The expected conditions do sound a lot more roady than mountany.
The bike marketing fashion right now is saying you “need” some sort of specific gravel/multistrada/cross/adventure road model if you plan to go fast and ever touch tire to anything remotely pebbly. The truth is that you should be fine on pretty much any road or touring bike old enough to fit largish volume tires. From the 90s on smaller tire clearances are common as per racing fashion of the time, though the trend has recently begun to swing back towards less-skinny rim and tire sizes.
Either that, or the old MTB we’ve mentioned with our good friends the fat slicks. Fat slicks are wisdom. Fat slicks are love.
Go forth and ride @tekna2007, you know enough. Send pictures.
Like @Kimmo said, it sounds like you are really looking at road bike territory - and there are tons of old beater road frames out there too (although retro fashions are probably exerting more upward pressure on 90s road frames than 90s MTB frames right now). Road frames are unlikely to have the clearance for fat slicks like we were discussing earlier so you will be looking at high-pressure, skinny tyres. You’ll also find the riding position more crouched which is optimal for speed - but altogether the riding experience will be a bit less comfortable. Over a 5 mile journey you’re unlikely to notice any significant discomfort, but if riding with your hands on the tops isn’t enough, you can swap your stem for one that is angled more upwards, and shorter, to enable you to sit a bit more upright.
The alternative would be to go down your MTB route, and by fitting fat slicks and a set of drop handlebars (variety of hand positions is a blessing, believe me) convert it to a sort of hybrid/commuter. That way you have the comfort of the more relaxed position, but the road handling is improved.
In answer to your question about knobbies, that really is just how it goes. One component of the increased rolling resistance is indeed the lower pressure that they run at (since you are expending energy deforming the tyre continuously), but in addition you have the additional energy required to push over the ‘crest’ of each knob (I guess it’s analogous to the resistance of riding a smooth tire on a chunky gravel track) and also energy expended in the plastic deformation of the knobs themselves. But in contrast, in the soft ground scenarios where they excel, the low pressure allows them to ‘float’ on the ground rather than rutting into it, and the knobs improve traction - you would expend a lot more energy running hard, thin tyres by sinking into the ground and spinning your wheels uselessly!
I also agree with @telecinese that while bike manufacturers encourage cyclists (research shows that cyclists are more prone to impulse shopping than participants in other sports) to buy a bike for each day of the week, multifunctionality is where the real magic happens. If I start selling people bespoke frames at a grand or two a pop, I want them to be able to ride those bikes every day, for every reason.
@tekna2007 I’ll go against the road bike recommendation. MTBs generally have a more relaxed and upright riding position, lower gearing, and fat, low pressure tires make for a more comfortable ride.
Putting new tires on a bike is easy to switch from knobbies to slicks, but it is an extra cost.
But the main thing is to just get out and start riding Any bike will do as long as it is mechanically sound.
Buy a floor pump. Keeping your tires properly inflated will do a lot to keeping you on the road.
Grocery runs aren’t hard, just add a rear rack and check out somewhere like REI for some “grocery basket panniers”
+1 for that: floor pumps don’t have to be expensive, they give the confidence that you’ve inflated properly, and they make it easy as well.
And once you start doing that, in my experience you start looking for excuses to run errands. And then, you start getting more ingenious at the stuff it turns out you can do on the bike. [Water, juice and canned goods at the bottom of the panniers, fruit & veg above, 12xpack of toilet paper insulating-taped to the top of the rack…]
Yep, I feel much better informed, thanks for all the opinions and links everybody.
Oh yeah. I’m sure folks have lots of good stories. I have brought home 1x2 lumber before, no special trailer or anything, just roped them to the crossbar. Recently I did yard work for a friend across town, took a 5-gal bucket and broom on my bike (as well as plenty of gardening hand-tools in the panniers). So there’s lots you can do.
