Bike Building

Bike building: Transmission, MTB or road bike?

4 Comments 10 July 2010

Photo by joschz

I’ve found myself a mission: To build the ultimate commuting machine.

First of all, I’m not a toddler. I’m a gargantuan, nearly two meters and over a hundred kilos of flabby bits biking power, so I’ll need a frame that’ll be big enough and provide me with enough confidence to drive down a hill going 55 kilometers per hour to that dreaded curve in the end of the hill.

I’m currently driving around 700 to 1200 kilometers per month, which is about 30-50 hours so I spent about a week works worth riding a bike. Most of it will be road biking, but there are some foresty parts with deadly gravel laid out by the non-biking workers of city maintenance. The bike will have many important parts and quite a few irrelevant parts. The frame I already spoke about in my earlier post and I’ll talk about caliper vs. disc brakes in a later post (not to mention wheels and tyres, cranks and pedals, other stuff like fenders and racks etc.)

You’ll have to remember that I’m not a wizard in bike parts, so I need your help.

Road bikes naturally have road bike gears: Ultegras, 105s and so on – Mountain bikes and most cyclocross bikes seem to have MTB gears in the form of different Deores etc. The explanation always seem to be, that road bike gears are lighter and MTB gears are stronger – but are they really? Are there are clear differences in gearing themselves, which will last longer – and most importantly, why will they last longer?

Juha Jokila, Mynämäki, Finland biking on his 6-speed Tunturi Retki

The last road bike I had was a Finnish made Tunturi Retki Super (that means Super Touring in Finnish), which had 6 gears with a single front chain ring, so it was easy going and had all the gears I needed. Before and after that it’s always been mountain bikes and later on hybrids once they started arriving. Due to my larger-than-normal frame I’ve never ridden a modern road bike, since it feels like they’re made light enough for smack addicts to carry away in the night.

So far, I’ve been happy with mountain bike gears, would I benefit from road bike gears comparing like Shimano 105s versus Deore XTs?

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Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.

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  • Anomuumi

    If you use drop bars, you'll want to use integrated ergo handles, only available in road bike groupsets. It's possible to mix and match those with mtb derailleurs, but why bother?

  • Okay, that simplifies it. How about the durability of, say, Shimano Tiagra vs. 105s – worth the extra investment?

  • Anomuumi

    You haven't really said what kind of bike you're building (or bying)… If you buy a complete bike, it's someone else's problem to make all the parts work together, and there's no big reason to avoid bikes with mixed parts. If you are building the bike yourself from parts, it's not economical to buy two groupsets.

    When it comes to durability, you can always replace the cassette, chain and chainrings if they are worn out, and it's not going to put you into bankruptcy. Bigger question is whether how long you'll be happy with the cheaper parts, the differences are significant between 105, Tiagra and Sora.

    Apparently you are after some kind of cx/trekking bike, so I'd suggest you go to in Lauttasaari. The guy who runs the shop knows how to build a bike for a bit larger riders, and he's usually happy to help. Unless he has sold everything out he'll also have different bikes to try out.

  • You guessed right, I've been recommended a steel framed cyclocross bike, such as the Surly Crosscheck – the complete Crosscheck ( comes with a Tiagra groupset, but there's always the option of just getting the frame and fixing it up from the get-go.

    I think going up from the normal Deore (which I just realized I have, not the LX) to Tiagra is already up a step. Hmm, let's see.

    Thanks for the tip, I'll have to bike to Pyörähuolto and check them out. Maybe even write a short post about them.


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Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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