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New and clueless with dumb questions

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New and clueless with dumb questions

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Old 07-04-18, 05:15 PM
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LokidWhovian
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New and clueless with dumb questions

Hello!

Okay, let me preface this with I have no idea where to start. That's why I'm here. I've been interested in commuting for a while now.

I live in Arizona, my tiny town is like 3 miles long and maybe 5 or 6 miles wide, most of it residential backstreets. Having a car is kind of impractical because my boyfriend has a car and I can walk across town in maybe an hour. But I need to be faster, so I'm here to get some noob questions answered.

My town gets a few snow storms a winter, nothing more than a few inches each time and each street is salted and plowed regularly, so I'm not super concerned about winter riding. Summers are hot, around 100 degrees, or well into the high 90s. The streets are well paved, and we have a lot of sidewalks. Commuting is pretty popular in my town.

A bit about me, I'm about 5'4ish and 135lbs, I'm not strong, so the lighter the frame the better.

Here's my questions!

1. I don't wear wide pants, typically men's taper cut Levi's, even though I'm a girl. But I'm a little concerned about getting my pants caught in my chain.

2. Shoes, every bike I've ever been on, my feet slip off the pedals. I typically wear vans or converse. How do I solve this problem? Are there a specific type of vans or converse better than others (I'm a skater, so it's my shoe of choice.)?

3. I have my backpack, it's a hiking pack, but are there any backpacks that are roomy but good for carrying stuff while biking? I'm small, so my hiking straps are all over the place, it's annoying.

4. I want something light, with freewheels, but minimalistic in style, but able to have back panniers, maybe a front wire basket, and fenders, is there anything like that on the market?

5. Saddles bags. Who uses them? What do you store in them?

​​​​​
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Old 07-04-18, 05:41 PM
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caloso
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1. they make ankle bands specifically for this
2. it isn’t the shoes, it’s the pedals. find some grippy bmx pedals
3. I have an Osprey pack designed for bike commuting. Works great
4. Yes.
5. I do. Mine is pretty minimalistic: tube, lever, patch kit, CO2 cartridge
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Old 07-04-18, 05:49 PM
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first off, congrats on taking the plunge. i commute everyday by bike and it makes me feel great.
pedals- get some pinned platform pedals, they are typically thought of as mountain bike or bmx pedals. your feet wont slip off.
pants- a little velcro strap or rolling up your pant leg will suffice. you may find looser pants are better for biking. my quads swell a lot when i ride.
pack- i dont use a backpack so i dont know... might check into racks and panniers. works for me anyway.
light - this is relative. after you load it up they are heavier but you ought to be able to get a bike under 30 lbs. aftermarket fenders are available for most bikes and other folks will give you good advice on bike models.
saddle bags- these and panniers are very popular.

i use this bike very often for commuting. i use panniers on the front rack. the bike is quite light until i load it up.
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Old 07-04-18, 06:09 PM
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How light do you need the bike to be? Usually bike weight is only important if your area is very hilly or you have to carry the bike. Once you add racks, panniers, baskets, lock, etc., the weight quickly adds up and whatever might have been originally a "lightweight" bike loses it meaning. I should know -- I started with a light-ish bike that became a heavyweight once I added the typical commuting accessories. I gave up on using it for commuting, stripping that bike back down to basics and distributing those accessories onto other bikes, then marvelled at how light and nimble it felt afterward.
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Old 07-04-18, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
How light do you need the bike to be? Usually bike weight is only important if your area is very hilly or you have to carry the bike. Once you add racks, panniers, baskets, lock, etc., the weight quickly adds up and whatever might have been originally a "lightweight" bike loses it meaning. I should know -- I started with a light-ish bike that became a heavyweight once I added the typical commuting accessories. I gave up on using it for commuting, stripping that bike back down to basics and distributing those accessories onto other bikes, then marvelled at how light and nimble it felt afterward.
The area I live in is kind of hilly, but I want a lighter bike so when I do have my books for college or my safety kits loaded up, I don't have to worry too much about it being a heavy bike that now also has the added weight to it.
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Old 07-04-18, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by LokidWhovian View Post
The area I live in is kind of hilly, but I want a lighter bike so when I do have my books for college or my safety kits loaded up, I don't have to worry too much about it being a heavy bike that now also has the added weight to it.
I would suggest getting a bike with good gearing, especially lowest gear. You haven't mentioned budget, but a several thousand dollar bike is only 1 or 2 textbooks lighter than a sub-$1K bike. As long as you don't get a tank, bike weight should be the least of your worries.
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Old 07-05-18, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post

