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The Bike Bug: Bitten!
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Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
The Bike Bug: Bitten! on 08/29/2007 07:56:28 MDT Print View

I've recently made some big lifestyle and career changes that have gotten me back on my bicycle every day. It's wonderful to rediscover this activity...but not so pleasant to realize that my hybrid bike is not aging gracefully and is awfully heavy, especially for the amount of hills I do (I live in California's Marin County, and I must climb hills to even leave my neighborhood!). I'm using this bike for commuting and cross-training muscles I don't usually get to work out via running or backpacking.

So, like any self-respecting, poor-impulse-control UL gearhead, I'm looking at CF road bike. I've realized that the last 10 years of riding 90% of it has been on roads, not trails. I've test ridden a few; I've been impressed thus far by the CF bikes despite the material's limitations.

I'm wondering if y'all might have opinions on a few topics...

1. If you're not supposed to clamp stuff down on carbon, how does one add things like seat-stem racks or other accessories? (I'm struggling between keeping the bike "clean" of gawky cargo bits versus having some small amount of carrying capacity.)

2. What's the price-benefit level of upgrading from Ultegra to Dura-Ace componentry?

3. What are the components made of CF that are solid, meaningful weight reducers (or performance enhancers) versus those where CF is really just a "gimmick"?

4. Shoes! Good gravy, the shoes! I thought buying trailrunners was a challenge. I'd love any broad thoughts on road shoes y'all might have.

This is a deep world and I'm already on and the Bicycling mag communities...but I'd love to get the impressions of others with crossover interests and more sensitivity to the issues/ideas of weight and simplicity.

Thanks a ton,

Edited by atomick on 08/29/2007 07:58:08 MDT.

Mark Ferwerda
(mnferwerda) - MLife

Locale: Maryland
Re: The Bike Bug: Bitten! on 08/29/2007 10:32:40 MDT Print View

I would actually suggest 2 bikes, a "beater" for commuting back and forth from work (though I don't mean to imply that a beater is "cheap") and a trainer bicycle. The beater you can attach whatever you want. Mine has fenders, a rack, and lights. I would think you could get a good steel frame bike that would serve this purpose farily cheap. Then you don't have to worry about attaching stuff to your carbon fiber frame. However to answer your questions posted here goes:
1. No idea
2. Dura-Ace is a professional level compenentry. Unless you are actually going to race consistently, I don't think the money spent is worth the wieght you are going to save (spend it on the wheels!).
3. I would propose the question here should be where can CF be used safely? Again I'm not sure. I have a CF seatpost that saved me some weight over the one I had and it seems to work good, but a SP does not get a lot of stress.
4. I can say that many of the riders I ride with use SIDI, since they come in a variety of sizes and widths so you can get a good fit. However I have a pair and the cleats creaks like crazy! I do have 2 pairs though, a cheap pair for commuting (I don't care if these get wet) and the SIDIs that are lighter and more efficient.


Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: The Bike Bug: Bitten! on 08/29/2007 11:29:00 MDT Print View

hey nathan,

Ive been doing alot of training on the bike the last couple of months, I have also been bitten pretty bad :)

Im interested in what bikes you have been looking at, and what your price range might be? there are alot of companies that make high quality CF bikes.

have you considered Titanium? I beleive the material has similar shock absorbing characteristics as CF, but Is alot more durable, and there is definatly no weight penalty. check out Litespeed's Ghisallo frameset.. 1.7lbs

just a fun fact you may have already heard. Lance Armstrong rode a Litespeed Blade a couple of years ago repainted to look like carbon fiber, and with trek decals. That bike must be awful special that he disgused it to look like his sponsers bike.

Im not trying to say CF is a bad choice, alot of the pro's use it (sometimes because their sponsers give them no choice) but wat you are using it for makes a difference. If you plan on racing on it, go for Carbon fiber, but if it is mostly going to be used for training and commuting, you should go for aluminum or titanium, they will last much longer, remember the pros have sponsers to get them new bikes if theres start to show wear. Also, alot of pro's race on CF, cus their CF bikes are fast and light, but train on steel or aluminum bikes, because they put alot of miles in training, and carbon may take its toll. Titanium would obviously be te better choice, because of weight strength, and shock absorbing reasons
But aluminum bikes can be great too, I ride a FELT z80, It is aluminum frame with a few upgrades, CArbon fiber fork and seatpost to save me from those nasty shocks in the raod (aluminum is very stiff)
I have updated it to race in Triathlons, those geometrical modifacations may not be important to you, but I mention it to make the point that even aluminum bikes can be made very light, and race worthy.

