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Must-have gear for commuting?

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Must-have gear for commuting?

Old 01-10-19, 10:09 PM
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Andy Thousand
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Must-have gear for commuting?

What is your favorite gear to commute with. Do you like clothing made specifically for bicycling. Or do you prefer gear that can be used on and off the bicycle?
Do you prefer panniers or a backpack?

Last edited by Andy Thousand; 01-11-19 at 12:24 AM. Reason: Didn’t phrase properly
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Old 01-11-19, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy Thousand View Post
Do any of you commute on bicycle to work? Do you commute every day or just some days? How far is your commute? Does your commute bring you on roads, trails, etc?
For my commute I ride a folding bicycle. Use a backpack and a pannier.
Theres other gear that I discuss also.
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Did you really just post a thread in the commuting forum asking if anyone here commutes? Did you even look at any of the threads in here? Go browse the first couple pages and then see if any of your questions still need to be asked. Seems your motivation might be less about honest inquiry and more about trying to get people to visit your site or something?
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Old 01-11-19, 12:55 AM
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44-17. There I said it, My favorite gear for commuting.

I now longer have to work so I don't commute any longer but did for many years. (Edit: I stil ride 10 or so miles in town regularly on my old commute route. Still have that hill coming home. A lot of people are used to seeing me in bike clothing.) My average commute over the years has been around 10 miles. Virtually all have had a serious hill coming home. I hate riding in and later wearing sweaty street clothes so I always ride in full riding gear. Been using cleated shoes since 1974 except a few shorted commutes when I had LL Bean Ranger Oxford shoes. (Wish they were still around. Great riding, great walking, great wearing all day. Re-sole-able forever.)

I wear the brightest cycling jerseys and jackets I can get and long backed cycling vests at night. White helmets. Now Segoi armwarmers with the reflecting stripes. In recent years I've added two Planet Bike flashers to the waist band of my vest that sit just in front of my hip bones so they are very visible to drivers pulling a left turn or coming out of a right-side street or driveway. A good headlight. Planet Bike rear flashers on all my bikes. Lots of reflecting tape on my serious winter/rain/city fix gear. Like 10-20 feet. Top, down. head and seat tubes, seat stays and fork blades above the bend. Fenders, LowRiders (Blackburn or otherwise) on both winter/rain/city bikes. a rear rack on my geared one. A full frame pump and the same tool bag and tools all my bikes get - 2 tubes, patch kit, irons, loose allen wrenches for that bike and whatever specialty tools that bike needs. (Don't trust a wheel - spoke wrench, fix gears - 15mm wrench and so on.)

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Old 01-11-19, 01:25 AM
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Mine is 53x11. Means I’m going really fast downhill.
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Old 01-11-19, 02:05 AM
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You must have at least one gear in the middle of the bike by the pedals and at least one more gear out back by the rear wheel
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Old 01-11-19, 04:13 AM
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The only must-haves for commuting are a bicycle and everything else is optional. I wear a combination of casual/outdoor/athletic clothing and use a backpack...I don't use bike specific clothing and I don't use clipless pedals. Commuting is not a racing event.
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Old 01-11-19, 04:31 AM
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Essential:
Bicycle

Highly desirable:
Lock
Lights
Backpack

That's about it.
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Old 01-11-19, 07:56 AM
  #8  
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Must-have gear for commuting?

Back in November was a thread on the local Metro Boston discussion group: “Boston commuters -- send me your tips!!”
Originally Posted by sammoyer View Post
Fairly new to the forums and new to the idea of bike commuting. …Finally, any tips on gear or rigging up my bike? So far all I've got on it is a water bottle holder, haha.

Any tips for a new commuter would be super appreciated!! Thanks in advance!!
As a decades-long commuter. I replied with the intent of establishing a comprehensive list of gear (matériel).
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Otherwise for the more practical things I can think of for your consideration (as I mentally envision my bike and routes):

  1. lights, front and rear, even in daytime
  2. luggage, e.g panniers for whatever you need for work
  3. comfortable, visible, seasonable cycling clothing
  4. rearview mirror, highly recommended
  5. cycle computer, nice to have
  6. helmet, goes without saying
  7. studded tires (for winter)
  8. tools, tubes, pump, at least to fix flats
  9. parking, to include lock (I have indoor secure parking, so I don’t need a lock)
  10. clean-up…
PS; To round out the list, for my future reference, a video camera was suggested above, though I don't use one myself, and a water bottle as noted by the OP.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
And thank you, @sammoyer, for that feedback. It was an opportunity for me to make a comprehensive list of necessities for cycle -commuting, and I'll add a bell (as an option). I never had one, preferring verbal messages.

