Any of you guys commuting to work by bicycle?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by jmattbassplaya, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    I've been thinking of purchasing a bike to do just this, and I was wanting to hear some opinions on the matter, see how far you guys are commuting, and maybe get some opinions on some good bikes to consider purchasing.
  2. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    How long is your commute? Will this be a fair weather ride or day in and day out?

    Mine's 40 miles each way, there isn't a shot in hell that I'd consider cycling to work.
  3. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    I bet :D

    It'd just be a fair weather rider. I definitely plan on using my car whenever things aren't looking too great outside ;)

    The commute to work is about 4.4 miles according to Google Maps (about 10-15 minutes by car), and the commute to the nearest major retail store is around 1.9 miles. Neither of which seems too great to me, but, admittedly, it has been awhile since I've biked anywhere, so I might be overestimating my ability to do this.

    For what it's worth, my work has locker rooms, so it wouldn't be a problem to go into work wearing something more relaxed and then change into my business attire there. I just want to get some opinions as to whether or not this seems reasonable or if I'm getting ahead of myself.
  4. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    On even terrain 4.4 miles is pretty easy.

    I don't know how Memphis is for bike thieves but in Montreal where i am it's a plague and you cant ever leave your bike out even on a good lock because unless its a piece of crap it'll probably be gone within the hour (for this reason many people would rather have ****** bikes...) But i imagine taking your bike in at work wouldn't be an issue.
  5. Mysterion


    Jan 10, 2012
    I've cycle-commuted for over two decades, one-way distances from 1 to 18 miles. There is no right answer to your question.

    How far? What kind of roads? What's at the other end? What are your work clothes? How much cycling do you do now? What riding position is comfortable for you? How much gear will you have to carry? What's your budget?

    There are a lot of different approaches. In very general terms, both hybrid and touring bikes are good for commuting. They'll accommodate as much or as little luggage as you need, and give a little room for beefy tires, even fenders if you want. Don't cheap out on lights if you're commuting at night. And never, ever cheap out on tires. They're the only thing that touches the road (with luck.) And plan on spending a little more than you plan on spending, and don't forget stuff like basic tools, a spare tube and patch kit, a decent pump, and so forth. It can mean the difference between a routine roadside stop, and an irritating fiasco.

    Finally, realize that cyclists--like bassists--are very partisan. Some will tell you to commute on an aluminum-framed fixed-gear with 700x18 tires. Others will say you need a fully-loaded touring rig, with front and rear panniers and generator lights. The truth for most riders probably lies somewhere in the middle. It needs to get you there and back, it needs to be safe, and it should leave you energized for work, not worn out. Do some research, ride some bikes, and be consider

    (I do know from what I speak--at my most extreme, I did a 35-mile round trip commute on my race bike, carrying a messenger bag filled with work clothing. Sun, rain, or snow...)
  6. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I visited Tokyo recently. Nobody locks their bikes, and there are bike racks everywhere. It's funny how cultural bike theft is.
  7. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    4.4 miles seems doable, IF you have safe passage to do so... i.e. bike paths or wide open shoulders. I used to do 35-40 miles a day (not commuting) in about 2 hours. 4 Miles should be doable in about a half hour if you can do it safely.
  8. Mysterion


    Jan 10, 2012
    Cross-posted--you've answered some of my questions.

    That's a totally easy commute, for just about anyone. I'm over 50, and I was doing more until a recent injury.

    Hybrid bike, get some panniers (saddle bags) for your work clothes. You can even get bags to hold a suit--I've used them.

    If you're really unsure of your fitness, or the comfort-level on the roads, try to borrow or rent a bike and do a dry run of the route. Do it a few times--it will either get easier, or you will decide you hate it.
  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I ride 4 miles each way, more or less daily, 9 months out of the year. My commute involves mostly neighborhood streets and a fair stretch along a paved bike path. Madison is considered to be a bike friendly town, so I see a lot of commuters and can report an informal "survey" of what the typical setup is.

    If it's an older bike, it tends to be some kind of road bike with the possible addition of fenders and upright handlebars. If newer, it's likely to be a so called "hybrid" which has slightly wider tires than a road bike, and upright bars. It's a university town, so I'm sure theft and vandalism are considerations weighing against riding really precious bikes.

    My commuter is a Schwinn road frame from the 80's, with fenders, basket, upright handlebars, aluminum rims, head and tail lights. I assembled it from scavenged parts.

    I personally recommend against mountain bikes (though I see them on the commuter path) because the rolling resistance of the fat tires slows you down. Likewise for "cruisers" and the like. OTOH you can buy higher pressure "city" tires for mountain bike wheels, making them more similar to a hybrid.

    Whatever bike you buy, it's good to make sure it has attachments for a rack and fenders, should you ever decide that you want to add those.

    Now my personal preferences:

    1. Upright "old man style" handlebars are vastly more comfortable for my neck and wrists than straight bars or drops.

    2. Something that you're likely to be capable of maintaining yourself. You will run through tires, tubes, brake shoes, etc. If you're not super handy, consider taking a bike tune-up class at the local bike shop.

