike like this that can be, and is, ridden regularly at 25+ mph in a group.

Generally though the stem mounted shifters are rather crappy parts, mated to rather crappy derailleurs, and some heavy, badly braking 27" steel wheels.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are plenty of moderate cost used bikes in most areas that will serve you well and speed you up a bit.

superone!

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2015, 07:21:16 PM »
Are you hair-on-fire in debt?


Depends on what you think hair-on-fire means ;) Not for a regular person--no CC debt, car loan, etc., but I do have about 24k in student debt (that I'm trying to pay down as quickly as reasonable).

As for the extra long commute--some of my other posts have elaborated further--but I took a much better paying job that I love, instead of having a not so well paying job I was meh about, and the price is the commute. The COL within (normal) biking distance of my work is significantly higher. I'd have to pay almost twice as much for half the space, plus it wouldn't help that much, since my partner would have to reverse commute to where we live now. So for now at least, no move. (Plus, I'm a bit worried about job security at the new job--I don't want to move to somewhere with a significant COL increase and find myself out of a job if my company shuts down!)


superone!

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2015, 07:24:38 PM »

FWIW, I think you should be able to get used to shifting those without a safety issue if you work at it.  Before the days of STI shifters, we raced with bar end or down tube mounted shifters and managed just fine.. though it was a skill to be learned.  I still have a vintage race bike like this that can be, and is, ridden regularly at 25+ mph in a group.

Generally though the stem mounted shifters are rather crappy parts, mated to rather crappy derailleurs, and some heavy, badly braking 27" steel wheels.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are plenty of moderate cost used bikes in most areas that will serve you well and speed you up a bit.

This is really good to know. I was wondering how people used to race when the shifters were typically mounted on the frame!
I definitely have gotten better at it, but I'm still not great or all that confident. And you are probably right about all the parts not being the best quality.

kendallf

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #31 on: April 17, 2015, 07:50:50 PM »


One of my restorations from a couple of years ago -- I was actually given this bike, dirty but complete, by a guy who could no longer ride.  I spent about $150 stripping it down, having the frame powder coated, buying repro decals, and then basically polishing and cleaning everything else up.  I rode our Tuesday Night Worlds ride at 25+ mph on it quite a few times.  :-)

I'm not saying you need or should look for a vintage bike like this, BTW -- I just wanted to let you know there are options beyond buying new.

superone!

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #32 on: April 17, 2015, 07:54:52 PM »
@ kendallf-- That bike is gorgeous!!

mtnrider

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #33 on: April 17, 2015, 08:06:40 PM »
The schwinn is charming, but from the way you are describing it's shifting, a POS for such a serious commute and nothing like modern road bikes.

No, I don't think you will shave much time off of your commute because the extra drag the retro-Schwinn creates from the weight and whatever is likely imperfect would likely only slow you down 1-2 MPH (guess).

Personally, unless you are strapped, I would not pour money into the Schwinn.  It's more of an antique to be ridden on occasion. 

A word of advise:  Do not buy any road bike you have not test ridden.  Road bikes are inherently uncomfortable.  They are designed for minimal wind resistance with maximum pedal power.  This is not the most comfortable position.  Everyone's body is different.  Having a road bike that does not suit your body is a NIGHTMARE.  For this reason, test, test, test before you buy.

+1 for not putting money into the Schwinn.  I wouldn't go so far to say that it's a POS, but STI is much more comfortable (even if it's also more expensive and complicated).

From my experience, the biggest thing that hits you over 15mph is air resistance, especially on the flats.  Check out the graph in this link - at 200 watts, you're talking about about 4mph if you get into a good tuck.

The thing is - riding in a tuck for 30 miles is annoying - potentially painful - and with aerobars, it could be dangerous.  You could get a time trial bike to help in the aero position, but those have limited utility.

Personally I think 30 miles is on the edge of doable, depending on where you are.  Looking at the big picture - you're also going to eat a heck of a lot more, have repairs and maintenance, and as others mentioned, there's the issue of breakdowns 15 miles from home or work.  And if you're older than 35 (maybe 30), you're going to want some recovery days from those 60 mile/20 mph days*.

* used to do a 30 mile round trip commute over hilly terrain, with some 60 mile days thrown in for fun

I don't suppose you can move closer?
« Last Edit: April 17, 2015, 08:09:05 PM by mtnrider »

Syonyk

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #34 on: April 17, 2015, 08:18:50 PM »
Man. If only there were a way to assist slightly with the effort on a long ride...

This is totally stealth ebike material. :)

Johnez

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #35 on: April 17, 2015, 10:07:59 PM »
Man, I admire you. That is a RIDE!

