View Full Version : Commuting Tips and Tricks

02-23-2009, 08:02 AM
Share tips and tricks for commuting ....

03-01-2009, 09:31 AM
Here's a couple things that make my commute workable/enjoyable/successful:

1. I have a bunch of buckets for panniers. They're easy to organize things in; they're totally waterproof; and they're cheap, so you can have a bunch and swap them out as you need. If you're like me, commuting means taking a bunch of stuff with you--stuff that you used to keep in you car trunk. I also have a nice Ortlieb briefcase pannier, just because it's better for papers, laptop, etc.


2. Commuting means running over a bunch of sharp garbage in the road. The worst thing that can happen on your way to work is a flat. An inner belt between the tire and tube will save you a lot of trouble. Unfortunately, most of these belts are heavy and make your tire unbalanced. I have some made of kevlar felt, that seem to weigh nothing and do a great job. A nail can go through the tire and the belt moves with the tip on the nail to just squish the tube with no puncture.


03-01-2009, 11:25 AM
One thing that really helps out with my commute is to prepare as much as I can the night before. I make my sandwiches and any other food I want the night before. I have my own drawer in the refrigerator that is only for me, so nobody else will take my food by mistake.

I have the usual stuff I need to carry already on my bike the night before: reflector vest, poncho, bungie cords, food bars, beef jerky, first aid kit, spare tube, patch kit, tools, bike computer, pump.

03-02-2009, 08:30 PM
Maintain your bike
Wear the appropriate clothes in layers
Lights - lots of lights
Know your route
Have people you trust know your route
Carry a cell phone
Don't ride without cash
Carry a spare tube or two, a patch kit, and some basic tools

hmmm, that's all I can think of at the moment.

03-03-2009, 02:03 PM
+1 on packing the night before; I make sure to get my work clothes and needed items packed in the panniers after dinner. I also lay out my riding clothes, helmet, gloves, etc the night before, so I have less excuse not to ride.

Also: check your lights the night before, that way you don't have to scramble to find batteries or replacement lights while trying to get out the door. Some people like to air up the tires the night before, but I prefer to do that just before leaving the house.

If you are just starting out: plan out your route ahead of time. Drive it with an eye towards riding it, paying attention to traffic patterns and possible hazards. Ride it on a weekend to make sure you can find your way easily. It's one thing to drive the route and quite another to ride it! :)

Leave the house earlier than you would if you were going to drive-- it's going to take you longer, especially the first few times. If you have a commute like mine, all surface streets, eventually it'll take the same amount of time to ride as to drive. Or less.

I like to have a different route home from work than the one I took to work, just for variety.

Don't give up-- it'll be sort-of difficult the first few times you do it until you get into the habit, and your muscles get used to the work-out.

03-03-2009, 02:08 PM
on airing up the tires the night before - if you've got a slow leak, you'll find out in the morning :)

That said, my go-to bike gets the tires pumped up once a week, at most.

03-03-2009, 02:13 PM
I shoulda said "check to see if the tires need air in the morning" instead of "air up the tires in the morning"! :)

But yes, Lynn... checking air the night before will reveal a slow leak in the morning, if you check again in the morning.... :)

03-04-2009, 07:06 AM
Ahh, I always keep a spare set of batteries for all my lights in my bike bag. So I don't have to ninja through downtown at 7pm when it's dark and there is still a lot of traffic.

03-04-2009, 08:24 AM
boneshaker said:
Maintain your bike

A bike that you ride loaded every day needs a LOT more care and attention than one that only gets used on weekends for recreational rides--especially if you ride through a yucky winter like we have here in the NW.

Biggest thing to pay attention to is your drivetrain. DO NOT let leaf debris and other road garbage get mashed up and collect between your rear cogs. Check every week and "floss" your cogs if needed. Keep your derailleur(s) clean and lubed as well, especially the jockey wheels on the rear. Wipe off and lube your chain every few days.

A tip I got from a bike store mechanic (Saki at Beaverton BG) was to also wipe down my rims every couple of days with a dry rag to get the gritty film off--this saves brake pads and more importantly, rims.

Also keep your brakes adjusted well, as you will be using them much more for commuting than for recreational rides--and you need them to work predictably and well.

If you notice any new or strange rattles or squeaks, attend to them right away. Find out what is causing the noise and lube it, adjust it, fix it, or replace it. Letting these things go will most likely lead to a breakdown when you can least afford it.

Of course, 90% of what I just mentioned doesn't apply to those who choose to ride fixed-gear bikes. Go ahead, fixie riders--say "ha, ha!" I don't mind. My knees thank me for maintaining multiple gears.

03-04-2009, 01:01 PM
I shoulda said "check to see if the tires need air in the morning" instead of "air up the tires in the morning"! :)

But yes, Lynn... checking air the night before will reveal a slow leak in the morning, if you check again in the morning.... :)

Oh, but I do! And I check to see that my brakes are solid, that my spokes are ok, my bottom bracket is solid, my headset is properly adjusted... :D :D

Well, I SHOULD. At least I check my tires. Or look at them. I just like changing flats in the warmth and dryth of my garage, rather than under some insufficient, drafty overhang at a place of employ.

