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Road vs Tri bike for commuting


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First of all, I hope everyone is doing well during these challenging times - I haven't really been on the forum for almost  year now. Seems like there's been a few changes.

I want to start commuting to work on a bike (it's about 23km each way) mostly on Pacific Hwy, but have a little dilemma. I have a tri bike (6 year old Shiv) and a hybrid (which would take probably double the time).

I've never really felt that safe riding the tri bike on busy roads, but I've never ridden a road bike (just MTB or Tri). But I also don't really want so spend much money on a new bike (under $1k would be ideal, could possibly go up to $2k if really necessarily - I don't mind 2nd hand). Is a road bike that much different (safer) to ride and worth spending money on?

Thanks!

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Prior to lock down I was commuting by bike up to 4 times per week. Commutes were from various points - Hornsby, Westmead, West Pennant Hills and Castle Hill to the city. On road bikes. 

From your list above, I would take the hybrid over the shiv for the commute.

Buying new for commuting I would think something like an alloy roadie or cyclocross bike. Didn't search far or wide for this example: 99 bikes. No affiliation

Edit to add: The idea of an e-bike for commuting five days from five has been bouncing around my head for some time. On hold till we are more permanently back in the office.

Edited by gregb
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What's making the hybrid so slow? If its something you can change such as tyres that roll better or it needs a good service - I would do that instead of a buying a new cheap bike

 

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I commute to work daily on my road bike (only less than 20 minutes ride) and definitely would not do it on the tri bike. I've done so on a few occasions when the roadie is in the workshop and never felt as safe, can't brake quickly enough, difficult to maneuver around pedestrians etc. Also, depending on the security of your bike storage, you don't want to be risking the tri bike getting stolen.

Like gregb, I did a search on 99 bikes, there appear to be plenty of choices less than $1k. Whether they would be in stock or not, is another matter as I hear bike shops are struggling to get supply these days.

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In all seriousness, if you are riding for commute in traffic, id be going the hybrid....and trying to find quieter roads. Tri bikes and traffic (from memory -its been a while) arent a great mix.

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8 hours ago, gregb said:

Buying new for commuting I would think something like an alloy roadie or cyclocross bike. Didn't search far or wide for this example: 99 bikes. No affiliation

Oh great, one more bike to add to the list haha.

 I haven't even thought of cx bike, but I like the idea

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7 hours ago, Surfer said:

What's making the hybrid so slow? If its something you can change such as tyres that roll better or it needs a good service - I would do that instead of a buying a new cheap bike

 

I'd say the weight - I'm not sure exactly but I'd say the hybrid is at least 5kg heavier. I've already changed the tyres to thinner ones, in fact the front wheel is newish and thinner but I could still go thinner I believe

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5 hours ago, k3vski said:

 I've done so on a few occasions when the roadie is in the workshop and never felt as safe, can't brake quickly enough

Yeah, that's exactly it. I just wasn't sure if it was just me and the breaks or all the tri bikes are the same.

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The positive to a heavier slower bike is you get a good workout in. Commute time wont vary by much in traffic either.

No real cost. Low theft risk /damage risk etc. Good workout.  Win, win, win.

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7 minutes ago, dazaau said:

Tri bike for commute. Just No.

What's wrong with the hybrid? With the right tyres it shouldn't be much slower unless there are climbs and it's heavy.

 

Yes to both. On the way back from work its mostly all up (at least that's what it feels like) and it's pretty heavy. 

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3 minutes ago, CharlieB said:

The positive to a heavier slower bike is you get a good workout in. Commute time wont vary by much in traffic either.

No real cost. Low theft risk /damage risk etc. Good workout.  Win, win, win.

Haha yes, you're not wrong!

I start every day around 5:30am and twice a week finish at 8pm so I'd like to make the commute as least painful as possible 

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Have you considered an ebike? Just a thought :)

 

I think a road bike is totally worth the money and while I have a TT bike I only train on it when coming up to a race, and just enough to make sure I'm used to the position. Road bike is so so much more enjoyable to ride. TT bikes are twitchy, nasty, unsafe and uncomfortable things :)

I'd probably get a nice road bike second hand whose groupset isn't shot.

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I had a boradman CX bike for a while, I commuted on it a few times. 

Was the sweet spot for my commute I reckon, fast enough if you need to go fast, but durable enough with some decent tyres that you can take short cuts on dirt or grass, can go up and down gutters if you need to get around traffic or evade danger, also a lot of fun to ride on the weekend. 

 

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1 hour ago, dazaau said:

TT bikes are twitchy, nasty, unsafe and uncomfortable things :)

 

 

Agree with all this except I find my tri bike super comfy, its like lying on a lounge chair, I prefer it to my roadie!

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As a fellow Shiv owner, if you can trust those brakes to pull you up in an emergency, you're a braver human than I. Or you've got a killer setup that you should share.

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Will you have a backpack on? I think that would be a bit uncomfortable being in a lower position on the TT bike.

