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Need help with the anatomy of my commuter

Old 07-15-10, 09:02 AM
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Tio
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Need help with the anatomy of my commuter

I have searched the various posts and found many to be extreme Amaridello ly helpful, but less specific to my particular needs and wants; as such, I am seeking out the collective wisdom of the forum more directly. In short, I will start commuting full-time in a couple of weeks to my new job and I need some advice and options for my commuter bike.

To begin, a little background on my commute, my preferences, and the bike that I will be using... The commute will be a short 9 miles, mixed between bike paths and low-level urban riding (I am a roadie [yes, I know], so the terrain is relatively modest; the only real obstacle will be "goat-heads" that are prevalent in area). As such, I will be converting one of my two road bikes for full-time commuting -- i.e., a 1998 Serotta road bike. I will probably use Armadillo tires to fend off the goat-heads and minimize other types of flats.

In the spirit of another active thread, speed and commute time does matter for me (hence the roadie, albeit with some gnarly tires). Sweat and other issues might be moot, as I will be commuting during the cooler hours and I don't perspire much in general, nonetheless on such a short ride.

Now to my real question... I need help with the transport set-up. As of now I don't have a preference between backpack and/or pannier, so advice on both would be appreciated. I will be carrying food for the day, a laptop (a Mac Air, so its thin and light), and other papers and materials (I am a college prof, so stains on exams will not be ideal).

What I am looking for is the following: 1) What are the best options for a backpack and/or pannier (plus bags) given my needs? 2) Any recommendations on food carrying devices (food and drink)? These need to be stainless steel and/or glass (which makes it harder, I know) given my preferences to stay away from plastics. Also, I want to ensure that these don't leak (tall order) and are able to be situated in my bag(s). 3) Any thoughts on what to keep my computer safe and situated in the bag would also be helpful (as I don't think a computer bag would be reasonable). And 4) any other wisdom or advice that you might have.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Tio; 07-15-10 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 07-15-10, 10:20 AM
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My recommendations: Ortlieb waterproof panniers on rear rack; computer on back in REI Novara Commuter backpack (w/rain cover) . I think your bike and body do the best job absorbing shock, which will protect the computer.
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Old 07-15-10, 12:48 PM
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Ortlieb makes an "Office Bag" pannier that's worth checking out. I use it on my 8-10 mile commute every day to haul an IBM think pad (in a sleeve), along with a bunch of other misc things for the day. I've been using it for a couple months now, and so far the laptop has not had any problems from the bumps it takes on the ride. I think the sleeve, plus the extra gear in there do enough to protect it.

for what you need to carry, I bet you could get away with the Office Bag on one side, and a regular pannier on the other, and not have to do a backpack. My persnonal preference is to avoid having to use a backpack at all costs, but sounds like you don't mind it.

The other thing to consider is lugging the bags from where you park the bike to your office. the Ortlieb Office bag carries like a brief case, except wider, and comes with a shoulder strap, but I don't use it. If I had to carry another pannier into work somehow, I'd have to re-think my whole set-up. If that were the case, I'd probably end up doing a pannier on one side, and a messenger bag or backpack.

anyway, let me know if you'd like to see any pictures of how it looks, and how I pack everything in there with my laptop. I'd be happy to post them for if they'd help you.

Last edited by Justin J; 07-15-10 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 07-15-10, 02:11 PM
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Thanks for all of the advice and guidance, I will definitely check those items out.

The big issue now is the food (really the largest concern when I wrote the initial post). I am thinking about something like the following: https://www.happytiffin.com/latch-tiffins.html but I am concerned about spillage in my bag. While my ride is all road, there are the inevitable bumps and swerves of urban riding...

JustinJ, insofar as my storing option, I have ordered one of these for my office https://www.storables.com/Shop/Utilit...ical+Bike+Rack I have the luxury of big office that has walls that I can drill into (besides, I work on a college campus, which I assume will be ripe with bike thieves, vandals, and the accidental bumps and bruises associated with filled bike racks).

Thanks for the suggestions... now, anyone else able to help with with this food and drink storage riddle?
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Old 07-15-10, 04:37 PM
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I have the Axiom Odyssee rear rack and Axiom Kootenay panniers. I also have a Jansport Revolt backpack that I got from a discount store for $30. I usually don't use the panniers but I'll bungee the backpack to the rear rack when I don't feel like having it on my back. If I carried a laptop I'd probably get a laptop sleeve for it or some kind of padding.

