About to start commuting, questions and dillemas- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    About to start commuting, questions and dillemas

    Well, I've moved to an 8am-8pm shift (instead of 6-6) and I figure now that I'm sleeping in I can spend the extra few minutes to bike to work instead of drive. It's about 20 miles round trip and I've been going over and over in my head what bike/setup to use. I have my two mountain bikes that I ride regularly, so they aren't candidates. Then I have the option between these three:

    - My race geometry roadie with 23c tires on it that I also ride frequently

    - My grandfather's '89 Trek 7000 mountain bike with slicks on it.

    - Get a bike just for commuting (SS roadie maybe?). Any cheap new bikes for this before I look at used?

    I love my road bike, but I'll be taking side roads in my commute and I'm concerned about the 23c tires not being up for the task. On the other hand, I don't want to swap tires cuz I love them for when I go for long rides on the mountain roads out here (and yes, the city streets are way worse than the mountain roads). The Trek is an option, though I'm concerned I'll be a lot slower on a 30 pound rigid mountain bike with little 26" wheels.

    So I may hit up craigslist and look for a commuter roadie (flat bars and SS is what I'm thinking). Any input?

    Lastly, a CA law question. If I use clipless pedals on my bike, do they still need to have reflectors on them? My roadie shoes don't have reflectors, but I guess I could put some reflective tape on the front and back. Also, wheel reflectors? Anyone actually get stopped for that? I hate putting them on my bikes :x

    Lastly, I am assuming you don't need front and rear reflectors if you have front and rear lights. Am I correct?

  2. #2
    M8 M12 M15 deez nuts
    Reputation: Leopold Porkstacker's Avatar
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    8am to 8pm? Is that legal? Do you get overtime pay?
    Donít frail and blow if youíre going to Braille and Flow.

  3. #3
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    If you have someplace safe to keep it, just ride in your road bike. If it's beating you up too much, you could always get a set of cheap wheels and put some 28mm tires on them - still cheaper than buying a whole new bike. If you have to carry a lot of stuff to work with you, you might consider turning your grandfather's old bike into a commuter with a rack and panniers. For me, 10 miles is getting to be a long enough ride to start thinking about changes of clothes and getting a load off my back and onto a rack.

    I was never stopped in California when I rode clipless pedal bikes at night. I don't think my shoes are reflective, either, although that wouldn't be a bad idea - seeing the two pedal reflectors going up and down on either side of a reflector or light makes me think "bike" when I'm out at night and see them in my headlight beam.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
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    Yes I get overtime and I only work 4 days a week. I'm a paramedic so the other option is 24 hour shifts (10 a month) or 9.5 hour shifts 5 days a week. I prefer the 12s.

    Nice thing is I have a locker at work and there's a shower, so I can gear up as much as I want for my ride and shower before work. Gonna give it a shot for the next few shifts on my road bike and see how it goes.

    I keep eying this gorgeous Masi single speed at a local shop though

  5. #5
    weirdo
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    I`m guessing that parking isn`t a problem either. If it were me, I don`t think I`d buy a new bike (unless I had that urge) until I tried it out for a while to see how things worked out. Maybe the Trek with slicks, but that does sound like a long ride for flat bars. Can your roadie fit 28s? If it does, AS`s extra wheels plan sounds like what I`d probably do. Good luck with it.

    Also, I`m envious of your shift. For a long time (14 years) I worked 12 hour shifts- usually one week of 3 on 4 off, then 4 on 3 off. Last year we had to do a lot of shift wrangling in order to keep coverage with reduced personell and I ended up on a 5 x 8 schedule like the rest of the world Well, at least I`m still employed- job hunting sucks.

  6. #6
    local trails rider
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    10 miles each way is getting where a somewhat efficient bike would be nice. A smoothly functioning MTB with slicks and bar ends might do it, if it fits you well. Singlespeed? If you don't have big hills or stiff headwinds.

  7. #7
    LCI #1853
    Reputation: PscyclePath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by natrab

    Lastly, a CA law question. If I use clipless pedals on my bike, do they still need to have reflectors on them? My roadie shoes don't have reflectors, but I guess I could put some reflective tape on the front and back. Also, wheel reflectors? Anyone actually get stopped for that? I hate putting them on my bikes :x

    Lastly, I am assuming you don't need front and rear reflectors if you have front and rear lights. Am I correct?
    State law requires lights -- not reflectors, and active lights always beat reflectors for effectiveness. I usually carry lights that will burn a hole in the ozone layer, and I supplement those with reflective tape on the helmet as well as my rear fender and rack support struts.

    If no pedal reflectors, what I use is a pair of those little reflective ankle bands intended to keep your pants cuff out of your drivetrain. They seem to work as well or better than pedal reflectors, and the up-and-down motion of either pedal reflectors, or ankle bands is a very effective signal that says "cyclist up front."

    The other issue to look at is side reflectivity, a relatively new requirement in CA. My main commuter has the Continental Contact tires with reflective sidewalls, the Bike Friday backup has reflective tape in the spokes to handle that... your mileage and illumination may vary ;-)
    Ride a mountain bike... you will not regret it if you live.
    (with apologies to Mark Twain & The Taming of the Bicycle)

  8. #8
    mtbr member
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    Nothing better than a SS road bike with fenders to commute on.

  9. #9
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    I would use the road bike unless the road conditions were horrible. Also, I find a mountain bike is fine when there are lot of stopping. Since a mountain bike is designed for slow speed and hard bursts of speed, it works better than a road bike which is meant for long spins.

  10. #10
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    And from my experience, there are no reflector laws in CA but many towns have a lights law. You could probably skirt it but if you are working to 8pm, I would get lights.

  11. #11
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    Unless there are a lot of hills I would consider 10 miles to be a chip shot - especially given that you have a shower available at both ends. I would run the Trek. It may not be as fast but the extra work will pay dividends when you ride your mountain bikes.

  12. #12
    M8 M12 M15 deez nuts
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    Quote Originally Posted by natrab
    Yes I get overtime and I only work 4 days a week. I'm a paramedic so the other option is 24 hour shifts (10 a month) or 9.5 hour shifts 5 days a week. I prefer the 12s.
    *PHEW* Thatís a relief to hear! I couldnít fathom having to scrape people up off the asphalt with a shovel though, I guess it takes a person with a really tough stomach.
    Donít frail and blow if youíre going to Braille and Flow.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
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    Thanks for all the great comments and advice.

    Tomorrow's my first day commuting and I mounted my magicshine kit (900 in front and tail light in back) on my road bike. Will be running my usual Conti 4000 Grand Prix 23c for now and seeing how it goes. My LBS has some specialized 28 city tires with reflective sides I might try out. I have a clip on rack for the back, but I left all my stuff in my locker and will just bring a small backpack with a change of clothes and my lock.

    My goal is just to get there fast so I don't really want to ride my 26er mtn bike. Hopefully without too many lights I can keep my average speed around 15mph which will make the ride less than 30 minutes.

    I'm excited!

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