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The necessities of living car free

Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

The necessities of living car free

Old 08-02-09, 09:00 PM
  #1  
bjoerges
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The necessities of living car free

I have sold my car! My wife and I agreed that a total of $1,000 can go towards bike-related gear for me in my car free life. What are the necessities that I need that I may not have thought of?

The haves:

Commuting bike (swappable between 9-speed [Spring/Summer/Fall] and single speed [Winter])
Tires (Slick[Spring/Summer], Cross [Fall] and Studded [Winter])
Heavy-Duty Rack
Trunk Bag
Tow-Behind Trailer (100lb capacity)
Rain Pants
Wind Jacket
Heavy Winter Jacket
Shorts & Jerseys
Helmet
2x P7 headlights w/ 4x batteries
Rear Helmet light
Rear Bike light
Pump and spare tubes

The I-know-I-Needs:
Front/Rear Fenders
Rain Jacket (Suggestions?)
Platform/SPD pedal (to replace double-sided SPD)
Side Panniers (Suggestions?)
Saddle Cover (and likely a B-17 to replace current saddle)
Winter clothing (Arm/Leg Warmers)
Bike cleaning supplies
Repair stand and some tools that I don't have

Anything major that I'm missing?
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Old 08-02-09, 09:06 PM
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i would suggest some traffic safety devices such as a safety vest and a swedish safety flag which is a flag that sticks out of the side of the bicycle. research has shown this adds significantly to automobiles taking notice of you riding and giving clearance.
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Old 08-02-09, 09:54 PM
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I would invest in two items:

1. Take A Look Mirror - You have to know what cars are doing behind you at all times especially at night. Cars coming in the opposite direction often make dangerous moves based on the traffic behind you. Without question, I would rather ride without a helmet than this simple mirror.

2. I used to ride with $40.00 dollar blinkies. Not anymore. This light is worth it's weight in gold. Cars will treat you with far more respect at night than you can imagine.

http://store.dinottelighting.com/sha...t=products.asp
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Old 08-03-09, 12:02 AM
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If you're going to be riding in the rain, I'd recommend that you get fenders ASAP. Otherwise, you're well prepared. Basic safety, reliability and comfort can be achieved with half the stuff you've already got. Just start riding, and you'll soon figure out what else you need or want, if anything.

One thing I might add to the list is not something you buy: ability to do basic repairs, in particular changing a flat. If you're new to this, do it at home at least once, so you don't have to fumble on the side of the road, trying to figure out all the stupid little things that are obvious if you've done them once, but can be tricky if you have never done them.
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Old 08-03-09, 03:31 AM
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Steve: Thanks for the tip on rear lighting, I think I'll need a better light than what I currently have. Will pick up a mirror when I convert my handlebar back to a flat bar, too.

Chephy: My side job is at a bike shop so I've changed more than my fair share of flats, but a great tip.
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Old 08-03-09, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bjoerges View Post
Platform/SPD pedal (to replace double-sided SPD)
I doubt you need these. It'd be cheaper and better to buy some cheap platforms and use them with or without toe clips. Swap them in for winter.
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Old 08-03-09, 06:28 AM
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I've been car-free for over ten years, and am in my fourth year as an all-seasons cyclist, here in Upstate New York on the shores of Lake Ontario

I too disagree on the platform/SPD pedals--but in the other direction.

My first winter I tried insulated hiking boots and platforms. What a mistake! My feet were never warm, never dry, and always flying off the pedals. Plus frozen laces were a real PITA. Now I have a nice pair of Lake MXZ302s and use the SPDs year 'round. Your price at QBP is considerably less breathtaking than what the rest of us have to pay.

After the huge success of cycling-specific winter shoes, I tried cycling specific winter clothes. Again, I had nothing but positive results. My LBS carries Endura. I have their Gridlock jacket in hi-viz for my outer layer from 50 and below, and a pair of windfront, water-resistant insulated bib tights that are too warm to wear above freezing. I have a pair of Sugoi windfront (non-insulated) tights for freezing to 50.

And +1 on the DiNotte lighting.

I own cross tires for my Trek Portland, but have never found the need for them, except off-road. If it's cold enough for snow, it's cold enough for ice, which means studs. I run the road tires in the three seasons and studded Nokians below freezing. Michigan winters are probably as variable as ours are. I found a second wheelset makes it easy to swap for different conditions.

I'd advise waiting before switching your bike from road to flat bars. Winter is when I really, really like my drop bars for cycling into the headwinds, which seem to be much stronger (and colder) in winter. Dealing with winter headwinds on flat bars is the main reason that drove my purchase of the Portland.



This is from two years ago, before I discovered windfront tights and cycling-specific jackets.

Last edited by tsl; 08-03-09 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 08-03-09, 02:21 PM
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I think you should bank some of the money, and spend it as the need arises. Some of the items on your "must-have" list are things I do without. This may (or may not) be the case with you also.

Personally, I like to have two bikes for winter use. One is a MTB with heavy studs, for the icy days and off-road recreational cycling. The other is the regular commuter-type bike with slick or semi-slick tires, for the clear days when the roads have been plowed and riding isn't much different than in the summertime.

