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Its been a good few years out of the saddle for me. Up to about 2014 I was riding maybe 100-150 miles a week, commuting in a city and doing some running too. But 2x kids, change of work, moving halfway across the country -  I sold most of my kit and my riding totally stopped. Other things took priority in the last 5 years, not a new story.

Now an opportunity has presented itself with a car being sold, to get back into the saddle. I'm keen to get back to some solid excerise, but I am so completely out of the loop on what is good / bad / worth my attention. I wondered if anyone had any views on what might be worth looking at based on my use case.

Primary use for the bike for now will be to commute. Work is now 20 miles away on wet, windy, pot hole ridden back roads between Cornwall and Devon 3/4x a week. 98% tarmac, but alot of poor surfaces. Circa 1500ft incline in each direction, a few steep parts but mainly 5-8% I would guess. It will be very scenic but probably not very forgiving - some of these roads are forgotten, arse end of nowhere sort of thing.

I need a bike of course, likely something that will take mudguards but no need for anything like panniers for now. I don't want a totally 'relaxed' bike - something with some pace available when I get my legs back, but doesn't need to be a race bike. Given my budget, I would probably prefer used for now but the choice is just enormous. I've dug out my old fit data and it tells me:

The Eddy Fit (cm)
-------------------------------------------
Seat tube range c-c:   55.5 - 56.0
Seat tube range c-t:   57.1 - 57.6
Top tube length:       55.9 - 56.3
Stem Length:           10.4 - 11.0
BB-Saddle Position:    74.8 - 76.8
Saddle-Handlebar:      55.5 - 56.1
Saddle Setback:        6.0 - 6.4

Decent winter apparel a must and definitely a bombproof waterproof. Also lights that are suitable for totally unlit roads which will be 95% of the ride. I'd also like to be able to measure progress, so a watch / on bike computer of some kind would be great. 

I think I've probably got my helmet, shoes and maybe some bib shorts knocking around, along with a few base layers.

I could probably manage £1500-2k all in to cover (in order of probable importance):

  • Bike 
  • Lights
  • Warm apparel
  • Waterproof
  • Something to measure progress

Any advice for someone looking to come back appreciated.

17 comments

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alan sherman [40 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

I'd recommend dynohub lighting for that commute, and mudguards. Can you use the cycle to work scheme? Cube nuroad fe I've had an eye on for a while as a good compete package, or the pinnacle arkose, Evans now sell a dynohub wheel to match. 35mm tyres would be better for dark potholed back roads than narrower tyres. Decathlon, planet x and wiggle dhb stuff is good value stuff for kit.

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HLaB [278 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

I a fan of Kinesis bikes in that price range.  At my old place I used to commute about and often extend it on a Kinesis T2.  I'm in a city centre job now and commute about 15 miles each way on a far cheaper Triban 500 which does the job too but obviously for the price isnt as slick but i've no qualms about leaving it in the open bike racks.

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Boatsie [465 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

You've ridden. Down time sux. I love the used market.
My last buy was $100 Aud (50 quid) and similar to my old 80-100km day commuter. A 90s ish race bike. I rarely punctured but mostly ridden on smooth summer roads . Ridden at 0400 on a 20-30km winter commute but smooth roads. No guards but wearing wet skins.

Recent years I loved 28 mm armour slicks. But I punctured a few always in horrible conditions and changing tubes, aligning liners, getting pressure up.. Well done me in and now I use commuter tyres.. Ridden over glass in storm weather, pot holes, etc.. The reduced speed isn't a loss, the variable of punctures has disappeared and if ever did puncture I noticed I hung one of the bikes up for most of the year having lent it to a mate and never getting around to cleaning it properly. When I finally rode, she was snaking, tyre pressure low, but my memory failed and I bothered to inflate them after a few rides. Really easy to get 80psi compared to 100+psi yet ridable straight on 20 or 30.. Can't recall exact.

Speed wise. My diet horrible. The only bike with a non phone app speedo is hub gear and perfect on road but I don't know if it is slower due to wind sheer on bulky bars and panniers but I suspect they have more influence than the drive friction loss. That's fine on wet gravel, pot holes. Would be horrible if bunny hopping up gutters your thing. Chain driven and rarely cleared because as simple as a bmx.

