Take the 2-minute tour ×
Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. It's 100% free, no registration required.

[This turned out to be quite long question, but I couldn't find anyone discussing my particular situation - long, training-like ride followed by a workday as a developer. It seems that all considerations are intertwined.]

A bit of current situation:
My company is moving (in 1-1.5 months) to new offices that will have shower facilities and that made me consider cycling to work.

I'm 189cm (6'2") high weighing ~120kg (265lbs).
10 years ago, I commuted 12km (7.5mi) for a short-term work, at the time weighing ~105kg (230lbs). Started with a 47 minute ride and got down to 18 minutes after 3 weeks (average speed of 40kph or ~25mph). That was on a 70's-era steel road bike with shifters on down tube (don't recall the maker).

The primary goal is to get in shape, while enjoying monetary savings in fuel costs and possibly a shorter commute (time-wise, more on that later).

The ride will be about 30km between two cities. It will consist of 6km/3.7mi fast (3 lanes) city road (60kph/37mph allowed, 80-90kph/50-55mph actual speeds); followed by ~20km/12.5mi of highway with shoulders and high congestion, avg. speeds of 25kph/15.5mph most of the span; ending in 4km/2.5mi of "slow" city traffic.
Elevation is negligible.
Weather is mostly hot, with temperatures in the 30-40C/85-105F range with 90+ percent humidity for about 6 months of the year, and about 25-30 rainy days. I won't cycle in rain/extremely windy weather.

The first consideration:
I know it will take several months of training before I can make that ride, and I'm planning to light up as a Christmas tree for safety/visibility. Considering that, do you think that this plan is insane and I should drop the whole idea? Can you elaborate as to why?

Regarding bike setup (from my research and budget):
[I know my weight is usually on the top or over-the-top of the range for most appliances (e.g. Segway and most electric bikes are rated to 115kg max.). I haven't seen any restriction for rider weight in specs, but that maybe because there are not a lot of people with that weight buying this level of bikes?]

Bike: I'm inclined towards Felt Z95 mainly because all reviews praise its comfort for long rides and its rigidity. Now, I'm not sure what constitutes a "long" ride - maybe the reviewers are talking about 100km/60mi rides and for my intended purposes another bike will be more suitable?

Pedals: I'm thinking of Shimano's 105 (PD-5700, steel not carbon) with SH-11 cleats due to praises of durability from reviews. The wider plate should be better for me considering my weight. Am I right about these? Should I consider something else? Better? Can I get by with something cheaper (i.e. PD-R540)? Is 6 degrees of float is enough for such long rides?

Fork / Saddle / Brakes / Crank / Gears / Handlebars / Shifters / Wheels: Stock from Felt. Is there something that i should definitely change/upgrade?

Helmet, Lights and Water Bottle: I'd get whatever is in the shop and fits me in size and price. Are there any essentials like air pump or tube fixing kit that I have to get?

Now, for the logistics part:
The biggest concern is how to go about bringing clothes for changing.

  • How do you go about bringing clothes to work?

  • What about the sweaty clothes form the ride - is it OK just to put them in a plastic bag till the evening ride back?

  • I guess wearing a day-old sweaty shirt won't be so pleasant, so how do you go about washing/drying it? Do you bring spare set for the ride back?

One way I consider is driving one day of the week, bringing enough clothes for 4 days of work and leaving it in a bag in the office. This has a disadvantage of "loosing" one day of cycling each week.

Another possibility is to get a rake+bag setup. I'm not sure if there are bags big enough to fit clothes (+shoes?).

Regarding speed:
Now it takes me around 35 minutes of driving to get to/from work (door-to-door) and that's only if I get out early in the morning (06:15-0:30). If I oversleep and get out at 07:30-08:00 it might take me 50-70 minutes of slow and annoying driving.
Taking into account avg. speed of 40kph/25mph, I can make this ride in about 45 minutes, regardless of time of day.

So the question is: am I right in taking into account avg. speed of 40kph/25mph? Or, am I too optimistic and for these distances the actual speed will be lower?

EDIT:

First of all, thanks for all the help - in the answers and here in comments.

For anyone coming here from a search - read both answers below, a lot of good and practical advice there.

It is indeed a monster question, but during my research I haven't found anyone in my situation. I suspected that there are people with similar experiences, but it's not talked much about. The questions usually divide into two categories - people that commute through the city at 10mph max in full business-ready attire; and people that train for fitness/competition.
My situation, of training-like ride followed by a work day and the logistics + gear required for that - seemed to merit a separate question.

I don't think that there's a need for more answers, the two answers below (separate and, especially, combined) are fully encompassing the breath of the question. Nonetheless, I'd like to have the ability to edit it further after I get the bike and have more experience. I'd like to be able to give feedback back to the community on what worked for me, how I managed different aspects of the issue.

