“Commuting Bike of the Year”

Since Google Now has been spamming me with this article for the last few days, I feel it is appropriate for me to respond.

road.cc may well be a road bike site, but their suggestions for “Commuting bike of the year” are frankly ridiculous.

9 of the 10 bikes have drop bars, and two of them are single-speed. If you are a MAMIL* trying to “win” commuting, they might be your thing. If your actual plan is to transport yourself to work, here is my advice:

Control

My rule for the road is pretty simple – assume every other road user is an idiot who hasn’t seen you.

And since you are surrounded by idiots, you need to be able to see them, and you need to be able to avoid them. Flat bars are the only way you can do this – your head is up, and your fingers have good control of the bars and instant access to strong braking. Disc brakes are preferred. Drop bars were born from racing and that is where they should stay.

Practicality

You’re going to want to carry stuff around. Don’t carry it around on your back. Buy a bike with the right mounts, fit a rack and make the bike take the strain.

It’s going to rain. You don’t want to get mucky. Fit mudguards.

You’re going to go up hills. You’ll need gears. More than 3.

Reliability

Run chunky tyres. 35c and above. Skinny road-bike tyres were built for racing. They are hard to keep inflated, uncomfortable, and prone to punctures.

Buy cheap, buy twice.

“Commuting Bike of the Year”

There is a reason why the “hybrid” bike was born.

It just works.

I bought a Giant Roam and added racks and panniers to make the perfect commuter. If I stop off at the supermarket, I can get a few days of family shopping in the panniers. If I want to go for a fast fitness ride, I can do that as well.

You don’t need to spend a lot on a well-equipped modern bike – my Giant was in the sale and ended up costing about £400 once I had added the rack and mudguards (half of what road.cc are suggesting you spend).

Alternatively, look out for an 80s/90s rigid mountain bike. Pretty much the same as a hybrid, and because they are unfashionable, they can be dirt cheap. They might not have the mounts for racks and mudguards, but “universal” mounts are available that will clamp around the frame. My Raleigh Nitro cost me £25, and after a few tweaks and a few repairs it was a solid and reliable commuter that had many more miles left in it!

*I am also a middle-aged, male owner of synthetic sporting wear

 

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