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Another commuting question(9 posts)

Another commuting question94Nole
May 12, 2003 1:07 PM
I'm one of those overweight auto commuters that are often referred to on this board and want to end that by beginning bicycle commuting to the office (about a 25 mile roundtrip).

My question surrounds the fact that I only have one bike (a '02 LeMond Alpe D'Huez that I purchased just before tax season which I guess was pretty stupid, I should've waited til now).

Seems that commuting will pretty much abuse this bike but I can't imagine going home and trying to convince my wife that I need to buy a bike specifically for commuting. Thus, I need help.

1. Ride on, as is and don't worry about it?
2. Make certain modifications to my bike to make it more commuter-worthy and ride it? or
3. Definitely buy a second bike for the commute?

If you say #2, please let me know the changes I should make. I'm thinking more durable tires, etc.

Additional comments are much welcomed.
What kind of roads? Can you keep the bike indoors?Dave Hickey
May 12, 2003 1:32 PM
For me, my commute is no different than any other ride. I ride on smooth roads with very little traffic. If your commute is the same, I wouldn't worry about it. At most you're going to carry another 20lbs. I keep clothes at the office so my backpack weights less than 10lbs. I'm also lucky enough to keep my bike in my office so I don't worry about theft or leaving it outside.
option 1: ride itlaffeaux
May 12, 2003 1:33 PM
There is no reason to get a new bike, just ride it.

The only reason you would need a different bike is if you have to park your bike in an area where you think it might be stolen. In that case, buy the cheapest bike you can. Commuting tends to wear out parts (due to increased miles) so generally commute bikes have lesser quality parts, but this is not a requirement.

The only additions that you will need (maybe not now, but eventually) are a rear blinking light, a headlight, and a rear fender. If you have a lot to carry, panniers are great, otherwise a backpack or messenger bag work well for transporting clothes and a few items.
#1 with caveatms
May 12, 2003 1:36 PM
I am similarly situated to you -- my wife would react badly if I said that I needed another bike for commuting. My guess is that the condition of the roads on you commute is not much different than those you ride otherwise. If you have a nice bike, use it.

My only caveat is that I assume that you have a secure place whre you can keep your bike at work. When I commute (2-3 times per week during daylight savings time), I can keep my bike in a workroom across from my office to which very few people (all of whom I know very well) have access. If I had to leave my bike somewhere that was not secure, I would buy a beater bike or not commute.
re: Another commuting questiondjg
May 12, 2003 1:40 PM
I don't think your bike needs major modifications for commuting at all. And I don't think it's going to fall apart on you either--just keep the drivetrain reasonably clean and you'll be fine. If you are going to be riding in all manner of wheather and/or the bike is likely to get banged around while you are at work, you might want to find a serviceable beater for the commute. Otherwise don't worry about it. The LeMond can go 25 miles a day for quite a few years.

If you ride in the rain a lot, you'll probably want to investigate fenders. Personally, I'm not wild about driving rain and I don't trust drivers when it's really raining anyway. If I get caught in a little shower, I deal. If the road's wet, I deal. But if it's raining hard I don't start a commute. Cold and dry, I ride. Snow or ice on the roads and I start worrying about drivers again. If you envision my type of modified fair weather riding, you might want to pick up one of the inexpensive rear fenders that clamps onto (and off) your seatpost in 10 seconds--I have the Zefal model and find it helpful for dealing with the water I do encounter when I get caught out on the ride home or when the road's just wet from a thunderstorm that blew through. It's light. It works. I think it cost 14 bucks.

A rear blinkie is good for visibility, especially on late rides home. Ultimately, you'll want some sort of headlight, although depending on your commuting hours you might be able to put that purchase off for a few months.

Tires--depends on the roads, your mileage, and your budget. Lots of folks favor tough, high mileage tires for commuting. I just ride regular road tires (Fortezzas these days).

I'm guessing that the LeMond comes with a pretty solid set of all around road wheels. If you swapped those for something trick and light, you might want to investigate a strong set of commuting/training wheels. But it's not as if you need a special wheelset to start commuting.

Overall, I'd say make the minimum investments and start riding. See if you stick with it. And see what you really wish you had as you go.
second "strong" wheels and bulletproof tires, if you've got emshawndoggy
May 12, 2003 2:45 PM
I run my "training" wheelset (DA hubs/open pros) with heavy tires. I don't have the Specialized Armadillos yet, but I'm going with those when my current set (Vittoria COuriers) wears out.

Why heavy tires? Getting a flat in general sucks, but being late for work really sucks. Having sturdy tires is one less thing to worry about. Plus when you put the trick wheels back on it's like having a jet pack.
Same bikeoldschool
May 13, 2003 4:11 AM
I've been commuting for a little over 3 months now, and I haven't found a need for a separate bike. However, I would feel differently if I wasn't able to keep my bike in my office. As far as additional wear and tear issues, I just don't get it. How is riding 100+ miles on the weekend different from riding the same distance spead over several weekdays? For me, the whole idea was to increase milage; so the bike was going to get used more one way or the other.

The only commute-specific details are:
rear blinker light (not needed during the summer)
backpack with reflective strips
a variety of clothing options including shell for rain
shower at work...I wouldn't bike in otherwise...

I keep my clothes at work. I always need to drive at least one day per week in order to run errands anyway.
#1: A bike is a bike (nm)macalu
May 13, 2003 4:48 AM
Commute!shamelessgearwhore
May 13, 2003 10:31 AM
Most people who say they have a commuter bike just relegate their older steed to the duty when they buy a new toy. For commuting you'll be carrying significantly more weight. I use a rear rack with the big waterproof Ortlieb bags (nothing EVER gets wet!) Riding with a backpack sucks! Get a NiteRider light or something like it. It helps to establish your presence in the dark as motorists can't tell that you're not a car or something. Get the ugly neon jacket and WEAR IT.