1. how much storage do ou need? as a commuter, you probably need to wear a backpack of sorts, but for training, and even racing, I dont need more than 2 water bottle cages (compatible with almost eveery bike in the world) and a medium sized bag that uses velcro straps to attach to your saddle and seatpost, so you dont have to worry about Clamping anything to your CF

2. I consider ultegra level componets perfect for the commuter/trainer. they will last probably as long as you will, Dura-Ace are very high quality, last for a long time, work very cleanly, but ultegra will usually be sufficient. Dura-ace will make the difference if you are racing, or training every day, for long distances

3. Definatly get a carbon fork and seatpost. these are where the material is dafinatly a performance enhancer. Like I have mentioned before, CF is a good shock absorber. CF handel bars, bottle cages.. ect. can save you a few grams over aluminum, but dont make that much of a difference.

4. just make sure the fit ;P I only have experience with one bike shoe, and have nothing to compare it to,so I dont have much advice here

Edited by ryanf on 08/29/2007 11:37:32 MDT.

Justin Ling
(ling_jd) - F

Locale: columbus ohio
Re: The Bike Bug: Bitten! on 08/29/2007 13:42:34 MDT Print View

Gotta love Road bikes!

my bite is swelling exceptionally big at the moment!

1. I wouldn't put a seat post rack on a carbon seat post. Carbon fiber is getting better and better, but it's not designed to handle stress in many directions. For a carbon steerer on a fork, for example, they tell you to not use a compression bolt because the downward pressure on the end of the tubing can cause failure. If you want a bike to carry any sizable cargo, I would rethink frame material. Perhaps get aluminum with eyelets on the dropouts, so the weight will sit at the hub of the wheel and not on the carbon seatpost, that way you'll be free to get whatever seat post you like.

2. You can find used ultegra at incredibly cheap prices. I would suggest buying a used complete bike as cheaply as possible with the component group you want, keep the parts, and sell the frame to keep the price low. Complete bikes are almost always the cheapest way to get the bike you want. Most people will tell you that for campy or shimano the difference between the two top groups (ultegra vs DA and Chorus vs Record) is that the lower of the two is definitely more durable while the higher-end one is lighter and has more cool factor. The weight savings however are generally not substantial. You can find bikes built with ultegra that weight much less than another built with DA. I'm a campy man myself, but to each his own.

3. I don't have experience with carbon bars myself, but I've been told that they make a huge difference in dampening road vibration. Same goes for carbon seat post (which I CAN attest to) and fork. A carbon fork is going to save you a whole lot of weight on the frame. It seems like most new frames come with carbon forks these days. Even lower end bikes and Ti frames. Gimmick (but cool looking) pieces include WB cages, Front derailleur, shift levers, steerer spacers, chainstay guard (haha), rear derailleur, Bottom bracket and probably more. You'll save a little weight but you'll be shelling out a lot more cash.

4. nothing to say really.

If you're going to be carrying stuff around town or touring, you should stay away from all carbon fiber. It just doesn't last as long. I ride steel bikes, but my road bike has lots of carbon items on it including a fork. Steel is more comfortable to ride, but not as stiff. Alunimum is stiffer but not as comfy, but sheap and light. Carbon (again no real experience with carbon frames) is supposed to be more comfortable than aluminum as far as road vibration and very stiff and light for performance. That's why so many people like it, but it's sooo expensive. Titanium; I think this is what I would like to be riding, but it's way out of my price range. It's also supposed to be cushier than steel. Titanium bikes will last a very long time and they're light enough to race. Depending on the ti tubing, these frames can be extremely light or stiffer.

I wouldn't tour on anything but steel though. As mentioned earlier, it's hard to get one bike to 'do it all.' I have two bikes for my needs and both are steel. I'm looking for a third for touring. I would never commute on my training bike, and I would never train on my commuter. Once you get one bike, the itching never goes away. Good luck!

