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I'm new to this site but I've been intrigued by the thought of picking up cycling as a means of my new way of transport as well as for recreational purposes.

As a little background, I live in London and as a recent graduate, I do not have the widest of budgets but I would not mind spending at most £1000 for a bike (thank you cycle to work scheme.) I weigh around 63kg and I am a bit of a tiny man sizing up to around 165cm.

I had previously owned a mountain bike when I was younger, but I had recently purchased a second hand road bike for £60, which I have found an absolute joy to ride! My stamina/endurance isn't at the greatest yet, so I plan to stick with my road bike to practice and build up stamina, but I really want to find what might be the best bike for me in the long run. I do know that touring bikes would be great, especially since it can handle extra loads, which would be brilliant for shopping. But I am worried that the extra weight due to being a steel frame would highly impact my speed in the long run.

My current milestone goal is to be able to start cycling to work, though considering it's winter right now, I am aiming for this at around spring/summer. The reason I think the weight might come to play is because I will be traveling around 13 miles one way. Thus, if someone could enlighten me if the weight of a touring would heavily hamper my journey, I'd really appreciate it!

I digressed quite a bit but, in short if anyone could give me some advice on what would be a good choice of bike for commuting for me with drop handlebars (I've fallen in love with this form) I would really appreciate any of the expertise you can provide me!

If I haven't provided enough information, please just give me a shout and I'll get back as quick as I can.

  • Hi, welcome to bicycles! If you search here for "bike for commuting" you'll find a number of answers which have tackled various aspects of this. 13 miles is about 20km, which is doable with some preparation but not trivial; there are also questions about preparing/equipping for commuting over that kind of distance. Apologies if you've already done these searches and haven't found the answer you're looking for; in that case you should reference specific questions and explain what they didn't help you with. – DavidW Nov 19 '19 at 18:24
  • There are aluminium framed road bikes that can take rear pannier racks, and a few that can even take front racks. They're likely to be in your budget. But steel doesn't have to be heavy, it's just that many tourers are, such as mine. How hilly is that potential commute? If flat, the extra weight won't really make any difference – Chris H Nov 19 '19 at 18:52
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    I have several steel bikes and one carbon bike. In my experience, the extra weight on the steel bike is of little practical consequence. You can feel the weight difference in your hands, but you're not pedaling with your hands. You can also build a steel bike up pretty light. You would have to be racing up extended, steep climbs for extra weight to make a noticeable difference. – Weiwen Ng Nov 19 '19 at 20:18
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    Don't forget to budget for tools and a good portable pump, and a good floor pump - both with a pressure gauge. Tires need to be inflated regularly. And if you plan on wearing cycling clothing and/or shoes (you probably will for longer commutes), budget for that too. – Andrew Henle Nov 19 '19 at 22:03
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    Be careful about the unqualified "Steel is heavy" mantra. For example in MTB's, a Jamis Dragon (steel) frame is about 1900gm, while an average alloy frame is 1500gm. That 400g represents just 0.5% of a rider+bike (80kg) - All else equal, on a one hour long hill climb at constant power, that 400g represents 18 seconds. On the flat at constant speed, it makes no difference. Most people can easily loose 400g elsewhere - body weight, arrive at the top of the hill with the water bottle empty, take a toilet stop before the ride. – mattnz Nov 20 '19 at 0:09

12 Answers 12

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There are a bunch of bikes sold in the UK that are specifically designed for the cycle-to-work scheme: they have good specs for commuting, are priced to come in under the £1000 limit, etc. A number of online vendors stock these. So that would be a good place to start. Or find someone selling one of those bikes used.

The additional weight of a steel bike is not that significant. Less than 1 kg. When you get done fitting mudguards, racks, lights, a toolkit, and whatever you're schlepping to work, you won't really notice the difference. That said, as Argenti points out, you'll probably be shopping for either steel or aluminum. They're both good options.

Also budget for the clothing and accessories you'll need to ride comfortably and safely. That would be a subject for another post entirely.

