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Hi all,

The boss/wife has given permission for N+1 commuter bike now I am changing jobs. I believe this is to stave off the expensive carbon racer I've been working on getting over the last year or so. I currently have a GT Grade (great) but am turning it into a more 'adventury' SRAM 1x set up. Hence new commuter.

I was thinking about hub gearing, possibly with a belt drive, to reduce cleaning/maintenance time. Can anyone make any recommendations - should I avoid hub gears or embrace them?

Commute is about 5 miles to train station, then 1 mile the other end. No hills to speak of on way to work and being sweaty on way home is not a problem (for me). Needs mudguards and option to take pannier. Not looking for super pacey, but rather not a dutch style-look. May take it on the train or will just walk at other end, not decided yet.

Current options include Genesis Day One 20, Focus Planet Lite 8G, Kalkhoff Endeavour, or Cube Town Pro Comfort. Prefer the Genesis or the Focus though.

Will be using CTW, but would prefer to spend sub-£800.

Any advice gratefully received, and I await your wisdom  1

 

17 comments

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Rich_cb [791 posts] 9 months ago
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I have a Focus Planet which I use for commuting and short runs to the shops. I'm very happy with it.

The belt drive feels a bit different but you soon get used to it. The hub gear is great.

For what you want you might consider fewer gears to save a bit of money.

VanMoof do a well thought out commuter that's right in your price range, I don't know if you can get it on CTW though and the looks are definitely marmite, personally I really like it.

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melliott [21 posts] 9 months ago
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Hi Rich,

Thanks, I'd forgotten the VanMoof. I like the styling but the e-version was so horrendously expensive that I discounted it. Alfine hub for a smidge over £1k isn't that bad though. Not sure if it takes a rear rack though, and certainly don't want to look like a Hovis delivery boy with a front basket. I'll contact them to ask.

I'm leaning towards the Focus, so it's great to hear you're happy with it.

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Jem PT [171 posts] 9 months ago
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If you're thinking of taking it on the train does it need to be a folding bike?

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SingleSpeed [429 posts] 9 months ago
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Jem PT wrote:

If you're thinking of taking it on the train does it need to be a folding bike?

 

Yep, I bought myself a SS Brompton for said purpose, the Train Nazis wouldn't let me buy  a reservation along with my season ticket, you had to literally book one when they became available two days ahead of each journey I just relented and bought a Brompton to save my life the stress and hassle of arguing with Public Sector Union Jobsworths at the Train Station.

Plus the Brompton is possible one of the most enjoyable little bikes to ride...invest in puncture proof tyres and tubes though.

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kil0ran [924 posts] 9 months ago
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A friend has a belt-drive Cube, loves it. Pretty much zero maintenance and he rides 20 miles a day in all weather.

 

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LastBoyScout [448 posts] 9 months ago
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If it was me, I'd get a tatty, but servicable, hack bike from local free ads/eBay that I don't mind leaving at the station and walk the mile at the other end. Fit it with mudguards and pannier rack (Halfords have some on sale at the moment for about £14) and buy a half-decent lock.

That is, in fact, exactly what I used to do for a similar journey. Total cost about £100 and total peace of mind about the bike getting nicked/damaged. One of them did, in fact, get nicked and the replacement had the QR skewers pulled out and thrown in the bushes/on the tracks, so now has anti-theft ones fitted - that was a tiny station with no security worth worrying about, though.

If you really don't want to walk the mile, get a second hack bike to keep at the other station - I've had friends do this.

This has several advantages:

1 - you won't have to worry about your nice, new, bike being a tempting target for thieves at the station

2 - you won't have to worry about booking it on the train

3 - riding a heap will make you fitter

4 - you'll appreciate riding your good bikes more

5 - you can put the difference in the fund for your swanky new road bike

It's win-win-win all the way  1

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bigshape [184 posts] 9 months ago
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no hills? considered a singlespeed?

 

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gthornton101 [169 posts] 9 months ago
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If you're taking it on train during/around rush hour it will need to be a folding bike, which I think probably rules out any of your shortlist?

If not then I would consider eBay for second hand... I picked up a barely used Cannondale Badboy (hydraulic discs, mudguards etc) for an absolute bargain on ebay which has been my commuter for past two years.  I see many a Boardman CX on eBay too for cheap.

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nniff [247 posts] 9 months ago
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I have an Airnimal Joey Sport, with discs, rack, skinny wheels and commuter pack which I could be persuaded to sell.  Train compliant because it folds but I didn't often fold it when I took it on the train.  Surrey or central London

 

http://airnimal.eu/products/joey/sport/#.WdOkio-cGCs

 

 

 

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davejong [4 posts] 9 months ago
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Having viewed the Airnimal "how to fold" video I can see why you wouldn't often do the folding when commuting - what a faff. I'm sure it's great bike though. 

