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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 04-20-14, 01:45 PM   #1
Metropdx
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Mt bike commuting

Just got a new mt bike a few weeks ago- love it. I am trying to get my wind and endurance up to commute at least 2 days to and from my job (my starting goal) - since gas is going up due to upcoming summer season (and a host of other political factors I won't get into)- it's becoming more and more a necessity for me to use the bike for short errands and trips. So I had some questions:

1) any commendations for a good quality handle bar/helmet light? I already have several of the blinking red lights on it now

2) anyone have a recommendation for a safety vest for a Clydesdale? I wear a 4x but that should change with all the riding I do.

3) seeing the need to get a urban wheel set - I have a 29ner bike - I have been considering the big apple all weathers- anyone use those? I would also like to have separate wheels so I can just change urban to the knob as I need to. Seen a lot of options, seems you can spend as little as 120for a set up to the thousands. The bike was only $500 so I can't see the logic of justifying wheels that cost more than the bike itself- maybe I need to rethink this or am I on target.

4). Fenders will be bought this week- my concern is will the fenders be compatible with the 2 wheel sets? Will I need fenders for each set? Or will one pair of fenders fit all?

Buying a dedicated townie or commuter bike setup is just not possible due to space concerns I am I a 1 br apt and as it is the mt bike is parked next to the couch.

Thanks
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Old 04-20-14, 03:16 PM   #2
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Have a look at ANSI high visibility vests, the same ones used by construction/road crews.. These vests have a lot of adjustability, they are highly visible and much cheaper then fancy bike specific stuff... Planet Bike makes fenders in 60mm width made specifically for a 29'er frame, you should be able to run both skinny and wider tires with them.
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Old 04-20-14, 05:43 PM   #3
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There are people on the forum who can advise you better than me, and probably will, but if you wear a 4X then I think you'll need a custom or relatively high end set of wheels. The commercial wheels on relatively low end bikes aren't designed to take the kind of weight a 4X represents. They won't catastrophically break, probably, but you'll break spokes and have trouble keeping them true. On a positive note, if you ride the hell out of the set you have now, you won't be that big for long.

Amazon.com: CatEye Nano Shot Plus USB Rechargeable Bicycle Headlight HL-EL625RC: Sports & Outdoors

I use a Cateye Nano Plus for a light, very durable, good coverage and visibility. Put a little bit of Vaseline on the rails and it's easy to put on and take off.
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Old 04-20-14, 11:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Metropdx View Post
Just got a new mt bike a few weeks ago- love it. I am trying to get my wind and endurance up to commute at least 2 days to and from my job (my starting goal) - since gas is going up due to upcoming summer season (and a host of other political factors I won't get into)- it's becoming more and more a necessity for me to use the bike for short errands and trips. So I had some questions:
(1) NiteRider Mako 200 Lumen Headlight and a Planet Bike Superflash is plenty for commuting and relatively inexpensive, check them out at Outside Outfitters and other online sites.

(2) Dunno...

(3) I haven't tried the Big Apples, but Schwalbe Marathons have kept me flat free for two years. As for a second wheelset, it's a convenience issue. If you plan to ride on knobbies a lot, sure go for the wheels. If not, I would change tires. Unless you're on disk wheels, changing wheels will likely require fiddling with rim brakes. When compared to changing out tires, it's six of one half a dozen of the other.

(4) Fenders that fit larger wheels will work fine for smaller wheels. Does your bike have suspension?

Have you considered a folding bike option to deal with space issues?
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Old 04-21-14, 12:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metropdx View Post
Just got a new mt bike a few weeks ago- love it. I am trying to get my wind and endurance up to commute at least 2 days to and from my job (my starting goal) - since gas is going up due to upcoming summer season (and a host of other political factors I won't get into)- it's becoming more and more a necessity for me to use the bike for short errands and trips. So I had some questions:

1) any commendations for a good quality handle bar/helmet light? I already have several of the blinking red lights on it now

2) anyone have a recommendation for a safety vest for a Clydesdale? I wear a 4x but that should change with all the riding I do.

3) seeing the need to get a urban wheel set - I have a 29ner bike - I have been considering the big apple all weathers- anyone use those? I would also like to have separate wheels so I can just change urban to the knob as I need to. Seen a lot of options, seems you can spend as little as 120for a set up to the thousands. The bike was only $500 so I can't see the logic of justifying wheels that cost more than the bike itself- maybe I need to rethink this or am I on target.

4). Fenders will be bought this week- my concern is will the fenders be compatible with the 2 wheel sets? Will I need fenders for each set? Or will one pair of fenders fit all?

Buying a dedicated townie or commuter bike setup is just not possible due to space concerns I am I a 1 br apt and as it is the mt bike is parked next to the couch.

Thanks
Are you aware we have a sub-forum dedicated to us larger folk? The vest question is more likely to get an answer there.
Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg)

Wish I could help, I wear 3X/4X myself, but don't use a vest. Usually Aerotech designs is the go-to place for us bigger folks for cycling clothes, but they only have two vests listed, and the biggest has a 44 inch chest.
LG Reflective High Visibility Cycling Running Safety Vest
I imagine several folks over at the Clydesdales sub-forum have gotten big vests somewhere and have recommendations though.


