The conversion of road bike to commute bike is complete! With this I forgo any aspirations of ever racing this bike, and instead dedicate its use to meeting my transportation needs. I began this journey a few months ago with some investigation of how to attach a rack to a road bike. As my bike has no attachment points for accessories I was clueless as to how to begin. The search revealed two possible solutions. The first “P-clamps” which are readily available at hardware stores, and the second, a quick-release adapter to mount a rack directly to the axle.
The QR adapter was favored by touring enthusiasts and I wasn’t sure I needed to go that route for my 20 lbs of gear (I weighed my usual full commute bag). But I did know that I needed to go with something more robust than a seat mount rack, which are generally rated to only 15 lbs. It turned out that a particular brand of rack (Racktime) could be adapted to work with a QR-adapter specific for Tubus racks. Tubus racks are much more robust, and designed specifically for touring, but Racktime offer a similar design with slightly weaker aluminum construction. I ordered a Racktime rack and figured I would try with P-clamps first.
My first attempt at mounting the rack with P-clamps resulted in a functional rack system, but it did not feel very robust. With my loaded panniers (a sweet set from KoKi), my heels would occasionally catch on the bags, even in their farthest back adjustment. Also, the P-clamps that attach near the axle were carrying a lot of load on just a thin, sheet metal mounting point. My fear was I would be riding home and the clip would snap, leaving me stranded without any way to fix it.
Rack and fenders attached with QR adapter kit from Tubus
I ordered the QR-adapter, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to mount the rack on the supplied brackets (just two holes needed to be drilled). Mounting the rack on the bike with the wheel and attaching the rack to the seat stays was another issue entirely! Eventually, after several failed attempts, and a couple of trips to the hardware store, I am finally happy with the way the rack is mounted. The QR-mount is a solid attachment point, and I would have no problem loading the rack to its full 66 lb rating with the current configuration. Heel strike is a thing of the past as well.
Buoyed up by my success with the rack, I went about adding fenders to the mix. I was convinced that fenders were essential to allowing me to ride my bike on inclement weather days. Usually, the only times I ride in the rain are when I get caught in an evening thunderstorm. The result of this is that I arrive at my destination drenched, having to completely disassemble my bike, and needing to stand in the shower for half an hour to warm up. None of these things are possible at work, so I couldn’t ride my bike to work on days when it was raining in the morning.
I bought a set of fenders that were specific for a road bike. They are 35 mm wide so that they can (potentially) fit through the brake calipers without touching the wheel. I managed to get the rear fender mounted, but it turned out it was rubbing along the whole left hand side of the fender. In other words, my rear wheel had moved over in the frame a few millimeters, and while not enough to notice without a fender, with a fender it was a big deal! I went about tightening up the spokes on the right hand side of the wheel to move it over, and in a few short minutes had completely destroyed the wheel. Not only was the dish still off, the rim was completely bent and un-true.
Front fender attached with P-clamps
It was then that I tapped out and took the wheel to my local bike shop to fix. They returned a true wheel, that fit properly in the frame. With that the job of attaching the fenders became much easier, and it was only 2 or 3 hours of minute adjustments before I had two fenders mounted and clear of the tires.
This week I got to reap the full benefit of my labors as I rode to work in the rain on Monday. Fenders make a massive difference, and I arrived at work almost completely dry. In addition, all of the water had been directed away from the sensitive parts of the bike so no disassembly was required, just a re-lubrication of the chain. My work clothes emerged from my water-tight panniers dry, and by the time the ride home began my bike clothes had dried out too!
Making the switch from road bike to commuter was a lot more difficult than I had imagined, but the payoff is huge. I have added so many days that I can potentially ride to work to my calendar, helping to keep me healthy, and keeping me off the bus!