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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 09-23-13, 01:04 PM   #26
DiegoFrogs
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Almost everyone's thoughts on the subject have evolved over time while riding. I have a problem when people look at the bike that they have as an insurmountable obstacle to start riding because someone else may have something more ideal.

Interestingly, as I now think about moving to an ancient, cobble-stoned town in Sweden where ridership is high, I'm going to be looking to see how they ride and considering what I'd like to ride.
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Old 09-23-13, 02:03 PM   #27
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My 3 pesos. Any bike will do. Some will do better than others. I use a road bike, but sometimes wish I had mounting points for racks. If you must, a cheep $100 bike from WalMart will get the job done, though there are a lot that will do it better. I usually recommend against suspension bikes unless you plan to do some really serious off roading. Shocks only slow down a street bike. I am not talking about racing, but I do like to get home in decent time.
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Old 09-23-13, 02:21 PM   #28
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The shorter the distance the more the statement holds true. As an extreme example I can't see any one realistically commuting on a kids' 10" bike or Penny-Farthing.
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Old 09-23-13, 02:31 PM   #29
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Any bike will work in a pinch but not all bikes are well suited to daily commuting.

On my commutes I see mostly road bikes, hybrids, city bikes, hipster single speeders, and mountain bikes with street tires. During the winter they almost all have fenders. That describes a pretty broad set of bikes but it also leaves out quite a few types. I seldom see, just for example, dual suspension or knobby-tired mountain bikes, time trial bikes, BMX bikes, track bikes, beach cruisers, touring bikes with full F and R panniers, folding bikes, etc. Not never but seldom.

For me a commuting bike should be comfortable for my body, efficient at my preferred cruising speed, easy to maneuver in traffic, have fenders and lights, not be too valuable or too delicate, tolerant of daily rain, and have gearing suitable for my route. It has to be able to carry my stuff, although nowadays I wear a backpack so that isn't a requirement anymore. It can't require much maintenance.

For me that translates to a road bike or, second best, a rigid mountain bike with road tires. So I commute on an early 80s steel race bike with good fenders, lots of lights including a very bright headlight, 700 x 25 mm tires, not too aggressive a position (drop bars level with saddle), a small Carradice saddlebag (convenient place to toss the U lock and gloves), frame pump, and road gearing (53/39 x 12-26).

Cluttered picture



In a perfect world, this bike might have a wide range IGH and a chaincase, to spare me some maintenance. A generator hub would save me the trouble of recharging batteries. But I don't want to spend the money.

Someone who finds drop bars uncomfortable, needs lower gears for their route, prefers panniers to backpack, or cruises at a different speed, would make a different choice.
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Old 09-23-13, 04:56 PM   #30
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The shorter the distance the more the statement holds true. As an extreme example I can't see any one realistically commuting on a kids' 10" bike or Penny-Farthing.
You might be wrong on both. Here's a guy who commuted on his penny farthing (he stopped because people kept stopping him and asking about it).

10" wheels are kind of hard to find. Here's a folding bike with 14" wheels (although here's a folding bike with 8" wheels). You'd be surprised what you could gear up...
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Old 09-23-13, 09:17 PM   #31
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It's especially true for someone starting out as a bike commuter. He/she won't know what kind of bike is best for him. (Forgive me, but I can't keep up the him/her thing.) So start on anything. Then you'll know if you want a racing bike, a cargo bike, a folding bike, whatever.

Some bikes are close to ideal for some people and some conditions. Some are not. But a bike is a device for getting from one place to another, and a bike will do that, if it runs. Coming back from the other place to the first one is rarely much harder, so the same bike can perform that function, too. Once you've gone out and back, you've commuted. There: you're on a commuting bike.
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Old 10-14-13, 06:54 PM   #32
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The ideal commuting bike is what you finally end up deciding on. Many variables, the most obvious IMO are the distance of the commute, your luggage requirements, your personal preference, and budget. I personally have never bought a new bike for commuting. First one was a Novara randonee I bought from a friend at work. I was lucky because it was the ideal commuter for my 25 mi Rt commute. The only change I made I that bike were putting specialized armadillos and a brooks saddle on it. This doesn't happen normally. Some buddies of mine have been through quite a few setups before they finally were happy. Sadly the randonee was stolen, and I did lust after another bike, the trek 520. I got insurance $ for the randonee and bought a 05 trek 520 off Craigslist I still commute on today. Changes to this bike was switched from messenger bag to rack and panniers, and currently have a brooks saddle on it as well. My commute has changed a bit, shorter by 5 miles a day but much hillier. I will be changing the gearing eventually and installing birifters(Barcons work great just love the action of a good birifter and the fact I don't have to move my hands) oh yeah I have a really loud brass bell, and lights. Still no fenders but ill be adding them soon.
My point is this; yes, you will lust over other bikes. Won't make your commute much different unless you're trying to commute 30 mi rt on a beach cruiser or something. You'll quickly find the bike style that's right for you and then lust over similar style bikes that won't make much of a difference in your actual commute. The upgrades and customization will enhance your commute much more.
I whole-heartedly agree with you that "The upgrades and customization will enhance your commute much more." I had never given that aspect of it much thought.

