View Full Version : New bike commuter - gear question

06-04-2007, 11:08 AM
Hi! I just started bike commuting on my 10 year old hybrid bike. I'm the kind of person who would go out and spend big bucks on my new hobby and then give up after a few months, so I'm trying to be a bit more disciplined about my spending. I've decided that I need to ride for a month, and if I still like it, then I can start buying stuff.

So in preparation for buying stuff, what one or two things would make my commute easier, more comfortable and/or more enjoyable? Everything on the bike is stock, I have a basic helmet and lights, but that's about it. My commute is very short - less than 5 miles each way - although I'd also like to start doing some longer rides on the weekend. I mostly want to invest in things that will help me keep riding and resist the temptation to drive.

Advice? Thanks for your help!

06-04-2007, 02:59 PM
1. Something to be able to carry stuff. Probably most necessary for using your bike in more situations. Could be panniers, messenger bag, small pack with bungee cords, rack with hard plastic buckets whatever fits your budget and needs. Being able to carry groceries, change of clothes for work etc. makes it less "necessary" to drive.

2. Clothes. Padded bike shorts, rain jacket and pants, padded gloves, cycling shoes. All make things easier, more enjoyable and could extend your riding season (rainwear).

3. For safety (after the helmet), I would suggest a helmet or eyeglasses mirror. Being able to just shift your eyes or turn your head slightly to see what is behind you conveys information that you need to stay safe. I see mirrors as a valuable tool.

06-04-2007, 03:56 PM
Fenders and a luggage rack. Odds are you can get away riding fender-free for the summer, but after that you'll need them, or an entirely waterproof cycling wardrobe.

The luggage rack is a must as well. With just a few bungies you can haul a surprisingly wide range of stuff, and you need one to mount panniers anyway.

06-05-2007, 09:02 AM
My commute is also about 5 miles (the most direct way, anyway) and everyone so far has some good advice.

You don't mention whether your commute is a flat 5 or a hilly-ish flat-ish 5; bike shoes and pedals (I call 'em "clippy shoes and pedals") are invaluable for hills. And you get the power through the pedals more effectively.

Padded bike shorts are a must for longer rides. Make sure your bike "fits" you and that you have a comfortable saddle. Padded gloves are nice, especially for longer rides. Find the brightest lime green or screamin' yellow jacket you can.

I haven't moved to panniers, but I do have a rack and a trunk. I used to carry everything in a backpack, but it made me tired. :) It's amazing how much you can fit in a trunk, though.

Lights: Get a good headlight (see and be seen!) and at least one really bright red blinky light for the rear of the bike. If you can find 'em, get some reflectors for your wheels.

A helmet or glasses-mounted mirror is a must for riding in traffic!!!!! Don't be surprised by that dump truck with the double trailer coming up behind you. Forewarned is forearmed!

Good luck, good riding, and this board is one of the best places for advice and commentary!

Kristen in Tigard

06-05-2007, 09:58 AM
the best way to not drive your car is to keep your car's fuel tank on empty. that way, if you do have to drive you have to account for a trip to the gas station. if you do drive, fill up only enough for your trip, for instance if i drive to work instead of the bike - trimet - bike commute i have to spend $6 for gas. once you start biking enough you'll feel guilty about driving your car.

well at least it works that way for me.

06-06-2007, 09:07 AM
Thanks for the tips everyone! After getting a little taste of rain yesterday, I definitely need fenders. :) And I never even thought of a helmet mounted mirror - I'll definitely be getting me one of those! The rack/trunk, clothes and shoes/pedals (my commute is a little hilly - NoPo to Lloyd) were things I was considering, so I'm glad to hear they'll be useful! Oh and lights - my husband is sort of a flashlight freak - he's already shopping for $100 bike lights for when I have to ride in the dark!

Toddistic - great tip about keeping the tank low. I drove for some errands last night and noticed my tank was low - I think I'll see how long I can go without getting gas!

Thanks again. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions!

06-06-2007, 09:45 AM
The NiteRider MiNewt is an awesome bike light. Tiny, burns for 6 hours, plenty of light.

06-06-2007, 04:06 PM
I haven't moved to panniers, but I do have a rack and a trunk. I used to carry everything in a backpack, but it made me tired. :) It's amazing how much you can fit in a trunk, though.

Trunk? Wussat? Do you mean those, um, bags (for lack of a better work) that fit onto the rear rack? Or is this something that locks?

06-07-2007, 10:52 AM
Yup, a bag that sits on the top of the rear rack for hauling slightly smaller quantities of stuff than full panniers, which hang on the sides of the rack.

:) It doesn't lock, although I s'pose you could find a hard-sided one that does. Mine velcroes to the rack in four spots, and I take it off if I need to lock my bike somewhere. I can park my bike in my office, so I don't usually take it off when I commute.