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advice for the college commuter?

Old 08-09-06, 01:34 PM
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Chocobogirl
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advice for the college commuter?

Hi, I am going to be commuting at most 3 miles to class at the local university. I want a bag that will stay on my back while riding and that i can take into class with me. I need something that can double as a laptop case as well as something to carry my books in. At the most I would have 2 textbooks and a notebook. (no laptop at that time). Seeing as my laptop and my textbooks (that i want to sell back at the end of the semester) are expensive I want them to be somewhat protected and definitely kept dry.

What would you reccomend?
I liked the look of the messenger bags but don't know which brand is best for my needs.

Thanks
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Old 08-09-06, 01:40 PM
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How about this? https://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=
It's a WATERPROOF backpack that can be converted into a pannier that will attach to a rack on your bike

My main piece of advice for campus commuters is: get a good lock and use it!!! College campuses are magnets for bike thieves. Don't even think about a cable lock, use a U-lock, and don't lock to anything that can be disassembled easily (like a "No Parking" sign). Also, you might want to get bolt-on skewers for your wheels so that they can't be so easily removed and stolen. Nashbar sells for only $10 a pair of skewers that requires an allen wrench to remove... convenient when you need to work on the wheels, but not so convenient for the average crackhead to nab them.

Am I paranoid? Perhaps! But I've had 2 bikes stolen from college campuses or college towns, and also a pair of wheels stolen in broad daylight...
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Old 08-09-06, 02:02 PM
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Timbuk2 has some good ones.
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Old 08-09-06, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rando
Timbuk2 has some good ones.
The fixed gear forum has alot of threads comparing the various messenger bags. Personally I am very happy with my Chrome. It is a Metropolis which with the addition of a laptop sleeve should easily meet your needs. It is comfortable, waterproof and spacious. I have used it for daily commuting in all kinds of weather for a couple of years now and although it is a little dingy everything is holding up great.
If you are only going to be carrying a laptop OR a couple books then the Citizen maybe big enough for you. Still I recommend the Metro as the extra space comes in handy on a bike more than you might think.
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Old 08-09-06, 02:22 PM
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Check a page or two back in this forum, there was very recently a thread about backpack suggestions.

Other than that, keep in mind that universities are hot spots for crime, especially bikes and laptop bags. Having things that don't look attractive to thieves is one way to lower your chances of becoming a victim. I.E. don't buy a flashy bike and leave it in a shady place with a wimpy lock, and if you carry your laptop with you, NEVER let it leave your reach. Don't even leave it at a table in a library or classroom unattended while you take a potty break!
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Old 08-09-06, 02:23 PM
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While three miles isn't far, laptop and books are heavy. You might want to consider a rack with a backpack pannier, something like the Arkel Bug. I have an Arkel Briefcase, and it's great.

I also have a Timbuk2 laptop bag, but I find it too heavy with a laptop in it. If you go the messenger bag route, be sure to get one with a waist strap and cinch it tight.
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Old 08-09-06, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by velogirl
While three miles isn't far, laptop and books are heavy. You might want to consider a rack with a backpack pannier, something like the Arkel Bug. I have an Arkel Briefcase, and it's great.

I also have a Timbuk2 laptop bag, but I find it too heavy with a laptop in it. If you go the messenger bag route, be sure to get one with a waist strap and cinch it tight.
I agree. Riding a bike with a heavy backpack is uncomfortable... especially a road bike where you're leaning over a bit.

