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  1. #1
    Senior Member CyclingVirgin's Avatar
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    The Ultimate Newbie Questions...Finally answered in one place!

    Alright guys and gal, my goal is to make this the one stop thread to answer all the newbie commuter question. I know I have a lot and pretty sure that other newbies will have the same or similar. Please answer to the best you can as I am sure that a lot of these will be opinion based. But nonetheless, here it goes.


    When starting off in the cycle world there are a million questions that run through ones mind. What do I need? I should I always carry? What brand should I get? How much should I spend? Well here I am going to try to tackle the requirements one needs as a commuter. I will edit and add more if others have things to add.

    As the replies come in, I will edit the thread and place the brands and replies next to the question and have a tally to see what the popular answer is.




    1) HELMET

    a) I see this as a must for all riders but the question is, is the $30 helmet the same as the $300 when it comes to commuting?

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    c) Where is the best place to purchase ones helmet?

    d) What are the key things to look out for when buying a helmet?


    2) Glasses/Sunglasses

    a) From 1-10 (10 being crucial) how important is eye wear for commuting?

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    c) Where is the best place to purchase ones helmet?


    3) Jersey

    a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?


    4) Bibs/Tights

    a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?

    d) Which are better, the shorts or the suspender model?


    5) Gloves

    a)Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?

    d) Which are better, the shorts or the suspender model?


    6) Shoes (clip ins/clip less)

    a) a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?

    d) Would you buy shoes used?


    7) Tires

    a) What is the ideal size to purchase?

    b) Best brand when it comes to less punctures?

    c) Best tire for the money?


    8) Brake Pads

    a) Best brand/model?

    b) Reasonable price to spend?


    9) Seat

    a) Best brand/model?

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    c) Where to buy?


    10) Saddle Bags

    a) Best brand/model?

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    c) Where to buy?


    11) Degreaser

    a) Best brand/model?

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    c) Where to buy?


    12) Chain Lube

    a) Best brand/model?

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    c) Where to buy?


    13) Things to ALWAYS carry with yourself?

    a) What are they and how many of each?


    14) Tune Ups
    a) How often should I get one?

    b) What is a reasonable price to pay?

    c) Where can I learn how to do it myself?

    d) What tools do I need?


    15) What are the three most important things I should know as a commuter?

    1)

    2)

    3)
    Last edited by CyclingVirgin; 12-21-12 at 02:15 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyclingVirgin View Post
    3) Jersey

    a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?
    Yes. Commuting fast enough to avoid boredom means sweating. Since you're going to change out of a damp or wet top anyways you might as well use one appropriate for the task at hand. Sweating sucks less in a wicking jersey and the pockets are great place to stash things like a cell phone (to take pictures of bad drivers) or light jacket so they're accessable and not bouncing up and down like if you had shorts with pockets.

    4) Bibs/Tights

    a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?
    Knee warmers work well and take up less space when you don't need them on one direction of a commute because it was warmer. Some (more spherical) belly shapes and shorts result in the waist band rolling down which sucks but can be avoided with bibs.

    5) Gloves

    a)Does anyone wear this during a commute?
    Only if the temperature is below ~40 degrees with sun and ~45 without unless it's raining and a little warmer.

    6) Shoes (clip ins/clip less)
    a) a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?
    Yes. It's more pleasant.

    7) Tires
    a) What is the ideal size to purchase?
    It depends on how fat you are. At 145 pounds you don't need much pressure in 23mm tires. Somewhere either side of 200 pounds 25mm let you run 90psi front and 100psi rear for a pleasant ride.

    Surfaces (those road tires aren't pleasant on gravel) and personal perference will influence your choices.

    c) Best tire for the money?
    Continental Gatorskins. Reasonable flat protection, reasonable ride, good life. YMMV.

    9) Seat

    a) Best brand/model?
    Whatever fits your butt.

    11) Degreaser

    a) Best brand/model?
    Odor free mineral spirits.

