No Bike For Me

I have come to understand in the last few weeks that I am an oddity in the bicycle community; among other areas of society. Do I like commuting on my bike? Yes. Do I want to go 20 to 25 miles an hour? You better believe it. Am I willing to ride 100+ miles in a weekend or possibly day? Hell yeah. So where is the bike for me?

I have been looking for a nice road bike for the past few weeks. I have come to understand a few things:

  1. Most road bikes are built for people who want the lightest bike possible. So braze-ons (mounts) for fenders, racks, and disc brakes are not really a priority.
  2. The bikes I want to ride (carbon) are not for my kind of riding.
  3. Choosing a bike over the internet is like buying a house that you can’t see the inside of. Without a test ride I am not buying a bicycle.
It’s not that I don’t have the money for an expensive bike. It’s that none of them suit my needs. So if anyone knows of a good bike here are my qualifications:
  1. Must have 700c wheels. This is not very hard to find so that’s not too bad.
  2. Must have braze-ons (mounts) for everything from fenders to racks.
  3. Preferably light and strong at the same time. Although I know that this is a pipe dream I’d like to find a balance between the two.
  4. Must be bent enough (H2 ?) to cut through the wind, but not too bent that I can’t ride it due to back fatigue.

The reason I am posting this here is that I think there are a lot of people out there like me, and we are not really well represented. If you want a bike that goes fast and far there is a bike for you. If you want one that can carry a lot of weight they have them. If you want a commuter that will get you where you need to go they sell them. If you want a bike for all three you are up a creek. In fact I am going to go as far as to categorize myself and all of the people like me. We will now be known as Super Commuters. People for whom just getting around is not enough, Rack Warriors.

So if you have any ideas for us Kings of Commuting leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you guys think.


I was talking to Chris Gillham, one of the smartest people I know when it comes t bikes, last night at the bike rescue about my situation, and I came to the conclusion that I have four options:

  1. Get two bikes, one for commuting and one for speed. This does not really solve my problem because I still want to commute 40+ miles at a time. So septate bikes would just separate out my problems. I could use a backpack on a road bike. That way I get speed and at least some carrying capacity.
  2. Retrofit my current bike. I may be able to put drop handlebars on my current bike. That way at least I will be able to cut through the wind a little easier. The geometry for this though is still not optimal for that riding position.
  3. Get a nice frame and then outfit it with the parts I want to make it lighter. I figure I can buy the Surly LHT frame and outfit it with the right parts to make it “lighter.”
  4. Keep searching for the Shangri-La of bikes. It has to be out there somewhere.
What it all boiled down to is that I am looking for two separate bikes. One for going fast and far. The other for carrying and commuting. I would like to find one in between that can suit all of my needs. So I’ll keep on looking.
Written by Chris Belsole


Filed under Article

8 responses to “No Bike For Me

  1. JV

    I made a decision to buy a Trek 520 years ago because although long distance touring comprised a small portion of my riding, I needed that type of bike when I did tour, a few times a year. It is still the standard of the industry for the price about $1400. It has braze-ons, a steel frame, relaxed geometry, etc. I road tested a Surly “long haul” recently. It didn’t compare. I also went out and bought light weight wheels (Bontrager race lites) and skinny tires for when I am tooling about locally
    and it fills the bill of a faster, sturdy bike which can be transformed a couple ways. Of course by now I have added a racer and a mountain bike to my collection, so if you can, just buy more bikes.

  2. j woz

    Here are a few ideas.
    Specialized Tricross Comp
    Specialized Sirrus Expert
    Surly Cross Check (not the LHT, to heavy)
    Specialized Secteur Elite
    Any questions call me or email me
    Be well, J.

  3. j woz

    All of the aforementioned bikes are light except for the surly since that is a steel frame. They would all carry supplies and gear, plus they all would be easy to ride both short and long distance rides.
    On a slightly different note. If money is less of a concern than having a great bike, have you considered a Moots? A Moots Pshyclo-X with braze-ons. A do eveything bike that is Titanium. Light, comfortable and indestrutible. The perfect bike.
    Be well.

  4. ethan

    To say that there is no bike for you is unfair. There may not be a bike in Albany that meets your criteria. What you need to do is go to NYC or Boston and try something else.

  5. Christopher

    Man, when someone is in trouble you guys show up in force. Thanks a lot for the ideas and info. I think I am more equipped to deal with this adventure now.

  6. Chris

    I know a couple of people who commute on Bikes Direct CX bikes. They’re pretty inexpensive, have pretty good components(ok wheels, and are available with good gruppo, usually Ritchey hardware). A couple of them have mounts for stuff.

    Masi also makes some interesting things that could fall in to your qualifications. The Speciale Randonneur could qualify if you gave it more aggressive gearing. It comes with fenders, front and rear rack mounts, and will fit up to like 700cx30 tires. Change out the crank, get some skinnier rubber and you can probably cover ground like a mofo!

    My preferred option is starting with a vintage steel frame. I have an old Schwinn that I love to death that now wears a rack, fenders, and lights. It has old Suntour/Sakai drivetrain off a Bianchi racing bike(with modern Dura Ace bar end shifters), and it’s a GREAT fast commuter. Fast, responsive, and most of all CHEAP.

  7. Jeremy

    hey chris

    have you checked out the polyvalent from velo orange? i know you mentioned the awesome porteur rack that they sell. they are completely out of stock on the polyvalent right now, but there is supposedly a new batch in production that should be ready this summer. it comes as a frameset or a build kit. it’s not as lightweight as the road bikes you’ve been demoing at the shop, but most lightweight road bikes are designed for athletic cycling, not carrying stuff, and definitely not with the bombed-out albany road conditions that we have to deal with.

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