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  1. #1
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Gearing up for a longer commute

    And I'm going to attempt it with my current bike. Much as I'd love to get a new one, with the wife out of work for the past 7 months and my own employment situation murky with the bankruptcy and possible buyout, I've got to conserve as much of my tax refund as possible.

    Since the gouge at the gas pump is only going to get worse, I'm gonna attempt the longer commute in the evenings. I figure every calorie burned is worth not paying over a c-note to fill up the SUV.

    What I need is some (inexpensive) recommendations for some upgrades to make this a bit more tolerable, not to mention sane.

    I need new grips, a decent front blinky, rear blinkies (my Cherrybomb keeps trying to fall off the bag), and rain gear. I plan on getting a new rack and will probably get a expanding trunk bag w/drop down panniers. I also need pointers on how to pack 'light'. And I'm really going to have to get a new saddle. And inflation...
    Last edited by no1mad; 02-26-11 at 06:43 PM.
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    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    How long is the commute? Does your bike have fenders?
    Ed Miller
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    I have fenders for this bike- they came stock Though that's my bike in my avatar, here's a larger pic. No longer have the pump, remounted the rear fender, and currently using a slightly smaller backpack.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    And the commute is going from the mostly flat, mostly MUP of roughly 9 miles to roughly 14 hilly miles on a divided 4 lane.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  5. #5
    I fear angry birds Santaria's Avatar
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    You should be fine. I commuted (intentionally) an extra 20 miles a day on a Karate Monkey with a backpack.

    The trick is to figure out what you absolutely need to pack, and what can be moved once a week to your work site.

    For example:

    I keep 3 dress shirts, and 2 pair of slacks in a closet here at work for the 3 days of the week I'm here when the paper is "open" to the public. I work Saturday-Wednesday. So I only have to account for dressier attire Monday-Wednesday. I pack 2 skivvies, 2 socks, extra t-shirt, belt etc. But I already have my shoes here in the drawer of my desk.

    As far as raingear, there are a lot of selections, I keep my Pearl Izumi in my bag at all times.

    Mind you, I'm commuting on my araya road bike (1977 vintage) or my Specialized MB and using a Mission Workshop Vandal to hold all my gear. Your gear storage device might be significantly smaller.
    THE DEVIL

    Originally Posted by Scrodzilla
    If that was my house and you put your stupid bike in my flower garden to take a picture, I would come outside in my underwear and light you on fire.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    And I'm going to attempt it with my current bike. Much as I'd love to get a new one, with the wife out of work for the past 7 months and my own employment situation murky with the bankruptcy and possible buyout, I've got to conserve as much of my tax refund as possible.

    Since the gouge at the gas pump is only going to get worse, I'm gonna attempt the longer commute in the evenings. I figure every calorie burned is worth not paying over a c-note to fill up the SUV.

    What I need is some (inexpensive) recommendations for some upgrades to make this a bit more tolerable, not to mention sane.

    I need new grips, a decent front blinky, rear blinkies (my Cherrybomb keeps trying to fall off the bag), and rain gear. I plan on getting a new rack and will probably get a expanding trunk bag w/drop down panniers. I also need pointers on how to pack 'light'. And I'm really going to have to get a new saddle. And inflation...
    Grips - $10 at the LBS. Just grab something that feels comfy.
    Front light - Look at using a flashlight like a Fenix L2D or something if you anticipate riding in the dark at all. Otherwise, try out blinkies at the LBS.
    Rear blinkie - Planet Bike SuperFlash.

    You say money is tight so why do you need a new rack and bag? I don't know your full situation but I would try to make-do with what I've already got.

  7. #7
    Senior Member megalowmatt's Avatar
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    Nice looking bike.

    I use an Topeak Explorer rack with a Topeak pannier bag but I agree with Tyrell - your rack and storage looks fine to me.

    For lights I just use the planet bike blinking rear one and the PB blaze in front. Both work well for me.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrell View Post
    You say money is tight so why do you need a new rack and bag? I don't know your full situation but I would try to make-do with what I've already got.
    Pretty much. Unless there is something terrible wrong with the way you're carrying your gear, just keep what you've got. You need to think about right now only buying necessities. Do you need a rear rack? IE: Is your rack falling apart or off the bike? Then replace it. If it's currently suitable for your needs, keep it.
    My Bikes: 2009 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata 610 | 1970 Hercules | 198? Miele ?
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  9. #9
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Fine, the cargo management system stays. However, with the backpack placed on the rack like that, it blocks the seat post mounted reflector. I don't have the rack adaptor for it; even if I did, it would be partially blocked by the tray, as it cantilevers off the back side of the rack.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  10. #10
    nashcommguy
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    Quote Originally Posted by megalowmatt View Post
    Nice looking bike.