Joseph A. Spina Jr.
(joespina2) - F

Locale: generally deskbound
The Bike Bug: Bitten! on 08/29/2007 15:14:19 MDT Print View

While I agree with many of the comments made, your use is a little vague for specific recommendations. Foremost is what weight/bulk do you expect to haul around. A lot of commuters use a messenger style bag, but certainly most packs (smaller ones) would work if you want to carry the load. Be careful on the weight as even a light load high on your back changes your center of gravity and handling. If you are considering pannier or side bags for hauling/touring, I too would question most CF frames. If I were starting from scratch, I would check out titanium frames. But CF could work with some modifications in specific parts: Forget the CF seat post and go either Aluminum or Titanium. Second, you'll need a much heavier wheelset, as most complete CF bikes are equipped/designed for lighter/racing loads and unless you are a featherweight, adding +30 will destroy those ultralite wheels especially with any normal commuting hazards. You'll need a different axle for side bags as well (I haven't seen any CF bike with dropouts that would accept a rack). Again, clamping to a seat stay is dangerous and tapping a hole in CF will significantly weaken the tube. As for gruppos, stay with Ultegra, Dura-Ace is not worth the extra money, (lighter, slightly less friction) especially when you are considering hauling additional weight. CF components are often just lighter than the aluminum ones within a line. Better weight wise and appearance, but unforgiving in any mishap; it breaks not bends. CF handle bars are the single component I would consider. Anything else would be more style than substance. Shoes are difficult to offer advice on, as the various companies have very different feels and foot lasts. I too am a SIDI fan, but I have a narrow low volume foot. I also use a mountain biking shoe even when on my road bikes, because I often have to walk while on rides. It just is easier with a MTB shoe.
CF bikes can be superlight, responsive and comfortable, but I've never seen one as a touring bike. Titanium would be a much better choice, probably for the same $. Aluminum is next, cheaper, not as much damping of road buzz, etc but most are better than before in feel. Steel is classic, usually the heaviest and most durable. But that's your hybrid.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
bike comments on 08/29/2007 15:59:32 MDT Print View

Ultegra works. I've got a huge number of miles on my '99 ultegra groupo on my old steel trek (1986). I just put DA shifters on it last year when the ultegra ones died and only because they were on clearance. Even 105 is good stuff. I have a number of 105 hubbed wheelsets that have taken a a$$ kicking over the years and been just fine.

Carbon fiber bikes are cool but not necessary. My 1986 steel trek with modern components gets some of the most miles of any bike in my large stable. My $150 frame steel singlespeed MTB gets a lot also.

Bikes are WAY tougher than you think they are as long as you treat them with the same type of respect you treat ultralight gear. My road bikes go offroad on dirt and gravel frequently and even on snow and ice once in a while. Hopping curbs and potholes is not big deal as long as it's done correctly and with finesse. Even wheelie'ing my road bike has only made be break one rear axle in the last ~8 years.

Have fun :)

Edit: Oh yea I ride Sidi's too. I don't care if they get wet. I have 3 pairs, the oldest being 8 years old and I still wear them. With road use they last a LONG time. My MTB ones get torn up quicker but that just comes with the amount of riding and hike-a-bike I do training and racing. If you are going to be using them for commuting/touring and not switch shoes though you might look for some lower end, more flexible soles. They won't be as good on the bike by a small fraction but they'll be better when walking around. If you want an all purpose pedal, look at Time ATACs. Otherwise speedplays are the only thing I ride for strict road use.

I don't have much to add about racks. I don't use them. If it doesn't fit in a seatbag, jersey pockets or a smaller backpack (under 1600cubes) it doesn't come with me on a trip. In town I use a normal zip open backpack or messenger bag depending on what I'm hauling. I've even rode with crutches and ski's before :) Haha.

Edited by Pivvay on 08/29/2007 16:04:36 MDT.

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: The Bike Bug: Bitten! on 08/29/2007 16:56:57 MDT Print View

Wow, thanks so much for the initial insights, folks. Astounding response, much respect and thanks.

Sorry, I was indeed vague on my needs. I'm currently riding a 2000 Gary Fisher Wahoo steel-frame hybrid, completely stock with aging Shimano Altus components, fixed suspension. I bike 13 miles a day to and from work, longer on weekends for fitness & recreation. I am really looking to make hills easier, as I need to climb about 1200' each way to work across a couple of hills, and carrying a 30-pounder up two flights of stairs isn't fun. So I am basically looking for a bike to make hill climbs easier, with a more responsive (but not hardcore-racing-stiff) ride. I use a large Chrome messenger bag for clothes changes, laptop, and so forth...really, storage isn't such a big deal after all (thanks for helping me to re-examine my usage there...the hybrid will remain my "beater" if I need to run errands or don't want to ride with a pack or bag). Finally, using the bike I purchase to commute allows me to write it off as a freelance commuting vehicle. :-) Multi-day touring and racing are not anywhere in my future (although I have friends trying to recruit me for adventure racing since I kayak as well, but hey, that'll be another bike :-p)

However, I also want to start training for longer weekday and weekend rides to improve endurance and muscle tone; my strength is getting to where my commute is almost too short for how long I want to stay aerobic. I want a lightweight bike for that, purely roads (no trails - I'll keep the hybrid for fire roads), and again, it's nothing but hills around here (and not saying that's bad!).

