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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 02-26-14, 12:23 PM   #1
rekon
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New to Commuting

Hello all,

I am new to this forum and cycling in general. I did a good amount of research and I recently purchased a Jamis Nova Sport 54 cm. I primarily bought this bike for commuting to school (4 miles). I figured it would be cheaper to ride this bike to college as apposed to paying insanely high parking costs - plus I can get a work out! I eventually want to build up my endurance and ride this bike to work (10 miles).

With that said, do you guys have any tips for a beginner commuter? Did I make a decent choice on the bike I chose?
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Old 02-26-14, 12:34 PM   #2
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Looks fine to me!

Tips from another beginner commuter - you'll find soon enough if you need fenders (wet butt after going through wet ground -> you need fenders), and some sort of rack. I thought I had everything covered with my backpack, but after doing the first shopping run with some simple panniers, I saw the light

Good luck, and ride safely!
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Old 02-26-14, 12:53 PM   #3
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Federico, Thank you for the tips. So far no wet but! lol however, we are expecting rain out here in SoCal -- so we'll see!

Hmm... so far I think I am good with a backpack, but you're right I might have to look into getting some sort of rack if I need to carry anything bigger than books.
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Old 02-26-14, 12:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moochems View Post
Getting a rack (with some ROK straps, adjustable ones) and some fenders, and some lights will help you comfortably commute.
I have front and rear lights. A little hard to tell from the picture...
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Old 02-26-14, 01:04 PM   #5
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You made an excellent purchase decision. It looks like a fine bike.

Don't lock it in public for longer than necessary. See if you can bring it with you. And get a lock that is appropriate for your area. In some areas, a flimsy cable is enough. In other areas, you need an 8-pound chain and eyes like a hawk's. It's best to have a lock that's a little better than the locks most other people are using, to encourage a potential thief to move onto other targets.

Don't buy too much stuff yet. There's potential for not using it. Ride a few times before you determine you need stuff. Bike commuting is expensiver than you think. You'll soon find out.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:01 PM   #6
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Very nice bike! I'm a fairly new commuter (started back in September). Here are a few things I learned right at the start:
* If there isn't room for a car to pass you without completely changing lanes, you should "take the lane." Otherwise, drivers can get impatient and try to squeeze around you, which is both dangerous and scary.
* Related to the first point: sometimes you can't ride very close to the right side of the road. That seems to be where most of the broken glass and major potholes are.
* Carry tissues in your pocket or somewhere easily accessible. Trust me.
* Slow down. Pushing hard doesn't get you there that much faster, especially over a short commute like yours, but it does ensure you get there covered in sweat.
* If the light ahead is red, slow down. It might go green before you get there, saving you the considerable effort of getting up to speed from a dead stop.
* When the light goes green, if you are at a dead stop, don't plan on the car in front of you starting to move right away. You'll need to wait for the driver to finish his/her text.
* The world can be an exceptionally beautiful place if you are going slowly enough to notice it.

There's lots more, but those were just a few things that surprised me the first few times I rode.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:19 PM   #7
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Visit this website for lots of great tips on riding among and being a part of traffic, especially when there are no bike facilities present.

http://cyclingsavvy.org/
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Old 02-26-14, 02:20 PM   #8
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Ride.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:30 PM   #9
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Oh, this was huge for me. USE A MIRROR! I cannot stress enough how much a mirror helped me be more confident and at ease riding in traffic. I don't do well turning my head to look back, so having a mirror, specifically helmet-mounted since I use different glasses for different times of day, helped my peace of mind considerably.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rekon View Post
Federico, Thank you for the tips. So far no wet but! lol however, we are expecting rain out here in SoCal -- so we'll see!

Hmm... so far I think I am good with a backpack, but you're right I might have to look into getting some sort of rack if I need to carry anything bigger than books.
If you are in SoCal fenders might be a winter only thing, or you might consider some clip on fenders for the days that are wet. In NorCal in SF I think fenders could be useful even in summer as the streets can get so wet from the fog its like rain. When it is dry for a while then the ground is wet the worst part seems to be everything gets covered in dirt as the water dries if you are without fenders - your backpack, shoes, the bike, etc.

