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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.

Advice for New Commuters

Old 03-28-08, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by yappering
I am interested in a commuter. Maybe some people could recommend me. I like a wheel that is thinner more like a road bike. Not a mountain bike. Also, I really like disc brakes because they are better in bad weather and seem to be generally better. Also, I like straight handle bars because they don't require me to bend over as much as a true road bike. I've looked at the Trek Soho series which seem pretty good, but I think people pay too much money for the Trek name. I was wondering what else was out there in the 500-1000 dollar range that fits the description of my needs. Can anyone with some more experience give me some advice?
Gary Fisher, anything
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Old 03-29-08, 07:28 PM
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if it's flat, find an old Dutch city bike. they are cooler than....cool, in my humble opinion.--classy, stylish, practical, efficient, humble: all good traits for a bicycle. If it's hilly where you are, then everyone else's advice is excellent
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Old 03-30-08, 04:38 PM
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Hey everyone - I have a few questions that you may be able to answer without me starting a new thread. Hopefully this is the thread to do it!

I'm looking at getting a commuter bike for school, and I've narrowed it down to two choices. They're virtually identical except for two issues: one is a 26" wheel with an aluminum frame, the other a 29" wheel with a chromoly frame.

So, school me on the pro's and con's of these two different setups. The 26/aluminum is lighter, would it be more nimble? Is it comparable in speed/versatility to the 29" wheel size for 2 mile max commuter trips in an urban area (including grocery runs and going to school loaded down with books/clothes in a pannier)? Alternatively, are 29" tires/tubes/wheels difficult to find in a local/small lbs, and how much do I need to worry about rust with the chromoly frame if the bike sees rain once a week or so?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by astrocreep96; 03-30-08 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 04-07-08, 04:47 PM
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Get the Aluminum frame. It will last you longer. You won't notice a difference in speed between a 26" and a 29". As far as versatility. IMO, the 26" would win that battle. Along with the parts you mentioned, as far as a LBS carrying them. But I'm partial because I have a 26". And in 26 yrs its the best bike I've owned. Cro-moly is good and sturdy. But if you ride in the winter then go with the aluminum frame.
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Old 04-17-08, 09:43 AM
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Okay, I'm a n00b here, just bought my bike a few weeks ago, just started commuting, and recently read this entire thread. Lots of helpful stuff.

One thing I'm curious about... I only noticed first-aid kits mentioned 3 or 4 times in over 400 posts. Maybe it's a carryover from years as a climber and a mountaineering first aid instructor (I'm sure it is, actually), but do all commuters ride without thinking about this, or do they just rely on the cell phone for accidents? I suppose most riding is done in a city, 10-40 minutes from an EMT, and the EMT is 10-40 minutes from and emergency room, but...

I always have a first-aid kit when I climb, and have one in my car, and they even have one where I work. In my trunk bag I put just a couple of compresses (sanitary napkins work, too) and a half-dozen huge (road-rash sized) band-aids in a heavy zip lock, along with a couple of pairs of latex gloves and a disposable camera. (I know cell phones have cameras, but I don't always carry mine. Document, document, document - license plates, locations, people... Don't need to write stuff down. No dispute. Yes, I am a geek. I've used the disposable cameras in car accidents a couple of times - keep one in my glove compartment - why not keep one with my bike, too?) I just zipped this stuff up in a side pocket in my trunk bag and I will now forget about it. When I get panniers, I will throw the same set of stuff into a stuff sack and do the same. Just leave them there, and hope I never need them.
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Old 04-17-08, 09:51 AM
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P.S. Come to think of it, how would I use the compresses on myself? Chances are if there was an accident, I would be the one biting it. Anyway...

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Old 04-17-08, 12:07 PM
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My commute is partly downtown city and partly open country. When I am in the city, I look at the drivers in the eye. You can tell a lot by looking at them and being alert. I have avoided many accidents by looking at the drivers and knew instantly that they were not aware of me. I can't blame them. They are looking for others cars, generally not bikes.
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Old 04-22-08, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by pedlpusher
My commute is partly downtown city and partly open country. When I am in the city, I look at the drivers in the eye. You can tell a lot by looking at them and being alert. I have avoided many accidents by looking at the drivers and knew instantly that they were not aware of me. I can't blame them. They are looking for others cars, generally not bikes.
I agree totally. It certainly helps reduce a few errors, on a daily basis, for me.
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Old 04-22-08, 11:32 PM
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Having a *really bright* headlight will get their attention fairly quickly, even during the day.
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Old 04-23-08, 12:59 AM
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Especially a headmounted one - just shine it straight in their eye.

