CHEAP 'commuter' build?

Viewing 11 reply threads
  • Author
    • #205988

      I’m new to cycling, so bear with me if this is a dumb idea…

      I got into cycling in November, 2016.  Not an ideal decision from a trail condition perspective (in Northeast Ohio).  For 2 major reasons (snow, and cost) I purchased a fat-tire MTB in December, with the intention of riding through winter, and then seeing how the summer went on a heavy fat bike.  (then i decide whether my next bike is a good quality hardtail, or a entry level CX bike, but I digress…)


      My problem is that winter hasn’t really come yet, and I am becoming increasingly aware of how much time I am going to have to spend on pavement in order to keep my fitness going and get seat time in on a tight schedule.  Trails can get soggy in the summer, too, and I may only have 2-3 days a week where my schedule (2 kids) allows me to get out and ride.

      I need something that is more street-friendly than the fat bike (which has been pretty fun on 20 mile rides, and definitely helped my fitness).

      In a perfect world, I would spend $600-$800 on a used CX bike, and just get road tires for it until cross season, but I am not looking to have the ‘discussion’ (I won’t say argument…) with my wife about dropping more money when my fat bike is less than a month old.


      SO:  a buddy of mine gave me his old Trek 850.  I’ve been using it to pull my half-clones (daughters) around in the bicycle trailer.  Would it be a dumb idea to put $150 of minor ‘upgrades’ into the Trek to tide me over?

      I figure $60 for narrower tires and tubes.

      $30 for Ergon grips (to match my fat bike, and because the current grips make my hands go numb)

      $50 for a new seat and seat post (I want to keep the current gel seat for when my wife rides the Trek, but I would like something more road-oriented than the current saddle)

      The only ‘sunk’ cost is the tires and tubes.  Everything else can be moved over to another bike when/if I upgrade.  I mean, I’d really like to swap the seat and post from the fat bike over to the trek, and then put a dropper post on the fat bike, but that doubles the project cost.

      If this works out like I hope it will, the result will be a light(er) bike (under 27 lbs., which is significant compared to a 35 lbs. fat bike) with a lot less rolling resistance (1.65″ tires at 55 psi, versus 4″ tires at 8 psi…)

      I know it’s not a road bike, or even a CX bike, but I’m just looking to be able to get my miles in a bit faster, and without wearing out expensive fat tires on pavement 🙂

    • #206001

      How about one of these for $300?


    • #206006

      If your biggest concerns are not wearing out your expensive fat bike tires and saving money on your commuter build, here’s what you need to do:

      Drop $100 on a pair of these tires: , throw them on your fat bike, and call it good

    • #206008

      Appreciate both suggestions.

      A fixie/single speed is intriguing, but I don’t think the wife would do as well on that during family rides.  But I do want one, and that link will almost definitely be used when my bike fleet expands to 4 or 5 😛

      Street tires for the fat bike would be a highly attractive option if I were more proficient at changing tires quickly.  I’m trying to anticipate a scenario where I would be riding on the roads tonight, and then hopefully hitting the trail on the same bike Saturday morning.

      If i’m being honest with myself, some of this ‘project’ is to feel better about my Strava times. (yeah, I said it.  Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?)  I know I’m not going to be KOM on a mountain bike with narrower tires, but my ego is getting deflated by seeing 13.7 mph average speed while other friends (whose pace I know I can keep on the trail) are averaging 15.8 mph on their road bikes.

    • #206010

      So you want a cheap commuter to set fast Strava times on?

      Those two goals seem mutually exclusive to me.

      I’d recommend something like this for fast Strava times:

    • #206040

      I have commuting to work most days for the last 6 years. Surface is mixture of road and canal path. Distance 9 miles each way with two 25% gradient climbs. The canal path is the main part of route to punish bike parts. It is grade one aggregate with 5 miles of puddles! I ride a mountain bike hard tail. So lessons I have learnt:
      1. Get puncture proof tyres they may heavy but save you from changing a tube in most inconvenient of conditions + bad day at work + tired
      2. Weather proof shield all gear cabling with noodle straw and or gore grommet grubs.
      3. Sealed bearings high quality stainless steel if possible for wheels and bottom bracket and headset
      4. Use steel chain rings
      5. Use mud guards
      6. Shield rear calliper from dirt (I could go through brake pads even though not using the brakes in 2 weeks – grit water fall off mud guard)
      7. Stainless steel bearings
      8. Don’t put the cheapest stuff on you bike put the on the most reliable cheap stuff.

      Hope this helps. Not sure your route is quite as harsh but imho day in day out just want the bike to be go with no faff – hose down most days

    • #206061

      This would cost much more than $150, but what about building up a set of 29er wheels for your fat bike? Assuming there’s clearance, of course.

      That would allow you to run all sorts of tires from mountain, to cross, to slicks since a 29er is the same diameter as a 700c road wheel.

      Short of going that route, I’d say drop the money on the Trek.

    • #206070

      Greg nailed me…  I am asking for mutually exclusive things.

      The strava comment was kind of a joke, but not totally.  I know a modified MTB will never be in the same league as a real road bike.  I’m just looking to for confirmation that, “yes, putting road tires on the Trek will create substantially less rolling resistance than the fat tires, and thus increase my average speed.”

      Either that, or I just admitted I want a road bike too…

    • #206084

      I’d recommend something like this for fast Strava times:

      Friends don’t let friends ride Specialized. $9500 for that POS?!? You can buy a tricked out custom frame and build and still have money left over to get high with. Moving on…

      Put the slicks on, ideally the cheapest ones you can find from Performance most likely (you can do 2 tires plus tubes for $36 plus shipping). Ride on.

    • #206095

      The tyres in my road2work mtb are slicks schwalbe marathon plus.

    • #206208

      It’s OK to admit it, you want a road bike too… Some people are just born that way. Singletracks is a judgment free zone… Unless you ride a Specialized, in which case you better not tell your uncle Ray Epstien.

    • #206210

      Used Salsa Vaya or Fargo?

Viewing 11 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.