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3. Audience #24 . Top

This website is for the person who regularly uses a bike for commuting and touring. As you may know, if you use your bike regularly in rain or dust, you'll end up having to replace the cassettes, crank rings, chains, bottom brackets, brake parts, cables. And you often end up buying different wheels or changing the handlebar stem or seat post. To replace any of these parts requires knowing how things fit together. Yet these days I came across numerous mechanics who told me there are "no standards".

They are wrong. Although there certainly are models that are non standard, there are still numerous quality standard bikes available. Standard wheels, seat posts, stems, dropout widths, standard brakes, and standard drive trains. This website is all about those standard bikes and components. It explains those interfaces, and then gives you a means of quickly seeing what is available.

Of course you can try to research all these specs on the web. But it takes too much time because the info is disorganized. There is no easy database where you can filter what is available according to any key criteria. In the course of this project, I've had numerous discussions where people make statements such as "3 ring cranksets are dead". It's all 2x or 1x nowdays. Yet when I put all the currently available Shimano Cranksets into a database, I quickly saw there are in fact lots of good "3x" cranksets.

While doing this project, I found out that it's quite common to have bikes built up on demand, rather than just taking a whole package. For example, there are many shops that take a frame like the Surly trucker and then give you a whole bunch of options as to what components you want. Or they will just assemble it with the components listed on the Surly website. For most quality bikes, the key interfaces are published in the specs. Some websites like Surly specify all the frame specs directly. Other bikes list standard components, and by looking up the components you can derive the frame specs. So that is what I did in the "Bike Models" table. Every bike has about 50 fields. For each component, there are usually 2 or 3 key dimensions you need to know. So I explain those dimensions. I tell you what you need to know to look up parts availability or to specify the part. There were a few cases where I had to ask the manufacturer. And even a case or two where the manufacturer couldn't answer the question. Those are the bikes you want to avoid! One guy told me it would be a huge amount of work for him to find out what the hub spacing was on their latest model. I told him to imagine he was a customer looking for the information. I'm not sure it fully dawned on him that if HE can't find the answers easily, that makes the task all that much more valuable. The internet is full of forum websites where people are trying to figure that stuff out.

If you've got a standard frame such as a Surly trucker, you can get the store to outfit your bike with all sorts of different options. You can specify everything from a 3x8 drivetrain to a Rolloff internal hub. The whole bike doesn't need to cost more than $2000. If you are building a touring bike the thing you want is easily replaceable parts. A good 3x8 drive train is every bit as efficient and smooth as the latest 11 or 12 cog cassettes in the long haul. Yet a good 3x8 drive train is less than 1/3 the maintenance cost of some 1x12 drive train.

One way to think about a bike purchase is to select a given frame with standard interfaces, and then specify a sensible set of components. There are shops that do just that. This website is the same idea. In the end you may choose to have a custom bike built up, or you may purchase an entire bike that already has standard components.