Tall person seeks fast hybrid for commuting

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by James E. Petts, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. James E. Petts

    James E. Petts New Member

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    I live in London and need to replace my ageing and worn out bicycle, a Ridgeback Comet, that I have had and used heavily since 2005.

    I use the bicycle almost exclusively for commuting (circa 15km each way), and like to ride quite fast, although also need to be able to carry panniers which are sometimes quite heavy. I am quite tall (1.85m).

    On my existing bicycle, I have always found the gear ratios somewhat low (i.e., the top gear is not quite fast enough), and this is after I had the front chainring replaced to a larger (53t, perhaps; I have not counted) unit about 8-9 years ago, which improved matters somewhat, but not entirely.

    When I bought my existing bicycle, I was on somewhat of a budget, and have never been entirely satisfied with the quality/reliability of the gearing. I am able to spend a little more now, and so would like high quality components. I am especially keen on reliability, relative lightness and being able to go quite fast.

    Looking in shops now, what I am finding is that all the hybrid bicycles have gear ratios that are far too low. I had a test ride of a Specialized Sirrius Sport XL this afternoon: the top gear was far too low, and the frame felt cramped compared to my existing bicycle.

    I was able to try an XXL size of a lower range Specialized Sirrius in another shop, but was only able to sit on it rather than ride it, as this particular bicycle needed repairs (one of the brake levers was missing). This geometry felt a great deal better.

    I did also try sitting on a road bicycle in another shop last Friday, but I could not get used to the different handlebars (and especially brake lever positions) after spending about 16 years regularly riding a bicycle with straight handlebars.

    Can anyone recommend anything sensible? I cannot find any hybrid bicycles with a frame size approximately equivalent to the Sirrius in XXL (see here for details) and with a 52 or 53t front chainring.

    I could in theory get a bicycle custom built, but that seems like a lot of money to spend just for going to work. The only suggestion that the person in the shop could come up with was to get a Sirrius and then immediately change the chainring, which might yet be the only viable option, but that seems so wasteful, so I thought that it would be at least worth exploring whether there are any other sensible options.

    One thing that seems potentially interesting but I do not know enough about is the hub gear. I understand that these are extremely reliable, which would make me very happy, but I have no idea what the top ratios on these are like compared to my existing bicycle. I do not need a great many gears (my commute is mostly flat), but I do want the highest gears to be quite high. I have seen some bicycles with hub gears (albeit these often seem to have heavier steel frames), but I do not know whether these are suitable. I could not find any in geometry that came close to what I suspect that I would find comfortable based on the information currently available to me.

    Any assistance would be much appreciated.
     


  2. James E. Petts

    James E. Petts New Member

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    After some further research, I am taking an interest in the Cube SL Road SL or Cube Editor bicycles. However, I cannot find anywhere in the UK that has the Cube SL Road SL in stock in the largest size, and the Cube Editor appears to be in stock only in places too distant for me to test ride.

    The SL Road SL looks very interesting: it is light (<10kg) and has a 50t chainring on the front. The Editor has an 11 speed hub gear and belt drive. The latter seems very interesting from a maintenance perspective, but it is heavier and I have no idea how fast that it is, so would need to test ride this before acceptance. I can order from a shop in Wales, and they will permit returns at will, but this is cumbersome and will attract a charge.

    Any advice from anyone experienced with hub gears and chain drives would be welcome.
     
  3. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    I wonder If you wouldn’t benefit more from some pedalling technique training instead of looking for taller-than-average gears.
    The bike community is quite agreed that the ideal cadence - pedalling pace - is in the 80-100 rpm range. Even on a 26” with a 42/11 top gear, this will be good for 25 mph.

    Riding on too tall gears is a common cause of knee pains.

    As far as comparing drivetrains, have a look at this:https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html

    I prefer to use the [email protected] rpm setting, but pretty much any of them will work for comparison purposes. Enter the data for your current bike, hit ”calculate”. Repeat for the bike you’re considering. Compare and consider.
     
  4. James E. Petts

    James E. Petts New Member

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    Thank you for your reply. Having cycled in this way regularly for 16 years, I have doubts that attempting to change the way that I do things now will be productive; and is it not also the case that a lower cadence is more efficient? Certainly, the Wikipedia article suggests that it is. May I ask why the specific range of 80-100rpm is preferable? Is this based on research?
     
  5. Yojimbo_

    Yojimbo_ Active Member

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    Can't you just ask them to put a different size cassette on the bike when you buy it?
     
  6. James E. Petts

    James E. Petts New Member

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    That is one possibility.
     
  7. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I think getting a new rear gear cluster and or changing your chainrings will suffice just fine for you.

    As far a cadence goes, look, for professionals the average is quite high at between 80 to 100, but we're not pros so we don't have to match their cadence or their bicycles or their kit, or their nutrition etc! The average cyclists cadence is around 60 and that's fine.

    I've tried both, higher and lower cadences and found overall lower works better for me, everyone is built differently so a high cadence may work for some but for some a lower cadence works better. Plus their now finding out that once you go above 80 your efficiency starts to taper off! and on top of that a British research paper done this last year discovered that amateur riders didn't get any benefit at higher RPM's in fact they found that their performance dropped because their heart rates soared. Australia also did their own research last year and found that the ideal cadence for amateur riders was 60, they used less energy; see: https://www.bicycling.com/health-nutrition/a27454779/cycling-cadence-ideal/

    What I found when I tried both is that if I pedal at 65 to 80 rpm in harder gear I get more of a workout and I become stronger vs pedaling at a higher RPM in an easier gear while maintaining the same speed at both cadences and gears. When I ride for longer distances I will use a higher rpm to take some fatigue off the legs, usually between 75 and 85, not much higher than I do on normal rides.

    https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/why-amateurs-shouldnt-try-to-pedal-like-chris-froome-191779

    I think there is room for both, but going into the stratosphere of 100 and beyond for non racers just isn't practical and it doesn't work for most cyclists.
     
  8. James E. Petts

    James E. Petts New Member

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    Thank you - that is most interesting. There is much to be said for proper empirical research.
     
  9. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking about my own cadence a bit after I wrote this, and I was incorrect about my cadence after I rode the bike last night and watched my computer. On normal rides up to 20 miles I'm pedaling between 60 and 75, on longer rides I run between 65 and 80, so not a whole lot difference between short and longer miles, just use different gears but maintain the same speed, as I explain earlier, but my gear choice is only one gear difference, just enough so that on longer rides my cadence is a bit higher. When I tour I'm riding a bike with another 65 to 70 pounds of weight (includes camping gear and a heavier bike) I don't usually carry when I ride normally, so my average speed drops down and my cadence is higher between 70 and 85 because I found that with heavier loads its easier to run at higher rpms than normal. These cadences are on relatively flat ground with some rolling hills, if I go up a steep hill I try to maintain those cadences, when I use to live in California and climbed mountains my cadence climbing was higher I think between 75 and 85, but if the climb was real steep and I was out of gears obviously the cadence will drop especially as I got more fatigued, again I'm not a pro rider.

    When I use to race we all ran between 60 and 80, but that was over 30 years ago and the high cadence racing stuff hadn't surfaced yet, I only got to a Cat 3 level so I wasn't some major racing guy! But the pros back then never went above 80 unless going down hill!

    Of course my cadence is mine, it's not intended to be for anyone else, it's just how I ride, you have to decide what works best for you. Your body will fall into a natural rhythm, that's how I knew where I should be at, some will argue that I should be higher, but again that's great if I was a pro but I'm nowhere near that level of riding.
     
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