    13) Things to ALWAYS carry with yourself?
    Full sized frame pump, spare tube, patch kit (for the second flat and beyond), hex keys, chain tool, master link if you've progressed to a chain with peened over pins (Campagnolo 10, most other brand 9 speed chains), dollar bill for a tire boot, pair of latex or nitrile gloves because it's nice to not ride with dirty hands when you flat or break a chain. This all fits in a small wedge pack.

    You can take a pair of tire levers with you if you run tires you can't dismount without tools, although you're better off using a thinner rim tape to eliminate the need for levers or finding a more compatible tire + rim combination where that does not work.

    14) Tune Ups
    a) How often should I get one?
    Never. Most things don't need adjustment or replacement until they don't work nearly perfectly or sound/feel right which happens long before a failure. Properly built wheels actually stay true until you bend the rims on road obstacles which can take a decade. Chains need to be measured and replaced when elongation reaches 1/16" per foot with lubrication as they cease being as silent (which can be weekly during the rainy season or after hundreds of miles when it's dry) as they get a convenient time to measure. Only greaseable bearings need regular periodic maintenance, with that interval (ex - grease every 3000 miles) being a nice time to check for play and adjust preload. No two parts need service at the same time, although some things combine conveniently like rebuilding a Campagnolo shift lever and replacing the inner cable. You don't need to replace cable housings until shifting degrades or they crack and let water in which is _far_ less often than inner cables need service. Frayed brake cables would be bad; checking when you adjust brakes, replace shift cables, or are otherwise messing with things in the area is a fine idea.
    b) What is a reasonable price to pay?
    Nothing. Do what you need yourself.

    c) Where can I learn how to do it myself?
    The Park Tools web site is fine. Your local bike cooperative is great since they have people to demonstrate and tools to use in a non-profit environment.

    d) What tools do I need?
    Depends on the bike and whether you have a cooperative where you can borrow tools.

    15) What are the three most important things I should know as a commuter?
    1. Assume drivers are going to kill you and take appropriate precautions

    2. Bright lights are awesome. At night more drivers stop for you at intersections where they should during the day presumably because they think you're a motorcycle. Not running over things that might cause crashes or flats is better.

    3. Steel man-hole/utility covers, cross-walks, and other thick paint on roads can be very slippery when wet.

    Shoe covers are also really nice when it gets rainy or cold.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 12-21-12 at 02:57 AM.

  3. #3
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=CyclingVirgin;15073958]

    1) HELMET

    a) I see this as a must for all riders but the question is, is the $30 helmet the same as the $300 when it comes to commuting?

    They all have to meet the same minimum standards. After that - you pay for comfort features, styling and build quality.

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    Depends what you're looking fo - they all have to meet the same minimum safety standards.

    c) Where is the best place to purchase ones helmet?

    Where you can find one you like that firs. Fit is important, and if you don't like it - you won't wear it.

    d) What are the key things to look out for when buying a helmet?

    See above. A visor on a helmet will block your view on a road bike.


    2) Glasses/Sunglasses

    a) From 1-10 (10 being crucial) how important is eye wear for commuting?

    10 - bugs, dust and other airborne items are a reality.

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    Anything is better than nothing. I like Oakley but not everyone has that kind of scratch. Safety glasses work and are inexpensive.

    c) Where is the best place to purchase ones helmet?


    3) Jersey

    a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    Completely optional. Dress however you find practical.

    4) Bibs/Tights

    a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    I wear both. No - I don't have a belly.

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    Top brands are top brands - which doesn't mean you need them.

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?

    Nothing if you decide they're optionsl.

    d) Which are better, the shorts or the suspender model?
    Bibs are more comfortable. And more expensive

    5) Gloves

    a)Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    Yeah - prevents sunburn.

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    Oakley, BG (Specialized), Fox

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?

    Anything that costs less than $30 will probably fall apart pretty fast.

    d) Which are better, the shorts or the suspender model?

    They make those?

    6) Shoes (clip ins/clip less)

    a) a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    Not during a commute myself - that would mean bringing a second pair of shoes.

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    LOL Thats a can o worms!

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?

    About $100

    d) Would you buy shoes used?

    Not myself


    7) Tires

    a) What is the ideal size to purchase?

