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  1. #1
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    Commuting: Backpack or Messenger Bag / Flats or clips?

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm going to start commuting to work this year on my bike. I'll have about a 6 mile round trip. So, a few questions for you:

    1) Messenger bag / backpack / other??
    I'll most likely be carrying a laptop and a meeting folder at the very least. Maybe a change of shirt for those extra hot days, maybe shoes (depending on the answer to my next question) -- i'm business casual at work. With a backpack is there a concern about backstrain? Does a messenger bag sit any better (maybe lower on your back)?

    2) Flats or Clips?
    Ideally, I'd like clips, but that means I need a change of shoes. But, with clips I get to practice my spin -- I'll be on a single speed, but mostly flat surfaces.

    Thanks!!
    Mark

  2. #2
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    what type of bike are you riding?

    i commute on a SS roadbike, and found the lower bar position made wearing a backpack a very painful experience. i ended up going with a rack in the back....which has been great but i couldn't take a laptop or anything that size.
    on a mountain bike, i'm very comfortable wearing a backpack (even a heavy one) with the more upright riding position. also...wearing a backpack means terribly sweaty back on a hot day, you'll definitely need a shirt change...

    i also ride clips and while i understand riding street shoes would be convenient, i don't like riding without clips.
    what would rainbow unicorn do?

  3. #3
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    1) Other. Assuming you are riding a HT. Mount a rack and put on a single rear pannier, preferably an Ortlieb. It'll be 100% waterproof and is instantly detachable from the rack when you want to bring your gear into work with you. No sweaty back, no sore shoulder from a messenger strap and no raised centre of gravity.

    2) Clips, and just bring spare shoes or keep them at the office.
    Since when did the phrase "invest in" come to mean the same as "buy"?

  4. #4
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    I like toeclips/flats for commuters. Changing shoes is just a PITA -- not to mention if you ant to hop on your bike for ice cream or something....

    I uses a messenger type bag -- it stays put much better. FWIW, I cummute on a either a fixie or a SS and i can wear just about anything to work.

  5. #5
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    I commuted over a year, 20mile round trip on both road and mountain bike, clipless w/back pack. I wore my normal riding gear for the commute and changed at work. So, in my backpack I carried clothes, toiletries, and my lunch. A good lunch is important for the commute home, btw. Your ride is relatively short, but doing 10 miles in over 100F heat with an empty stomach or worse, full of junk food is no fun.

    I never had any issues with the backpack causing more pain on the road bike vs the mountain bike. The road bike was faster, even though I couldn't take any dirt short cuts.

    BM
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  6. #6
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    Get some combo clipless/flat pedals (like the Shimano DX 647) and a pair of BMX-style DH shoes that are SPD compatible, like 661's. If you work in a casual office, you can wear those shoes all day. Or ride with any shoes you like. Or ballet slippers. Your call.
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  7. #7
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    I commute about 20 minutes each way on my SS 29er on single track. When I ride, I wear what I normally wear while riding and carry a backpack a bit bigger than my camelback. This allows me to put in shorts, t-shirt, and extra water. Usually, when work is over, I go for my normal MTB ride, then come back to my office and commute home.

    The point of my response is I wear a backpack and clipless shoes. But, if you are commuting by road, might want to try a rack and whatever shoes work best for you...

  8. #8
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    I agree with Bmadau. I have been commuting since I was 15 (I'm 41 now). I used to use panniers but I didn't like the way the bike handled. For the past 8 years I use a backpack to store laptop, clothes, and tools. My back gets a little sweaty but it does not get painful. My commute is 18 kms one way. 50% on highway (paved shoulder) with cars and semis whipping by at 120 kms, 25 % is gravel/sand/mud road, and 25 % residential paved streets. The bike handles better with a backpack.

  9. #9
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    I used to commute about 20 mile round trip. luckily I never had to tote a lap top. may be you should leave the lap top home and bring in disc of the docs that you are working on.

    I didn't like the road bike. it felt too loaded down with all the weight of the stuff I was bringing. at first i used a back pack for change of clothes and lunch. Later I changed to a full suspension mt. bike. with Lights. the commute home was always after sunset. the mt. bike handled the ruts better, especially the ones you don't see in the dark.