The 28mm tend to fit most road bikes.
I like the older bikes. That $100 bike is chromoly and weighing 10.5 kg and a real pleasure to ride but although the width between forks and stays is there I doubt she'll roll more than a 25 due to low brake height to rim clearance. I'm sure there would be plenty similar out there rolling 32mm tyres which cover your puncture avoidance. The 7 speed is really easy to maintain and a shifter is a shifter. Only commuting, couldn't care less if I have to wait a while before shifting. The longest waits used to be on descents anyway, unable to shift due to speed wobbles.
Guards can clip to the seat post if needed.

I find I prefer dropbars but don't like the shifter cables on STI although the STIs are really nice to use.
Dropbar shifters are nicely out the way on a commuter.
Flat bars get unstable due to wind sheer but click click shifters are out of the way with regards to cable but responsive and the brake levers can clamp fat tyres easily.

I get about 20kmph average on the wide tyre flat bar. Last 3 years I bought 3 flat bar road bikes. 2 local and fairly modern at $120 and $200 (60&100 quid) they can take 23-35 and 23-32 mm tyres because they clamp v-brakes.
I did convert 1 to dropbar but lost gear ratios doing such. Went to mini Vs to clamp rims but having just ridden a hilly city, I don't trust that they'd pull up when needed whereas the flatbar brakes pull plenty. Hence although having spent more than the bike converting such I might go back to flatbars and take the pros and cons of that.

I read that's well below budget but to ride that distance to work, an old winter training bike or a fairly modern flat bar would work.
A lot of flat bars would clear 35 with v brakes.

I like wool. Perfect insulation. Retains temperature at body preference.
While riding in Europe on 30+ ℃ days, I wore woolen sweaters. The sweat caught wind and cooled while sunburn prevention was a layer.
In a kayak I wear a woolen sweater under a raincoat. If cold and I get saturated then although soaking wet the wool retains trapped heat and the raincoat prevents the wind from clearing such heat.
Winter storms at 0100 hours on a pushbike I wear wool and an expensive jacket (IMO) ; X series Kathmandu model, under a thin rain jacket and rain pants. Rain jacket+pants probably $20 at Kmart. That stops the wind and I ride warmer than most driving their cars.

I like 6,7,8,9 speeds. An easy chain, a cheap cassette.

I can't find 22.2mm bullhorns. I'd be laughing. Easy cheap responsive shifting. Wind sheer reduction. Hill climb torque via leverage length.

Umm.. Keep winning.  1

Avatar
Le Acemen [6 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
alan sherman wrote:

I'd recommend dynohub lighting for that commute, and mudguards. Can you use the cycle to work scheme? Cube nuroad fe I've had an eye on for a while as a good compete package, or the pinnacle arkose, Evans now sell a dynohub wheel to match. 35mm tyres would be better for dark potholed back roads than narrower tyres. Decathlon, planet x and wiggle dhb stuff is good value stuff for kit.

 

superb, thanks. No cycle to work here, part of the reason for being so keen on used.

 

I'll take a look at those - I've been made aware of the Akrose elsewhere - isn't this a gravel bike (whatever that is supposed to mean..). Dynohub is an interesting shout. I hadn't really considered that, I've assumed the brightness wouldn't be up to much but maybe I'm wrong. DHB used to be a reliable so will get back on Wiggle. Cheers.

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Le Acemen [6 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
HLaB wrote:

I a fan of Kinesis bikes in that price range.  At my old place I used to commute about and often extend it on a Kinesis T2.  I'm in a city centre job now and commute about 15 miles each way on a far cheaper Triban 500 which does the job too but obviously for the price isnt as slick but i've no qualms about leaving it in the open bike racks.

 

Great, thanks. I actually really like the idea of an alloy or steel frame not light, but then again it always struck me that outside of racing (which I never did) does that really matter? I did the etape a few times and saw plenty old skool tube bikes around from riders on the contintent. Where I work now is super rural so no danger of anyone stealing the bike - more likely to be trampled by a herd of some description.