    Depends on rider weight and road conditions. Also - road brakes restrict options. I like fat tires myself but the roads here are in a constant state of repair.

    b) Best brand when it comes to less punctures?

    Schwalbes are good but some models are better than others.

    c) Best tire for the money?

    Depends how much money you've got.

    8) Brake Pads

    a) Best brand/model?

    Shimano and KoolStop both make good pads. Performance and price are related.

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    $20 to $25 a pair if rain performance is important.


    9) Seat

    a) Best brand/model?

    Much less important if using bicycle shorts.

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    $35 and up

    c) Where to buy?

    Someplace they sell bicycle seats?


    10) Saddle Bags

    a) Best brand/model?

    Depends - there are established brands and models for touring that may not be ideal choices for commuting.

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    $25 and up

    c) Where to buy?

    Outdoor stores, bicycle shops, Walmart (did I mention Walmart?)


    11) Degreaser

    a) Best brand/model?

    WD40

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    You can bargin?

    c) Where to buy?

    Most hardware stores


    12) Chain Lube

    a) Best brand/model?

    I'll pretend I didn't see that question.

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    c) Where to buy?


    13) Things to ALWAYS carry with yourself?

    a) What are they and how many of each?

    Phone, money, ID
    I maintain the bike regularly, run puncture proof tires and self sealing tubes. Don't bring spares or a pump or tools and it hasn't been an issue.

    14) Tune Ups
    a) How often should I get one?

    Once every 1,000 regardless of if you do it yourself or have someone else do it.

    b) What is a reasonable price to pay?

    A tune-up can be as little as $40. An inspection is free.

    c) Where can I learn how to do it myself?

    Park Tool site or BBB (published by Park Tool)

    d) What tools do I need?
    Depends on the bike. Most 'kits' have lots of things you'll never use.

    15) What are the three most important things I should know as a commuter?

    1) How to drive defensively on public roads.

    2) That a bicycle provides no protection in case of a crash.

    3) That recreational vehicles are viewed differently than motor vehicles by law enforcement and in thecevent of an accident - its better to have your own insurance coverage.

  4. #4
    tougher than a boiled owl droy45's Avatar
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    1) HELMET

    a) I see this as a must for all riders but the question is, is the $30 helmet the same as the $300 when it comes to commuting?
    As long as it has the CPSC, ASTM F 2040, EN 1078 standards they are mostly all the same.

    b) What brands are superior over the others?
    Most use the same manufacturing processes and should all be similar. "Bern" makes nice all season, all sport helmets, "Bell" makes nice inexpensive bicycle only helmets.

    c) Where is the best place to purchase ones helmet?
    Nashbar, Performancebike, or LBS


    d) What are the key things to look out for when buying a helmet?
    fit, style


    2) Glasses/Sunglasses

    a) From 1-10 (10 being crucial) how important is eye wear for commuting?
    10, its important

    b) What brands are superior over the others?
    anything works

    c) Where is the best place to purchase ones helmet?


    3) Jersey

    a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?
    certainly, they are way comfortable and wick out sweat and won't stick to you as much


    4) Bibs/Tights

    a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?
    No, padded shorts and jersey for summer, windproof, water resistant tights and cycling jacket for colder times of the year.

    b) What brands are superior over the others?
    Most brands are competive with each other, it's more a personal taste thing for the style and whatever.

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?
    Don't go overboard, shop around.

    d) Which are better, the shorts or the suspender model?



    5) Gloves

    a)Does anyone wear this during a commute?
    Yes

    b) What brands are superior over the others?
    Again the brand thing is purely personal as most brands are competive with each other.

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?
    Don't go overboard, shop around

    d) Which are better, the shorts or the suspender model?


    6) Shoes (clip ins/clip less)

    a) a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?
    Clipless are nice after you get used to them.

    b) What brands are superior over the others?

    c) How much is reasonable to spend on one of these?

    d) Would you buy shoes used?
    If they are in new like condition, otherwise they probably won't fit you quite right because they are broken in for someone else.


