Discussion - What is the Best Bike for Cycle Commuting?

Commuting on a bike is a great way to stay fit, relieve stress, and avoid the traffic. What is the best bicycle to commute on though? The most interesting, safe, and versatile option?

I commute around 10 hours a week, which amounts to between 250-300 kilometres. I've been putting in these early morning and evening rides for over 5 years now, and have commuted on everything from a mountain bike, through to a single speed road bike.

However, I now think that I've discovered the ideal commuting bike… the cyclocross bike.


Getting 'cross

I wrote a post last year on 'Getting 'Cross', where I discussed a new found love of the world of mixed-surface riding on a cyclocross bike.

What also quickly became evident after a few months of commuting on a cyclocross bike, was that it was an incredibly good bike to use for the job: more interesting, more robust, and more versatile than anything I'd used previously; as well as safer, in many respects.

This year I've been testing a Vitus Energie Pro Cyclocross Bike (read my Wiggle Blog review here). I have adapted this carbon framed cyclocross chassis, to make it even more suited to daily commuting duties.

Here's how and why it makes a great commuter…


Safe, reliable and low maintenance

The Vitus Energie Pro features a SRAM 1X (single front chainring) drivetrain, and SRAM hydraulic disc brakes.

The difference between hydraulic and cable operated discs is huge - with hydraulic providing better brake modulation, feel, and less requirement for adjustment. Obviously, they also still hold all the benefits of disc brakes over rim brakes; including less wear on the wheels and pads, and better function in wet conditions.

The SRAM Rival 1X drivetrain is also proving to be a great set-up for commuting. The simplicity of one gear shifter, one chainring, and one derailleur, means that there is less to go wrong, less to clean, and less to think about when changing gear (always good in the early morning).

Quite simply, the SRAM drivetrain and brake set-up on the Vitus Energie Pro provides the perfect set-up for commuting.




Frameset and geometry

A cyclocross bike has a higher bottom bracket height than a road bike, which raises up the whole of the height of the bike. This is done so that CX bikes have more clearance over off-road obstacles, but it also has the benefit of making you more visible, and better positioned to see and be seen in traffic.

The cyclocross frame design also features a more relaxed geometry than most road bikes, which makes it more comfortable and less 'hunched over' than on a road bike. This seems better when you're riding every day, and not really looking for those marginal aero gains.


Tyres

Finally, the great thing about a cyclocross bike for commuting, is that it has space for 32c or larger tyres. I run a 32c slick tyre on the back of my Vitus Energie Pro, and a 33c cyclocross knobbly tyre on the front.

The combo is great for the mix of on and off road that I can involve in my commute. The slick rear tyre helps to reduce rolling resistance, whilst the 32c width still provides bags of comfort and grip.

The knobbly front tyre helps to provide front wheel traction on loose gravel or poor roads, without adding too much resistance on tarmac.

Overall

For me, a CX bike is a great choice for cycle commuting; providing a safe and stable bike, which will enable you to mix up your on-road rides with a bit of gravel, adding a bit of diversity and interest!


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