03-05-2009, 02:05 PM
"...in the warmth and dryth of my garage"

Heh. "dryth". Awesome. I think Sting has an older song where he uses the word "coolth". I'm going to start trying to find other words I can add "th" to.

03-10-2009, 07:14 AM
Gloves: Grip King thermal gloves from the garden section at Fred Meyer. $5 on sale. Warm, nice grippy palms, and the back side makes a great snot wipe. Throw 'em in the wash once a week. Last for about one winter.

03-31-2009, 05:40 AM
These are great and comprehensive suggestions. The only one I can add is to consider using streets with traffic that is as slow and infrequent as you can find. These streets are better on your lungs and really reduces the odds of a crash. Its down side is that to stay safe and legal you’d need to slow / stop more frequently.

04-09-2009, 02:06 PM
All great suggestions
I use rechargeable batteries so I have a recharger in the garage at home and one in my office. If a light is dull when I arrive on either side of the trip I pop them in the recharger and they are ready at the end of a work day or in the morning.
The evolution of my morning routine over the years has taught me to navigate at home in complete darkness. Family members are grumpy at 5:30 in the morning. So, I too pack before bed. I have found that ironed shirts weather the ride much better when folded long ways in half and placed on to pants also folded in half. Then roll into a bundle. Folding clothes never works for me. If its raining, put the roll into a garbage bag before loading into the panier unless you have one of those fancy inpenetrable bags suitable for kayaks. Most of us don't; most paniers leak or soak through in a good rain.
I also keep a drawer of "toiletries" at work so I don't have to carry those. Offices tend to have very low humdity so towels dry fast and last all week if you have a place to shower and low public traffic area to hang them.
Its important to find a hanging place at work so you know the clothes that got drenched on the way in will be dry in the afternoon and one that is not offensive to co-workers. I once had a clothesline set up in a cube and my coworker clearly did not appreciate the aesthetics or beauty of wet socks.
Speaking of wet socks and gloves, I found that replacing the overhead incandescent with a couple table lamps has the double benefit of more relaxing lighting but gloves and socks will dry faster if you drape them on the shades (toward the wall - aesthetics...). Again, coworkers permitting. Eventually, you just become a benign anomaly and you can get away with most anything.

Bent Bloke
04-10-2009, 07:10 AM
I purchased a some cheap, stick-on hooks (around $4 for a 3-pack), and stuck them to the bottom of my desk at work. I hang my damp cycling clothes from them and they are out of the way, not really visible to co-workers, and everything is usually dry by quitting time.

And, like oldguyonabike, I roll my clothes before putting them in the panniers. Definitely reduces wrinkling. I also pack the night before, keep toiletries, a pair of shoes and warm coat in my cubicle. I change towels once a week.

04-10-2009, 08:02 AM
Heh, looks like a lot of us have the same ideas: roll the clothes, put them in plastic bags then in the panniers; duplicate toilettries at work so you don't have to pack those, too; pack the night before.

And, hang stuff to dry during the day so it's good to go when it's time to go home. Luckily for me, I have a hook on the back of my door, and a bunch of hangers, so I hang stuff in my office. My co-workers don't usually come back here, and no clients do, so I'm not bothering anyone.

I also make sure to park my bike on carboard when it's mucky so it doesn't mess up the carpet.

Oh, and here's a tip for those of us who work in staple-heavy offices: If you are so lucky as to be able to store your bike inside: don't wheel your bike through the office. Carry it. I got a slow-leak flat from a staple that went through the tire casing and into the tube-- and stayed in the tube! You couldn't see the stupid thing from the outside, so I had no idea what was going on, just that by the end of the day my tire was really mooshy.

I'm trying to train my co-workers to be more careful in staple-removing not to flick them everywhere.... :)

04-10-2009, 08:15 AM
Share tips and tricks for commuting ....

Great Thread!

Under the Perpetually relevent threads... (http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1770) file that is...

Rubberside Down!

04-17-2009, 08:48 AM
Ok here are a few more...

Have a patch kit at home and at work
Carry an extra tube!
Carry a spart headlight and 2 tail-lights
Keep extra socks at work (and undies if you don't like going commando)
Keep a few tools & some chain lube at work
Drink lots of water, even when riding in the rain
Smile at people in cars and strangers. With the right clothing and attitude, there is no bad weather.

I love riding my bike.

04-22-2009, 11:37 PM
I don't have a bike rack at work, but an unused shower has become my "locker".

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3557/3467959388_02a7a37d1a.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ufobike/3467959388/)
Spare shirt, Towel, sweat pants, shirt and coat (and deodorant hiding in the background)

So, anybody have something similar/better?

Rubberside Down!

04-23-2009, 12:30 AM
Mr. Tuffy. Apparently the one who got the staple at work wasn't using a "Mr. Tuffy." Yes, everyone use a Mr Tuffy.