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New Commuter: What cycling items will I need regularly as a commuter or full time Cyclist

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Don't forget a waterproof container for this.  You can get souped up ziplock bags that'll hold a cell phone fairly cheap and it'll give you peace of mind if you get caught in an unexpected rain shower.

Gene Tenner said:

A charged-up cell phone. Never bike anywhere without it.

I agree to start out with what you have, assuming you have a helmet, lights, and a lock. Over time, you'll figure out what you need to add, according to your preferences and requirements. I use clipless pedals, so I change my shoes at work. I use fenders. I used to use a messenger bag or backpack, but I'm now using a single pannier to carry my stuff. My comfort level and expertise working on my bike dictate that I carry a tube, patch kit, CO2 inflator, and multi-tool in my pannier bag. I also use a Garmin to track my commutes. But this all developed over time, I didn't start out with any of that stuff.

In the past, whenever I have talked to someone about them getting started, I've always recommended that they stay away from road and cross bikes at first.  A more upright position is going to be more comfortable for someone who isn't used to it and a more comfortable rider is more likely to continue doing it. 



Tony Adams 6.6 mi said:

Yes, start with what you got and see what you need as you go along.

I do have to take issue with this "road or cross bike" nonsense. Whatever bike you have now is probably fine, at least to get started. If you are acquiring a bike for commuting, I'd consider a much wider range of bikes than just road or cross bikes. Road and cross bikes in their default configuration come with drop bars which are really only good for one thing: speed. Going fast should be the last thing one is concerned with when commuting. Much more important are the abilities to see and be seen. Bikes that let you ride in a more upright position can make for a more comfortable and more safe commute. Town bikes, dutchies, hybrids and even rigid mountain bikes can all make perfectly adequate commuters and will help you be seen and make it easier for you to see what is going on around you.

David crZven 10.6 said:

It doesn't take as much stuff as you think.

1.    A cross or road bicycle with gears.   Yes, you can commute on a single speed with balloon tires.   It will be slow,  The benefits of a "real" bike (whether an old Steel Classic or a new modern bike) is worth it.

2.  A rack and paniers.   Get that load closer to the Center of Gravity.   It will also bring the clothing and the like into the office in a clean fashion.

3.  Lights -- particularly a rear light.  Not so much for YOU to see, its for you to be SEEN. 

4.  Clothing.  Bike clothing, or at least athletic clothing helps a great deal.  I wear REI brand baggy bike shorts with the Chamois and a bright Orange high tech running shirt (about $12 at target).   Add in bike shoes and cleats.  And I always wear gloves because they serve too many purposes...

As for tools, it depends on your staring and ending point.  For the most part the CTA provides a good breakdown alternative if you are in the City.   But if you are going to be out beyond the ready reach of the CTA (for example, Elmwood or Melrose Park) you may want to carry a "Park Tool" and a spare inner tube and a small pump or air cart system.   Since I always stay within a mile or so of a CTA alternative, I don't always carry the breakdown kit.

Oh.. and a lock.

What you don't want is a backpack (which adds to the sweat AND throws off the Center of Gravity) .  and a single speed with balloon tires. (They just aren't fast enough for safe riding)

I guess we have different philosophies.   The most important part of any commute is the ability to move quickly enough with sufficient agility not to be a victim of the traffic.  The ride must also not be overly tiring as the whole point is to be able to work when you get to the office.  Over any reasonable distance, the only option that is going to provide those items is a multi-geared bike with narrow high pressure tires.   I foolishly purchased a "mountain/city Bike" to use as a commuter instead of my touring bike.  Big big mistake.  The commute was slower, more painful, and frankly, felt less safe.   And it had gears.  

A "fast" bike is also safer because the rider has less incentive to ride through stop signs and lights.  On a big heavy "comfort bike", the energy of stopping and starting is far greater (and far more knee damaging) than stopping and starting (in the proper gears) on a road bike.

And speed is also important.  My commute, for example, is not that long, but clocks in at a little over 10 miles by the shortest route.  With lights, delays, and the like, that's 40 minutes or so with reasonable effort.   Put any regular old  guy (like me) on a non-road bike and that commutes well over an hour.   And that starts to compete poorly with the 1 hour by CTA and 1 hour and 10 minutes by car.... 

As for being seen, being more upright doesn't make it more obvious.  Wearing the correct high visibility clothing and having the right lights determine your visibility.  

Tony Adams 6.6 mi said:

I do have to take issue with this "road or cross bike" nonsense. Whatever bike you have now is probably fine, at least to get started. If you are acquiring a bike for commuting, I'd consider a much wider range of bikes than just road or cross bikes. Road and cross bikes in their default configuration come with drop bars which are really only good for one thing: speed. Going fast should be the last thing one is concerned with when commuting. Much more important are the abilities to see and be seen. Bikes that let you ride in a more upright position can make for a more comfortable and more safe commute. Town bikes, dutchies, hybrids and even rigid mountain bikes can all make perfectly adequate commuters and will help you be seen and make it easier for you to see what is going on around you.

A commute is simply a daily time trial with the goal of improving your best time.   Anyone who says otherwise is a liar or one of those smelly hippies who's riding to save the Earth, man.

I am not lying, riding to save anything or a hippy - I do smell from time to time, though - and my goal is to enjoy my ride to work, slow down to smell the roses and even take pictures of them. My time? Thpose 6 miles take anywhere from 35 to 60-ish minutes depending on the weather and whether or not I feel like pedaling fastser or slower.

envane (69 furlongs) said:

A commute is simply a daily time trial with the goal of improving your best time.   Anyone who says otherwise is a liar or one of those smelly hippies who's riding to save the Earth, man.

I don't think he was being serious unless he's 'that guy' on the lakefront trail...

For commuting:

Helmet, gloves to keep your palms from getting blisters, and a backpack or shoulder bag for your work clothes.

Lights if you're out after dark.

Small pump and spare tube/patch kit/levers in thebag if you're comfortable with fixing a flat.

You'll feel even better with a rack and pannier as it will get the weight (and localized sweat) off your back.

Fenders are also a nice addition for times when the ground is wet.  It's not just for when there's rain falling.

A wig bag!

Lights, extra lights, and extra batteries for your lights.

+1  I was really glad to have the red flasher on the back of my helmet on the way home in the fog since the battery died in the red flasher on the back of my bike and I DID NOT HAVE BATTERIES with me!

Jennifer on the lake said:

Lights, extra lights, and extra batteries for your lights.

Like this but not as dangerous.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhe58xORWG0

Jennifer on the lake said:

Lights, extra lights, and extra batteries for your lights.

A rain "slicker" or coat. I have both one covers to the knee and has a hood the other is just to keep the core dry.

At least one trip,with transfers,on a CTA card.

I don't like the back pack because of the sweat factor but don't find it throwing off my balance and I don't need to worry about forgetting to remove contents of the paniers.

Snacks, something "all weather" Sometimes I take a break or detour and find myself feeling hungry/tired and sluggish. some Honey roasted nuts, granola, Raisins will get me back home, which is usually 4-10 miles depending.

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