Lights run the gamut and you'll get a million recommendations ranging from $200 dollar blinding light arrays, to dynamo hub conversions, to cheap imported lights. I'm in the latter camp. I'm not ready to shell out for a dynohub wheel or tackle the wiring, much less the expense of many of the lights for these systems. Likewise, I think a lot of the lights on the market or overpriced or over bright, and I don't like having to deal with having to worry about a battery pack getting stolen, much less the aestethics of having a battery pack mounted on my bike along with everything else. So I've chosen rechargeable batteries and relatively inexpensive lights.

I run three forward facing lights:
Cateye Reflex: this is my flashing light, it is my "be seen" light so that cars spot me. It looks a lot like an old school reflector, so I have some hope it will be overlooked by thieves. Runs on a pair of AA batteries, costs about $25, but I've picked them up from Nashbar on sale for as little as $15.

On my handlebars I run a flashlight. I picked up one very similar to this on ebay:
USA UltraFire WF 502B CREE XM L T6 5 Mode 1000LM LED Flashlight Charger Combo | eBay
Comes with a charger for those size batteries and two of the batteries. With a $3 dollar flashlight handlebar mount the whole set-up cost me less than $20, although I did pick up two more spare batteries for it. It looks like some of these now come in AA battery size too, which if they're as good, would simplify charging somewhat, although I've come to like having two separate chargers so I can charge more batteries at once, when I slip up and aren't on top of my charging routines.

This light is TOO bright in flashing mode, but on solid it's bright enough to be seen during the day, and at night is enough to light up the road for moderate speed riding. The handlebar mount has a quick release, it just takes a moment to take this light with me if I am worried about someone walking away with it when I park.

On my helmet I run a Planet Blaze .5 watt helmet light. The PB Blazes come in stronger wattage (up to 2W) now I think, but when I got it the helmet one was only in .5W either for longevity of the batteries or to keep weight down. I don't know if Planet Bike makes a more powerful helmet specific one now, but this one is plenty bright enough to get drivers attention, and it does help to light up the road, but wouldn't be enough on its own. This light runs on a pair of AA batteries and the costs about $25.

Having a light on the helmet is a must in my book. Being able to aim the light at drivers is to get their attention can be a lifesaver, and helps with confidence riding down the road, but every day it helps to keep drivers in their place. But, since your head should be moving around to keep a lookout in all directions, a forward facing light is also needed. Either a bright light or a flashing light might be sufficient on their own, but I like having both. Not only am I able to light up the road/path for hazards when I am away from streetlights or other illumination with the flashlight, but the flashing light helps ensure that I'm am noticed.


I don't run 29er/700C, and I'm not running the Big Apples, but I recently got a set of the Schwalbe Big Bens in 26 x 2.15, and my understanding is that the Big Bens are Big Apples with flat protection. I've been riding these for about a month, getting to close to the point where I'll be able to write up a proper review for them, but I can say already that I'm really liking them so far. Only a touch slower than the 1.5" tires I was running before, but much cushier over the rough roads I travel on. Very confidence inspiring going over railroad tracks and other large obstacles due to their big size. Finally got a chance to do a little high speed cornering with an aggressive lean on them this morning and they did fine with that too. Great tires.

As far as wheels go, I'd look for recommendations on the Clydesdale sub-forum I linked to above. I don't run 29er/700C so I can't really help here other than to say that having a machine made wheel stress relieved and trued by a skilled mechanic makes a HUGE difference in how they hold up. Even a fairly modest wheel can be made fairly stout this way, and if you start out with a pretty tough wheel to begin with that's usually enough for us big guys (I'm 280#).

My philosophy is to not worry about the cost of components and accessories versus the initial cost or worth of a bike. That's the path to madness! You need good wheels, period. They don't need to be outrageously expensive, but it's better to buy decent wheels, have them fine tuned by a good mechanic and have spent that money once, than end up buying cheap wheels, killing them and then still have to spend more money for wheels. Ask me how I know!
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Old 04-21-14, 01:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Medic Zero View Post
I don't run 29er/700C, and I'm not running the Big Apples, but I recently got a set of the Schwalbe Big Bens in 26 x 2.15, and my understanding is that the Big Bens are Big Apples with flat protection. I've been riding these for about a month, getting to close to the point where I'll be able to write up a proper review for them, but I can say already that I'm really liking them so far. Only a touch slower than the 1.5" tires I was running before, but much cushier over the rough roads I travel on. Very confidence inspiring going over railroad tracks and other large obstacles due to their big size. Finally got a chance to do a little high speed cornering with an aggressive lean on them this morning and they did fine with that too. Great tires.
Big Bens and Big Apples have the same flat protection. The difference is that Big Bens have slightly taller tread to give better grip for off road conditions.
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Old 04-21-14, 02:01 AM   #7
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Big Bens and Big Apples have the same flat protection. The difference is that Big Bens have slightly taller tread to give better grip for off road conditions.
Ah! Thanks for the clarification!
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