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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 09-02-10, 11:47 PM   #1
earthworm94
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Finally able to commute on a regular basis, and suggestions needed.

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.

Thanks.

Last edited by earthworm94; 09-03-10 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 09-03-10, 05:26 AM   #2
FunkyStickman
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I don't think you're going to find a decent "waterproof" pannier for $40, but you might get lucky. What I do is put my laptop into a large zip-lock bag and put that inside a small backpack (for padding) and stuff it into my pannier. Works like a charm.
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Old 09-03-10, 06:04 AM   #3
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Chain Reaction Cycles, a UK bike parts supplier (accessible online), has a nice pannier for about $25, reviews say it keeps things dry (and this is the UK! Wet!). The issue is shipping -- unless you spend about $240 with them, you'll pay a high shipping fee, coming from overseas. I deal with them about 1-2x/year for that reason.
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Old 09-03-10, 07:38 AM   #4
missile meister
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I've recently started using this m-wave-double-day-tripper and really like it. Got it for the cheap price (less than $20) just to see if I would like using panniers vs the sweaty back of a backpack. Not exactly waterproof, but I would say water-resistant (there's a user review that gives it kudos for keeping his stuff dry in rain - it has handled coastal fog for me so far).

http://www.meijer.com/s/m-wave-doubl...bag/_/R-123891

The cheap price almost scared me off, but the reviews (though few) seemed honest and overall said they were worth more.
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Old 09-03-10, 08:33 AM   #5
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I have one of these and I no longer need it. You could have it for $40 shipped. It's not waterproof, but it comes with a rain cover. It has padded laptop pocket, I think two internal pockets and two or three on the outside. The nice thing is that it converts to to a shoulder bag and you can't even tell it's a pannier. The mounting mechanism with all the metal parts remains on the bike and the bag is attached with two zippers to the mounting plate and then secured with two straps. The not-so-nice thing is the zippers: it's a bit pain in the neck to attach the bag with only two hands

Drop me a PM if you're interested so I'll dig it out, see what the condition is and snap some photos for ya.
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Old 09-03-10, 08:43 AM   #6
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I used a kayak waterproof bag around my laptop's padded bag to keep the water out when it was in my backpack. It worked very well.

Now I have a nice set of Ortlieb panniers that keep it all nice and dry.

z
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Old 09-03-10, 10:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
I do is put my laptop into a large zip-lock bag and put that inside a small backpack (for padding) and stuff it into my pannier. Works like a charm.
+1. I was going to add that for a 2.3 mile commute, you don't really need to worry or overthink too much. If it starts raining, just haul ass and you'll get to your destination either way pretty quickly. If you had a commute 4-5 times longer you'd probably want to consider fenders, rain gear, quality lights, possibly gearing, quality of panniers, etc....this is IME anyway, I don't speak for other folks.

BTW - I ride by Arlington National Cemetary daily but I doubt I'll find your plug .
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Old 09-03-10, 01:14 PM   #8
earthworm94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurbineBlade View Post
+1. I was going to add that for a 2.3 mile commute, you don't really need to worry or overthink too much. If it starts raining, just haul ass and you'll get to your destination either way pretty quickly. If you had a commute 4-5 times longer you'd probably want to consider fenders, rain gear, quality lights, possibly gearing, quality of panniers, etc....this is IME anyway, I don't speak for other folks.

BTW - I ride by Arlington National Cemetary daily but I doubt I'll find your plug .
Haha, I think it's somewhere near the 10-11 o'clock position (12 as of the ave. of the Cemetery) outside lawn of the traffic circle between the cemetery and the Memorial Bridge. Let the "treasure hunt" begins

Well, I tend to set my spec a bit higher than what I need. Also, I take longer bike trips often. But you made a good point that I'd survive as the actual ride time is no more than 20 min. and I can use rain cover/ziploc/kayak dry bag as suggested.

Keep the ideas coming! Thank you.
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Old 09-03-10, 05:11 PM   #9
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I use a regular backpack and bungee it to the top of my rack. When I was caught in an unexpected rainstorm while I was at school I just took a trash bag to cover my backpack.
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