I guess I am open to other materials - sheesh, hearing pro's and cons about CF as a frame material is like hearing people argue about religion - but I want to spend around $2,000. A final bike weight of 18 lbs. or less is seeming right, from hefting various frames in bike shops. I've ridden the Trek 5000 and Trek Madone 5.2 so far, both 2007's on clearance; bikes in the 56cm and 54cm sizes have felt about right. The 5.2 is a bit more dough but the ride felt good and, most importantly, it fit pretty closely. Today I'm going to try and squeeze in a ride on a Cannondale Six13 Team 3, CF with an alumium rear triangle. That's about where I am at to date.

Any thoughts on steel or titanium bike models (not just frames, please, I'm not ready to spec all the parts for a custom bike just yet) that might fit these parameters, for comparison?

Edited by atomick on 08/29/2007 17:04:29 MDT.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: The Bike Bug: Bitten! on 08/29/2007 16:58:53 MDT Print View

I bike a 10-mile one way commute to work a couple of days a week, and ride about 5k total miles per year. Most of those miles are on my pleasure machines: road racing style bikes with stiff aluminum frames and carbon forks, seatposts, but also some miles on a steel framed touring bike and a tandem.

My lightest bike is 18.25 lbs with bottle cages and pedals but without water bottle, pump, or tool kit. That bike has Shimano 105 components that work just fine and have been going strong for 3-4 years. My other road bike is a Cannondale with a triple that's about 20 lbs. It's heavier but has a nicer ride feel and in use I average about the same speed on rides with it as I do the lighter bike. Up long mountains I prefer it because of the triple; sometimes its nice to spin and other times nice to upshift and stand and stretch the back.

If your goal is speed, even on slower uphill rides an aerodynamic riding position can have the biggest single impact on performance than weight. There's a web site called something like 'analytic cycling' that lets you model the effect of changes in rider position, weight, grade, etc. But the best aero position isn't usually comfortable for most people. That said, light wheels make the single biggest 'feel' improvement in any bike. And once you add luggage to a bike, as in a touring bike, the weight of the bike itself becomes less important.

For commuting with a rack and bags, a mid-80s touring frame bike in steel will have the optimum geometry and give a nicer ride for a bike with a load. Road racing geometry bikes start to feel weird with racks on them. It's like putting a tow hitch on a Porsche.

Carbon fiber really works well for forks and reduces weight nicely over steel or aluminum. There are carbon forks strong enough for cyclocross and tandems. I inspect my forks periodically for scratches and gouges as carbon fiber can fail spectacularly if the carbon winding is compromised with cuts. Scratches in the gel coat are cosmetic and nothing to worry about. Carbon seatposts are lighter but you can't really feel any benefit in vibration absorption. The big benefit to carbon in frames is that the stiffness can be tailored to specific axis or load directions to get exactly the response the frame builder is looking for. Carbon bikes seems to deaden the road vibration that aluminum is famous for transmitting. Carbon fiber is a stiff but light structural element. Good for forks, seat posts and handlebars, maybe stems with really long extensions, but in things like cranksets I'm not convinced it buys much.

Ultegra components look really nice to this 105 user; some of the Ultegra parts are actually lighter than DA counterparts. If you can afford DA on a built up bike do it now, as adding a gruppo later might cost as much as the entire bike originally did.

I use spd mountain bike style shoes and pedals even on my road bikes. I have Speedplay pedals and Sidi shoes for rides when I feel a need to wear my lodge pins; but most of the time my bikes have cheap spd pedals to match comfy Adidas or Performance MTB shoes. I like being able to walk around with a normal foot strike. I also like double sided pedals you can just stomp on and clip in.

For simplicity and light weight single speeds seem tempting but I like gearing, so I haven't tried that yet. If you ride in the rain, a cyclocross or touring framed bike with cantilever brakes allows room for fenders.