I really can't help with food containers. I use Sterlite containers I bought from walmart for like $3 a piece when I carry food. Is it possible you can get a minifridge for your office and just store stuff their? Can you also use your water bottle cages to carry whatever drinks you may bring? You can purchase steel water bottles that fit.

It's good you have a place to store your bike. You might also want to keep a spare tube or a repair kit their as well. The bike rack at my school has an air pump, so if your school doesn't have one you might want to buy a mini or full size one as well. For tires I have the Panaracer RiBMo's and so far so good. I don't have to contend with goatheads so you might want to hit up your LBS to get recommendations.
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Old 07-15-10, 05:01 PM
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If goatheads become a persistent problem, you could perhaps consider these:

https://www.schwalbetires.com/node/2123

The 700x25s are due back in stock early next week. I'm not sure when the 700x23s are going to arrive (being that they missed the last container; grrrrr).

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Old 07-15-10, 08:20 PM
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I like a basket and backpack. I travel and go to meetings and need one bag/briefcase for all my stuff. This one has two laptops, shirt and pants, lunch and all my briefcase stuff (notebook, WSJ, sundries)
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Old 07-15-10, 08:35 PM
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With two laptops, you might want to make sure the load is strapped down. I bet a good bump would toss the bag. A well-setup pannier would be lower (so the weight is less noticeable) and also more secure.

If you wanted, you could attach some DIY pannier hooks to your bag. Or even buy an attachment kit from Arkel

.

https://www.arkel-od.com/us/all-categ...ook-kit-1.html
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Old 07-15-10, 11:26 PM
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My recommendation are of things I have and love, and I really do, If I don't end up liking something I normally end up returning it, and getting something better, so I like recommending things because they are things I really love and truly uses everyday, and enjoy them. Also I spent the time to put in links.


1) What are the best options for a backpack and/or pannier (plus bags) given my needs?

        2) Any recommendations on food carrying devices (food and drink)? These need to be stainless steel and/or glass (which makes it harder, I know) given my preferences to stay away from plastics. Also, I want to ensure that these don't leak (tall order) and are able to be situated in my bag(s).

                    3) Any thoughts on what to keep my computer safe and situated in the bag would also be helpful (as I don't think a computer bag would be reasonable). And


                      4) any other wisdom or advice that you might have.

                      Be safe, Planet Bike Super Flash and some fenders help, a light is good even if you don't plan on riding at night, I also end up using my light in High traffic areas, fog and rain.
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                      Old 07-15-10, 11:36 PM
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                      amckimmey
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                      Originally Posted by Tio View Post
                      The big issue now is the food (really the largest concern when I wrote the initial post). I am thinking about something like the following: https://www.happytiffin.com/latch-tiffins.html but I am concerned about spillage in my bag. While my ride is all road, there are the inevitable bumps and swerves of urban riding...
                      The Happy Tiffin containers look like my To-Go Ware that I posted above, by they look i mean they are, they probibly are the same just rebranded, but they are pretty good, no worry about spilling a sandwhich or fruit or anything dry, they are pretty tight, soup wont work, and pasta sause could go in the small tin that my TGW came with. just uses the Klean kanteen if you like soup or pyrex, it will work out good. Pad the Pyrex if you are afraid, and again put in in a bag, just to be safe, sometimes I uses 2 bags, even though I just carry pasta,
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                      Old 07-16-10, 08:19 AM
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                      tligman
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                      I usually transport things to make lunch with from home to work on monday, along with a week's worth of clothes, and that way I'm not using anything beyond what the grocery store used as containers. Lunch meat, bread, fruit, chips, bottles of water. But I have a small fridge in my office, so that works for me. I have panniers on my bike right now, and usually stuff my son's backpack in one side w/ his summer camp gear and my backpack in the other side, but on Monday I bungee a huge duffel bag to the top of all that
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                      Old 07-16-10, 09:28 AM
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                      Leiniesred
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                      panniers. Food/tools/lock goes in the "dirty" left side, papers/computer/work clothes go in the "clean" right side. Done-ski. I use Frost River panniers. Cotton duck instead of nylon. Wooden sticks and leather straps to tie them shut.

                      As far as leak resistant non-plastic containers go:
                      An ancient sigg bottle with a cork for liquids.

                      Oh better yet! a wine bottle for liquids and a full loaf of french bread in a paper bag sticking out of the pannier. Classy and plastic free!
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                      Old 07-16-10, 11:28 AM
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                      carlotta
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                      I've commuted to UNM (where I'm assuming you work) for 5+ years and have had great luck with conti gatorskins (700x28s, with thorn-proof tubes). Not the lightest combo, but I have never flatted on my commute (~5mi each way, everyday. Now I'll probably get one on the way home tonight though :). Also a great combo for absorbing the assorted bumps/potholes and other joys of ABQ streets and paths.