I think this might be a good year to start year-round riding, at least in the upper Great Lakes. It looks like we'll have El Nino conditions, which could mean a warmer and drier winter than usual. The last couple winters were pretty brutal here in Michigan.
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Old 08-03-09, 04:32 PM
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I haven't had any problem with platforms and simple slip-on leather shoes. I just wear a thicker sock in the winter. I have to dismount too often to deal with the locked-in variety of shoe. The trails suddenly end with huge snow berms, obstacles appear, etc. Having the ability to drop a big foot down in an emergency has saved me many, many times. Otherwise I would have gone over bike and all.

Last edited by Cosmoline; 08-03-09 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 08-04-09, 04:32 PM
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Seems like your list of "must haves" will eat up most of the $1000. My approach is to continually add to the list. I allot $50 a month on average to my "wish list". This is the amount of money it would cost to travel around by bus( and a lot less than a car).

So after getting the "must haves", I buy the occasional item (like a nice set of panniers or some rain gear) and then spend the rest on repairs, parts, etc. That way, you can peddle around on platform pedal with you running shoes for a while and then upgrade to something else later on.

BTW, I use LL Bean snow sneakers and 2 pairs of wool socks in winter. They keep me pretty warm. I also use platform pedals on my winter bike.
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Old 08-07-09, 11:50 AM
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I would recommend a small compact First Aid Kit like the one I use seen below. It can be used for other activities besides cycling. It is very compactly housed within a hard plastic case and can be refilled as needed. It is so small that it will fit in some saddle bags.
Attached Images
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Old 08-07-09, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
I would recommend a small compact First Aid Kit like the one I use seen below.
Seriously?
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Old 08-07-09, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by bjoerges View Post
I have sold my car! My wife and I agreed that a total of $1,000 can go towards bike-related gear for me in my car free life.
I would suggest paring down your list, not adding to it.
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Old 08-07-09, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
Seriously?
Of course! Even in the city, a drugstore is not that conveniently located when you need one. Or you might be in an area where you are not familiar with the store's location. Or even if you locate one, they might run out of the kit you want. And the little kit is just as important as having good tools and spare parts for the bike itself to repair it. Your body is a machine isn't it? I have already had some medical emergencies to deal with on the road.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 08-07-09 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 08-07-09, 03:36 PM
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I have a first aid kit, but I normally travel with only a small portion of it -- couple of band-aids, etc in a sandwich bag. Doesn't weigh one ounce.
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Old 08-07-09, 06:28 PM
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- A good D-lock and a cheap cable
- Shower cap (free) or helmet cover for winter
- Headlight. I have a Fenix L2DCE taped to the helmet; works well; weight is OK but noticable on longer rides.
- Re panniers - ones that have a good attachment are important if you're using them every day - check out Ortliebs for a really good attachment system. Very easy to get on and off. (I wish I'd spent the extra money to get them!)
- Rain jacket - start off with a cheap, light, high-vis cycling-specific jacket that is windproof and water resistant. This is what you'll use 90% of the time (OK, 50% of the time if you have winters like in tsl's photo above).

Don't get too much at the start. You'll find things on sale that you want to get, or you'll find out what you're missing and then you know what you need.

If you're using a torch for a bike light, get one with a good flashing mode. If you have to run it on "high" for visibility you'll go through lots of batteries. Standardize on one battery type and get a couple of sets and a charger.

Consider having a 2nd bike so one can be loaded up and the other one can be available as a spare, a loaner or a recreational bike. I have a tourer and a fixie, works well for me.
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Old 08-07-09, 10:36 PM
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You can pare down the list a little.

If you've got a decent bike for the non-snowy months, then see if you can find a cheap beater for winter use. Go to a garage sale and see how little you can spend. Your winter bike doesn't have to be fancy; it just has to run. I suggest the winter bike because the salt and sand on the roads will take their toll on your good bike.

You also don't need three sets of tires. Have a good all-purpose tire on your main bike and a knobby tire (possibly a studded tire) on the winter bike.

I don't understand why you want so many lights. I'd personally go with a good headlight and a bright rear blinkie. That's it. For a headlight, look at the Nitehawk Emitter. You can run this as a frame mount or helmet mount. If you go with the helmet mount option, then you're set with light no matter what you're riding. When I got my headlight last year, I spent around $100 Canadian on it. A rear blinkie is much less. If you want to save money, there are some plans on the Internet for homebuilt light systems.

I'd also pass on the trailer, at least to start. Get a rear rack and panniers instead. A decent rear rack isn't all that expensive. There's a range of prices for panniers. Look for something basic and durable. Don't go with something overly fancy.
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Old 08-08-09, 12:37 PM
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I also would agree on paring down the list. I started out with a very minimalist set up planning to purchase anything else as I needed it. So far, I haven't had to purchase much else, because I haven't seen a need for it. Your needs may be different, but I would buy more as you need it - you'd be surprised what you might think you need but really don't.
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Old 08-08-09, 02:37 PM
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Rain Gear

I am a Hiker and a lot of them like Frog Toggs for their rain wear. I use a Mountain Hardware jacket. For the time being Sterns that you can get a walmart does not do a bad job in anything less than a true downpour but in rain your going to get wet. It just depends how wet your ok with getting
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Old 08-10-09, 11:52 AM
  #20  
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A Must Have: People who support your car-free lifestyle so when you come in contact with the perpetual poor who think everyone MUST have a car you have someone to complain to.
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