You didn't mention your location. If it's a London commute you'll have to have a bike which folds compactly otherwise - in principle anyway - you won't be allowed to take it on rush hour trains. In this case, on grounds of quality/useability I would recommend a Brompton with a three-speed hub gear. If not London you don't *have* to have a folder, but I'd still recommend it because it just makes it a lot easier to stash the bike and be seated where you can keep an eye on it - or if your train is standing room only, having a folder means you can squeeze on and go instead of having to wait for the next train.

On the more general question of hub gears,  I would absolutely recommend for commuting. I have a Brompton, a Tern and a Foffa all with hub gears. For the type of riding I do - practical getting around and relaxed family outings - I wouldn't thank you for a derailleur setup.

 

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melliott [21 posts] 9 months ago
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Thanks for all the info, some really good points raised. Some thinking to do. 

I live in Lincoln - we have one hill but it can be a pain, so I discounted a single speed. I could do with slightly more flexibility in a bike. Being 'out in the sticks', the thought of catching the next train would be appealing if it wasn't an hour's wait :-p.

There are normally a couple of bikes on the train, but it's not actively policed. While I would love the W1A-esque Brompton commute, I think that lack of flexibility outside of work could be a hindrance. 

This brings me to the hack bikes. I use the 'run it until it dies' approach with cars so I guess it makes complete sense. Two things hold me back, the first is the desire for hub gears - all the sensible people who want them probably don't sell them on, and second, it's the chance of a new bike y'know.

I have an old BSO at the back of the garage that I could use, but there is a utility in having a bike you want to ride every day, even if it doesn't make financial or practical sense.

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gmac101 [207 posts] 9 months ago
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I've had a Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub for 5 years mounted in a steel hybrid with hydraulic brakes.  It's used for utility cycling and winter commuting.  It uses a conventional 7 speed chain which is nice and cheap and only needs cleaning once every 3-4 weeks during the winter.  The hub has been inspected a couple of times by the bike shop and hasn't needed any servicing despite riding through several floods.  Removing the rear wheel is a pain as there isn't enough room in the horizontal dropouts to slacken the chain enough  to get it off either cog so I'd check if you can do that.  To get the cable off the hub is not difficult but you need a spare spoke or 2mm allen key to rotate the hub and then a flat screwdriver is handy to pop the "nut" out of the holder.  To avoid having to do this at the side of the road in the event of a puncture I have a can of tyre inflating foam from decathalon.  I commute in sw london and the ability to change gears when stationary.

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froze [65 posts] 9 months ago
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Obviously a belt drive will be more maintenance free and long life plus they're lighter in weight, and on the surface they sound like a good idea, but are they?  You have to have a special bike made exclusively for a belt, meaning the frame has to open to install the belt and very few bikes have that ability.  Also belts are about 34% less efficient than a chain.  Belt's are more of a hassle to put on vs a chain.  Even though a belt may last 3 to 5 times longer than a chain the belt will cost you $250 vs $20 to $30 fo a chain, so in the long run a belt will cost you about twice as much as a chain.  You also can't select different gearing, you have to go with the internal hub gear offering, and the range of gears are less with a hub system.  If a belt breaks on the road you can't simply replace or remove a link and ride on...you're stuck.

I commute to work on a bike, been doing that for a long long time, and never felt the need to go with a belt system.  However if you feel that's the way to go for you then by all means get a belt and be happy.

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John_S [65 posts] 9 months ago
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Hi Melliott,

I've got a hub geared bike for my commuting and so hopefully I can add some food for thought.

Back in 2014 I was looking to replace my Trek 7.1 FX hybrid bike because I'd bought it second hand from a friend who was considerably taller than me plus it had been used & abused before I got it so it had seen better days as well as not being the right size for me.

 

I commute to work all year around no matter what the weather and I wanted a low maintenance reliable bike.  Now I know that all bikes need mainteance to keep them in good running order but I work very long hours and have two young kids at home and so I don't have much or any spare time for working on my bike so it needed to be as practicle as is possible.

 

So I started out with a wish list of getting a bike with a belt drive, mudguards, rear rack, dynamo hub and dynamo lights.  In 2014 to be honest there were almost no bikes which fitted this bill.  The only bike that I found which I think ticked all of my boxes was the Breezer Beltway Elite ( https://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/recommended/breezer-beltway-elite ) and I would have bought one if I could but nowhere in the UK sold one and it would have cost quite a bit extra to impirt one from either Germany or the USA.  I see that Breezer still make a Beltway bike but I've no idea whether or not they now distribute to the UK or not.

