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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 03-16-05, 05:08 PM   #51
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Somebody may have already suggested this, but the best way i have found to keep things dry in my not-very-waterproof panniers is to put them inside a plastic bag before loading them in the panniers. So far, nothing has gotten even a little bit damp using this method.
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Old 03-19-05, 12:04 PM   #52
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A comment about routes: be CAREFUL crossing train tracks. Cross at a 90 degree angle no matter how inconvenient, and on skinny tires I go nice and SLOW. Learned this the hard way on an unfamiliar route.... the indentations were ridiculously deep, and it was dark... I was flipped on my side at 17 mph... the road burned all the way through the heel of my glove and it took a couple of months for the road rash on my knee to heal. I figure I was lucky. Definitely wear gloves.

Along those lines, take it easy until you know your preferred route like the back of your hand.

I have a homemade 20W halogen headlight. The 12V lion battery (designed for portable DVD players) is wired to a $5 xenon amber strobe I got on ebay. It is an excellent tail light, can be seen from the sides at at a distance. Cars don't know what you are, a garbage truck, snowplow, open manhole... they keep their distance.

The other morning I had to drive in and a cyclist had no LED lblinkie, nothing. I couldn't see him until I was about 20 yards away and I was doing 45. Freaked me out, I wanted to say something but figured he'd take me for a jerk motorist.
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Old 03-21-05, 02:41 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mthirsch
I was flipped on my side at 17 mph... the road burned all the way through the heel of my glove and it took a couple of months for the road rash on my knee to heal.
Owwwie! That hurt just to read about it.
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Old 03-21-05, 04:12 PM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EarlT
Somebody may have already suggested this, but the best way i have found to keep things dry in my not-very-waterproof panniers is to put them inside a plastic bag before loading them in the panniers. So far, nothing has gotten even a little bit damp using this method.

This works well for me. The suggestion I was given was to get a couple of the body bags vets use. These are very durable as well as being waterproof.
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Old 03-21-05, 04:34 PM   #55
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As far as waterproof bags go, I snagged a small kayaking sack to stuff my clothes in before they go in my Topeak trunk.

Now, I just leave my clothes at work - 100% chance of them being dry when I get there.
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Old 03-23-05, 11:27 AM   #56
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Instead of packing tape, the very cheap ($20.00) waterproof Downpour Cycling Helmet Cover from Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC website) keeps your head warm and dry in cold, wet rain. It fits snug onto any standard helmet, has relfetive surfaces, and if it gets sunny on your ride, removes with a simple tug, and folds in to a tiny ball you can stuff in any pocket. The best $20 I have ever spent.
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Old 03-24-05, 03:16 PM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
Then they closed that road and by following the detour on my Vespa I discovered an idillyic, oak-lined paradise of a street. It crosses rushing creeks, has fragrant hedges instead of fumes, seems wider and traffic is lighter and slower at 30-35mph. I restarted the commuting again. If they ever re-open the other route I won't go back.
A vespa?? and you ride recumbant?? i'm in awe of you :B
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Old 03-24-05, 03:56 PM   #58
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Here is my set up .... your's will be different depending on your situation.

22 mile round trip commute. Didn't have a lot of route alternatives, but I love the most direct route, which is a main artery 4 lane divided hwy with median and a 60mph speed limit. Really wide shoulders with limited access so I don't have to worry about traffic entering the road from parking lots/driveways/assorted side roads or parked vehicles. Only bad spots are 2 high speed off/on ramps. Lots of riders insist on their rights going thorugh these. I just come to a stop if there is any traffic and just wait for the gaps ... I never wait more than a min or so.

Because of the high speed nature of my commute I wanted a cyclo cross bike (Surly Cross Check) with drop bars for the different hand positions and ability to get as low as possible when there is a headwind, or the downhills. My route is nothing but hills and commute speed varies from 8mph to 45 mph each trip. Fenders and a rechargable light are must haves for regular all weather commuting. I have a 10 watt halogen rechargable and will be upgrading to 20 watts before next winter. My canti brakes are adequete but V's or discs would stop better ... esp in the wet. I have gradually moved down to 23mm tires as my road conditions are so good. I use kevlar tires and still run the inner Mr Tuffy strips ... a few oz of weight with my overall commute setup doesn't mean as much as not having to deal with flats!

Other Equipment ... I like a mirror. Tried the helmet mounted ones, but they are awful small and was always moving my head around to get the right angle. Went to a full sized one that velcro's around my brake hood and love it. That vibrates a little more but you can still easily tell if something is coming up from behind. (Side note I love the looks I get from weekend roadies on group rides with my fenders/mirror/headlight & wireing! ) I carry a full size Zefal frame pump.