    I improvised a rear rack because the back pack made me over heat during the day. I adjusted the rear shock to full stiff to compensate the extra weight to the rear.

    My buddy who also commuted found a courier pack that he mounted by draping it over his top tube. I thought that would be a good place because the weigh would be lower and centered. I never could find anythig that I could convert for this use.

    give it a try it took me several rides before I could adjust everything to where I felt comfortable.

    sorry to say I now drive in, I can't handle the traffic.

  10. #10
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    I ride with a back pack on a 23 mile each way commute. I get a little pain on the first few rides of the season, but it gets better. You can definitely do it for three miles.

    And clipless.
    :wq

  11. #11
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    I much prefer a rack on back with panniers for commuting. I've tried a messenger bag and it always seemed to be in the way somehow.

    nagatahawk's suggestion on leaving the laptop behind is a good one. You can get a 2 gig thumb drive these days for like 10 bucks and a spare laptop for a few hundred bucks. No need to be toting a laptop back and forth on your bike. A 5+ pound laptop is going to be a real drag whether it's in a backpack, messenger bag, or rack.

    For a short commute like yours, go with platform pedals for the convenience. You're not going to get enough benefit out of clipless on a short ride like that to make them worth the hassle of changing shoes.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville
    I much prefer a rack on back with panniers for commuting. I've tried a messenger bag and it always seemed to be in the way somehow.

    nagatahawk's suggestion on leaving the laptop behind is a good one. You can get a 2 gig thumb drive these days for like 10 bucks and a spare laptop for a few hundred bucks. No need to be toting a laptop back and forth on your bike. A 5+ pound laptop is going to be a real drag whether it's in a backpack, messenger bag, or rack.

    For a short commute like yours, go with platform pedals for the convenience. You're not going to get enough benefit out of clipless on a short ride like that to make them worth the hassle of changing shoes.
    But if you are still using the same bike for regular rides it can be a pain to be switching pedals back and forth all the time. That's one main reason why I never put commuter tires on my mtb. Sometimes we do spur of the moment XC rides after work, and I didn't want to have to back out because I had the wrong tires on it, or deal with the time it takes to change tires every time I went back and forth between commuting and off road riding.

    I too may be a laptop toter in the near future, and have been trying to figure out how I'm going to make it work. I do mechanical design, so my future laptop will most likely be a bigger one, with a 17" screen. Don't yet know what it'll weigh, but it'll be on the heavy end for sure.

    BM
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  13. #13
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    When I'm working out of the office I leave the laptop at work and even spare pair of shoes. But I'm a consultant so I work out of different places. There are days when my pack is just full of stuff (I have 2 different size I use depending on time of year and whether I need to pack the laptop).

    I have a Dell Inspiron 6400 with the 17" screen. Its huge but the big problem is not the size but rather its flat and hard. I doesn't conform nicely to the shape of my back! Add the power cable, mouse, change of dress clothes, toilettries, towel, and misc stuff like wallet. cell phone, PDA, etc - I need a trailer!

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I'm leaning toward a backpack or a messenger bag. However, i really don't like the idea of a sweaty back... Does a messenger bag hang far enough down that I don't have to worry about this? I mean, it's not directly on my back, but kind of off to the side a little, right?

  15. #15
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    A properly fitting messenger bag will sit on your back. I ride with mine nice and snug and up high so it doesn't move -- it's far superior to backpack in terms of bulk/snugness while riding. I also find it to be less hot....

  16. #16
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    I have actually considered a trailer. I've drawn one up kind of like the extrawheel design, lighter and more compact than a bob. Might be the best alternative...