 

http://www.breezerbikes.com/eu/bikes/transportation/beltway

 

Around this time I'd seen a Trek Soho bike with a belt drive but by the time I was looking to buy it had been discontinued.

 

I knew that I definitely wanted to try a bike with hub gears and so without being able to get everything on my wish list I used that as my starting point becuse the frame needed horizontal dropouts and this was the one thing that I couldn't easily change after buying the bike whereas everything else could be added on later.

 

Therefore I bought the 2014 Genesis Day One Alfine 8.  At the time of buying the bike I bought mudguards and rear rack.  Then about a year later I bought a Shimano hub dynamo plus B&M front & rear dynamo lights and I got my LBS to build the dynamo wheel using the same stock rims that the bike came with.

 

I have to say that this bike has been a great commuter but it has it's pros & cons which are worth bearing in mind because only you can make your mind up on what does or doesn't suit you.

Regarding the pro's I love the relatively low maintenance compared to my previous bike.  My Trek hybrid bike had derailleur gears and rim brakes and I'm not saying that they don't work perfectly well because they do and I've used derailleur geared bikes with rim brakes nearly 30 years now and they work very well and have been refined over time to be a great product.  However in the middle of winter when you're pressed for time the speed at which I can clean my bike with its single chainring and single sprocket at the back is a joy compared to trying to keep clean what was a triple chainring and rear block.  

Also I like the disc brakes from the point of view of not having to worry as much about rim wear because when you commute everyday in what can easily be a week of foul weather which can take a very quick toll on your rims and I think that disc brakes help to reduce rim wear.

Regarding my Alfine 8 I live in East Anglia and so my roughly 12 mile each way commute is arguably pretty pan flat other than a few lumps & bumps along the way but it's a long way from being described as hilly.  However the Alfine 8 more than meets my needs and yes compared to a modern derailleur set up I probably don't have quite the top or bottom end of the gear range and yes the gaps between each gear are larger.  But for commuting use a Shimano hub gear is absolutely fine and for me the benefit of having the gears out of the elements outweights the lack of range or close ratios.

Having had a dynamo hub and dynamo lights fitted this has been an absolute revelation for me and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who commutes all year around.  Being able to dispence with the constant juggling act of charging either the lights themselves or batteries is abosolutely fantastic.  Knowing that whenever you set off your lights are ready to go is great peace of mind.

On the neagative sides as mentioned above sorting out a punctire on your rear tyre can be a bit of a pain especially if it's raining in the middle of winter.  If you get a hub geared bike try practising for repairing a puncture when you can do it at home in the warm and without the time pressure of needing to get to work is definitely a good idea because it's different and there's a bit of a knack to it if you're just used to quick release wheels.  As gmac101 says it pays to have so tools/parts to help you with this job.  It's not to say that you can't repair a rear wheel puncture by the roadside because you can but it's worth being prepared by having practised and by having the right kit with you to do the job.

 

Compared to having a derailleur gear bike having an Internal Gear Hub bike does make the rear end heavy in comparison because of the weight of the IGH itself.  However for commuting I don't see that as a problem because I'm not racing anyone.  Also, for me anyway, I've found the that Alfine hub certainly isn't perfect and you have to be a bit careful with it especially under load.  It's not the type of bike you want to treat as if you're in a race by trying to put loads of power & load through the pedals because by doing that I've found that the gears can sometimes slip and it's a simialr case if you try to mash with power too hard a gear uphill.  However my approach to commuting is I'm not in a race and taking a steady approach is just fine because I'm trying to give myself the best chance of getting to work in one piece amoungst trying to navigate all of the rush hour traffic and impatient car drivers who often appear infuriated by the mere sight of a cyclist having the audasity to be out on the road.  Therefore if you just pedal a reasonable cadence and don't mash along and do things like change into a reasonable gear early on the hills you should be absolutely fine.  I'd imagine that if you got a Rohloff it would be better from the point of view of gears not slipping, having a bigger range and closer gear ratios however it will set you back a lot more money than a Shimano IGH.

 

With respect to my own 2014 Genesis Day One 8 this was the first drop bar bike that I'd ever owned and in hindsight the geometry is perghaps not quite right for me and my own style of riding however it's only by owning one and using it that I've found that out.  It's absolutely fine for my commuting and that length of journey.  In addition though I've done some 100 miles plus rides and for those rides I don't think that the geometry is ideal because it's a bit to aggressive for my liking and I'd prefer something a bit more relaxed.  For example the seat tube angle on my 2014 model was 74 degrees on my 56cm frame but I see that on a medium frame it's now 73.5 degrees.

