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So I finally want to upgrade from my 1980 Schwinn World Sport 10-speed with suicide shifters to something more modern.

I will be working in Texas this summer and want to commute to work, but I highly doubt that the office has a place indoors to keep my bike.

Is it bad to spend $800 to $1000 on a new road bike if it will be left outside 9-6 everyday? I will have a backpack so a tarp is possible.

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I always keep my bike in the office. When people say I can leave it outside I say "Well, if was worth less than my car, I would!" –  andy256 May 12 at 5:15
    
@andy256 I do that at my current office, but I will have a cubicle for the summer so it probably won't work! It is worth a shot though. –  Austin Henley May 12 at 5:17
    
I commuted once or twice a week for over 10 years, leaving my bike locked to the rack outside. This was in Minnesota, where weather varies from baking to light snow (never biked in heavy snow/ice). I removed my panniers and covered the seat with a women's shower cap. Still have the bike, with at least 20K miles on it, and I'm planning a week-long tour on it in a month. (In my part of the country theft is not a major danger, though.) –  Daniel R Hicks May 12 at 11:25
    
@AustinHenley Maybe I'm special, but my cube (which isn't special here) has room that I can keep my bike in it. I'm sure if there is no outside complaints or it becomes a distraction then the boss wouldn't mind. –  BPugh May 12 at 15:28
    
I always lock my bike to something with a folding lock. Has not been touched for over a year now. –  queueoverflow May 13 at 12:36

9 Answers 9

Forget the tarp. Ultimately, the greatest danger to your bike is not the weather, it's thieves. As long as you invest in a good lock, practice good locking technique, and don't live in an area full of degenerates you should be fine.

My bike is worth more than $1000 and I ride it all over and lock it up outside frequently.

When you select your bike, don't get the flashiest, most decal laden option available. Get a low-key, plain looking bike. Especially good if it has stickers and dings in it. Ideally, your bike will be the worst looking bike on the rack, let other people's bikes be the targets for thieves.

Here is a picture of my primary bike, which I've used to commute and go to the bars and get groceries etc (though I don't have the rack in the picture). I have a fairly fancier appearing wheelset on this bike, yet I've left it locked up in fairly dodgy places, but I still have it.

See this question for additional information regarding bike security: Theft deterrents (in addition to locking up a bike)

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Sporting a plain look is a really good idea to avoid catching a lot of attention. –  Nit May 12 at 7:10
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You can also hide a cheap GPS inside the bike if it was THAT much. In case they steal it, police would help (most likely, they do - here) to get it back. They won't disassemble it right at the parking lot anyway. || But again, take it into the office and that's it. I bet there is place for it somewhere. –  Shiki May 12 at 21:19

This depends on your wallet and level of risk aversion. Most people with nice bikes tend to baby them by having a beater bike for commuting that is ugly, won't get stolen, and they won't worry about if it starts rusting up or gets road grime on it. Since you already have a beater, why not keep it?

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Ask the boss/janitor if there is some storage space available. Maybe there's a storage closet, the bottom of a stairwell, unused rooms in the basement or some such. In my current job, we have a corner in storage where old equipment is stored until there is enough to scrap, and I was always allowed to put my bike there.

If you get your space, think about putting a tarp on the floor to keep it clean if your bike is wet or you hang your gaiters on the bike to dry.

Maybe you can even get your bosses to put in a bike rack in a spare room/garage and promote cycling to work to keep people fit.

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In the worse case, leaving an $800 bike outside during the day should not be a big issue for the bike itself. You may want to cover up your saddle and clean and lube it a little more often if you do get caught in some downpours. However, I've often found overhangs in even the most bike unfriendly places that can provide some protection.

Most likely, there are some other bike riders at work that can clue you into good places to park your bike. Many places allow you to bring the bike into the office. Others have "official" or "unofficial" bike parking places. (I've seen areas under stairwells be used as bike storage. I've also seen storage rooms or corners of conference rooms be used.) If the building has a parking garage, there may be some bike racks tucked away there. You just may need to do some investigation. (At my current workplace, there are underground bike racks. However, only one of the two automatic gates is sensitive enough to allow bikes. There also is a sign right next to the entrance saying "no skateboards, skates or bikes." Go figure.) Sometimes, the office security person can help you out, but just because they don't know does not mean there is not something.

