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I have a $300 Giant Escape that's used for commuting, but I would like to buy a Giant TCR Advanced 2 which is $2000. I want to have the experience similar to upgrading from a 50 inch tv to a 80 inch tv. Would the road bike be overkill for commuting? (Posture too forward, bumpy road, etc.) The commute is 7 mile each way.

I might start riding recreationally, but I'm not counting on it, as commuting forces me to ride so assuming this is strictly for commuting.

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    How will you lock up the bike at work? I wouldn't feel comfortable commuting with a bike unless loss/theft is tolerable.
    – user52778
    Mar 25 at 8:06
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    For me, the giant escape is a great commuting option. By all means get a TCR for recreational rides, but i'd continue to commute on the escape.
    – Andy P
    Mar 25 at 9:04
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    Do you need to carry a bag with you? What is the ride like? Do you have hills? a lot of traffic? quiet roads? bike-only roads? Many details would influence the answer: do you notice the difference when upgrading from 50" to 80" tv to watch 320x240 pixel videos from youtube from 1.5 meter distance? Yes, absolutely, the 80"tv is way worse
    – EarlGrey
    Mar 25 at 10:04
  • This depends a lot on the road/trail conditions. Anything worse than well-maintained tarmac will be no fun on a road bike with a stiff frame and high pressure tires. You won't have fun on degraded tarmac, bike paths with little on/off ramps at intersections, let alone any gravel or, god forbid, cobblestone. Mar 25 at 18:27
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    @tom better to think about what kind of bike can keep you out of an accident... What kind of bike protects you from being hit by a car? The kind with good brakes, good tires, and an alert, skilled rider on top, so you can actually avoid danger. But as a commuter, I don't think it really makes any difference what bike you're on, if somebody crashes into you with their car, it's never good for you.
    – Bicifriend
    Apr 4 at 1:12

10 Answers 10

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Riding pleasure is important, and from that point of view a better bike will be an improvement for sure.

It's perfectly feasible, but it will come with trade-offs. It depends at the end on your priorities. One of my ex-colleagues was commuting on such a bike, he is a convinced roadie who participates to races. But his commute was in the 20 miles on secondary roads. Because of rush hour, the duration was similar than going by car or by transit. He wasn't also commuting daily, so when he was coming by car, he took sets of spare clothes to avoid having to carry them when coming by bike.

Personally, I would consider this bike not overkill but inadequate, for several reasons:

  • commuters should be more dependable bikes, you ride in less optimal conditions, and with more traffic: sometimes, you won't be able to avoid the pothole because of the more dense traffic, you'll be happier to have 40mm tires rather 25mm.
  • the benefit of "better bikes" are mostly appreciable after longer distances. Sure you will notice the differences in term of compliance and weight. But on a 7 miles commute, the differences shouldn't have reached a point where they become tiring.
  • sport bikes are sport bikes: you don't have racks so you'll need to carry your stuff in a backpack (which I dislike a lot), saddles are usually designed to be used with a padded short, a $2k bike usually has clipless pedals, so you either need to carry civilian shoes with you or make sure you have shoes at destination, no chainguard to keep your trousers clean... So the benefit of the "better bike" may be offset by practicalities.
  • I would also happily trade-off a bit of weight for ease of maintenance on a commuter
  • some accessories are appreciated in a commuting context, that I don't want to fit on my fun bike: fenders, racks, chainguard, reinforced tires, kickstand, lock...

My ideal commuter would have the following characteristics: 40mm tires, hydraulic disc brakes, belt drive, internal hub, hub dynamo, fender, rack, comfy saddle and some form of compliance (either suspension or carbon fork/seatpost). Quite far from the TCR ...and can be in the same price range.

Note that the notion of fun is also very subjective: I enjoy riding a comfy trekking bike - 40mm tires, front suspension and suspended seatpost (but a more slanted position than what you usually see for this kind of bike — but not too slanted to have a good visibility): it's the "I'm flying over the road" fun (I took this example because I have such a bike, not because I consider it's the best option). But for other people, the kind of bike I describe is boring and only reactive bikes are fun, and those are willing to tradeoff practicality for that. A sport carbon bike would be a better choice then.