    BM
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinman
    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I'm leaning toward a backpack or a messenger bag. However, i really don't like the idea of a sweaty back... Does a messenger bag hang far enough down that I don't have to worry about this? I mean, it's not directly on my back, but kind of off to the side a little, right?
    Not trying to be a jerk here, but you're not going to work up much of a sweat in three miles.
    :wq

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmadau
    But if you are still using the same bike for regular rides it can be a pain to be switching pedals back and forth all the time. BM
    Get a dedicated commuter. Get a cheap used road bike or hardtail MTB (or even a fully rigid) and set it up just for commuting. Something that you're not going to be too concerned about someone stealing or otherwise messing with. I have no more than $150 invested in my commuter (got a used bike, added rack and panniers, new tires, and got rid of all the quick-release stuff). It works great for me.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by nachomc
    Not trying to be a jerk here, but you're not going to work up much of a sweat in three miles.
    Um... Have you ever been through a Michigan summer? Sometimes it's 85 at 7am....

  20. #20
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    backpack here, clipless and on a cyclocross bike thirty five minutes both ways.

    tried a messenger bag but i hate the way they sit on my back when they're loaded with crap--i change clothes every day and used to carry my work boots with me until i got promoted and found a drawer to stuff my shoes in.

    i rode a mountain bike with slicks for years, but there's lots of glass on my route and i got really, really tired of having flats. then i went back to knobbies, which are tiresome to ride on city streets day in and day out, but i got a lot fewer flats.

    BTW, i've been using a camelback rimrunner as my pack for the past two months or so--it's got enough room for my clothes, MP3 player and accessories along with tubes, pump and all that crap. it is definitely much more comfortable than the timberland pack i'd been using for the past ten years.

  21. #21
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    i prefer flats and a backpack..simple and easy.

  22. #22
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    It may have already been said, but I got bored reading...

    I've commuted with a backpack made for a laptop, 15 miles one way. If you opt for this, have a work shirt at work. Even with a steady pace my shirt was a sweat rag after 30 minutes, would it be that way in only 3miles....maybe not who knows.

    I can't comment on a messenger bag, never owned/used one, seems it would make an uneven weight distribution, but like I said, I have no clue on the messengers.

    I've since gone to a rack and a small pair panniers for my laptop and other stuff to even out the weight. I also ride with a regular trunk that carries my riding essentials...riding light, pump, pair of tubes, tools etc. Plus, aren't ALL Cross Checks expected to be dressed out that way?


    If your panniers are mounted correctly you shouldn't notice and handling difference once you get comfortable with the added weight. Just like anything new, it takes some adjustment.

    As far as shoes, I ride year round in my Lake Sandals, yes year round in Michigan. Winter layered in booties and wool, summer, skin to win. I carry office shoes, wet wipes, dry towel and body spray in the other side panniers.
    Last edited by TrekJeff; 02-22-2008 at 09:02 PM.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinman
    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I'm leaning toward a backpack or a messenger bag. However, i really don't like the idea of a sweaty back... Does a messenger bag hang far enough down that I don't have to worry about this? I mean, it's not directly on my back, but kind of off to the side a little, right?

    No, they sit right on your back and wrap aound it (if it's a real messenger bag). I wore single-strap messenger bag for eight years working, and it screwed my back up royally. I highly recommend a backpack-style messenger bag, or just a plain old backpack with a laptop sleeve. I have a Timbuk 2 messenger pack that's working out nicely, and my co-workers use the Chrome packs and like them.

  24. #24
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    (1) Other - Rack and a single pannier is by far the easiest and most comfortable way to haul stuff - this is what bikes are designed for.

    If you can't, of for some reason don't want to, use a rack and panniers, then a good messenger bag kicks arse over a backpack IMHO - the weight rides low and it covers less of your back.

    However! On warm days anything on your back is going to leave sweat marks where it touches! With a backpack this usually means your whole back is covered by a wet square (looks real nice when you wear a grey t-shirt!), and with a messenger bag you get a damp patch on your lower back.

    Whatever you choose you are gonna have a great time riding to work! Good luck!
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  25. #25
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    thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by martinman
    Hi Everyone,



    2) Flats or Clips?
    Ideally, I'd like clips, but that means I need a change of shoes. But, with clips I get to practice my spin -- I'll be on a single speed, but mostly flat surfaces.
    The best thing to do is leave a pair of shoes at work if possible, then you can just ride your normal pedals (assuming you can't come up with a whole commuter bike). Even for a 2 mile commute I just prefer to be clipped in, I find it helps with the track stands at the red lights or at least makes them more interesting. Although in winter I wear regular shoes or boots, you won't care about pedaling efficiency when it's 15 degrees and you're riding through 2 inches of snow.

