The best guides are the one written by people learning themselves. Help me help you and share your thoughts and experience on bike commuting to work. I’m going to start this out by saying, I need to lose weight. Last week after a few Facebook posts and twitter posts from friends talking about bike riding I got this idea in my head that I too can ride my bike and not only that I can ride my bike to and from work. My work is 8 miles away from home doing a 16 mile round trip one day a week may sound easy to some but to me it sounds like a challenge I need to hit head on. Replacing my $6 a day commute with riding a bike isn’t going to save me that much money bit it is going to help me lose some weight, feel better when I arrive at work and have something to look forward to right after work.
I thought I’d take notes publicly and share with you what I’m doing to make my first goal happen. Links and my thoughts will change and be updated on this blog post.
I bought my Novara Aspen second-hand some 14 years ago. It’s a standard mountain bike with very little bells and whistles on it. It’s a sturdy frame and with annual tune ups I’ve been able to ride it over the years with no problems. Over the years I’ve replaced the seat (for one that is made for a human) a few times as well as the hand grips. Speaking of seats, I also have experience riding a unicycle :)
Converting a mountain bike into a commuter
I posted on Facebook about the idea of riding my mountain bike 8 miles one way to work and everyone had an opinion on the subject. The main take away from it is to not buy a new bike and use my existing bike if it gets stolen and to take a change of clothes with me.
I have a few things I need to do to make my mountain bike into a weekly commuter here is my list:
- Tires - Swap my knobby slow tires for street tires, this will help with vibrations and be more efficient. I'll let you know which ones the shop installs on my bike.
- Bike rack - A bike rack for the back of the bike to carry stuff with. I'm going with the Ibera PakRak Bicycle Touring Carrier Plus+, Frame-Mounted for Heavier Top & Side Loads, Height Adjustable, Fender Board, for 26"-29" Frames Backpacks, if you can help it don't wear one, you get too hot.
- Pannier - I've never heard of this fancy word for saddle bags until I started doing some research. A pannier is defined by Wikipedia as "... from the Old French, from Classical Latin, word for bread basket". This is the place where by laptop, change of clothes and other work gear will go. Most are weatherproof and are easy off and on. I'm not sure which one I want to get yet, if you have any suggestions leave me a comment. My buddy Wes shared this with me: Thule Commuter Pannier Set I ended up getting a set of these Ibera Bicycle Clip-on Quick-Release Panniers (Pair) and soon I'll end up getting this when Jess and I go on picnics: Ibera PakRak Bicycle Quick-Release Commuter Trunk Bag all of these work with the Ibera PakRak Bicycle Touring Carrier Plus+, Frame-Mounted for Heavier Top & Side Loads, Height Adjustable, Fender Board, for 26"-29" Frames I bought above.
- Brakes - this should be number one, if you can't stop you shouldn't go. I'm getting some new brake pads put on before my first ride to work.
- Tune-up - Lots of stuff in my outdoor stored bike need to be lubed and tuned. I took my bike over to Whitter Cyclery to have them take care of all these things.
- Lube all the things
- Rebuild crank
- Clean up and lube gears and rear cogset
- Bike cover - A way to protect my bike being parked in our patio at home, if you know of a good one let me know, now I'm using a BBQ cover to keep the California sun and rain off of it :)
- Bike lock - Not sure which one yet, leave me a comment. I have one I'll use for now. I'm researching this on Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 Standard Bicycle U-Lock with Transit FlexFrame Bracket (4-inch x 9-inch) with 4-Foot Flex Cable [SweetHome.com Review]
- Front light & Rear light - I've done a bit of research and these two together seem to be an unstopable pair Cygolite Metro 360/Hotshot 2W Combo Light Set
- Bike tool - I have something very similar to this one Topeak Alien II 26-Function Bicycle Tool looks like a nice tool, so does the Crank Brothers Multi Bicycle Tool (19-Function, Silver). I also ended up getting Pedro's Bicycle Tire Lever (Pair) for repairs.
- Bike Clothing
- Underwear - Baleaf Men's 3D Padded Coolmax Bicycle Cycling Underwear Shorts (Black, XXXL) I run big and they claim to run small. We'll meet in the middle. These will allow me to wear street clothes and ride comfortably.
- Shirt - This one has wicking and reflective strips Champion Men's Performax T-Shirt
- USB Battery Backup - USB External Battery Pack 15000mAh 5V/2.1A (Black Limefuel Lite LP150X) I've added this to the list since a lot of the stuff above is USB powered. If you run out of juice on your headlamp you can at least charge it while riding home and not be totally screwed. This model comes in the 15k and 20k varieties.
- Mobile Phone Bike Mount - Annex Quad Lock Bike Mount Kit for iPhone 6 - Black - This is on my purchase list, Annex has made from what I can tell the best phone mounting system out there. For a reasonable price you can mount your iPhone or Android to your bike using a special case that works with their many other mounting hardware. I typically mount my iPhone on my car dash so adding the ability to mount it to my bike is something I'm really looking forward to doing. Maps, telemetry, runkeeper, podcasts. I'll be able to all of that using this mount.
I did a bunch of research on reviews of various things last night. Just like any other geek I read a bunch of reviews, build shopping carts in Amazon and watch my weight in YouTube videos. Here are a few:
Great tips on taking the lane and not getting yourself killed. The production quality of this video sucks and the “but Billy, you really should do it this way” afterschool special stuff is kinda annoying.
My bike has these mounts holes in the back so I’ll be using that method. For those of you that don’t they offer some tips.
Lots more on racks for your bike.
Help me out, leave a comment
I shared with you, please share with me your thoughts on all of this or the gear I’ve picked out to purchase and use for my new adventure of riding my bike to work one day a week. What should be on this list? What are you doing different?