Monday, January 12, 2015

Transportation Time Trials: How Much Difference Does the Bicycle Make?

Pedestrian Town Centre, Coleraine
The ride to the closest town is 7.5 miles along windswept, gently rolling terrain. Since moving into my current place just over a year ago, I've been making this trip several times a week and on various bicycles. When I cycle for transportation, I tend to ride in a leisurely manner, not putting in a great deal of effort so as to avoid sweating. I certainly don't try to set records, and I don't time myself deliberately. Despite that, I've consistently noticed, that the bicycle I am riding makes a substantial difference in my arrival time.

This differs from my experience commuting in Boston, despite comparable milage. For example, a few years ago I noted that it did not seem to matter which bike I rode in how long it took me to complete a 10 mile trip across the city and suburbs. There, factors such as having to stop at intersections and accommodate the flow of traffic played such a dominant role, that the performance of the bicycle itself made only a marginal difference.

By contrast, my current trip into town involves entirely rural roads, with no traffic lights and only one roundabout to navigate. More often than not, I do not put my foot down from the moment I push off outside my house until the moment I dismount in the town. In circumstances like these, the performance of each machine becomes more noticeable. The hillier terrain and windy conditions here introduce additional opportunities for the bicycle itself to shine.

Okay, so which of my bicycles wins?

Cycling Through Derry
To start with the one I ride the most - my Brompton folding bike... On a winter's day with average wind conditions, it takes me a good 45 minutes to cycle the 7.5 miles into town. Granted, that's pretty slow, especially considering the Brompton is one of the fastest upright bicycles I've ever ridden. But the key word here is upright: The wind, on exposed country roads, can be truly brutal!


Riding a vintage drop bar Claud Butler mixte - even though it's heavy and geared a bit too high for the terrain - consistently shaves about 5 minutes off the same trip. Still not fast, but quicker. And the windier it is, the greater the difference becomes, with Claud's deep drops providing a real advantage.

Next, it is, somewhat surprisingly, a tie - between my two roadbikes: a skinny tire titanium Seven and a fat tire steel 650B DIY bike. When cycling for sport, there is a performance difference between these two bicycles (the Seven being faster) - especially when climbing long, steep inclines. But over the course of the comparatively tame 7.5 mile trip into town, without deliberately attempting to push the pace, that difference becomes negligible. On a day with moderate wind conditions, either bicycle will get me there in just over 30 minutes.


But the surprise winner of the whole shebang is my Mercian fixed gear. On the open road this bicycle does not feel especially fast compared to my geared road bikes. Yet every time I've used it for my commute into town so far, the trip has taken me under 30 minutes - including, once, a record 25 minutes in moderately windy conditions! It must be that the combination of the fixed drivetrain, the gearing, and the terrain of this particular journey, encourages a quicker pace than my other bikes without my being aware of it in the moment.

In summary, depending on which bicycle I use the time it takes me to cycle 7.5 miles into town can differ by more than 15 minutes. That is quite a change from my non-variable commute times in Boston!

Nonetheless, the bicycle I typically choose for transportation remains the Brompton. While it's not the fastest option even in the calmest of weather conditions, it allows me to carry enormous amounts of stuff and to ride comfortably in my ordinary clothing and shoes, transitioning seamlessly between cycling and "regular life."  It also allows for easy multimodal trips to faraway places, should the situation spontaneously call for it.

So unless the wind is brutal, I ride the bicycle I get the most utility out of, regardless of speed. But it's still fun to know where my other bicycles stand in the Transportation Time Trials. What about yours? Does your commute time vary depending on what bike you ride, and how much does it matter?

60 comments:

  1. A relevant factor for the comparison to Boston may be lights. I found that my commute always took the same time across Tokyo, because half the time-elapsed was waiting at lights.

    And the speed on fixed? I've found the same. Because it's more fun, isn't it?

