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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 05-02-14, 06:35 AM   #1
Mark Stone
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Stripped Down City Bike

I went to Dallas last week for a training seminar held by my employer, and stayed in a downtown hotel (Indigo, in case you're curious) and in my evening wanderings I noticed that all the downtown commuters I saw had backpacks and their bikes had no racks, panniers, coke/milk crates, etc. It looked really clean. So I thought I'd give it a try - When I got home I stripped down the Black Knight. I removed the Coke Crate, the rack, the frame pump, and a lot of the lighting. I resurrected a backpack I used to use, and I've ridden like this for a week now.

The difference in how the bike feels and handles is like night and day. It's brisker, attacks easier, and my average speed (according to my lil' computer) is up by 1.5 mph. It's a lot funner to ride, even though there's a backpack on my back.

Lol, I may change my opinion when it gets 100+ degrees here in ELP and my back gets soaked from backpack sweat, but for now this is quite a difference. So for all the "Backpack vs. Pannier" threads? I officially re-post "Backpack"

I'll post pictures of the transformation (if I feel like it) later . . . . The bike, imho, looks a lot better, too.
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Old 05-02-14, 07:30 AM   #2
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Oh noooo. I can see how this is going to go and it's not pretty.

Before long you'll decide you don't need gears.

Then the brakes will go too.

And you'll grow a ridiculously long beard and start wearing flannel shirts...

Your only hope is that the triple digit temps of summer will put some sense back into you.


I myself have succumbed to the allure of the simple bike. Fortunately at an early age I was frightened by a mammoth Paul Bunyan statue and could never bring myself to grow a large beard or wear flannel.

Last edited by tjspiel; 05-02-14 at 07:35 AM.
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Old 05-02-14, 07:33 AM   #3
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Oh noooo. I can see how this is going to go and it's not pretty.

Before long you'll decide you don't need gears.

Then the brakes will go too.

And you'll grow a ridiculously long beard and start wearing flannel shirts...

Your only hope is that the triple digit temps of summer will put some sense back into you.
Ummm.. I almost resemble that remark.. no flannel and still have the front brake though
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Old 05-02-14, 07:34 AM   #4
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I have an affinity for that perspective although I haven't taken off the MS clone and fenders yet. On the backpack, I just hang a lightweight drawstring pack from the frame (straps at the bottom around the seat tube, one at the top around the head tube, velcro strap over the top tube.) It works great for me but I have yet to see anyone copying it so it either looks dorky or they don't know how, probably the former. You might give it a try as a third alternative to backpack vs panniers.
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Old 05-02-14, 07:36 AM   #5
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Ummm.. I almost resemble that remark.. no flannel and still have the front brake though
If it's any consolation I hear that women are really attracted to men with facial hair, - some anyway.
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Old 05-02-14, 07:50 AM   #6
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A lot depends on how far you commute. If I was only riding a few miles, a backpack would be fine, but I'm thrilled with the idea of wearing a heavy pack for 30+ miles, 2+ hours. I suspect that many of the downtown hipsters with stripped down bikes and backpacks are not riding very far, but who am I to presume.
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Old 05-02-14, 09:36 AM   #7
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I have a back rack on my commuter, and wear a backpack on my road bike. My commute is ~50 min and even in the heat the backpack is fine, as long as I rest it on my lower back and keep the straps long and loose so the top is hanging away from my shoulders. It lets air through. A couple of years ago I experimented with one of those mesh backrests for cars, but didn't get good results. I try to pack light and keep shoes at the office. I have ridden both ways on longer weekend rides about 4 hours and the backpack is fine as long as it hangs light, loose and low. My back sweats enough even without the backback that the extra dampness under the shoulder straps and at the base of my back really don't make a difference.
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Old 05-02-14, 10:45 AM   #8
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I built up a single speed coaster brake path racer last year. It does not see many miles but some days when I know I dont need lights, patch kit, etc I like taking the stripped down bike to work or downtown. Could never be my daily ride but I certainly understand the appeal.
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Old 05-02-14, 03:26 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Oh noooo. I can see how this is going to go and it's not pretty.

