New Commute, New Style

A month ago, my commute changed from a 6-mile commute one-way to a three-mile commute one-way. It also changed from an office with a shower to an office without a shower… so my approach to my commute definitely had to change!

Previously, I’d taken the approach of riding as hard as I wanted in more bike-y clothes, then showering and changing. With no shower available – but a much shorter commute – I decided to take advantage of our lowering morning temperatures (mostly below 70 now) to try riding to work in my work clothes and going slower. This also gave me the ability to put three products we’ve received to a better test.

My “new” commuting rig is my Redline Monocog 29’er single speed mountain bike… with a couple modifications. I’ve kept the gear ratio the same (33×16) – it’s low, but it means I can’t ride too fast and therefore can’t get too sweaty!

The Monocog in commuter guise

The three products I’m reviewing are:
WTB’s Freedom Cruz 29 tires
WTB’s Freedom Cruz Grips
Cycle Cuffs
Look for reviews of all three of these shortly!

Freedom Cruz 29

Freedom Cruz grips

Cycle Cuffs


12 Comments

  1. Pete September 10, 2012 8:11 am 

    I’ve been commuting 3 miles in work clothes for a couple of years now. No problem. Though if you don’t want to sweat I’d pick an easier pedal than an SS 29er!

  2. Ash September 10, 2012 8:16 am 

    This is how long my commute is and I was actually thinking of getting a single speed 29er. I’m glad I found this post so I can see your feedback on it!

  3. Matt September 10, 2012 8:49 am 

    Pete – It’s not actually bad to pedal at all. I have a couple of minor hills (and overpasses) where I have to pedal a bit harder, but overall I don’t need more gears.

    Ash – If you’re only going to use it for commuting, I don’t know that a 29er is necessarily the best option – mine doesn’t have the ability to mount a rack easily, for example. Something like the Redline 925 might be more suitable (though I’m not sure they still make it – you may have to search used). Single speed is definitely one of the most maintenance-free ways to commute though, and it’s not hard at all for shorter commutes!

  4. Pete September 10, 2012 2:06 pm 

    Matt- You’re right. My LHT has about the same size tires, Big Apples, and probably weighs the same if not more than your 29er. I did commute on a single speed road bike for a while, and I agree the simplicity and reliability of SS is great for commuting if you have friendly topography.
    I suspect the only thing you’ll dislike about your commute is that it’s too short!
    -Pete

  5. Mike Myers September 10, 2012 4:30 pm 

    If I had a short commute, I think I’d ride an upright, befendered, internal shifting hub bike. Might even wear tweed while I rode—well, in the winter, anyway.

  6. Kim September 10, 2012 5:58 pm 

    That is one sexy commuting bicycle. I thought about going single speed for my commuter, or even getting rid of the front derailleur and using a single gear at the front. (sorry for the lack of proper names) After some tests, I concluded that this is impossible if you’re gonna use the bike to commute all seasons. Might not be a problem South where it never snows, but here it’s just impossible. You can’t use a single speed with studded tires in a snow storm. So I’m doomed with using a 21 speeds mountain bike for commuting. It has WAY too many things to maintain! =( Even the front fork was ruined after the first winter. I’ve been shopping for a rigid mountain bike, but can’t find any locally. Where do you guys get them?

  7. Matt September 10, 2012 6:54 pm 

    Mike – If I had one of those, I might ride it too :)

    Kim – I have to disagree that this type of setup can’t be used in a snow storm. Those are Nokian Hakkapellitta studded tires on there, and that’s 6 inches of snow in the background (almost all of it fell during the hour I was riding)!

    I would say that maybe a 1×7 or 1×8 would be the best year-round setup (unless you went internal hub).

    As far as rigid mountain bikes – I ordered mine through a local shop – they didn’t have it in stock. Ask around at your shop(s) and they should be able to tell you what they can get. If you’re looking for a do-anything kind of bike that you can run geared or singlespeed, the Surly Karate Monkey or Ogre are some of the most flexible bikes out there (and can be on the less spendy side of things as well, depending on if you buy complete or frame-only, what components you use, etc.).

  8. BluesCat September 10, 2012 7:36 pm 

    I kinda agree with Mike and Matt about wearing tweed in the winter if I had a three-mile-or-less-commute in too flat Phoenix.

    I think an ideal bike for that would be a Pashley Guv’nor (3 Speed).

    Yeah! Tweed knickers and a British sports car cap! Probably be the only bike I’d ride without a helmet.

  9. Tom September 11, 2012 12:20 pm 

    You need Fenders! Does this mean I’ll no longer run into you on my bike commute?

  10. Matt September 11, 2012 1:15 pm 

    Tom –

    Yeah… no fenders yet! If I need them I’ll use my other bike!

    And no, you won’t run into me commuting much anymore… I’m now going an entirely different route (doesn’t overlap my old one at all!).

  11. Graham September 12, 2012 5:00 am 

    Kim – I officially resent the implication that it never snows here in the South! Of course it snows! That’s when we shut down the whole state for 3 days and no one has to go to work. So of course we’re not riding in that weather, but still. Last winter we had a blizzard and it snowed two inches! Can you even imagine?!

    I’ve also discovered that our beach cruisers do surprisingly well in the snow… It’s just a little slicker than sand and it doesn’t get caught in the chain grease as much.

  12. Dave September 12, 2012 9:09 am 

    Nice bike Matt. I often considered a fixed speed for my latest buildup but my commute is 11.5 miles one way of up and down hills. I did find a nice Fetish Cycles frame that had horizontal dropouts with optional derailer hanger so I went ahead and built it up as a 1 x 9.

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