    I also keep a hex wrench at work, in case I need to make any fixes, and a cheap rain jacket, in case the weather changes during the day. You might also want to get some quick release fenders, especially for the rear wheel, or else you might end up with wet pants if you ride after it has rained.

    Instead of a laptop, is there any chance of using a remote desktop to your work computer from your home computer? I would feel nervous riding around with a laptop on my back.
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  26. #26
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    I run a Osprey Statos 18 it has an all mesh back that is also where you can hang your cold camelbak with a poly shirt your good to go. It comes in 4 sizes the 18, 24, 32, 40. Dunno how well a laptop will fit though it is kinda of curved to fit your back. Fit a dealer near you and take your laptop with you. I also run a rear rack with a cargo net for extras.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinman
    I'm going to start commuting to work this year on my bike. I'll have about a 6 mile round trip. So, a few questions for you:

    1) Messenger bag / backpack / other??

    2) Flats or Clips?
    With a 3 mile ride each way, the msgr bag / backpack choice isn't going to be that important. You'll only be riding for 10-15 minutes, anyways. Get whichever will be more generally useful to you when you're not cycling. A rack with panniers is nice for longer commutes, but overkill for yours; I really liked having the panniers when I was going 20 miles round trip every day. Now that I'm going about the same distance you are, I use a backpack.

    As for flats vs. clipless: Keep a pair of decent shoes at the office, so you don't have to carry shoes with you. Even if you don't go with clipless, you might not want to wear the same shoes at the office that you wear on the road.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinman
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm going to start commuting to work this year on my bike. I'll have about a 6 mile round trip. So, a few questions for you:

    1) Messenger bag / backpack / other??
    I'll most likely be carrying a laptop and a meeting folder at the very least. Maybe a change of shirt for those extra hot days, maybe shoes (depending on the answer to my next question) -- i'm business casual at work. With a backpack is there a concern about backstrain? Does a messenger bag sit any better (maybe lower on your back)?

    2) Flats or Clips?
    Ideally, I'd like clips, but that means I need a change of shoes. But, with clips I get to practice my spin -- I'll be on a single speed, but mostly flat surfaces.

    Thanks!!
    Mark
    I have not ridden with a messenger bag, but the nice thing about a lot of backpacks is the sleeve for the laptop. It really keeps the laptop (which is the heaviest thing in my pack) from shifting around. As far as the sweaty back issue, I don't see why a messager bag is going to be any better, it's just a different part of you that gets sweaty. The bike rack Idea is a good one for most items, but I would not want a laptop on one, as it is far more isolated from bumps on your back. I also think the laptop is far more likely to get damaged from a spill on the bike than on my back. There are times when I dump the bike but don't hit the ground hard myself.

    As far as flats vs clipless: It's only three miles each way, so who cares? Do whichever is more convenient. If this is only going be used for commuting and tooling around, go with flats so you don't have to deal with dragging an extra set of shoes around. If this is your main ride that you use clipless with, just figure out if it is more of a pain to change the pedals or carry the extra shoes. Personally, I can swap pedals about as fast as I can change my shoes. I am a clipless devote for mtb and road, but for my commuter I use flats because it is so much more convenient.

  29. #29
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    Excellent suggestions everyone -- you've helped me out a great deal!!

    I've been looking at the "laptop messenger" timbuk2 bags:
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/...laptop/commute
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/.../cross-commute

    The seem to offer a 'cross strap' for extra added stability.. But there aren't any pictures on the website that depict this (very frustrating)... So, I'm not sure if these are just "over one shoulder" or?? where does the cross strap work.. Seems cumbersome...

    or.. a backpack like this:
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/...s/commute-pack
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/backpacks/hacker

    Those of you that own a Timbuk2 bag, can you comment on the fit? Specifically the messenger bag?

    Thanks again!
    m

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinman
    Excellent suggestions everyone -- you've helped me out a great deal!!