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  2. My experience has been the same as yours for urban commuting. I've lots of Strava data for my 10 mile commute through central London on 3 different bikes (MTB, hybrid, road bike) and there is negligible difference between the times. The road bike feels faster, I think because it has the thinnest tyres, but the clock doesn't lie.

    Have you taken into account the loads you are carrying? If you are generally carrying more on the Brompton than the other bikes, then I'd expect it to be slower, all things being equal (which they aren't).

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  3. Interesting post. Do you still have the ANT bike?

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    1. It's in storage in Boston, but will be joining me eventually.

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  4. Even though I live close to Boston, my nearly entire work commute happens on Minuteman Bikeway. This way my experience is not exactly urban. About a year ago I started thinking about a faster bike because, as you noticed too, on a distance of 10 miles with few intersections, a faster bike does make a difference.
    It takes me 50 min. to ride 10 miles on my 3-speed Schwinn and at least 10 min. less when I take my cx bike instead. Despite that, I use my Schwinn most of the time (better cargo capacity plus it's almost maintenance-free in winter).

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    1. I've always wondered how it can be that I've not once ran into you on the Minuteman Trail!

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  5. My commute is 11 miles each way on mildly rolling terrain with little in the way of required stops. I alternate between an 80s mountain bike and an equally old touring bike. The difference is noticeable: the touring bike can be 10 minutes faster. It doesn't matter which bike I ride; I switch panniers between bikes so hauling capacity is the same. I tend to ride one bike for a month or two, keeping it readily accessible, then alternate when one requires maintenance.

    However, I will be switching jobs soon and with a shorter commute (5 miles), mostly on bike path and through neighborhoods, it won't matter which bike I choose for transportation. I imagine I'll ride a heavier step-through style of bike because I prefer this bicycle over my other options.

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  6. My commute is either 4.5 or 5.1 miles depending on if I'm too craven to ride the steep side of the ridge between my house and town. The only bikes out of all my bikes on which I notice a real difference are my single speed mountain bike and the 29" bikepacker with the 3" wide Knaards. The single speed is faster by a bit than the roadbikes because the gear forces me to attack and it's a short enough trip that I can get there before I run out of gas and really slow down. It's set-up as a cross country bike with the bars below my hips so it's a bit more aero than riding the tops or hoods on my roadbikes. It's a pretty swift ride as long as you can spin that gear. With the drop bars I put on it for 'cross racing it would be faster yet but that configuration is no good for dropping stairs or bunnyhopping anything bigger than a toaster so I never leave it that way for long.

    The chubby 29er just lulls me into this state of sloth that nothing short of crystal meth is going to change. I love that bike but it will cause people to pull up beside me and ask if I'm "OK" due to the slow motion-y pace and my vacant slack jawed stare...

    Spindizzy

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  7. Nice stable of bikes!
    This post is out of my league first of all b/c I've only got the one bike for both commuting and recreational riding. Secondly, whenever I think of timing myself it changes the ride experience in a detrimental manner. It ceases to be fun. Well, and the realization that my pathetically slow speed makes it better not knowing, which allows my mind and body to believe whatever it wants ;) Indeed, in the city there's a hare and turtle thing going on where the quicker bike (or car) usually ends up waiting at intersections while the slower rider can maintain that steady pace and relaxed smile. When I worked in another town the commute stretched to twenty five miles in one direction (ten of which were urban and the next fifteen windswept countryside and maybe six or seven of that on a trail), which is when I purchased my current bike. It had to be efficient enough to make the roughly hour and a half ride comfortable and at the end of a day's work I had to want to get back on the same bike for the ride home, oh, and carry all the stiff needed for the day. I found the perfect bike and the biggest difference with regard to time was getting cycle specific clothing and shoes. When I didn't have those I tended to go much slower.
    Finding a bike that fit properly was the biggest factor, then better clothing, then comes happiness! I began by saying this post was out of my league, but now think any who ride bikes daily are in the same game, somehow.