Thanks!
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Old 10-14-13, 07:27 PM   #33
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For most people, yes, any bike will do, there won't be any special affection for one over another; it'll be a "tool of choice".

For others, like me, there are special needs/circumstances that require a bit more refinement in choice.

Being 6'1" isn't extraordinary, but I have long arms & legs, and this means I have to look art the bigger range of frame sizes -- not even an option for a big-box-store bike. I have back issues that preclude using rigid or hardtail bikes. Full suspension is necessary. Not having tried the Cane Creek Thudbuster suspension post, that'd be about the ONLY alternative I'd have left (and at $150+ for the thing, not a casual tryout); suspension posts in hardtails has not been something I can do long-term.

I also ride hard and get a little silly; I've cracked 3 MTB frames in a decade, not even doing extreme stuff -- it's just a combination of my size, my riding habits, and a hit-or-miss experience in quality.

So for ME, no -- not just any bike will do as a commuter.
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Old 10-15-13, 12:36 AM   #34
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For short city commutes, where potholes rule the day, then hybrids are more ideal for commuting. Road bikes work best when they have cross lever brakes and the roads are consistently well-paved. IMO, hybrids and tourers make the best universal commuters, because most can be equipped with both rack and fenders.
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Old 10-15-13, 04:10 AM   #35
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Any bike will do. I have a friend who commutes 10km everyday on a unicycle. (I'll post pics the next time I see him). He even takes it onto the lakeside trail I will only attempt on my former MTB. It really comes down to what you enjoy riding rather than what is practical.
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Old 10-15-13, 08:56 AM   #36
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I would say that the bike must be of sufficient quality to be maintainable. Most sub-$100 BSOs have a significant number of parts made from sheet metal, including brakes, levers, derailleurs, and hangars. Assembly is often sub-standard, sometimes stripping threads that were low quality to begin with. These bikes are simply not maintainable, and will have very short lifetimes when pressed into everyday duty.
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Old 10-15-13, 09:12 AM   #37
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yes both bikes easily handle regular 25km RT commutes:

n



n+1

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Old 10-15-13, 09:20 AM   #38
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Thinking back thirty years, my first commuter was a beat up 7 ?? speed (5 speed??), 26" tires, no name brand "mountain-type bike"; drop bars from somewhere mounted upside-down. I don't even recall where it came from.

I stll recall how much I enjoyed riding the four miles into work on that bike. Even brung it when I moved to Texas, where it served for a 20 mile round-trip commute (I was young and fit then, and back then I think we had fewer options and fewer expectations when it came to bikes).

Shortly thereafter (1984??) I bought a Schwinn Passage for that same commute, and likely got in the best shape of my life on it. And given the comments on forums about that bike, I wish I still had it, but I gave it away to a friend when leaving. I still kept that old beater tho', I was fond of it.

Finally gave it away to a friend some years back who worked at the airport and had to transition between hangars a lot, he gave it back eventually, and I believe we donated it to charity. Wish I still had that bike too.

Mike
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Old 10-15-13, 12:20 PM   #39
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Well for me a road bike is ideal, or at least the road bike I have is the most ideal out of the 2 bikes I own. My RT is 31 miles. I tried it once on my MTB and even with a rigid fork and street tires, it was just *meh* compared to using my road bike. I'm still pretty slow but the road bike just feels more efficient.

And I ride on some pretty bad roads, also. Road bike with alum frame, carbon fork, and 25c tires handles it just fine.
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Old 10-15-13, 12:32 PM   #40
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Thinking some more, if you want to see every sort of commuter bike under the sun, just roam any big college campus and peruse the bike racks. That first commuting bike I recall so fondly was actually just a typical campus generic parts bike of that era.

It seems we do expect more of our bikes now in terms of category and function, but I'd guess you can still find everything under the sun on campus.
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Old 10-15-13, 01:46 PM   #41
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What makes a commuter car? What are the qualities one looks for in a 4-wheeled, powered vehicle to get from one's residence to one's place of work? I know a guy who's daily driver is an _old_ MG convertible. A friend's dad drove a Dodge Viper in the summer in the summer and a Jeep in the winter. A former co-worker had a Shelby-clone kit car that he drove on nice summer days, another co-worker's only car was a Lotus, and a California surfer-dude I knew drove a F-350 diesel, but had plans to upgrade to a Mercedes. My wife loves her Toyota Echo, and I'll probably have to go find another one if this one ever dies. An old friend has traded in a car about every 18 months for the past 10 years, I have no clue what he's driving now, last I knew he went from little sports car to mid-size pick-up. I'm rolling over 210K on the Subaru I bought new 2 years out of college.

