New job and new to commuting...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New job and new to commuting...

    So after 4 months of looking I was able to get another job here in town after being laid-off. Since I used to walk to work everyday in my last job I figured I would bike this one since it is on the other side of town.

    So a few questions....
    1. Build a bike or buy? I will need some gears because there are some hills.
    2. I mtb a lot and sweat like crazy when I do. Should I buy a separate commuting helmet?
    3. Standard stuff that I should carry or keep in my desk?
    4. Good messenger bag for cheap?
    5. If I buy should I immediately change out the tires (will have to hit some dirt it looks like)?
    6. Fenders? Worth it or no?

    This will be a pretty much dedicated commuting machine so won't really have to worry about multiple wheel sets or anything and I am 6' 195# so is there anything I should be careful of??

  2. #2
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    Congrats on the new job! I'll tackle a few...
    2. Don't bother with a 2nd helmet unless your MTB one is a full face helmet, or you want something more visible like yellow or white.
    3. Aside from the usual spare tube, pump & multitool... I like to use some magnetic clips to hang my stuff to dry from the side of my desk during the day... A snack of some kind in your desk in case you feel you need more energy for the way home... Drink lots of water, esp since you sweat a lot... A camera or cell to post your pix here.
    4. I use an Osprey backpack but STP has some messengers on sale
    http://ww2.sierratradingpost.com/s/messenger/
    6. Fenders are only worth it if it rains where you live.

  3. #3
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    Thanks explorer... And unfortunately it does rain and snow here so I am sure that I will eventually need them.
    For buying I am looking at the Giant Seek 2 bike. We can get lots of snow here and I do have a car for those days but since the commute is really only like 3 miles one way I figure I could do the biking for the most part.

    And thanks for the info on the Sierra Trading Post we happen to have one here in town!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    Thanks explorer... And unfortunately it does rain and snow here so I am sure that I will eventually need them.
    For buying I am looking at the Giant Seek 2 bike. We can get lots of snow here and I do have a car for those days but since the commute is really only like 3 miles one way I figure I could do the biking for the most part.

    And thanks for the info on the Sierra Trading Post we happen to have one here in town!
    you can easily take the weeks clothing to work and change when you get there.....or just leave a small wardrobe at work at wash it there....

    or you can ride in work clothes but then you have to ride easier to not sweat...

    I have no need for a pack.... with the internet and data sticks etc.....and computers at both ends...it is just not required.

    Depends how you set it all up.

  5. #5
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    Depending on how things go the sweating may not be that big of an issue since i am starting at 7am. Messenger bag would be just to hold things like water bottle for work, lunch bag, work shoes, etc. Nothing major.

  6. #6
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    Hey, Greg- nice to see you over here with the rest of us CoMutants!

    Buy or build: Can you try it on your mtb for a while and see how it goes? It seems to me you`ve got a hardtail, so don`t write off that possibility. If it`s a bouncy bike, not so good, but maybe still not bad for 3 miles.
    2 and 3: don`t apply to me, nothing to report.
    Messenger bag: Opinions go both ways between "carry it on your back" and "carry it on the bike", but I`d suggest a cheap rack and gym bag or a rack trunk if sweating is an issue for you. I don`t sweat much and I still don`t like anything on my back while I`m riding, so never tried any messenger bags.
    Immediately change the tires: I wouldn`t make any changes at all without finding out if the current setup worked well. Unless I happen to be in the mood to throw a little money around just for the sake of bling or experimentation, anyway.
    Fenders: I`ve been using them on my commuter for a few years now. They`re nice, especially when there`s a bunch of slushy crap full of road sand. I did survive several years of bike commuting without them though, so I`d say they`re pretty much an optional accessory around here.

    Have fun and ride safe!

  7. #7
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    Thanks Rodar!! Still waiting for you to get out in Ash Canyon with us!
    Yeah I figured I would try my mtn bike for a short time but really I was hoping to get something dedicated to this plus running around town. The wife and I live on the westside of Carson so it makes it nice to ride around for coffee, brews, food, etc when we feel like it. I do have a cruiser but that thing is heavy as hell, only had three gears, and really would be hard to fit in my cubicle. That is really my main reasoning behind the commuter bike.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    Depending on how things go the sweating may not be that big of an issue since i am starting at 7am. Messenger bag would be just to hold things like water bottle for work, lunch bag, work shoes, etc. Nothing major.
    Not trying to tell you what to do....

    But why not leave the work shoes at work.

    Water bottle goes in the water bottle holder on the bike...

    Now you are down to a luch bag....maybe on a handle bar bag, or front triangle bag...


    Pretty easy.