I haven't seen anyone mention a saddlebag as opposed to panniers. I use a Caradice Nelson Longflap and it easily carries everything I need for the commute and nothing has gotten wet, even in downpours. I like the bags weight distribution right under the saddle and feel the aerodynamic hit is lessened. It is also very easy to remove for a weekend group ride. It has 2 sidepockets ... one has 2 spare tubes, tire levers, patch kit and multi tool. Other one carries wallet, keys and cell phn. I leave shoes, towel and clean up supplies at work and carry the rest of my clothes in a plastic grocery store bag. I leave a rain jacket, arm/knee warmers etc in the bag depending on weather. Takes like 1 min to roll the days clothes up and put in bag in the am. I bring 5 or 6 frozen lunches in with me in the bag once a week and the occasional work files are no problem.

I always wear glasses for eye protection ... if it's dark on one of the legs I wear clear. I splurged for the more fashionable $5 saftey glasses I also wear gloves to protect the hands if I ever go down ... plus my hands don't slip on the bars when they get sweaty. I almost didn't mention helmet since its so obvious ...

Figure out what works for your conditions and enjoy!
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Old 03-24-05, 05:18 PM   #59
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commute cold so you arrive less sweaty..
try arm and leg warmers so you can take them off half way...

I figure that riding is better than packing into the germ tube (ie bus/train), and takes same amount of time...
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Old 03-24-05, 05:25 PM   #60
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If the link works:

this kind of plastic storage bin (i used a 14 gallon one, it's about 12 inches wide, 16 inches tall, and 18 inches long) attached to the top of my rear rack with bungee cords. the bungee cords thread are held to the plastic bin with some stick-on plastic hooks (sticky part reinforced by screws through the lid, with superglue as a seam-sealer.)
it's supported from underneath by a light piece of wood which is securely zip-tied to the rack.

It really keeps my stuff dry when I ride in the rain.

Last edited by cerewa; 03-24-05 at 05:27 PM. Reason: made it clearer what I did
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Old 03-24-05, 08:24 PM   #61
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I'm relatively new to biking seriously. I've logged maybe 3-4K miles on my hybrid and thanks to my 700x38c tires, I have yet to have a flat. I'd like to start commuting every now and then. My trip to work is 15 miles one way. I know eventually I'm going to have a flat. I presently pack a spare tube, tire levers, and a CO2 system. I noticed many people pack a pump rather than a CO2 system. Is there any reason to prefer one over the other?
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Old 03-24-05, 08:56 PM   #62
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I've noticed a lot of discussion about water resistant panniers and such. I do a lot of backpacking and one of the cheap tricks our group uses to waterproof backpacks is a very simple and inexpensive heavy wall trash bag. You can get them in various sizes, from waste basket to 55 gallon barrel liners. They are available at places like Home Depot, Lowes and other such places. They are usually called "contractor" bags. Just put the stuff you don't want to get wet in the bag, squeeze out some of the air, twist the top of the bag, fold it back down on itself and secure the top with a twist tie, removable zip tie, or even one of the clips that snap shut to hold potato chip bags closed. This will keep your stuff dry in most cases even if you fall over and the bag gets submerged. And if it gets torn, you're out a nickel or so and a spot of packing tape will let you still use it for trash.

Ordinary ziplocks will protect cell phones, pagers, pda's, i-pods and such. Double bag expensive items.
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Old 03-24-05, 09:18 PM   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfw
I'm relatively new to biking seriously. I've logged maybe 3-4K miles on my hybrid and thanks to my 700x38c tires, I have yet to have a flat. I'd like to start commuting every now and then. My trip to work is 15 miles one way. I know eventually I'm going to have a flat. I presently pack a spare tube, tire levers, and a CO2 system. I noticed many people pack a pump rather than a CO2 system. Is there any reason to prefer one over the other?
You have to carry C02 with you, in the event of multiple flats, you will get owned. A pump on the other hand, while requiring a bit more work, will NEVER run out of air.
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Old 03-25-05, 12:01 PM   #64
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I am new here and I am considering buying a new bike as my old one was stolen from my apartment complex. I am looking for something relatively inexpensive but also something decent that I could ride to work and school, I like this idea of commuting and since i am in arizona this would be great... except for the middle of summer! but does anyone have any suggestions on an affordable bike (maybe around $500 or less would be ideal?) for commuting? keep in mind most of my riding would be on street but often some of the streets gather some sand and dirt that i would go through.

thanks alot everyone.
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Old 03-25-05, 04:03 PM   #65
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This forum gave me two bits of advice and I'm am very grateful.
#1 FENDERS - Just do it!
#2 Topeak trunk bag (with panniers) and the quick attach rack. You'll forget the high price after 1 week of happy use.
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Old 03-28-05, 08:42 AM   #66
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I commute to work (23km one way) 3 times a week. Most of the ride is in traffic and there is one significant hill with 10% grade. After 6,000 km of accident free commuting, these are my ideas.

