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.

First commute

Old 09-13-16, 07:18 PM
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insignia100
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First commute

I've just entered the world of bicycle commuting after buying a Windsor Wellington 2.0 from Bikesdirect.com. Granted, my commute is pretty measly compared to some people's (2.4 miles round trip), but I've found that for someone of my (non-existent) level of athleticism its a good start.

After my first commute I do have a few observations.
  1. I need a better backpack/messenger bag, or just upgrade to a rack and panniers.
  2. No cotton shirts. I thought I could simply wear my cotton undershirt and slip my dress shirt on when I got to work. Nope!
  3. Upgrading the seat my bike came with to a new wider one made all the difference in the world.

I'm sure as I commute more I'll find more tweaks. Currently my goal is to start riding to work 1-2 times a week, hopefully increasing frequency as the weather cools off more.
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Old 09-13-16, 07:33 PM
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Glad to hear you did it! That bike looks pretty decent. How do you like the stem shifter / drop brake combo? The old stem shift bikes had the suicide levers for riding on the tops, if you're riding on the tops a lot you could look at adding cross levers.

A couple tips

1. rack and pannier is night and day to a backpack, especially if you don't have a shower at work.
2. Change the clothes and have a wet facecloth in a baggie (if no shower, which you implied)
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Old 09-13-16, 07:45 PM
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The stem shifters are somewhat annoying, but right now I only shift once or twice during my commute, so its not a huge deal. Can't complain given the price of the bike. The brakes... suck. But I'm still trying to figure out if its the rim brakes (used to disc brakes), the pads, or simply not having as much leverage on the levers as I'm used to.

Rack and panniers it is. Oh, and I'm already planning on packing a few wash cloths and some baby wipes to use when I get at work. Technically we do have a shower, but its used for storage and there's no way I'll get them to change.

My ultimate goal is to move to something like a Trek 520 as an all around bike for commuting and recreational/fitness rides. Luckily I can store my bike indoors at work, so commuting with a more expensive bike isn't a concern. I'll likely keep the Windsor as a backup, though.
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Old 09-14-16, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by insignia100

Rack and panniers it is. Oh, and I'm already planning on packing a few wash cloths ...... Technically we do have a shower, but its used for storage and there's no way I'll get them to change.

My ultimate goal is to move to something like a Trek 520 as an all around bike for commuting and recreational/fitness rides. Luckily I can store my bike indoors at work, so commuting with a more expensive bike isn't a concern. I'll likely keep the Windsor as a backup, though.
Way to get after it! You will not regret the rack/pannier investment! Kinda sux that the shower is "storage".
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Old 09-14-16, 07:31 AM
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Well done! I've been commuting for a couple years and already gone through 3 different bikes and from 'regular' clothes to full on cycling kit lol.

I guess it can't hurt to ask about the shower situation, the worst you can get is a no. Last year we were only two people regularly commuting by bike, when we asked for a bike rack we were almost sure we'd get a big fat no, but our employer installed two racks. Since them other people have started to commute by bike too.
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Old 09-14-16, 09:46 AM
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Welcome! You'll find more reasons to ride.

You'll be amazed at how comfortable and practical a merino wool undershirt is. I got a couple last year. I could wear each one for weeks between washings. It is warm when I need it and cool when I need it.
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Old 09-14-16, 10:06 AM
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Congrats on your first commute!

Just turn on the shower head a few times and walk away. I'm sure they'll find another storage spot.
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Old 09-14-16, 03:24 PM
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Congrats! The fact that you found this forum means you have access to valuable knowledge for safer, smarter riding and commuting, including differing opinions. Not everything works for everybody, but you will learn about things that may work for you. I bike commuted for years before finding bikeforums and bf changed my biking for the better.

Ride smart, ride safe and go, Go, GO!
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Old 09-14-16, 05:20 PM
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Some tips:

1. What a lot of us do is leave some of our change of clothes at work. I leave shoes, pants, and shirt at work for when I bike in, because I'm always going back and forth in the car at least once per week. If I never used a car, I might have to bring a shirt, but shoes could be left at work no matter what.

2. To help avoid sweating after you arrive at work, take it easy in the last 5/10 minutes of riding. Slow down your pace, riding a bike is like being in front of a big fan, if you slow down your pace to generate less heat you'll get cooled off pretty quickly. (Obviously this does not work if it's 90 and humid but it works for 95% of the conditions I bike in to work).

