Author Topic: One for the cycling enthusiasts  (Read 6039 times)

Reepekg

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One for the cycling enthusiasts
« on: May 08, 2013, 01:30:53 PM »
I have been working from home, but I am looking at/need to take/interviewing for a job 13.8 mi away. Since it's beautiful outside today and I'm looking to up my badassity, I'm thinking about commuting by bike. I live in a pretty urban environment, but I was pleased to find a nice twisty back way through neighborhoods after spending a couple hours on StreetView. This will avoid spending probably an hour sitting in rush hour traffic on 3 of Chicago's worst highways like a clown! And I can cancel the gym membership. Score.

I am a novice cyclist who has only heard of the fancy cycling life. I have a nice enough city bike (Centurion Challenger) which I bought new a few years ago when I commuted 2 miles to work when living in Copenhagen. (I no longer fear rain.) My question is: would there be a significant improvement by upgrading to a road bike?

I'm mostly concerned about two things. 1) My wrists hurt from leaning on the flat handlebars after a while. 2) I want to value the extra cost vs. time saved by a faster bike. (How much faster could I go with better equipment? For fitness evaluation, I'm 28 and run 20+ miles a week)

I'm an engineer and don't mind messing with things. Would it make sense/be possible to outfit my current bike with drop handlebars and clipless pedals? Would I be better off getting a road bike, spandex suit, and teardrop-looking helmet like a pro? Opinions please.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 01:34:33 PM by Reepekg »

grantmeaname

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2013, 01:43:42 PM »
You're riding a single-speed road-ish bike with flat bars now? Is it a fixie?

I'd take a long, hard look at your craigslist bikes section. If your prices are anything like those in my end of the midwest, you could get a used road bike for a little under $200. If you'll really be biking 14 miles, you'll want clipless pedals and drop bars.

The wrist pain gets so much better when you have a dozen hand positions to choose from instead of just one.

Reepekg

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2013, 02:09:18 PM »
You're riding a single-speed road-ish bike with flat bars now? Is it a fixie?

I'm not sure what a fixie is, but I'm riding this now:
http://www.joergensencykler.dk/images/Centurion%20challenger%20herre%20clay.jpg?osCsid=nkm588ffh440nr3dqv6rrcvai6

I do like 0.5 mile trips to the library or local park and use the first 4 gears. The furthest I've ever ridden it was a 6 mile trip.

grantmeaname

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2013, 02:24:06 PM »
Edit: oh, not a single speed at all.

Posthumane

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2013, 02:32:54 PM »
I personally would keep the bike you have and play around with different handlebar set-ups to see which work best for you. There are other issues that could cause wrist pain though, such as an incorrectly sized frame forcing you into a poor riding position. I do get wrist pain on my drop bars too and I rarely use the drops, mostly riding with my hands on the brake hoods. Unless you're running out of gearing I don't think a road bike will make you much faster. The biggest difference in speed is in the tires, and you could easily swap your tires out to something a little more efficient if you have fat, low pressure ones. Make sure they are inflated close to their limit.

acroy

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2013, 03:10:19 PM »
bikeforums.net for all cyclo-commuting questions! :)
I've been bike commuting since, well, the bike has always been my main form of transporation! good fit, good tires, a set of fenders, good lights are indispensable. Happy riding!

Deano

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2013, 04:42:48 PM »
Wrists-your front end is too low in all likelihood. Swapping stems might help if the frame is in the right range for size. Bar ends are nice too, as they do a little of what drop bars do, provide different hand positions for riding. Ergon grips might assist as well, a lot of people drop their wrists on a flat bar bike. When you see the grips you'll know what I mean.

Speed? Yes, a road bike would help you drop some, but you've got a commuter bike and it's fine for what you need at this point. Maybe down the road you'd like a road bike, but necessary right now. A road bike might save you 5 minutes or more for 20k at commuting speeds, but it's like you're riding some department store full-suspsension mtb at 40 pounds...bobbing along. You're doing really well with the ride you have.

It's awesome you're going to ride, all the best.

napalminator

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2013, 06:14:04 PM »
how fast can you go currently? for somebody who runs frequently, you should be able to pull 16+ mph on a road bike without flinching.

Reepekg

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2013, 07:36:24 PM »
how fast can you go currently? for somebody who runs frequently, you should be able to pull 16+ mph on a road bike without flinching.

So the online estimates I was looking at said 15mph on a "regular" bike vs. 19 mph on a road bike. That's a 12 minute difference (43 vs. 55) each way on my commute, which was enough to get me considering things more closely in the first place.