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kil0ran [1691 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Dynohub will handle completely unlit country roads at 20mph. Make sure you can mount the light at the fork crown. B&M Cyo Premium will do the job. Order from Germany, much cheaper than buying here
Hydro discs probably a good idea too, and look to ride 28-30mm tyres, that's one thing that has really moved on whilst you were away

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Simon E [3846 posts] 3 weeks ago
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The all-road/gravel/adventure bike sector has exploded in the last few years, one of these may fit the bill. Boardman ADV and Pinnacle Arkose seem great value but take a glance through the road.cc reviews for an idea of what's available:

https://road.cc/category/product-type/gravel-and-adventure-bikes

Otherwise a road bike with clearance for bigger tyres (min. 28mm, pref. 32mm) with full mudguards. I like Schwalbe Durano and Michelin Endurance v2 tyres.

Clothing hasn't changed as much. A cycling cap keeps the rain off your head and out of your eyes and a neckwarmer/buff is good for when it's really cold (I've worn one under a helmet to cover my ears and the front of my head on really cold days). Overshoes are a godsend in the wet, though in sub-zero or snowy weather I find walking boots to be the best option.

Front lights have moved on in terms of output and value. I ride country lanes and currently use a Lezyne 800 lumen rechargeable, usually at 250L and it lasts several nights of 40min commutes.

There are loads of decent rear lights but Cateye LD600 or 610 is an absolute bargain (runs off 2 AAAs). Even in midwinter mine will go a week between popping the batteries in the charger. You can spend a good whack on fancy rear lights but they all do near enough the same job. Again, road.cc reviews might help narrow it down a bit.

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Stratman [172 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

My commute is similar, a bit longer but a bit less elevation and a mix of town and country - with some of the worst tarmac in town.  I do it pretty much every day.

I’m on a Kinesis titanium, so a bit out of your budget, but the 4S Disc might fit the bill.  I do have mudguards, a rack and panniers (I don’t like carrying a rucksack, which I’d need for my laptop) and a dynohub.  I agree with Kil0ran - on the dynohub, 20mph with a decent light (mine’s a Busch and Muller one with a USB charging socket as well) is nice and bright, and on hydro discs and 28mm tyres.  I’ve found GP4S good, and I’m having a go with 5000TL, which also seem very good.

On clothes, I’m a Castelli fanboy, Sorpasso bibtights for winter, and a Gabba and Perfetto (long sleeve Gabba) with Endura BaaBaa base layers which see me through for all but coldest and wettest days.  I usually buy out of season when they’re reduced, and I’ve built the collection over the years.  I also use endura waterproof shoe covers - I hate having wet feet!  

On tracking progress, I use free strava, and paid veloviewer.  You could just use your smartphone if you don’t need a speedo.

Good luck with it, I find it a great way to start and finish the day

Avatar
Le Acemen [6 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
Simon E wrote:

The all-road/gravel/adventure bike sector has exploded in the last few years, one of these may fit the bill. Boardman ADV and Pinnacle Arkose seem great value but take a glance through the road.cc reviews for an idea of what's available:

https://road.cc/category/product-type/gravel-and-adventure-bikes

Otherwise a road bike with clearance for bigger tyres (min. 28mm, pref. 32mm) with full mudguards. I like Schwalbe Durano and Michelin Endurance v2 tyres.

Clothing hasn't changed as much. A cycling cap keeps the rain off your head and out of your eyes and a neckwarmer/buff is good for when it's really cold (I've worn one under a helmet to cover my ears and the front of my head on really cold days). Overshoes are a godsend in the wet, though in sub-zero or snowy weather I find walking boots to be the best option.

Front lights have moved on in terms of output and value. I ride country lanes and currently use a Lezyne 800 lumen rechargeable, usually at 250L and it lasts several nights of 40min commutes.

There are loads of decent rear lights but Cateye LD600 or 610 is an absolute bargain (runs off 2 AAAs). Even in midwinter mine will go a week between popping the batteries in the charger. You can spend a good whack on fancy rear lights but they all do near enough the same job. Again, road.cc reviews might help narrow it down a bit.

Great - thanks. I'm eyeing up a Genesis Equilibrium near me from 2014, but has mechanical disc brakes, which looks to be tech that has been and then gone again in my time away. But I like the indestructable in steel. Lights insight is very helpful, thanks.

Avatar
Le Acemen [6 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
Stratman wrote:

My commute is similar, a bit longer but a bit less elevation and a mix of town and country - with some of the worst tarmac in town.  I do it pretty much every day.

