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What is best commuter bicycle for hilly, 11 km commute?

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Offline salenp

Commuter bicycle for 11 km commute
« on: March 21, 2010, 08:46:02 pm »
I want a light bicycle for an 11 km, hilly commute with drop down handle bars, gears changing levers on handlebars, disc brakes, light weight.

Offline whittierider

Re: Commuter bicycle for 11 km commute
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2010, 10:12:01 pm »
It sounds like you want a road bike (which is the only kind of bike I've ever commuted on), but there's a reason road bikes don't normally have disc brakes.  Disc brakes are good for off-road where mud may clog up the brake bridge area, or on-road in wet weather where sand on the rims in wet-weather riding can grind them down and reduce their life if you have rim brakes.  Otherwise, disc brakes require a lot more maintenance, they're heavier, they put the stresses on the frame in different places so the frame has to be beefed up there, making it heavier too, and after all that, they don't particularly stop any faster.  Our tandem's rim brakes are strong enough  to lock up even the front tire on dry pavement with a single finger on the lever when we have 350 pounds gross weight.  I can lock it up just as easily in 2" of water so the rim is submerged too, due to the machined rim braking surfaces.

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Commuter bicycle for 11 km commute
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2010, 02:55:53 pm »
I want a light bicycle for an 11 km, hilly commute with drop down handle bars, gears changing levers on handlebars, disc brakes, light weight.
When you say shifters "on handlebars," do you mean brifters such as Shimano STI levers or are you talking about bar-end shifters?  And just curious, why do you prefer disc brakes?

I offer a dissenting opinion to whittier with regards to disc brakes: in my experience, there is less maintenance involved with disc brakes than with any rim brake.  With 12000 miles last year using one set of disc pads, in hilly wet Portland Oregon, my opinion strongly gives discs the advantage in certain contexts.  The opposition in my experience are last year's 2500 miles on rim brakes, which tell me that rim brakes demand much more care, attention, and replacement in the same hilly and wet conditions.

If you live in dry conditions, disc brakes are overkill.  Disc brakes also make a bicycle much heavier than it would otherwise need to be; this is not optimal for a lot of hill climbing.  Disc brakes are good for descending hilly conditions if you are an inexperienced rider, but you quickly learn your limits.  Which you probably wouldn't feel comfortable exceeding with rim brakes at first anyway. 

All that said, if your spec remains the same, I am going to assume you also want a triple crankset.  Some platforms to consider are the Kona Dew Drop, Novara Buzz Road (compact double crankset), Trek Portland, and Brodie Ronin.  The Dew Drop, IMO, is the best overall value provided the frame geometry works well for you..  There are others, but these are the ones I have test ridden.  I do not suggest the Kona Sutra, which I have owned and it completely goes against your lightweight criteria.
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Offline whittierider

Re: Commuter bicycle for 11 km commute
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2010, 04:05:00 pm »
Quote
in my experience, there is less maintenance involved with disc brakes than with any rim brake.
I rarely ride in the wet, but our road tandem's mini-V caliper brake pads look like they will last 20,000+ miles, whereas many on the tandem forum with discs were saying they hardly got over 1,000 miles on a set of pads.  My single bike's pads have maybe 18,000, with maybe that much more left.  Outside of giving the barrel adjuster a little turn (while actually riding) to compensate for pad wear a time or two per year, I might have adjusted the height of my brake pads twice in five years (which is necessary on dual-pivot calipers as the pads wear).  I can definitely stand the single bike on its front wheel with the front brake, and, since the tandem doesn't have the flipping capability, I can actually make the front tire skid, wet or dry, with one finger on the lever.  Use Kool Stop pads though, which give better braking and don't get all the metal and other bits embedded in them which grind the rim down faster.  Many shops stock Kool Stop, and you can also order directly, or on eBay.  Also, use machined rim sidewalls, not the glassy-smooth rims.

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Commuter bicycle for 11 km commute
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2010, 05:32:02 pm »
I would like to add that I use sintered metallic pads for my disc brakes.  In Vermont winters, I was getting less than 800 miles on a set of organic pads.  I have been using the same disc pads now for about three years of daily, year-round commuting, brevets, and light touring.

On my rim brake-equipped bicycles, I am using Kool Stop dual compound pads.  They still get chewed through in short order when the weather is icky, even if I wipe down my rims after every ride.  Standard rim pads yielded me a touch over 200 miles in rainy, gritty conditions before they were too far gone.  Kool Stops are the only way to roll with rim brakes.  IMO.

Any way you slice it: pad selection is critical, regardless of system.
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Offline bogiesan

Re: Commuter bicycle for 11 km commute
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2010, 08:43:55 am »
I want a light bicycle for an 11 km, hilly commute with drop down handle bars, gears changing levers on handlebars, disc brakes, light weight.

Do you need to transport clothing or your office gear? You need a frame that will support racks and panniers.
I'd go for a mountain bike style commuter with a shock. Forget the disks; complicated maintenance, wasted money, a mere fashion statement on your short commute.

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