3. ... Osprey pack designed for bike commuting. Works great
+1, I have a smaller size one of those Osprey bags, compact but roomy and comfy and ergonomic, carry my lunch, snacks, extra clothing and also my 2 liter hydration pack designed for it by Osprey again,
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Old 07-05-18, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by LokidWhovian View Post
Hello!
1. I don't wear wide pants, typically men's taper cut Levi's, even though I'm a girl. But I'm a little concerned about getting my pants caught in my chain.

>> I like https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 . there are many other bands, use what works for you.

2. Shoes, every bike I've ever been on, my feet slip off the pedals. I typically wear vans or converse. How do I solve this problem? Are there a specific type of vans or converse better than others (I'm a skater, so it's my shoe of choice.)?

>>> being old school, I use https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 . rather than "clipless" lets me use a wide variety of shoes, and not worry about slipping off the pedals

3. I have my backpack, it's a hiking pack, but are there any backpacks that are roomy but good for carrying stuff while biking? I'm small, so my hiking straps are all over the place, it's annoying.

>>> personally, I prefer panniers. But good cycling backpacks abound. I've got a Timbuk2 and a "Life Behind Bars" that work well. Fit counts for a lot, so does a sternum strap.

4. I want something light, with freewheels, but minimalistic in style, but able to have back panniers, maybe a front wire basket, and fenders, is there anything like that on the market?

>>> Lots. Locally, I see a Gary Fisher "Simple 8" on Craigslist for $280. Relatively light, 8 speeds (internal hub). Pretty much any bicycle can take a rear rack, which enables panniers (or saddlebags). I'm rather fond of the Topeak rack (has quick attach bag mount ... admittedly only for their bag). Cruise craigslist for used panniers, good ones (Arkel, Ortlieb) tend to be pricey new. Often heavily discounted used.

5. Saddles bags. Who uses them? What do you store in them?

>> I prefer panniers (separately attach/detachable) I keep tools, pump, parts, locks, rain gear in one. I use the other for clothes, computers, and other stuff I take off the bike with me. When shopping, I empty out (or swap in a third bag) and stuff both rear panniers. I've usually got a front rack on front, so can add a couple of panniers up front. Baskets work well (some prefer foldable wald baskets in the rear, and one up front). Experiment, do what works best for you. There's no "wrong way" ;>

​​​​​
xx
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Old 07-05-18, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by LokidWhovian View Post
Hello!

Okay, let me preface this with I have no idea where to start. That's why I'm here. I've been interested in commuting for a while now.​​​​​
Boy, did you come to the right place! I commuted for 17 years before finding bike forums 9 years ago. The difference in my comfort and safety before and after bikeforums is like night and day.

Before answering your questions I just want to tell you there is no "one way" to do anything bike-commuting related. There are things many people do, and there are things few people do, but you have to find what works for you.

1) I change into my bike clothes to ride. It's not bike-specific clothing, but generic athletic wear. I change into street clothes for work. When the weather ets colder and I wear long athletic pants, I use wide elastic hairbands to keep the leg cuffs snug to my ankles.