    3. I'm a huge fan of enclosed gear hubs because they're weather proof and lower maintenance. But there's a price tag on these unless you're willing to build your own wheels as I did, because they only put them on the more upscale bikes.

    4. Carry a pouch with all of the necessities for fixing a flat on the road, and make sure you know how to do it. I probably get a couple of punctures per year. This is nothing to be fearful of.

    5. I carry rain gear -- one reason for the basket. While I won't leave the house in a deluge, the afternoon showers in the Midwest are unpredictable. If you're planning on mostly good weather riding, you could keep some cheap rain gear at work in case a storm comes up during the day.

    Learn about riding safely. Assume that you're invisible.

    My latest experiment: On an old mountain bike, I've installed Nokkia studded tires for winter riding. So far I've commuted a couple times in the snow. I'm not sure it's worthwhile because it's slow.
  10. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    Thanks, guys :)

    Could any of you recommend some decent brands or models? Money really isn't an issue, but I don't need anything fancy, either. I just need something that will hold up, be a decent rider, and will give me years of service (assuming I take proper care of it, which I will).

    Let's say $500 is at the top of my range and that I don't mind buying it used. I could go higher, I just don't think there's reason to considering what I plan on using it for.
  11. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I commute to work one or two days a week year-round, mostly as a way to get extra mid-week training into my schedule. It's about 9 or 10 miles each way. I bring the bike into my office so I don't have to deal with locking it up outside.

    A decent brand? Anything by Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, or Giant will be fine...those are really the "Big Names", the Ford/Chevy/General Motors of bikes. Hard to screw up with one of those.
  12. Uncle K

    Uncle K The custodian is your enemy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    I either walk or ride a bike, but I live less than a mile from my job.
  13. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    I thought about commuting via bike to my new job... it's about 9 miles each way, with one pretty large hill right at my house... in the morning I'd be going down it, and in the evening I'd be going up it. Pretty good incline and rather long too. I also wear a suit each day, so I'd rather not deal with that.
  14. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    I used to bike commute to my last job. It was a fairly flat 8-miles one way, half residential, and half along a river trail. Do yourself a favor and get some puncture resistant tires like Specialized Armadillos with kevlar.
  15. Was doing a 10 mile(1 way)run 2-3x a week a year ago, on a MTB w/slicks and 2x1 gearing(front derailleur, 46/36t rings x 18t RR cog and a SS-type chain tensioner. There was one fairly PITA hill, and although I could manage w/the 46, the lower ratio was nice after a tough day.
    Mysterion has some very good points- right tool for the job. :)
  16. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    I commute on my bike most every day unless it's pouring rain. I guess I'm not a as dedicated as some.:p My commute is about 6 miles each way over some crazy San Francisco hills and urban traffic. It takes me about half an hour each way.
    I am over 60-years old but don't have a problem with this. But I have been bike commuting off and on for over forty years so I guess you could say I am used to it.
    Currently I have a modified Trek mountain bike. I raised the handlebars and put some high pressure street tires on it. Raising the handlebars made things easier on my back and neck and the street tires have made a big difference in my ride. I wear a helmet and have good lights.
    The bike commute is quicker than taking mass transit plus I really enjoy riding. I also get some exercise during a time when I would be commuting so I doesn't cost me any extra time to exercise. My company provides a locked storage area for bikes so there is not too much worry about theft.
    I carry a change of shirt but wear comfortable jeans (no skinny jeans for me.:p) and Merrell boots for my commute.
    I have been using a messenger bag to carry my shirt, bike tools, phone, lunch etc. Sometimes I pick up a lot of paperwork for my wife from her clients. Recently I left home without my bag and realized how nice it is riding without it. I just got a pannier and get to try it on Monday.
    If you do decide to ride my advice is to relax and enjoy the ride. Here where I ride it can become a racetrack mentality amongst some cyclists. It is easy to get caught up in. I am finally at a point where it is not necessary to race someone 40-years younger than me who is pedaling a fixie. When I ride I just assume that anyone in a car doesn't know I am there, that saves me a lot of stress. There are places where I can ride very quickly if I choose and places where it is not safe to do so.
    If you choose to ride I think you will really like it. Give it a couple of weeks and you will get used to it and it will seem like the normal thing to do. Have fun.
  17. I've been tempted to, it's about 5 miles each way and there are some cycle paths along the way. However, lots of large buses and psychotic taxi drivers too.
  18. paste


    Oct 3, 2011
    I cant believe no one mentioned this but your gonna sweat like a pig. Probably my #1 reason I stopped cycling to work. Your gonna feel disgusting and sticky at work, and smell like a disgusting concocssion of B.O and deoderant. My commute to work is similar to yours, except that I live in Michigan. I cant imagine what riding in Memphis summer would be like.
  19. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    That's what keeps life from getting boring.:p
  20. neuman

    neuman Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2009
    Denver, CO 'burbs
    Day in, day out. 5 miles each way; use a mountain bike with panniers, lights and 2 sets of wheels. Not bad except for that -18 F day a few weeks back.

    Have a Yak trailer for bigger items.