In the end, I'm a newcomer here, so I'd leave it to moderators to decide if they prefer to close the question, leave it on hold, to make a wiki or something else. But I do feel that there are a lot of tips regarding a very specific (niche?) set of boundaries that are not easily found in the great expanses of the internet and thus it would be beneficial to,, at least, keep it available for future searches (i.e. not deleted).

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by freiheit Jun 4 at 23:25

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4  
I strongly suggest splitting this up into multiple questions. As it is you're likely to get long, rambling answers to your long, rambling question. You already have two. It's so long I'm not willing to spend 20 minutes trying to clean it up. –  Mσᶎ Jun 4 at 22:15
    
@Mσᶎ 20 minutes is cutting it fine! –  PeteH Jun 4 at 23:04
1  
I think we close it and ask the OP to submit several concise questions instead. –  Mσᶎ Jun 4 at 23:24
1  
Welcome to Bicycles Stack Exchange! I have to agree with @Mσᶎ, this is too many questions all in one. A few of your questions already have decent answers on the site. Could you please split each question in here off into its own question on the site? –  freiheit Jun 4 at 23:25
    
For example the commuter tag and questions like What is a reasonable speed for long distances on a bike? Hybrid electric bikes, how do they work?. and BTW 120kg plus luggage is not unreasonable for an electric bike to carry. Heavy, but do-able. –  Mσᶎ Jun 4 at 23:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is a monster question, I'll attempt to address some of it below. I'm sorry if I miss some of your points, but you'll appreciate it is quite difficult to pick them all out. Hopefully you'll find the things I do address vaguely helpful.

  • First of all it is not at all an insane idea, in fact it sounds like a superb idea if one of your goals is fitness.

  • I'd say straight away that probably one of your pre-requisites will be to have access to a shower at (or near) work, which you can use after your morning ride. The logistics of clothing can be easily sorted, but the smell of sweat will be unpleasant for your colleagues.

  • So, 30km on tarmac. Not a problem, per se. But you will do well to get 40 km/h, certainly not at first. You'd maybe expect to do it in 90 minutes (20km/h), faster as you get fitter. But that all depends on your fitness. So the pre-requisite for attempting the ride in the first place would be that you could handle that kind of distance. (Incidentally, when people talk about "long", they're probably talking 100+ km (ballpark), 30km is peanuts.)

  • Since you're riding tarmac and a fair distance, I'd suggest a road bike or (since you say it is flat) a single-speed. As regards the bike you mention....it will probably be fine but you should go by fit and test the thing - if you can talk someone into letting you have it for a couple of hours road test, all the better. There are plenty of questions on here about how to choose a bike. In general you get what you pay for (Felts are a very good name so would assume they don't come cheap) so you should not need to upgrade any parts, especially at first - you can do upgrades bit by bit when you have a better idea.

  • Pedals - road bikes are generally sold without pedals, but by asking about 105s etc you may be getting bogged down in too much detail right now. The big decision you will need to make is between clipless, clips or flat pedals. Many road cyclist swear by clipless pedals, citing greater efficiency, although there are contradicting arguments in this area. One real thing you should consider is that part of your journey is in heavy traffic, where you will encounter scenarios where you will need to stop quickly. This can be difficult using clipless pedals, until you are practised. You might decide that flat pedals are safer in the first instance.

  • As regards what you need to carry. Imagine you have a puncture 15km into your ride. Or your chain snaps. Think about how you'd handle that and ask the question again. Yes, you need to be self sufficient and carry a toolkit. Also useful to carry a few first aid bits and bobs. But again I think there are other questions on here about what items you should carry on a ride.

  • From the previous point, it should be obvious that you're going to need to carry things. How are you going to do that? Panniers? This will dictate the bike you get, since some cannot carry panniers. Rucksack? Remember its 30km and 30 degrees, you'll get hot. I opted for a bumbag, which went around my waist. This allowed my to use quite a fast bike, and kept my back free, but had the drawback of very limited space to carry things.

  • lights and helmet. Even if its not dark, lights can be useful in the rain. Or you decide to work late and are suddenly riding an hour later than usual. Make sure you when you go out in the morning that your lights have enough charge to last both journeys (or that you can charge them at work). Helmets are a personal thing - I never ride without one, but other people have other thoughts. If you go for one, make sure it has the relevant safety stickers (I can't imagine a bike shop selling one that didn't.)

  • So you arrive at work. What I used to do was to keep trousers, shoes etc. at work, with the intention of riding as lightly as possible. So the only "work" clothes I carried on a daily basis were a shirt and some underwear. (Of course every so often I had to take the trousers home to wash.) Also if you're prepared to buy multiple shirts/trousers you could travel lighter still and find a laundry near work.

  • As regards the return trip, the good news is that you have all day to eat as much as you want to build up your energy levels. Trust me, riding these distances you will still lose weight. So the return trip is do-able, again provided you can handle the distance in the first place. If you didn't already, find out about what foods are good to eat to keep your energy levels up (crisps, chocolate etc.)