One of my favorite memories is of helping a friend move a full-sized dresser (chest of drawers) on the back rack of his bike. Some one had put the dresser out on their curb to be taken for free. We were about a mile and a half from my friend’s house. We had no ropes or anything—I just held his bike while he lifted the dresser on to the rack. Neither of us actually rode the bike the rest of the way to his house, mind you—I walked along pushing the bike by the handlebars, while he walked behind steadying the dresser. We got lots of honks, cheers, and thumbs-ups from people driving by. It was great teamwork, and I really got a kick out of doing it under our own steam, especially since it was something that almost no one around here would expect you to do without a car.
You could also look at cyclocross bikes- they’re like slightly more relaxed road bikes with heavier duty brakes and the ability to use wide-r slightly knobby tires. They’re still pretty quick on pavement, and moderately capable off road, too. Dunno what price point you’re looking at, but they’d be a decent option.
Anything new will be either non-existent or junk below $600-700ish.
AFAIK most cyclists had never heard of cyclocross more than 5-10 years ago, so there won’t be much of a second-hand market, I’m tipping.
Those neat ‘interrupter’ brake levers that cross bikes have are a good idea in principle, and can be retrofitted to any road bike that has the brake cables under the bar tape (anything half-decent from the last 30 years), but they’re tricky to install well, often introducing excessive friction into the system.
I limited the search to steel here, but this popped up:
(currently at $450 with no bids)
Or, thinking even more oddly, a 29" wheeled mtb, like this:
Yes, I know those are both single speed, but they’d get you started for sure, and the second would take a geared drivetrain in the future if you wanted (and punches WAY above it’s weight, quality-wise).
I’m mostly with you here- but, I have to say, nearly any decent road frame should be able to swallow a 28mm tire- heck, you can fit a 28mm tire and a fender through a Campy Record caliper. Ask me how I know.
Grabbing a decent (but not vintage-desirable) road bike and swapping it to a riser bar for a more upright position and slapping some 28mm tires on it would make a lovely quick cruiser, though it’d be a challenge off road.
I need to get off ebay, because stuff like this will ruin me:
It’s totally not my size, thankfully.
Damn it you guys are making me want to get back to riding… my only 2 wheel transport right now is 400ccs of twist and go fun.
Though upon starting down that motorized path I did realize I was never riding the pedal pusher for the exercise ( or at least the exercise was 3rd of 4th down the list for reasons)
In my mind, the exercise is a cheeky bonus.
Ar you referring to an old single-pivot Record caliper brake? I’m sure you could get a mudguard through those.
Dual pivot, no less. Of the 8/9 speed era.
You’re more likely to get the exercise if your lifestyle is based around it anyway. I often fall behind in my running, but I don’t lose too much fitness because of all the cycling I do.
I can’t view bike riding as exercise- my brain won’t let it work that way. I have to treat is as fun-play. Then it’s not work or a workout, it’s just goofing off in the woods on a bike. Much better.
I wish (WISH) I could commute by bike these days, but, alas, it’s just too far. I’m not afraid to get sweaty, but 26 miles each way is a lot for a commute.
I don’t do very much for exercise alone - if I don’t run, I’ll often waste the whole day because I can’t concentrate. It’s also fun to run around the nearby lake, and I’m working toward a few longer distance runs (which is exercise, but at least it’s goal-orientated). I’ve got the opposite problem to you with my commute, which is downstairs for work, and about 2 km x4 for dropping the kids off at school. I go shopping and run other errands by bike, but it rarely reaches a decent distance unless I go out on purpose.
On the positive side, I’ve actually lost weight since I became a dad - it turns out hauling kids around by bike uses up plenty of energy!
Someone stole this guy’s bike a couple of days ago! He was keeping it in a garage and I guess someone broke in and took it. However, he got it back after someone sold it to him for 250 EUR (the original price was 11,500 EUR, so he’s just happy to have it back).
Best basic commuter road bike bought new?
ETA and why is it best?