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  • My Genesis Tour de Fer would have come under cycle-to-work when I bought it (the most basic version), with an OK spec. That's a pretty heavy tourer, but my alloy hybrid is a pretty heavy bike too and the tourer is a lot quicker on a decent run. On urban commutes, there's nothing in it. – Chris H Nov 20 '19 at 13:31
  • It might be worth mentioning that on flat ground the advantage of road bikes is less the weight and more the aerodynamic seating position. This can allow a much faster average speed over a long commute. – Turksarama Nov 21 '19 at 3:38
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Given your budget you'll be looking at aluminum or steel framed bikes, but that's fine. There are many choices of steel or aluminum drop-bar bikes available.

The first thing I would think about is how much gear do you need to carry when commuting? Can you carry everything you need in a backpack or will you need panniers or other on-bike luggage? mass is mass whether it's on the bike or on you but bear in mind a heavy backpack puts more weight on you shoulders, back and butt. If you want to use on-bike luggage look for models with attachment points for panniers. If you are thinking of commuting in the rain look for mudguard/fender attachment points also.

Next, consider fit and the position you want on the bike. Some folks commute on a bike with a slammed stem and a very aggressive, low, racing riding position, others prefer a more upright position. These days drop bar bikes offer a range of riding positions. Models advertised as 'endurance' tend to have higher bars and a more upright riding position.

Next, how much tire do you need? if the roads are good 25mm tires will be fine, but if the tarmac is poor space in the frame for 28, or even 32 or 35mm tires may be preferable. Again, modern drop bar bikes offer choices here. Many endurance bikes come with 28mm tires, some will fit 32mm or more. 'Gravel' bikes fit 35mm and wider tires.

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    I'd say to always get a commuter bike that can handle panniers - just because you don't use them now doesn't mean you won't use them in the future. And in my experience, once you drop the backpack and go to panniers you won't go back - while weight is weight, some weight is more equal than others. Weight distribution can really affect handling, and weight in panniers is much lower and will affect handling differently and arguably a lot less. Also, IMO 25s are also a bit "optimistic" as commuter tires - I'd rather ride 28s that are a lot more puncture and pinch-flat resistant to commute. – Andrew Henle Nov 19 '19 at 21:58
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    @AndrewHenle's right. I'm currently running a backpack and really miss my panniers (several overlapping reasons conspiring against me) – Chris H Nov 19 '19 at 22:08
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    And another way in which Andrew is right: commuting in rubbish weather is very satisfying as you pass all the cars stuck in a queue of their own making, and all the cold /wet people at bus stops – Chris H Nov 19 '19 at 22:31
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    Regarding luggage - I bring all the clothes and stuff I need on Mondays and carry it back on Fridays, so I can ride without any bags 8 out of 10 rides. Your work place might be glad to provide you with storage for your stuff - takes less space than a car parking lot. I second that the worse the weather, the better cycling gets because you will be so much faster than the people stuck in traffic, and the bike lanes will be empty too. – Erlkoenig Nov 20 '19 at 5:56
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    I'd also recommend a bike with a hub dynamo. These work reliably in all weather conditions and you can't forget to charge batteries. When riding in the dark regularly (winter), you'll be glad that car drivers can always see the lights. – Erlkoenig Nov 20 '19 at 6:20
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A steel tourer will make a great commuting bike. You will want mudguards, a pannier or two and puncture-resistant tyres. It will be a bit slower than your road bike but this won't add up to more than about 5 minutes over 13 miles especially in London. Steel is usually a little bit heavier than aluminium at a given price point but has a better ride.

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One point which hasn't been mentioned here is maintenance. A bike used for a non-trivial daily commute, especially through the winter, sometimes in wet conditions, will need a significant amount of care, both in terms of money and time.

The chain and sprockets/chain rings as well as the brake pads (for rim brakes; I have no experience with disk brakes) will need regular replacement.

If you don't have a well-equipped bike work corner/workshop and actually like bike repairs (some here do!), this maintenance will require trips to the store and cost for labor on top of cost for parts.

My recommendation therefore is to focus on low-maintenance parts. If you can live with fewer gears I'd actually recommend an internal gear hub (is that the word?) instead of derailleur gears. Combine that with as much chain protection as you can get. You don't have to go full Dutch even though I think the weather there is very similar and they have a good point. Make sure you have good fenders; if necessary, add some do-it-yourself low-hanging "rubber curtain" to the front fender to protect both chain and shoes. Ideally it almost touches the ground. It can be cut from an old tube.