That being said, the real upgrade in term of experience for commuting for me is an e-bike (a light an nimble one), not a race bike.

If you have space for 2 bikes, the best option for me is to have a dedicated commuter and a nice week-end bike. If you can only have one and it's mainly your commuter, up to you to define your priorities, but just be aware of the compromise.

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    A good internal hub and hub dynamo would bring you well above $2000 (unless you use the cheapest possible on everything else, with would be rather unbalanced). I'd use an e-bike for a 20 mile / 32 km commute, not so for a 7 mile / 11 km one, unless it has a large elevation difference.
    – gerrit
    Mar 25 at 9:11
  • @gerrit If by good, you mean Rolhoff, indeed. If you consider an Alfine 11 acceptable, the Canyon Commuter 7, that meet all the requirements I enumerated costs 1700€.
    – Renaud
    Mar 25 at 14:26
  • ah — good enough!
    – gerrit
    Mar 25 at 15:55
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    And don't forget that a 2k$ bike will attract way more undesired attention than a cheaper one, risking to force the way back on another mean of transportation in case of theft
    – L.Dutch
    Mar 25 at 21:00
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    A $2k bike usually doesn't come with clipless pedals. It comes with no pedals at all so you can choose which pedals to buy. If choosing for example dual-sided flat/SPD, you can cycle on either ordinary shoes or clipless shoes. And SPD clipless shoes can perfectly well be used on the entire work day.
    – juhist
    Mar 26 at 9:12
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I feel about the same as Renaud. My own commute (in the beforetime) was also 7 miles each way.

The TCR is a nice bike. Also a racy bike. If your budget forces you to have N=1 bikes, then you need to compromise, of course, but I think you identified the key problems in your question: the handling will be very sharp, and the bike isn't designed for choppy pavement.

Aside from the rigors of the commute itself, you also need to consider whether the bike will be "too nice" to leave locked up at your workplace, exposed to bad weather, etc. Obviously this is a judgment call.

In my case, I wound up upgrading my commuter from an old single-speed road bike to a pretty nice all-road bike. If I were designing a commuter from scratch, I'd change a few things about it, but it works pretty well for me. The criticisms I'd make of the bike you're considering are:

  • Carbon frame. I wouldn't choose that for commuting.
  • Not designed for load-carrying.
  • Caliper brakes. I'm sold on disc brakes, especially for riding in the rain.
  • I'd want to run at least 30-mm tires; this looks like it comes with 28s. Not sure what width it will accommodate.
  • Depending on your terrain, a 2x drivetrain may be needless complexity. My own commuter has a 2x11 drivetrain, which has turned out to be overkill for me.

There's also the problem (as of this writing) of constrained supply, and you may just need to buy the bike you can buy, not the bike you want to buy.

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It is certainly possible to ride a $2,000 bike to work instead of a $300 bike, but unless you have to get rid of the existing bike, it's more practical to dedicate the existing bike for commuting and utilitarian cycling. You'll worry less about theft of an old, "cheap" bike, and you can outfit it with things you might not have on a recreational bike, like a rack, fenders, and lights. My commuter bike has all of those things and is a little beat-up looking, and I don't worry about it while it's locked up outside or at the grocery. My recreational bike is a track bike having no unnecessary appendages. Sometimes I'll ride the track bike to work with my clothes in a knapsack, but only on good roads, and only because I can take it into my office. It's a lot less stressful having a choice.

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It depends on the area where you ride.

I used to commute to an office every day for about three years (10 km one way).

My office commute was in Bangalore. If anyone knows about Bangalore, it’s a very tense city with a huge traffic problem. Well, the traffic problem is the very reason why I got on a bike in the first place.

I started with a hybrid cycle for office commutes and found it very effective. I had the nice balance of comfort and speed. Seeing other cyclists out there with road bikes, I got tempted and finally got myself a road bike.