1. Safety first – Choose a ROUTE that doesn’t put you on narrow streets with lots of parked cars. Don’t listen to music on headphones…hearing that car coming up behind you may just save your life. SLOW DOWN – At those points on the commute which have a higher danger quotient, slow down. I know by experience the danger zones on my commute and even though I could take them much faster, I keep my speed down. That attitude has saved my bacon several times. Leave early enough that you don’t have to sacrifice safety for speed. HELMET - I always wear a helmet, and I chose a yellow colored one. Get a MIRROR that gives you a good field of vision (I have a Cycle Star brand I like). My mirror mounts in the end of my handlebar. The mirror is on a 3 inch plastic stick that extends it past where your view might be obstructed by your arm. Wear HI-VIS YELLOW jerseys or coats. At night, make sure you have lots of FLASHING LIGHTS ( I have 3 on my bike for night riding) and wear clothing made with the ILLUMINITE reflective material. Make sure you have a good set of BRAKES that stop you in on a downhill even in a good rain (I have Shimano Deore brakes). CELL PHONE – I always take a cell phone with me so that in a worst case scenario, I can call emergency services. TOOLS – tire pressure gauge, spare tube, levers to change tire, allen wrenches, screwdriver.

2. Rain Gear? I love it when it rains because I have the bike path mostly to myself.. In the summer, I don’t care if I get wet. I just put on a rain jacket and leave the rain pants at home. I live in Japan so we have a rainy season, nevertheless, I don’t use much rain gear. In the winter, I don’t mind wet weather as long as it remains above freezing. Having had a few spills due to black ice patches, when it is wet and freezing, I park the bike.

3. Equipment – LIGHTS For those winter nights, I have a handlebar mounted dual light system (View Point) sold by Performance Inc. I wasn’t satisfied with any LED type light I tried. The dual light system is great and gives me plenty of illumination far enough ahead that I can react to obstacles. BRAKES – get whatever brakes that can stop you reliably in a short distance even in the rain. If they squeal and grab or if you can’t stop on a downhill in the rain, go to your dealer and get something that will. BIKE – I like the cyclocross type bike for commuting. It is strong enough for commuting but fast enough for weekend training rides. TIRES – I like 28 width better than 32’s because 28’s are strong enough for the commute but have less rolling resistance for longer training rides. I don’t think 28’s are any less comfortable than wider tires. Make sure the tires have Kevlar reinforcement. It adds weight but gives you more puncture resistance. DERAILLEUR – I opted for the Ultegra front and rear derailleurs but given the weather conditions I ride in and the hill I climb, I might have been better off with the Deore LX or XT. PACK – I try to keep things light and uncomplicated on my bike so I have no panniers. I use a waterproof Ortlieb backpack and put all my stuff on my back. I think it is easier and less of a hassle to use a waterproof backpack and it is not at all uncomfortable. LOCK – I have 2 locks. One is a Kryptonite that goes around the frame and tires. The 2nd lock is a longer wire type that goes around some immovable object and my bike.

4. Clothes and Personal Hygiene - I leave several sets of clothes and a pair of shoes at work and always keep a set of clean underwear, and socks. In the winter I leave a sweater or two there too. On daily trips, I take a set of underwear and socks plus a shirt each day. Also, I pack a damp washcloth in a zip loc bag so that I can quickly wash up after I arrive. Don’t forget the deodorant.
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Old 04-06-05, 03:48 PM   #67
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I was always told my people that those jackets make a more visible target to hit. A Florida DPS Officer told me those old folks use that hood ornament as a targeting sight!
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Old 04-06-05, 07:32 PM   #68
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I was always told my people that those jackets make a more visible target to hit. A Florida DPS Officer told me those old folks use that hood ornament as a targeting sight!
Total B***S***. And from a cop, no less. You may politely ignore anything they tell you from now on.
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Old 04-11-05, 09:02 AM   #69
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I'm new to these forums and thought I'd get in on the action here, as I'm looking for input on commuting bikes. Actually, I'm looking at a specific bike and would like to know what you think. The bike is a Trek X500, and it is in their "trekking" category. The MSRP is $1099. The bike is aluminum with, IIRC, a carbon seat tube. The bike has racks already mounted for front panniers (sold separately) and rear luggage. The X500 also has an LED headlight with a rear reflector, and disc brakes as well. Oh, and it also has fenders. Would this be a good bike for both pavement/bikepath commuting, as well as recreational riding on the weekends? Or should I buy a bike that may be less expensive and just pay for racks and panniers separately? The disc brakes seem to be a real winner, though.

