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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 07-29-09, 10:30 AM   #1
Sutto
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Picked a tough time to start commuting!

Hi everyone, newbie here. (In case you couldn't see the big "Newbie" tag they've so generously given me ). Just wanted to introduce myself and tell you all thanks for all of the advice I've gotten from lurking for a couple of weeks. I bought a bike a couple of months ago (unfortunately, before I found these forums so it's not the ideal tool for what I'm now using it for) and recently decided to start commuting on it. I've ridden to work the past few days and I'm really enjoying it...except for the fact that it is HOT and HUMID here right now!

Anyway, the bike is a department store special, a Columbia Northway FE, but it's getting the job done fairly well for me for now. I've decided that if I stick with commuting for a year then I will treat myself to a better bike. I'm going to add fenders and a rack pretty soon, otherwise I'll probably keep it pretty stock. I already got an air pump and water bottle. I'm not riding at night (for now) so I'm probably not going to bother with lights in the near future.

Any advice you guys want to throw at me will be appreciated, but I mainly just wanted to say hello and I'm looking forward to this new adventure!
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Old 07-29-09, 10:40 AM   #2
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I started on a $5 garage-sale Huffy. The key point is that you ride, not what you ride on.

Keep an eye on craigslist in your area, if you watch it you can get some great deals. My current ride, a '92 Trek 820, cost $20 on craigslist.


Personally, I really like my rack and panniers. I hated carrying clothes+lunch+whatever in a backpack. I never tried a messenger bag, so it may have worked, but for the same price as what a decent messenger bag seems to go for I was able to get a rack (Axiom Tourney @ LBS, ~$30) and a pair of panniers (Nashbar ATB Panniers, ~$40, they go on sale pretty regularly for $20).

You can get a basic Bell bike bag at your local WalMart for ~$6 to hold your spare tube and patch kit. You can keep tools in your backpack or panniers or wherever, but it's nice to know that you can't forget them, that they're always there on the bike.
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Old 07-29-09, 10:43 AM   #3
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Congrats and welcome! You are making a wise choice to start with an inexpensive bike and see if it sticks. That's what I did three years ago and I'm still at it. Lot's of bikes have come and hone, but I still rode my original commuter in today! Keep it up and don't let the heat and humidity get to you.
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Old 07-29-09, 10:44 AM   #4
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Any advice you guys want to throw at me will be appreciated
There's no shortage of advice here, but unfortunately, a lot of it is conflicting. I would say most people get the hang of bike commuting pretty quickly. They learn how long the ride takes, how to prepare for each day's ride, how much to eat/drink throughout the day, how to dress, how to ride in traffic, etc... all in the first few weeks. Seasons change and one adapts to the elements and the learning process continues at a more gradual pace. After awhile, it just becomes second nature. You ride your bike to work and back and don't even think about what you need to do anymore. It's automatic. Bike commuting is fun, healthy, and good for the environment. Welcome to the forums and enjoy your rides.
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Old 07-29-09, 10:51 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Sutto View Post
Anyway, the bike is a department store special, a Columbia Northway FE, but it's getting the job done fairly well for me for now. I've decided that if I stick with commuting for a year then I will treat myself to a better bike.
Hello Sutto.
The above is an excellent plan, and follows any advice I would give you.
Don't get caught up in the equipment & gear hype. Ride first. Get a feel for your needs and preferences. Buy later.
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Old 07-29-09, 11:00 AM   #6
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+1 on the panniers. They carry a LOT of stuff. One pannier is typically all I need unless I have a softball game after work and have to carry my glove and cleats.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 07-29-09, 11:04 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sutto View Post
Anyway, the bike is a department store special, a Columbia Northway FE, but it's getting the job done fairly well for me for now.
One of my commuters is the one I call my Utili-Cruise-Muter, and it's a 1988 low-end Schwinn MTB that I pulled out of a dumpster. New tires and handlebars, a rear rack and a front basket, and it's now my grocery and at-work-locker-supplies hauler.
If it rolls and it's comfortable, ride it and have fun.
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Old 07-29-09, 11:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sutto View Post
Hi everyone, newbie here. (In case you couldn't see the big "Newbie" tag they've so generously given me ). Just wanted to introduce myself and tell you all thanks for all of the advice I've gotten from lurking for a couple of weeks. I bought a bike a couple of months ago (unfortunately, before I found these forums so it's not the ideal tool for what I'm now using it for) and recently decided to start commuting on it. I've ridden to work the past few days and I'm really enjoying it...except for the fact that it is HOT and HUMID here right now!