3. If you lock your bike outside at all, best to use a ulock. Cable locks are easily cut.

I commute to work with a trunk bag on a rear rack, but no pannier because I find panniers annoying, and I don't have to use one.
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Old 09-15-16, 12:38 PM
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+1 on rack/pannier. Made my 25mi r/t commute so much more enjoyable.
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Old 09-15-16, 02:22 PM
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Rear rack and fenders are nice to have on a commuter bike.
Make sure you don't wear too much clothing when you commute.
It's best to be little cold when you start biking as you warm up while you bike than you won't sweat as much.
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Old 09-18-16, 09:22 AM
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Do I read correctly that your commute is 2.4 miles round trip, meaning 1.2 mile one-way ? If so, you shouldn't have to worry about sweating, showering, changing clothes and all this mess. Maybe you just cycle too hard, or dress too much. Also, if you shower before starting from home, the little bit of sweat you may suffer during your 10 minutes ride will just dry off and should leave no smell.
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Old 09-18-16, 09:38 AM
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It's easy to get hot and sweaty when you're first starting out as a bike commuter, even 1.2 miles. Get some wicking running shirts, carry a towel or wipes and change shirts when arriving.

After awhile, that won't be even a warm-up distance so hang in there.
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Old 10-03-16, 08:51 AM
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me too!

Same boat ! I also happened to notice how much trash there was and felt a tinge guilty about not stopping
Originally Posted by insignia100 View Post
I've just entered the world of bicycle commuting after buying a Windsor Wellington 2.0 from Bikesdirect.com. Granted, my commute is pretty measly compared to some people's (2.4 miles round trip), but I've found that for someone of my (non-existent) level of athleticism its a good start.

After my first commute I do have a few observations.
  1. I need a better backpack/messenger bag, or just upgrade to a rack and panniers.
  2. No cotton shirts. I thought I could simply wear my cotton undershirt and slip my dress shirt on when I got to work. Nope!
  3. Upgrading the seat my bike came with to a new wider one made all the difference in the world.

I'm sure as I commute more I'll find more tweaks. Currently my goal is to start riding to work 1-2 times a week, hopefully increasing frequency as the weather cools off more.
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Old 10-03-16, 11:02 AM
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Congrats to both of you! Keep at it and you'll find it gets easier and more enjoyable with time.
And if you want to expand your interests here beyond the never ending backpack/pannier debate you can ask about tire or light choices as well as helmets.....
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Old 10-16-16, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by insignia100 View Post
I've just entered the world of bicycle commuting after buying a Windsor Wellington 2.0 from Bikesdirect.com. Granted, my commute is pretty measly compared to some people's (2.4 miles round trip), but I've found that for someone of my (non-existent) level of athleticism its a good start.

After my first commute I do have a few observations.
  1. I need a better backpack/messenger bag, or just upgrade to a rack and panniers.
  2. No cotton shirts. I thought I could simply wear my cotton undershirt and slip my dress shirt on when I got to work. Nope!
  3. Upgrading the seat my bike came with to a new wider one made all the difference in the world.

I'm sure as I commute more I'll find more tweaks. Currently my goal is to start riding to work 1-2 times a week, hopefully increasing frequency as the weather cools off more.
How has it been going? I now have a million questions about gear etc but feel out of place to ask...what panniers do you use? pic? My DIY is OK but need to adjust concerned about touching spokes as well as the occasional heel strike-- maybe moving it up will help with both of these...
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Old 10-16-16, 07:52 PM
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I started commuting partway (impossible to do the entire trip by bike) on July 1st. Here's what I learned:

1. Getting started was the best possible thing I could do. Yes, I did the best I could do to get everything 'good enough' before I started, but learn as I go has been (and continues to be) the name of the game.
2. I started with a rack, a cargo net, and a plastic box with a lid. After a couple of incidents, ditched the cargo net, and bought a Nashbar side bag; immediately wish I'd gone for the Blackburn bag that went on sale the next day.
3. Tires are SOOO critical, along with tire pressure. I started out over concerned with good traction, so even though I ditched the knobbies on my hybrid for alleged 'commuters', should have gone with something that had a more slick center. Started with tire pressure at the max recommended for my tires; have since dropped that by 15 psi. Much more comfortable.
4. I have picked up good sports clothing at Salvation Army for now; I don't mind experimenting with that to decide what works for me. Once I know what I need I will pay the price for quality; for now, a $2 Nike or UnderArmour shirt from SA is a great way to learn by doing.

I'd love to share with others who are just starting out; it's a journey of discovery. What have you learned so far?
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