I use a backpack myself, but plan to get a rack when I get a new bike that can handle one better. I like the backpack IF I don't have to carry to much and its not to hot. When i have to carry extra stuff with me (a book, laptop, etc) the weight of the backpack gets to me and can make my back/shoulders sore while riding. When it is hot, my back sweats to much with the backpack. I imagine these could both be issues for you carrying books and in the heat of socal.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:48 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Don't buy too much stuff yet. There's potential for not using it. Ride a few times before you determine you need stuff. Bike commuting is expensiver than you think. You'll soon find out.
But isn't researching and getting new gear half the fun? I always justify it with the money I save not driving or taking transit, or paying for a gym membership.

Seriously though, it is a good recommendation. I would ride a bit to decide what you really need. I made a few poor purchases early on and then wound up having to buy new gear later.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:56 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Giant Doofus View Post
* Carry tissues in your pocket or somewhere easily accessible. Trust me.
Isn't that what the soft back of the thumb on your bike gloves is for? Other option is the snot rocket.


On a more serious note - Never assume
1) you know what a driver will do
2) that a driver sees you

If you keep a defensive mindset it may help you avoid an accident caused by a careless driver.
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Old 02-26-14, 03:05 PM   #13
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Get a rack and fenders, bell, wide tires, wear something bright, good lights, pump, CO2, patch kit and spare tube. Forget the mirror. Ride as fast as you can and most importantly, assume you are invisible.
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Old 02-26-14, 03:13 PM   #14
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Get a rack and fenders, bell, wide tires, wear something bright, good lights, pump, CO2, patch kit and spare tube. Forget the mirror. Ride as fast as you can and most importantly, assume you are invisible.
Ridiculous. I ride near center of the right lane on multi-lane roads and it's extremely helpful to be able to keep an eye on traffic behind me to make sure they're changing lanes. Equally so on 2-lane roads. Preparing for left turns is also a million times easier with a mirror. And if you're riding with others it's easier to keep on eye on those behind you, or for approaching cars so you can yell "car back" before anyone else.
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Old 02-26-14, 03:21 PM   #15
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wear something bright
This is good advice. If you can get over the very high dork quotient, a high visibility vest is a great idea. I use this $8 one: http://www.amazon.com/Neiko-Visibili...isibility+vest.

If you know you won't be riding in the dark, then you can get fairly inexpensive blinky lights like this $14 set: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QSXMME/...I33LNBXZUY6GQO. If you will be riding in the dark, then you'll want a high quality LED headlight and tail light. People who know more than I do about these matters will have to advise on you that.

Last edited by Giant Doofus; 02-26-14 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 02-26-14, 03:28 PM   #16
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All you actually need is everything necessary to fix a flat on the road (which I say is tube, patches, pump and tools), vigilance and practice. Regular maintenance on the bike, the first step of which is checking before you leave: Air, brakes, cables, quick releases (abc-quick).

A rack is extremely convenient, or other more creative ways to get the backpack off your back. I'd recommend eye protection: sunglasses or goggles as you prefer.

Everything else mentioned here is good advice, in my opinion optional. I agree with not spending much money on equipment or clothes just yet; it's true that it can become a habit and get away from you. It can also be extremely cheap if you just refuse to buy anything unless you actually need it.

Beyond that, I'd just say be consistent with it. You might already be in great shape, or maybe you'll have to start slowly, but either way you'll improve quickly and it gets easier. If you keep at it. Eventually it's just easy, that 10 miles to work becomes routine.
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Old 02-26-14, 03:34 PM   #17
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I'll second the don't lock it in public for long. But assuming you have no choice at your school, read up on locking theories. Get at least two locks (one u lock and one cable) and learn the best lock the bike and also lock the wheels and saddle to the frame etc.