I have no idea how fast I can go. I think I'll conduct a 1-2 mile test at average speed tomorrow and report back.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 07:39:23 PM by Reepekg »

gooki

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2013, 07:46:06 PM »
I've been cycle commuting to work for the last 8 years, and ended up building my own electric bike this year to cut my commute time down. Commutes have dropped from 30 minutes to 20 minutes - 33% reduction. I now average 22 mph, and headwinds barely slow me down. I still put in a fair amount of physical effort, but not enough to work up a major sweet.

The key is getting the right electric bike/kit for your commute/terrain. Many of the shelf kits have a top speed of 16 mph (which any half fit person could easily achieve), where as my kit tops out at 27mph.

Joet

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2013, 08:14:17 PM »
I bike commute 8.5m ea way daily [have done so >10 yrs] and I remember being sorely disappointed when my speed on my full suspension mtbike on 2.2 tires vs my hybrid road bike didnt approach what say elite road bikers can do. Other than hand position, my sirrus is literally a road bike. It's tuned up, perfect, almost frictionless, 700x28 commuter tires.

as an example: mixed urban mtbike commuting [occasional curb hoppage, train tracks, etc] strava smartphone app has me at around 15.5 mph [counting moving time only]. Best ever is say 16.0 mph

Then on my hybrid road bike [complete w/clipless pedals] I was thinking to myself... sweet. I'm going to completely nail it. Yea, look out world. Results? Averaging 16.0 mph, never quite hit 17.0 on my trip. For reference typical flat-ground 'speed' is 18-19 mph, it all averages out [starts, slowing for a light, etc], this is just strava data which counts when you're moving only

What am I trying to say? I dont know. I only do about 2.5k miles/year though, I'm just not an elite roadbiker lol. Somebody that is will be able to do 20 mph avg for 15 miles. That's just not me :)
:cry:

I also have an electric bike [found an A2B metro on craigslist], I modified the speed control circuit and stock it was speed limited to 20 but with a mild tweak and some extra batteries it can average 30 on my commute [peaks around 35]
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 08:19:05 PM by Joet »

Reepekg

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2013, 09:02:12 AM »
So I just rode a 3 mile test at a brisk pace that I think I could sustain long distance. I averaged 4:14 per mile (14.1 mph) over a route similar to my commute (a four way stop every block or so, but usually deserted so I don't have to actually stop that often).

That's a commuting time of 59 minutes :-/
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 09:04:25 AM by Reepekg »

Lina

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2013, 09:40:25 AM »
Your speed is not bad for someone that starts biking. I would start by using your commuter bike for a month or two to see how fast you become with some training. Roadbikes are faster than commuter bikes. I would also ask someone that knows bikes to look if your bikes is the right size for you.  Wrong sizes are among the most common problem when something doesn't feel good when biking.

mlipps

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2013, 09:50:30 AM »

I'd take a long, hard look at your craigslist bikes section. If your prices are anything like those in my end of the midwest, you could get a used road bike for a little under $200. If you'll really be biking 14 miles, you'll want clipless pedals and drop bars.

The wrist pain gets so much better when you have a dozen hand positions to choose from instead of just one.

Another awesome resource in Chicago is the Recyclery at Howard & Paulina. They have bike sales every Saturday and all their bikes are under $200. Sometimes they have the really nice bikes on their website, still usually under $300.

Reepekg

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2013, 01:11:10 PM »

I'd take a long, hard look at your craigslist bikes section. If your prices are anything like those in my end of the midwest, you could get a used road bike for a little under $200. If you'll really be biking 14 miles, you'll want clipless pedals and drop bars.

The wrist pain gets so much better when you have a dozen hand positions to choose from instead of just one.

Another awesome resource in Chicago is the Recyclery at Howard & Paulina. They have bike sales every Saturday and all their bikes are under $200. Sometimes they have the really nice bikes on their website, still usually under $300.

Thanks, I will have to check this out.

Reepekg

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2013, 01:46:16 PM »
Wrists-your front end is too low in all likelihood. Swapping stems might help if the frame is in the right range for size. Bar ends are nice too, as they do a little of what drop bars do, provide different hand positions for riding. Ergon grips might assist as well, a lot of people drop their wrists on a flat bar bike. When you see the grips you'll know what I mean.

I figured out how to raise my handlebars yesterday, and there is a noticeable improvement. Up next, bar ends.

Hamster

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Re: One for the cycling enthusiasts
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2013, 02:49:32 PM »

I figured out how to raise my handlebars yesterday, and there is a noticeable improvement. Up next, bar ends.

You may also want to consider touring bars like these or these. They are an alternative to drop bars that gives plenty of options for hand positions. They may serve you better than bar-ends on the flat bars. If your front end is already too low, you'd probably need a riser stem to get any benefit from drop bars as they would put your hands even lower putting more weight on your wrists. If you buy some, make sure they're the right diameter for your stem or get help from your local bike shop.

Or you could just get one of these.