Don't be overly concerned with weight and speed. In the city top speed is irrelevant, it is more important to strategically find a good route (which is not necessarily the fastest one) and to be tactically fast only when you must, for example to catch the next light while it's green.

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  • A bike ... will need a significant amount of care, both in terms of money and time. But a lot less time and money than an automobile would. If you don't have a well-equipped bike work corner/workshop and actually like bike repairs (some here do!), this maintenance will require trips to the store and cost for labor on top of cost for parts. Get the tools and learn - you don't really need a lot of tools, bikes are simple, and you can do most maintenance/repairs yourself faster than it takes to bring the bike to a shop and back. – Andrew Henle Nov 20 '19 at 11:00
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    @AndrewHenle (1) My automobiles are essentially maintenance-free between the scheduled checks. No flats, no slipping chains, no worn brake pads. (2) Bikes are simple to you. Yes, it is fun to learn bike mechanics if you are so inclined; but although I have changed dozens of chains in my life I still find 9-speed ones challenging and screwed one up lately. (3) Not everybody can bring their dirty, dripping bike into the apartment on the fifth floor in winter. (Berlin and London are very different from most places in the U.S.) – Peter - Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '19 at 11:33
  • My automobiles are essentially maintenance-free between the scheduled checks. But those "scheduled checks" are expensive - they're part of the price of the automobile, though, so the cost is somewhat hidden. And "no worn brake pads" on an automobile? Nevermind the cost of gas. – Andrew Henle Nov 20 '19 at 11:40
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    IMHO, weight matters a lot on a commuting bike, not because you want to go fast, but because commuting involves a lot of stopping and starting. Having to accelerate a heavy bike after each stop is a pain. – Argenti Apparatus Nov 20 '19 at 12:46
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    Getting gas/fuel into your car does not only take money, it also takes time. Which one could classify as maintenance. – nitzel Nov 20 '19 at 16:51
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Welcome aboard! I am probably not the typical member of the cycling community, at least not in UK; however, I have cycled both in UK and in Denmark, where I grew up, for some 50 years, so I have some experience.

I have tried many different types over the years, and it may surprise you to hear what I have settled on, for the last 25+ years: a heavy, sit-up-and-beg Pashley, constructed, by the feel of it, entirely of iron drain pipes and with large wheels: 28" or so. The reasons are several:

  • It has been durable. All the more modern bikes I've had, have had problems: the aluminium sprocket wheels are worn down quickly, the frames become floppy, the wheel rims loose their shape (and I do know how to balance a wheel) and so on.
  • I can't say with any honesty that riding a lighter bike has any impact on my performance. Your legs may have to work a bit harder, but you become stronger to accomodate. A 'pro', high-performance bike may give you an advantage in race, but your commute shouldn't be a race.
  • An expensive, smart looking bike is more likely to be stolen or damaged in the attempt. Nobody has ever tried to steal my Pashley.

So, my recommendation is to focus on the enjoyment of cycling. Get an decent, strong bicycle, find a route to work that takes you along quiet streets and canals etc, put on some sensible clothes and get a pannier bag or basket to put your jacket in when you get too hot, and off you go.

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Good type of bike to get for commuting.

Product recommendations are off-topic for Bicycles Stack Exchange, but we can offer principles to use when shopping.

You have a clear purpose in mind for your bike and you have some ideas for the a type of bike to meet your need. What you have in mind is an excellent place to start, and it may be the place that you end up.

You also have time to research.

My suggestion is:

  1. Take a look at the different types of bikes available with an open mind
  2. Visit a few bike shops
  3. Test ride bikes like the one you have in mind - but keep an open mind for other possibilities. Selecting a bike is too big a decision to make without some saddle time.
  4. Talk to people at the shop about your needs and concerns.
  5. Don't worry about weight. Riding position and the correct bike for your situation are more important.

Sometimes people have the right bike in mind from the start and confirm it after trying a few bikes.
Sometimes people walk into the shop with the thought of getting a touring bike, then test ride other types of bike and find a better fit for their need with a different type of bike.

