Building a commuter for off road rides home?

ishaw

Gold Trader
GT Fan
Feedback
View
When lockdown ends I'd like to start cycling to work so that I can take the long route home via the local downs.

I don't want to leave a nice bike locked up all day (though it should be safe), so thinking about throwing something together that will be simple, yet effective for the job.

I have a couple of frames not in use that probably fit the bill (I'm not looking to slum it). One is a carbon 29er, the other a ti 26er.

I'd be looking to run rigid forks (simplicity) and 1x, with tyres that would cope with road and gravel mostly.

The 29er would be the simplest build as it was in use until a year ago. I've pinched a few bits from it, but I'd just need to swap the sids for rigids, fit some bars, saddle and cranks, refit the front brake and its a rider. It would be quite a nice build as its set up with xo 2x10, so I'd drop the front shifter.

The 26er would be a ground up build, so more hassle, but thinking of fitting some 27.5 wheels and tyres, and some lightweight spare parts. Or just fit some 26 inch wheels, rigid forks, spinergy wheels, zee 1x10 and some hope brakes. I had toyed with drop bars to create a gravel bike. I bought some bars and brifters (sora iirc) but don't think I like the idea of cable discs, hope v-twin?). Are there such things as affordable road hydro brakes? Research suggests i could get away with 27.5 wheels on the frame, but is it a good idea?

Or should I stick with some bounce and use lockout for the road?

I'm torn, can't decide. Either way, the build I don't do will get sold, trying to be ruthless.

Thoughts/opinions please.

Cheers
 

CassidyAce

Senior Retro Guru
Re:

I think many people would view either frame as too good for a commuter, though a guy I used to work with commuted in, 27 miles each way, on an £8k+ road bike (but he always kept the bike in the office, not locked up outside). If the bike will be locked up in a dedicated bike lock-up area, will it be getting regularly knocked by other people's pedals, handlebars, locks, etc.? And how would you feel about that, especially the carbon frame? Aside from that, you might find that you begin with a bike that you're not too bothered about - after all, it's going to be exposed to the elements, locked up next to the bikes of clumsy oafs, possibly stolen or vandalised - and you ride it day-in-day-out until it becomes your regular riding companion, a trusty pal getting you home, the bike you ride most often - and before long the expendable tool is a dependable friend and you are bothered about it. So, is there one of the two that you could more easily see as your trustworthy companion? That's just a gut feeling - nothing especially rational about it at all. Or is that just soppy nonsense?
 

greencat

Senior Retro Guru
I agree. Both are too good for commuting. Commuting ages bikes - especially exotic frames like ti and carbon. I've had ti frames fail after regular commuting - and they also attract attention from scroats.
 

ishaw

Gold Trader
GT Fan
Feedback
View
Re:

I say commuting in a very light sense. My ride to work would be 15 mins tops, and I work at a private country club which has secure and sheltered bike racks. Clientele should exclude srotes. My main reason for wanting something decent is the ride home I can engineer either via roads or the local downs.

The gravel bike appeals as I don't have one, and it would serve a couple of purposes and may even get me used to drops and get me out on my road bike, which is currently gathering dust. An expensive waste of di2. I did consider trying to use this as a gravel bike, but it is rim brake ultegra and has little room for wider tyres.

If I went down the gravel route, which frame would be best suited? The ti frame (rock lobster) can allegedly take a 27.5 wheel with clearance for a 2.something tyre (not much more than 2.0 though). As mentioned, i have drop bars and shifters but would need cable discs, which seem a compromise. Is it? Bb7 road seem the best, but are there other options? Affordable hydro brakes and shifters? Hope v-twin seems a decent compromise but have been looking for a cheap set and keep missing out.

Is a 26er gravel bike an option? Will marketing say flat bar gravel bikes are tge next big thing?

Or do I just throw an mtb together using semi-slicks and go that route?
 

ishaw

Gold Trader
GT Fan
Feedback
View
Re:

Point about what the bike becomes is an interesting one. The carbon bike does hold a slightly sentimental place as I built it during a tough period in my life after redundancy. It got me out and riding a couple of times a week. That said, I ruthlessly replaced it with a ti frame and pinched a few bits from it (less than originally planned, hence it won't take a lot to get it built). It was also possibly a teeny bit too small, but not 100% on that. The lobster ti i have had for a while now and not built up. It has patina (mostly because for some reason it was lacquered as factory finish and is showing signs of rub and scuffs). I was toying with stripping and polishing but for this plan/intended use I'd leave it.
 

greencat

Senior Retro Guru
Cable discs are a compromise. There is enough flex in the brake cable to make set up and performance a bit trickier than hydraulic. Good cable housing is key as it takes some of the flex out of the system. The good news is there are a lot more options than a few years ago. BB7, of course, but you can also get hydraulic callipers that are cable actuated (look for zoom brand). They also make bulky looking, but effective, cable brake callipers that squeeze both pads equally.

It can go the other way in terms of what a commuter bike becomes ie simply a workhorse.
 

FluffyChicken

Archivist
Retrobike Rider
Feedback
View
Re:

Just do whatever.

For my old 15min commute I used a 1993 Kona kiluea, some 1.95 City slickers, Canti's and 1x9 setup with a compact 11-24 or something rear cassette, splash of untour XCPro cranks/mech, 42T (might have been higher) steel ring at the front and some lovely SRAM attack full barrel 9 speed shifter*.
And some really nice OnOne Fleegle bars.
Absolute excellent for the commute.

Used to take it off road around here to and on longer trips too.

Only change I would do if I could be bothered would be a wider cassette or second ring on there as the steeper hills became leg burners. Second ring would be better as the narrow cassette is much better for even a 15min commute.

You're in exotic land.

*these are the best part, so nice for commuting duty.
 
Top