The Perfect Commuter Bike : Type of Parts

Shimano UltegraIf you are just stopping in on our Group Build of the perfect commuter bike let’s catch you up. After introducing who will be riding the bike, the overall landslide of bicycle frame choice was a Surly Long Haul Trucker. As I’m building this bike out of pocket I decided to buy the stock built bike. This stock build comes with bar end shifters, even though the poll showed STI shifters to win the debate. I plan on keeping the bar end shifters as the thought of a STI shifter breaking in the middle of the Blue Ridge Parkway is frightful, plus I would rather update other things like the headset or seat and seatpost than put another $200 into shifters.

This leads into the next question, what type of components would you run on your perfect commuter bike? As I’ve stated, I’ll be leaving the stock build alone for the most part but let’s see what you guys would put on your perfect commuter. I’ve started a list of standard Shimano parts, but feel free to add your own.



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0 thoughts on “The Perfect Commuter Bike : Type of Parts”

  1. Rob E. says:

    I voted for the Alfine/Rohloff because I love hub gears, especially as part of a stop-and-go commute. On my own build I went with the Nuvinci. I think you mentioned wanting the option for some light-weight, zippier riding, and I think that rules out the Nuvinci, so I didn’t add it as a voting option. Its weight is noticeable, but I find that if that is the only drawback, the benefits more than make up for it. However getting it set up required a lot of tinkering and some component switching. And it had to go in for service once already (it’s less than a year old), and, I fear, it may need to go back in soon, but from what I read, that is the exception as these hubs are usually trouble-free.
    With Rohloff out of my budget, I’ve considered switching to an Alfine or Sram, or at least building up a spare wheel with that configuration, but I’ve never considered ditching the hub gears entirely. It’s just been too nice being able to shift in just about any situation, and I’ve yet to find a compelling reason to consider the more standard shifting set-up.

  2. Jim says:

    Another vote for the Alfine or Rohloff, even though I know you are going a different direction, BSG.

    1. Low maintenenace
    2. Cleanliness (fewer dirt traps)
    3. Shifting when waiting at the stoplight, after you just missed the light, and were too busy clamping on the brakes and looking out for cars to also downshift while the pedals were still moving.

  3. I would love a Rohloff, anyone want to donate one for this build??

  4. Jim says:

    Yeah, I think Rohloff is as close to having your cake and eating it too as you can get. Seems to cover all the bases really well… except that budget thing.

  5. Ghost Rider says:

    Alfine if you crave internal gearing (a wise choice for a bombproof commuter) and Shimano XT or SLX for a derailleur-based shifting system. XTR is overkill.

  6. Ghost Rider says:

    Oh, I should add that JTek makes barend shifters for the Alfine/Nexus 8, too. And they’re back in business as of a couple days ago!!!

  7. My vote is for the 5-speed Sturmey Archer with hub brakes. Call me a traditionalist . . . and besides, I can’t afford the Rohloff!

  8. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    To me, for a short commute – Internal gears..
    For long, hilly or fast (less time with stupid aggressive motorists) XT.
    I have bikes with both.. so it all depends on how I feel that day… : )

  9. sygyzy says:

    I am confused. The picture of the LHT on Surly’s site seems to show STI shifters but the specs say they are bar end…

  10. BluesCat says:

    Since we settled on the Surly LHT, don’t see any reason why you couldn’t stick with the Tiagra front, XT rear of the complete bike build straight from Surly.

  11. Bill says:

    I can’t see any reason to change from the stock derailleurs on the LHT. They work very well — but I went with Alfine on my old Univega (replacing a Cyclone setup) so I had to vote Alfine/Rohloff to be honest. Ask me again after I have an actual season of snow, slush and salt under my belt…er…chain.

  12. BikeBike says:

    Alfine all the way, including the Alfine disc brakes. That new Raleigh AlleyWay has, what i think, is the ultimate commuter setup – belt drive and Alfine. No maintenance = love!

  13. ac says:

    I found this chart interesting:

    It compares the range of various hubs and gearing setups, including NuVinci, Rohloff, Nexus, and various derailleur setups. It looks like the Rohloff has an impressively wide range, with a nice low bottom end. The only thing wider is a MTB triple.

    I’d say that my “dream” bike would have a Rohloff, for stoplight-shifting, wide range, and resistance to the elements, but then I’d be too paranoid to ever leave it locked up unattended – it would be too painful to see that thousand-dollar hub rolling away.