  9. #9
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    Not at all Jeff... that is why I am asking questions. Shoes will probably get left at the office at one point or another and didnt think of the handlebar bag or triangle bag. Will have to see what I can find.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    Not at all Jeff... that is why I am asking questions. Shoes will probably get left at the office at one point or another and didnt think of the handlebar bag or triangle bag. Will have to see what I can find.
    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_l...34374302693317

    Just a few examples of what is out there.

  11. #11
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    Soon as I start commuting looks like I am going to have to join the GreenLightRide MTBR team. Got to try a couple different routes to see which is easier and safer.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    So after 4 months of looking I was able to get another job here in town after being laid-off. Since I used to walk to work everyday in my last job I figured I would bike this one since it is on the other side of town.

    So a few questions....
    1. Build a bike or buy? I will need some gears because there are some hills.
    2. I mtb a lot and sweat like crazy when I do. Should I buy a separate commuting helmet?
    3. Standard stuff that I should carry or keep in my desk?
    4. Good messenger bag for cheap?
    5. If I buy should I immediately change out the tires (will have to hit some dirt it looks like)?
    6. Fenders? Worth it or no?

    This will be a pretty much dedicated commuting machine so won't really have to worry about multiple wheel sets or anything and I am 6' 195# so is there anything I should be careful of??
    My $0.02
    #1 personal preference. I bought because I don't have the time or patience to build

    #2 I'm like you, sweat like a pig! one helemt is fine for me. I commute either 40 or 56 miles round trip 2 to 4 times a week. I rinse the pads with tap water every few weeks and have no problems

    #3 snacks deoderant and if work has a shower shampoo soap etc.

    #4 Not a messenger bag fan. I use a Novara commuter back pack and love it. Fits tons of stuff and no flopping around.

    #5 I ride in San Diego and we are plauged with goat heads so I HIGHLY RECCOMEND changing the tires as soon as you could afford it if you have to deal with things like goat heads, lots of glass etc.. WELL WORTH THE $$$!!! carry extra tubes, a good multi-tool and CO2 inflator at a minimum. I also carry a first aid kit, 2 tubes, duct tape (about 20') a knife and my usual stuff for work.

    #6 For me not worth it. I don't mind the occasional stripe, others might disagree. On wet cold days I would say shoe covers and a jacket are more important than the fenders.

    Have fun with the commute! Change courses to keep interesting and enjoy the journey

    I would reccomend very early in the morning if you have flex schedule at work. Less traffic and less stress on the ride in.

    Good luck with it and let us know how it is going for you!

  13. #13
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    Ok so went to my LBS yesterday and he had an old Fila 700c hybrid style bike that he was willing to sell me for $80 (used) that was a 1x8 with grip shifters. Contemplating getting that and doing a few upgrades to it. I rode it around the lot and seemed ok to me, not a snazzy as I wanted in a commuter bike but then again it is only $80..

    Thoughts?

  14. #14
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    Sounds like it could be ok.. just check the frame over for cracks, etc. Everything else can be replaced easily. Rackmounts are nice too.

    I got the Novara Pannier and it's great for my purposes (carrying a laptop.) Novara stuff is on sale this week at REI. I don't like carrying a backpack because the extra weight makes the human-saddle interface uncomfortable. Depends on how heavy your stuff is, though.

  15. #15
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    Think I am going to pass on the Fila bike.. just couldn't get over the ugly aesthetics of the HUGE (long) headtube. I like my frames compact and neat looking. Lines should flow together and make good junctures (I know probably not the best build characteristics).

  16. #16
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    Sometimes you have to take what you can get. Since you don`t seem to be between a rock and a hard place, you might as well look alittle bit and get something that appeals to you- makes sense to me, anyway.

  17. #17
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    Yeah I have been looking and think I might just nut up and get a SS bike. Looking at the Motobecane Fantom UNO. Great looking bike and a good price point. Also like the Dawes Lighnting Cross bike (both from BD) as that has gears and is only like $50 more.

  18. #18
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    Are you 100% set on buying new? There are some really nice deals on used everything these days. That`s the one bright side to a crappy economy- lots of people unloading toys and whatever else they don`t use any more.

  19. #19
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    Rodar, no I am not 100% on buying new. I have been watching the local CL but haven't seen anything that tickled my fancy. Really I guess I am kind of picky; has to be 700c, fit decent sized tires (at least 37c), clean lines, smaller headtube, 1 1/8 steer, etc. Disc v. V-Brake doesnt really bother me, and drop or flat bar doesnt either. I am 6' with a 31" inseam (shorter legs) so I need like a 54cm frame according to most sites.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    Rodar, no I am not 100% on buying new. I have been watching the local CL but haven't seen anything that tickled my fancy. Really I guess I am kind of picky; has to be 700c, fit decent sized tires (at least 37c), clean lines, smaller headtube, 1 1/8 steer, etc. Disc v. V-Brake doesnt really bother me, and drop or flat bar doesnt either. I am 6' with a 31" inseam (shorter legs) so I need like a 54cm frame according to most sites.
    Geez if you don't buy soon you are going to miss another week of commuting.