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Old 05-05-08, 01:36 PM
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well,

I ride a Dawes Lightning sport... its a chromolly frame that has eyelets for rack and fender (though I don't have them...)

its 14 speed, and its a durable bike (even though its a product of taiwan...)
it uses indexed stem shifters (though you can get the next step up with sti shifters...)
the wheels are sturdy, I have only true'ed them once in my 1.5 years of owning it and I have about 1200 miles on it. (I don't do much winter cycling or riding in inclement weather...)

I bought it off ebay from chicabike for 240.00 (includes the shipping...)
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Old 05-07-08, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by alpinist
Okay, I'm a n00b here, just bought my bike a few weeks ago, just started commuting, and recently read this entire thread. Lots of helpful stuff.

One thing I'm curious about... I only noticed first-aid kits mentioned 3 or 4 times in over 400 posts. Maybe it's a carryover from years as a climber and a mountaineering first aid instructor (I'm sure it is, actually), but do all commuters ride without thinking about this, or do they just rely on the cell phone for accidents? I suppose most riding is done in a city, 10-40 minutes from an EMT, and the EMT is 10-40 minutes from and emergency room, but...

I always have a first-aid kit when I climb, and have one in my car, and they even have one where I work. In my trunk bag I put just a couple of compresses (sanitary napkins work, too) and a half-dozen huge (road-rash sized) band-aids in a heavy zip lock, along with a couple of pairs of latex gloves and a disposable camera. (I know cell phones have cameras, but I don't always carry mine. Document, document, document - license plates, locations, people... Don't need to write stuff down. No dispute. Yes, I am a geek. I've used the disposable cameras in car accidents a couple of times - keep one in my glove compartment - why not keep one with my bike, too?) I just zipped this stuff up in a side pocket in my trunk bag and I will now forget about it. When I get panniers, I will throw the same set of stuff into a stuff sack and do the same. Just leave them there, and hope I never need them.
-climber and ski patroller here. There isn't much you can do or carry that will save a life, just like wemt and wilderness environments/scenarios, so I don't think carrying a med kit is really necessary.

In an outer pocket I have an accident kit which contains, a disposable 35mm camera, sharpie pen, and ziplock-sized first aid kit. I carry some 4x4s, a gauze roll, and quickclot (www.zmedica.com). Quikclot is about the only life saving thing you can carry in a small kit. EMS is less than 10mins away. If I have an injury that could kill me in 8mins, nothing I carry will be able to fix it (again minus the quick clot).

For those that aren't familiar with it, in its testing quikclot had a 100% success rate in severed femoral arteries in cows. The control subjects obviously died in minutes. It can stop big arterial level bleeds in short order. It's expensive, but it literally can save lives and it's over the counter, available to anyone. It's also inert so you don't have to worry about allergic reactions.


...and you should trade your latex gloves for nitrile given the prevalence of latex allergies.

Last edited by littlewaywelt; 05-07-08 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 05-25-08, 10:32 AM
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Commuting over the years