    7) Tires

    a) What is the ideal size to purchase?
    For commuting, 26in wheels are better for quicker acceleration in traffic, use slicks for mountain bikes, (absolutely no suspension). For 700c, road bikes, not the best choice for commuting but alot of people use them rather than having an additional specific commuting bike.

    b) Best brand when it comes to less punctures?
    Any that specify kevlar belting or flat resistance of some type.

    c) Best tire for the money?


    8) Brake Pads

    a) Best brand/model?

    b) Reasonable price to spend?


    9) Seat

    a) Best brand/model?
    Comfort here is the key, whatever fits you best.

    to spend?

    c) Where to buy?


    10) Saddle Bags

    a) Best brand/model?

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    c) Where to buy?


    11) Degreaser

    a) Best brand/model?

    b) Reasonable price to spend?

    c) Where to buy?


    12) Chain Lube

    a) Best brand/model?
    I like the Nashbar chain lube but many different kinds available on the market






    self?

    a) What are they and how many of each?


    14) Tune Ups
    a) How often should I get one?

    b) What is a reasonable price to pay?

    c) Where can I learn how to do it myself?

    d) What tools do I need?


    15) What are the three most important things I should know as a commuter?

    1)
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

  5. #5
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I'll play, but these answers won't be universal!

    1) HELMET a) I see this as a must for all riders but the question is, is the $30 helmet the same as the $300 when it comes to commuting?

    Not a must for all riders, and the $30 is as good or better protection as the $300.


    2) Glasses/Sunglasses a) From 1-10 (10 being crucial) how important is eye wear for commuting?

    I give eye protection a 7 since I wear them about 70% of the time. Any sunglasses are sufficient so brand and source are purely a matter of personal style.

    3) Jersey a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    Yes! There's no need to be a fanatic about it but jerseys are the most comfortable and convenient.


    4) Bibs/Tights a) Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    Rarely but yes. The people who say bibs are the most comfortable and improve your cycling performance are correct. Those who say it's easier and more convenient to wear more normal attire are correct. It's a tossup.


    5) Gloves a)Does anyone wear this during a commute?

    Any time it's in the low 50's or colder. I don't wear cycling gloves normally but there's nothing wrong with that. The type of gloves vary with conditions.

    6) Shoes (clip ins/clip less)

    Personal preference. But since I change shoes at work anyway, which is pretty normal for experienced commuters, there's no particular reason to rule out clipless or any other preference. I commute in running shoes on platform pedals.


    7) Tires a) What is the ideal size to purchase? b) Best brand when it comes to less punctures? c) Best tire for the money?

    To pick one size without knowing the particulars of a commute I'd say 700x28. I go against the grain and buy inexpensive tires (normally the Performance brand Strada with kevlar belt) which compromises speed and feel for good flat protection.

    8) Brake Pads a) Best brand/model? b) Reasonable price to spend?

    It's reasonable to spend $5 for Bell brake pads - they will stop your bike. Kool Stop are better for not much more.

    9) Seat

    Depends on personal preference, 100%.


    10) Saddle Bags

    Ten or fifteen dollars for a seat post wedge, it doesn't matter.


    11) Degreaser

    Don't need anything unusual.


    12) Chain Lube

    I use White Lightning wax.


    13) Things to ALWAYS carry with yourself?

    Always carry tools and your preferred way of fixing flats.


    14) Tune Ups

    Don't pay for tune ups. Adjust or replace cables as needed. You need a bottom bracket tool, chain whip, crank puller, cassette wrench and cone wrench. And the usual allen wrenches etc. Chain tool, spoke wrench.


    15) What are the three most important things I should know as a commuter?

    1. Keep your head up and eyes open!
    2. It gets easier the more you do it.
    3. Take care of your equipment.
    Last edited by wphamilton; 12-21-12 at 09:30 AM. Reason: typo

  6. #6
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    1) HELMET

    a) I see this as a must for all riders but the question is, is the $30 helmet the same as the $300 when it comes to commuting? My opinion is that anything made a reputable company is sufficient. They all have to pass specific testing to be legally sold. I think mine was about $40.


