What's Your Commuter?

#1
I'm commuting on a 1984 Raleigh Competition with 531c Raynolds tubes. It's pretty light weight for a steel classic and surely was built as a sports/race bike rather than an everyday commuter.
I really enjoy commuting on that bike (using Schwalbe Marathon 25mm - though it really rides much more agile with regular road tires, but I was fixing punctures almost every other day)...most of the times...until I hit the Berlin cycling pathes or streets.
Actually, when the street conditions are at least alright it's great fun and I'm enjoying zoom through the streets. Sometimes I even choose it over my modern Canyon for training rides at relaxed group rides or when I'm in the mood for cruising not up for serious training or PRs.
Anyway, there are some points that I'm missing on that bike for commuting.
1. no mounts/eyeleds for proper fenders (I'm using Topeak Defenders; SKS Raceblades could be another (maybe better) option): I'm not cummiting in pouring rain, but "regular" rain, snow, wet/dirty roads don't stop me (most of the time)
2. no mounts/eyeleds for racks (I know there're ways to attach a rack to almost every frame, but I don't think the frame of my Raleigh would like a rack and panniers)
3. no clearance for tires bigger than 25mm
4. am I forgetting anything I should consider?!?
So, I was thinking of getting different bike for commuting. But what kind of bike should I get?
I want:
1. fenders
2. rear rack
3. bigger tires
4. fun
The area I live is basically all flat and my commute is all paved (though the condition of the pavement can be pretty bad sometimes). I mostly don't commute for longer than 10km a piece (20-30km per day). I've got no car, so I do all shopping by bike (or at times by bus/train).
Logically thinking crossbikes, gravel bikes or travel bikes (Fargo or the like) seem like good options, but...wouldn't a hardtail or rigid mountain bike (e.g. Marin Pine Mountain) work as well, looking at @bloaker 's Krampus?!?
Most of the time it'd be used for commuting on flat roads. But I'm imaging taking the bike to the forest/hills or even bikepacking on weekends to enjoy different kinds of riding (I usually ride road and commute only) from time to time.
If I had the space and budget, I'd just get a commuter and a hardtail, problem solved. (Letting go if the Raleigh or Canyon is no option. I'd only open up space, but not helping much with the budget (Raleigh) and a road bike (Canyon) is just the best training/exercise bike for where I live - once I get out of the city.)

So, what do I hope from this thread:
- learning what bikes others are using for commuting to feed my brain with new ideas
- learning from others' experiences about what kind of bike worked/didn't work for them
 

bloaker

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#2
Krampus - Hella fun and can double as a MTB. It has more mounts than I have accessories to use them. It can be used as a proper MTB when you want as well.
- Ultimately the biggest downside is no one makes fenders for a 29+.

Fargo - Hella fun as well! Cannot double as a full on MTB, however it can in fact go places a gravel grinder or cross bike can't. I have ridden mine on tons of trails and it is capable, bit things I walk with the fargo, I ride on other MTBs. The new fargo can run 27+ and 29 wheels, so there are some fun setup options for the latest generation of that bike. You can run fenders and 29x2.4" tires with knobs.
- Biggest downside, you still do not have a MTB when you are done.
 

Karl

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#3
My commute is 26 km one way. I use a Surly Cross Check. It's lighter than the LHT. For commuting, I have a set of 700x28 Gatorskins on a Shimano R500 wheelset. If I'm going to the mountains, I switch the wheels out to 700x35 Conti Cyclo-cross Speed tires mounted on a second set of the Shimano wheels. I run a Shimano 11x42 cassette on the commuter wheelset and a 11x46 on the mountain wheelset. Up front, is a 32 t chainring. This combination of having two different wheelsets allows me to use one bike for two different purposes without compromising too much.

The 1x system works well for me in both the mountains and commuting.

Wouldn't advise doing anything too technical on the 700x35s, but they will get you over the single track and sloppy sections OK. For really rocky, muddy, or loose stuff, you'd probably want to be able to have wider tires.

The 700x28 Gatorskins are lighter, and work very well for the commute. I have yet to have a puncture on my Gatorskins, this is after tens of thousands of km, that includes some gravel bits.
 