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    1. Actually, I don't time the cycling itself deliberately. I notice the time, bc I'm usually in town to meet someone/ be somewhere specific, so I check the time both before I leave the house and when I roll into town to make sure I'm not running late.

      I love cycling shoes and roadcycling clothing. Except when I'm off the bike.

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    2. With regard to clothing and shoes, I can't believe how much difference they make on long commutes! Both time and comfort. And yes, when off the bike I feel sorta ridiculous and awkward. In general if the time riding one way is greater than the time spent at my destination I'm mostly in street clothes and I'll make a decision about cleats or not depending on terrain. Sorry, I know this post was about variations in bicycles.

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  8. For commutes fixed is faster. Noted and confirmed for a very long time. Only long or steep hills will make a geared bike faster. That or being stuck on a fixed ratio that's entirely wrong for the occasion. There's a reason the big change from fixed to free took decades and why some never made the change.

    Why not try fixed on the Brommie? I ride the DL-1 fixed, tried it with a freewheel just once and that bike was just too slow to want to ride it.

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    1. How long do you have to ride fixed before this becomes true? Certainly not immediately for some of us. I've gone on and off fixed as my Wed. night club ride, going to town/first choice banging around bike a couple of times now, always things I liked about it and always things I didn't, never discovered that particular magic characteristic. Some of my friends that ride fixed ALOT still grab a geared bike for some group rides because that's what they have to do to keep up. When they show up fixed we have to throttle back a wee bit to keep them in the bubble and they aren't slowpokes by any measure.

      I think Emily O'Brian and perhaps even the "Fixie Pixie" have commented on this blog that they choose a fixed Rando bike in SPITE of it not being as fast due to some of it's other benefits. And then their ride reports describe riding pretty much alone or with other fixed riders for long stretches.

      The facts are whatever they are, the debate goes on...

      Spindizzy

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    2. Spin, you live and ride in the hills. So do the other riders you mention. My original remark says "long or steep hills make a geared bike faster". Much of the planet's population lives on coastal plains and other flatlands. And an awful lot of bike riders look for the flattest route possible. No, persevering forever at something that's not going to work will make it work.

      My fastest commute ever was a 17 mile trip done at an average above 23mph. I did that speed on that route not once but dozens of times and I did it carrying monster panniers that usually held 20 pounds of junk and sometimes 50 pounds of junk. Fixed gear at 53x21. That route included 60-80 stoplights which were all negotiated with caution and yeah I put my foot down often. No way, no how have I ever commuted that fast, even on simple routes, with a free wheel.

      Please note that a 68 inch gear was utilized to make this kind of speed. Why people who live in the hills want to fit big gears and are afraid of a little rpm beats me. I do have to say that when I started cycling "seriously" in the early 1960s I joined in a continuous unbroken tradition of fixed riding that had been right here since bicycles were first made. I never had to make up shite da capo, I never had to make every possible error before finding the best way. I never looked to riders as clueless as myself for an example. My first real tutor was Jimmy Walthour. Look him up. I thought he was just some sweet kind old man until I saw Eddy Merckx acting like a bashful schoolboy on meeting him.

      When I was temporarily resident out west in SF my commute gear was 42x22 fixed. I wasn't there long enough to try everything and try it exhaustively. I spun like mad on the downhills. Spinning is fine. Time lost on the uphill by trying to force a stupidly big gear will never be made up by a moment of extra speed on the downhill. Whatever gear you are using now on mixed terrain try going one or two teeth bigger on the rear and see if your rides are easier and faster. I think they will be.

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    3. I don't think you can fixie a Brompton and still fold it; the chain tensioner is part of the folding mechanism.

      Anecdotally, also in Boston, my 2-hour commute times are in the same range with my Brompton and my other bikes. (I've only taken the other bikes on it a few times; it varies enough due to traffic vagaries that there's a 15-20 minute range with the Brompton.) It's also only a tiny bit slower with the Brompton with the lights on than with them off, which is even more apples-to-apples on efficiency. (At commuting-home pace, which is a bit faster than "arrive unsweaty" pace but not "go fast", I'm probably putting out 80 watts on average. Gofast pace is 120-140 watts average. The 6 watt draw from the lights matters at my strength.)