If you put things in a pannier, you'll feel a lot more comfortable. 20 pounds in the panniers feels like almost nothing, while 20 pounds on my back feels bad and leaves sweat stains on my T-shirt
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Old 08-09-06, 02:36 PM
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I guess I'm in the minority that prefers a backpack over a pannier. When I commuted with "stuff" I kept it in a backpack, and it typically weighed at least 20 lbs - it wasn't uncomfortable at all (especially for just three miles!) The trick is getting the right bag and adjusting it properly. That's why I like backpacking/mountaineering style bags more than messenger bags, they typically have a highly adjustable load system meant for keeping heavy loads positioned and supported correctly on your back.
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Old 08-09-06, 02:40 PM
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If you want a lot of internal compartments they might not work, but the Ortleib backpacks are nice, and totally waterproof. I would go for the Velocity model unless you need to carry a ton of stuff. Lots of companies make padded laptop sleeves and cases. It's more convenient to have a separate case rather than a padded compartment for your laptop.
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Old 08-09-06, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by SaabFan
I guess I'm in the minority that prefers a backpack over a pannier. When I commuted with "stuff" I kept it in a backpack, and it typically weighed at least 20 lbs - it wasn't uncomfortable at all (especially for just three miles!) The trick is getting the right bag and adjusting it properly. That's why I like backpacking/mountaineering style bags more than messenger bags, they typically have a highly adjustable load system meant for keeping heavy loads positioned and supported correctly on your back.
To each his or her own By the way, your signature is hilarious
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Old 08-09-06, 02:57 PM
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+1 on the Timbuk2. I have a medium and an extra large to cover all of my needs. I find them very comfortable to ride with (20+ miles a day), even the extra large fully loaded. Very durable, and you can have yours custom made.
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Old 08-09-06, 03:04 PM
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Crumpler has some interesting bags that may work for you.
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Old 08-09-06, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by moxfyre
How about this? https://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=
It's a WATERPROOF backpack that can be converted into a pannier that will attach to a rack on your bike
This is my current rig. It's ironic (ironic? or just stupid?) because a few weeks ago I posted about a Nashbar branded rack trunk whose cheap material got frayed to bits. I thought I'd try their brand again, this time treating it more gently.

It's a weird configuration (basically a top-loading duffel-style dry bag that you clip inside of a "shell" made of fabric). I hated it at first. The dry bag smelled of chemicals, and the fabric is a little cheapy-cheapy; but what do you expect for the price? I also had trouble at first figuring out how to assemble it, but I'm kind of stupid that way.

Aftera few weeks, I like it better than panniers. But it's not as sleek and quick-access as, say, a nice technical backpack; on the other hand, it's a fine tradeoff for not having a sweaty back. I would recommend it for the price, and it will definitely be good in the rain. It has lots of outer pockets for organizing stuff (not waterproof though), and lots of straps and clips for attaching gear, if you're into that kind of thing.
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Old 08-09-06, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by bbonnn
This is my current rig. It's ironic (ironic? or just stupid?) because a few weeks ago I posted about a Nashbar branded rack trunk whose cheap material got frayed to bits. I thought I'd try their brand again, this time treating it more gently.

It's a weird configuration (basically a top-loading duffel-style dry bag that you clip inside of a "shell" made of fabric). I hated it at first. The dry bag smelled of chemicals, and the fabric is a little cheapy-cheapy; but what do you expect for the price? I also had trouble at first figuring out how to assemble it, but I'm kind of stupid that way.

Aftera few weeks, I like it better than panniers. But it's not as sleek and quick-access as, say, a nice technical backpack; on the other hand, it's a fine tradeoff for not having a sweaty back. I would recommend it for the price, and it will definitely be good in the rain. It has lots of outer pockets for organizing stuff (not waterproof though), and lots of straps and clips for attaching gear, if you're into that kind of thing.
Good to know. I've found that Nashbar quality is *usually* good overall, but it can be a bit hit or miss since they don't make the stuff themselves, rather they farm everything out to various places in Asia.

Last week I posted a fairly long review of all the Nashbar-brand products I've used: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?p=2876112. I wouldn't mind if others add to it, that would help the rest of us stingy bastards out
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Old 08-09-06, 03:39 PM
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These bags are not the best for carrying a laptop, but I use them regularly to tote 10+ lbs of books when I take the halfway (~6MI) commute to school. Actually I stole this link from another submitter (thanks whoever you were by the way), but it's such a great deal, that anyone looking to spend ten bucks on a reliable, (though not entirely waterproof) messenger bag. Actually, for ten bucks you get five of them. If I bike the whole way, I absolutley must use my rack and pannier to avoid a sore back the next day I should mention. Just me though.


https://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=71235
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Old 08-10-06, 05:06 AM
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I am buying the Ortleib Large Business Bag. It's expensive but good value for money since it is totally waterproof.

Be sure to read the forum for tips on how best to lock your bicycle! The bike you save WILL be your own!
And be sure to wear a good helmet. Happy riding.
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Old 08-10-06, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by AllenG
Crumpler has some interesting bags that may work for you.
Jesus, that's one wacky website. The music scared the crap out of me(My speakers were on high)

On the post subject, I'm thinking about purchasing a chrome backpack, or the metro.
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Old 08-10-06, 12:14 PM
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ortlieb makes the best panniers & waterproof stuff

if you'd like to see the mess bags out there, look here:
https://www.fixedgeargallery.com/reviews/messengerbags/
--it's a pretty good synopsis
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Old 08-10-06, 12:49 PM
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College commuter here too. I just have a regular backpack with a slot for a laptop, works fine for me.

