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Advice for New Commuters

Old 07-21-08, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by DAkilles
I can't say I agree with this. I have commuted comfortably for about 3 years now 25 miles a day on either a road bike (Kuwahara UL) or my new Raleigh (Rush Hour). There is a movement out there for the comfort-ride cyclists and that's fine I guess. But everytime I see a bike with a sofa sized saddle and 3 inch springed shock absorbers I suspect the rider doesn't really want to be on a bike at all.

I do have an ideal situation though. My lab has an attached shower/bathroom so I don't worry about what condition I'm in when I arrive at work. I know I'm going to shower anyway. I keep supplies at work like soaps and towels so that I only need to carry the clean change clothes with me on my commute.

Aggressive is as aggressive does. Posture on the saddle, the manner in which you ride and the duration etc all factor in. Just because a bike has "aggressive geometry" does no exclude it from practical commuting options.

I only use a rear clip on fender when its actually raining. Why have a frame giddied up with fenders all the time? Why a a rear rack? How much are you hauling? In my case a small sized messenger bag is often more than sufficient (like today).

Do people feel more secure/comfortable if their bike is kitted out with every possible product?

Some suggestions:
1) When possible, create a route that takes you near to your LBS. Most incidents and accidents I have suffered are taken care of by simply rolling or walking to the LBS. In this way I don't have the need to carry any maintenance gear with me (except for the crank bros mini pump I basically got for free and which stashes nicely in my bag).
2) Consider undecorating your bike with crap. A clean unencumbered frame is a happy frame. Accidents can happen when something gets snagged or something snags you or some piece of crap you've attached to your bike. Also less to steal and less to go wrong.
3) Vary your riding style. I suppose I am one of those "aggressive" bikers here, but I vary my style so that I'm not caught in some dilemma. There are some hills I am particularly fond of attacking. I detour through the park to decrease the amount of car traffic I have to deal with and at those times I sit up and chill out. Inevitably on my last ascent on a false flat 2 miles from home I catch sight of a FRED and the cranks really start hammering down into a thrilling competitive sprint.

Uh-oh, tiny rant...
Hey DAkilles,

I take on board alot of what you say, I have "commuter bike", a Carrera Subway 8, which for the last 2 months has been kitted out with full pannier bags, for my 41 mile roundtrip commute. It's too heavy, I need to travel lighter and get a more aggressive bike. Also having problems with saddle comfort. By the way, probably going to show my inexperience here, what is a FRED?
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Old 07-21-08, 09:43 AM
  #452  
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Originally Posted by corripio
A rack and panniers (or even strapping your bag to the rack) makes life a lot easier and a lot less sweaty than a backpack (especially on a hot summer day). Also, unless you get a good one really meant for biking, messenger bags have a tendency to slide from your back to your side, basically getting completely in the way of actually biking.
I sweat thinking about getting the mail. Seriously, they is no chance of me not arriving at work completely drenched. The need for shower is absolute. This is true in all weather. I arrive just as sweaty (although not as hot) during winter commutes as in summer.

Most LBS' sell versions of messenger bags like Timbuk2 starting at $55-ish. The second strap on these bags makes it impossible for the bag to slip and keeps it in a nice, well out of the way from everything position.
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Old 07-21-08, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by keiron curtis
Hey DAkilles,

I take on board alot of what you say, I have "commuter bike", a Carrera Subway 8, which for the last 2 months has been kitted out with full pannier bags, for my 41 mile roundtrip commute. It's too heavy, I need to travel lighter and get a more aggressive bike. Also having problems with saddle comfort. By the way, probably going to show my inexperience here, what is a FRED?
Well, Keiron, its just my preferences really. But I really don't think everyone who is commuting requires a bicycle with every gid-gad attached to it. Some people new to commuting might need more than others, but to say that this extra is needed goes a long way in misrepresenting what happens on a daily commute.

I realize that someday I will be in a completely different situation and I will be that guy needing to haul twice as much by bike than now. Until then, however...

FRED is a goofy term sometimes used to describe the new cyclist who went and spent more money at the LBS than his ability in the saddle required. I have two examples of this,

1) I was my LBS a few weeks ago getting a minor adjustment made to something when a family of 3 walked in. A girl of maybe 16 walked over to a comfort bike and said, "this looks nice", and I thought, yeah, she could ride that. Then she walks over to a top of the line Cervelo and says, "ooo this one", and Dad comes over and says, "its only $5,000 honey" - and he meant it. He was going to spend that much cash for a bike and his daughter couldn't differentiate it from a comfort cruiser.