2) I wear firm-soled sneakers and use petals with mild raised "pegs". On my mountain bike it's a flat petal with plastic pegs. On my two road bikes it's a raised serrated ridge at the front and rear edge of the petal. On all three bikes I wear toe-clips, which are a little old-fashioned compared to "clipless" petals which actually do clip to the petals. But my toe clips allow me to ride in sneakers (sneakers with heavy socks in the winter), so I'm happy with whay I have.

3) I take a backpack with me. On two bikes I bungee it on the rear rack. On my old road bike which has no rack, I wear it with the straps long so it rests on the small of my back. I'm riding that bike leaning forward like a racer, so the weight of the bag is on the small of my back an d not my shoulders.

4) There is every kind of bike on the market, including many you haven't imagined.

5) All three of my bikes have saddlebags which hold small portable tool kits, spare innertubes and small patch kits (all three bikes have frame mounted pumps...nothing fancy).

This is what works for me. Please look through the commuting forum and find what works for you.

RIde smart, ride safe and have fun!
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Old 07-06-18, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by LokidWhovian View Post
1. I don't wear wide pants, typically men's taper cut Levi's, even though I'm a girl. But I'm a little concerned about getting my pants caught in my chain.​​​​​
On my bike I have a chainring cover similar to this:
https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB14zG9H...Guard-Ring.jpg

This big issue is usually not getting your pants "caught" in the chainring. It's usually just your pants brushing against the chain and getting the black oil stain around the ankle. Other options are to get an ankle strap that. Or roll your pantleg up.

Originally Posted by LokidWhovian View Post
2. Shoes, every bike I've ever been on, my feet slip off the pedals. I typically wear vans or converse. How do I solve this problem? Are there a specific type of vans or converse better than others (I'm a skater, so it's my shoe of choice.)?​​​​​
The place to start is getting a decent pair of pedals with pins. Suggestion - Shimano PD-GR500's:
https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-Multi...dp/B076B4P3DS/

Regular skate shoes with those pedals would probably be all you need. But if you need a firmer grip on the pedal Five Ten makes bike-specific flat shoes with a special grippy rubber that gives you a grip like it's attached on pedals with pins (without the drawbacks of being attached).

Here's the women's-specific model:
https://www.adidasoutdoor.com/FT24.html

They sell a number of other models to if you look through their site, just make sure it has the "flat" bottom with no clipless attachment.

Originally Posted by LokidWhovian View Post
3. I have my backpack, it's a hiking pack, but are there any backpacks that are roomy but good for carrying stuff while biking? I'm small, so my hiking straps are all over the place, it's annoying.
I'm not as familiar with bags as I just use a rack and a trunk bag. There's a ton of options - messenger bags, bike-specific backpacks, smaller trunk bags, panniers, pannier/backpack combos, etc.

Originally Posted by LokidWhovian View Post
4. I want something light, with freewheels, but minimalistic in style, but able to have back panniers, maybe a front wire basket, and fenders, is there anything like that on the market?
Yeah, there's a ton of bikes like that. I bought my brother a specialized sirrus, if your priority is speed then comfort. Upright "straight" handlebars and a skinny tire. I actually preferred the Giant bike that was similar that I test rode but I don't recall the model name.

If you're looking for more of a fat tired bike with swept back bars a lot of people make them, but I'm not as familiar with them, so I can't recommend something specific.

Originally Posted by LokidWhovian View Post
5. Saddles bags. Who uses them? What do you store in them?​​​​​
When I was grocery shopping or when I need to carry more (like going to the beach) I use a pair of Banjo Brothers Market Panniers:
https://banjobrothers.com/collection...market-pannier

However, that's because I'm a fair weather rider and never ride with panniers in the rain. If I had to ride in the rain I'd probably go with something waterproof, Ortlieb makes good (but expensive) waterproof panniers.
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Old 07-06-18, 01:06 PM
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1. As others have mentioned, you can roll up your (right) pant leg or use a strap. (Personally, I just commute in short skirts with bike shorts underneath, though that might not be your style! If it's really hot, I'll go with cycling-specific clothing and then change.)