Some cyclists use Airhorns (like Airzounds) to make a point …

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 01-11-19 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 01-11-19, 12:30 PM
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Lights. Lots of them. Being run over will really ruin your commute.

And panniers. I love my panniers. Way better than a backpack. Easier on the back and no back sweat problems on a summer day.
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Old 01-11-19, 01:02 PM
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Agreed on the lights. Agreed on the panniers, but one better for me is my Rivendell sack that goes behind the seat. Allowed me to take off my pannier rack. Those sacks are pretty expensive and a bit funky looking, but I'm really happy with mine.
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Old 01-11-19, 01:12 PM
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Rain gear .. A Cycle cape , in 1 of 2 pannier, on the front rack ..
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Old 01-11-19, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
The only must-haves for commuting are a bicycle and everything else is optional. ...
True in Portland, but in most cities, it you don't wear clothes you will not arrive at work. (Non-obscene nudity in Portlnad is perfectly legal.)
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Old 01-11-19, 01:19 PM
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Bah! Double post
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Old 01-11-19, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Mine is 53x11. Means I’m going really fast downhill.
When I'm spinning out on my 53x9, it means that I am cruising downhill at a pretty good clip.

But, my regular commute doesn't take me over that hill.

Each person will find somewhat different gear that is comfortable. The @Jim from Boston list is a good start. I don't have studded tires, and can stay home if it gets too nasty out (no snow or freezing rain so far this year).

For seasonal cycle clothing, this time of year in the northwest, good rain gear is a plus. Rain shoes, rain pants, rain jacket. I also use the rain jacket as a wind breaker. Cycle Specific clothing is nice including good ventilation for the rain gear.

Spare Tube?
Also have a small stock of spare parts so one can get back on the road if something breaks. Redundant bikes?
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Old 01-11-19, 02:28 PM
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Way too much for "must-have" gear. The only gear you must have is the bike. Everything else is situational and preference.
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Old 01-11-19, 03:36 PM
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In my opinion, "must-have" commuter clothing (in temps of 60 F and below) will be both wind-proof and rain-resistant, such as jacket, leg warmers, and gloves. Any garment containing Gore Windstopper fabric is worth the money, like this jacket (which I have two of), and these leg-warmers. Those single layers will get me commuting down to 35 F.
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Old 01-11-19, 04:19 PM
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Must-have gear for commuting?
Originally Posted by Andy Thousand View Post
What is your favorite gear to commute with. Do you like clothing made specifically for bicycling. Or do you prefer gear that can be used on and off the bicycle?
Do you prefer panniers or a backpack?
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
As a decades-long commuter. I replied with the intent of establishing a comprehensive list of gear (matériel)….
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Each person will find somewhat different gear that is comfortable. The @Jim from Boston list is a good start. I don't have studded tires, and can stay home if it gets too nasty out (no snow or freezing rain so far this year).

For seasonal cycle clothing, this time of year in the northwest, good rain gear is a plus. Rain shoes, rain pants, rain jacket. I also use the rain jacket as a wind breaker. Cycle Specific clothing is nice including good ventilation for the rain gear.

Spare Tube?
Also have a small stock of spare parts so one can get back on the road if something breaks. Redundant bikes?
Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Way too much for "must-have" gear. The only gear you must have is the bike. Everything else is situational and preference.
Thanks for the nod, @CliffordK. My list was
meant to be comprehensive, especially for the beginning cycle-commuter, to consider the possibilities. I added items to the list such as a bell, and camcorder, which I don’t carry, though have considered a camera.

Yet to some subscribers, e.g. on the A&S Forum, a camera, and/or a bell seem to be a must-have.