2) you see a bike, brand new, usually in the park trails or on the more popular bike roads, with every bell and whistle attached, and the rider is kitted out like he just stepped off the podium in Paris, but he has trouble keeping up with you on the descents. I love passing those guys - especially in Fall/Winter when I ride my singlespeed up hill wearing my Doc Martins. tee-hee
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Old 07-23-08, 02:51 PM
  #454  
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Just stumbled onto this website, Hope this is the right place to ask this question. Been commuting 13 miles round trip for several months on a trek 4300 hardtail mtb. Im aware this is rather dumb but when I bought the bike I didnt know that gas was going to be 4$ a gallon 2 years later. I dont want to spend the money to get a more road freindly bike. So I guess my best option would be to put slicks, I believe thats what they are called on to reduce the drag? I go mtb everyweekend so switching the knobbies and slicks out would get old really fast. I was kinda hoping some one could point me to a website where I could pick up two new rims and and cassette. Ive changed out my rear wheel before when I bent it or, tacoed it, but I dont know how to do much beyond that.

I dont really want anything amazing, Im just commuting but I dont mind spending a little extra so they dont bend the first time I have to hop onto a curb.

Id like to spend only 120? if I can do it cheaper awesome. I dont know much about what parts are good other than to stay away from walmart.

oh its a 24 speed bike so 8 cassetes in the back.

I appreciate any advice you guys may have for me. I apologzie if this is a repeat question, Ive browsed this forum for most of the day here at work and didnt find a section that seemed more apppriate.

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Old 07-23-08, 02:58 PM
  #455  
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non-disc wheelsets:

https://www.jensonusa.com/store/sub/1...ts.aspx?s=1417

disc wheelsets:

https://www.jensonusa.com/store/sub/1...ts.aspx?s=1423

tires:

https://www.jensonusa.com/store/sub/148-Tires.aspx?s=882

cassette:

https://www.jensonusa.com/store/sub/1...reewheels.aspx

and I guess you'd want a cassette lockring tool and chainwhip also:

https://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...oval+Tool.aspx

https://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...g+Remover.aspx
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Old 07-23-08, 06:21 PM
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Thanks
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Old 07-28-08, 04:35 AM
  #457  
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Originally Posted by DAkilles
Well, Keiron, its just my preferences really. But I really don't think everyone who is commuting requires a bicycle with every gid-gad attached to it. Some people new to commuting might need more than others, but to say that this extra is needed goes a long way in misrepresenting what happens on a daily commute.

I realize that someday I will be in a completely different situation and I will be that guy needing to haul twice as much by bike than now. Until then, however...

FRED is a goofy term sometimes used to describe the new cyclist who went and spent more money at the LBS than his ability in the saddle required. I have two examples of this,

1) I was my LBS a few weeks ago getting a minor adjustment made to something when a family of 3 walked in. A girl of maybe 16 walked over to a comfort bike and said, "this looks nice", and I thought, yeah, she could ride that. Then she walks over to a top of the line Cervelo and says, "ooo this one", and Dad comes over and says, "its only $5,000 honey" - and he meant it. He was going to spend that much cash for a bike and his daughter couldn't differentiate it from a comfort cruiser.

2) you see a bike, brand new, usually in the park trails or on the more popular bike roads, with every bell and whistle attached, and the rider is kitted out like he just stepped off the podium in Paris, but he has trouble keeping up with you on the descents. I love passing those guys - especially in Fall/Winter when I ride my singlespeed up hill wearing my Doc Martins. tee-hee

Thanks Dakilles for clearing that up for me, currently I'm commuting 40 mile round trip, been doing so consistently now for 6+ weeks, and still in the what to carry/not to carry stage. Some days I have to carry a supply of clothes to work etc., but I'm getting it lighter--I hope! Next stage is a lighter bike!!
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Old 07-30-08, 07:46 AM
  #458  
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OK, here's my problem. I work in an area that is maybe a worst case scenario for bicycle commuting.