If you do need to chain it to a pole outside, just take reasonable precautions. A good U-lock is your friend. You probably don't want to leave anything of value that could be easily removed (like a bike computer.) That may be enough for a typical office building. If you are more concerned there are extra precautions that can be made, but that is probably not needed unless you are in a really bad area. (On one job, I had a $600 bike locked with a cable lock stolen on my first day of work. I parked an $800 bike in the same place with a good U-lock for the next 4 years and didn't have any problems - other than a stolen GPS that I lift sitting on the bike.)

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You're probably fine. I live in Brooklyn and commute to Manhattan by bike some days. I also lock my bike up (with this) outside. One advantage of the location of the rack to which I lock-up my bike is that it's in a public place and there's a lot of pedestrian (and car and bike) traffic nearby. But probably the biggest reason why it hasn't been stolen is that it's not a $1000+ bike. If you're going to be locking your bike up outside in a high-theft area, do yourself a favor and get a cheaper used bike off of Craigslist.

For an eye-opening review of bike locks, checkout The Best Bike Lock | The Sweethome. The author met several bike thieves and details how they operate. In fact, one of the thieves probably stole the authors $1000+ bike!

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A tarp is a bad idea because it keeps condensation inside. It's much better to find a covered lockup area. There should be something near your work.

Look seriously into a place at work to keep your bike. This is by far the best option for both security and keeping your bike in nice shape.

If this isn't practical, get the best lock you can afford and google up on how to use it properly.

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In my experience, tarps fit loosely enough that there's pretty good airflow. –  amcnabb May 13 at 14:14

I have commuted on bikes for the over 10 years

Few comments

Don't assume the office will not have a place for bikes.
In today's green environment it is good for business.
Even if the office does not have a spot check close parking garages.

If you do have to leave it out doors and it is a summer job then consider riding the 1980 Schwinn World Sport 10-speed.
That is a cool old bike with street cred.

As others have stated you have theft and the elements.
In or out your bike is going to get wet - keep is lubed.

I have two commuters.
A $2400 that I use when I can lock in the bike room at my gym
A $400 (used single speed) for when I have to lock in the open / outdoors

As for a new bike - if it is for commuting a road bike is not the best choice in my opinion
Any bike that will take larger tires
For commuting go 28mm or 32mm tire width (they are more stable and durable than a 25mm)
It can be a mountain, hybrid, city, touring, or cyclocross.
Cyclocross?
It is built to deal with many conditions and still for speed.
You get racers that are selling their old bike every season or two and get some great deals. Especially at the end of the season.
You can pick up nice bikes that were $2000 new for $800.
Put $100 in touring tires on a cyclocross and you have great street bike that is also good road bike.
The down side of cyclocross is if they are designed for pure race they will not have lugs to mount racks
If you are going to use it as a commuter then look for lugs.
A touring bike has a similar geometry and will have lugs.
Thing is you don't find as good a deals on touring as you don't have racers flooding the used market.
The only thing I would avoid for commuting is a mounting bike with shocks.
If you are dead set on a road bike still take a look at used.

This is cyclocross set up as a commuter (touring tires) SpecializeSigleCrossWithTouringTiresUsedAsBeaterCommuter

This is a bike you would not think of as a commuter but this is what I use when it is a route that I am going to ride sidewalks.
If I am going to bar and want a stable ride home in the dark this is what I ride (it has lights now).
And it is my play mountain bike - clearly not the tires I would use for a dedicated commuter.
Got this for $800 - what I am saying is there are play bikes that also make good (short distance) commuters.
SingleSpeedMoutain

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Don't skimp on the lock and you'll be alright. Buy a high quality U lock, and never, ever, ever, use a cable lock. Protect your investment.

http://www.cyclocross.com/product/kryptonite-kryptolok-series-2-mini-u-lock

Best bike lock

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Commuter style road bikes are bound to gain a little wear and tear. If you know your basic repairs, you should be fine. Also, getting your bike stolen sucks. You pour a whole bunch of money into it, and now its gone. I suggest getting three locks: a Ulock, a thin chain (one foot long), and a thick, square chain.

lock your back wheel to your frame with the Ulock, lock your saddle to your frame with the thin chain, and lock your front wheel to your frame AND the bike rack/sturdy object. This basically locks down your entire bike. Keep in mind, any thief can break/pick any lock if they are determined enough, so if on a commute, make your bike look as plain as possible. Thieves know what looks expensive, so I generally advise people to look into a thin saddle cover.

In short, don't worry about how the weather will damage your bike, but be wise about it. If you can, keep it in a covered place.

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