Commuting - New to long-distance commuting
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04-21-07, 07:38 PM
I just can't keep paying $200 a month for gas to get back and forth to work in my Dodge Ram pick-up. I want to commute daily on a bicycle. My commute is 32 miles round trip. My route is 85% open four-lane divided highway with a nice wide bike path, and 15% single lane rural country roads (quite crowded and dangerous). What is the best type of bicycle for me to buy for my commute? Thanks.
I'll let some of the other (more seasoned) riders chime in on what bike you should be using. I started commuting recently and have two bikes. One for good weather, one for not. Both are comfortable, which was the biggest thing for me.
Congratulations on the gas savings and making the decision to ride. My commute is about 10 miles less than yours. It'll take some getting used to, but just do it and keep doing it. You'll love it.
04-21-07, 09:13 PM
A cyclocross or touring bike. Make sure the frame and fork has fender mounts and clearance for them. Put those fenders on and get some nice puncture resistant and efficient tires like Gatorskins. You may end up putting a rack and panniers on the back if you want to carry some clothes or lunch. Soma has some good examples:
16 miles each way may take some time to work up to if doing everyday. I would recommend starting out one or two days a week and go from there. You will still save gas money. Others including myself have longer commutes. Driving partway or taking public transportation is another option.
I am sure you will here all kinds of recommendations for bikes but with that distance probably something inline of a tourng/cyclocross/rigid MTB would suite the bill.
04-21-07, 09:46 PM
I ride almost exclusively on single lane country roads, but they're not crowded so I won't comment on that, other than to say, if there are shoulders that are safe to ride on, I personally do so, but don't be bullied into riding in unsafe spots (potholes, broken glass, loose sand, rutted snow, etc, things that will cause you to lose control or blow a tire).
If there are places in the road where it's not safe for cars to be passing you (like around corners on lanes too narrow for them to safely pass you without crossing the center line) then you're smart (and within your legal rights in most states) to "take the lane" - ride far enough to the left that drivers realize that they can't get around you, and make them wait until you get past the obstruction, then move right and let them past. Everyone's primary responsibility on the road is safety, not getting anywhere 3 seconds faster.
If there are alternate routes, investigate them. The best route in a car is not necessarily the best route for a bike. Remember that things that really slow down a car (like driving roads with 30 MPH speed limits instead of one block over with 50 MPH speed limits) don't affect a bike's speed but there will be less traffic so on a bike, that's the best route.
If your route is like mine, there may just not be any reasonable alternate route.
Type of bicycle isn't super important except that it should be comfortable for you to ride the 2 hours a day you're going to be in the saddle. I ride a hybrid, which has flat handlebars, a frame that allows me to sit more upright, and has skinny tires. Fat tires like you see on "mountain bikes" just slow you down and make you work harder if your commute is all on pavement. But some people like road bikes with drop handlebars, etc. It's a personal choice.
I paid $300 for my hybrid, put probably another $400 into accessories (I now have a pretty high end headlight, etc). You should be able to get started with between $0 and $100 in accessories-for $0 you're just dumping your stuff in a backpack; for $100 you're buying a modest head and tail light (NOT OPTIONAL if you're riding in the dark!!!!) and a cheap rack and panniers). Eventually if you ride in the rain you're going to be a lot happier if you have fenders.
I didn't buy all that stuff at once. Buy stuff as you find you need it, after looking here and elsewhere for advice and different available options.
I hope you come to love bicycle commuting in its own merits. I started out for several reasons, but honestly right now I like it so much that I'd still ride my bike even if someone gave me a car and fuel for free. For one thing, at 43 years old I look better and am far more fit than I ever have been in my life, even when I was in college. And I enjoy riding a bike way more than I ever have enjoyed driving a car.
04-21-07, 09:48 PM
If you're ready to dump some serious money into a bike, then yeah, a touring or cyclocross bike would be a fantastic commuter. But if you're just dipping your toes in the water, IMHO a 2nd hand skinny tire bike or a new hybrid is a decent starter, and you can use it for a winter/bad weather beater if you eventually buy a nicer bike.
04-21-07, 09:54 PM
If you deal with bad weather and are hauling loads back and forth a touring bike or a cyclocross bike would work. If you do not plan on hauling loads and have nice dry weather a regular road bike would also work. All in all I would recommend the method I am converting to. One bike for bad weather and hauling loads- my touring bike. Another for dry weather and to go fast- my soon to be more racing oriented road bike.
If you are more comfortable on a flat bar bike, last year I rode my commute 30 miles RT on a hybrid. It would be slower but doable. Or even a flat bar road bike.
04-21-07, 10:32 PM
I picked up a 1988 Raleigh Technium last year on Craigslist for $50... this bike has turned out to be a GREAT commuter for me... added lights, rack, panniers, fenders.
I've put nearly 9,000 miles on it so far, and had it for about 11 months.
Well you could buy a cheaper used bicycle,
Then ride 8 miles in your truck and bike the rest of the 8 miles till you get in shape. That would cut your gas bill down to a 100 bucks.
You really just need to ride do a search here, and pick for yourself. Me Toruing bike due to , my load and mostly road.
As for road choice, there are several things you can do for a single lane road, ridding technique, mirror, vest, ankle reflectors, flag, lights, etc. These all will help you feel more comfortable and these forums have talked about them over and over again.
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