Would I be better commuting on a flat barred bike ?

by Patrick1964   June 21, 2009  

My company has just announced they're going ahead with cyclescheme, and I'm going to buy a new bike for commuting. It's a 21 mile round trip, all on road, with about 1250 feet of climbing. I would like to commute year round (within reason). I don't want to do the journey on a mountain bike, and I already have a reasonable road bike which I'm currently using for the journey. I'm thinking about a flat bar "city" bike with room for a rack, 700C wheels and mudguards. The plan would be to use the cyclescheme again next year to update my road bike. Anyone got any recommendations ?

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are you going to max out your £1000 limit on the scheme? A flat barred bike is a good option but i wouldn't rule out an audax machine or similar, especially if you're comfortable with drop bars. Flat barred bikes vary quite a bit, for your length of commute I'd go for something with a more stretched out position.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7228 posts]
21st June 2009 - 12:30

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Yes, I'm going to spend the full £1k. I'm quite tall (1.89) with a long back, I don't mind drops too much but I tend to ride on the levers all the time, and I wonder if I would find flats better for most of the time.

posted by Patrick1964 [35 posts]
21st June 2009 - 12:46

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my pick would be the Kona Phd (£1k but you can pick one up for less) which is set up with really nice mid range road kit (105, Aksiums) and looks pretty fly. i'd definitely go for one without discs for a longer commute, they're a bit scarcer this year

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posted by cactuscat [301 posts]
21st June 2009 - 19:08

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Kona looks nice, it's the sort of thing I've been looking at. Also quite like the Trek FX 7.1. Why would you avoid discs ?

posted by Patrick1964 [35 posts]
21st June 2009 - 21:09

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why not discs? they give you heavier wheels and you'll feel it on a 21 mile round trip. they're for a low-maintenance bike around town but if you're regularly doing a long commute then you'll need to give the bike some tlc anyway.

the treks are nice but they're about the most upright of any of the big name hybrids, which counts against them in my book for longer rides.

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posted by cactuscat [301 posts]
21st June 2009 - 22:17

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Something with Bullhorns, best of both worlds without the commuter unfriendly drop position. I commute 8 miles each way on some through London traffic and they are great.

posted by guidob [54 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 9:27

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guidob - what do you ride? let's see a pic... the only commuter bike i've ridden with bullhorns is the Bionicon Urban Road (http://road.cc/content/news/66-rides-bionicon-urban-road) and i liked that, though i think i prefer flats and bar ends

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7228 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 10:26

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i'd just get a boardman road bike for about £700 and max the remaining amount on buying some decent waterproof kit for the winter.

posted by the-yorkshire-p... [179 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 10:34

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Patrick, the answer is, as ever 1) it all depends and 2) whatever you prefer.

Although I love my road bike and rack up miles on it, I use an urban bike (the Marin Point Reyes) for my 12 mile each way commute into London. Here's why, mostly its all about survival.

I prefer the position on the MTB style frame, vision and control is better. I prefer to go that bit slower than I do on my road bike (although as my average commute is > 16mph, including stopping at red lights, that isn't actually slow. I prefer the hydraulic disks for stopping power even in the wet, the ultegra brakes on my roadie just don't do the job well enough, especially in the wet. Comfort is better: the carbon fork is ace - better than shocks on cobbles, the volume in the tyres (1.6 Sport contacts) is good, and the tyres pumped up to 80 psi roll really well with excellent grip. I've got a Brooks saddle on, again personal preference but I can easily ride 100km on it without noticing. Load carrying is no issue, laptop clothes etc, the ruggedness of the frame gives me no cause for concern even over potholes, kerbs etc. Component mix is good, the XT rear mech helps. Cost is about £900 (which I did on cyclescheme, too)

For urban riding, I think this bike is perfect, although other manufacturers must do similar. No question, I'd do it a couple of mph faster on my roadie, but not safer.

Only problem (apart from chewing through a few pads and tyres, and the odd chain and rear mech) is that the front dérailleur is seized solid, as I never leave the big ring. Oh, and the bars when I ought it were too wide.

