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59

I spent the last two years as a backcountry ranger, in Northern California. There, I wore a backpack almost every day. Now I am a bicycle commuter in Sacramento and I choose panniers first, a messenger bag second, and the backpack a distant third. There are three reasons why the backpack is my last choice in this list. Any bag I carry ends up being ...


57

My suggestion would be: Scout and rehearse your route before you start. This is really an exercise in two parts: First part is to determine what your initial routes from home to work and from work to home (not necessarily the same, certainly not in detail) are going to be. And to work out where you're going to secure your bike for the day. Second part ...


55

Occupy enough lane to make cars think twice about 'sneaking' by you. Get fenders even on your nice road bike a wet butt sucks when you ride home and your shorts are cold. Leave early enough to enjoy the view. My best commute I watched 6 eagles in a field 10' away. Wouldn't have been able to stop for a few minutes if I hadn't left early.


51

Some important skills for commuters: Looking directly behind you without turning. This is a surprisingly difficult skill to master. When a rider looks directly backwards, it is common to turn in the direction they twisted their head. It takes a lot of practice to make resisting that turning automatic. The importance of looking behind you in traffic should ...


39

Yes, definitely -- if you're riding on mostly paved roads, switch to bald-ish tires. Rolling resistance is huge and equates directly to effort, though as you start going really fast it is dwarfed by air and gravity of course. Per the graph here: However, one caution: road tires tend to be skinny, and you probably want fat-but-bald tires instead. If you go ...


38

The obvious few things are: Front light Red rear tail light Spare batteries for said lights Spoke lights/reflectors for improved side visibility Bright clothing, ideally cycling clothing with reflective strips on them.


35

It is possible, but only in certain conditions. I live in a tropical country, so, 20 degrees centigrade is considered cold here. My conmute to work is almost flat, with only one climb, something a very steep 300 meters. If it were not for that, I'd be able to get to the office almost completely dry. What's the trick? I use a hardtail mountain bike with a ...


34

If one bike has a rear rack, you can attach the second bike's front wheel with a bunch of bungies and tow it. I've done this, and it worked fine. Now I have a cargo bike, and the towing is simpler:


33

My commute was fairly short, so my major burden was the rain. For this I invested in rain proof panniers & waterproof jacket & over-trousers. I had both a summer & winter jacket to make sure I didn't arrive in too hot during summer. I didn't have overshoes, so kept spare socks/shoes at office. I cycled at leisurely pace on way there to avoid ...


31

I'm not sure how you'd teach it, but I think an ability to relax and just get on with it has made my commute much more pleasant. I ride about 12 miles each way, through some fairly busy bits of London. There are some bike lanes, advanced stop lines, separated paths and all sorts of possible things to confuse the new bike commuter, but the thing that ...


30

Be as visible as possible, and assume you are invisible. No matter how much neon spandex and blinky lights you have, some drivers won't notice you until it's too late, especially if it is rainy, getting dark, and their radio is on. ASSUME you are invisible and they are all out to hit you, and ride accordingly.


29

The primary reason why bike messengers use messenger bags is that you don't have to take them off to load or unload them. If you're continually picking things up and dropping things off all day, you don't want to be faffing about taking a backpack on and off all the time. A secondary reason is that the flat rectangular shape of a messenger bag is more ...


28

In the past, when I commuted to a job without showers (I've managed to luck out recently) I made sure to: Keep my hair relatively short, as to avoid helmet-hair Get in early enough that I can have a quick wash in a bathroom sink without too many people around to take notice Always bring a full change of clothes Like @curtismchale, leave a pair of 'work' ...


26

Equipment/Accessories: Fenders — keep you dry if it's rained recently. I prefer the "full-coverage" kind with a mudflap, but anything that keeps you from getting a stripe up your back is probably sufficient. Regular platform pedals (or even better: BMX style pedals) - clips or clipless and frequent stops don't go well together and might mean needing ...


26

How to mount a curb. (kerb?) Start with your bike. With enough skill, you can go up a tall curb without damaging the bike. But as novice, make it easier on yourself. Remove extra weight. Backpack, panniers, etc. Remove lose items. Water bottles come to mind. Flat bars are easier. Fat tires protect your wheels when you make a mistake. Prerequisites It ...


24

Get a Bright Bike kit from brightthread.com: Bright Bike DIY kits cover your bicycle in easy-to-apply design-savvy ultra reflective vinyl for safety. It is like covering your bike with a big stickers that turn ultra-bright in headlights. The retroreflective vinyl is the same material used on the backs of running shoes, but with colors. The kits greatly ...