                      I've gone with a messenger bag, since I go to work early and either leave late or don't care if I get sweaty on the ride home (vinyl moisture barrier in the bag to keep my stuff dry), but if either of my bikes (both old steel road bikes) had rack mounts I would consider that, just because 5 miles is about the limit of how long I want to carry stuff on my back.

                      For food, it's usually in glass pyrex, which is heavy as hell but not plastic. Or I'll go sandwich (in foil) plus a container of yogurt, and I always have snacks in my desk. I've carried coffee in two ways, both of which have a little plastic but the coffee is in contact with steel (and no leaks with either). The first is a stainless thermos (plastic valve mechanism, but if it's upright there's not plastic contact, and I pour it into a ceramic mug at work), the second is a contigo-brand mug from costco, same plastic lid/valve issue, but it fits nicely into a bottle cage and does not leak.

                      Hope some of that helps, I love commuting here (unless it's super windy...) and I'll miss it (moving to Philly in the fall, going to have to get used to the rain again... and buy a new bike with clearance for fenders :)
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                      Old 07-16-10, 01:33 PM
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                      no motor?
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                      Originally Posted by Tio View Post

                      The big issue now is the food (really the largest concern when I wrote the initial post). I am thinking about something like the following: https://www.happytiffin.com/latch-tiffins.html but I am concerned about spillage in my bag. While my ride is all road, there are the inevitable bumps and swerves of urban riding...
                      I haven't tried those, but they look like the bento boxes they sell in the Japanese mall down the street from me. They look pretty self contained and sturdy, and some come with an insulated carrying case that should ease your worries about spills. There's another thread here about iced coffee that showed some stainless steel thermoses that might interest you too.
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                      Old 07-16-10, 02:19 PM
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                      jsmonet
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                      lock lock containers are *fantastic*
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                      Old 07-16-10, 06:55 PM
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                      Tio
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                      Thanks for all of the advice and recommendations -- very helpful!!! I will certainly look into each of these options.

                      This question might make all of the preceding moot, but will I be able to run those bags with a rack given that the road bike that I will be using is not equipped with mountings? I am thinking that I might have to go for a rack like this -- https://www.oldmanmountain.com/Pages/...RearRacks.html or the "streamline" series here https://www.axiomgear.com/products/gear/racks/ -- but I am uncertain if this would be compatible. I guess I will have to contact the manufactures/distributors if no one here has any such experience.



                      P.S., Carlotta, yep, the end point (in the mornings) and start point (in the evenings) will be UNM.

                      Last edited by Tio; 07-16-10 at 07:30 PM.
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                      Old 07-16-10, 09:23 PM
                        #17  
                      mmac
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                      Originally Posted by Tio View Post
                      The big issue now is the food (really the largest concern when I wrote the initial post). I am thinking about something like the following: https://www.happytiffin.com/latch-tiffins.html but I am concerned about spillage in my bag. While my ride is all road, there are the inevitable bumps and swerves of urban riding...
                      I remember seeing these in India. I believe they were used to carry curries and other wet dishes.
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                      Old 07-16-10, 09:52 PM
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                      amckimmey
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                      Originally Posted by Tio View Post
                      This question might make all of the preceding moot, but will I be able to run those bags with a rack given that the road bike that I will be using is not equipped with mountings? I am thinking that I might have to go for a rack like this -- https://www.oldmanmountain.com/Pages/...RearRacks.html or the "streamline" series here https://www.axiomgear.com/products/gear/racks/ -- but I am uncertain if this would be compatible. I guess I will have to contact the manufactures/distributors if no one here has any such experience.

                      What is the bike you are going to be using, a seat post mounted rack could work, you are just limited on weight. I think some company make rack mounts for bikes that don't have them, they attach with a Ubolt like thing.

                      I have a Axiom Streamliner, I like the rack, I have one that mounts to the normal points, I'm sure the Streamliner Road or Streamliner Road DLX would work out wonderful for you. The Streamliner is already pretty narrow, so there is with the DLX there probably wouldn't be any room for fenders

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                      Old 07-16-10, 10:57 PM
                        #19  
                      bk2wk
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                      Originally Posted by mmac View Post
                      I remember seeing these in India. I believe they were used to carry curries and other wet dishes.
                      yes, they are used to pack home food & transportation of these lunch boxes from home is done by a very efficient network. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/29/bu...unch.html?_r=1
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                      Old 07-17-10, 08:01 AM
                        #20  
                      tjspiel
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                      The problem with panniers on a road bike is that they suck the life right out of it. Obviously personal comfort comes first but 7 miles isn't that far and you're not carrying that much stuff.

