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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-24-07, 12:44 PM   #1
DRLski
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Backpack Woes

I need some advice, I've been commuting for some time (20miles each way) and currently have a Pedros backpack which I love except for a few issues, the #1 biggie is my back, my lower back is killing me about 15 miles into the ride and the last 5 miles are torture, #2 is that my helmet keeps hitting the top of the bag. Any suggestions? I was looking at a Deuter Race as it seems to sit a bit lower but not sure. I can't see myself riding 20 miles with a messenger bag going around one shoulder, doesn't seem very comfortable to me and I like having the added compartments to throw my pump and etc in.
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Old 04-24-07, 12:50 PM   #2
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This may seem like an obvious answer but why not a rack and trunk or pannier? I have a long commute too and couldn't imagine carrying a backpack on it, I went straight for a rack and trunk bag.
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Old 04-24-07, 01:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigRedSnackFoam
This may seem like an obvious answer but why not a rack and trunk or pannier? I have a long commute too and couldn't imagine carrying a backpack on it, I went straight for a rack and trunk bag.
I thought about it but I like to switch up bikes so I can get my workouts in during my commutes since it's a long commute.
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Old 04-24-07, 01:10 PM   #4
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Topeak Quick Release
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Old 04-24-07, 01:46 PM   #5
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The solution you seek. I've used the '05 model in centuries so I'm sure it'd be fine for 20 miles each way (heck I use it for 15 miles each way myself).
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Old 04-24-07, 01:51 PM   #6
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You've got to try rack and panniers. First time I did in the middle of the summer about 6 years ago was a revelation. No back pain, no sweaty back, much cooler.

Racks are pretty cheap relative to the bags, which also do not have to be too pricey. I went for a more expensive, but more convenient route. I have the Trek Interchange Panniers and Trunk and have an interchange rack on both of my bikes.
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Old 04-24-07, 01:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
The solution you seek. I've used the '05 model in centuries so I'm sure it'd be fine for 20 miles each way (heck I use it for 15 miles each way myself).
Intersting idea...it looks huge though. Maybe I'll look into one of their smaller models.
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Old 04-24-07, 01:55 PM   #8
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I think oboeguy is on the right track. If your helmet is hitting the backpack, I'd say the shoulder straps are too tight. You want to loosen them so the pack sits as low as possible and still be stable, if the pack has a waist or chest strap, use them to improve the stability.

Lowering the pack will fix the helmet problem and reduce the load on your back.
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Old 04-24-07, 02:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRLski
Intersting idea...it looks huge though. Maybe I'll look into one of their smaller models.
It's not that big, but it's really amazing what I've managed to haul with it (wheels, floor pump, you name it). It's really very well thought-out and engineered. As a bonus, it's about as waterproof as you could expect a backpack to be, namely, in a downpour there might be minimal leakage and in moderate or light rain nothing gets through. I'd be at a loss if they ever stopped making them and mine broke. Anyway, PM me if you want some pics of mine.
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Old 04-24-07, 02:38 PM   #10
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I am currently using a Banjo Brother commuter backpack and like it alot. I have 2 bikes, one with a rack (commuter/tour bike) and the other without(road bike).

On the road bike The backpack is low enough it does not hit my helmet or block my view over the shoulder.

On the tour bike, I attached a folding wire basket to put the back pack in when I ride that bike. Perfect fit, works great. and if I decide to stop at the store on the way home on the tour bike. I just put on the back pack and stow the items bought in the basket.
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Old 04-24-07, 03:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
It's not that big, but it's really amazing what I've managed to haul with it (wheels, floor pump, you name it). It's really very well thought-out and engineered. As a bonus, it's about as waterproof as you could expect a backpack to be, namely, in a downpour there might be minimal leakage and in moderate or light rain nothing gets through. I'd be at a loss if they ever stopped making them and mine broke. Anyway, PM me if you want some pics of mine.
Hey Oboeguy, how much does that bag weigh?
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Old 04-24-07, 06:50 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by vrkelley
Hey Oboeguy, how much does that bag weigh?
As I mentioned via PM, it's nearly weightless. Half a pound, maybe.

I've had a request for pics. I guess I should post some. Forthcoming...
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Old 04-24-07, 09:45 PM   #13
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Here's a quick pic of the pack next to the 20" rear wheel of my commuter (folder).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Copy of IMGP3638 (Medium).JPG (66.5 KB, 67 views)
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Old 04-24-07, 11:11 PM   #14
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I;m a rack and pannier guy, but I also use a Deuter Trans Alpine backpack from time to time. They are cycling specific, very comfortable, and extremely well made and designed.
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Old 04-25-07, 06:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
Here's a quick pic of the pack next to the 20" rear wheel of my commuter (folder).
+1

I got this pack last year due to Oboeguy's ravings. It is extremely nice. It isn't too big. It is designed specifically for cycling so it sits low on your back.