    I've been looking at the "laptop messenger" timbuk2 bags:
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/...laptop/commute
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/.../cross-commute

    The seem to offer a 'cross strap' for extra added stability.. But there aren't any pictures on the website that depict this (very frustrating)... So, I'm not sure if these are just "over one shoulder" or?? where does the cross strap work.. Seems cumbersome...

    or.. a backpack like this:
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/...s/commute-pack
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/backpacks/hacker

    Those of you that own a Timbuk2 bag, can you comment on the fit? Specifically the messenger bag?

    Thanks again!
    m
    I got this pack for grad school (including bike commuting) and I could not be happier..

    http://www.ebags.com/high_sierra/acc...?modelid=87651

    It has a huge capacity, and the compression straps are very well designed to handle big and small loads very well without shifting around. The rain cover, while doing nothing for me, saved the stuff inside my pack (papers and computer) during a deluge I got caught in one time.

    I got it in black so it does not look so busy. The straps and suspension system are really comfortable.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinman
    The seem to offer a 'cross strap' for extra added stability.. But there aren't any pictures on the website that depict this (very frustrating)... So, I'm not sure if these are just "over one shoulder" or?? where does the cross strap work.. Seems cumbersome...
    The cross strap is very simple: a thin strap runs from one bottom corner (you choose the corner) to the middle of the main shoulder strap in front of your sternum. The cross strap effectively keeps the bag from shifting away from the middle of your back, is simple to use, and doesn't get in the way when not in use.

    Messenger bags are very comfortable to ride with. I strongly reccoment that you consider a messenger bag over a backpack.
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    I agree with the messenger bag over a backpack. I recently picked up a Chrome bag and I love it! I've commuted with a pannier, messenger, and a backpack. I won't go back to the backpack...but I'll still ride with the pannier if I have to take lots of stuff up to work (groceries...etc)

    Surprisingly my back doesn't get all that sweaty with the messenger. Although I do ALWAYS ride with Under Armor as I tend to sweat a lot...and my 7 mile commute is very hilly.

    I don't notice any handling difference with the pannier, unless it's 20+ lbs, then I can tell it's there! But the pannier I have is a major pain to attach and remove from the bike. So much so that I don't like using it and prefer the messenger...unless I have to take a lot of stuff to work, then it's the pannier.

    Plus the messenger bag just "looks cooler." And no this isn't really a real reason...well, maybe a little! My normal commuter doesn't have a rack so that limits my use of the pannier as well. The only time I use the pannier is when I take my rain bike (older rigid Trek mountain bike.) And as the name suggests I usually only take it in the rain...or when I'm feeling wimpy since it has considerably lower gearing.

    As for shoes...I ride with clipless pedals and change into a pair of shoes that I just leave at work. I like riding with the clipless, and personally I feel "disconnected" from the bike if I ride with platforms...seriously, I feel lost and like I'm getting ready to fall off the bike at any moment! Shoes are heavy, so I just leave them at work.

    I work behind a desk and pretty much only get up to get coffee and to walk to meetings...some days I'll even wear my cycling shoes all day if I don't feel like changing. We have a fairly casual office...

    Jared

  33. #33
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    Always rolled with a backpack..

    the man thing about comfort and sweat is that hat the pack doesnt pull on your shoulders and only comes in contact with your back at your waist and shoulders. Im currently using a deuter futura 32C. Its great for the commute and for after work road rides.

  34. #34
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    with a commute that short logistics aren't really an issue. How often is it hot enough that you'd have to change shirt after riding 3 miles? How often is it that hot at the time you head into work in the morning? I'd consider keeping a polo shirt at work, and would bet you never need it.

    same thing with carrying a computer. are you really going to have a problem with back strain after riding for... maybe 15 minutes?

    clipless pedals are great and all, but with a commute that short you are practically going to be spending more time changing shoes than riding.

  35. #35
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    I commute 6 miles each way. I use a backpack and platform pedals. I commute on cruisers. Here in the summer sweat is a big deal on the way home. I shower up at the gym before work as it is about 6 blocks away.
    I never could get a handle on riding with a messenger bag and all my gear, very clumsy.

