In preparation for commuting back and forth to the office I decided I will need a bike. This was the easy decision to make. Deciding which bike to buy is the hard part. I have visited eight local bike stores near my neighborhood and so far and I’ve also done a lot of research on the web. After all that work, I have narrowed down my choices for a commuter bike. I’m not a bike pro or really even a hobbyist. I just need the exercise and with gas prices continuing upwards it won’t hurt to fill up the gas tank a little less often either. A secondary use will be taking Miss A. for rides in a bicycle trailer. I’m sure she’l love that.
Being the nerd that I am, there are a few technologies that are a must-have for me. First is belt drive. I really like the quietness of the belt drive. When you see (hear) one in operation you’ll be amazed at just how quiet they are. Belts are less maintenance and certainly less messy than chains. I don’t want a mess and I don’t want to do maintenance, and I don’t want a pre-ride ritual. I have laziness levels I need to maintain otherwise life might get a little out of whack. Chains are old school, belts are cool. I like the reliability a belt affords. These belts are just like the ones used on your car engine. They last a really, really long time. How often do you change a belt on a car? I’ve never
done it paid a mechanic to do it. Nevertheless, there are doubters and naysayers. If you doubt the reliability claims, ask this guy, he may disagree with you. As far as I can tell all the belts are made by the same company, Gates.
The second critical technology for me is a rear internal hub transmission. I’m not really a tinker with the bike kind of guy and the less maintenance the better for me. If you think there are belt drive haters out there, then you need to get out more and meet the internal gear hub haters. Internal gear hubs are a solution for all situations but for me who doesn’t want to mess with a bike much, just want it to work an internal gear hub is a good solution. If you are new to internal hubs, check out this video (it is in English):
There is a ton of additional information available from Sheldon Brown’s website. Probably way more information than you care to digest. Makes for some good reading.
The third technology I wanted was disc brakes. Once again they are more reliable and less maintenance than other technologies like a rim brake. Drum brakes for bikes don’t seem to have evolved much in the last few years. I could be wrong and if I am then I’m going with disc brakes look way cooler.
I don’t need pedals with special clips in them. I dont want to carry an extra pair of shoes with me (again, lazy) I doubt I will be going fast enough to work up a sweat. At least I hope I don’t work up a sweat. I should probably keep an extra deodorant stick in my office, so I don’t become the “smelly guy.” I also don’t need suspension. As much as it is extremely cool technology and affords one much bad-assery, I just won’t use it while commuting. Furthermore, I don’t need a ton of gears as I have only a few small hills to traverse during my five mile journey. I’m sure eight gears is more than enough for my needs of commuting to work and hauling Miss A through the neighborhood and around the lake. Below are the bikes on my list thus far.
The Trek SoHo Deluxe is a bike with a lot of value. It has an 8-speed internal hub gear, a belt drive, and a disc brake in the front. It has a drum brake in the rear. I think Trek really went cheap out on the rear brake. Hopefully they will throw in a disc brake for next year’s model. I’m pretty confident I need more stopping power in a brake than it can provide. The paint job is also gloss black. Matte paint jobs seem to be all the rage, shiny is out.
The Specialized Source Eleven has everything you could ever want in a commuter bike. The only problem is the price. I can’t possibly justify a five mile commute with this bike, or can I? The Source Eleven comes equipped with disc brakes and integrated lights, rack, and fenders; plus 11-speed Shimano Alfine internal gearing with belt drive. The 11-speed hub gear has a 409% gear range which is very impressive.
The Cannondale Bad Boy 1 has an amazing look to it. It is painted with a matte black paint. The mono front fork is just awesome looking as well. However I can’t figure out if you can actually fit fenders and and a rack to it. Also, the lack of a belt drive and an internal hub gear are a deal-breaker for me.
The Specialized Sirrus Comp looks gorgeous as well. It has no belt drive, no internal hub gear and no disc brakes. The caliper style brakes just seem outdated to me. I really wish specialized would get with it for us non-bike hobbyists.
The Spot Brand Ajax is a terrific bike. It meets all my requirements from above. I think it looks great. The paint is a matte black and the rims are white. Another nice feature of this bike is the dropouts which allow belt-driven or chain-driven configurations, and painless wheel removal with no need to re-tension the belt. Changing a flat rear tire on the road without having to call up the SO to pick me up will be wonderful. You also don;t have to re-tension the belt which is uber-critical on a belt drive system. The frame and fork accommodate full fenders and racks, which will provide for urban versatility and utility.
I have an old Killer V 900 mountain bike that is still surviving. It is so good looking. I can’t bear to part with it as I love it too much. It looks like this.