My full commute is 32 miles each way.

-D
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Old 04-25-07, 07:43 AM   #16
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Try a messenger bag before dismissing it. I planned on getting racks and panniers for my 52mi rt commute, but gave the messenger bag a try first.

Loaded with just clothes, I have no issue at all. Loaded with clothes and laptop+power brick, the bag is a little heavy and my back does get tired by the end of the ride, but no pain. The only issue is, when carrying my laptop I have trouble riding in the drops. The bag wants to slide forward. I am hoping a larger bag will alleviate this.

I cannot comment on sweaty back issues since I just started commuting with a bag is year, and it hasn't been that hot yet.
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Old 04-25-07, 09:06 AM   #17
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I just fabricated a frame from 1/2" PVC plumbing pipe to fit a cheap backpack I purchased at a neighbors yard sale for $1. The pipe and fittings are cheap and don’t weight very much and you can carry extra water in the pipe if you need too.

This is a photo of my fully loaded touring bike last fall.

This is a photo of the rear of the PVC pipe frame and backpack.
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Old 04-25-07, 09:14 AM   #18
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To each, their own. But I can't imagine what the fascination is with carrying something on one's back while exerting physical effort, especially when it's not necessary. I ditto the Trek Interchange (there are other quality systems), and have two racks on seperate bikes. Click-n-Go. No sweat.

I also have a new set of Ortiebs, in case I carry thru on my threat to actually go somewhere by bike, instead of simply turning around at the edge of the world, and coming home... I sometimes use one of the Orts for wet commuting.
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Old 04-25-07, 09:34 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcm
To each, their own. But I can't imagine what the fascination is with carrying something on one's back while exerting physical effort, especially when it's not necessary. I ditto the Trek Interchange (there are other quality systems), and have two racks on seperate bikes. Click-n-Go.
Interesting choice of works. As if people use packs due to some fascinating aspect of it. I do it out of necessity.

I have a 62mi RT commute. I ride it on my only road bike, a full carbon Giant OCR. I cannot put a rack on the bike. I could do a seatpost rack, but I would need a non-carbon seatpost anyhow.

With the right pack I hardly notice it's there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jcm
No sweat.
Wow, I sweat even without the pack. So I don't notice much more with. But then again I am a sweaty guy.

-D
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Old 04-25-07, 09:40 AM   #20
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^^^^Exactly, to each his own.

The reason I use a backpack is for convenience. I put it on then I get on the bike, get off the bike much quicker. I don't need to secure, unclip anything else. It does get hot and sweaty but with the right gear its not that bad. I used to wear a walymart backpack and I have to admit it sucked. Not only was I sweating but also overheating, in the morning, at mid-40F, with a cool breeze.

Things are now better after I purchased a Marmot Zephyr based on Slvoid's thread Found the perfect commuting pack... . I still sweat but I no longer overheat. This pack is heavier than my old bag but because of how well its designed to distribute support it feels lighter on my back. On top of that it has excellent capacity. I went grocery shopping yesterday on my way home and I had a loaf of bread, 2 boxes of cookies(3x10x7) and a bag of chips fit in the bag. Even with this load the air circulation never went away. This backpack rocks.
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Old 04-25-07, 09:46 AM   #21
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I had back pain as well and switched to panniers a few weeks ago. What a difference! I don't look like Quasimodo when I get off the bike now and my back feels terrific. Got some waterproof ones from Mountain Equipment Co-op so I have zero excuses for not riding as well. They're good especially for this time of year when you wear lots of clothing in the morning and not so much on the ride home.
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Old 04-25-07, 09:53 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
Here's a quick pic of the pack next to the 20" rear wheel of my commuter (folder).
That's about the size of my REI Grand Teton. Good size but not massive. Thanks obe!
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Old 04-25-07, 09:56 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by n4zou
you can carry extra --- in the pipe if you need too.
Sorry I read your post wrong...oh where is my mind at...Note to Self No 'smoking' while commuting!
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Old 04-25-07, 10:05 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRLski
I thought about it but I like to switch up bikes so I can get my workouts in during my commutes since it's a long commute.
You can still get a workout while riding a bike with a rack.
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Old 04-25-07, 10:33 AM   #25
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Questions: For you guys with the panniers, when/if you have to go into a store do you leave your panniers on the bike or do you take it with you? If you do take it are there any that are easily carried around with you? I'm asking this because this is what's stopped me from considering panniers before and why I've gone the backpack route. I usually stop at high foot traffic areas like the malls, groceries and I feel uncomfortable leaving anything on the bike.
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