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24 minutes ago, AA7 said:

Will you have a backpack on? I think that would be a bit uncomfortable being in a lower position on the TT bike.

Very good point - I use my roadie to commute and I can only deal with a small backpack (then again, my back is quite small!)

I'd give the hybrid a red hot go first - It's a commute, not a race after all.  

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1 hour ago, AA7 said:

Will you have a backpack on? I think that would be a bit uncomfortable being in a lower position on the TT bike.

Yes, and you're right it's pretty annoying but I got used to it ...anyway I think the TT is out of the question now.

Really starting to like the idea of a new bike, even mentioned it to the wife and she didn't protest...

1 hour ago, BogFrog said:

Very good point - I use my roadie to commute and I can only deal with a small backpack (then again, my back is quite small!)

I'd give the hybrid a red hot go first - It's a commute, not a race after all.  

I can try it on Monday I suppose and see how much slower it is and also how buggered I'll be. 23km on it won't be fun..

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19 hours ago, CharlieB said:

The positive to a heavier slower bike is you get a good workout in. Commute time wont vary by much in traffic either.

No real cost. Low theft risk /damage risk etc. Good workout.  Win, win, win.

I've never fully understood this. How is a heavier bike a harder workout, surely you just go slower?

If my car has 100HP with three bags of cement in the back, it doesn't gain more HP when I take them out.

Functional strength and motional power are surely two different things?

Edited by FatPom
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In Jan/Feb I spent 6 weeks commuting on the surf coast hwy between Torquay and Geelong.

~20km each way, straight and mostly flat.
I had the TT bike with me for the trip, so that was what I rode.
I will say, if you have the choice, if you have to carry things (I didn't have a locker, so everyday was laptop, food, shoes, clothing, towel), a TT bike is not the right choice.
OTOH - if you can leave everything at work, then a TT bike would be grand :D

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4 hours ago, FatPom said:

I've never fully understood this. How is a heavier bike a harder workout, surely you just go slower?

If my car has 100HP with three bags of cement in the back, it doesn't gain more HP when I take them out.

Functional strength and motional power are surely two different things?

Yep, GOOD workout. Same power on a less efficient bike means slower speed but still a good workout. Thats obviously not ideal if you are racing, but it probably doesnt matter if its a commute. 

 

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I just used the excuse I needed a commuter bike so that I could N+1 and get a gravel bike. I used to have a 29er hard tail to commute on that was quick enough with slicks, but the gravel bike is better IMO (also about 4kgs lighter). 

Use it as an excuse to N+1 a gravel bike ;)

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Ok, that's it!...I want a new bike now! 😬

Any recommendation for a road/gravel bike let's say up to $3k? (assuming there's still bike in stock)

 

Also has anyone used bicyclesonline.com.au? I've never heard of Polygon or Marin bikes but the prices look pretty good. 

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5 minutes ago, Torn said:

anyone used bicyclesonline.com.au

Twice, a roadie and then a mountain bike. No complaints, about the only thing the Polygon roadie does not do well is look good parked up outside the cafe. Polygon MTB is possibly the funnest bike I've ever ridden. No affiliation, would shop there again.

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Polygon are ok. If you're not looking top end it doesn't matter so much. If I was racing, I wouldn't be doing it on any of their current bikes (they used to do some good roadies). I remember they did a 105 bike with Aksium wheels for $900 once. A fair few people bought one to strip the parts.

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4 hours ago, steve said:

Is there a difference between a cyclocross bike and a gravel bike? If one were to have a cross bike, one would still have a need to buy a gravel bike? Asking for friend.

They are similar but different. The geometry is different. A gravel bike's geometry is slightly relaxed compared with a CX bike. A CX bike is designed to handle tight twisting turns and will be quick to turn. A gravel bike will have a lower BB for stability with slacker angles and a taller head tube for comfort.

A good cross bike will be designed to be comfortable when being carried while running. The top tube should be designed to be comfortable when resting on your shoulder. In the older times that meant routing the cables on top of the top tube and some had specifically shaped to make it easier. Now with internally routed cables that is one less thing to worry about.

If you have a cross bike you can certainly use it on all the terrain a gravel bike was designed for it just may not be as comfortable for very long rides and a little less stable, but you can pick it up and carry it on your shoulder!

 

This article goes into some depth https://www.cyclingnews.com/features/the-cyclo-cross-vs-gravel-bike-conundrum-understanding-the-differences/

Edited by Slowman
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1 hour ago, Slowman said:

They are similar but different. The geometry is different. A gravel bike's geometry is slightly relaxed compared with a CX bike. A CX bike is designed to handle tight twisting turns and will be quick to turn. A gravel bike will have a lower BB for stability with slacker angles and a taller head tube for comfort.

That makes sense. I have a cross bike I use as a rain bike and for light touring. I put an adjustable stem on it to bring the bars up, and the twitchyness took a little getting used to. The flat underside of the top tube is nice for carrying on/off public transit, though.

But clearly, my friend needs a new bike.

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