Something I'm considering:  carpool.  I've talked with a few of my coworkers about this, perhaps riding to their house and catching a ride to work.  For me that adds up to a 12 mile bike ride, 20 miles hitched with a coworker.  Perhaps you can ride your bike to a coworker on the way to your work-hell it doesn't even have to be on the way!  Get your bike ride peacefully and avoid the complications of public transit. 

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2015, 06:43:11 AM »
If your commute doesn't have too many hills you might want to look into a recumbent.  They're much more efficient than traditional bikes because of their low to the ground position which means you go faster with less effort.  They are about as comfy as sitting in a reclined chair.  They're usually heavier though, so steep hills would be harder.

JRA64

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #37 on: April 19, 2015, 07:34:14 AM »
I was in a similar situation. I commute on a Specialized Vita, and signed up for a week-long vacation ride that includes two centuries. Much though I love my hybrid, after some training, I came to the conclusion that I was simply too slow on the VIta to do this trip; maybe too slow to do it on any bike wihtout a motor! I did some shopping at local bike stores (LBS), one of them let me take a bike out for a couple of hours so I could do some hills.

YMMV, but a four hour ride on the old bike is a three hour ride on the new one. I felt this was a big enough difference to make the vacation ride doable, and bought the bike. It was a 2014 entry level Cannondale and came in at $1000. I"m less tired even though I cover the same distance in less time, and there's a fun factor that's hard to assign a $ figure too. There's also the Craigslist route which might save some dollars.

I'm rooting for the newer, lighter bike for you. If it prevents one crash on your old bike, in my view, that alone pays for itself. You might ride it more if it is more fun, although 4 days a week is already a fair bit of riding, esp 40 miles/day (30 miles one way, two trains & 11 miles the other, right?). How hard is it to get parts on a 1967 bike? I let go of an ca. 1990 bike a few years ago for that reason.

I also vote to visit your LBS to get a good bike fit.

Regarding eating more, I find that when I first step up my commuter miles in the spring I eat a lot more but then it levels out, I don't stay at the higher level indefinitely. It's just something to plan for.

superone!

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #38 on: April 20, 2015, 06:17:38 AM »
This is all great advice. I think I'm pretty sold on buying a new bike.

I test rode a Trek Lexa and a Giant Liv this weekend, both are around $1000. (And WOW riding them is different and SO much easier!) Any advice between these two?

Any other entry level bikes I should be trying out? How important is it to have a "women specific" bike? There seem to always be sales on men's entry level road bikes, but not so much on women's.

Also Is it worth the extra few hundred dollars to buy from my local bike store (rather than ordering online or buying used?) I kind of feel like the relationship you get when you buy from a bike store is really valuable, but it seems like I'm going to have to spend at least $1000 for that. I already have a bike shop that I'd love to buy from, they've helped me fit my current bike to me. Even if I bought something online or used I'd probably bring the bike to them for fit and a tune up, which would add some more cost.


cerebus

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #39 on: April 20, 2015, 06:53:50 AM »
I'm also upgrading my bike this month, from an old Raleigh generic piece of junk to I'm not actually sure what but it's a total bargain through a neighbour so I'm not looking too closely.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #40 on: April 20, 2015, 10:24:16 AM »
This is all great advice. I think I'm pretty sold on buying a new bike.

I test rode a Trek Lexa and a Giant Liv this weekend, both are around $1000. (And WOW riding them is different and SO much easier!) Any advice between these two?

Any other entry level bikes I should be trying out? How important is it to have a "women specific" bike? There seem to always be sales on men's entry level road bikes, but not so much on women's.

Also Is it worth the extra few hundred dollars to buy from my local bike store (rather than ordering online or buying used?) I kind of feel like the relationship you get when you buy from a bike store is really valuable, but it seems like I'm going to have to spend at least $1000 for that. I already have a bike shop that I'd love to buy from, they've helped me fit my current bike to me. Even if I bought something online or used I'd probably bring the bike to them for fit and a tune up, which would add some more cost.

Differences I've seen men's vs women's bikes:  Women's bikes sometimes have a shorter top tube (good if you have a shorter torso), narrower handlebar width (good if you have narrow shoulders), and a slightly wider seat (totally personal preference).  The top tube is the only part that can't be easily swapped out for one that fits you better.  No two humans are the same, so I'd certainly try a few out and see if you like them.

TrMama

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #41 on: April 20, 2015, 11:21:02 AM »
I test rode a Trek Lexa and a Giant Liv this weekend, both are around $1000. (And WOW riding them is different and SO much easier!) Any advice between these two?

Any other entry level bikes I should be trying out? How important is it to have a "women specific" bike? There seem to always be sales on men's entry level road bikes, but not so much on women's.