    I use an Topeak Explorer rack with a Topeak pannier bag but I agree with Tyrell - your rack and storage looks fine to me.

    For lights I just use the planet bike blinking rear one and the PB blaze in front. Both work well for me.
    Though there's nothing wrong w/these lights the Sette Glo for the front and Sette SF knockoff for the rear are everybit as good at 1/3 the price. For 50.00 w/shipping through Amazon I got 3 tail lights and 2 front. I use the fronts as a blinkie during the day and as a backup to a Niterider Trailrat 2.0 10w halogen at night.

  11. #11
    nashcommguy
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Fine, the cargo management system stays. However, with the backpack placed on the rack like that, it blocks the seat post mounted reflector. I don't have the rack adaptor for it; even if I did, it would be partially blocked by the tray, as it cantilevers off the back side of the rack.
    Look for some good panniers via REI, CL, e-aby or online closeout and lose that tray. Find a rear fender somewhere. If/when you get panniers coat them w/Thompson's water sealer. Either spray or brush. 3 coats...and get the seams real well. Oil your zippers lightly. Then still double plastic bag your clothing. Invest in some black 8" cable ties and a side cutter. Then use them to secure your lights. When you change batteries just cut and replace...they're cheaper than lights.

    Your rig is real close and as you're going to be upping your commuting mileage take extra good care of your drivetrain and cables. Keep everything in good adjustment and your ride will serve you well.

    You probably already know alot of this and I'm not trying to be snarky or patronizing. I've been unemployed since 11/23/09, so I know a little of what your going through. Have been haunting the Utility forum of late and am getting a trailer very soon.

  12. #12
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Smaller picture: in regards to the Cherrybomb trying to fall off, consider finding a very fat, tough O-ring at the hardware store and put that around the light below the loop, so it's holding the open end of the light's clip shut and inhibiting the light from bouncing upwards off the loop.

    Big picture: like other bike taillights, the Cherrybomb is highly directional. If it's being hung off a bag, it's not very likely to have the bright part of its beam aimed smack-dab at the overtaking traffic. And on a 4-lane divided highway, that could be important. See if you can come up with a way to hard-mount it dead-level.

    In regards to the rear reflector, consider adding red reflective tape to your rear fender, and a stripe across the rear of your blue racktop platform. Reflective tape reflects from very wide angles, unlike plastic cube-corner reflectors, and gives you a lot of visible surface. Fred Meyer carries a $9.98 4-pack of Peterson Manufacturing DOT Class II reflective tape in the auto section, it's an 18"-long vertical flat pack with a yellow & red header tag. It'll blow away your stock reflector.





    reflective tape is not habit-forming. *twitch*

    If you don't have a reflective neon-lime safety vest, that would also help people pick you up sooner and figure out what they're seeing: http://www.harborfreight.com/reflect...rge-94701.html Five bucks is hard to pass up.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
    Look for some good panniers via REI, CL, e-aby or online closeout and lose that tray.
    I tried a couple of different pannier set-ups already. Major heel strike issues, plus they weren't all that easy or comfortable to carry around by hand. I was using the backpack, but it was miserable to use during the heat, and strapping it to the rack was a daily magic act. Came upon the idea that I needed to somehow increase the surface area of my rack platform.
    No more worrying about straps dangling into the spokes.

    And that's a Banjo Brothers (L) waterproof backpack in that pic I posted earlier, so I think my stuff has a decent chance of staying dry
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  14. #14
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    @mechBgon- Already looking into the reflective tape. Wally World didn't have anything that impressed me, so I'm going to try the auto parts and hardware stores next.

    Been planning on hitting up the Harbor Freight that's in town, but just haven't got around to it yet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    @mechBgon- Already looking into the reflective tape. Wally World didn't have anything that impressed me, so I'm going to try the auto parts and hardware stores next.

    Been planning on hitting up the Harbor Freight that's in town, but just haven't got around to it yet.
    Some stores have the basic 3M Scotchlite glass-bead tape, but the DOT Class II prismatic tape is better for the rear because it's much more reflective. Someone's bound to have it, you could try Napa Auto Parts too.

  16. #16
    nashcommguy
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    I tried a couple of different pannier set-ups already. Major heel strike issues, plus they weren't all that easy or comfortable to carry around by hand. I was using the backpack, but it was miserable to use during the heat, and strapping it to the rack was a daily magic act. Came upon the idea that I needed to somehow increase the surface area of my rack platform.
    No more worrying about straps dangling into the spokes.