There was a question about selecting a first bike a while back that contains information that may be relevant.

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    "Prohibit" is a bit strong - we actively discourage because it leads to long-term useless answers when that exact item goes unavailable, ore regional differences mean the product was never offered there. Sometimes an example or a photo goes a long way to explaining, without being a product rec. – Criggie Nov 20 '19 at 9:00
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    @Criggie I changed the term to "off-topic" rather than "prohibit" – David D Nov 20 '19 at 15:12
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Some thoughts outside the box, i.e. not exactly what you asked for, but which might be an option for you anyways:

My stamina/endurance isn't at the greatest yet, so I plan to stick with my road bike to practice and build up stamina, […] My current milestone goal is to be able to start cycling to work,

Although it might not be the right bicycle for you on the long run, this sounds to me as if you're a candidate for a folding bicycle.

So you could start building up your stamina with partially commuting with the bicycle and taking public transport for the remainder of the commute until you're fit enough for cycling the whole way.

though considering it's winter right now, I am aiming for this at around spring/summer.

Yeah, for winter commuting in areas where it might have snow or black ice, I recommend a second bicycle with studded tyres — or a bicycle where you can change the wheels in the morning very easily. And proper clothing of course. ;-)

(In my case I demoted my ten years old folding bicycle to "winter bicycle" and equipped it with studded tyres when the need for new rims got closer due to wear-off, and bought a second, new(-ish) one for every other weather, i.e. all nicer weather conditions.)

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General thoughts:

  • Personally I have to say that while 20 km mostly flat commute sound OK to me, I'm not so sure that I'd like 20 km big city commuting by bike: the first step IMHO should be to find a good route for that commute (if you haven't already). Living in a rural area, I find city biking sucks because it's so slow and tedious due to traffic lights/lots of crossings (even though I'm no roadbiker).

  • Where I am, I can easily combine biking and regoinal/local trains: I'm allowed to take my normal bike into the train (as long as there's space) without extra cost. Other regions allow folding bikes but either charge extra for normal bike and/or restrict bikes to low-traffic times. In that case, a folding bike is something to consider.
    I do have a folding bike as well which I got used in order to not need to wait for buses when going somewhere by train. It's fine for 5is km distances, but it's no fun for long distances.

  • When I was commuting to university ≈30 km away, I used 2 bikes that were both old & cheap enough to be safely let at the respective train stations. One to go from home to station, one from university town station to university.
  • You may find that at least for the beginning, combining public transport (or car if that's your transport mode so far) and bike so that you have only 20 km per day by bike or bike only every 2nd day may be a good option to build up stamina without loosing the joy of biking.

Disclaimer: I use my rather heavy touring bike with steel frame which I also use for commuting (for 13a now), it was substantially more expensive than your stated limit, though.

I recommend that you consider a touring bike. Commuting 40 km/day means that high reliability durability is desirableneeded.

If in addition,

cycling as a means of my new way of transport

includes doing your grocery shopping, the load capacity of a touring bike may be something to consider as well. (I occasionally distribute up to about 40 kg groceries or other stuff over my bike.) You do have the advantage of yourself being quite light, so you can put more load on the bike without exceeding the total weight limit which AFAIK is usually around 110 - 120 kg for bike + rider + load for "normal" = non-touring bikes.
Nevertheles, the bike would still need heavy duty back + front racks, and the frame needs to be able to handle that attached weight as well: attached weight behaves quite differently from rider weight which has the huge advantage of active shock damping by muscle.

So the remainder of this answer discusses decisions I took when getting my touring & commuting bike.

  • I have to say, though, that bought it primarily as touring bike and then decided that it would be an expensive waste to buy a good touring bike which is a joy to ride and then commute with a cheap bike. Also, I've always had the luck that my work places had trustworthy possibilities to lock it (and it doesn't look so expensive unless you know what to look for).
    So your conclusion may differ.

  • To put some numbers to the steel vs. aluminum question, my steel frame + fork are about 3.6 kg, the corresponding aluminum option woud be 2.5 kg. So we're talking of about 1 % total weight difference or about as much as the lock.

