This is the first time in my life I am in a position to use my bike to commute. I went back to school this fall and I moved to apartment that is about 2.3 mi from school. (FYI: I now goes to Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, TN)
The commute was easy, with no significant hills and mostly on residential road or wide shoulders on a major road. There is about 100 yds I have to ride on the sidewalk and plenty debris and sand pits. But it was a narrow but rather busy 2-lane road so riding on the road wasn't possible.
Two big changes were made to my bike:
First, I purchased some 28mm Continental Ultra Gatorskin tires. They are wider than my stock (700C/25mm Schwalbe Blizzard) tires so the ride is quite a bit nicer and I need more flat protection. That was very necessary as I mentioned before that I have to ride a section that is full of debris (rocks, glass, occasional dead vermin, etc...).
Another was I added a Axiom Transit rack to replace the seatpost rack I owned. It's lighter, set my load lower to the ground and allow future addition of a pannier (next item to purchase, again, I'm a grad student now so budget is a big thing). I use a backpack to haul my books but it leads to a very sweaty back. I don't want to use a messenger bag as I don't like the way it balances when I ride.
Slight complication on installing the rack. One of the metal pieces cannot clear the rear brake so I have to completely re-bent the metal piece. I didn't put enough duck tape on my vice grip so slight marring occurred but now it clears.
I think I have an rather unique way to mount the PB super flash. I loosen then rotate the metal piece for mounting the reflector 90 deg. Then I used the bracket for seat stay to mount the blinkie. The pictures show it better than I say it.
I also re-wrap the old grip tape, and hope this time it stays on better. Last time I didn't pull it tight enough and it got sloppy couple years later. Those are just Performance Store Brand (Forte) cork tape but they work fine for now.
Note: I also use a LED Maglite (the newer one with strobe and adjustable power) as my head light. Those work very well and I can take it off as needed. I used 2 pipe clamps to secure the light. I know the right bar end plug is missing, and I believe it's somewhere very near Arlington National Cemetery. I would take donation if anyone have any spare bar end plugs
Now, question time:
Can I get a decent pannier that will last me 2-3 years for about $30-40? I need it to be quite waterproof as I need to carry a laptop.