      However, if I look at my rolling speed with a GPS, I'm ~1mph or so slower on the Brompton at that effort level (avg 9.5 vs 10.5 mph) It just doesn't matter that much overall, in traffic.

      Right now the Brompton is much slower, though, because it has studded tires on. :)

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    4. I know of several fixed Brompton users, and as far as I know they do fold it (see here for instance).

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    5. Hi Anon...

      I did go check out Jimmy Walthour, thanks for that. I think I may have heard about him but only as one part of a family of Greats that spanned a couple of generations. I think between them the Walthours didn't leave many trophies un-claimed.

      I get all misty eyed thinking about all the fabled European Heroes of the past and tend to forget that we have an amazing heritage of our own. Professional Track, especially Six Day racing seems so disconnected from what bike racing has become that it's easy overlook the achievements of those Men and Women, pretty sad really since it's freaking fantastic. It's cool to hear from people who knew those riders. If we ever cross paths I'm buying as long as you're talking...

      I think my response to your first comment was a bit off the mark too, BTW. I think my inner Grumpy Old Man was too ready to snap at some imaginary Hipster in thrall to the mystical powers of the Fixie. Even if those characters really exist it seems like a pretty shabby way to respond in retrospect.

      Spindizzy

      You were on target with the suggestion to lower my gearing too. After grunting along on my 44x16 I went to more sensible gears and started using fixed to help me learn to spin, I wouldn't be riding around at 100-110 rpm these days with healthy knees if I hadn't.

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    6. Just once I made the mistake of going out for a spin on a fixed gear as wretchedly large as 42x15. I was feeling sparky. I knew it was wrong in about 100 yards but didn't feel like going back home and changing it. Who do I meet on the road but Charlie Yaccino. Who immediately says "Don't you know better?" And I knew what he was talking about. I didn't say anything so he followed up with "Didn't we teach you better than that?" He felt bad and he felt responsible for not pounding in the lessons hard enough. I was taught well.

      Then there was the ride where Jim Rossi showed up on 50x16 fixed. He could do that. We looked at that wheel and knew what we were in for. We warmed up as he loafed along in the big gear. He gave it a little gas and we died. When he put the hammer down that was that. Nobody else I've seen can road that gear.

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    7. Re: fixie bromptons -- cool! I didn't think there was any way to have a chain tensioner and still have fixed-gear work. The creator has some notes about how it works in the comments of this pic:
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/littlepixel/2228680932/in/set-72157615886030030
      which were neat to read.

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    8. Keep it simple. No tensioner. Chain tension (or slack) will need to be set precisely when bolting the wheel to the dropouts because of suspension travel. But chain tension should always be well set and there is not much travel or change in effective chain stay length. When folding take up chain slack with a hook, a bungee, a zip tie, a piece of string. And it will all work much better with realistic gears at 60" to 70". Not just it will ride better, the mechanics will be better and easier.

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    9. I'm way too late on this but I just realized what people were talking about. Bromptons pivot in front of the bottom bracket don't they, the Bottom Bracket shell is rigidly fixed to the chainstay and thus there is no tightening or slackening of the chain when riding or folding. The rear triangle is a rigid assembly as on a normal non Brompton-y bike. No tensioner needed at all.

      Spindizzy

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  9. My travel time to work seems to improve if I am nearly late, or if I have to use the bathroom.

    Not very glorious, but there it is.

    For your commute, one wonders if you select different bikes for adverse conditions....still, you results seems sensible

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  10. A very revealing post from somebody who claims that her fixed-gear cycling skills are lacking. Remind me to never challenge you to a game of poker.