Anyway, the bike is a department store special, a Columbia Northway FE, but it's getting the job done fairly well for me for now. I've decided that if I stick with commuting for a year then I will treat myself to a better bike. I'm going to add fenders and a rack pretty soon, otherwise I'll probably keep it pretty stock. I already got an air pump and water bottle. I'm not riding at night (for now) so I'm probably not going to bother with lights in the near future.

Any advice you guys want to throw at me will be appreciated, but I mainly just wanted to say hello and I'm looking forward to this new adventure!
Greetings and welcome. The important thing is that you are riding. I too, wish I had found these forums before I went to my LBS. I did have the advantage of knowing that I would be riding the bike for commuting/utility purposes, I also had previous experience as an adult cyclist to fall back on.
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Old 07-29-09, 11:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sutto View Post
Hi everyone, newbie here. (In case you couldn't see the big "Newbie" tag they've so generously given me ). Just wanted to introduce myself and tell you all thanks for all of the advice I've gotten from lurking for a couple of weeks. I bought a bike a couple of months ago (unfortunately, before I found these forums so it's not the ideal tool for what I'm now using it for) and recently decided to start commuting on it. I've ridden to work the past few days and I'm really enjoying it...except for the fact that it is HOT and HUMID here right now!

Anyway, the bike is a department store special, a Columbia Northway FE, but it's getting the job done fairly well for me for now. I've decided that if I stick with commuting for a year then I will treat myself to a better bike. I'm going to add fenders and a rack pretty soon, otherwise I'll probably keep it pretty stock. I already got an air pump and water bottle. I'm not riding at night (for now) so I'm probably not going to bother with lights in the near future.

Any advice you guys want to throw at me will be appreciated, but I mainly just wanted to say hello and I'm looking forward to this new adventure!
You can change that. Click on User Control Panel at the top right corner of the page, then "Edit Your Details" and give yourself a "Custom User Title"

Welcome to commuting. When is it not hot and muggy in Florida--when it rains?
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Old 07-29-09, 11:35 AM   #10
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Please consider getting one of the excellent books on commuting/urban cycling -- they're generally fun reads. And also get some slicks for that bike of yours.
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Old 07-29-09, 11:58 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the tips, everyone. One (somewhat) smart move I made when I bought the bike was getting the one that had what appeared to be the most "street-friendly" tires available. They had the same bike with a few different tire styles and I got the most narrow ones with the least offroad-looking tread. I don't anticipate hitting any major offroad areas but I want to be reasonably set up for that if I do. How do these look for all-around riding, with the majority being on the street? They are 26x1.95 Kendas:



Thanks again for all of the tips and welcomes. I think I'm going to like it here!
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Old 07-29-09, 12:24 PM   #12
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A narrower slick tire would be marginally faster, but those tires won't be horrible either. If that were my bike I wouldn't replace them until they wear out.
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Old 07-29-09, 12:29 PM   #13
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funny, I had pretty much the same tires, but switched after a while to less profile-y tires ( and 1.75 (instead of 1.95). Made a pretty big difference.
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Old 07-29-09, 12:46 PM   #14
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tires do wear, and you may want to try skinnier ones with the same type of non-knobby tread. a set of 1.25's would probably lighten the bike up a little and be fine as long as you stay on pavement.

just stay safe, and don't buy anything but tools, cleaning supply, and lube for the next year. you'll be proud of yourself and able to treat yourself to the exact bike you want after that long.
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Old 07-29-09, 12:49 PM   #15
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Just pump those tires up to max psi. It will help reduce rolling resistance. But if you never encounter non-paved road on your route, then it may make sense to get less knobby tires or even slimmer ones.
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Old 07-29-09, 01:12 PM   #16
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Your doing the right thing by waiting to upgrade the bike. All of the extras you've got can be switched to another bike in the future. That saves money. Your tires are fine. Use them till they wear out. You'll know when. You can always choose new tires if you want. No big deal. Learn how to change them and fix flats. You live in Florida, deal with the heat. It's always there. One thing about riding a bike in Fla. Be careful. I've heard LOTS of horror stories about commuting in Fla. Here is a link about riding in traffic. Take 15 mins and read it. Anyone else out there, you read it too.
http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm
Have fun and be careful.....Lights!. Oh yea! Go to the Electronics, Lighting and Gadgets Forum and check out "The best headlights under $50" thread. You'll get ideas on an outstanding lighting set-up that is affordable. P.S. Don't tell anyone, but they're better (or just as good) than the $200 ones you see elsewhere.

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