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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.

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Old 04-12-14, 07:32 PM   #1
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Soon-to-be a new commuter!

I picked up a Raleigh Detour today to use for commuting to/from work. Its a short commute, only about 3.75 miles each way, so I'll most likely be doing other rides on a fairly regular basis.

Unfortunately, I've been bike-less for 5+ years - and before that, I used my mom's old beach cruiser that she picked up from a garage sale. (In fact, I took my first ride since then earlier this evening, just a short 1.5 mile one, but, oh, I enjoyed it!)

So.... help? Please?

I have the bike - a hybrid, because of transitioning over grass from road to bike path in some areas (and my recreation would involve levees and the Everglades.)

I got myself a lock... and a tarp for rain protection when I'm not on the bike.

I ordered reflectors for the tires and got myself a helmet.

....I have no idea what else I need, though!

Pros/cons on various lights? Any suggestions? The only cycling I would be doing in the dark (for now) is my commuting, and not much at that since I'm normally mid-shift. The route I'd be taking is very traffic light - the half of the route that has the most traffic also has a bike path, the other has two lanes of traffic that includes a school zone and then just subdivisions on either side.

I plan on picking up a basket and/or pannier eventually (once the $$ I spent on the bike no longer makes me feel terrible) so I can take lunch, clothes, etc. to and from work - and for some light shopping at the close stores.

Is there any gear anybody recommends? I've never done any type of bike maintenance before in my life, so whatever it is would have to be extremely simple.

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Old 04-13-14, 06:15 AM   #2
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Congrats on starting to commute by bike! It's very addictive... Everyone's needs are different, but I really like to have lights front and rear. Use the search function and you can find enough to read / research to make your eyeballs bleed. I have had good luck with the Cygolite products. I have the Hotshot on my bike as well as my wife's. I also have used the Metro 300 headlite for some time and now have a Metro 500 on my commuter.
CygoLite Metro 360 and Hotshot 2W Headlight and Taillight Set - Modern Bike

I have had good luck with the Topeak rack/bag system. The Explorer rack with the MTX bag (the one with the zip down panniers) works well for me. I would recommend it for light shopping. If your planning on loading it up, there are others that would probably be more suitable.

Be safe!!! And have fun!
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Old 04-13-14, 08:23 AM   #3
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Thanks I want to build up my stamina a little before I start because its been so long. All I need is to jump right into commuting by bike and then be so wiped out/jelly legged I can't work a 8-9 hour shift! Of course, that decision is helped by the fact that I woke up this morning to a torrential downpour that occasionally lightens to a medium/light rain before going back LOL

I started researching the lights.... I'm torn between "see or be seen" right now. I know the route extremely well already.

Any shopping I'd be doing would be minor, only a couple items from the close grocery stores when needed. I'd do my major shopping by car, as I usually combine my main shopping with my disabled sister's shopping. (Though I would say, in my area, some people are rather... ingenious? There's one man who goes to the grocery store with his son by bike... and I see them riding home pulling rolling suitcases behind them and balancing flats of water and soda on their handlebars!)

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Old 04-13-14, 08:41 AM   #4
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I didn't see fenders on the list. There are a variety of lightweight, affordable plastic fenders available on the market today that will probably meet your needs to different degrees.

Here, where something like 50% of people get to work by bicycle, seeing a bike without fenders is really uncommon.
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Old 04-14-14, 11:10 AM   #5
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Congrats, I am sure you will love commuting by bike.

A lot of what you might want will vary on the types of roads you are on, amount of traffic, climate, etc. Some thoughts from my experience as a new commuter last year:

1. Get lights to SEE, even if using to be seen. Lights are not a bad idea in the daytime, and anything to dim will not bee seen. A bright tail light can help motorist see you in the day. A reasonably bright headlight is a good idea too, nothing less then 200 lumens. A lot depends on your budget - how much do you want to spend? Also how long do you need the charge to last? You have a short commute, so maybe not an issue for you. I also happen to like having both bike mounted lights AND a helmet light - I use light and motion VIS 360+ and would be happy to share what I like about it and the combo.

2. How much stuff do you have to carry? Backpacks are OK for lighter loads, but if your load is heavy or it is hot you might appreciate the option of a rack and panniers. Also useful for running errands.

3. Dealing with flats - Flat tires happen. Get some good flat resistant tires and you might go a very long time without, but nothing is flat proof. Consider a spare tube, tire levers, and a mini frame pump or CO2. Make sure to learn how to change a flat tire. If you have a good option if you get a flat mid commute, like a bus or call a cab, maybe you can just deal with it later, but I like to be prepared

4. Fenders - help keep you and your bike clean when the ground is wet. I find even if its not raining, standing water from a rain, hose, etc can still get me and my bike dirty. Keeping your chain clean seems better then cleaning it all the time.

5. Clothing for weather - don't know what your climate is like or if you plan to ride in the rain, but some good waterproof, breathable bike gear is always nice. I also love a nice vest for windy/cool days.
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Old 04-14-14, 01:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by EKWriter View Post
I picked up a Raleigh Detour ......I got myself a lock... and a tarp.. reflectors... helmet. ...
....I have no idea what else I need, though!

Pros/cons on various lights? Any suggestions? ...
We'll recommend a lot of stuff but the reality is, you're just about set with what you have.

You really should carry a spare tube, patch kit and levers and pump on the commute. That's it for essentials - you can commute that distance comfortably and safely with no other equipment. People will likely say that you must have lights, a mirror is mandatory, you really need to have fenders and so on. But none of that is strictly true - there are a lot of people who ride a lot of commuting miles without. Different strokes; I say jump in with what you have then decide for yourself what you really need.

In my personal opinion, lights are advisable, a rack is very convenient (tho I don't have one on my main ride), and I do like my mirror

You can carry an Ultrafire led flashlight if you want something inexpensive that you won't use constantly, or I recommend one of the MS clones under $20 on Amazon for more serious lighting. I see no point in spending more on lights for primarily daytime riding.
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