24

I'm currently a senior in high school, so I understand your concern about style. In my opinion, and that of all my friends, wearing lycra shorts to school looks ridiculous, no offense. I don't know how far your commute is, but when I take my road bike to school, it's only 3 miles, so I just wear regular shorts and bring another t-shirt I can throw on so I'm ...


24

Rob, you are correct that a heavier bike will give you a greater fitness benefit over the same distance. The only real counter-point I have is that the most effective bikes for fitness are the ones that get ridden. So, if some reason a lighter bike would more fun or appealing to you (while still be a "good enough" commuter), than a lighter bike could be a ...


23

Mostly it depends on where and how far you commute, and road conditions (sandy, snow, salt etc etc). At a minimum what I do is: Daily: check tire air pressure. Weekly: Check brake pad wear, tire wear, clean/wipe down entire bike Monthly: Check chain tension, chainring/cogs for wear, lube chain, adjust brakes, oil all pivot points on derailleurs, brakes ...


23

Get a bike that is the proper size and adjustment for you. Especially if your commute is pretty long (10k or more). Bad ergonomics on your bike can lead to injuries that slowly creep up on you and can take very long to heal. I've had a thigh injury that was caused by a bad saddle that took 3 months of no cycling to heal! Get cycling gloves. They keep your ...


23

Claim your space on busy roads When approaching parked cars, start pulling out into the road well before the parked car. This gives drivers coming up behind you notice that they're going to have to leave you some space so you can get around the car. Also, I sometimes pretend to wobble when I hear a vehicle approaching from behind that sounds like it's fast ...


23

Here I'll summarize everyone else's answers (because of all the Q+A scattered through in the comments), with some additional information that I got elsewhere from reading inspired by people's answers. Wheels+tires: 700 x (28 - 38, maybe ~30), tires; slicks or light treads, not knobbly. The larger wheel makes it faster (because of 'gearing') and the ride a ...


23

Walk :) Safest. I do this from time to time (usually when one of the kids have 'forgotten' their bike), and find it easiest to do as pr above, but with a little variation. If the transported bike is lightweight and otherwise allows it, simply 'wear' it as a backpack, putting your arm through the big triangle. Once it's on, you can determine if it will ...


22

My opinion: I don't believe you can effectively draft and have enough time to stop. I don't know the exact aerodynamics (and I suspect it's affected by speed and wind), but if you watch any paceline or peleton, they're never more than a couple feet (about half a meter) behind the rider in front, often only a few inches (centimeters) behind. With a ...


21

The Most Direct Route is Not Always the Best Or in other words. Your driving commute route is usually a horrible bicycling commute route. I purposefully avoid big roads as much as possible and take small residential streets or dedicated bike paths when available, an extra mile on a bike path can actually save you time over a shorter busy commute route, not ...


21

I'd maybe ask the cyclists themselves - maybe ask them to bring useful spares and have an amount of petty cash on hand to reimburse them. They might be able to bring in old lights (let's face it many of us always leap to the newest kit and have drawers full of old kit lying around). The basic tool set should include tyre levers, an adjustable ...


21

In general panniers are more comfortable and efficient than carrying weight on your body. There are some things to be aware of, however. Safety. Every time you set off, make absolutely sure that all the pannier straps are done up. Apart from things falling out, the last thing you want is a loose strap getting caught in the spokes. This can wreak a wheel, ...


21

Broadly, not a lot. Legally it's probably technically unlawful on several grounds (horn not used as a warning device, causing alarm, loud noise, possibly harassment), but they're all petty offences and unlikely to get a useful response from Police. If it happens in front of a cop they might pull the motorist over for a chat, but that's unlikely. My answer ...


20

My bike service guys wrote a blog article along these lines. You may find it useful. The article recommends four principals for basic bike care. These are Keep your tyres pumped If it lives outside, use it. An unused bike exposed to the elements will fairly quickly rust & seize up Lubricate - little & often, less is more Check your cables and bring ...


20

I try to put out a constant amount of effort no matter what slope I'm on: A constant 'cadence' of 60 to 90 RPM (that's how fast you spin the pedals) A constant force on the pedals The useful energy you put in is proportional to a product of the force multiplied by the cadence: spinning faster at the same force results in more energy input. To keep my ...



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