I work near a mall, that is basically right next to an expressway. To get home, I have to get across the expressway. The only way that is possible is to take the 45 mph highway. If I ride in the right hand lane I have to deal with people trying to merge onto and off of the highway. Many times, when people do this, they will regularly come across two or three lanes at a time.

I feel that the only, marginally safe thing to do would be to ride in the left hand lane of the divided highway. This is only for .5 miles before I can turn into the other mall and use it's ring road to get on back streets.

Am I thinking about this correctly? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Below is a link to a google map of the location in question.

https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sadd...27809&t=h&z=16
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Old 07-30-08, 01:46 PM
  #459  
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Well, right off the bat this is probably illegal, not to mention incredibly dangerous. Bicycles are prohibited from most urban highways. First check the law about this type of Expressway for your locale.

And yes, that sounds nearly worst case...
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Old 07-30-08, 01:49 PM
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How about:

Bowling
Browns
Lowe
to negotiate those subdivisions (Regency - Hawkshead - Limehouse)
Oxmorr
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Old 07-30-08, 06:01 PM
  #461  
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I am not sure of the legality of riding on Shelbyville Rd, I will have to check that.

I should have clarified though, Oxmoor Ave. is listed in Google Maps as a street, but it is really an access road on private property, I will have to ask the property owner's permission to ride on that road. Don't know how willing they would be to accept that.

But, assuming that Oxmoor is out of the picture, and Shelbyville is legally ridable, should I stay in the left hand lane for that half-mile?

Thanks for the help
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Old 07-31-08, 09:39 AM
  #462  
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I don't know what the traffic is like so its hard to say. First impression is to say no. I understand the concern about merging traffic on the right, but you can time your crossing at those points. In the left lane there is no protection for you. Is there a concrete divider? Median? Just painted lines? Are cars crossing the center lane? Are you making a left hand turn?
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Old 08-01-08, 12:03 AM
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I will be making a left hand hand turn as soon as I get past the overpass. There is a concrete divider that separates traffic. No one will be turning in front of me. It is 4 lanes, so if I started in the right lane, I would have to merge three lanes in less than half a mile in busy traffic.

I guess my main question is whether or not it is legal to ride in the left-hand lane. Is this usually a local regulation, or is it a common law for most jurisdictions?

Thanks for your patience,

I know I'm pretty ignorant with most of this. I'm trying to get it all before I go out and ride in traffic.
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Old 08-03-08, 06:54 PM
  #464  
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Thanks for this wonderful thread.

Question about mirrors. I've seen three different kind of mirrors out there. 1, attached to the handlebar, 2, attached to a helmet, and 3, attached to your glasses frame.

Which one would you recommend? What are pros/cons of each?

Thanks!
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Old 08-04-08, 02:53 PM
  #465  
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Originally Posted by aidanpryde18
I will be making a left hand hand turn as soon as I get past the overpass. There is a concrete divider that separates traffic. No one will be turning in front of me. It is 4 lanes, so if I started in the right lane, I would have to merge three lanes in less than half a mile in busy traffic.

I guess my main question is whether or not it is legal to ride in the left-hand lane. Is this usually a local regulation, or is it a common law for most jurisdictions?

Thanks for your patience,

I know I'm pretty ignorant with most of this. I'm trying to get it all before I go out and ride in traffic.
Well, yes, on a normal, publicly dedicated road you have the same rights to the lane and traffic as a car. the questions I have for you in this situation are:
1) is it legal in you city to ride your bike on that expressway at all (maybe its just a large road and it is fine)
2) how do you feel if when you ride on it?

If the answer to #1 is yes, and the answer to #2 is that you feel safe and comfortable on that road, then go for it. Otherwise, if you want to avoid it, there does appear to be a nice, long alternative route
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Old 08-05-08, 01:55 AM
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Greetings all,

I am a newbie commuter. Prior to this summer, I probably haven't ridden more than 15 miles (total) on a bike in the last 30 years. That's an average of about half a mile a year. Anyway, I decided to give it a try earlier this summer, never htinking I'd really stick with it. I figured it would be kind of like eating vegetables - something you really don't want to do, but force yourself because its good for you. Boy was I wrong. I am loving it. I commute approximately 13 miles a day, at least four days a week.