2. I use plastic BMX pedals with velcro foot straps for commuting. The plastic "pins" provide a bit of foot retention without destroying my soles, and the foot straps are easy to use and scratch up shoes less than the traditional clips/straps.

3. Check out "messenger" backpacks - they're designed for cycling and tend to be waterproof. If the straps are way too long, you can always cut to an appropriate length and burn the edge to prevent fraying.

4. There's lots of options here. Adventure/touring bikes often look like road bikes, but are set up for accessories. Old road bikes and old mountain bikes can be nice, and there's a million different ways to add racks, fenders, etc. if you look in the right places. Bikes with an internal gear hub will give you more of a clean look, as well as a few gearing options.

5. I use a saddle bag mainly for recreational road/gravel riding, to hold tools so that I don't need to carry a bag on my back. For commuting, I've found it unnecessary - everything just goes in my messenger bag. (And I teach at a university, so my commutes generally involve hauling books, papers, and a laptop - the same stuff that students carry.)
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Old 07-06-18, 04:06 PM
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A lot of college kids around here like to ride around on beach cruisers. Ive seen one or two decked out with panniers. Most all of them have some sort of front basket. There are hills here but nothing too major. I don't know how severe your hills are there. Ive seen some with a geared hub so that could help with hills.

I liked wearing vans, but they always fell apart very quickly when riding bmx. Also I remember them not gripping all that well. I used to wear DVS and DC quite a bit. I remember them being good shoes for riding. Converse are very good for riding in, but grippy pedals are a must. They are a bit slick. Also the damn felt on the bottom always comes loose after riding a while.

If your trying to save on a pack, and want to keep using your hiking pack you can try rolling up the straps and holding em in place with rubber bands or hair ties. If your in college and going to be carrying books and a laptop, invest in a decent bag with a computer pouch. My pack doesn't have a computer pouch. This makes it very sketchy biking with my laptop.

My two cents. Hope some of it helps.
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Old 07-08-18, 12:19 PM
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Your commute sounds short. You desire simplicity. You want to haul things.

My dream bike in your situation would be a 700cc wheeled, flat or bull-horn handle barred, single speed (NOT FIXED GEAR!!!) with chain guard, racked and a set of easily removable market panniers (maybe those folding metal ones if rattling doesn't bother you).
Does such a bike exist? Maybe in part, but I wonder how hard it will hit the wallet to find the whole package. I've often wondered myself if I could find a bike like that that wouldn't K.O. my pocket book...

If you find you like commuting and riding longer distance, you'll really want to prioritize a bike with decent gearing so you don't feel like you're either puttering along OR swimming through molasses. Also, Clipless pedals! That was a semi-difficult transition but NOTHING beats em' in MY book!
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Old 07-08-18, 10:03 PM
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I recommend you that after reading all the good advice given, you go to something like Craig list and find a bike that has most of the stuff you need and most importantly that fits! If a bike fits well it’s comfortable to ride all the time. You be ahead of the game and you can change parts that suit you for your needs, like racks and front baskets. Water bottles cages or bosses (holes to put a bottle cage) would be Important for Arizona. If you feel the need later to get a new and lighter bike, you could sell old or keep as spare.
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Old 07-09-18, 10:33 AM
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Lots of good ideas, so I'm not going to duplicate, or add to the confusion.


My first suggestion is: enjoy. Get started, modify as needed.


Beyond that, at some point add some lights, even for daytime. A rear light during the daytime can help alert drivers that something is different. I run front and rear lights, in 'blinky' mode because my route has both sunny, and shaded sections, and if a driver is dealing with sun, but I am in the shade, it can be nearly impossible for them to see me.
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Old 07-09-18, 10:38 AM
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Shoes: check out Five10; I think they might make some skater-y shoes, and they have a special rubber compound that is incredibly grippy for bike pedals (but you should have pedals with some pins in them, not just flat and slippery)
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