Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bicycle commuting - part two


bicycle commuting urban
Photo by Tejvan Pettinger

What to wear and what to take on the commute:
You can wear business clothes on the commute, but you have to pace yourself to stay dry. If you have to carry things with you a backpack is not the best way to go. It is most likely to sweat a bit with the backpack. A courier or postman bag should be better. A rack on the bike would be the best option. If you can travel light, use a fanny pack or one of the cool running belts.


If the bicycle does not have a full chain guard use something to keep the grease off the pants. You can find clips or bands that cost a few €. I use a 20 cm width velcro that I wrap around the leg (cost 0.4 €).
Cycling in rain is not so much fun. In light rains, a jacket, waterproof or not should suffice. Glasses or a baseball cap are good so you don't get water in your eyes. If the rain is more intense you should have a bicycle rain poncho. A simple jacket won't do because your legs are not protected and will get wet soon. The poncho has the advantage that it covers the legs and offers a little ventilation. If you will ride in bad weather a set of fenders would be great. I have only a clip on the back fender. It stops 70 % of the water, and I'm fine with that, because the rest ends up on the rain poncho. I don't have a fender on the front wheel and these cause a few small drops of water dirt on the pants. But in those days I usually wear dark color jeans, and you cant see anything on them.
What to take with you on the commute? I usually carry a small pump, auto adhesive patches, and tire levers. My way of calculating the needs is by the time needed to get to home or office on foot along my bike. The entire distance takes me 45 - 50 minutes of walking, so if I break down at midpoint I'll reach the destination in 20 - 25 minutes. Also if you are in a hurry in the morning dressed in business clothes it is no fun to mend the bike (fix a tire, or a chain that has fallen and is stuck between the frame and crankset). A cloth is good to have, it can be handy in some situations.


Safety:
Buy a front and a rear light. You need to be as visible as possible. Even if you don't ride in the dark, lights are a must. There are days with fog, clouded sky and rain, early morning or dusk when the light is not too good and deceiving.
Buy a helmet and ware it. Also use gloves, in case of a fall the hands are the first thing that hit the ground usually. Also if you ride longer, gloves with gel insert will offer more comfort.
Don't ride to close to the curve. Usually, drivers will force you to go even closer to the curve driving close to you. Keep a safe distance, in such cases, the drivers will be more careful passing, because they have less room to overtake, and they will have to change lanes to do so. Also close to the curve you will encounter a lot of bumps in the road, manholes covert that are lower or higher than the road, sand or dirt which makes the surface slippery.

Bike storage:
Keep the bike in a safe location. When you are at home, keep it inside. Don't let it on the street or in the lobby/hallway of the building. Try keeping it inside at the office also. If it is not possible to invest in a good lock and chain it in a safe spot that is covered by security cameras and has a lot of human traffic (but be aware that thieves won't be discouraged by this, and in many cases, the people passing by will not react).

Maintenance:
Keep the bicycle in good condition, and it will serve you well. Tires should be inflated at the indicated pressure, lower pressure causes flats, more rolling resistance, more ware to the tire. Keep the things that are in motion lubricated. Do not let any excess oil on the parts, it will attract dirt. The chain needs to be cleaned and lubricated constantly. Buy a chain cleaner, it will pay off in short time.
If the bike is equipped with rim brakes you have a little more maintenance to do. After riding in the rain, clean the rim so dirt and grit does not get trapped in the pad and ruins the rim. Check the pads on a regular base to see in what condition they are and if they need replacing.


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