    I wish pack makers made a more bike commute specific pack with lots of reflective material and a shoe specific pouch.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules
    with a commute that short logistics aren't really an issue. How often is it hot enough that you'd have to change shirt after riding 3 miles? How often is it that hot at the time you head into work in the morning? I'd consider keeping a polo shirt at work, and would bet you never need it.

    same thing with carrying a computer. are you really going to have a problem with back strain after riding for... maybe 15 minutes?

    clipless pedals are great and all, but with a commute that short you are practically going to be spending more time changing shoes than riding.
    I have to agree completely. My commute is 1.5 miles each way, if I take the street, 20 minutes by single track. In the summer I opt for the single track as long as time permits. The days I ride on the road, I use an old beater mtb and the only thing different I have done to it is put fenders on it. Other than that, it has toe clip pedals on it and I usually ride in whatever I am going to wear all day at work, sometimes including my flip flops. For something that short, I am not really pushing hard to get to work, I am just out there enjoying being able to pedal a bike. I know for a fact that I hardly break a sweat during that short of a ride. I usually carry a backpack with food and water in it and have no issues with it. I thought about buying a rack for the bike, but for that short of a commute, it really isn't worth the money.

  37. #37
    Crunchatize me Capn'
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    I'm currently using a Timbuk 2 messenger bag and I've used backpacks in the past. Honestly, I don't prefer either one. Either work just fine. The only reason I'm using the Timbuk 2 right now is because of the waterproofness and great quality of the bag (older Singlespeed collection). If I had a backpack built to the same standards I'd use it.

  38. #38

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    There are some nice waterproof backpacks out there...but like the waterproof messenger style bags they usually come with a more premium price.

    It all comes down to personal preference...It sounds like a lot of people have tried different things and have found what works best for them. Unfortunately, I can justify getting new gear all too easily, "think of the gas savings" "I rode really hard this week"...etc. You'll eventually end up with a couple of bag options...it's just a matter of time

    During the summer months I'll probably use my pannier more...it gets HOT and HUMID here in Austin...and I won't want the messenger on my back then! Who knows, maybe by then I'll be in such awesome shape I won't even break a sweat...I wish!

    Jared

  39. #39
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    The wood is being bent! Let me know what you need!

  40. #40
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    Hi all. Just tossing my pennies into the pot here . . .

    It seems like a lot of this discussion comes down to where the OP lives and works. Yeah, it's "only" a 3 mile ride . . . but 3 miles at 87deg and 90% humidity (upstate NY during the summer, anyone?) is a lot different than 3 miles in San Jose. When I lived in NY, I'd break a sweat walking down the block in the summers. Gross.

    And if the OP's job a) requires frequent customer interaction (sales) or an otherwise quaffed appearance (retail), and b) doesn't offer decent facilities for changing / cleaning up or storing extra clothes and gear . . . then a backpack or messenger bag may -not- be the way to go.

    Given the OP's reservations about sweat and climate, personally I'd say go for a rack and pannier(s). Modern panniers are pretty darn easy to deal with (on / off in 5 seconds), so that shouldn't be an issue. Also, I remember seeing a laptop-specific pannier at some point . . . basically a soft-side briefcase with a rack interface. That could be a slick setup: spin to work in your work clothes, lock the bike, pop the briefcase off the racks, and go to your first meeting.

    Sounds good to me. <shrug>

    Edit: check out Knog for laptop-style panniers . . .

    Clips or flats? Clips if you can stash a pair of shoes at work . . . flats if you can't.

    Martinman: if you do go with a messenger bag, Timbuk2 is a solid (if hyped) choice. I've had mine for almost 10 years (!!) and it's still going strong. I've used it as a school bag, a gym bag, a short-commute bag, a daypack for hiking (even slipped a hydration bladder in and snaked the tube up the shoulder strap), a bumming-around bag in South America, a weekend bag for visiting friends, a work / laptop bag, a . . . well, you get the idea. I can't say it's ideally suited for half those uses, but it gets the job done.

    --MW
    Last edited by MW; 03-01-2008 at 11:59 AM.