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  11. Naturally the fixed is faster - it forces you to pedal in an optimum gear. People can be notoriously lazy when trying to conserve energy, namely coasting. Not to mention slogging along at 65 rpm.

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    1. Hey Jim,

      Point A to point B, level(ish), no significant wind and your choice of weather, would you choose fixed or geared for a 50 mile ITT? 100 miles? I realize this is a question with a thousand answers and it's sort of a dirty trick to put someone on the spot like this but, dammit, inquiring minds want to know, you know?

      Spindizzy

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    2. I'd pick the geared bike for the ability to choose a lower or higher gear depending on wind, how i'm feeling, whether i'm bonking, false flats. I'd also use an hrm.

      What v's talking about is maintaining a moderate level of exertion, which is different. I've found riding my fast bike slow, poncing around fine but inevitably I need to put the hammer down. Maybe a nail hammer now, not a sledge by any means. Point is it wants to go fast; a fixed, in mind, is more of a steady state rhythm think which, in the end under certain circumstances, can get you there quicker. I'm thinking day dreaming, normal clothes, looking at the scenery. Or not, depends entirely on the rider.

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    3. Also remember the world hour records are done on fixed; some of the factors I listed above aren't applicable to it so it may be more efficient.

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    4. I get it. Spot on.

      Spindizzy

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  12. I notice a big difference in time for my around town rides, depending on the bike I ride. My vintage 3 speed loopframe Speedwell takes me around 25-30 minutes for most of my rides, counting the stops for traffic lights. If I ride my 80s Bennett, which is a 10 speed, though I only use about 4 gears, I take 5-10 minutes off that time. It amazes me every time and I wonder why it's the case as I'm not trying to ride faster. The fact that it takes off a little quicker and will reach a faster speed after a stop seems to make a lot of difference. Plus, I feel sportier and maybe ride a bit more aggressively even though I don't mean to, the bike seems to make me do that.

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  13. Maybe because the Mercian is a pretty sweet bike, not that the others aren't, but... I think there is something to GR Jim's comment and how we ride based on the bike we're riding. I know my mindset will vary depending on the bike. Also the positioning of the bikes may vary enough that your power output also varies despite our percieved output.

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  14. I, personally, don't mind waiting for someone if I know they're arriving for a meeting via bicycle. If they've got a choice of bikes, even better….I envy them.

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  15. The gearing on that Mercian looks like it's made for a nice flatfish ten mile ride. Just wondering if the ride back is faster, or do you keep time with that part of the circle? When I ride on my local windswept terrain commute I'm acutely aware of when it's at my back and grateful for that rarely used high gear. I don't time myself either way, but sense the prevailing winds tipping their hat in acknowledgement that I dared pedal against them in the first place and granting me an extra push on the way home. Multiple riding positions on a well designed bike make it especially enjoyable.

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    1. Actually the wind here tends to change direction mid-day (not making this up, see here), so oftentimes I am riding into a headwind both there and back!

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  16. I have one vintage upright and one new upright and find the commute to be about the same. Because of the lights around DC, I'm not sure if another style would make a difference in my case. I'm inspired to hear about everyone's commute distances, though. My commute is 8mi each way -- bike lanes and bike paths, with some slight hills. Not terrible, but I wouldn't mind something shorter. Interesting to read how others handle double-digit (one way) commutes.

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  17. You always post photos of your bikes, often leaning against trees, but really, bikes are only lovely when photographed with someone riding them. So say's the guy tired of seeing photos of just a bicycle. Narrative aside, seeing folks on their bikes enjoying, or battling, whatever ride they're on is what captures and grows one's desire. Let's see more of you riding and less of you pausing to show a bike in the landscape. Please.

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    1. I'm going for the suggestive look. But as soon as I have a camera crew to follow me around spontaneously, I shall do my best to oblige your request.

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    2. Phone set on selfie, low angle of drivetrain - the next step skill.