I've been bike commuting to various work locations for over 30 years. The typical rt distance is 15 miles. What I've found helpful:
1. Some kind of topo map of the route to reduce hills. (I used MS Terra Server or google earth) There is always a flatter way and the goal of my commutes is just that, commute, not ego.
2. I like the Specialized armadillo tires as the most flat resistant and also use a slime tube. Yes, I know, weight on tires is higher but think about it, if you are commuting, you typically have to take lots of things like a briefcase, etc to work so I don't think too much about weight, more about how much fun a flat is.
3. I've tried panniers, special rack mounted briefcases but oddly, I have found a simple wire basket mounted to my rear rack the best for me. It carries the briefcase and if I stop at the market, it carries odd shaped items better as long as I have a bungee cord.
4. Lights. More to be seen than to see. I actually got stopped by a policeman for not having a front light once.
5. Helmets and gloves. Once you fall, you know why gloves are nice.
6. Ok, this is out of the box. I've commuted on MTB, Comfort, Flat handlebar road but never exotic stuff, always < $1000.00, but here is my favorite and why: Giant Revive with an electric motor inline with the gears (Cyclone-tw.com has the double freewheel motor kit). **All the things we don't like on a daily basis, starting from a dead stop, hills, headwind, sidewind, all of the above combined, become irrelevant on an ebike. That makes it much more likely that you will commute and save carbon. Also, the average speed maintainable without sweating is probably around 18-20 mph which makes for a faster commute. And lastly, as I move through the 50's, I can see a time when a conventional bike won't be rideable with older legs but an ebike will extend that joy of riding for a few more years!
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Old 05-26-08, 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by ebikes4ever
I've been bike commuting to various work locations for over 30 years. The typical rt distance is 15 miles. What I've found helpful:
1. Some kind of topo map of the route to reduce hills. (I used MS Terra Server or google earth) There is always a flatter way and the goal of my commutes is just that, commute, not ego.
2. I like the Specialized armadillo tires as the most flat resistant and also use a slime tube. Yes, I know, weight on tires is higher but think about it, if you are commuting, you typically have to take lots of things like a briefcase, etc to work so I don't think too much about weight, more about how much fun a flat is.
3. I've tried panniers, special rack mounted briefcases but oddly, I have found a simple wire basket mounted to my rear rack the best for me. It carries the briefcase and if I stop at the market, it carries odd shaped items better as long as I have a bungee cord.
4. Lights. More to be seen than to see. I actually got stopped by a policeman for not having a front light once.
5. Helmets and gloves. Once you fall, you know why gloves are nice.
6. Ok, this is out of the box. I've commuted on MTB, Comfort, Flat handlebar road but never exotic stuff, always < $1000.00, but here is my favorite and why: Giant Revive with an electric motor inline with the gears (Cyclone-tw.com has the double freewheel motor kit). **All the things we don't like on a daily basis, starting from a dead stop, hills, headwind, sidewind, all of the above combined, become irrelevant on an ebike. That makes it much more likely that you will commute and save carbon. Also, the average speed maintainable without sweating is probably around 18-20 mph which makes for a faster commute. And lastly, as I move through the 50's, I can see a time when a conventional bike won't be rideable with older legs but an ebike will extend that joy of riding for a few more years!
I like your logic, I've only been part commuting to work and back, for 18 months, built up from 6 miles to 22 miles round trip, so far. I'm 57, weigh 230lbs, and probably carry 20lbs+, kitwise, ergo, I do not like hills. My bete noire, is about half way, if I were to do the whole commute, a round trip of 36 miles, in total, but it's that hill that puts me off going for it, not forgetting punctures. The truth is, I suppose, that I'm an introverted type who doesn't like others see me struggling up such hills, and I sweat before I reach it, dreading the experience. Obviously, as I get older, such things will get more difficult, so it makes sense to have an electric motor assist. Thanks for mentioning this alternative in your post. As far as punctures are concerned, I've had enough, and I'm going to try solid inner tubes, currently I'm waiting for a test piece to try in my tyre, for fit. What do you think of such an inner tube?
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Old 05-27-08, 08:03 AM
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Solid Inner Tubes

I haven't tried the solid inner tubes but have tried the airless solid tires and that was within the last two years so I suspect the technology was fairly current. The ride was very bumpy and chattery compared to air tires and I felt that the weight/rolling resistance cost about one to two gears, meaning I had to drop down in gear on equivalent routes compared to normal tires. When I finally gave up after a few months, I really did notice the difference. They also seemed to wear more rapidly. Tires were the 700 size, about 1 inch wide.
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Old 06-04-08, 07:09 PM
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Hello,

I'm a new commuter making the switch from subway/bus to cycle. I have two questions.

This is the cycle I'm going to get:

https://www.target.com/Men%E2%80%99s-...e=1&rh=&page=1

Does a bicycle with the "downward curving" handlebars have a specific name? Is this an acceptable bike for a first timer? I don't have a lot of cash to spend on one at this point.

My second questions regards mirrors. I can't seem to find any mirrors on-line that Will fit onto this bike. The ones that I've seen fit into the end of straight handlebars.
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Old 06-06-08, 03:57 PM
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They are generally called "Drop bars."

As for that bike....it's definitely a budget bike, and the commenters on Target's site say the tires kept going flat until they replaced the tube and or the wheel, so buyer beware.

The main issue you'll have with a Target bike is that it likely wasn't put together well. The components and frame etc will all work just fine...if they are assembled properly.

You might cruise Craigslist if you want a bike that has higher end components but is likely a few years old.