My former college was out in the boonies so bike theft wasn't really a problem. But not I'm in a city so I'm a little worried. In addition to a ULock, maybe also get another cable lock. A bike seat lock is a good idea as well.
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Old 08-10-06, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Jake27
College commuter here too. I just have a regular backpack with a slot for a laptop, works fine for me.

My former college was out in the boonies so bike theft wasn't really a problem. But not I'm in a city so I'm a little worried. In addition to a ULock, maybe also get another cable lock. A bike seat lock is a good idea as well.
Yeah, generally the safest way to lock a bike is to lock the rear wheel THROUGH THE rear triangle like this photo from Sheldon Brown's site (read the whole article):



That keeps the frame and rear wheel safe, but doesn't help with the front wheel or seat. My strategy is to use allen-bolt skewers for the wheels and seat post. I fill the allen bolt heads with silicone caulk. It's quick and easy to dissolve it out when you need to do a repair, but it's pretty much impossible to get an allen wrench in there otherwise! Very cheap ($10 for bolt-on skewers from Nashbar) and effective!

Last edited by moxfyre; 08-10-06 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 08-10-06, 01:31 PM
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I would take your front wheel off. Can't tell you how many times I have seen taco'd front wheels because some drunk dumbass thought it would be funny to crush it. I switched from a backpack, to a messenger, to panneiers. I purchased an Arkel Breifcase & and recieved an Arkel Bug as a gift. Both have been excellent.
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Old 08-10-06, 04:29 PM
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As a fellow college commuter, I've ridden with both a backpack and a Timbuk2 laptop messenger bag. The backpack works, I prefer the messenger. It's pretty comfy with a book or two and whatever else you happen to need that day. It's also pretty comfy with a computer and whatever else you happen to need that day. With a book or two AND a computer, the weight is really getting out of control, and while it still sits comfortably enough, it puts a lot of weight on one shoulder. I found that my upper back and shoulder didn't much care for this, so I usually just carry one or the other, but never both. The cam buckle on the Timbuk2 also has an aggravating tendency to dig into my hip if the bag is loaded too lightly. Everything is much more comfy when wearing a hoodie or similar warmer clothing (I actually find fall cycling to be far more pleasant than summer riding, for the most part - thicker clothing makes any kind of bag a bit more comfortable, which is just one of several reasons for this preference).

A U-lock is a must. I've had good luck with a cable lock, too, but you should NEVER lock your bike overnight or more than an hour or so with one, and always in a well-trafficked area. On the other hand, I've very typically just locked the rear wheel through the frame and left my QR front unattended with no problems. But this is taking a chance, and I would not leave my bicycle overnight like this if I had a choice. With my new bike, which will have a considerably more "bling" front wheel (Deore XT), I'm considering going the route of an allen skewer, like Moxfyre suggests.
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Old 08-10-06, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by grolby
With my new bike, which will have a considerably more "bling" front wheel (Deore XT), I'm considering going the route of an allen skewer, like Moxfyre suggests.
Yep, I can't encourage the allen skewers enough. Just carry a multi-tool and something to pick the caulk out with, and you'll be able to do repairs on the wheel with minimal hassle ... while thwarting the 90%* of all bike thieves who are crackheads and juvenile delinquents. And then most of the 10% competent thieves carry bolt cutters or car jacks, but not allen wrenches.

*Statistic made up by me
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Old 08-10-06, 06:48 PM
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Moxfyre, that's a great idea about the caulk. I was worried about thieves with Allen wrenches.

I'm going to be tying my bicycle up in front of a busy library for around six hours a day, in the daytime. Can't shift it around every hour when it is on a different campus! I'm going to use skewers on the front wheel (I have already had the quick release saddle bolt replaced), a "Club" lock through the rear wheel attached to the bike rack, and a New Yorker lock through the frame and front wheel.

Hopefully that will do the trick.
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Old 08-12-06, 12:53 PM
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I ride year round to work. I teach so I carry similar items. I really recommend the Chrome Metropolis. I like the messenger bag for its versatility and weatherproofness. I just came back from Cape Cod where I used it to carry all of my family's beach gear, etc. then had it as a carry-on for the flight. Now its packed for the commute... I got a good deal on it on ebay. Worth the money.
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