  21. #21
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    For 3miles you really don't need to wait to find a dedicated bike. My route is 5miles and it always takes me about 15 minutes - hardtail 26er, rigid ss 29er, 2.4s, 2.1s, 1.9s, studs, rain, snow, ice, wind...I'd guess that even a bmx wouldn't add more than a couple of minutes.

    Commuting on a mountain bike is great (especially for short distances). You can take any route you could possibly want, and then hit the trails on the way home.

  22. #22
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    yeah realized I really don't have any clothes that I can wear on my bike. Need to figure out the route this weekend and then clothing situation. I came from a very business/executive dress position to one that is now more business casual dress. Need to go get myself some khakis and polos... read a review on BikeRumor on some clipless compatible "casual" shoes that I might invest in. Looking at the DZR District and Rondel! For the time being, once I figure the route and time out, I will use my mtn and save some dough for the dedicated commuter.

    And talking with the wife, I can spend up to like $700 on the bike (Seek 2 is a little under $600)... Want something more CX like (ie road but can take like 42c tires).
    Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.....
    Last edited by gregnash; 06-30-2011 at 10:10 AM.

  23. #23
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    ^^ Hopefully!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    yeah realized I really don't have any clothes that I can wear on my bike. Need to figure out the route this weekend and then clothing situation. I came from a very business/executive dress position to one that is now more business casual dress. Need to go get myself some khakis and polos... read a review on BikeRumor on some clipless compatible "casual" shoes that I might invest in. Looking at the DZR District and Rondel! For the time being, once I figure the route and time out, I will use my mtn and save some dough for the dedicated commuter.
    Excellent so first commute Tuesday?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    yeah realized I really don't have any clothes that I can wear on my bike. Need to figure out the route this weekend and then clothing situation. I came from a very business/executive dress position to one that is now more business casual dress. Need to go get myself some khakis and polos... read a review on BikeRumor on some clipless compatible "casual" shoes that I might invest in. Looking at the DZR District and Rondel! For the time being, once I figure the route and time out, I will use my mtn and save some dough for the dedicated commuter.
    I leave a pair of dress shoes (and a towel and shower kit) at the office.

    Here is a hint on how to get your clothes to work in good shape. I lay out my pants making sure there are no wrinkles. My dress shirt goes on top, lay it out and then neatly fold the arms in to the center - no wrinkles! Then I lay my undershirt and underwear on top. I start rolling from the bottom of the pants, using my socks to roll around. My belt wraps around the rolled bundle and then I slip the bundle into a plastic bag to keep it clean/dry. I slip the whole package into my trunk bag for the trip to work. If you get everything laid out without wrinkles and carefully roll the whole bundle up, when your clothes come out of your bag on the other side they will have no wrinkles!

    I tried riding with a backpack but gave up it after a couple of weeks and went to a trunk bag/pannier. But my commute is longer than most at 18 hilly miles each way - for a shorter commute a backpack would probably be just fine.

    Good luck and have fun!

  26. #26
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    thanks woodway.. I might have to try that. My commute is pretty short, from Google Maps it says just over 3.3 miles. So shouldnt be to long. I am definitely dressing much nicer than anyone else in the office so I may pull back the dress a little bit and start the commuting. Need to figure out the best route this weekend and then the clothing situation. I did find out that there is a shower in the mens bathroom on our side of the building so if I really needed to I could take a full shower. But I am think I probably will only be huffing and puffying that hard when I am on the way home!! Usually at 6:30am it is still relatively cool out!

  27. #27
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    check it out:
    http://www.bikecommuters.com/2011/02...ne-925-review/

    i ride my older 925 fixed (without the fenders & chainguard)...it handles everything i throw at it with ease
    commute to work 2-4 times a week - 30 mi roundtrip
    weekend epic road rides or touring with racks & bags when i don't feel like hitting the trails on my mtb
    when i want to ride fg off-road - i toss on cx tires & a big cog & take it many of same places i ride my stumpy
    best do-anything bike i ever had
    Last edited by markaitch; 07-01-2011 at 11:54 AM.