One thing to mention about Bangalore traffic is that in rush hour there is almost always bumper-to-bumper traffic which is very bad and often there are potholes and other malformations on the road.

What this means is, when you are trailing a vehicle often at speeds exceeding 20 km/h, it becomes very difficult to judge the road conditions in front. I have faced many instances where I fell into these broken sections and bent the rim. After these kinds of instances, I got myself a hardtail MTB. What this meant was I didn’t have to worry about any of the bad sections of the road and usually rode over them.

On an average, my average speeds were

  1. Road Bike - 22-23 km/h
  2. Hybrid - 21 km/h
  3. MTB - 20-21 km/h

MTB is the best option if you live in a city like Bangalore.

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Road bikes have different practical requirements than commuting bikes. There’s no real way around this.

Just off the top of my head, reasons I would not consider a road bike for commuting include:

  • Narrow tires mean you have to be pickier about road conditions, and are often more affected by small issues with the road surface.
  • Maintenance overhead is often higher due to the rougher conditions involved. Really good commuting bikes typically have an internal gear hub, and these days may also have a belt drive, and that eliminates a huge chunk of ‘regular’ maintenance because you don’t have to deal with grit from the road impacting chain, cassette, and chainring wear to a significant degree, or with water washing off your chain lubricant.
  • To make the bike practical for commuting, you will generally need to add at least a rear rack, and possibly fenders, but some road bikes don’t even have mounts for such things (and good commuting bikes come with them as standard).
  • Aside from the bare minimum, there are plenty of other things you should have on a commuting bike that do not come as part of a typical road setup, such as good lighting.
  • The more forward riding position makes it more difficult to keep track of what’s going on around you, which is a significant safety issue if you’re commuting.
  • Expensive road bikes tend to use clipless pedals, which means you either need a change of pedals or to carry a change of shoes to use at your destination.

This is not to say that you can’t commute on a road bike, just that it won’t be as nice generally as on a purpose-built commuter. Compare for example the Trek District 4 Equipped, which is a purpose-built commuter. It has a nice IGH and belt drive, comes with a rack, fenders, lights, and flat pedals as standard, and is designed for a more upright riding position. The wheels are narrower on it than I would generally want on a commuter, but I also have to deal with significantly less than ideal road conditions around where I live which influences me to prefer much wider wheels than I otherwise would.

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I have a Giant TCR Advanced Pro1 which is a little bit a higher tier than your bike.

It is a great race bike and I enjoy riding it. I am a little bit torn if it is a great commuter. If it is wet, you are going to get wet. My bike is a little bit older and has rim brakes so the maximum tires that fit are 25mm. Which is not comfortable at all on cobble stones and the tires can get damaged pretty easily.

The thing that would stress me out the most is that it is a lightweight carbon frame. I would not feel good leaving the bike on the streets. It has no kick stand and if somebody throws it over it could be damaged pretty quickly.

My bike fell over in my garage, hit an edge and afterwards the guy in my local bike shop said, that he can't guarantee me that my carbon frame is fine and I ride it at my own risk.

I could go to some other guys x-raying the frame to get a second opinion but I didn't do it.

I've ridden over 2000km afterwards and I feel safe - but I just want to tell you that a lightweight carbon frame is a pretty expensive and sensitive beast.

The 11 speeds are great and I find the bike pretty comfortable - but I would rather have a heavier, but more robust bikes when commuting (optimally with installed lights and fenders).

Maybe an alumimium gravel bike or something along that line.

If you get it for cheap and want to ride it - use it !

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I have a TCR Advanced 0 (the one with the seat mast instead of a seat post) and a sensible commuter with a rack, fenders, and so on. Nevertheless, I ride my TCR to work. I just enjoy riding that bike so much more. So I ride it to work.

New TCRs have disc brakes and fit 32 mm tires, which is plenty for rough pavement. The best research on tires is you should be running the widest tires you can on a road bike, even for racing you may want 32s.