                      I got one of these cases for my Macbook Air and stuck it inside a messenger bag along with clothes and lunch. The nice thing about a small case like that is that it's easy to plop in a bag or pannier for bike transport and it has a shoulder strap so you can easily carry just the computer plus a few accessories on their own.

                      I don't have specific recommendations for containers but for anything with a sauce that might leak I put the container inside a plastic bag.

                      Full Disclosure: Due to a couple of ugly snowboarding crashes this winter I hurt my shoulders and back. They just wouldn't heal completely so I gave up the messenger bag and switched to panniers. Problem is now gone. I think my single strap bag days might be over but I'm probably going to get a cycling specific backpack like the one from Banjo Bros. The panniers are fine but like I said, there's a reason I commute by road bike, I like the responsiveness and the panniers rob me of that to a certain extent.

                      Last edited by tjspiel; 07-17-10 at 08:05 AM.
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                      Old 09-05-10, 12:05 PM
                        #21  
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                      Happy Tiffins

                      Hi - just wanted to clarify that Happy Tiffins are not re-branded products - they are Happy Tiffins!

                      Originally Posted by amckimmey View Post
                      The Happy Tiffin containers look like my To-Go Ware that I posted above, by they look i mean they are, they probibly are the same just rebranded, but they are pretty good, no worry about spilling a sandwhich or fruit or anything dry, they are pretty tight, soup wont work, and pasta sause could go in the small tin that my TGW came with. just uses the Klean kanteen if you like soup or pyrex, it will work out good. Pad the Pyrex if you are afraid, and again put in in a bag, just to be safe, sometimes I uses 2 bags, even though I just carry pasta,
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                      Old 09-05-10, 12:09 PM
                        #22  
                      adlai
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                      This is what I do.

                      I have a pair of appalachian trail panniers. They can be found for like 30 bucks online. I leave them on the bike at all times.

                      when I bring a backpack, I strap it to the rack with bungee cords.

                      Works quite well.
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                      Old 09-05-10, 12:19 PM
                        #23  
                      Drew Eckhardt 
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                      Originally Posted by Tio View Post
                      What I am looking for is the following: 1) What are the best options for a backpack and/or pannier (plus bags) given my needs?
                      Pannier.

                      Back packs get uncomfortable and are likely to leave a big wet spot on your back under the pack plus two matching small spots on front from the shoulder straps even in situations you'd otherwise stay dry.

                      The Arkel Commuter has a suspended sub-pouch for a laptop. When I eventually get a rack solution which works I'll use mine (The Topeak seat-post rack is not stiff enough to keep panniers out of the spokes. Delta Post Porter quick release, Axiom, and Transit all have large clamps that rub on my thighs with the Axiom being worst and Transit almost usable. All are mounted higher and farther back than an eyelet mounted rack providing sufficient heel clearance on my Litespeed with 40.5cm stays and size 45 cycling shoes. I'm going to try P-clips and pay a frame builder to weld on eyelets if those work with a regular rack and cave in to a new Pride frame if they don'). Tubus and Old Man Mountain also have quick-release mounts for rear racks.)


                      And 4) any other wisdom or advice that you might have.
                      You want an extended on-site service contract. In 2-3 years with my last laptop I had the main board replaced three times (using a back pack). After the first swap repairs become more frequent because the boards are re-works and likely to have already undergone fatigue cycles in the solder joints which ultimately fail.

                      Dell's on-site service plans are affordable and the 'next business day' service tends to be second business day.

                      Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 09-05-10 at 12:23 PM.
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                      Old 09-05-10, 01:04 PM
                        #24  
                      jayr
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                      I much prefer paniers to a backpack. Even on my short 6 mile commute. I don't really even notice them back there unless I've got both on loaded down.
                      I've got a set of performance Water proof paniers that replaced my rack trunk. Fairly cheep, good quality and totally waterproof. They are construted like dry bags. The paniers hold so much i normally only use one side. One regular WB in one cage and a stainless bottle with my drink of choice for my lunch in the other. Can't help with non-plastic food containers except for the old colman thermos that I use for soup and such, but it does have a plastic lid. You might be able to find one with a SS lid...
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