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    3. No need for a camera crew or a photo shoot, you're just riding a bicycle and I presume are capable of snapping some quick pics of the moment…If the theme is transportation time trials I'd love to see photos of you and the various bikes, in action, on this specific commute.

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    4. You presume too much Anon! Next step. And perhaps a shatterproof case.

      But that aside... To tell you the truth, even if I had the skills to use a full fledged SLR whilst pedaling, I'm just not especially interested in those types of shots. I'm not sure I agree that "bikes are only lovely when photographed with someone riding them." There are different genres within "bike photography" if you will. Action photos are great and I love others' snaps of themselves, or others cycling. But I myself prefer to photograph around the action rather than the action itself. Even when I am at a bicycle race, brevet, or similar event, I find myself more drawn to photographing the cyclists in pre-ride anticipation or post-ride exhaustion, the landscape, the bicycles lying in heaps or leaning against trees, the spectators eating donuts, the organisers scribbling on notepads, etc - more so than the pedaling itself. I can see how that's probably frustrating for those who prefer action photography. But there are loads and loads of other blogs that offer exactly that.

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    5. Mmmm... Donuts.

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    6. I meant a quick selfie with a smart phone. Lighthearted, maybe a smile :)

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    7. A smile? A smile?!

      Scandalous idea.

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  18. Interesting post, this has been an ongoing source of curiosity for myself as well. As of now, my two bikes are a '58 Raleigh ladies' Sports and a massively frankensteined '79 Ross Gran Tour "10-speed." The Raleigh has its original SW hub (wider ratio than AW) and 48/19 sprockets and the Ross is made up of a mishmash of who know what ... such as a 7-speed freewheel with one unusable sprocket, etc. I commute to and from school in Ann Arbor, which is relatively hilly and has many stop & go parts. It's roughly 2.5 miles with about 175 feet descent AND ascent one way and takes me between 7 and 20 minutes depending on how many red lights there are. It usually ends up being about 15.

    Anyway, before I found a front derailleur for the Ross, I kept the chain on the smaller ring so the Raleigh had a higher top speed and flat-ground average speed, about 29 and 18 mph respectively. It took noticeably longer to get to class on the Ross. Of course there were exceptions, like the one time I woke up 15 minutes before class, brushed my teeth, ate, washed dishes, and spun like mad on the Ross to get there on time. Now that the Ross is pretty much fully functional, it has a higher top speed (32) and flat-ground average speed (21), except for uphill where the lower gears are slower but easier on me. The Raleigh, on the other hand, still has a taller low gear so it forces me to keep the speed up as I haul. Because of this and the fact that maybe 1/3 of my commute is steep uphill, there is no difference in ET between the two bikes, all other factors constant.

    Now, I'm building another Raleigh Sports with a 5-speed hub to join the stable. Yes, it will be heavy, but I'm guessing it too will have no effect on my ET. That's not the reason I'm building it, though :)

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  19. Is a fixie also faster than a singlespeed? I can imagine that a singelspeed is faster then a geared bike in a flat area. But why should a fixie faster than a singlespeed with the same gearing? But I never try it out.

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  20. I wonder how much is related to the fact you do not want to be drenched in sweat? In my case in Oxfordshire (16 miles) each way I do sweat. I have many bikes and mostly use my mountain bike as a commuter. I like the wide thick tires. I find that what impacts my time the most is cycling all in the dark (winter) vs. light (spring, summer, fall) . I just tend to spin a little slower as I focus on the road and the fools that ride with no lights and dark clothes. Makes about a 10-15 minute difference on a 80 minute commute. Almost no traffic lights and often I do not need to place a foot down on the road while riding. Friday's 25mph wind in my face and behind going home has about the same 15 minute difference.

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  21. Maybe you've said and I've missed it but what gear do you ride on the Mercian?

