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  1. #1
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    Couple commuter questions

    I'm a bike commuting noob and there is no commuting FAQ thread I brought home a new Surly Cross Check today, haven't even been able to ride it yet because we have so much snow. I have a short little 5 mile commute to class (grad school ftw), with about 20 pounds of books/binders/laptop. A few accessories questions, I've never set up a bike for commuting before so be gentle

    Rear rack - I'm thinking of ordering a Planet Bike Eco rack, will this fit over the fenders - Planet Bike Hardcore - that I have on the bike? How do I know if the rack will sit level, or is that all in the installation? Are racks pretty universal?

    What's a good lock? I won't be parking it in a very high theft area, but I'd rather be on the safe side. I'd prefer a cable lock with a key. I definitely want one thats drillproof.

    I'd like to replace having a backpack with a pannier that doubles as a messenger bag that I can just snap off and take to class. Been looking at the Timbuk2 Bullitt, anyone have any experience with this?

    Any issues carrying a laptop in a pannier? Don't want to bust my computer or anything...that'd be bad.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Congrats and welcome! I also have a Cross Check and an Eco Rack, but I do not have fenders. There should be plenty of room though. Get the nicest lock you can afford. I haven't used a laptop in a pannier, but I'm sure others have and will chime in.

  3. #3
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    Cablelocks are about as effective as tissue paper as far as I'm concerned. I don't know why they still sell the things (other than as a second lock for wheels).

    The onguard locks that REI sell get really good reviews, and are cheaper than the kryptonite ones. There's a good overview here: http://www.consumersearch.com/bicycl...est-bike-locks

    As for wearable panniers, mine can be used as a backpack but they get pretty gross from road muck. They're never so bad that you can't take them inside, but I wouldn't wear them in any sort of polite society. It'll depend on the conditions you're riding through, but it's something to think about.

  4. #4
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    Since you already have plenty of weight to tote in the form of books, computer, etc., I would see if I could leave a heavy chain and lock attached to the bike rack at school...this could be stronger, lighter, and cheaper than carrying a good lock.

  5. #5
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    I use a Topeak rack and MTX Trunkbag DXP with fold-out panniers for my laptop (14-15" variety). I can clip on a strap and slide the whole bag off the rack and sling it like a messenger bag to walk into the office. I am not sure how comfortable it would be if you have a long walk. For wet/messy weather I bought their cover which works OK to keep things clean and dry. I also have the disc brake version and use it with SKS Beavertail fenders. I have been very pleased with the combination. My commute is 5 miles one way and when I have the bag fully loaded, my ride goes from 23 lbs to about 45lbs.

  6. #6
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    I looked at the Timbuk2 bag you mention. Cost kept me away from it; I bought the REI Ponderosa panniers instead. Carrying the panniers sucks though, and if I weren't just going up a flight of stairs and putting them next to my desk for the whole day, I would greatly regret my decision, and would get the Timbuk2.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
    Since you already have plenty of weight to tote in the form of books, computer, etc., I would see if I could leave a heavy chain and lock attached to the bike rack at school...this could be stronger, lighter, and cheaper than carrying a good lock.
    That's how I do it with my lock. It stays on the rack at the office.
    :wq

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ICAsh
    ....
    I'd like to replace having a backpack with a pannier that doubles as a messenger bag that I can just snap off and take to class. Been looking at the Timbuk2 Bullitt, anyone have any experience with this?

    Any issues carrying a laptop in a pannier? Don't want to bust my computer or anything...that'd be bad.

    Thanks!
    I've had the Timbuk2 Bullitt for about 6 weeks and 350 miles, and I've been very pleased with it. It's very handy to be able to use it as a messenger bag off the bike. It holds a lot of stuff, and it seems very durable so far. I suspect that it's even somewhat fashionable, but I'm not the right person to ask about that.

    It does have a couple minor drawbacks compared to some other panniers. The top of the bag is 6" above the top of the rack, because of the placement of the hooks on the bag. Keeping water out depends on closing it correctly, but I haven't had a problem in a couple very rainy rides I've used it on. The bag is only held on the rack by the two long top hooks, since there is no bottom hook, unlike most panniers. Since I always have a bungee cord on my rack, I just strap it down.

    I used to carry a laptop back and forth to school, in a different pannier. I put the laptop in some cheap neoprene sleeve from Wal-Mart, and I never had a problem, after hundreds of days of commuting.

  8. #8
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    I am very pleased with my Topeak setup. same as RevRacer's. I have a 17" laptop, so I use a backpack for it if I need to haul it. the fold out panniers on the MTX bag are very spacious though... enough for any $50 grocery run (including milk, beer, etc.)
    As for using it as a pedestrian, I haven't tried it beyond a few hundred feet and I certainly don't consider it fashionable... especially with a helmet dangling from it.
    For a lock, a U lock and heavy cable combo is the best choice... and if it is heavy, so what... we are talking commuting, not racing.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the input!

    I should specify, I'll be using the bag (leaning more towards the Timbuk2 the more I think about it) as my bookbag, so primarily toting it around in the engineering building. Any other buildings I need to go to I'll probably throw it on the bike. But I will be carrying it around a fair amount.

    I'm not concerned about the weather, I'm a wimp when it comes to the elements. If it's supposed to rain, the bike will stay at home and I'll take the bus.

    I'm not sure about leaving the lock on the bike rack, likely I won't be able to park it at the same spot every day - there are several bike racks and LOTS of bikes in the spring/summer, very bike-friendly campus and community. I wouldn't want it to rust or anything. I'm leaning towards a U lock with a cable to secure the wheels.

  10. #10
    smd
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    Quote Originally Posted by ICAsh
    Any issues carrying a laptop in a pannier? Don't want to bust my computer or anything...that'd be bad.
    Not yet (three months in). I've got a 19" wide-screen laptop that weighs about 8 pounds, which is protected by some 2" thick eggshell foam that I found leftover from a new 1u server we got at work...cut to size, sandwich, and enjoy! I've been thinking about getting some slices of HDPE and scrap cordura and making a nice ghetto case out of it....

    ...I was going to get a commercial laptop sleeve, but when I saw this stuff, my wallet fattened up again.

  11. #11
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    This just came out. My LBS has one ordered for me, should be here in a few days. I'm psyched. http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/...nier-messenger

    Went for a road ride the other day and the crosscheck was awesome! Up until I washed out going around a corner and slammed to the ground. Bike took it like a champ, rear deraileur looks kinda beat up but works perfectly. I, on the other hand, not so lucky. Separated shoulder, which cancels this weekend's trip to Ray's in milwaukee And I can't start commuting by bike for another week or two

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