    2) Glasses/Sunglasses

    a) Since I need prescription glasses to see, it is of course an absolute necessity. But, unless you live in a sandy environment where you need to worry about sand blowing into your eyes I don't think you HAVE to have any kind of glasses. Plenty of people commute without glasses without any problems. Some type of lens can be nice in cold or windy conditions, though.


    3) Jersey

    a) Anything that wicks moisture (and blocks wind in cold conditions) will do. A cycling specific jersey isn't necessary.


    4) Bibs/Tights

    a) This depends on conditions. In cold weather I wear tights, and when it gets below freezing I wear wind blocking pants. In REALLY cold weather I wear both (10 F and lower).

    5) Gloves

    a) Same as tights, it depends on conditions. Once cold weather hits you need gloves. If vibration and discomfort are a problem, cycling gloves can help even in warm weather.


    6) Shoes (clip ins/clip less)

    a) Shoes are a necessity; cycling shoes are not (and can sometimes be a nuisance). I just ride in my running shoes.

    7) Tires

    a) I like Continental Gatorskin tires. But, you'll get as many opinions on tires as there are tire models out there. Everybody has certain preferences. The Gatorskins have a long life, are very difficult to puncture, and maintain good traction in dry conditions. However they have a higher rolling resistance than many other tires and they aren't that great in wet conditions (especially on wet metal like manhole covers, railroad tracks, and expansion joints).

    8) Brake Pads

    a) For rim brakes, Kool Stop is hard to beat. For disc brakes, I'm not sure.


    10) Saddle Bags

    a) I like lots of carrying capacity, so I like my Banjo Brothers. I don't remember what model they are, but they can carry a ton.


    11) Degreaser

    a) CRC Degreaser from autoparts store. Degreases INSTANTLY. As soon as that stuff hits your chain the crud just runs off. You don't even really need to scrub.


    12) Chain Lube

    a) I like teflon based lubes. I hate the mess of the other types. The only con is that in winter and wet conditions you need to apply it more frequently.


    13) Things to ALWAYS carry with yourself?

    a) Two extra tubes and tire irons; multi-tool; cell phone; extra batteries for battery powered lights.

    15) What are the three most important things I should know as a commuter?

    1) Ride as though every car on the road is trying to kill you.

    2) Commuting is not a race.

    3) Everybody has their limits, know where yours are and don't exceed them.

  7. #7
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    take a look at:

    http://allseasonscyclist.com/

    you'll find a lot of nice reviews on clothing and other gear.

    I always wear a helmet and glasses when I am commuting. Helmet for safety and helmetmounted light + glasses (either sports or safety, depending on time of day) to avoid insects/particles etc. ending up in my eyes. In autumn and winter I wear a jersey under a montane featherlite velo jacket and bibtights. Can't do anymore without my SPD cleats and MTB shoes. In winter I also use watertight overshoes.

    About tyres: In spring and summer I use Vittoria Randonneur hyper reflex 32mm. tyres. Almost a slick tyre, nice and fast, puncture resistant and comfortable ride. In autumn and winter I now use Marathon greenguard tyres for a bit more grip in wet conditions. Basically an all round tyre.

    I ride a recumbent bike as my commuter, thus my seat is a (carbon) recumbent seat with a 3cm. ventisit comfort layer. Very comfortable and the ventisit provides enough ventilation on my back.
    As for a saddle bag I use a Radical design Solo Aero bag. Big enough to put in everything I need (food, drinks, tools, topeak road morph pump)

    I use degreaser and teflon lube that we use at my work, they do what they're supposed to do. They're industrial grade (not sure exactly what brand)

    What I always carry with me are 2 spare tubes, some essential tools and a pump. Also my lights (rear/front), batteries and chargers + my bike computer and cell phone.

    As for tune-ups, there's a lot you can learn nowadays by just googling it on youtube (adjusting derailleurs, brakes, repairing tyres, truing wheels etc.etc.). Some simple things you can just do yourself. When special tools or special skills are required, I would go to the bike shop.

    3 most important things for commuting for me:

    1. safety
    2. leave for work on time so as to never be in a hurry
    3. enjoy the ride

  8. #8
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    We already have a thread like this for the exact same purpose and this post on the subject is spot on. http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...l=1#post938362

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