I started with a used Pacific FV3 mountain bike (which I think is a Walmart bike). I changed the tires on it to slicks, but didn't notice a huge difference. I then purchased a practically brand new Cypress Dx (Hybrid) off of craigslist. I think I want to get a road bike, but I'm going to endure these two until next year, when I can figure out what I really want. One of the things I have learned is that you learn something new about biking everyday (or at least every week). Here is just a couple of things I have learned so far:

1. Bike shorts make all the difference in the world. My butt was killing me - especially with the huge gel seat that came with my trek. I'd recommend them to anyone. I wear them under a pair of jogging pants.

2. You can REALLY increase the power of your stroke if you pull on the pedal on the upstroke (just as if you were scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe). This is especially useful on hills. It is kind of tiring for me to do this constantly yet, but I use it when I want a little extra boost.

3. Spinning rocks. I use to see people pedaling so easy, and I wondered how they did it. I thought, they must have expensive bikes or something. I just knew that everytime I rode a bike, it liked to kick my butt.I thought that riding in low gear would get you nowhere fast. Little did I know. I can keep a pretty consistent cadence of about 80 rpms.

4. Tire pressure makes a huge difference. My Giant Cypress has the 700cc tires ( did I say that right?? I'm trying to impress ya'll). The problem is no one ever told me that I needed to check the pressure in them weekly, or that the tires lose pressure automatically. Today, I filled them up to the proper level and I had the most awesome commute of the summer. I felt like I was flying. I cut nearly five minutes off my commute time.

5. Car drivers can be idiots. The first week I was commuting, I got sideswiped by a guy who passed me, then turned right in front of me. Fortunately, both of us were going pretty slow, and I just glanced off him - remaining upright on the bike. Just last week, I was in the right lane, approaching an intersection. A car approached me from the rear and actually drove up on the sidewalk to pass me on the right. I have learned to make direct eye contact with drivers to make sure they see me - especially those on cell phones.

6. I have lots of energy in the orning. I absolutely enjoy my commute. Sometimes in the afternoon, I am just wasted. I judge how I feel If Ithink I can make it, I go ahead. However, I have also been known to put my bike on the bus and ride it to a stop just two miles from my house, then bike the reset of the way. Purchasing a monthly is a good backup plan. Its still cheaper than a tank of gas, but its a good insurance policy.

7. The wind is not your friend. My worst commutes occur with a good strong headwind. There's nothing you can do, but fight through it (or take the bus)
I know for you veterans, these are probably second nature, but they are all the things no one ever told me. Of course I probably wouldn't have listened anyway. SOme things you just got to learn yourself.

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Old 08-05-08, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Cras108er
Greeti
1. Bike shorts make all the difference in the world. My butt was killing me - especially with the huge gel seat that came with my trek. I'd recommend them to anyone. I wear them under a pair of jogging pants.
Thanks! I never thought of biking shorts as underclothes. I need to try that.

5. ....I have learned to make direct eye contact with drivers to make sure they see me - especially those on cell phones.
I am probably a fool and this is dumb, but I stopped worrying about eye-contact years ago, when drivers would look me in the eye, and pull out. I don't know if they couldn't judge my speed, or if they that that, having eye contact meant that they could pull out with impunity or what. In any case, I stopped going for eye contact, and started watching their front wheels. You can judge what they are doing by how their tires are rotating. That has been a better judge for me than eye contact. Plus, I suspect it makes the driver more nervous about whether you are going to stop or not, and he stops. In any case, my close calls became much fewer and further between.

-Jon
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Old 08-05-08, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by joninkrakow
Thanks! I never thought of biking shorts as underclothes. I need to try that.
Jon, Maybe I should clarify. I have been wearing a pair of boxer liners (I think that is what they call them) that are actually designed as underwear - although they look and fit like bike shorts. Just slightly shorter legs. I just purchased two pair of actual bike shorts from a company called Aerotech. Today will be my first time trying them under my clothes. I just don't want to draw attention to myself,.