I took several decisions with my bike that all ended up with higher weight, but are good for the touring bike and also good for my commuting (the whole bike weighs ≈18 kg):

  • I use puncture proof and rather wide tires (Marthon mondial) with low rolling resistance (up to 4.5 bar) and high load capacity. I can trade off some rolling resistance for better shock absorbing properties by running them at lower pressure without risking "snake bites".
    I cannot emphasize enough what a difference the modern puncture proof tires make compared to the flimsy tires back when I was in school and sometimes had to patch the tube two times a month: I've been going years without a flat (the last flat was entirely my fault squeezing the tube when changing summer/winter tires).

    I got myself winter tires (studded) when I had 150 m elevation difference (at 15 - 20 %) on my commute, and that was down a narrow valley so the ice tended to stay long. Where I'm now, I would probably go on without them but as I have them now I put them on. I expect that inside London they are not worth while the hassle of changing tires twice a year.

  • Internal gear hub: it's just so much less maintenance compared to derailleur.
    I do have a Rohloff speedhub (which is outside your budget, but see below). My bike now has something between 30000 and 60000 km, and I had to replace the chainring and back sprocket twice (3 or 4 chains), both bowden cables once so far. Regular oil change isn't much hassle for the Rohloff (Shimano oiling/greasing probably takes more time as you have to take it out).

  • Since I moved to a more rural place with very loamy soil, I've put on a fully enc losing chainguard (chainglider) which was absolutely worth while. May not be necessary for town commute, though.

  • I live in western Germany, we have about as much rain as London. Good mudguards are a must for a bike for commuting (though there are limits to what they can do).

  • Pedals that allow me to choose between clipless and normal shoes as may decide on a day to day basis what kind of shoe to use for commuting.

  • My back rack officially carries 40 kg, the low rider rack another 15 kg. They weigh ≈1.3 kg or more than the difference between steel and alu frame.

  • That rack is in everyday use, as I use one of those really waterproof bike bags for commuting as well, for commuting one that allows me to transport A4 folders and/or laptop. (BTW, another 1.9 kg)

  • What I don't have although it would be typical choice for a commuter bike is a hub generator: I used an industry rechargeable battery pack that I already had. I may add that back then, the cheap hub generators had quite terrible no-load losses (around 10 W at 30 km/h, that's about 10 % of easy biking with 100 W).
    Nowadays, the 25 € class of hub generators is still at 7 W no-load loss @ 30 km/h (50 € halve that), but there's a fine-grained choice between that and the SON at 250 € with 1.25 W no-drag loss at 30 km/h. While it is a perfectly valid argument that these few W loss make only a very small difference on speed that also corresponds to the power needed to move approx. 13 additional kg on flat terrain for their example 60 kg rider with 100 W output. I still didn't put in a hub generator, I now use a smaller AA rechargeable battery pack of 5 x 1.2 V that still lasts 1 - 2 months even in winter with LED lights (I find that RC model parts work well & reliably). And unlike back when the front light was still a halogen bulb they won't fail within a minutes, they go dimmer over several days of commuting - that's sufficient time for me to remember to charge them. (I did think of having a look into the LED lights and replacing the resistor with a smaller to lower the operating voltage - but so far I haven't bothered because it works well for me as it is.)

    I would not recommend ready-to-use AA or AAA battery lights, though as they are meant to be used with 1.5 V batteries and with 1.2 V rechargeable batteries you'll have to be recharge very often as they get dim rather soon.


Recommendations for OP:

  • Do not test ride a Rohloff hub. I did, and this was the most expensive bike ride I've ever taken since it made me want such a hub as well...