  • Cycling clothing can be an issue, not so much from the smell but if you get it wet on the way in. Anything lycra would probably dry during the day, but drying socks and shoes can be difficult. If you have access to a dry room, that's great. Otherwise you might need to improvise...

  • It's a good idea, if you can, to keep some rudimentary tools at work. I used to keep a couple of spare tubes, a track pump (so much easier than a hand pump) and a decent chain link tool (again, easier than one I'd carry in my toolbag)

  • Lastly, regarding tiredness, try and put yourself in the position where you don't have to use the bike. You could bike and car on alternate days, for example, until you get fit enough that you don't feel tired. The first year I commuted I'd do Mon, Tue on the bike, Wed in the car, then Thu and Fri on the bike again. Basically, whatever works for you is cool - listen to your body.

Monster answer! Sore finger.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you very much for the detailed answer. Great concise tips. I'd definitely take all of them into account, especially about repair gear. –  XAMeLi Jun 5 at 21:17
    
@XAMeLi Re repair, have a look at Topeak's Survival Tool Box for a minimum level of repair tools. I actually had one of these in my bumbag (its 10x4cm, tiny). In addition to what you see, I would also carry a couple of spare tubes (you don't want to be repairing tubes on the road if you can help it), puncture repair kit (for really bad days), instrument pliers, CO2 inflator, decent tyre lever. –  PeteH Jun 5 at 23:27
    
@XAMeLi also, this bike you've seen, I wouldn't worry about your weight too much, 120 is not going to be too far north of any maximum, if at all. But if you're going to use a pannier do make sure that you can fit panniers to the frame - many road bikes you can't - otherwise you're wasting your money. I have a superb steel audax bike which is not the fastest but which, if I were in your situation, would probably be ideal. Can fit racks no problem, plus has mudguards for a little more comfort in the wet. –  PeteH Jun 5 at 23:35

I commute on a bike
For a while I commuted that far but I lived in north and only in the summer months

Not insane. Exercise and you arrive with a clear head.

At 265 I that is not the bike I would recommend
That is a lightweight bike more for speed

I would recommend a more durable reliable bike - yes it is going to be a few pounds heavier

That bike does not have mounts for racks
You want a nice rack that is going to hold in place
Cloths in a pack are hot and even a few pounds on you shoulders is tiring
You can get racks and bags big enough for camping
Not cheap but I like Ortleib
And I go with a front rack to get better weight distribution

Wearing the same clothes back never bothered me.
A bulky sweat shirt is not a good selection in the first place.
You should only be sweating out light weight stuff.
If you are wearing a jacket then unzip it.
Get some high end gear - the new active wear breathable but water resistant is great
You are going to get caught in the rain - carry rain jacket every day

When I had to dress up I would just leave 3 slacks, 1 suit, and 5 shirts and a dozen ties at the office and then take them to cleaners at the office. Rotate out every once in a while.

For sure leave shoes at the office! You can find two pair of shoes that will go with about everything. Shoes are heavy and bulky.

I would go with a steel bike that will take like 28mm or 32mm tires.
It is going to be a more comfortable reliable ride.
So an extra 3 minutes for rolling resistance - it is better than a 20 minute flat.
Even flat I think I would go gears but single speed is an option.
That is a good length commute - you are going to have head / tail winds.
You are going to get stronger and some days you are just going to feel stronger

Lights - light it up. Commute drivers are the worse. Put $200 into lights. Leave a charger at the office. Leave some cheaper spare lights at the office.

As for time I would make a dry run (even if you just go 1/2 way and return).
If you got your old commute to 25 mph then great.
That is a pretty good speed.

Not as sexy nor as fast but this is more of a bike I would recommend.
http://surlybikes.com/bikes/long_haul_trucker/bike_specs.
It is going to be 5 lbs heavier - but dude you are 265.

This also a beefier bike than you need and 18 miles is not a long single ride but over a week you are going to spend some time in the saddle
This is a designed to handle a load
This is my main commuter (also have cheaper single speed but I only commute 6 miles)
I have mine set up with two smaller bags up font
One is the stuff for that day and the other is the emergency / repair essentials
http://salsacycles.com/bikes/2014_vaya_2

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you for your time answering, I really appreciate it. I can't mark both answers as "Answer" but you sure did raise interesting points, especially regarding the type of bike. I'd be looking into more of a sturdy, steel (CroMoly) frames. As you said, weight is not the main concern - stability and longevity are much higher priorities. –  XAMeLi Jun 5 at 21:21
    
Cool but if I got you to rethink the core issue of bike it is a better answer. Single speed is not the right bike for 18 miles and 265. I am 165 same height and would not commute 18 miles on my single speed other than dead of summer. –  Blam Jun 7 at 1:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.