  28. #28
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    Yeah see the reason I am leaning towards a more CX oriented bike is because I would like to try racing in the fall. We have a pretty good area for that type of stuff so I am hoping that it can be something that I can use gravel tires for during the commute and then when needed move over to a much more CX oriented tire. I normally ride my mtb 3-4 times a week so swapping tires that often would suck and I just dont feel like dropping the coin on another set of rims.

  29. #29
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    Ok been a bit since I updated this.

    I have decided to stay away from the CX bike because money is tight and thus so is time. I have recently run across something on my local CL and think I may pick it up as a commuter.

    BikePedia - 1998 Bianchi Advantage Complete Bicycle

    The bike is frame and fork only for $30 and tommorrow will hopefully get to check it out to see what shape it is in. For simplicity sake I will plan to go SS with a SS Cog converter so that I can eventually go geared if I want.

    Thoughts? Precautions?

  30. #30
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    Can`t go too far wrong for $30 if you already have a parts stash. If not, make sure you don`t end up spending twice what a whole bike would cost by the time you get it built up.

  31. #31
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    Well Bianchi frame owner never contacted me again about the bike so I have been keeping my eyes on CL. Just found a Raleigh Super Grand Prix not far that I am going to go look at. Guy says he is 6'1" and it fits him fine (I am 6") and it seems in pretty good shape, he is selling for a buddy that moved away and he is getting ready to move away as well. Hoping to get it for $40!!!

    Will post pics if I come home with it.

  32. #32
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    I'm all about building your own bike. My commute is part dirt, and I have built 2 bikes specifically for the commute. I had very specific wants in terms of tire size, disc brakes, fenders, etc. Currently on a freak of a rigid 29er with drop bars, discs, 2.35" tires, 1x8 drivetrain. When you build it just for your route, you can get exactly what you want.
    But if you're in a hurry and short on cash, with a commute of your distance, anything will work.

    I stash shirts, pants, and work shoes at work. I carry undies, under shirt, and the occasional extra pair of socks in my backpack, becuase I don't like commuter bags and I don't like stuff hanging on the bike. The only thing I ride in that I might wear at work would be socks on a day when there is no chance of rain or road grime.

    I also stash a floor pump at work, because it's nice to have an easy air source on both ends of the ride.

    I ride in my MTB helmet, but I use a snowboarding helmet in the winter because it's way warmer and has ear cover pads. With both helmets, I use a thin beanie in the mornings so I don't get crazy helmet hair.
    I take a wet-wipe shower when I get to work and I'm fresh as a daisy all day.
    I swap out clothes on the weekends when I am near work with the car.

    I carry a multi tool, spare tube, patch kit, and mini pump. I converted the commuter to tubeless last year and haven't had a flat yet. If you live in thorn country, go tubeless.

    For clothes, mountain shorts, leg warmers, and wind/waterproof pants will get you by all year down to single digits...at least it works for me. I use neoprene socks rather than shoe covers. I wear a mountain jersey and softshell jacket all winter down to single digits up top. Good winter weight gloves are critical in winter, and fenders are a must.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  33. #33
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    Eventually he will have to start commuting whether he builds one or not.

  34. #34
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    ^^ True... I'd get started ASAP. I know for me, working up to the super cold winter temps is way easier than trying to adapt to below freezing rides overnight would be.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by apatron View Post
    My $0.02

    #4 Not a messenger bag fan. I use a Novara commuter back pack and love it. Fits tons of stuff and no flopping around.

    #Have fun with the commute! Change courses to keep interesting and enjoy the journey

    I would reccomend very early in the morning if you have flex schedule at work. Less traffic and less stress on the ride in.

    Good luck with it and let us know how it is going for you!
    I also use this pack, works great, very visible even w/o a light. I would recommend 2 "back lights" one one your pack and one on the back of the seat.
    Salsa Timberjack 27+
    Niner Jet 9
    Misfit diSSent 1x11

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    I am in kind of a similar situation in that my commute is about 3 miles each way. I am riding a Marin Point Reyes 29 hybrid.

    Personally I ride in the pants that I will wear for work that day and bring a shirt to change into at work. I have to do it in the restroom though. I normally wear running/hiking base layers and occasionally a softshell or mid-layer on top of that. Even though it's in the mid-50s here in the morning, I find the mid-layer or softshell takes the edge off the wind without making me get too hot and sweaty. My softshell is the thinnest one Marmot produces. It's very breathable and water repellent.

    Getting to work about 15-20 minutes earlier to cool and dry off helps a lot. The base layer stuff I wear tends to harder to take off if I'm still a bit sweaty.

    I wear safety boots at work so I tend to leave them at work and ride in skate shoes.

    The only part where I get sweaty is the climb up to the office, 300 ft climb over 0.5 mi. The rest of the commute I still sweat, but not nearly as much.

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