#4
Krampus - Hella fun and can double as a MTB. It has more mounts than I have accessories to use them. It can be used as a proper MTB when you want as well.
- Ultimately the biggest downside is no one makes fenders for a 29+.

Fargo - Hella fun as well! Cannot double as a full on MTB, however it can in fact go places a gravel grinder or cross bike can't. I have ridden mine on tons of trails and it is capable, bit things I walk with the fargo, I ride on other MTBs. The new fargo can run 27+ and 29 wheels, so there are some fun setup options for the latest generation of that bike. You can run fenders and 29x2.4" tires with knobs.
- Biggest downside, you still do not have a MTB when you are done.
How do the ride on longer flatish road sections?

Btw, what makes the Krampus more an MTB than the Fargo?
What are the specs and geo to look at?
I looked at the geo of the Krampus, Frago, and also of the Pine Mountain, but still have no clue.
The last time I rode an MTB is about two decades ago and the geometry and everything was way different from what it is today, I feel.
 
Likes: stu_kawagoe
#5
My commute is 26 km one way. I use a Surly Cross Check. It's lighter than the LHT. For commuting, I have a set of 700x28 Gatorskins on a Shimano R500 wheelset. If I'm going to the mountains, I switch the wheels out to 700x35 Conti Cyclo-cross Speed tires mounted on a second set of the Shimano wheels. I run a Shimano 11x42 cassette on the commuter wheelset and a 11x46 on the mountain wheelset. Up front, is a 32 t chainring. This combination of having two different wheelsets allows me to use one bike for two different purposes without compromising too much.

The 1x system works well for me in both the mountains and commuting.

Wouldn't advise doing anything too technical on the 700x35s, but they will get you over the single track and sloppy sections OK. For really rocky, muddy, or loose stuff, you'd probably want to be able to have wider tires.

The 700x28 Gatorskins are lighter, and work very well for the commute. I have yet to have a puncture on my Gatorskins, this is after tens of thousands of km, that includes some gravel bits.
The Cross-Check seems like a nice bike and a great tool for commuting (and more as you wrote).
I actually was looking at the Straggler, since it comes with disc brakes.
My current commuter has Tiagra brakes. In the rain and on snowy days (which are getting rare recently though) I really wish for more stopping power, especially when some...drivers decide to turn or pull out of parking lots without indication.
 
Likes: stu_kawagoe

Karl

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#6
"I really wish for more stopping power..."

I hear ya. Discs are much more popular these days and allow for better stopping in wet conditions. OTOH, I have the XTR rim brakes on the Surly. They have a parallelogram type mechanism that causes the pad to meet the rim squarely and gives a lot of power. One part of my commute is on a sharp downhill and even in rainy conditions I could stop quickly. So, it is possible to get good braking with rim brakes but given that everything is moving to discs, if you're buying a new bike, that's probably the way to go.

The Surly Midnight Special is getting pretty good reviews, too. Not sure if it checks the right boxes for you though.
 
#7

bloaker

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#8
How do the ride on longer flatish road sections?

Btw, what makes the Krampus more an MTB than the Fargo?
What are the specs and geo to look at?
I looked at the geo of the Krampus, Frago, and also of the Pine Mountain, but still have no clue.
The last time I rode an MTB is about two decades ago and the geometry and everything was way different from what it is today, I feel.
The Krampus is a MTB. It has MTB geometry and is generally a burlier bike.
The specs on a prebuilt one kinda blow compared to my other bikes (they are not bad, just sub par per all my bikes). I bought one complete, but within one month of owning it, majority has been upgraded.

The Fargo is a Dropbar MTB... Basically, it is designed around the reach of drop bars, so the effective top tube is 40mm shorter than a corresponding MTB.
If you want to compare geometry numbers - compare the Fargo's Effective top tube to the Krampus. The Krampus is way longer.

Another fine option if you like the Krampus is the Karate Monkey. It is 29 & 27+ compatible. You can run the same tires on it as you would on the Fargo. it is just Flat bar vs Drop bar & has the long/low geometry of a modern MTB. Off road, flat bars are FAR more confidence inspiring.