I have posted to several threads.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...“Those who disdain cycle computers, remind me of those who state, ‘I’m not religious but I am spiritual’. “
Yet @CliffordK and I have commented about recording commuting miles as training miles, so a computer is a must-have.
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
…Commuting mileage adds up. Most of my riding is commuting of varying distances, and I count most of my century rides as commutes. It helps to have a destination and goal.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Thanks for your comment, @CliffordK; +10 for commuting miles, and riding with a destination and a goal.
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Old 01-11-19, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Way too much for "must-have" gear. The only gear you must have is the bike. Everything else is situational and preference.
One point is that each commute and commuter is different.

A lot of bike commutes are say < 5 miles each way, with alternatives such as a spouse to call with a car, or bus services. If say one breaks down halfway, that leaves about 2.5 miles which one can limp the bike along, or walk, or perhaps even drop off at the nearest bike shop.

I don't ride every day, but my "commutes" and utility rides are typically 20 to 40 miles RT (with a few much longer). And I'm very much self supporting. If I break down, I fix it on the spot. Buses are inconvenient for me at best, and nonexistent for the last 5 miles or so.

Critical failures 20 miles, or 70 miles from home can be stressful.

So, while one bike commuter may simply need a parka, then next will need rain gear designed to keep oneself dry from rain, and dry from sweat.

One may figure they can do without a pump or spares, the next will need pumps, tubes, chain tools, etc.
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Old 01-11-19, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
One point is that each commute and commuter is different.

A lot of bike commutes are say < 5 miles each way, with alternatives such as a spouse to call with a car, or bus services. If say one breaks down halfway, that leaves about 2.5 miles which one can limp the bike along, or walk, or perhaps even drop off at the nearest bike shop.

I don't ride every day, but my "commutes" and utility rides are typically 20 to 40 miles RT (with a few much longer). And I'm very much self supporting. If I break down, I fix it on the spot. Buses are inconvenient for me at best, and nonexistent for the last 5 miles or so.

Critical failures 20 miles, or 70 miles from home can be stressful.

So, while one bike commuter may simply need a parka, then next will need rain gear designed to keep oneself dry from rain, and dry from sweat.

One may figure they can do without a pump or spares, the next will need pumps, tubes, chain tools, etc.
That would make the pumps or spare not "must haves" wouldn't it? I commute in full roadie gear on a road bike with tools and spare kit, except when I commute in winter cycling clothes on a bike with all those accessories and other goodies, except when I commute in regular office clothes and don't worry about it. So whatever I LIKE to have on me or with me, the only thing that I MUST have is the bike itself and frankly that could work for 99% of my commutes (or more).

It's not just a semantic distinction. If we're talking to new commuters, new cyclists, as Jim mentioned, it's not really doing them a favor to point to all of the goodies as "must-have" when they're really not. Don't make it harder and more elaborate than it has to be. If you want to ride to work, just get on the bike and go. If you want it to be more convenient, faster, more comfortable, more self-reliant, better training, we'll all have lots of suggestions but I don't want to lose sight of the fact that it works, possibly indefinitely, if all you do is straddle the bike and ride to work.
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Old 01-11-19, 05:04 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by Andy Thousand View Post
What is your favorite gear to commute with. Do you like clothing made specifically for bicycling. Or do you prefer gear that can be used on and off the bicycle?
Do you prefer panniers or a backpack?
My hybrid is outfitted with:
  • Tubus Cargo Evo rack
  • SKS long-board fenders.
  • Cycling computer.
  • Lights front, back, and side.
  • Ortlieb Bike Shopper panniers (2x)
  • 32mm Conti Grand Prix 4 Season tires.
  • SPD / Platform combination pedals.
  • Mid-size saddle pouch.
I know that the backpack vs pannier debate is like a holy war, but I'm in the pannier camp. I can't imagine wearing a backpack through the warm months, and I ride to the light rail station where I can roll the bike onto the train, so I don't mind that the panniers add weight to the bike itself during my commute.

In the dry months (of which there are many in Utah) I'll remove the fenders.

I use the bike for commuting, utility, and casual ride fun.

My road bike is outfitted more minimally for training and endurance rides. But it does have a Tubus Fly Evo on it in case I want to toss one of the panniers on the back occasionally. The Tubus Fly Evo is such a minimal rack I don't even notice it back there. Adds about 2/3rds of a pound. And I have lights for the road bike too.