  • Looking at what my bike would cost now and stripping it down:

    • a normal-ish back rack for up to 30 kg
    • possibly: reusing an already existing saddle (which I'd anyways do if I have one that suits me well)
    • possibly: going for cheap-ish lights. I need good (front) lights in the field/woods (particularly as occasional cars can be quite blinding and I have a stretch of way where properly downturned lights will fully catch me), in town the street lighting is sufficiently bright for me to see well. Unfortunately, as I may add: as this means that the bike lights are not helping too much for the visibility that gives you safety. But modern LED lights are probably not very good at this anyways as AFAIK visibility is tied to large area being light rather than brilliance. Thus, I think a neon-colored shirt or jacket plus plenty of reflectors may help more than more brilliant lights.
  • Both Shimano and Rohloff hubs come in a number of possibile fork end attachment options - but for the Rohloff the different adapters come at different prices (and may have to be bought extra). However, the Shimano hub torque support should fit into the Rohloff type fork ends. Those fork ends keep the chain tension adjustment when taking out the wheel (basically combining comfortable drop-out with chain tensioner).

That should be possible just within your budget.

I'm not sure how long a Shimano 8 gear hub will last at 200 km/week (what I've seen with acquantances is that they are not indestructible). But you'd then have a bike that is immediately suitable for commuting (including fall/winter) and that can be updated later on if you find that you're seriously getting into touring or every day biking. Also, if you wear out the Shimano hub with your commuting within, say, 1 1/2 years, you know that a Rohloff hub will get decent use.

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Nobody mentioned belt here, so I'm going to. A belt drive is a fantastic thing for commuting. The belt won't be putting grease on your leg, or if you're really unlucky, on your work clothes. It is supposedly less efficient than a clean chain/derailleur system but when commuting, especially when you can expect a little water and grit to accumulate, it stays cleaner than all but the most fanatically maintained alternatives. I used to strip my cassette and clean the chain monthly because I hate a noisy bike but belt bikes just stay quiet month after month.

The downside of a belt is that if don't want a single speed bike you probably need to choose an internally geared hub (IGH). The ones from Rohloff will come close to blowing your budget without considering the rest of the bike, though they are great. The 11-speed ones from Shimano leak oil and so the advantage of the belt is negated - not even sure if they are still on the market, but I have mine and put up with it. The 7/8-speed ones from Shimano are pretty good - they use grease, not oil, and they are not known to leak so much. The upside of the IGH is that it's maintenance-free until it isn't, then you take it to a shop. Don't be tempted by bikes offering 30+ gears. Those ratios overlap and more mechanism means more to go wrong.

A steel frame will cause you less worry. It shouts "steal me" less loud than carbon. It can take a bump. Unless your body is already perfect, extra weight on the frame is the last place you should worry about it.

Don't get knobby tires. They look cool but make a noise while they roll which means they are less efficient. You want commuting tires which are smooth and take a high pressure. I like wide and smooth tires because the rolling resistance is less.

Disc brakes I am not sure about with your budget. They work better but I have had mechanical calipers that were supposedly good except that they weren't. If you are offered something like mid-range Shimano hydraulic discs, great! But if you knock the rotors at all you will be straightening them or else they rub, so annoying. Not a low-maintenance item if your bike isn't going to be hung up nicely and not knocked around.

On carrying gear I went through many alternative bag systems but now use a backpack, there are many to choose from. I just did not find one that kept the bike feeling like it should. Hanging a few kilos from one side of the rear just changes the way a bike rides and I am more comfortable with it on my back.

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Since no-one else brought it up i will, have you considered an electric bike? 20 km is a large distance, you could make it easier for yourself.

I commute about 15 km using a electric bike. I think it saves me a little time because my speed remains 20-24 km/h even if i'm tired. And it is just easier. Both these factors make that i always look forward to my bike-commute.

Caveat: I don't know how popular electric bikes are in the UK, or how easy it is to find a store that sells them and will do maintenance. My bike was second-hand and i had to replace the battery after a while. Together (bike + battery replacement) cost me about 1250 euros.

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  • For a long time e-bikes were a bit of a niche in the UK, with a lot of unattractive bikes from little known companies. However over the last year many more mainstream brands have introduced e-bikes. They are now certainly an excellent choice for a commuter bike. – Andy P Nov 22 '19 at 11:19
  • In addition, the UK government removed the £1000 limit on the cycle to work scheme this year and added e-bikes to the allowed options – Andy P Nov 22 '19 at 11:24
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A long time ago a fellow by the name of Jim Blackburn did a study of the pros and cons of where to attach panniers to a bike. He included a number of previously unexplored locations. The low-rider-front-fork location proved to be a significant improvement over many others. This is due to several reasons.