Krampus, Fargo & Karate Monkey all have more than enough mounts for commuting/bike packing.
 
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Kangaeroo

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#9
Likes: Joe McCarthy

Kangaeroo

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#12
@Kangaeroo .... do you use the Brompton for commuting?
Sometimes, but now mostly a Trek FX3.
With the Brompton I used to do 1/3rd ride-1/3rd train-1/3rd ride, but learned that I could ride the whole way and still not be too tired to work. The Brompton would fall apart if it had to travel those sorts of distances. It's a nightmare for repairs. I was on the verge of using a mamachari, but got the Trek instead. I think my next bike will be a mamachari or a really pricy road bike I will spend my life savings on trying to maintain.
 

Gok

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#14
Here's my commuter/luxury/beater/racing/gravel bike. This does it all.
As for commuting arrangement; everything goes in a backpack. I tried different frame racks/bags but didn't like the feel of the bike, especially when tail-heavy.

It's an entry-level 2015 Felt F95 with Sora.
Modifications: 48 tooth chainring, 24 Karat Gold Chain, slutty bar-tape.

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stu_kawagoe

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#15
The Cross-Check seems like a nice bike and a great tool for commuting (and more as you wrote).
I actually was looking at the Straggler, since it comes with disc brakes.
My current commuter has Tiagra brakes. In the rain and on snowy days (which are getting rare recently though) I really wish for more stopping power, especially when some...drivers decide to turn or pull out of parking lots without indication.
I posted about the Straggler here. It's a really versatile bike. One downside is that it weighs 12 kg without racks and fenders and whatever; however, if it's going to be your commuter, that's not a big deal. Man, I do like that bike:)

Btw, enjoying this thread immensely!

Edit - I think it only comes specced with mechanical disc brakes. Oh, I noticed they recommend Whisky Parts if you want to save a bit of weight with a carbon fork and whatnot. I wonder if they give you a discount?
 
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#17
I might get my hands on an old 26" MTB. Unforetunately I've got no information on the maker/model. A friend doesn't need it anymore. He said it'd need a little fixing, which he can't do by himself and he doesn't want to spend any money on that bike.
I hope to have a closer look at it soon. My wife always says: "There's nothing more expensive than free."
I hope the wheels are still true, headset and bottom bracket bearings are alright, and shifting mechanics are working. Then it'd be a cheap fix. Just doing some proper maintenance and throwing a rack at it would do it (I can make out any eyelets or mounts, though).
Is there anything else I should be considering when checking out the bike?
I think, if a lots of parts need to be replaced, I'd quickly end up spending more money than a good working bike would cost.

I know the geometry of old MTBs is way different from modern bikes and it won't be the right toy for single tracks. But I was thinking it'd be a good chance to see how wider tires work for me, even though they're just 26".
 

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#18
I might get my hands on an old 26" MTB. Unforetunately I've got no information on the maker/model. A friend doesn't need it anymore. He said it'd need a little fixing, which he can't do by himself and he doesn't want to spend any money on that bike.
I hope to have a closer look at it soon. My wife always says: "There's nothing more expensive than free."
I hope the wheels are still true, headset and bottom bracket bearings are alright, and shifting mechanics are working. Then it'd be a cheap fix. Just doing some proper maintenance and throwing a rack at it would do it (I can make out any eyelets or mounts, though).
Is there anything else I should be considering when checking out the bike?
I think, if a lots of parts need to be replaced, I'd quickly end up spending more money than a good working bike would cost.

I know the geometry of old MTBs is way different from modern bikes and it won't be the right toy for single tracks. But I was thinking it'd be a good chance to see how wider tires work for me, even though they're just 26".
MTBs of this vintage are a lot of fun to use as city beaters. I say go for it if you don’t have to replace a bunch of parts.
 
Likes: pedalist
#20
😂 I say get the MTB too! Personally, I’d love something like that to play around with.
I'll check it out tomorrow evening. And as long there's no major demage, I'll give it a try.
I'm kind of looking forward to being back on fatter tires again. That's how I started cycling in my low teens. Actually, I MTB from that time still's at my parents house and in rideable condition. Only it's way too small for me now.