Eventually I plan to get a dedicated road bike, as I want to eventually ride in some Centuries as well as do some fully-supported touring, such as in the Cycle Oregon event held annually in my home state of--yup, Oregon. But first things first, I need a good road/path commuter first. Thanks in advance for your input!
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Old 04-11-05, 09:18 AM   #70
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I suggest you visit a bike shop that sells Trek bikes, and see if you can save a few bucks by outfitting a "regular" Trek with all the gear. Chances are you don't NEED all those racks and pannier attachments, and you can probably get a better light than what's on there. Why buy extras that you don't need? Visit www.nashbar.com and check out prices on racks, lights, fenders and stuff. If you get it all on sale, you could probably outfit ANY bike for $100 or less.
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Old 04-12-05, 03:35 AM   #71
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jeff-o is right, the only way to see if you're getting a good deal is to price out the add-ons using online bike shops as guides. It's also hard to know what you'll need when you're just starting. When I bought my "commuter," I got a rack and with a trunk pack. It turned out not to be enough space, so I upgraded to panniers. Since you are starting, you might want to err on the side of not spending as much, and then buying what you find you need.

As to lighting, you will also want a rear blinkie. The LED headlight will be fine if you will only rarely ride after dark, but if you regularaly commute at night, you will probably want something brighter (in that case, I say get the best lighting you can afford).
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Old 04-14-05, 03:46 AM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrkelley
Adding to Jessica's comment. It's good to spend some time looking at your helmet. If your head is warm enough or cool enough it make the ride so much easier.

Does it fit on your head properly? Also set your helmet up for riding conditions/seasons. i.e., if it's freezing block the vents and use a helmet liner. Fast down hill conditions or ice? Downhill helmet....For colder weather you may need a helmet with more coverage, summer, a lighter helmet.

If possible, add reflective stickers or blinkies.
I grew up when helmets were never worn in Australia. Since then it has become mandatory. I never really liked them but was approaching a roundabout one day, at about 30 km/hr standing on the pedals cruising just behind a car. The roundabout was clear and I was expecting the car in front of me to go straight through.

But somebody flew through the intersection, causing her to slam on her brakes. I ran up her rear end, and hit my forehead very hard on her rear window. My old foam helmet stopped my progress. I ended up standing astride my bike a little dazed.

After pulling my bike off the road, I took my helmet off and inspected it. It was badly broken, only held together by the velcoed foam. Saved my skull I think.

I kept that helmet hanging on a hook above my bike for the next 12 months so I would always remember what it did.

a
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Old 04-14-05, 04:23 AM   #73
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A lot of people mention helmets, but for most minor spills you are more likely to injure your hands. Wear the helmet, but also use gloves. I have worn off 1mm of leather in a very minor, low speed spill.
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Old 04-18-05, 06:57 AM   #74
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driving my cage, I can tell you that at night, reflective stuff and lights help! Bikers are *invisible* otherwise! And those obnoxious fluorescent yellow jackets are lifesavers, closely followed by at least wearing yellow like you're leading in the Tour. And don't cover that beautiful yellow up with some drab colored messenger bag etc., get a yellow one! And keep the batts fresh in your head/taillights, I rolled down the window and told one biker he needed new batts in his taillight, he was dressed in dark stuff and his taillight would have made him very visible, if it weren't very dim. Those poor red LEDs were barely forward biased. (On the other hand, lotsa voltage can make your red LEDs yellow, for a short while!)
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Old 04-18-05, 09:18 AM   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcspain
I've noticed a lot of discussion about water resistant panniers and such. I do a lot of backpacking and one of the cheap tricks our group uses to waterproof backpacks is a very simple and inexpensive heavy wall trash bag. You can get them in various sizes, from waste basket to 55 gallon barrel liners. They are available at places like Home Depot, Lowes and other such places. They are usually called "contractor" bags. Just put the stuff you don't want to get wet in the bag, squeeze out some of the air, twist the top of the bag, fold it back down on itself and secure the top with a twist tie, removable zip tie, or even one of the clips that snap shut to hold potato chip bags closed. This will keep your stuff dry in most cases even if you fall over and the bag gets submerged. And if it gets torn, you're out a nickel or so and a spot of packing tape will let you still use it for trash.

Ordinary ziplocks will protect cell phones, pagers, pda's, i-pods and such. Double bag expensive items.
Are you talkin' about the 3 mil bags?? Those things are crazy thick.
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