Also Is it worth the extra few hundred dollars to buy from my local bike store (rather than ordering online or buying used?) I kind of feel like the relationship you get when you buy from a bike store is really valuable, but it seems like I'm going to have to spend at least $1000 for that. I already have a bike shop that I'd love to buy from, they've helped me fit my current bike to me. Even if I bought something online or used I'd probably bring the bike to them for fit and a tune up, which would add some more cost.

The big differences between mens and women's bikes are a slightly different frame geometry, compact handlebars and women's saddle. Compact handle bars are both narrower (to fit narrow shoulders) and have a smaller radius on on the drops to allow for smaller hands. The handlebars and saddle are easily swapped onto a men's frame. Any time I've bought a bike I've stipulated that the shop switch the seat and handlebars. This has never been a problem.

The frame geometry on a women's bike is to account for the fact that women tend to have longer legs and shorter torsos than men, when they're the same height. IMO, unless you have freakishly long legs and a tiny torso this isn't something that's worth paying extra for. A basic bike fit (included in the purchase price) should be able to compensate for any minor differences. Or, if you're like me and have stumpy legs and a long torso, then the men's frame will actually fit you better than a women's frame.

I would absolutely buy the bike from a local shop. They'll be able to fit the bike to you and should also be able to easily swap parts (handle bars/saddle/stems/etc) to make it more comfortable for you. Plus, they often throw in free/cheap maintenance. For example, on a brand new bike the cables will stretch out slightly after a couple weeks of riding. You can correct this yourself, or just take it in for free.

greenleaf

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #42 on: April 20, 2015, 11:52:29 AM »
I agree with TrMama that women's bikes aren't worth paying extra for in most cases (and my personal opinion is that I would probably pay extra not to have to ride a pink bike, but that's just me), but I will add one more 'except if' case to the already mentioned case of having a short torso relative to your height.  If you are short (and especially if you also have a short torso), you may not be able to ride the smallest sized men's bike in some brands.  This is the case for me often.  I'm a little over 5'2" (and have a longish torso/shortish legs for a woman), and I can comfortably ride the smallest sized men's bike less than half the time.  I've typically solved this by just buying a men's bike in one of the brands that makes a small size (which I would define as <48cm in a road bike), but there are probably cases where the women's bike will be a better deal if you are (like me) limited in the options you have. 

I also second (or third?) the advice to go to a bike shop, until you are experienced enough to know the frame geometry that you need, how to properly fit a bike, and how to swap out parts to get a better fit.  Having a bike that is the right size and that really fits will make difference if what you are riding now doesn't fit you.

Anyway, short answer to your questions: yes, local bike shops are good for this type of purchase.  No, don't buy the women's bike until you've at least tried the sale price men's bikes (if you are tall enough).


HenryDavid

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #43 on: April 21, 2015, 07:17:02 AM »
Fit , fit, fit.
It's all about how well the bike fits you.
Everything else comes second.
Often, women ride bikes that are too loooong. Brakes and shifters too far away.
I'd say find a local bike shop that will take time to talk to you about bike fit. Test ride several bikes. Ask them about consignment sales they might have, or staff bikes being sold used.
Lots of bike shops will help you out this way.
You can get something comfortable efficient and fast for between $400 and $800 with patience.
The rest is just a matter of riding a lot, which you are doing. . . . . .

Clean Shaven

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Re: Bike people: Can I shave time off a long bike commute with a new bike?
« Reply #44 on: April 21, 2015, 07:45:19 AM »
One consideration on the new bike - do you have to lock your bike outside where you work, or can you bring it in? If outside, is bike theft much of an issue where you are?

New bike is more attractive to thieves than old beater...

superone!

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Update: I've decided to hold off on upgrading the bike, since I just had a coworker move within a mile of my house! We started carpooling this week, and I'm imagining I'll probably bike to work less often as a result. I'm bummed, because I was really getting into the biking, and I'll miss the daily exercise, but the commute is just so much faster driving with her, plus we are splitting the gas costs.

We will see, my coworker is on a business trip all next week so I'll be back to my biking then. I still really *want* a bike upgrade, but if I'm only going to bike to work 1-2 times a week, I don't know if I can justify the cost of a road bike :(

Thegoblinchief

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Update: I've decided to hold off on upgrading the bike, since I just had a coworker move within a mile of my house! We started carpooling this week, and I'm imagining I'll probably bike to work less often as a result. I'm bummed, because I was really getting into the biking, and I'll miss the daily exercise, but the commute is just so much faster driving with her, plus we are splitting the gas costs.

We will see, my coworker is on a business trip all next week so I'll be back to my biking then. I still really *want* a bike upgrade, but if I'm only going to bike to work 1-2 times a week, I don't know if I can justify the cost of a road bike :(

Is she willing to have a bike rack, or have you put the bike in the car on the trips there? Could always drive in, bike home to get the exercise. Remember to count any time you would spend exercising in addition to the car time when factoring how much time your car commute saves.