  41. #41

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    I use a big Chrome backpack and clipless pedals. I use the backpack because I didn't want to put any racks on my CX bike because I ride it other than commuting but now I've built up a specific commuter and think I'm going to get some racks and panniers for it since I don't have to worry about removing anything when I just want to ride it.

    I can't ride any bike without clipless pedals....dh, xc or dirtjumper....I just prefer them. I keep a pair of shoes at work to wear everyday. It's amazing how much room and weight shoes can add to your backpack.

  42. #42
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    I used a Timbuk2 for 5 years and now I'm using a Chrome. Both are very good. The Chrome has been much easier for me to cinch up since the bag is designed "lefty" for me. With the Timbuk2 the plastic cam lock for the strap was behind me and I could never get to it. Both of them are great in the rain or when it's nasty out.

    As for clips vs flats I used to wear clips with casual looking shoes w/ a recessed cleat. Those worked alright but I got tired of clack-clacking everywhere so now I'm on flats. I guess that part is all personal preference. I also got tired to replacing cleats and pedals (since I'd wear through the retention springs and yank out of the pedals at inopportune times).
    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.
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  43. #43
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    Didn't Timbuk2 used to offer a lefty version? Did they drop that option?

    --MW

  44. #44
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    that link I listed was for timbuks....it's Zuster's new web site if anyone's ever bought from them on ebay.. Great service.
    The wood is being bent! Let me know what you need!

  45. #45
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    I've been thinking about this topic lately, Although i do really enjoy wearing my timbuk2 messenger bag i feel that carrying weight on 1 shoulder can't be good for your spine...

    Those of you who use Chrome Messenger packs what do you think of them? Are they more comfortable?

    Cheers

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    I currently use a messenger bag. But, I only carry clothes and snacks. No laptop or work material. And I have a shower at the office, so back sweat isn't a concern. I've used back-packs as well, just prefer the messenger bag for ease of access (don't have to take it off to access keys, access card, etc).

    If I had more to carry, or didn't have access to a shower, I'd use a rack and panniers.

    Clipless pedals are the way to go if you know how to use them. They're just more efficient. I also leave my shoes at the office (one pair black, on pair brown), so I'm not carrying shoes back and forth.

  47. #47
    ride like you stole it
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    I commute a large hill with a back pack and a well fitting mountain bike and I've noticed that towards the end of the climb my lower back feels a little but any bag that uses straps to distribute the weight across your chest and waist will probably fix this and any other problems with the back pack

  48. #48

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    Those of you who use Chrome Messenger packs what do you think of them? Are they more comfortable?
    Here are the reasons I chose the Chrome over the Timbuk2
    - Chrome is more waterproof...it's a bag in a bag, plus the flaps on the outside fold inward to eliminate water getting in from the side
    - Better shoulder pad (which also comes with the bag, saving you $15)
    - "Clip" for easily removing the bag...initially I thought it was a little gimmicky...now I love it.
    - It just felt better when it was on. The Chrome bag seems more stable than the Timbuk2s did.

    I have the Citizen, and I wish I would have gotten the Metropolis...the Citizen is definitely big enough, but if you can pack a messenger flat then it's more comfortable.

    The price difference between a Chrome and a Timbuk2 is about the cost of the shoulder pad for the Timbuk2 (assuming you're purchasing from a bike store...you can find the Timbuk2s considerably cheaper online). I like the interior pockets on the Timbuk2, that's the only downside of the Chrome for me. But the 3 HUGE pockets inside of the Chrome are nice...they're big enough to fit a ULock and a cable, with one left over for other junk...and then of course there is the main pocket

    I've don't 30+ miles with the Chrome bag on my back and for the majority of it there wasn't much discomfort...the last 5 miles was getting pretty rough though.

    Jared

  49. #49
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    re chrome,

    There is no comparison in terms of on bike comfort between chrome and Timbuk2. The chrom is FAR better. However, I like the pockets on the TB2 better and it's etter of the bike.

  50. #50
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    Hey guys,

    thanks for the replys...but i was meaning the Chrome rucksacs


    Just wanted to find out from those that use them, thought of them??

