Long Distance Commute -- Anyone?

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by octave

hey everyone,

i recently moved and am hunting for a commute route to work... i think i found one that is mostly on a paved bike trail, but also has a few sections on a cyclable highway. it is long, though: about 50 miles. all told i think about 15 miles are on highway, 28 on the paved trail, 2 on a pretty wild trail and then the rest through the city... the paved trail is one of those old rail trails, that often has sections broken up by tree roots or where the surface is pushed up by tree roots like tiny mountain ranges, making things rather jouncy. the 'wild trail' ranges from hard packed dirt to total swamp if it rained within the last 3 days. so... the terrain is pretty varied, and i don't really have an ideal bike for it. my ride bike works for most of it, though on the paved trail it can really hammer pretty hard and isn't the nicest, and on the 'wild trail' honestly i am walking most of it when it is in its swamp form...

i am pretty motivated to do this commute, but i don't have the ideal bike for it. my road bike might be able to squeeze 28mm tires on it, making the bad trails a bit smoother and the mud a bit more navigable, but it is way too nice to commute into the city on, where i might need to leave it locked up outside. i still want something fast, because there are parts where i can really fly, and with a 50 mile commute i don't want to have it turn into a trudge... but i think i would need at least 30mm tires. mudguards would be nice, but i think i will go with a light backpack so a rack isn't necessary. also, i want to try and avoid disc brakes, as i don't see the point of them for the mostly flat commute, though tire clearance with caliper brakes might be an issue... also the increased maintenance of disc brakes would be a drag, not to mention the weight. the other thing is that if i do the return ride, i can go the long way, about 60 miles all on nice roads, since i won't have as tight of time constraints-- so another reason i would like something fast!

so i am thinking of doing it 2 or 3 times a week, maybe just in one direction and take the commuter train in the other direction. does anyone have a long commute? what do you ride? what is the route like?

i am considering something like the new Specialized Allez... affordable entry level has the same frame as the expensive one, so i could strip it and build it up into something a bit more zippy for a decent price. it is light and has mudguard mounts and clearance for 28mm tires, but i saw one in person and i think i could squeeze some 30s on there.

does anyone know a caliper brake bike, fairly affordable, that might be able to squeeze 30s in? or at last 28s?

any other bits of knowledge to share about long distance commuting?



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by Multebear

I had a job 7-8 years ago 90 km out. Wasn't that big into cycling at the time as I am now. But if the weather was perfect and only then, I brought the bike with me in the train in the morning, and commuted back in the afternoon. I didn't have a bike with fenders at the time. If I had, I would have been able to extend the season to at least 9 out of 12 months.

Bigger tires, fenders, a no BS durable frame and mid grade grouppo are perfect for the job IMO. I would choose discs as well. Because after that ride, you don't want to spend too much time cleaning your bike if you've done the trip in bad weather. And rime brakes just create a really big mess.

That said, there actually is a frame, that gives you both options. You can start out with rim brakes, and move to discs later on, if you want to. The frame takes bigger tires, at least 28 mm AND fenders as well. I've been looking at this frame for quite some time, and getting closer to pull the trigger...


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by bm0p700f

50 miles is a bit much for a commute unless your working day is quite short. ~It could take you three hours.

The longest I will make mine is 32 miles but then I will take a shorter route home.

I would always look to move my job or home if commute was that long. people spend too long getting to work and back and that is dead time.

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by Matt28NJ

My commute is 23 miles each way. It's through the US state of New Jersey, the most densely populated state. Plenty of traffic lights, takes me an hour and 15 each way.

As the drivers in this state are numerous and terrible, i shut down bike commuting as soon as there is not enough light after daylight savings time. It's only a matter of time here before someone flattens you riding in the dark at rush hour.

I use a Specialized Roubaix 105. Good tire clearance with Pro4 endurance on wide rims, measured tires are 28.34mm.

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by RyanH

I commute to client sites on my road bikes but I also bring my bike into the site. The furthest I've done was 45 miles which took a little less than 3 hours due stop lights and such. I've done 37 mile commutes nearly every day for a few weeks on end. From that experience, I learned that you have to ride a bike that you like. It'd be ideal to be able to leave your bike inside so you can ride a nicer one.

With that being said, I'd look at a bike from Surly or All City. Being able to put 35mm tires on will help a lot while rolling nicely on both paved and non paved surfaces.
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by octave

hey everyone,

yeah i agree that in order to do such a long commute i need a bike that i LIKE. if i like the bike, i ride the bike. i could keep it inside my office the days i teach (2-3 days a week), but the days i am elsewhere, i would have to leave it outside... so it would be complicated. my days are not typical 9-5, so i would have a lot of flexibility, which will help in commuting 2-3 times a week, even if it is just one way. and my normal commute (walk to the train station, take the train, walk from the station to work) is about 1.5 hours, but 1 hour of that is time i can work in the train. so, it is really actually a pretty easy/productive commute. but, my thought is that i would rather use the commute a few days out of the week as a way to get my rides in, as there are days when i don't make it happen once all is said and done... in the end, i just want to RIDE.

multebear, that Kinesis frame looks pretty interesting. it is now on my list of things to consider. though it does seem pretty heavy! a bit lighter than that would be ideal... surly and all city also might be a bit heavy. i used to have a surly cross check, and liked it. again-- i am thinking light and fast for the 50 mile commute.

matt28nj, do you think you could have gotten any wider tires on your roubaix? the new allez supposedly has the same geometry as the old roubaix...

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by Tomstr

I'm working on a similar subject at the moment although my commute is around 50% of your distance. I took some inspiration from the Transcontinental machines used.

I ended up with a cross bike with added carrying capacity and lights neatly tucked away. Just have to get a set of wheels that is decently aero now.

A backpack hasn't worked for me unless lightly loaded. It has caused back issues and acts as a parachute when you run some drop. I opted for a modified photobag on the handlebar for the expensive/electric stuff and a huge topeak saddlebag for the rest. It works better than expected.
Getting it up to speed is much more effort of course, but once you're cruising along it's fairly easy to hold your speed :-)
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by Matt28NJ

octave wrote: matt28nj, do you think you could have gotten any wider tires on your roubaix? the new allez supposedly has the same geometry as the old roubaix...

The tires fit are 25mm Michelin Pro4 Endurance on Hed Belgiums (17mm wide inside). Wide rim and 25mm setup make for huge freaking tires.

That said, I prob could go 1mm wider on each side of the tire, but the limiting factor is the seatstay bridge and the height of the tire.

See my bike in the Commuter forum for specifics.

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by jeroenfl

I have done it and depending on the route had 2 main bikes:

an old steel roadbike with sturmey 3spd hub with mudguards etc for foul weather and a bmc ac01 which i converted to drop bars with room for up to cx tyres, mud guards, disc brakes ..

tyres were g-ones on the bmc and 28mm conti 4seasons on the gazelle steel

Now I'm still doing it and I have a Niner rlt9 steel for everything (better facilities at the current job allowed for a nicer bike)

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by Arph

Soma Pescadero :)

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