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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sort of looking for a little advice on what will probably be my next commuting rig. My current bike lineup consists of a fairly new Trek Soho S and an older Nishiki Cascade aluminum hardtail MTB. Ordinarily I use the soho S for nice weather, and I have ridden it on 50 mile round trip commutes when the roads are clear. The MTB is my inclement weather hauler and I usually jump on it for rides in the rain, snow, slush or at night.

My brother is looking to start commuting out on the east coast and I offered to sell him my soho S to get him started, which would naturally leave me with a void to be filled. I have discovered that I generally like MTB frames better for commuting. I have been mountain biking for about 11 years now, but only recently started trying out road frames. I like the more upright riding position, the ease of starting and stopping, the increased braking power, the ability to jump over curbs or obstacles and the overall versatility of a MTB commuter. For whatever reason, I also really really enjoy riding in bad weather- be it rain, snow or just darkness. I just see to get more of a thrill riding in weather that most people wouldnt attempt.

As for trail riding- I also enjoy doing it when I can, although we dont really have many trails around here to hit- it is handy to have the option of taking a trail if need be or dashing across an open field for a shortcut :D

My question is this: for mostly road riding but with a MTB flair, would you guys suggest a cyclocross rig or a 29er MTB? The reason I ask is that I recently came across a very cheap price for a nashbar cyclocross frame and scooped it up with the intentions of building it up one day. With the possible departure of my soho, I thought about just building it up now and getting rid of the MTB too- only having one bike in the fleet. I could throw disc brakes on it and switch between cross tires or road tires depending on the terrain. While looking up bike parts, I noticed that nashbar has their own full rigid 29er available now, based off an SE bikes model. For 399$ it looks like a good deal- even if the color is hideous. It is also derailer and disc ready, so future upgrades are a definite possibility and being a disc 29er, disc road tires should work on this frame as well. It appears that I could get a complete bike for less than I could build up this bare 'cross frame going that route, and just add mods as the budget permits since the holidays put a damper on most of my "fun money".

What would you guys do? I go on long rides and seem to hit pavement more than dirt, but I really enjoy the more familiar MTB geometry. I also know that 'cross bikes are sort of the solve-all for commuters in that they can handle nearly anything that gets tossed their way. The way I see it the cross bike would probably be more comfortable on long rides, but perhaps less able to handle terrain due to the tire width restriction. The MTB would be easier to bunny-hop over curbs or whatever/ roll over anything in my way but probably be more heavy. Either way, both bikes would allow me to narrow down my bike fleet to just one commuter. Anything else I should know about?
 

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I decided to go with 2 bikes. I live about 18 miles from MTB terrain so when I am going to trail ride, I need to haul the bike on the car anyway. I built up another MTB frame into a commuter but was never very happy with it. So, yesterday I took the plunge and bought a Redline Conquest with disc brakes for road riding. I will be using it for commuting and maybe some light touring. I may also try it out up in the woods from time to time.

I looked at getting a 29'er but I wanted drop bars. That meant I had to use cable actuated discs and for most mountain bikes, that's a downgrade right there. Also, most of the MTBs I looked at were pretty stiff and had a lot of added weight from the front suspension.

The bottom line was that I would be converting a 29er into a cyclocross bike anyway and it would still be too stiff to be comfortable on long highway miles.

If you can only do one bike, I'd suggest the 29er and just buy a second set of wheels that are skinny and more suited to road tires. I picked up some Bontrager Select Disc wheels at the LBS for about $220. That way you don't have to futz with changing tires every time you want to go trail riding.
 

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No-Brakes Cougar
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Many people on this forum believe that the cyclocross commuter is the swiss army knife of bikes, and I think it's a pretty reasonable statement to make. Like you however, I am more comfortable on a MTB frame. I also believe that there is a bike for every occasion, so what's wrong with having two or more? Here's what I would do; keep your MTB commuter for commuting and off-roading and build up the XC for longer road rides and touring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks for the input guys,

I should probably also add that I have been looking at narrowing down the bike fleet due to where I live. I have an apartment in a downtown area. Typically I can toss my bike inside the foyer, but during tax season (jan-early summer) the business downstairs doesn't let me do that so I have to hump it up the steps and put it outside my door. Juggling three bikes (the wife has one too) on my little landing is a real PITA.

Another downside I have noticed having two bikes in my situation is that my schedule leaves little time for bike maintenance and swapping over components from one bike to another and lately I have been jumping on one bike, getting outside and going "crap! my bike light is on the other bike" or "man, I wish I had fenders on this bike instead of the other one". Aside from the equipment issues I have also had issues with derailers/ brakes/ tire pressure getting out of adjustment as one bike sits for a week or so and I hop on it in a hurry to commute to work. Its a real pain stopping to adjust a derailer or something while en route. I figure with one bike it will cut down on these issues for me.
 