  14. Kevin Love says:

    I picked SA. Because internal hub gearing and a full chaincase is the only smart way to do.

    Particularly in places where the local government uses so much salt on the road that a rear derailleur owner has the choice of either spending more time cleaning the bike than riding it or else watching his gears and chain crumble into a pile of rust before his eyes.

  15. ac says:

    Interesting point about road salt. Here in the San Francisco Bay area, we get plenty of rain in the winter, but never any salt, so maybe an IGH is less necessary here. The wide range of a mountain-bike triple, however, is very necessary.

  16. I have an Alfine hub in that I plan on building up on a rim late this winter. Too many things to try!

    Anyone want to give me a strong blurb about whats so special on an Alfine?

  17. Ghost Rider says:

    If you’ve ridden with a Nexus 8 (which is great on its own) and like it, you’ll find an Alfine that much more refined — precise shifting like a Swiss watch and smmmmooooooth. I’ve never tried the disc brake version, but have heard good things about it.

  18. Shane says:

    I voted XT only because it was what I have had best of luck with and the Alfine/Rohloff option, while nice, just seems too far out for me (and most?). XT has been long lasting, durable, functional, traditional (easy repair in far off lands)… especially when paired with a thumb shifter.

  19. Sean says:

    Alfine is very smooth, and keeps the gearing bits contained and sheltered from the guck. You can also shift at a stop unlike derailleurs which is useful for a loaded up commuter or cargo bike. Disk brake compatible – using standard Shimano centerlock rotors. Shifting cable is a standard gear shift cable too and the shifter is the familiar rapidfire index shifter or a twist shifter, unless you go aftermarket for STI or bar end shifting. Downsides – the weight and potentially the gearing range, though I am running mine with a double chainring in the front (44/34 mountain bike crank) to extend the range. Shifting “low normal” or inverted from a standard derailleur setup so that takes some getting used to if you have other bikes using pod shifetrs (Shimano or SRAM)

  20. Sean says:

    that should have been “pod shifters”

  21. Soulfull Commuter says:

    I find the 105 group sits in a great value spot. I ride a 1988 Canondale with the original 105 stuff including Bio-Pace chain rings.

    I see the appeal of an internal gear hub although I like a triple chainring derailer setup. That may be because I use the full range of my MTB triple on my 10 mile commute.

  22. John says:

    I think Deore (or equivelent) strikes the right balance of value and performance. I understand why people like IGH’s, but not on a LHT. It has vertical dropouts and would require a tensioner. And, besides, by chosing a touring frame, I think this build is more geared for longer distance commuting rather than down the block commuting and should have a full selection of gears.

  23. Rob E. says:

    I think it’s fine to use more traditional gears if that’s what you want, and I agree that vertical dropouts can make things trickier, but an IGH on a trucker does not necessarily leave you short on gears especially if you have to use a chain tensioner anyway, because that makes throwing on a front derailleur an option. By running a Nuvinci rear hub and a compact double up front, I have a much wider gear range than I had on the 24 speed I had before the LHT. I’ve read of people touring with an Alfine or with a Rohloff. If it works for touring, it will certainly work for commuting.

  24. Mark Rainey says:

    I built my LHT with Ultegra STI shifters & front derailleur, Shimano XT rear deraileur, Sugino cranks 48/36/26, Sram P990 12-32 cassette. This set up has worked very well for me, even under fully loaded (Panniers, trunk, etc.) rides.

  25. Mike C says:

    I ride a Nexus hub on a 19 mile, one-way, slightly hilly commute. If there were any more altitude change, I’d probably be running a standard derailleur setup.

    One thing to note: the Alfine chain tensioner is a double-pulley design, built to accommodate the possibility of a front derailleur setup.

    Next iteration of my go-to commuter might be a compact double crank and the Nexus 8 wheel.

  26. Phil says:

    About 2 years ago I built a commuter bike on an LHT with DualDrive 8 speed. Brooks saddle, semi-upright handlebar, fenders, and recently a dynohub up front. It’s been a great machine for a 3-5 very hilly commute, hauls the child chariot well, and has a nice aesthetic.

    Pro of the driveline: easy maintenance, you can use a chainguard if you want, and the three-speed internal is great in stop-and-go traffic.

    Con of the driveline: ticktickticktickticktick as you ride along, no matter what gear. Like an old Sturmy 3-speed on Dad’s Raleigh when I was a kid…..ticktickticktickticktickticktick

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