As for mirrors, you can always get a helmet mirror. I chose a straight-bar bike so I could plug a mirror into the end.
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Old 06-09-08, 01:07 PM
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hi everyone. i'm thinking of starting a cummute to work but don't know whether i'm biting off abit more than i can chew. thing is it's abit less than 25 mile (39 kilometers) each way, and is probably 70%country roads, but means the more or less 4 hours on the bike each day and i am wondering if this could be abit dangerous to undertake. i don't intend to do it every day, maybe twice a week with at least one day in between and carry out my normal training when i'm not at work (abit of free wieghts, football(some of you may say soccer or lawn fairies) some running and cycling). i have done this commute once before and wondered whats the best way to go ie.
-best heart rate to keep to (140bpm average first time).
-what average speed to go at (about 22kph average first time).
-how much fluid to drink and what food to eat the night before and whilst at work for the ride home.
-just bought a GIANT OCR bike that i'll be using.
also i'm 29 year old male weighs about 14st and of low-average fitness and want to lose some beer gut whilst improving fitness/stamina.
any tips you can give me on this would be much appreciated
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Old 06-12-08, 02:45 PM
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Hi BrooklynBicycle,

I'm new to this forum, but have been commuting year round in NYC (I'm in Brooklyn too) for the past 15 years. I originally used road bike, with drop bars, that I bought used in 1993. I got tired of flats (even with the widest tires I could fit), and felt the drop bars were a little too risky (harder to look around, be seen, etc., and painful when I had on a backpack, though usually I go with panniers). I moved to a hybrid Peugot, which I've had since '96. This was great for a long time, but I rode it into the ground (it's indoors at home, but I park on the street at work, so it does get exposed to the elements). I just bought a used Scott mountain bike on Craigslist.

My advice is to buy something used. For the money you want to spend (less than $300), you can get a much better used bike. There are a lot of wealthy people in NY with big ambitions but little time to ride. Just looking online this week I've seen Gary Fishers, Treks, etc. that retail close to $1000, being sold in the $250 range. My guess is that many of these bikes have mostly seen the inside of apartments rather than a trail, and so are in pretty good condition (good enough for commuting anyway). It's not mountain biking, but commuting in the city is still rough on a bike, so better to get something that is well made and strong than something poorly made but new.

Regarding the mirror question. I've never used them myself, and have a hunch that they give a false sense of security. You really need to be good at looking over your shoulder and all around. I imagine those mirrors only give a limited view, and you have to move your head around to see more.

Maybe I'll pass you on the Manhattan Bridge sometime.

Have fun.



Originally Posted by BrooklynBicycle
Hello,

I'm a new commuter making the switch from subway/bus to cycle. I have two questions.

This is the cycle I'm going to get:

https://www.target.com/Men%E2%80%99s-...e=1&rh=&page=1
...
My second questions regards mirrors. I can't seem to find any mirrors on-line that Will fit onto this bike. The ones that I've seen fit into the end of straight handlebars.
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Old 06-18-08, 06:30 PM
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New commuters - read this!

I see a lot of new commuters and new cyclists coming on here lately. WELCOME!
There is a lot of information on the internet about how to ride in traffic and how to take care of you bike.
Here are my 2 favorites:

1. The PA Bicycle site gives lots of tips for riding in traffic and safe cycling. The Road Riding section id great.
2 The late, great Sheldon Brown has the best info about bikes and the mechanics of bikes.

Any one else want to recommend good sites?
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It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

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Old 06-18-08, 07:05 PM
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I like the PA bike site, I new and its very helpful thanks for the tip
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Old 06-18-08, 08:15 PM
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https://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/
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Old 06-19-08, 05:11 AM
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https://commutebybike.com/2008/06/11/...them-hear-you/

This is about using a bell on your bike to increase awareness for pedestrians etc, especially on multiuse paths etc. I think I'll get one. The thing about ice cream truck makes it seem funny and they made reference to a horn "like Harpo Marx used." That was the thing I most wanted to get.
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Old 06-19-08, 07:14 AM
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There's a sticky for this, folks.
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Old 06-19-08, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ironhorse3
https://commutebybike.com/2008/06/11/...them-hear-you/

This is about using a bell on your bike to increase awareness for pedestrians etc, especially on multiuse paths etc. I think I'll get one. The thing about ice cream truck makes it seem funny and they made reference to a horn "like Harpo Marx used." That was the thing I most wanted to get.
Consider an Air Zound. Louder (cagers with rolled up window's don't hear bells, and if they do, they don't think the noise is aimed at them), and an effective Dog deterrant. Air Zound inparticular because you can re-fill it with your bike pump rather then buying CO2 cartridges.
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