I also commute in SoCal and after about a year of commuting I have not had the need to get fenders. I'm more concerned staying cool with this 85 degree winter weather
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Old 02-26-14, 03:41 PM   #18
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You chose well. That bike will serve you well for a long time. 10 miles to work will come quick. Maybe not so quick if you're part of SoCal is in the hills, but you will get there. The way to get good on hills is to ride hills. It's said that training on hill is like wrestling a gorilla.............the fight ain't over 'til the gorillas done.

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I have front and rear lights. A little hard to tell from the picture...
No you don't. Get lights, especially rear. A weekend's worth of reading to do searching light threads.

Mirrors....another day's worth of reading. Some do, some don't, there's only one way to find out.

If you haven't, look here.

Don't worry about speed. Ride at the speed of fun.
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Old 02-26-14, 04:27 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
Isn't that what the soft back of the thumb on your bike gloves is for? Other option is the snot rocket.


On a more serious note - Never assume
1) you know what a driver will do
2) that a driver sees you

If you keep a defensive mindset it may help you avoid an accident caused by a careless driver.
Lies. You always know that the driver (A) sees you and (B) is trying to hit you and make it look like an accident. If they slow down to let you go, they are really only trying to coax you out in front of them. You must have an escape route at all times.

Also, if there are cars parked on the side of the road right next to a lane labeled “BIKE LANE”, someone made a mistake. It should be labeled “DOOR ZONE”. Do not ride there unless you want to hit a door as it opens.
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Old 02-26-14, 04:46 PM   #20
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As a So Cal commuter, I can say that while you may not need fenders often for rain, they are great for those drizzly mornings, and when you're riding on a MUT and it's all wet from irrigation. One other item that I'll throw out there, just because I love mine so much; kickstands rock.
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Old 02-26-14, 04:50 PM   #21
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If you don't ride at night, a rear light is more important than a front light. I highly recommend a Cygolite Hotshot as a great bang-for-the-buck rear light. At the $30 price point its brightness is pretty much second to none. And being USB rechargeable is a HUGE plus for me.
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Old 02-26-14, 05:39 PM   #22
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Don't forget to roll your pants up so they don't get caught in the chain! It won't happen every time but it'll happen eventually... I've ruined more than one pair of jeans that way. You can also keep trousers out of the chain with a rubber band or a small binder clip.

If you have a part of your commute that is terrifying or too difficult, change routes to go around. Even if it means the trip is longer. Staying safe and happy is the most important thing. If there's no way around don't be embarrassed to get off the bike and walk when you need to.
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Old 02-26-14, 06:58 PM   #23
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Ok. You got the bike. A very nice cool looking bike. Now you need a mirror, front and rear lights, rear rack, kickstand and fenders so that you can dork it up. Except to everyone around here that will think it is an even more cool looking bike! Welcome to the addiction. Stay safe and and fun.
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Old 02-26-14, 07:24 PM   #24
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Nice looking bike.

I like a miror and a rack. Others don't.

I live in Southern Ca but I still have fenders on my primary commuter.
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Old 02-26-14, 08:21 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Get a rack and fenders, bell, wide tires, wear something bright, good lights, pump, CO2, patch kit and spare tube. Forget the mirror. Ride as fast as you can and most importantly, assume you are invisible.
Is this post seriously meant as good advice?...a bell instead of a mirror? ....ride as fast as you can?

Use of a mirror may be a contentious item on various threads, but the preponderance of replies favor a mirror, and to categorically dismiss its utility, especially to a beginner seeking advice is pretty irresponsible IMO:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldsport View Post
I always thought that I didn't need a mirror because it is so easy for me to look back...Now I won't ride without it. In fact I would ride without a helmet before I would ride without my mirror.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I have read many BF threads about mirrors, and this is a common reply. I perennially post to such threads that I wear two eyeglass-mounted mirrors, both right and left.
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