Fenders. Honestly if it is raining any kind of hard I will just work from home. If I go in, I take my other bike. Any worse weather, I will also stay home. A few years ago, during a day that it snowed 12 inches, I rode my cyclocross racing bike because that was what I wanted under me for the slop. Safety first. I just locked it outside, since I figured bike thieves were not out looking for fancy bikes. Of course I brought a change of clothes. Actually, 2, since I wanted to start home in dry clothes.

Rack. Most days, I don't carry very much. On days I expect to run errands on my way, I ride the other bike.

Security. I bring the bike up to my office, no matter which bike.

So. All the practical issues people brought up are valid. Honestly, get a bike like everyone else says. You can go bike camping, which is more fun than racing anyway.

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I commuted with my expensive road bike from Forest Hills to Wall Street, and later from Hoboken to Wall Street, which wasn't much to go but gave me the chance to run errands around the city on bike. I had a chain and a kryptonite chain. I always made sure to lock the tires to the frame and I always chained it in the busiest place possible. Nothing happened ever, but I always worried for the seat and a little carrier I had under the seat. Of course, this was Wall Street, but I was lucky all over the city. You have to be aware, though, that no matter what you do your bike could disappear even in the busiest intersection. I had other two bikes stolen before, but I wasn't as careful as I became. One important thing, we had a gym with showers and lockers in the company, which made it easier to pedal to work as I just used my regular biking gear.

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It’s totally fine.

For city riding the biggest problem is the aggressive seating position which makes it slightly harder (and more strenuous) to pay careful attention at all times and look up to traffic lights and signs.

Cobblestones on narrow 25mm tyres are very uncomfortable. If I had cobblestones on my commute I’d probably get a mountainbike or at least >40mm tyres. Same if there is rough gravel or the like.

Maintenance will be more expensive. 11 speed chains and cassettes. Expensive wheels if you are using rim brakes.

You’ll need a shower and a set of fresh, civilian clothes (including shoes) at work.

Commuting on a nice bike is faster and more fun and allows you to go for training rides before or after work.

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    "You’ll need a shower and a set of fresh, civilian clothes (including shoes) at work." this may already be the case.
    – EarlGrey
    Mar 25 at 10:05
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    And is not strictly essential :-)
    – pateksan
    Mar 25 at 12:29
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    True, but I think on a bike with clip-in pedals, with an aggressive seating position and without fenders and without chain guards it’s more likely that you want to ride in appropriate clothes. It’s also more fun to go fast on a good bike, so you are more likely to get sweaty ;)
    – Michael
    Mar 25 at 12:44
  • >including shoes Adidas, Chrome, etc. make cute and fun clipless (shimano variety) street shoes Mar 25 at 15:59
  • @gusmallysupportsMonica: Probably not for road bike clip-in pedal systems (SPD-SL). There are “mountain bike” clip-in shoes for SPD which look “normal” and allow you to walk relatively unencumbered. But no such thing is possible for the huge road bike clip-in systems.
    – Michael
    Mar 26 at 6:52
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It seems a quite limited view of a commuting bicycle.

You can use it only when the weather is nice and where the the roads are quite clean, even if it does not rain every dirt and content of a pothole will be sprayed on your body, you can change clothes at the office, but if you have to change clothes every time you get out of the office (to go and see a client or to go to a post office or a doctor) it gets quite complicated.

Shopping for groceries leaving the bicycle in front of the shop even if you have a chain might not be so easy. The same problem happen while you make a long queue to renew a document at the register/council office

If you change job where might be the next office? A mixed commute bike+train will be impossible. Have a look at the bicycles the Dutch leave in the parkings of the train stations to minimise the impact of a theft.

It seem the usual narrow American view, the bicycle is nice, but keep in mind that you'll still need a car.

BTW. When you are tired after a long day of work you'll feel the bumps of a race bike a lot more. The daily commute means that your condition will be good some days and bad others, but you'll still have to ride, a more comfortable bicycle would fit better the changing conditions. I commuted for years in a busy city with a lot of traffic lights that forced me to stop every now and then. With a slow, old, city bike the one way 12Km commute took 40/45 minutes. A slower bike won't cost you so much time.

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