I am probably a fool and this is dumb, but I stopped worrying about eye-contact years ago, when drivers would look me in the eye, and pull out. I don't know if they couldn't judge my speed, or if they that that, having eye contact meant that they could pull out with impunity or what. In any case, I stopped going for eye contact, and started watching their front wheels. You can judge what they are doing by how their tires are rotating. That has been a better judge for me than eye contact. Plus, I suspect it makes the driver more nervous about whether you are going to stop or not, and he stops. In any case, my close calls became much fewer and further between.
That's a good idea, and is more likely what I am doing too. I think my point is I find I am hypervigilant. Just yesterday, I'm tooling along at a decent pace, and an 18 wheeler coming from the opposite direction makes a left turn right in front of me. I had to brake, or they would have been scraping me off the street. Definitely can't be day dreaming.

Thanks for the reply.

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Old 08-06-08, 04:57 AM
  #469  
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Originally Posted by joninkrakow
I am probably a fool and this is dumb, but I stopped worrying about eye-contact years ago, when drivers would look me in the eye, and pull out. I don't know if they couldn't judge my speed, or if they that that, having eye contact meant that they could pull out with impunity or what. In any case, I stopped going for eye contact, and started watching their front wheels. You can judge what they are doing by how their tires are rotating. That has been a better judge for me than eye contact. Plus, I suspect it makes the driver more nervous about whether you are going to stop or not, and he stops. In any case, my close calls became much fewer and further between.

-Jon
Actually watching the front wheel makes a lot more sense than eye contact. I have a few high-traffic spots and plenty of side streets where people can pull out in front of me, or turn a corner in front of me. (all have happened). I too have found that eye contact is no guarantee.

Speaking of eye contact. Yesterday I was sprinting to make it through a traffic light. There are two right-turn lanes and one left turn lane, and one lane that is left turn or straight. Well, very few cards go straight, so as I sprinted past these cars, I happened to look into one of them. I must have shocked the driver. All I saw were his mouth and eyes wide open as if in shock. Of course I suppose he could have been suggesting that take a flying leap, but, whatever.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:46 AM
  #470  
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Okay i want to start commuting with my mountain bike but to my high school not work. I usually only ride my bike weekends and during the summer but cycling would be much cheaper than a car and gas. I would be a total newbie at this so i read the rest of this thread but still have some questions.
1) Since the total commute would be only around 8 miles, not much and always in the day, how much of this equipment would i really need? My ride would be during the day at all times.
2) Would i be able to ride with a normal backpack? A messenger bag really doesnt have enough room but the thought of a heavy backpack on a rainy day doesnt sound good.
3) this is a route question. one route i could take would be shorter and less hilly but also goes on extremely busy streets that im not sure i would be comfortable riding on. the other way is around 2 miles longer, not much, but with lots of large hills (not good with heavy backpack). the 2nd route is a lot less busy though. Either way i would have to ride at least half a mile on the busy road including over a bridge (i dont like bridges) which kind of freaks me out. Any suggestions on which route would be helpful.
4) one more quick question, at least for now. how much time should i allow for riding there, and changing, etc.?
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Old 08-11-08, 10:27 AM
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A messenger bag doesn't hold enough? What bag are you using?
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Old 08-11-08, 11:08 AM
  #472  
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Originally Posted by TrueBlueWonder
Okay i want to start commuting with my mountain bike but to my high school not work. I usually only ride my bike weekends and during the summer but cycling would be much cheaper than a car and gas. I would be a total newbie at this so i read the rest of this thread but still have some questions.
1) Since the total commute would be only around 8 miles, not much and always in the day, how much of this equipment would i really need? My ride would be during the day at all times.
2) Would i be able to ride with a normal backpack? A messenger bag really doesnt have enough room but the thought of a heavy backpack on a rainy day doesnt sound good.
3) this is a route question. one route i could take would be shorter and less hilly but also goes on extremely busy streets that im not sure i would be comfortable riding on. the other way is around 2 miles longer, not much, but with lots of large hills (not good with heavy backpack). the 2nd route is a lot less busy though. Either way i would have to ride at least half a mile on the busy road including over a bridge (i dont like bridges) which kind of freaks me out. Any suggestions on which route would be helpful.
4) one more quick question, at least for now. how much time should i allow for riding there, and changing, etc.?
Here's a few quick recommendations...

1. Swap out the knobbys, and replace them with urban/city tires like Schwables or Continentals. Save the knobby's for the weekend, or keep em and ride em to the ground and then replace them.

2. Get a rack, and a plastic milk crate. Search the forums on how to attach the milkcrate to the rack. Toss your backpack in there, put a bungee over the top, and go. PM me if you can't find anything.