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29er, second set of wheels and a second (non susp-corrected) fork

don't REALLY need a second set of wheels, but it's easier to swap them entirely than it is to swap tires.

I ran my misfit as a commuto-beefer with a 26" bontrager switchblade fork, dropped the front end about 2 inches, tightened up the geo and dropped the bb for road work. POIFEKT!!

All I needed to do (before I sold it) was swap back in the longer 29er specific fork and it went back to being a "true" 29er for offroad use.

Just get a second headset race for the second fork, take 2 minutes to swap over the front disc brake... easy.
 

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local trails rider
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Helmsdini said:
my schedule leaves little time for bike maintenance and swapping over components from one bike to another ...
... I have also had issues with derailers/ brakes/ tire pressure getting out of adjustment as one bike sits for a week or so and I hop on it in a hurry to commute to work.
On the other hand, a second bike gives you a spare, in case one bike has a more serious issue.

You seem to have the facts straight. Now you need to prioritise and make up your mind.
 

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I have both, and like commuting on both, but if I was to narrow my collection down to one bike, it would be a 29er. 29ers can run any size 700c tire and can be set up with any type of handlebar. Which means it could be a singletrack machine one day, then a road bike the next. I used a 29er as a road bike last year and was very happy with it. About the only drawback for road use (to some) would be the long chainstays and possibly more weight (although my 29er in road trim was the same weight as my cx bike).

CX bikes are nearly as versatile, but suffer when it comes to rough terrain. Most of the trails where I live are pretty smooth and a lot of fun on cx bikes, but traction is a little sketchy.
 

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Ovaries on the Outside
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Ok, currently I'm commuting on a 29er and I found that one bike for both is hard to make work, even with two wheelsets. Each wheel has its own unique things going for it- I'd switch from the road set to the mountain set (and they have the same hubs) and I'd have to recalibrate the disc brakes each time. Just not worth the time. But if you must do one bike, do a 29er because you get get fat mountain bike tires on it. I'd also recommend getting fairly narrow tires for the road set. I have big apples 2.0 and they suck for hills and 20+ miles.
 

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umarth said:
Each wheel has its own unique things going for it- I'd switch from the road set to the mountain set (and they have the same hubs) and I'd have to recalibrate the disc brakes each time. Just not worth the time. QUOTE]

I was going to make that same exact point. if you are going to be swapping rims, I was doing the same thing, I got tired of adjusting the brakes every weekend so I went and bought a set of matching hubs and lased them to my other rims. I also had to get the same rotors (they are not all the same thickness, come to find out), only then was it possible for me to do a trouble free wheel set swap. :madman: Oh and I use an FX 7.3 with disk brakes, I have a set of 700 23 tires on one set of rims for the road, and 700 32 CX on the other set for weekend fun. It made it possible for me to use one bike for messing around in the mud, ( the skinny tires and solid frame make the bike a blast to use in the messy stuff) and for commuting. Some times the FX is the right tool especially when the Trek, BMC or the Jamis would be over kill or totally inappropriate...
 

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Bedwards Of The West
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Well you know what I think :lol:

I love the nashbar cyclocross bike, but I understand the mountain bike roots. That's me too. My next build will be a rigid 29er I think. That's if I can ever bring myself to sell the cyclocross. It's awesome for my commute. I live on a dirt road and it bombs it just fine. There aren't any curbs to hop, but it would be lacking in that department, if only slightly. I have a full susp XC mountain bike to get my fix on, so the commuter being more road-oriented is fine with me. If I could only have one, the cyclocross might have to go. I live in the mountains...gotta have a dirt-specific bike.

I have 5 acres though, so I'll probably eventually build up a 29er and keep the cyclocross. I have room for thousands of them. :lol: I was thinking of doing a rigid 29er with road bars and slicks for the commute...but then I'd basically be building a cyclocross bike :confused:

I'd say you already have the frame, build up the nashbar as a 29er...go with mtb bars, discs, etc, and the geometry won't be that weird. Get some straight forks, don't go with cyclocross forks, and the front end won't feel like a road bike, at least not based on my experience. Make it as beefy as you can, and it will be the best of both worlds. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Like some others who have spoken up here, I've got and use both. My original commuter was a GF full suspension 29er, and I eventually moved over to a Surly Cross-Check. The major advantage for the Cross-Check has been the ability to mount a rack, bags, and panniers, which is tough to do on the full suspension MTB unless you want to drop some serious bucks on an Old Man Mountain rack.