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    1. 49 divided by 19 equals 2.579. 2.579 times 27 equals 69.633. Rounding makes that a 70" gear. Sorry for the pedantry but when discussing fixed ratios it matters. Also, there is never a fudge factor for 27 vs 700. Or for different sized tires. It's 27" nominal or we're instantly talking past each other. If you want precision try metres of gear development. And see how many know what you're talking about.

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    2. Pedanter away. I used bikecalc, and when I entered my specs that was the number it spat out. I have no emotional attachment to the figure.

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    3. No emotional attachment to the figure? Really, you can say that in print, speak that aloud in public?

      If you are not aware of what your ideal gear in inches is, what crank length best represents your station in this world, what handlebar stem diameter brings you closest to your Creator, than how can you find your correct position on the battle lines?

      You, Madam, are in the wrong hobby.

      Spindizzy

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  22. If those are just some of the images of your commute, I'm truely envious. Why label a winner, if you have bikes for certain occasions, why compare them on rides they aren't meant for? What I mean is that the Bromton seems to be used to gather or the possibility of gathering things, the Claude Butler for nostalgia, your hand built represents you, the Seven for sport, and the Mercian, I'm not sure about that one yet, but it sure looks like a heck of a lot of fun. I have a garage full of very simular rides, except, replace the Mercian with a 25 year old Mtn bike with studded tires for winter riding in Minnesota. I tried to compare them years ago, and realized that by comparing them, it tended to influence which ones I chose to ride. Ride them all, because the ones that sit on the wall have feeling and know when they aren't your favorite and can be very temperamental.

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    1. Those are actually not especially scenic images! I love where I live.

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    2. Haha, it's funny you should say that. I too have the logic that there's no beauty in a fine machine if all it does is sit. Last year, a '58 Raleigh Sports with the usually-bad SW hub was my only ride and I rode it every day, rain, shine, snow, and it gave me zero trouble. This year, I got an old 10-speed beater to take the bulk of the abuse and suddenly, the Sports started having transmission problems. I think I was riding it less than 50% of the time. Now that it's winter, the heavier Sports is better suited to the snow and (besides the fact that I actually bought a new shifter shhh) the SW is running silently, smoothly, and flawlessly once again. The ol' girl loves the snow and has never once left me lying in it - I like to think we treat each other alright, haha.

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  23. I have a Brompton like yours plus nine drop bar bikes including a fixed gear. I get the same results as you. As you said, unless the wind is brutal or the terrain very hilly the fixed gear gets the nod.

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  24. I have noticed the same thing you've noticed: that on some routes the bike makes a difference to the speed, and on other routes any bike will get me there at just about the same time. But I didn't have to move to Ireland to discover this. I just switched my Boston area bike commute from a longer, mostly-bike-path route to a shorter route with more intersections and traffic lights. What's interesting is the counter-intuitive nature of my options. If I want to get to work as fast as possible, I ride the longer route on a faster bike, while if I want a more relaxed commute, I ride the shorter, busier route on a more comfortable, upright bike. On a faster bike, riding the shorter route is actually slower than the longer route. On a slower, more relaxed bike, the bike path route is actually less relaxing for me (because I'm worried about being late to work) than riding the shorter route through busy traffic. I usually end up riding the upright bike on the shorter route. Takes a few minutes longer, but I arrive less sweaty and more peaceful.

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  25. Oh, I almost forgot. Have you tried the commute with the old Raleigh Tourist? Actually, how's she doing now? Haven't heard about 'er in a while.

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  26. Does not compute! I count at least 3 towns in these photos ;P But if that is a deliberate attempt to obscure your location, my apologies!

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    1. Not a deliberate attempt to hide my location, as its general vicinity is mentioned in plenty of other posts. The trip described here is Magilligan-Limavady. The photos are meant as general illustrations of the "cycling into town" concept.

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  27. While there's no question that geometry and weight are a factor, its been my experience that bikes with road geometry, narrow tires, and low bars are just tolerable at best, and miserable at a more relaxed pace.
    They force you to ride them as intended even if that's not your conscious intention.

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