3. Get a mirror, tire levers, patch kit, or spare inner tube.

Later you can throw on some fenders.

Last edited by Silverexpress; 08-11-08 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 08-11-08, 09:59 PM
  #473  
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Originally Posted by TrueBlueWonder
Okay i want to start commuting with my mountain bike but to my high school not work. I usually only ride my bike weekends and during the summer but cycling would be much cheaper than a car and gas. I would be a total newbie at this so i read the rest of this thread but still have some questions.
1) Since the total commute would be only around 8 miles, not much and always in the day, how much of this equipment would i really need? My ride would be during the day at all times.
2) Would i be able to ride with a normal backpack? A messenger bag really doesnt have enough room but the thought of a heavy backpack on a rainy day doesnt sound good.
3) this is a route question. one route i could take would be shorter and less hilly but also goes on extremely busy streets that im not sure i would be comfortable riding on. the other way is around 2 miles longer, not much, but with lots of large hills (not good with heavy backpack). the 2nd route is a lot less busy though. Either way i would have to ride at least half a mile on the busy road including over a bridge (i dont like bridges) which kind of freaks me out. Any suggestions on which route would be helpful.
4) one more quick question, at least for now. how much time should i allow for riding there, and changing, etc.?
1) The amount of equipment you take with you is totally up to you, how confident you are in your bike and how likely you think you are to experience some freak phenomenon. If you aren't riding at night, don't worry about lights. I have a clip on fender that I only use when it _is_ raining or when lots of standing water are on the roads. Can you route near an LBS? If so that occasional flat or mechanical failure might not be such a big deal.

2) Speaking of bags, are you planning on hauling more than just change of clothes (like books, etc)? If your cargo starts to bulk up think about a rear mounted rack in combination with a bag of some kind. Messenger bags have a few good points to their advantageous use over backpacks, here are some: they distribute weight differently and secure better to your torso, they come in very large sizes and can hold as much as you want ('course, the bigger the bag the more $$$), they secure without a zipper!, and they are truly weatherproof.

3) Your route decision is based on what you are comfy with. Some people will go an extra mile to avoid unpleasantness, others will add it just cuz its another mile on the bike Also, a good route is consistant yet flexible. My route has a core path but I have options should the need arise like construction, traffic, weather, some jackass is following me, etc. Ride your options and choose. You may also find once you ride them a few more times that you notice options you may not have noticed before, like taking an alley rather than a main road.

4) Depends on your riding style and how many obstacles lay between you and your destination. There is almost no reason why an 8 mile ride should last longer than 30 minutes, but again who knows? Ride it a few times and see.

Remember to have fun. Try not to plan too much before you get out there. Silverexpress had some good advice, especially about the tires.
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Old 08-14-08, 05:23 AM
  #474  
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Originally Posted by Daily Commute
What kind of bike works best for commuting? How should I equip it (including lighting)? What should I carry with me? What should I wear? How should I wash up at work? Have I missed any important questions?

These are the questions we see most frequently from new commuters. Before starting a new thread, take a look through here to see if it answers your questions. Feel free to add additional questions and, more importantly, to put in your two cents.
Hello there.

I recently purchased a folding Downtube VIII FS (full suspension) with 20" wheels and I have to say it is excellent.
It has 8 spd gears on a twist grip changer (easy to use and convenient), it folds in around 14 seconds for me, comes with it's own carry bag with a bell and reflectors and is quick for the type of bike it is.

I have only done about 40 miles on it so far, but it is great.

It rides like a normal bike with next to no noise. It turns many heads, as I have not yet seen another one of these bikes in Leeds, where i live in the UK.

It fits easily in the back of my car (Ford Focus Estate), with room for a pushchair and my child's bicycle, with no need to put the back seats down.

The bike is well built and the welds on the Aluminium frame are perfectly neat and appear robust.

You would have to pay in excess of 400-500 for an equivalent quality Dahon.

I paid 200 for last year's model, from Downtube itself, via e-bay. I like it that much I am buying the 16" minis for my wife and child (if i can get them at a reasonable price - 288 inc VAT and UK Rip off excise inc is the cheapest so far).

The bike I have already was from stock that Downtube have in the UK, but they don't seem to have the Mini in the UK yet, so around 135 is for shipping and excise from the US to the UK (the bike itself costs the equivalent of 147 in the uk when converted from US dollars).

