Commuting with a Touring Bike

In many ways, a bicycle set-up for touring represents the ideal commuter – strong, durable, comfortable, relatively upright, and dependable. But for those of us with U.S.-scale commutes (like my 10-mile ride into work with hills), the racked, bagged, sturdy touring bike can be overkill and less than satisfying riding home after a long day. Plus, I like to think that my 20-mile round trip commute stands as my fitness regimen, rendering trips to the gym or runs after work unnecessary (plus, more time at home with the kids).

That being said, at least one day a week, I find myself needing to slog in a bunch of stuff – clothes, books, grading, and my 15″ laptop. This is when a touring bike can be handy. But I pine for a commuter-version of my Ebisu randonneuse – light, quick, perhaps with only a porter rack to bring a computer bag and even a small grocery run on the way home.



  1. Leaf Slayer

    I’ve been commuting on my LHT and it works great. I haven’t been riding my Hilsen much and am thinking of setting it up with Albatross bars I have laying around and using it as my commuter/city rambler.

  2. Chris Kostman

    Esteban: At some point, I’d love to see some more photos of those low-rider rear racks and panniers. I’m curious how they clear the rear derailleur. Also, do you think low-mount panniers get more road grime and water splashed on them? Beautiful bike, and I always enjoy your blog. I just wish you could post more often!

    • Esteban

      Hey, Chris – thanks! Yea, I’m not doing much bikey-Internet stuff, as I’ve got a lot going on. Trying to ride more, too. The rear Campee is off-camber just like the front ones, so there’s plenty of clearance. I don’t think they’d be the best on a mixed-terrain tour, as they might get more dirty and catch on stuff. But on mostly road with fenders, its pretty easy to keep things clean.

  3. D. Brandt

    My commute is 20 miles each way on the hilly San Francisco peninsula. I had the same problem and couldn’t stand the backpack or messenger bag, so I took the advise from the Rivendell crew and added a small basket. It worked out great and I don’t even notice it while it is unloaded.
    As far as handlebars go I was riding with mustache bars but didn’t like the reach, but I recently purchased a pair of On-One Snorky bars turned them upside down and they are similar to the mustache with better reach and I like the inside hand position much better.
    Good luck

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