 

There are definitely pros & cons to my Day One Alfine bike however for me as a commuting bike it's a very practical machine and the pros definitely outweight the cons.  So it's a bike that I feel could be improved but (other than geometry) the things to improve it would probably cost more in terms of components so for the price point that it meets I guess that you can't have too may compamints.

I see that Genesis now do a Day One limited version which comes with a Tubus rear rack, Shimano dynamo hub plus B&M front and rear lights and being able to buy the bike with that kit and not having to retro fit it is a great option if you can afford it.  However if the Day One Ltd version is too expensive then you could always go for the 20 and upgrade other things later on as and when you can afford them.  

I'd definitely recommend a dynamo hub plus dynamo lights for whatever bike you get.   You could do the same as me and get a LBS to fit you a Shimano dynamo hub and lights using the existing rims.  Or if you had a lot of cash to spare you could really splash out on a luxury dynamo hub being a SON deluxe built into Hunt tubeless ready rims.

https://www.huntbikewheels.com/collections/road-disc-wheels/products/hunt-superdura-dynamo-disc-road-bike-pack-cx-wheelset-120kg-rider-weight-1939g-24deep-25wide-329-front-499-pair-pre-order-jun-wk-2

I have no idea whether or not the Genesis Day One stock rims are tubless ready or not.  However given the pain it can be to repair a puncture on the way to work I think that having a tubless set up could be a bonus.

 

Anyway I hope some of the info above from my experiences of having a Day One IGH bike help you as you try to buy the best bike for your commute.  It sounds like you have more options than I did back in 2014 especially when it comes to bikes with belt drives.

Other than the bike options that you've already mentioned and the others mentioned in posts above I think that Canyon also do a range of commuter bikes including ones that come with belt drives.

https://www.canyon.com/en-gb/urban/commuter/

Also if you're looking at German bikes I've heard good things about bikes from VSF although I don't think that they have any belt drive options I think that their approach is more to use tried & tested kit and from what I've heard they build fairly bomb proof bikes which can be good for commuting.

https://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/en/

If you look down the left hand side of this website there's links to info about some of the VSF models.

http://www.chrisbikes.co.uk/chris-blog/

 

Good luck with your search and finding the right bike for you.

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

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John_S [65 posts] 9 months ago
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Hi melliott,

If you've not bought a bike yet I also spotted something else that could be a different option to consider along with the other bikes you've already found or have been mentioned above.

In the Bombtrack Bicycle Company 2017 range there was a belt drive single speed bike called the Outlaw.  I'm guessing that it's been popular because I saw on their Instagram posts that for 2018 they'll be making two versions of the bike from now on.  They'll be the Outlaw 1 which will still be a single speed belt drive bike.  Now I've not yet seen any details on what the Outlaw 2 will be but perhaps it will be a belt drive bike with an internal gear hub but I guess we'll just have to watch this space.

This is the 2017 version because I don't think that there are details of the 2 model 2018 lineup yet:-

http://bombtrack.com/bikes/outlaw/

 

The only thing is I have absolutely no idea what this bike costs in the UK because they're not widely available in shops over here.  However they do have a UK distributor and it depends on where you are in the country but if you liked the bike and happen to live in one of the distributor locations then you could always pop into one of the shops to ask them about the bike & price.

Distributor website:-

https://www.lyon.co.uk/outdoor/bombtrack-uk-stockists

It says that they're available from bike shops in Yorkshire, London, Oxford, Ipswich and Swanage.

 

Hope that you find the right commuter for you.

John

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John_S [65 posts] 9 months ago
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It seemed to get quite a good review here:-

https://magazine.bikesoup.com/review-bombtrack-outlaw-road-plus-belt-drive-bike/

 

 

 

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melliott [21 posts] 9 months ago
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John_S wrote:

It seemed to get quite a good review here:-

https://magazine.bikesoup.com/review-bombtrack-outlaw-road-plus-belt-drive-bike/

 

 

 

John_S, you sir are a star. Thank you for your advice and recommendations.

The Outlaw does look absolutely gorgeous for a hybrid, but I feel the aesthetics will quickly disappear with added mudguards and maybe some panniers.

As you decided, I am thinking the Genesis Day One 20 is probably my best best - just a shame they are no longer shipping with the Alfine hub, but such is life. I will probably take your advice and look into retro-fitting hub dynamos and lights. Although the special edition has them, the promo photos look horrendous with loose wires all over the place; I'd hate to think what shipped versions look like.

Belt drive has so many benefits, but I can't justify the extra expenditure on 'future tech' for what will be a runabout. A 2017 or 2016 new bike can be got for less than £700. Wonderful.

Thank you John (and everyone else) for all the great info, much appreciated.