If you are in the states, you're sorted, cos you don't have to pay the rip off costs of excise i have to.

This bike is Highly recommended.


1)There is a carry handle come bike protector welded to the bottom bracket, which was bent towards the left hand side pedal shaft when i got it. It was brand new and well packaged when i got it, so i can only think it's just a QA mishap when being produced. It was rectified by being carefully bent out of the way and is now spot on (although some paint came off at the stress points, the welds and area it was bent). I intend to touch it up with some car paint.

2) I can't get the gears to shift cleanly to the smallest sprocket, although the rest shift quickly and smoothly (a delay of a couple of secs with some clicking noises made).
I will take it to a bike mechanic to see if they can tweak it, as this is likely to be my error rather than the bike.

3) The paint chips easily when you fold it where the forks come into contact with the front of the frame (Yan, could these bikes be powder coated and laquered instead?).

I am gonna touch this up too and I have bought some translucent gaffer tape which i will cut into some neat squares to put on the vulnerable areas.

That's it!

Rubber2405

Last edited by rubber2405; 08-14-08 at 05:27 AM. Reason: typing error made
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Old 08-14-08, 06:50 AM
  #475  
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Originally Posted by rubber2405
Hello there.

I recently purchased a folding Downtube VIII FS (full suspension) with 20" wheels and I have to say it is excellent.
It has 8 spd gears on a twist grip changer (easy to use and convenient), it folds in around 14 seconds for me, comes with it's own carry bag with a bell and reflectors and is quick for the type of bike it is.

I have only done about 40 miles on it so far, but it is great.

It rides like a normal bike with next to no noise. It turns many heads, as I have not yet seen another one of these bikes in Leeds, where i live in the UK.

It fits easily in the back of my car (Ford Focus Estate), with room for a pushchair and my child's bicycle, with no need to put the back seats down.

The bike is well built and the welds on the Aluminium frame are perfectly neat and appear robust.

You would have to pay in excess of 400-500 for an equivalent quality Dahon.

I paid 200 for last year's model, from Downtube itself, via e-bay. I like it that much I am buying the 16" minis for my wife and child (if i can get them at a reasonable price - 288 inc VAT and UK Rip off excise inc is the cheapest so far).

The bike I have already was from stock that Downtube have in the UK, but they don't seem to have the Mini in the UK yet, so around 135 is for shipping and excise from the US to the UK (the bike itself costs the equivalent of 147 in the uk when converted from US dollars).

If you are in the states, you're sorted, cos you don't have to pay the rip off costs of excise i have to.

This bike is Highly recommended.


1)There is a carry handle come bike protector welded to the bottom bracket, which was bent towards the left hand side pedal shaft when i got it. It was brand new and well packaged when i got it, so i can only think it's just a QA mishap when being produced. It was rectified by being carefully bent out of the way and is now spot on (although some paint came off at the stress points, the welds and area it was bent). I intend to touch it up with some car paint.

2) I can't get the gears to shift cleanly to the smallest sprocket, although the rest shift quickly and smoothly (a delay of a couple of secs with some clicking noises made).
I will take it to a bike mechanic to see if they can tweak it, as this is likely to be my error rather than the bike.

3) The paint chips easily when you fold it where the forks come into contact with the front of the frame (Yan, could these bikes be powder coated and laquered instead?).

I am gonna touch this up too and I have bought some translucent gaffer tape which i will cut into some neat squares to put on the vulnerable areas.

That's it!

Rubber2405

Sorry, got carried away with the bike.
1st off - Lights: you want to packlight and there are some good led lights from Cateye out there.
I have bought a Euro brand of LED lights for the front and back for my folding bike, whick I paid about 25 per pair, but for my MTB i have a set of Madison Electrons, with a 5 and 10w halogens housed in machined aluminium cases. The lights are compact and the rechargeable battery is the size and shape of a small water bottle and sits in the bottle cage.
The lights are good enough for off-road mountain biking with both lamps illuminated, but for commuting the 5w lamp is ample. You can have one or the other or both lamps illuminated, with the 10w having a handle bar mounted control button which secures with a velcro strap.
The battery last about 5 hrs before requiring a charge on the 5w lamp, around 2.5 hrs with the 10w lamp only and about 1h 35 mins with both illuminated (only really required for off-road night time riding).