Going from memory, the weight is close to the ground, when you get up out of the saddle to climb hills the weight is close to the location that moves laterally the least. You don't slop the weight left, right, left, right as you do when it's mounted behind you on either the top or sides of a rear pannier rack. It's stuck close to the front wheel's point of contact with the ground and the lateral movement is at a minimum.

Get a frame/fork that includes bosses to mount a rack pair there.

It's likely that you can get a couple of day's work wear into larger, pannier bags. Take that stuff to work every couple of days and take it easy on the in-between days. Leave a couple pair of shoes at work.

Figure out how you're going to dry out your cycling kit between the ride to work and the ride home. Soggy chamois is bad. Soaked cycling socks too.

Oh, I've got a cycling cape that I used to use when it was seriously wet out. Stuck my head through the hole in the center, it has a hood too, stuffed my thumbs into the loops at the front, mounted the bike, flipped the tail of the cape out behind my saddle and off I went. The thing is shaped left/right narrow, doesn't rub on the read wheel or get stuck in it and hangs down to my knees while I'm pedaling. Doesn't blow up like a parachute either. Mine's florescent blue.

Put fender extenders on your front fender at least. It should get down to a couple inches off the pavement. Else, you soak your tootsies.
Then too, water from the front wheel flies off onto the inside of the front fender. It flows back down running into the newer water flying off the wheel. All the excess flows out the side of the front fender about the height of the axle. It lands on your feet.

Fashion, or buy, a canvas thingy that wraps over the front fender from about the 10 o'clock position down to the bottom of the fender. Use elastic ties to hold this, kind of pair of triangles joined at a common edge, by their free corner to your front axle. Tight but don't bend your fender into the tire. Use some sort of florescent man-made fabric. This sort of thingy might also benefit you going on the front of the rear wheel too. 1 o'clock down to, say 4 o'clock viewed from the right.

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    Hi, welcome to bicycles. This might be a useful answer about the nitty-gritty of daily commuting, but it's getting pretty into the weeds for a question about what type of bike to buy. – DavidW Nov 20 '19 at 14:53
  • I can see the relevance deep in this, but it reduces to "choose a bike frame with multiple mounting options for stuff." Do try and keep your answer to be relevant to the question. Welcome to Stackexchange, and please take a moment to read the tour – Criggie Nov 20 '19 at 18:01
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From my own commuting experiences - 2 things are most important:

1) Smallest front area (horizontal pose) as aero resistence increases with 3rd power of speed (check my answer here if you like).

2) Good tyres (low rolling resistence) @high pressure (narrow require it for best performance).

I am riding 2x 20km daily 5th month yet (3-4000 km), around 300m elevation gain, no hurry, average speed 20 (-27) km/h. Original bad tyres 35x622 changed to 23x622 (8-9bars, after few days dropping to 5-6). Also interesting got just one small flat and finnished that 2nd half with 3 inflations / 10 km (front tyre Schwalbe, back excellent Conti).

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  • Forgot to mention both valves broke after increasing pressure (old Chinese tubes). – Tom Nov 20 '19 at 19:44
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    The now deleted part about "When changed tyres and used support to lie easily I am one of quickest on cykling trail - only best ones overtakes me sometimes ;-)" sure sounds like racing. – ojs Nov 21 '19 at 10:21
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    Please, learn what the word "spam" means and then stop doing it. – ojs Nov 21 '19 at 10:46
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    I'd suggest that whilst these experiences may be valid for a more rural route, they are not important for commuting in a big city like London. In an urban setting with lots of road debris etc a tough reliable tyre is far preferable to a narrow fast one even if it is a few minutes slower – Andy P Nov 21 '19 at 12:18
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    @Tom Yes, i've been to London, and no the streets aren't 'bad', but much like any other city there is a much larger chance to encounter sharp pieces of glass/metal/plastic. When I ride for leisure/fitness in a rural setting I use light/fast 23c tyres much of the time. When ride through the city to get to work I choose thick, heavy 35c tyres as they are better suited to an urban environment. – Andy P Nov 21 '19 at 14:32

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