    And that's a Banjo Brothers (L) waterproof backpack in that pic I posted earlier, so I think my stuff has a decent chance of staying dry
    Oh, I get it you've got to have portability...should've read your OP better. My bad. Ok, you're covered. The rig that @mechBgon posted will never be mistaken for anything other than a lowlevel UFO...especially w/a lime-green safety vest. Now that's a commuter rig.

    Btw, I had a set of those bar end lights from Nashbar, but mine only lasted a few weeks. Is there a better brand? Is it a matter of how to mount them? I've got drop bars.

  17. #17
    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    Get yourself a big long mudflap for your front fender... it'll help on the rainy days even more. Lots of good ideas floating around the forums too.

  18. #18
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
    The rig that @mechBgon posted will never be mistaken for anything other than a lowlevel UFO...especially w/a lime-green safety vest. Now that's a commuter rig.
    Haha, and that photo was before it got the full reflecto-mummification and a BikeBrightz light under the top tube To top myself at this point, I'd need some persistence-of-vision wheel lights.


  19. #19
    nashcommguy
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
    Haha, and that photo was before it got the full reflecto-mummification and a BikeBrightz light under the top tube To top myself at this point, I'd need some persistence-of-vision wheel lights.

    Oh man, you have GOT to go to Target and get about 3 sets of the multi-colored bliking lights. They take 4 AA batteries and have about 20 small leds per string. It's never too early to prepare for the holidays.

    Also, there's a Dutch company that makes magnetic blinkies. One mounts the blinkies on the stays and the magnets on the spokes. The magnets cause the lights to blink when they go by. They, also allow about 45 secs of power storage for when one is stopped at a traffic light. Wish I could find them...I'd order a set for sure.

    Btw, I'm totally jealous of your rig.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    You must be talking about Reelights. Looks like they've expanded their product line somewhat from when I first heard of them a couple years back.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
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  21. #21
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    “What I need is some (inexpensive) recommendations for some upgrades to make this a bit more tolerable, not to mention sane.

    I need new grips, a decent front blinky, rear blinkies (my Cherrybomb keeps trying to fall off the bag), and rain gear. I plan on getting a new rack and will probably get a expanding trunk bag w/drop down panniers. I also need pointers on how to pack 'light'. And I'm really going to have to get a new saddle. And inflation...”


    If it were my bike, here’s what I’d do.
    1. Buy Ergon bar grips. These have made the biggest difference in my commute comfort & I buy them for every bike I have now. I’ve tried off brands, but none seem to work as well as the ergons. I would get one of the cheaper ones though, as I haven’t found any real difference in the higher priced ergons that I’ve bought.
    2. Get slick tires for the bike. From the pics, it looks like those have a tread on them. I found that having slicks greatly enhanced the enjoyment of my commute when I was riding my mountain bike. They are faster & it’s noticeable.
    3. I’d remove the blue thing from your rack & just mount my backpack directly on top of the rack with a cargo net (which is what I do now). This will allow you to keep the same rack & also depending on your bag size, should drop the bag enough that you can use the rear reflector again, so you won’t need a new one.
    4. Affix the rear blinkie to the rear rack with some zip ties. This will allow you to keep the same rear light. You should be able to do all of that for $150 or less.
    I use my running headlamp for riding. It works fine for me, but your needs may vary, so I’ll leave that to others who are more knowledgeable. As far as rain gear goes. If it’s raining when I leave for work, I just drive. Going out in the rain is not enjoyable for me & I find that it’s just not worth it. If it looks like it might rain later in the day, I ride & bring a rain jacket & don’t worry about the pants, gloves, etc (Obviously if it’s really cold, I would change that). I have a Mountain Hardwear jacket that cost me about $200, but it’s really nice & keeps me warm. Inexpensive rain gear never seems to work for me.
    As far as packing light, it depends a lot on what you need to bring in. If you can leave anything at work, do it. I leave deodorant, an extra outfit (in case I ever forget), dress shoes, wipes, an extra battery for my taillight and a bike lock at work. If you ever drive in, those are great times to lighten your load the rest of the week (bring in all of your work clothes, lunches, etc for the week). The rest is pretty much just looking for lighter products to replace heavier ones (a USB drive instead of a laptop, a lightweight backpack, one of those slimline wallets with places for 1 id & a credit card instead of a full wallet). If you have specific things that you need to carry, feel free to post your gear list here & we’ll be happy to look at it & make suggestions.

  22. #22
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    My Cherrybomb would fall off the milk crate I have attached to my bike. I simply looped some rubber bands around the clip and haven't had a problem since.

    You could also add another light to the left seatstay. I did this with a Mars 3.0 light I wasn't using with the existing seatpost clamp. I simply wrapped a neoprene sleeve around out it to make it a little bigger so the seatpost clamp would work.
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