I'm not in the 'must commute' mode -- when the weather is really bad I'll drive to the light rail or just work from home. And sub-freezing constitutes bad enough to not bike commute, for me. So does over-92. For that reason I don't have foul weather cycling gear. I do have cool weather cycling gear for training rides, but not for commutes.

At my work we have lockers, showers, and bike parking available, so I don't need to have special office clothes that are commute friendly; just bring along what I want to change into, or leave a few changes in the locker.
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Old 01-11-19, 05:06 PM
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The OP asked about "Favorite Gear", rather than "Must Haves".

But, a lot depends on the fine details. For a person riding 40 miles RT, a pump and spare tube is a "must have".

Perhaps I'll return to this and label each piece as "favorite", or not so favorite.

Still, a jaunt to the grocery store would be different than doing a double century ride off to buy some bike part a couple of towns away.
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Old 01-12-19, 09:33 AM
  #22  
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I deleted a couple of other comments because they were snarky. The combination of "must have" in the title, and a website dedicated to advertising, triggered something. But it's fine to participate. Welcome to the commuting forum!

I've had so many discussions with people who express an interest in cycling to work. People are nervous about it until they experience it a few times, then it's OK. So I try to reassure them by avoiding lengthy lists of necessities and precautions. Most of them have a serviceable bike. Practically all newer bikes such as hybrids from decent brands come with puncture resistant tires. At my workplace, they will find a way to bring their bike indoors, as I do, or lock it in the rack which is reasonably secure. Everybody knows about helmets these days, and they don't need to be told. The reason is that we all make our kids wear helmets. Most will hang up their bikes in the fall before it becomes necessary to think about lighting. Most will continue to drive their cars if rain is likely or when they need to haul something heavy or go on an errand during work hours.

Let experience be a guide. There's nothing wrong with trying out new accessories, but you have to decide when they become burdensome or if there are better alternatives such as keeping some necessities at work.

A bigger issue for most beginning commuters is contending with urban riding and finding a route that they're comfortable with.

So it really works to just get on your bike and ride, and figure out what accessories you need by trial and error. I've actually stripped down my bike since I started commuting regularly. Today I'm down to a single speed that I threw together from spare parts, and a lunch bag that I can hang over my handlebar.

I realized (thanks to comments in this forum) that I'm never more than 2 miles from either home or work, which I can walk in a jiffy. So I don't really need to worry about repairs while on the way.

Thanks to free software and the cloud, I don't need to carry any kind of computer related stuff.
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Old 01-12-19, 08:11 PM
  #23  
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A lot of people here have already made a distinction between must-have and favourite items.

My must-have items would be all safety related.
Helmet
Helmet front and rear lights
Bicycle front and rear lights
Loud horn
mirror
Bicycle pump, patch kit and tools
Brightly coloured reflective clothing
Rain gear
Locks

Favourite items
Radio
GPS
Pannier
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Old 01-12-19, 09:21 PM
  #24  
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I was hesitant to reply to this thread because it was started in poor faith but it’s taken off so it’s ok, I guess. The way I think about this topic is, we all have the same categories of challenges but to different degrees and there’s a lot of solutions for each of them. The challenges are time to do the ride, being presentable at work, secure storage for the bike, inclement weather, darkness, health and welfare, and breakdowns. Marketers helpfully divide this for us into bikes, apparel, and accessories. I enjoy my solutions but I also enjoy seeing what other people do, especially if their circumstances are much different than mine or very challenging.

Last edited by Darth Lefty; 01-12-19 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 01-12-19, 09:24 PM
  #25  
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If I'm going less than three miles, I'm fine with not having anything other than the bike. I might bring stuff, and I might not. That includes a helmet and a water bottle. If I'm going three miles or more, I want water and the ability to fix a flat and do other small repairs. I've been getting a bit lax about wearing a helmet, and I'm working on being more consistent, because I could get hurt even on a short ride, but I also don't think it's the most important safety item.

Don't forget trouser bands if I'm wearing long pants.

I really do like to use a rear-view mirror. I use the kind that attach to my glasses. It folds up and fits in my pocket or backpack.

All of my bikes -- and I have many -- have bells on them.

The bike I ride the most often has dynamo powered lights. They come on when the bike rolls. They turn off a few minutes after I stop riding, thanks to built-in capacitors. I supplement these lights with a battery-powered taillight and sometimes a battery powered spoke light.
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