Justin Ling
(ling_jd) - F

Locale: columbus ohio
budget-wise on 08/29/2007 21:44:43 MDT Print View

If you've got $2000 to work with, you can pretty much come out with any bike you please. If you're smart about buying it, you can buy a cheap bike with the components you want, and sell the frame if it's not what you would prefer. then buy a bike with the frame you prefer and sell the components. The used bike/bike parts market is huge, and so far I haven't had any problems getting what I expect from selling bike stuff.

My current road bike weighs 17.5 lbs. It's a steel Griffen with a carbon fork and campy record components. The frame was new off ebay, and the components and wheels were from a 1500 carbon bike off ebay (whose frame I just sold for $650). The total cost for the bike was $1350 for the exact bike I wanted. The same setup new would have been $6000. Just a thought on what you can do.

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Update: Bike Chosen on 09/13/2007 22:56:09 MDT Print View

Just to wrap the thread: after riding Cannondales, Treks, Serottas, Colnagos, Specialized, and Rocky Mountains, I'm now the owner of a 2007 Trek Madone 5.0 (carbon fiber frame/fork/seatpost, triple chainring, all-Ultregra components, MTB clipless pedals). Everyone's input and help was great; it fit the best, and had the best compromise of ride and climbing ability. Got it on sale, as the local bike shop makes way for the '08's. I've been commuting with it and taking fitness road Fast. Responsive. The color of asphalt. Satisfies my inner weigh weenie. :-)

Thanks again to all who offered their advice!

(And, yes, Serottas and Colnagos were amazing. And $7K.)

Edited by atomick on 09/13/2007 22:59:15 MDT.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Gosh just don't buy a Trek ..... on 09/16/2007 20:19:26 MDT Print View

Gosh just don't buy a Trek. Just kidding, it's a fine bike amd now that you've got it you'll need another set of wheels for the weekend and then ... .

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Road Biking on 09/19/2007 04:44:56 MDT Print View

You guys must live in areas without a lot of stupid drivers. I stick to riding in the dirt myself.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Road Biking on 09/19/2007 07:25:55 MDT Print View

Not really. You just have to ride accordingly. I put about 10k miles a year on my road and mountain bikes.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Re: Road Biking on 09/19/2007 11:13:42 MDT Print View

Road biking in atlanta is an extreme sport.

Nat Lim
(LithiumMetalman) - F

Locale: Cesspool Central!
Steel on 09/27/2007 18:09:37 MDT Print View

Steel is real!

I used to live in the Bay and traveled all over the place on bike. I definitley second the beater bike. CF is nice but crashing on one isn't. Aluminum is nice, but the ride can be a little too stiff at times. Steel, though a little bit heavier, made up for it's durability, and comfortable ride.

I spent most of my time commuting on an old steel Bridgestone RB600, fantastic commute bike! When I moved up to Davis I switched over to an old steel Centurion "Iron Man", which has been decent.

If you can find one, Giaciotti is very decent steel framed bike, very lively ride and rides alot lighter than it feels!
I also loved old steel Bianchi bikes, (the news ones still rock as well)

Being a commute bike, would stick with Ultegra, or Campy gear, or even some of the old Suntour components. Dura-Ace is nice but if anything goes, it's pretty expensive to replace.

seatpost wise CF is nice, very nice ride, but strapping a seatpost rack, is not such good idea. A great compromise was getting an aluminum seatpost, and making sure that the seat rails on my saddle were titanium based, it seemed to soften the ride quite a bit.

CF Fork & CF dropbar wise I have no experience with, but Ritchey steel forks and Ritchey aluminum drop bars worked like a charm!

Shoe wise, Shimano and Sidis have been great!

So commute wise think durabilty, simple, and kinda light.

Hope this helps.

Edited by LithiumMetalman on 09/27/2007 18:14:33 MDT.

Dan Whalley
(thedanwhalley) - F

Locale: peakdistrict natonial park, UK
bike on 12/27/2007 04:33:38 MST Print View

Well im a mountainbiker myself but also comute 12miles to work everyday and its hilly to!

But id have to say get yourself a single speed/fixed wheel road bike!

Gives you a whole new set of muscles! and is great fun!
You will soon get used to the hills and have a hastle free cool looking machine!

Go on, ul never go back!!

Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Hide your credit card... on 02/18/2008 15:24:48 MST Print View

Light bike p0rn:

The forums will have a lot of info for your questions.