Just a thought.

aceyou

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Besides, if you do a 30-mile commute, you deserve a better bike. ;)

I agree with you. Much props to OP, but don't you think this is unmustachian? ;)

I struggle a bit with this. The thing is I *have* a bike, and it works to get me from point A to point B. So I *want* a newer more comfortable one, but I don't *need* one. However, I would be saving $1.75 in train fare for every day I rode all the way home. At that rate I only need to ride a new (let's say $600) bike home ...345 times for the investment to pay itself off ...?

Does that math/logic work?! I clearly want it to, but I struggle with the justification. This is why I decided to start riding the 30 mile commute once a week for a while to see if it is something I'll keep doing, rather than jumping right into buying a newer bike. At this point, I know I'm going to try to keep doing it at least once a week for the foreseeable future, but I'd love to do it more often--if I can make the time for it.

The closer I can get to the 2 hour mark that I get with my train/bike combo (which is 2 1/2-hour train rides and 11 miles of cycling) the better, since the combo-pack commute can be tiresome in a whole different way--try getting on a crowded rush hour train with a 35lb bike plus panniers, carrying it up and down stairs and escalators--I'd really rather have the longer ride!

I look at the math a little differently on needing 345 times for the investment to pay off.  Put your Schwinn up for sale, and you'll cut down on the number of trips needed to break even.  Also, the new bike you get, if bought used on craigslist will not depreciate markedly if you buy it at a fair price and take care of it.  So, you will have extra value in the new bike that can be recouped.  Yes, you will be down some money, but not as much as you say. 

Also, is it possible that having a better bike will make you want to bike to work more than 1 time/week occasionally?  If so, then every time you do it, the savings isn't the bus fare, but rather whatever the cost of gas plus wear/tear on your car is. This could also help you not only recoup your money, but get to a positive Expected Value at some point due to the better bike. 

superone!

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Is she willing to have a bike rack, or have you put the bike in the car on the trips there? Could always drive in, bike home to get the exercise. Remember to count any time you would spend exercising in addition to the car time when factoring how much time your car commute saves.


Definitely. I haven't asked her about the bike rack, but I'm definitely considering biking in and driving home with her, and then driving in and biking home, just leaving the bike at the office overnight. But I do feel bad that I'd be making her do most of the driving in that case. It really just benefits me and she loses the carpool lane when I jump on the bike. We will see. I'm going to feel it out over the next few weeks and see how it goes.

cambridgecyclist

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I have a steel "beater" bike that I ride in the winter; it's a lot nicer than most beaters but I've outfitted it with battle hardened parts that take the worst weather that the metro Boston area can throw at it (including this past recordbreaking season). In the summer, I change the tires on this bike from slow, heavy, high rolling resistance studded tires over to fast, high pressure slicks and use this beater bike as a backup and when I'm taking trips that involve leaving it parked in a public place for long periods of time.

My spring/summer/fall/early winter bicycle is a clowny spendy-pants custom-built titanium wonder. I struggled a long time (and still do, somewhat) to rationalize this expense because from a sheer dollar perspective it doesn't clearly pay off in a short to moderate timespan. But here's the difference:

The custom bicycle fits my body exactly and perfectly, no commercial frame will do that for my dimensions. It is a touring frame and it is incredibly comfortable (the bicycle disappears like an old shoe does). Nerve damage, back problems and knee problems have vanished (they start to sneak back in if I ride the beater bike instead, and the beater bike is set up as well as it can be and it is a commercial bike frame that is the closest available size to what I need). I shave 5-10 minutes off my commute when riding this bicycle versus the beater bicycle with slicks. I can load the titanium bicycle with over 100 pounds of groceries and other goods like pet food or soil amendments or lumber and it rides stably and handles well, but the beater bike becomes a wobbling mess. As far as maintenance costs go, they are less since I'm not riding it in the depths of winter and the mechanical components were chosen for robustness and not weight as the sole consideration. I fully expect this bike frame and possibly several of the components to last the rest of my life unless there's a devastating fire -- it's a "one and done" purchase.

So -- 50-100 minutes/week of time (35m commute), plus better hauling characteristics, plus less long term wear and tear on the body leading to hopefully fewer medical bills, for a built to last bike.

If I were to do this again I would skip buying a new commercial bicycle completely and get a steel touring frame custom built by a passionate and skilled framebuilder in tandem with a bicycle fitter who really understands how the human body works as a motive engine while bicycle touring (NOT racing). Then I'd build the frame up from parts myself, mixing and matching parts from what's available, functional and affordable. If you're one of the lucky people whose bodies exactly fit a mass-produced frame, though, I wouldn't go this route.