  51. #51
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    If you are considering a design like that, just go with a day pack that has a waist strap. I loosen the sholder straps so the weight of the bag rests on the waist straps, leaving a good space for air to travel between my shoulder blades and the pack.
    The wood is being bent! Let me know what you need!

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by couby
    Hey guys,

    thanks for the replys...but i was meaning the Chrome rucksacs


    Just wanted to find out from those that use them, thought of them??

    aside from being but ugly, well, i'm not sure

  53. #53
    Red Rider
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    I opt to use a backpack and clipless pedals.

    I ride with a back pack (Osprey Atmos 35) which is actually a true back pack that hikers use. It has the frame in it and a mesh backsection that allows air to circulate on your back. I still sweat on my back but not as much. I like having everything on my back. I feel like I'm better balanced on the bike. You may want to get a laptop back pack. I own a 17" laptop and purchased a backpack from Targus that could hold it with all the cords and still had plenty of room for extras (I don't commute with my laptop). Never used a messenger but it seems to me that it would unevenly distribute weight on one side of the body. I think a back pack centered on your body is a bit more aerodynamic which helps if you have a long commute in windy conditions.

    You can probably leave a pair of shoes at the office and like one poster said, a desk top work station and a thumb drive may be better options to save weight. I don't know much about panniers but I would image that they would cost more than a backpack. Plus your bike has to have the mounts.

    I like clipless and wouldn't commute in anything else. I commute 6 miles one way and would still do it if I only commuted 0.6 miles. Just better power transfer and less energy wasted. Plus most clipless are lighter that platforms.
    RIDE OR DIE...

  54. #54
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    Re: Chrome Packs

    This seems to be *exactly* what i'm looking for. Thanks for the links.

    the problem I have with the Timbuk2 bags is that the strap is the same width all the way around - kind of like your standard laptop bag. The chrome messenger bags (and laptop bags) are designed with a thicker padded strap to lay across your shoulder. I tried something like this on at REI and it *seems* like it would be alot nicer in terms of comfort.

    So, only decision now is:

    1) Messenger bag
    2) Laptop Bag (soma)

    I did notice that I can buy a sleeve for the laptop, but having it tied down and secure is a little more comforting (with the soma).

    Are there any other brands I should consider? Does Timbuk2 make a bag that has this padded strap? I didn't see anything on their website, but maybe I missed something.

    Thanks again!
    mark

  55. #55
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    I use panniers. I like having my back unencumbered when the weather gets warm. Jandd has some good deals in their bargain bin.

    I currently use clipless pedals, but I've been thinking about converting to a clipless/platform combo for those occasions when I just want to take a spin without having to put on all the gear.

  56. #56
    is buachail foighneach me
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    i'm gonna chime in with another vote for a rack. i have a locker at work, so all i need to carry is lunch and excess riding clothes on the way home, so i just use a seatpost rack and sometimes a trunk bag. but i have used a rack and pannier(s) extensively before and it is my preferred way of travel. i messengered for 4+ years, and rode with camelbacks for riding and occasionally commuting since 1993. i stopped using them a year and a half ago, and now wonder why i ever used them at all. my back feels better, breathing is easier, and i sweat significantly less.

  57. #57
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    Wow I am quite jealous of all you being able to commute to work.

    I work in a hearing and speech clinic and always have to be in dress clothes so it's hard to tote nice clothes to and from work and there is nowhere to change since I am a graduate student and have no office.

    I also just moved this past year and live off a major highway and the backroads to campus are horrible as well. I tried to commute in the fall, and it was frightening. I about got mirror clipped 4 or 5 times in 3 miles on Rt 50. People are crazy drivers here. It's unfortunate because I live only 4.5 miles from campus and rt 50 has a wide shoulder, but with lane changes it's tough to get around without getting run over.

    *sigh* maybe when I move and go somewhere on externship I can live close enough to commute to work.

    Just loading up a dress shirt, dress slacks, dress shoes, books, and laptop into a backpack and then riding 4.5 miles on the death road is just too hard to do.

    I did it for a week and couldn't do it anymore and my girlfriend won't let me ride to work anymore because of how dangerous the roads are.


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