I’m on a Kinesis titanium, so a bit out of your budget, but the 4S Disc might fit the bill.  I do have mudguards, a rack and panniers (I don’t like carrying a rucksack, which I’d need for my laptop) and a dynohub.  I agree with Kil0ran - on the dynohub, 20mph with a decent light (mine’s a Busch and Muller one with a USB charging socket as well) is nice and bright, and on hydro discs and 28mm tyres.  I’ve found GP4S good, and I’m having a go with 5000TL, which also seem very good.

On clothes, I’m a Castelli fanboy, Sorpasso bibtights for winter, and a Gabba and Perfetto (long sleeve Gabba) with Endura BaaBaa base layers which see me through for all but coldest and wettest days.  I usually buy out of season when they’re reduced, and I’ve built the collection over the years.  I also use endura waterproof shoe covers - I hate having wet feet!  

On tracking progress, I use free strava, and paid veloviewer.  You could just use your smartphone if you don’t need a speedo.

Good luck with it, I find it a great way to start and finish the day

Much appreciated thanks. I'll take a look at the Kinesis 4S. Its gently boiling down to either that, the Pinnacle, or a Genesis.

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TheBillder [29 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

Don't let cable discs put you off a good used bike that's right in other respects. They're not nearly as terrible as some say. Even if you agree with all the gloom merchants, almost the worst case given is that they are a bit heavier than rim brakes, take more maintenance than other types and are not as nice feel as hydraulics. But for your use case, dirty weather and dirty roads, probably on wide tyres, the lack of rim wear is a good idea. And if you're buying used, availability is key - if the bike fits your purpose and you, and is available locally, imo that trumps religious beliefs on brake technology. It's not as if cable disc brakes will have no consumables available next week or something.

I've not used a modern dynamo, but usb rechargeable lights are very good now. I was impressed with a £15 one from Amazon and then utterly astounded by the Cateye Volt 1700 I got from Santa. I do, however, carry 2 rear lights as my rechargeable one gives little warning of going out. Little ones can be very effective attached to the helmet.

Good luck and hope you enjoy your return as much as I have... A year in, I'm still feeling very glad to have restarted and wondering why I wasted so much time off the bike.

Avatar
kil0ran [1691 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
Le Acemen wrote:
Simon E wrote:

The all-road/gravel/adventure bike sector has exploded in the last few years, one of these may fit the bill. Boardman ADV and Pinnacle Arkose seem great value but take a glance through the road.cc reviews for an idea of what's available:

https://road.cc/category/product-type/gravel-and-adventure-bikes

Otherwise a road bike with clearance for bigger tyres (min. 28mm, pref. 32mm) with full mudguards. I like Schwalbe Durano and Michelin Endurance v2 tyres.

Clothing hasn't changed as much. A cycling cap keeps the rain off your head and out of your eyes and a neckwarmer/buff is good for when it's really cold (I've worn one under a helmet to cover my ears and the front of my head on really cold days). Overshoes are a godsend in the wet, though in sub-zero or snowy weather I find walking boots to be the best option.

Front lights have moved on in terms of output and value. I ride country lanes and currently use a Lezyne 800 lumen rechargeable, usually at 250L and it lasts several nights of 40min commutes.

There are loads of decent rear lights but Cateye LD600 or 610 is an absolute bargain (runs off 2 AAAs). Even in midwinter mine will go a week between popping the batteries in the charger. You can spend a good whack on fancy rear lights but they all do near enough the same job. Again, road.cc reviews might help narrow it down a bit.

Great - thanks. I'm eyeing up a Genesis Equilibrium near me from 2014, but has mechanical disc brakes, which looks to be tech that has been and then gone again in my time away. But I like the indestructable in steel. Lights insight is very helpful, thanks.

Don't let the cable discs put you off. It's an easy upgrade to hybrids (cable-operated hydros) - around £100.

Giant do a conversion kit (fits any bike) called the Conduct, or you have calipers like the TRP Hy-Rd or JuinTech R1. Neither as good as full hydros but still an improvement.

Equilibrium is a great option - the clue is in the name. Pointy enough to be fun whilst still being practical.

