So, I’ve just turned in my 4,000th mile of using a commuter bike as my primary vehicle for commuting and errands. To celebrate, I’m having a kooky beer made with peppercorns, but, hey, how about some thoughts and reflections too?
Damages and Cost
maintenance and repairs
Repacked wheel bearings
1 broken pedal
1 pair of brake pads
1 derailleur cable
Collisions with cars
1, no physical damage to myself. Broke rear blinky, bent front fender.
New rear blinky (Cygolight Hotshot)
New front blinky (Niterider MiNewt 350)
New front disc caliper (BB7)
Organic disc pads (Clarks)
Ergon Biokork grips
Crane copper bell
Shimano PD-M324 Pedals (metal spindle, woo!)
Total bike cost with accessories and gear: $1,986
Approximately $560 saved in gas and car maintenance
$100 saved in canceled gym membership
Thoughts about bike commuting
If you bike and run red lights, fuck you.
If you bike in the lane until a light then scoot between the stopped cars and gutter, fuck you.
If you then run the red light, fuck you twice.
Fixie kids do not know how to accelerate from a stop.
If you can’t trackstand a fixie, put a foot down. There is no shame in this.
If you can’t trackstand and run lights because of it, fuck you, and switch to a singlespeed.
The Monon Trail is much better than commuting by road. Bunnies and robins are superior to road-raging commuters in every way.
Organic disc pads and proper caliper adjustment make mechanical disc brakes rock. Hard.
Learning to trust the front brake has drastically improved my stopping confidence.
Your saddle probably needs to be higher.
I acknowledge that it’s possible to own an Audi and not drive like a self-entitled inconsiderate asshole, but I have yet to see real-world evidence for this hypothesis.
It’s OK if you check your iPhone while stopped at a light, but for the love of the gods put it down while actually driving you idiot.
Drivers don’t acknowledge right of way if a trail looks like a sidewalk. Cyclist be wary.
No, I don’t belong on the sidewalk. I’m doing 14-19mph, I’d be a damn menace to pedestrians. That’s their space.
Learn to bike in a straight line, and behave like you’d want you to if you were the car behind you.
You probably don’t need a helmet if you mostly ride trails. Bring one anyway.
Pedestrians understand your right of way on trails less than cars do on the road. Be cautious, and unless you have a clearly marked right of way, be respectful of their incompetence.
People will ignore you more if you don’t dress like a Tour de France racer. If you’re a guy, a wife beater is the ultimate solution to getting honked at less. For some reason if people assume you have a DUI they get less upset when you’re in the road. It’s fascinating.
For god’s sake, don’t shoal, people. It’s so incredibly rude.
Gears are great. Gears are your friend. Learn to spin before you learn to go fast.
Tailwinds make you feel like you have rocket boosters, even when you’re not going any faster than usual.
Buy a pair of Mr Tuffys. Best single purchase I ever made for my commuter. I have fixed one and only one flat since I did.
If you have flat bars but not Ergon grips, you need to find $30 right now and fix that.
Commuting is not a sport, learn what your comfortable pace is and then enjoy the scenery as you move along at it.
As soon as you can afford it, buy a bike that didn’t come from a department store. The fit will be better, the frame lighter, and the maintenance easier.
Learn to do your own maintenance. Or make friends with some who can. There are enough YouTube videos and Park Tool articles to teach you everything you need to know to keep a bike rolling, and in a world where cars have more error codes than Windows 98, a bike is still a machine simple enough to fix yourself.
Speaking of which, your chain probably needs cleaned. Go do that.