I bought them from the web and I can't remember where from, but I paid 65 for them in the UK.
The lights are branded as: Electron Lighting Systems. Their website is www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk

Things to carry with you:
1)A good multitool with allen key attachments (at least 6, 8 and 10mm), I have a "Wiggly", which is the size of a medium sized penknife and has a phillips (posidrive) and flat head screwdriver built in. You must have a puncture repair kit and a set of plastic / nylon compact tyre levers.
Also carry at least one spare inner tube, just in case you can't repair a puncture at the roadside and you can just swap the innertube over.

2) A decent quality minipump. Don't scrimp on this as you get what you pay for and a cheapo plastic affair may well leave you high and dry when you need to re-inflate a tyre. I have 2, both made by "Topeak". I have the master blaster (about 9-10" long and 1.5" thick) which is great and will get you decent pressure in any bike tyre and is of aluminium and toughened nylon construction (costs about 20).
I also have a Pocket rocket, also by Topeak which is very compact (about 6" long and 1" thick), and is okay to pump the tyre to "Get you home" pressures, but is hard work. It costs about 16 in the UK.

3) A mobile phone, that is charged up and has credit on it! (Need i say anymore?)

4) A decent cable lock to help you keep your pride and joy out of the mitts of scum sucking thieves. I have a Squire combination cable lock. It would be cut by some medium sized bolt croppers, is 1.8m long and not too heavy to carry. The combination lock you can set yourself to your own 4 digit code and it's not the type that can be cracked by "looking for the gaps" (if you don't know what i mean by this, no worries. I won't spell it out in case any thieving scum are reading this). I paid 10 for my cable lock in the UK. It's only good enough for leaving your bike temporarily whilst you nip in the shop or cafe, in a place that's well lit and populated. Leave it with one of these locks on somewhere a thief can work on it undisturbed and you will lose your bike.

What to wear:

1) Padded cycling shorts of some description. If you are a man and you have the average bike seat (not the large ones with springs underneath) padded cycling shorts will mean the difference between a slight ache in your backside when you get to work after your bike commute or feeling like you have been violated by an elephant. I am told it can cause prostate problems in later life if you don't wear cycling shorts, although I'm not a Doctor, so who knows. What i do know is that i still have vivid memories of cycling in my early twenties to work without padded cycling shorts. It hurts...I soon bought some.

2) High viz jacket / Bib. There are loads out there at all prices to suit all budgets. I have a Madison Dri-tex which cost me about 60 in the UK, is fully waterproof, windproof and lined and has loads of pockets. It looks ok too.

3) Suitable footwear. I ride with SPD pedals, so I have some Shimano cleated sole shoes. They are water proof, comfy enough to walk around in as normal shoes, look ok and i got a deal on them when i bought the shoes and pedals together for 80. (I saved a tenner).

4) Shades / Sunglasses. I have some cheap ones made by Sunwise. They have 3 sets of interchangeable polycarbonate lenses, dark UV400 for sunlight, orange lenses (don't know what these do!) and some yellow lenses (anti-glare). The yellow lenses are ideal for overcast weather or darkness, to stop stuff getting in your eyes, but at night they enhance night vision by reducing glare from headlights and seem to brighten things up a bit. The lenses take about 10-20 seconds to change and the glasses came with a hard case to protect them. All for 20.

5) Decent riding gloves. Should give weather protection but must allow dexterity so you can use your brakes and gears properly. There are loads out there. I got some cheap ones for 15 from my local bike shop. They are made from neoprene (same stuff they make wetsuits from).

Well...the last point...How should i wash up at work? Did your parents not teach you any personal hygiene? Get a shower if you can, or get a wash if you can. I used to work with a guy who cycled to work in his work clothes, sweated all over them and then worked in the same clothes all day and cycles home in them again. He used to smell offensive, he was the butt of many jokes due his body odour.
If you can't get washed or showered and changed into clean clothes / different clothes, at least take some wet wipes and wipe yourself down, then spray your pits with some deodorant.
Ignore this last piece of advice at your peril. I have never met a woman / man yet (or a gay man / woman) that thinks stale sweaty body odour is attractive or sexy.
Good luck.
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