As ever, personal preference rules.

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posted by londondailyphoto [73 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 15:59

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I agree with londondailyphoto & have just bought the Point Reyes at £977 through the cyclescheme. Although I already use a Marin City frame built up as a commuter the subsidised price was too good to miss. I've even convinced my wife that everyone has separate summer & winter commuters!

I agree the factory fitted bar appears too wide for commuting or my personal preference. As such a replacement Easton flat bar has been ordered along with some spd pedals. Other than that the bike's perfect & I can't recommend Marin enough.

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posted by vtwenty3 [26 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 20:45

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I use a flat barred Cotic Road Rat for commuting. I found I rarely used drops so it is ideal for me. Takes discs (I run v's) singlespeed or geared, racks and mudguards.

There was a review of it here a while back to.

Should be possible to get one within budget on bke to work as you can get anything - I chose to buy mine rather than use company scheme as it is a 'salary sacrifice' scheme. Would hit me for two years if I left the company.

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posted by Blackhound [435 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 21:04

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I love my flat bar'd Ridgeback Genesis Day 03, it's lightl, fast, and comfortable - comfortable enough for me to have done the Dunwich Dynamo and the Exmouth Exodus on it - the equivalent machine in the Ridgeback range is the Flight 05 which comes with the Ultegra 10spd and discs, but is about £110 over the Cyclescheme limit.
In the city bikes like this really are superb, the 'bars on the Ridgeback are straight and fairly narrow too.

That said you don't say whether your particularly urban, and that being the case I think Dave's advice is sound a sportive/audax or fast tourer might be the ideal machine something already spec'd with guards like the Dawes Audax Supreme would give you plenty of options, or you could even go for another road bike you that you could retro-fit guards too.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4130 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 21:29

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I'm in North Wales, my commute is a mix of 30% town, 50% country B roads and 20% A roads. Occasionally there's a bit of pavement / gravel and broken glass strewn cyclepath thrown in. I like the Cotic, but the new colours are awful - two shades of crap. If they did an orange one......

Thanks for the replies so far - any more ?

posted by Patrick1964 [35 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 21:41

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According to the Cotic site they still have a few of the small Roadrat drop bar frames left in black - got to say that was one of the sweetest bikes I've ridden in a while.

Wonder if you could get something made for you by the likes of Argos under cyclescheme? http://www.argoscycles.com/

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4130 posts]
22nd June 2009 - 22:02

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Definitely go for flat bars... My single-speed roadie has chopped bars, and I only use the slight rise on them on serious climbs. Commuting every day on this beastie is a blast, and flat bars get you to push yourself more. Even if the bike you get doesn't have flats, they're cheap enough to change...

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posted by Morgan [60 posts]
23rd June 2009 - 11:11

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as has been said above, it's all about personal preference, but if you're going down the flat bar route, I'd always, always go for a mountain bike and adapt that for the road, as it gives you a bit more flexibility. You may lose a bit of top end speed, but how many times do you actually get near to that speed anyway?

The only reason I can see for getting a hybrid is that you already have a mountain bike and road bike, and don't want to either use or adapt them for the intended journey. Oh, and are having a mid-life crisis and a weekly order of just for men.

As for hybrids on the London streets - there's very few on my commute, with the ones that are used being ridden by people in their work clothes already.

posted by the-yorkshire-p... [179 posts]
23rd June 2009 - 12:29

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I wish I still had enough hair to warrant the just for men!

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posted by vtwenty3 [26 posts]
23rd June 2009 - 15:04

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Have a look at the Kinesis Decade bikes. We are getting them in to test very soon.
http://www.kinesisdecade.co.uk/index.php

It's not just about the size of your cog.

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posted by TRs Blurb n Blog [270 posts]
23rd June 2009 - 18:06

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posted by Patrick1964 [35 posts]
26th June 2009 - 19:37

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We've already had it in for a look, the test is coming soon
http://road.cc/content/news/4135-exclusive-just-kuk-tripster

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4130 posts]
26th June 2009 - 21:17

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