I still use the Fisher for bad weather, and use a messenger bag to haul stuff when doing so. The 'cross bike is more flexible in my experience for urban riding, commuting, and the occasional cross country jaunt, but the Fisher is a good bike to have at hand when the roads get really messy.
 

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Bedwards Of The West
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I should also mention that with that Nashbar frame and disc brakes, you can run some pretty beefy tires. If you weren't running fenders, you could probably run 1.75's, maybe even 2.0's depending on the tire. There's lots of room there.
 

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sonoranbiker
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I have been going through a similar process (simplifying my bikes, finding the perfect commuter), and think I found the solution. I sold my SS road bike and my Redline MC29 (knees can't take the SS thing anymore). I ordered a Redline D440 (1x8 29er) and an extra wheelset. One will be for commuting with a 700x35 set of tires, the other will be for mtn biking with 2.1 tires. I also ordered a Titec H-Bar which I think will be good for road use with multiple hand positions. The D440 allows for racks and panniers, so it will be perfect for commuting and even some light bike-packing. I also have a Specialized Stumpy FSR for the burly offroading, but hopefully the Redline will be a primary bike.

I'll post up more as the parts come in and the project moves along.
 

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enjoys skidding
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I wanted a cyclocross bike, but gave up because my needs were too specific and the frame alone was going to cost me over a grand to get it to Australia.

Ended up buying a 2nd hand (barely used) Haro Mary SS. Have since put some riser bars on it (although would like to try out some drops) and some Continental CountryRide 37c's. It's not as fast as my Pompino was with 23c's, but you have to make a trade off sometimes.

Have you thought about a drop bar 29er with the 26" (rigid) fork?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have spent the last three days doing all types of research. I appreciate everyone's input on this and I have finally made a decision on what to do.

After looking over the nashbar SS 29er for a while, I decided to glance at the motobecane outcast 29er. Even though it didnt have the gearing and disc provisions, it did have rack mounts and the white paint scheme had me absolutely drooling.

From there I also looked at several of the motobecane fantom 'cross bikes (rebadged fuji cross) and they seem to be killer deals. I cant even buy components to build up my nashbar frame for less than they are selling the complete bikes.

Finally I started looking at the motobecane cafe series bikes (rebadged fuji absolute) These bikes are basically hybrid bikes or flat bar road bikes with linear pull brakes.

I kicked this around for a while, weighed all my options and nearly pulled my hair out, but I decided to take the advice and keep the 26" MTB that I currently use for a winter bike (or shady area commuter) and a backup bike. In the summer I can toss it in the garage or basement for storage. With that decision made, it was clear that I needed a road bike as the MTB can easily hit trails or rough roads if I need it. While the fantom cross bikes seem like a phenomenal deal, they are out of the nice colors in my frame size. I am also not very comfortable on drop bars- what can I say, I am a dirt clod to the core. The nail in the coffin was realizing that the top end cross bikes with nice shifters and carbon forks are out of my pricerange for the time being. When/ If I get a cross bike later on I dont really want to make concessions on it- whats more I can slowly build up the frame I currently have over time and make it into a nice 'cross bike instead of buying a complete.

My final decision is to go with the motobecane cafe sprint (Fuji absolute 2.0)

This bike should fit the bill, despite the fact that it isnt really a cross bike or a 29er. It should be a really quick commuter, weighing in at 24lbs or so. It has the upright position that I am more comfortable with, it has more powerful brakes and rack mounts for commuting. It has a carbon fork for comfortable longer rides (planning on trying centuries this summer including the 160mile ride across indiana)

probably later this summer I will look at trying the 29er thing with the outcast 29er. That bike just looks flat out awesome and would be one heck of a no-nonsense ss commuter, and one that wouldnt break the bank at 350$ shipped. I also hear later versions will have disc provisions.



thanks again for the help everyone.
 

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Bedwards Of The West
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Sounds like a reasonable decision. I like that outcast too...cool looking bike.

So what are you doing with the Nashbar frame? What size is it? I've been thinking about getting a spare, just in case they stop making it and I hit a car or something...

Where is the outcast offered for $350 shipped? Everybody needs a SS 29er.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have a 58cm frame. Not sure what I will do with it at this point- could toss it in the basement for a while or sell it. PM me if it is your size and we can probably work something out.

The outcast went on sale this month at bikes direct for 350 shipped in CONUS. Perhaps they are feeling heat from nashbar's 400$ SS offering? the outcast is regularly 400$ but doesnt have the disc brake or gearing provisions. If I can manage to do it I think I will try to scoop up an outcast later this month (sale is only good for January) as well even if I have to start selling things off to do it. :) 350$ is dirt cheap for a bike that sexy.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/outcast29_08.htm
 
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