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Road Bike for Commuting(9 posts)

Road Bike for CommutingKary
May 7, 2002 5:34 PM
I have been commuting by mountain bike for the last 13 years. I have a 28 mile round trip. I am looking at getting a road bike for the commute. My question is would I be better off with a cyclocross bike or road bike. Right now my bike has a rack and I carry my clothes and stuff in a pair of panniers. It is getting difficult to find a road bike with rack mounts. Does anyone use a backpack for a commute of this length?
re: Road Bike for Commutingrider5673
May 7, 2002 6:18 PM
How about a touring bike? Plenty of braze-ons for racks and fenders. Gotta love those full coverage fenders on really wet days...
May 7, 2002 6:37 PM
Let's break this down shall we?

1) 'cross vs. road

Well, any bike is suitable for commuting, but...

'cross or road is a sort of personal choice based on that particular frame. Most touring frames will have all the necessary rack mounts. Not all 'crossers have mounts, and in fact many do not. I'd keep looking and focus on 'cross and touring frames and be sure to check for the mounts as opposed to assuming it is specific to frame type.

If you like racks and panniers, get a true tourer IMO.

2) To backpack, or not to backpack?

I rode with one for a long time. They are fine for short trips and many will use them on long trips. Again, it is an issue of preference. Compared to panniers, I personally like my "stuff weight" on me as opposed to the bike for quicker handling in traffic. I also like it slung low on my back for the low center of gravity. Backpacks tend to ride higher.

I use a messenger bag (though I may be biased towards them in general) and find it is the best compromise between C of G, capacity, and comfort. The ease of "on bike" access is also nice on a shoulder slung bag when compared to backpacks that you have to get out of to open.

Whatever your pick, make sure it is waterproof. Many backpacks are not. "Water Resistant" just doesn't cut it in a heavy downpour.

For long trips of course, panniers are the ONLY choice for packing heavy.

So the definitve answer is: There is no answer, only choice.


A. (Where do you commute? City, country, suburbland? Traffic, no traffic? Desert or rain forest? Fast sprint, or slow meander? Morning, noon, or night? Hills, no hills? Snow? Rabid donkeys with halitosis and hormone issues? Etc.)
what he saidgtx
May 7, 2002 9:24 PM
but check out the Surly Cross-check--your LBS can get it as a frame only or as a complete bike
Been doing it for years...distinctHead
May 7, 2002 7:31 PM
I commute to work 7 days a week (14 miles) with a racing bike (ibis sonoma) and a backpack... I have never had a problem except you may want to consider a touring frame for the sole sake of fenders... I never minded the rain, and in the winter I wear rain gear because even fenders don't do crap here in Connecticut. I'd check out Waterford Bicycles "adventure cycle". It's probably the best touring frame I've ever laid my eyes (and hands) upon. Good luck. :)
How to Carry ThingsAndy M-S
May 8, 2002 5:25 AM
My round trip is only about half yours, but since it's all (or almost all) on pavement, I prefer a road bike.

I have one of the bags shown below that I switch between my road bike and my rain bike using a quick-release mounting system. The photo is from Wallingford's site, and it should give you an idea of just how much you can fit into a saddlebag.

You can get road bikes with mounts if you want, but sometimes it's just too tight. I have large feet and tend to hit my heels on panniers, so I went with the Carradura (the bag in the photo) and couldn't be more pleased.
re: Touring bikes work real well.dzrider
May 8, 2002 6:08 AM
I use a 1980 Trek. I got it used in 1988 or 89. There are bikes being made today with eyelets for racks, but I'd never use a new bike for commuting.

I strongly prefer panniers to a back pack. Most days I use only one. I'm sure one could get used to riding with a back pack, but I'm not willing to try very hard.
I hate riding with a backpack for any distance.djg
May 8, 2002 6:56 AM
But I've actually found something darn close that works on the usual commute but is--for me--more comfortable. It's a large (about 1000 cu in) "lumbar pack," which is basically a glorified fanny pack--bigger capacity, better hip belt, and a mesh, Y-shaped, shoulders strap (for stabilizing the load--not carrying the weight). It can accomodate a change of clothes and a few papers and that's about it. If you need to bring disks back and forth it's dandy--a computer, not so good.

Other options: (1) Touring bikes: panniers are no problem. (2) Some road bikes: I believe that Gunnar still includes eyelets on at least the rear dropouts of their road frames. They're not the only ones. (3) Several companies now sell racks that clamp to the seatpost. While these may not be great--or even suitable--for fully loaded touring, they can probably support a decent sized bag. This may be especially useful for lightening the load on a backpack, lumbar pack, or courrier bag. (4) Some folks swear by courrier bags. I'm not sure I get it, but to each her own. (5) There are some lightweight trailers out there, like the BOB.
Second the GunnarAndante
May 8, 2002 7:18 AM
I have used my Gunnar Crosshairs (Cylcocross Bike), as it can run wide tires, fenders, and has rack mounts. I prefer my fixed gear with a backpack, though, as it is hard to get a decent workout commuting as short as a distance as you.