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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 04-24-09, 08:29 PM   #1
uke
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If you could start again as a new commuter, what would you do differently?

1. I'd have brought a cheap MTB from home instead of buying an overpriced Jamis Coda from the LBS. This was what I'd originally wanted to do, but my parents wouldn't go along with it.

2. If I'd wanted a road bike (which I did), I would have gotten my Forge first and called it a day. It cost less than the Coda, is more fun to ride, and would have been more than enough if I'd gotten it first.

3. I'd have bought a TSG Evolution helmet instead of the Giro Transfer. Since I got the TSG, I haven't worn the Giro, and will probably not wear it again unless I land on the TSG and need something while its replacement is in the mail.

These are just a handful of the things I'd have done differently if I'd had my current knowledge a year ago. How about you?
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Old 04-24-09, 09:45 PM   #2
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Started commuting 30 years ago. Aside from that, everything else ranks as minor learning experiences.
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Old 04-24-09, 10:07 PM   #3
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I would have bought a bike that fit me.
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Old 04-24-09, 11:30 PM   #4
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I wouldn't do anything differently. The most important thing is starting... and the second most important is sticking with it.
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Old 04-25-09, 12:05 AM   #5
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the learning curve is half the fun. If I could go back, however, I would have started using panniers sooner. Really changed how the ride goes.
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Old 04-25-09, 12:20 AM   #6
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Would've gotten a singlespeed 20+ years ago when I started commuting in Chicago. A hardtail mtb w/1.75 SMPs and Mr. Tuffy tire liners. Did SMPs even EXIST back then? Would've learned to build my own wheels THEN instead of 17 years later. Rack and trunkbag instead of a backpack. Tire levers instead of 2 screwdivers. NR Trailrat(old school...2.2 lbs) instead of the virtually worthless Cateye I insisted on using because it was cheap. Would've hung on to the old flowered shower cap I used as my first helmet cover...it got thrown out in a foolish fit of embarassment. Would STILL be using the old White/w/orange stripes Bell helmet I found at a thriftstore for .99. It rocked and was almost bulletproof. I'd have told a bike snobby salesman at an lbs to go eff himself for his condescending tone he took to my newbie questions early on. Better pump...but the old Zefal I had did the job when it was needed. Can't think of anything else, though I'm sure there's more...Oh, yeah I'd have learned how to tango.
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Old 04-25-09, 12:38 AM   #7
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Nothing. The whole thing has evolved quite well. If I could do over the last few years, I'd live closer to work.
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Old 04-25-09, 03:16 AM   #8
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Nothing.
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Old 04-25-09, 03:48 AM   #9
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I would immediately have bought my Giant OCR. Besides that, I would have started about half a year earlier, so I would have been in shape before summer.
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Old 04-25-09, 03:53 AM   #10
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I would have started commuting a long time ago, I wish I would have realized sooner how easy it was.

7 miles from work I drove for over a year before begining commuting.
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Old 04-25-09, 04:25 AM   #11
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i would have started commuting instead of shifting from bike to another, from mtb to road, commuting is the right cycling life for me. and i am loving it, and bikes are cheaper than anything I owned. also i love that i can wear what i want, and carry what i want.. kapish..
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Old 04-25-09, 04:32 AM   #12
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Skip the myriad of low end lighting systems I purchased that didn't do the job or failed outright and just bought the best right at the beginning. My Lupine light is expensive but so was buying several systems over the years. The Luipne has outlasted all of them combined and provides the best light I've had.
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Old 04-25-09, 04:38 AM   #13
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Old 04-25-09, 05:18 AM   #14
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I would have started much sooner, like when I started school. In fact, if I knew then what I know now I would probably have never owned a car ever, but then again there's a zillion other stupid I wouldn't have done. Unfortunately it was actually doing the stupid things that taught me that they're stupid things to do and to not do them.
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Old 04-25-09, 05:29 AM   #15
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I'd have begun bike commuting in college. I'd have continued thereafter. Hell, I didn't begin bike commuting until I was in my 40's -- my wasted youth was wasted riding around on fossil fuel.
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Old 04-25-09, 05:35 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uke View Post
1. I'd have brought a cheap MTB from home instead of buying an overpriced Jamis Coda from the LBS. This was what I'd originally wanted to do, but my parents wouldn't go along with it.

2. If I'd wanted a road bike (which I did), I would have gotten my Forge first and called it a day. It cost less than the Coda, is more fun to ride, and would have been more than enough if I'd gotten it first.