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Rakkor [19 posts] 3 weeks ago
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What about the Decathalon RC520 - A bit heavy, but tubeless ready, hybrid disc brakes, room for fat tyres and a 105 groupset all for 750 quid - bargin

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StoopidUserName [699 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Ok, personally...and we're all different...I'd want something lighter than a steel bike or gravel bike at that price range. 1500 foot climbing over 20 miles certainly isn't flat.

 

100% get hydraulic discs - they are fantastic in the wet, and enable frames to take much wider tyres than they used to. Even many 'race' bikes can take 32mm tyres because of this and you probably will want wider rubber on rough roads.

 

As for mudguards...I've been utterly convinced of the need for fixed guards since 2013 when I first got them. But after trying out a number of bikes from cx to gravel to road endurance I found I simply didn't enjoy riding them anywhere near as much as my more racey, weekend bike.

 

I also have a 20 mile each way commute on crappy roads, though a 1000 feet less climbing. 

 

Recently got a 2nd hand cannondale caad12 disc which ticks all my boxes except guards. They just released a caad13 with fixed mudguard mounts...I'll get one in a couple years I reckon.

 

Anyway, as people have mentioned, the gravel bike thing has exploded over the last couple years...but unless you're paying a decent amount they are built up a little heavier than normal road bikes...which might be fine for you. Else I'd recommend a CX bike, maybe a cannondale CAADX or something? Saying that there are a number of road endurance bikes you could look at - cube attain, trek domane etc - they have discs and mudguard mounts too. Pop in evans and test ride a few  3

 

 

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Boatsie [465 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

I'm with StoopidUserName.
I agree, test ride, 'race' bikes at 32mm, etc.
I keep dreaming of a titanium 'road' bike on 38 mm tyres but....

I go bored. Here's a photo of my long distance commuter in handlebar preparation stage. Only takes upto 25mm though but only sees summer, maybe Spring, Autumn.

I wrote this too.

When someone asked me how the pyramid was built that was an easy question to answer.  The tool was built slowly yet because it is quality and seen now many thousand Earth orbits later it was obviously built fast.
Same with the 50 quid bike pictured,  (+20 quid new accessories.. Less than 70 quid total).
It is a fast machine yet motivation enjoys a slow ride.  A GP4000 Continental grip Ninja Shogun.
Last week or so there was a gumtree Ninja Shogun in Melbourne Australia.  Not sure the price but cheap and rolling on 32mm tyres.  Slightly older with brake cables near vertical from levers.
Yet..  Hilly riding and commuting.  Soft dance hard stance or enjoy a wider foot.  That's why I like 35mm tyres.  I find 32mm commuters fine too.  I'm old and I don't care that each 5km is an extra minute.

Anyway,  when I was younger I enjoyed a similar bike to the photo.  Lay bars were welded and no forearm rests other than the cross bar.  Didn't effect handling much but on straights eased positioning into an easy ride. I don't know how to fit them yet,  I'd prefer cut and weld using piece present.

Lights.  The light on came with bike.  It's bright.  I ride unlit paths which Brown snakes lay on during summer.  Poisonous venom.  A bright rear light array also came with bike. 
The 4 triple led lights are bright,  on eBay at a couple of quid.  I LIKE THEM!  usb charge,  last ages,  are bright,  easily attach to pipe and a fairly old yet like new.  I often carry them as main lights,  spare in bag. Note..  Not as bright as 305 illuminate yet both my eyes are vertical with stigmatism hence at night movement looks bright.
I also like torch with 18650? Lithium  battery.  But adapter doesn't suit all my bars.. 

If buying new,  I tend to believe gravel bikes would most likely be widened stay road bikes.  Built to be ridden

Avatar
Le Acemen [6 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Thanks all - picked up a 2014 Genesis Equilibrium Disc today used. Hoping I can get my legs back and enjoy some wet and windy miles. Cheers for all the input.

Avatar
kil0ran [1691 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes
Le Acemen wrote:

Thanks all - picked up a 2014 Genesis Equilibrium Disc today used. Hoping I can get my legs back and enjoy some wet and windy miles. Cheers for all the input.

Picked a hell of a week to take up cycling again! 

Should you decide cable discs need upgrading this review is good place to start for info

https://road.cc/content/review/225573-yokozuna-motoko-disc-brake

JuinTech R1 - https://www.edgesportsuk.com/store/components/disc-brakes/juin-tech-r1-h...