Over at Commute By Bike, Arleigh has started the Build Your Perfect Commuter Bike project. Various people have weighed in about frame style, frame material, brakes, gearing, chaincases, fenders, integrated lightning and so on.
Alan @ Eco Velo also started a great discussion on the virtues of Euro city bike design vs more American "sporty" bikes used for commuting.
We’re covering longer distances on a regular basis, and for us, lighter, faster bikes make the trip more enjoyable. We’re not talking racing bikes with skinny tires, but practical bikes that share some characteristics with traditional Roadsters while being manufactured with modern materials to reduce weight and increase performance. These bikes may also be missing some accessories that are unessential for our climes and limited cargo carrying needs.
My perfect commuting bike right now is a 1990s GT Aggressor 2.0 mountain bike.
I bought this bike six or seven years ago at a garage sale in Longmont, Colorado. It is heavy, ugly, and has almost none of the usual list of features that some of us consider essential for a commuter bike. It has no chainguard, no fenders, no kickstand, and no rack. I have power sucking 1.95" knobby tires and a suspension fork with 125 mm of travel that's probably worth more than the bike. The surprisingly robust eight speed Shimano Acera derailleur is almost as low end as you get. The only things I'm missing are a Megarange freewheel hub and bar ends pointing straight up.
It's the perfect commuter because this is the bike I've taken to work the past few days. The low end introductory model or even the Bike Shaped Objects from the mass retail stores are probably the most common commuter I see on the streets. The bikes mostly work and they get you there.
The perfect commuter bike is the bike you already own. Hop on, pedal, and be happy!
What's your perfect commuter bike?
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My all time favorite commuter was my $20 Schwinn World Sport I converted to a fixie for $100. Very low up keep and never let me down and was one of the overall cheapest bikes & most fun I have ever owned.
My perfect commuter bike: whatever's comfortable and sturdy enough to withstand daily rides over potholes and train tracks, and hang wire grocery baskets off the sides - but still be cheap enough that it's not a huge temptation to thieves.
My ugly hybrid is strangely more fun to ride ever since I demoted it to "urban workhorse."
A friend recently poked fun at me for treating the new Surly with kid gloves, but that was a lot of money for someone who was unemployed for almost a year! I'm still only riding a mile to park outside for nine hours, so commuting on it seems kind of silly.
OK, I confess I want the lightest bike I can find. I'm at 21 lbs now with a half bamboo/half Trek X01 cross frame with a carbon rack bonded on (it's a home-made bike courtesy of my bike mechanic, bamboo lovin' boyfriend). I use HUGE Basil panniers. I'm plump and slow and try to fit the kitchen sink in on each ride to work so it's perfect for me.
I have a stable of nice bikes but the one I commute on every day (2000 miles per year)is a cheap GIANT Cypress Deluxe comfort bike with chopped bars. I've replaced all cranks and running gear many times due to wear and there's hardly anything original on it but the rims, fork and front derailluer. It's a supreme effort to keep up with the traffic or climb and that's good. When I get on my carbon road bike for a pleasure ride, I hang with the A group and it's like flying a rocket!
My "ultimate bike" changes with my mood and the seasons. Basically, whichever bike I choose to ride to work is my favorite that day -- and they're all different: Xtracycle, grocery-getting beater, singlespeed/fixed road bike, singlespeed MTB, regular hardtail MTB and a couple others.
My friend Chip Haynes said something to the effect of "choose the bike that makes you happy and makes you look forward to riding." I've got that covered!!
My favorite commuter is my Cruzbike Silvio. * it's recumbent * it's light (27 lbs) * it's comfortable * it uses all standard road bike parts * dual 700c wheels * it accepts accessories (bike bins, rack, full fairing) * it is really fast
I love it and it works for me (1000 miles in the last two months).