So, I ask you, will any car do for driving to work? How do you choose the car you use to drive to work?

It is not true that any bike would work for _me_ to commute on. My current commuter is somewhat modified from when I first started using it to get to work, and very heavily modified from when it first left the retail floor. Most bikes I _could_ get to work on, but I would start modifying (or completely overhauling) many of them immediately, and the rest would get at least some tweaking.
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Old 10-15-13, 04:50 PM   #42
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any functioning bicycle can serve as a commuting bicycle.
I've seen a lot of nonfunctional bikes that serve as a commuting bike. That includes the guy who came to the coop without bearings on one side his front wheel and a locked front axle which he had been using to get back and forth to work for a year. The axle turned in the dropout and wore off the threads. The bearings weren't worn out but had been removed prior to his buying the bike. Once we replaced the bearings and the axle, his speed jumped to near the speed of sound after all that resistance training

And, yes, any bike can be used for commuting. I've used road bikes, cross bikes, touring bikes, cruisers, hardtail mountain bikes (knobby equipped), soft tail mountain bikes (knobby equipped), full dually mountain bikes (also knobby equipped), and even tandems as commuter bikes. I even have a neighbor who rides an ordinary from the Denver Highlands to Downtown and back...a drop (and rise) of about 1000 feet.
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Old 10-15-13, 05:16 PM   #43
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There's two competing issues here: What bikes work for commuting. What rationalization/justification do you have for spending a lot of money on the bike you want.

Both are equally true. Any bike at all will work and yes it is imperative that you spend $4000 on a titanium road bike to be able to go to work. (insert whatever grabs your fancy in place of the titanium road bike)
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Old 10-15-13, 05:28 PM   #44
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Any bike at all will work and yes it is imperative that you spend $4000 on a titanium road bike to be able to go to work. (insert whatever grabs your fancy in place of the titanium road bike)
Well hey, with the OTHER forms of wheeled commuting vehicles out there, $4,000 doesn't even get you in the front door.

Lately I've been heavily into reenacting, for the price of my flintlock smoothbore alone I coulda had a Surly LHT, and I have a cheap one.

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Old 10-15-13, 05:34 PM   #45
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For me personally, no.

If I have to (flat on the road bike) or need to (rain) ride a more difficult or less fun bike, sure, you do what you need to do. BUT, with that said, my mountain bike with slicks doesn't even compare to my Miele road bike. It's not even a night and day difference. It's a world of difference between the two and I wouldn't have it any other way!
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Old 10-15-13, 08:09 PM   #46
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It beats walking.
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Old 10-15-13, 09:29 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
Well for me a road bike is ideal, or at least the road bike I have is the most ideal out of the 2 bikes I own. My RT is 31 miles. I tried it once on my MTB and even with a rigid fork and street tires, it was just *meh* compared to using my road bike. I'm still pretty slow but the road bike just feels more efficient.

And I ride on some pretty bad roads, also. Road bike with alum frame, carbon fork, and 25c tires handles it just fine.
+1

This is generally true. However, some cities have unbelievably bad streets riddled with potholes. IMO, wide knobby tires do better over unkempt partially paved streets. Most hybrid frames can more easily accept these types of tires. Cities like Detroit, New York, Chicago, and Cleveland are hybrid commuting cities!

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Old 10-16-13, 12:10 AM   #48
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The typical Nor Cal road race is on far worse pavement than the roughest city street in Sacramento so I am pretty sure my delicate china tea cup of a CF road bike can handle the ride to the office.
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Old 10-16-13, 04:50 AM   #49
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The typical Nor Cal road race is on far worse pavement than the roughest city street in Sacramento so I am pretty sure my delicate china tea cup of a CF road bike can handle the ride to the office.
+1

Agreed!

Your CF "tea cup" of a road bike can handle practically anything. However, those skinny road bike tires just might not make it to downtown Detriot!

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Old 10-16-13, 05:56 AM   #50
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I've seen the whole range of bikes in the rack at work. Old mountain bikes, road bikes, newer big box store bikes, comfort bikes, a few IGH hybrids like mine, regular hybrids, a triathlon/time trial bike that gets ridden with flip-flops and basketball shorts... and yes, a few years ago there was a unicycle. Which was showboating. If ever there was a machine that you could take inside and tuck under your desk, a unicycle would be it.
Of all of these, I suppose the time trial bike is the least commute-worthy, but it works for the guy who rides it. He used to do triathlons, had the bike, and decided it would do as well as any other for pedalling to work on.
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