Before long you'll decide you don't need gears.

Then the brakes will go too.

And you'll grow a ridiculously long beard and start wearing flannel shirts...

Your only hope is that the triple digit temps of summer will put some sense back into you.


I myself have succumbed to the allure of the simple bike. Fortunately at an early age I was frightened by a mammoth Paul Bunyan statue and could never bring myself to grow a large beard or wear flannel.
You know Dickies makes a sleeveless flannel. My wife chimed in and stopped me from getting one.
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Old 05-02-14, 04:40 PM   #10
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I've been sort of going the other way... more fendered bike miles than not this year and I'm looking for a milk crate.
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Old 05-02-14, 05:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Oh noooo. I can see how this is going to go and it's not pretty.

Before long you'll decide you don't need gears.

Then the brakes will go too.

And you'll grow a ridiculously long beard and start wearing flannel shirts...

Your only hope is that the triple digit temps of summer will put some sense back into you.


I myself have succumbed to the allure of the simple bike. Fortunately at an early age I was frightened by a mammoth Paul Bunyan statue and could never bring myself to grow a large beard or wear flannel.
LOL !..I was really tempted to remove the brakes on my fixie....but something inside tells me to keep them on for those rare times when there is a need to make a quick emergency stop, and skidding would just take too long...No flannel shirt or big beard for me but I do have a nice full goatee. Triple digit summer temps haven't prevented me from wearing my messenger bag.
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Old 05-02-14, 06:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
The difference in how the bike feels and handles is like night and day. It's brisker, attacks easier, and my average speed (according to my lil' computer) is up by 1.5 mph. It's a lot funner to ride, even though there's a backpack on my back.
That's exactly how I feel too.
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Old 05-02-14, 06:09 PM   #13
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I think that the best solution I have found requires a rack with a basket (or milk crate I guess) where I can toss my backpack and start the ride... really no muss, no fuss simplicity and more comfortable for my back and chest...
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Old 05-02-14, 06:47 PM   #14
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dump the pack and get a rack.

and one pannier.

...best of both worlds.

and don't put any of that other stuff back on.
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Old 05-02-14, 08:57 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
A lot depends on how far you commute. If I was only riding a few miles, a backpack would be fine, but I'm thrilled with the idea of wearing a heavy pack for 30+ miles, 2+ hours. I suspect that many of the downtown hipsters with stripped down bikes and backpacks are not riding very far, but who am I to presume.
I ride 40 miles a day with a backpack and prefer it. I think it's probably a little more aero and faster than using a pannier or two. The longer I ride for a commute the more I'm interested in minimizing the work I do. Adding a pair of panniers might be a little more comfortable but it wouldn't be as efficient and burn more calories. I also have to cross a bridge that has some narrow sections that I ride through between 40-50kph and I wouldn't want anything hanging off the side of my bike.
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Old 05-02-14, 11:21 PM   #16
Mark Stone
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A lot depends on how far you commute. If I was only riding a few miles, a backpack would be fine, but I'm thrilled with the idea of wearing a heavy pack for 30+ miles, 2+ hours.
A little less than 8 miles (16 round trip) for me, so that lightens the backpack considerably.
Quote:
I suspect that many of the downtown hipsters with stripped down bikes and backpacks are not riding very far, but who am I to presume.
BTW today I was off from work and terrorized my neighborhood on the stripped down Black Knight bike. I passed three people standing next to each other by a park. The first said "Here he comes", the second "Here he is", and the third "There he goes", at the same time. That's speed. Death to all panniers, racks and coke crates.

Last edited by Mark Stone; 05-02-14 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 05-03-14, 07:31 PM   #17
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Everyone assume panniers are the only kind of big bag suitable for commuting. I've used a Carradice Barley seat bag for the past 7 years and it holds all the gear I need. Gets the weight off your back but has little effect on handling or aerodynamics.
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