3. I'd have bought a TSG Evolution helmet instead of the Giro Transfer. Since I got the TSG, I haven't worn the Giro, and will probably not wear it again unless I land on the TSG and need something while its replacement is in the mail.

These are just a handful of the things I'd have done differently if I'd had my current knowledge a year ago. How about you?
Great thread idea.

The Jamis Coda was recommended to me, but being cheap, I went with the Giant Cypress DX. It was a good choice for a starter commuter bike. Over time, the suspension fork and heavy aluminum frame became less than ideal. I might have been happier with the Cypress ST or a Jamis Coda, these bikes feature steel frames and standard forks. Steel framed bikes make great commuters, the ride quality is better than aluminum IMO. Suspension forks reduce acceleration, since the fork captures some of the pedaling forse applied by the rider.

After 4 months I upgraded to a steel frame Cyclocross bike. The bike is fun, fast, comfortable and a very good long distance traveler.

I'm grateful for the duty the Cypress provided. It was reliable and got the job done. If I had selected a bike that was overly demanding, uncomfortable or unreliable it might have discouraged me from commuting. I still use the Cypress as a utility bike and on rainy days.

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Old 04-25-09, 06:20 AM   #17
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I would have bought a bike about 8 years earlier. Man, I had no idea cycling was such viable transportation.
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Old 04-25-09, 07:53 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gear View Post
Skip the myriad of low end lighting systems I purchased that didn't do the job or failed outright and just bought the best right at the beginning. My Lupine light is expensive but so was buying several systems over the years. The Luipne has outlasted all of them combined and provides the best light I've had.
+1 that's what I was going to say, but for me it was the Dinotte 200L and Dinotte 140L taillight. Of course, neither was available when I started. But still, the lesson is to not buy crap and hope it will do; I wasted enough money on junk lights to have bought a good one.
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Old 04-25-09, 08:06 AM   #19
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Never thought of it as commuting until I moved 16 miles outside Boston.
MY first commuter specific bike was a Trek hybrid fitted with a bottle
generator and fenders. 12 years,4 seasons,spending only a couple hundred in parts.
That bike was a champ!! I passed it on to my sister, only I couldn't save the bike
bug she used to have. Like an old horse in the stable the bike rarely gets ridden.
I suplemented my bottle generator with a decent helmet light.
Waited a few more years to upgrade my lights on a catalog sale.
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Old 04-25-09, 08:36 AM   #20
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I would have listened to my buddies and spent the extra money for higher-end components because, now, I realize how much a quality component setup makes a difference. I just told them I would upgrade the components later. True, it was a few years later that I realized the upgrade cost me a lot more for an older bike. Even when I was shopping for the components, I could have bought a new bike (with low end components again-lol) but I couldn't see wasting a perfectly good frame, wheels, etc, when all I wanted was new components.

But the next time I bought a bike I spent the extra money up front. So, my tip to you is, wait and save up the few hundred dollars more and buy what you want/like/need and you'll be a lot better off down the road. (no pun intended)
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Old 04-25-09, 08:54 AM   #21
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spent the extra money for higher-end components
+1. I'd have spent a quarter the money that way, over the years.
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Old 04-25-09, 09:01 AM   #22
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I would have not thrown out my old beater bikes. Due to life circumstances, I couldn't haul around my teenage and college bikes, nor did I have a place to store them. But just 10 years ago I threw out a mountain bike that I had modified for a self supported road tour in the mountains. It had become neglected, needed lots of work, and back and hand trouble made me unable to ride it. I Hope it made someone happy, it was gone before the trash pickup. But now I wish I hadn't thrown it out. Now I would wrench on it myself, turn it into something I liked, and every time I looked at it or rode it I would think of the weeks I spent touring Yelllowstone. It was the bike I got severe bilateral carpal tunnel syndrom while going down Yellowstone mountain and did my infamous 60+ mph, can't stop, dodge the cars, bison, and logging trucks record descent. What was I thinking!!!!!
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Old 04-25-09, 09:04 AM   #23
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There's really not much I could have done over my many years of cycling, since I pretty much had to wade through several bike/accessory evolutions between my first to my current commuter.
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Old 04-25-09, 09:15 AM   #24
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Put me in the start sooner and buy better stuff without working my way through cheaper junk category. 90% start sooner and 10% buy better stuff. Except for my Topeak pump, I haven't bought anything that I really didn't like or didn't work and the stuff I bought but don't use much anymore still works OK. I just have something I like better to use now, and it's nice to have a backup.

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Old 04-25-09, 09:19 AM   #25
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I should have bought different wheels and better light when I got my bike.
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