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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 05-13-11, 01:52 PM   #1
douga
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Need help accessorizing

So I've been commuting for a couple of weeks - enough to know that the setup I have isn't working the way I want it to. I really don't have a lot to spend so I'm trying to keep costs down as much as possible. My setup is pretty basic. Right now I have this rack and this Swiss Gear backpack.

The biggest problems I'm having are - 1) I don't feel like the backpack is secure enough on the rack and 2) I have too much stuff in the backpack.

The back of the backpack is about 13" and the rack is only 5.5" wide so a lot hangs over on each side. Right now I wrap it in a bungee net and then wrap a bungee around it lengthwise and 2 across it. Inside my backpack I have my laptop and normal things I need for work plus a full size thermos for coffee, a change of clothes, and lunch. Even though the thermos seals great I'm still concerned with it being in there with the computer and my clothes get wrinkled and my lunch get smashed.

I thought maybe a wider rack would help with stablizing the backpack some. I was looking at this Topeak rack which is over an inch wider than what I have now - it's 6.8" wide.

Then I'd like to be able to get some things out of my backpack - like coffee, clothes, lunch, etc, and also be able to pick things up at the store if I need to.

I've looked at this Wald folding basket, as well as this Axiom Pannier Set and these Louis Garneau Explorer Panniers

I've heard that the Wald baskets are heavy (I carry my bike down 2 flights of stairs - I take the elevator in the morning), and it looks like the panniers would provide some extra support for the backpack, but would cover the rack and make it harder to bungee down.

Those of you who have crossed this bridge - got any suggestions?
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Old 05-13-11, 02:12 PM   #2
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I'd ditch the backpack all together, really. Get a set of inexpensive saddlebag panniers, like the Sunlite Travelers or Axiom Appalachians, you can fit a LOT into those things.
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Old 05-13-11, 02:26 PM   #3
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The Wald folders are very versatile, and really not that heavy. It's really nice that they fold up when not in use, so you can have them closed with no extra bulk, use one side for you backpack, and then still have the other side for anything you spontaneously pick up.
You might also think about a front basket...
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Old 05-13-11, 02:37 PM   #4
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wald folders at 2and 2/3 lb. each you can compare that to the panniers you are looking at.

I like mine because I bring my bike inside the condo and the office every morning, and it is nice to have them folded flat for getting in and out doors. But here in fort fun we dont get much rain. If I had to deal with a lot of rain panniers may be more of a priority. As it is I have a waterproof trunk bag with lock, tools rolled up reusable grocery bag, and usually a jacket on the way home.

the typical set up, after grocery shopping on my way home.

[IMG][/IMG]

good luck, there is no one size fits all solution in commuter land.
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Old 05-13-11, 02:38 PM   #5
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The Wald folders are very versatile, and really not that heavy.
You've never had problems with your feet hitting them?
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Old 05-13-11, 02:43 PM   #6
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But here in fort fun we dont get much rain.
rain is hit and miss here. Usually in the summer with the heat and high humidity, we have a good chance of an afternoon shower most days (with a few nice thunderstorms). I don't think my boss would be too thrilled to pass me riding home on my bike in a rainstorm with my laptop in back - I don't care what kind of weatherproof cover I had. Might have to leave it in the office those days.
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Old 05-13-11, 02:48 PM   #7
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The wald folders can be moved back on the rack a ways, mine extend about 3/4 inch past the rear of the rack to avoid heel strike. The set up is very adjustable, but so are most panniers.
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Old 05-13-11, 02:51 PM   #8
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Anything you put on the bike (rack, panniers, baskets) is going to have be carried up and down stairs, the basket and your backpack sound like your best choice now. I have the Explorer rack you listed, and it's a good sturdy rack. When I use panniers on it, it's harder to maneuver in and out of the condo/office due to the width, and the 3 steps aren't the problem for me that 2 flights of stairs you're dealing with. All things to think about when you're shopping.
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Old 05-13-11, 10:01 PM   #9
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I just came across this on another thread her two days ago (my apologies to the author as I've forgotten their name). Buy a carabiner & clip the handle of your backpack to the rails on your saddle. This will give the pack an extra attachment to the bike, to keep it on. With this in place, you may be able to get rid of some of the extra straps.

you could also build a deck for your rack that would extend it a bit on both sides, that should not cost much $. You could use plywood (though it would eventually rot in the rain, etc) & just fasten it over top of your current rack.

I'd invest the $ I saved on a new rack into a coffee thermos that fits into a standard water bottle cage. Mixing electronics & liquids is never safe.

With this set-up, you should be able to use less straps to hold down the backpack, giving yourself easier access to the contents of the bag.
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Old 05-16-11, 07:43 AM   #10
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I just came across this on another thread her two days ago (my apologies to the author as I've forgotten their name). Buy a carabiner & clip the handle of your backpack to the rails on your saddle. This will give the pack an extra attachment to the bike, to keep it on. With this in place, you may be able to get rid of some of the extra straps.
I actually saw that post as well and responded to it. The carabiner would help to make sure it doesn't hit the ground all the way, but still doesn't give me warm fuzzy feelings about the laptop being safe.

I decided to go with the Wald's (placed an order today with a carabiner). It will be nice to be able to just drop the bag in in the morning and go, and also be able to carry the bike downstairs with the backpack on my back and then drop it in before I leave.

Thanks for all the input.
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Old 05-16-11, 08:55 AM   #11
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I'd loose the thermos first of all. Can't you make coffee at work/school? They make some pretty good instant coffee these days -- not as cheap as brewing it yourself at home, I realize, but for beating the hassle it is the way I go. (Of course, a large portion of the year I have temperature issues what with cold weather cooling off the coffee too much but in FL you likely don't. )
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Old 05-16-11, 09:04 AM   #12
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As others said, you can usually tweak the mounting to clear your heels - depends a bit on your rack and bike.
Glad to see you are giving them a try - I think you'll like them.
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Old 05-16-11, 09:49 AM   #13
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I'd loose the thermos first of all. Can't you make coffee at work/school?
I'm a little picky with my coffee - not as picky as some, but picky nonetheless. Commuting is helping me in more ways than one in that it's forcing me to break my morning Dunkin Donutes stop. The store is still close enough to ride to (it's in the block next to where I work), but showing up there sweaty and not having a cup holder on my bike is enough deterrent for now to skip the stop - saving me some money and some health.

I can't do the powdered creamer thing, and I don't want to keep creamer in the mini fridge since I'm already hogging it with a gatorade and a tea for the afternoon. I think the baskets will work out well all around though.
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Old 05-16-11, 10:25 AM   #14
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I have toured carrying a daysack strapped to my rear rack. I think you need 3 bungie chords for safety and you need to be careful about dangling straps.
The best place to store a small backpack is a front basket.
When I carry over-sized loads on my rear rack, I have a home-made wide platform that I attach to the normal one. I just wire it on but zipties can provide more permanent fixing.
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Old 05-18-11, 05:28 PM   #15
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I just got my Walds in and they are a lot smaller than I realized - my backpack won't fit in it. I was looking forward to being able to just drop my bag in and go tomorrow.

Now I have to send them back - or just keep one. I don't know.
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