High stakes poker

Getting to work by bike. It’s easy. What’s hard is doing it over and over and over…

One thing that makes it possible to do that is to have the right bike for the job.


In general, a commuting bike should be light, fast, and comfortable. Since the rider tends to be in dense traffic, the bike should be able to quickly maneuver and stop. Commuting isn’t racing. Even if you are a CAT6 junkie, some days you just want to sit and spin and get there so a good range of gears is good. Contrary to popular belief, a commuting bike doesn’t need to be built like a tank or have giant tires. Durable, flat resistant tires, yes, but larger than 28c makes almost no sense.

A commute bike should also be secure for locking up and not so flashy as to draw a lot of attention. The bike I show here is definitely too flashy. A selection of older, quality parts with a bit of patina helps draw things down. Removing odd stickers or branding makes a massive difference. Darker, satin finish, paint colors help too.The goal is to ensure that when a thief is scanning over the several bikes locked up in an area, they pick another bike and not yours.

Typically, I’ve got a flat bar commuter and a drop bar road bike on hand to choose from depending on my route and mood. Longer rides draw the drop bar. Aggressive in town combat draws the flat bar. It’s really the best tool for getting around a high density urban environment. I can take fast, hard lines. Jump medians. Brake quickly. The sub-machine gun to the drop bar field rifle.

After the crash that took out the old flat bar bike, I had to move some parts into the road frame to be ready to ride again. This ended up producing a pretty sick weapon for the city.

Gearing is very San Francisco specific; 50/34 & 11-32. I really hadn’t ever run a gear this low but I have to admit that it makes riding all over the city quite easy. I haven’t been feeling too aggro lately so this is good. A mid cage clutch derailleur keeps the chain on tidy. XT shifters make things precise.

Handlebars are a wide 650mm. It’s amazing how nice it is to be open and powerfully in control going through traffic. These bars really establish a great connection to the ground.

The pedals are Shimano PD-A520. Double sided pedals have no place on road but are often pushed by novice sales folk. Don’t fall for it or their ignorance. The SPD cleat pattern allows me to use MTB shoes that are good for walking into grocery stores and office buildings with.

Braking are Dura-ace calipers and some cheap Tektro MT-2.1 levers. Probably the more subtle part of putting a bike like this together is the brake levers. They need to be capable of use for canti-lever and caliper type brakes rather than v-brake linear pull style. These lever do either, cool.

The wheels are secured via Pitlock skewers. Some very fance german units. Though, if I were ordering up new units I’d be getting the Atomic22‘s. They are super nice. The stem and seat collar are a security though obfuscation technique. Just a little something for the suckers.

The tires on the bike right now are Continental Grand Prix 4000s. 700x25c. I’m just using these up. They will be getting replaced with Gatorskin 700x25c tires. I had been running 28mm tires but I’ve moved down to the 25mm’s for more pep.

Carbon cranks are a recent upgrade that allows me to use a cassette chainring system. Nice for versatility in chainring sizing. Isn’t it nuts that I have to wait on SRAM to make aluminum versions of so many different cranks? What a market!

I may make some changes to this frame and get it repainted. I’ll remove the braze on FD hanger so I can use a MTB DM adapter like on my mountain bikes. A refinement to the cable routing as well. Modernize the color. Fun stuff.

The bike is fast and totally sorted. A bit more bling than sensible if you’re doing a lot of locking up but I tend to primarily commute rather than lollygag these days.

I do an intermodal commute to southern SF via bike and bus. Many folks going to northern SF use the ferry from Marin. I very rarely take the ferry. On the GGT ferry, salt spray from the bay soaks bikes on each trip. The corrosion that takes place is very distructive to bikes. I would never have a bike set up so nice for that kind of duty. Consider this if this is you.