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Help needed on my commute!

tomprocter01tomprocter01 Posts: 2
edited September 2015 in Commuting general
Hi All

New user to the forum so looking for some advice.

I'm planning to move to a place that is approx. 15 miles from my nearest train station. The idea is to resurrect my racing cycle and bike the 15 miles to the station then get the train to work.

Currently my commute is approx. 3 miles each way to the station and 3 miles back - on a standard hybrid carrying panniers and a small rucksack for my work laptop.

Advice is needed on the following

The racer will need an overhaul - any tyres I should specifically look out for that give me a good compromise on speed/grip/puncture protection.

Cycling computer - Any ideas on the best models, would need something with GPS navigation so the racer could double up for training at the weekend. I'm one of the few people left on the planet that doesn't have a smart phone so just use a basic £5 model for calls.

Luggage - this is a biggie, I have showers at work so would need to carry shirt, trousers, bike tools, lights, lock and my work laptop plus associated cables and a work iPhone. Given the tech I want a rucksack that is 100% waterproof, I did think of carrying panniers and adding a rack to the rear of the bike but think it's just going to slow me down.

Footwear - I'm using SPD's as I can leave my shoes under my desk at work, are there any shoes that have the cleats imbedded within the shoe? At the moment the ones I have stick out.

*ADDED* - my wife is picking me up on the way back at the train station so I need a cycle carrier which is permanently fixed to the bumper of the car - are there any models I should look for?

Thanks for your help

:D

Posts

  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    Perhaps go for one of the shimano touring pedal/shoe options or mountain bike ones as the cleat is embedded so you can actually walk in the cycling shoes.

    Panniers or rucksack is a debate among commuters. Having done both I would say i prefer panniers mounted as low as possible on the lower rail of a rack. I am however needing a proper rack and panniers for other cycling activities so for me the bike will always have a proper rack on it. I don't think it has slowed me down.

    If you go for a rucksack I would personally get one that fits you well, I have used a running/mountain marathon type sack from Innov8. It is 32litres, long and thin (suits my shape being tall). It is not waterproof so everything is stored in drybags. This is a good idea with electrical kit even in the tough Ortliebs. This sack attached limpet style to my back so apart from the weight I feel from the laptop (only occasionally carried this way) it was ok. Going over rough tarmac bumps and unavoidable potholes you do get a bit of a thump from a heavy laptop though.

    I think bike computer is kind of like Garmin 200 as a cheap speed and distance kit, 500/510 if you need a bit more. 800 or 810 if you need mapping I think with more monitoring sensors and 1000 or is it the 1010 if you need everything Garmin can offer. Basically Garmin, the higher the number the higher the cost and extras over a simple GPS speed and distance measurer it offers. I do not think you need to look anywhere other than Garmin.

    I think people are switching to 25s or 28s for road bikes so perhaps look at those. I have heard people mention marathons for commuting on a road bike. I don't really know since I am on 37s with my London Road bike. Plus I rarely seem to get punctures. I think only 1 in the last 2 years. Get a tyre with good puncture protection though. Last time I looked at 23s I got a gatorskin and that lasted longer than the rest of the bike did on my commute (it rattled itself into retirement.
  • imatfaalimatfaal Posts: 2,716
    Marathon Plus tyres will last forever and regularly give the puncture fairy a bloody nose - they are like riding on solid wooden wheels though. Worth deflating every month or so to pick the assorted metal, glass, and flint out of the rubber; reminds you how many punctures you would have had and stops the little buggers slowly worming their way through the rubber and belt. I don't mind the bad ride so I use them - but some just cannot get used to the lumpen feel. There is a new version out that is meant to be smoother.

    I use a rack bag and occasionally panniers as I found that I was getting back problems from heavy rucksack. My thule rack bag weighs less than a pound and is roll-top waterproof. Altura lightweight panniers for the clothes run to office. Whole lot (rack, bag, panniers) adds about three pounds / 1.5 kilos to the bike weight. If you really want rucksack then I would prioritise comfort and fit - then buy a dry bag; planetx had then for a fiver a few days ago.

    Navigating on a 800 garmin needs a download of decent maps - but then is quite doable even if it isn't half as good as a car system or smartphone. There is a thread or two on garmins quite recently. Check out scarletfire blog for garmin instructions/help

    Shoes - again as per tangledmetal. Most shoes flagged as mtb, touring, or trail will have recessed spd fitting. If you are gonna be walking any distance worth avoiding the really hard plasticky tread of some MTB shoes as it can be wickedly slippery on wet stone/cobbles. Lots of shoes now have vibram soles and these are great to walk in what ever the underfoot conditions
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Panniers or rucksack is personal, but I couldn't stand the sweaty rucksack back, so panniers for me.

    A thicker tread tyre increases puncture protection significantly without some of the downsides of the M+.

    A smart phone is probably cheaper than a GPS based cycling computer, especially if you can get one of those horrendously out of date ones the kids of today wouldn't be seen dead with, you know the 4 month old models!
  • Another option for tyres is to get something faster with less puncture protection and then use inner tubes with the self sealing goo.

    I would personally avoid the Marathons (and similar tyres) because of the distances you are doing, as they are noticeably slower than something like the Gatorskins. Something like the continental 4 seasons or Gatorskins might be the best bet for the tyre.
  • jimmypippajimmypippa Posts: 1,712
    Another option for tyres is to get something faster with less puncture protection and then use inner tubes with the self sealing goo.

    I would personally avoid the Marathons (and similar tyres) because of the distances you are doing, as they are noticeably slower than something like the Gatorskins. Something like the continental 4 seasons or Gatorskins might be the best bet for the tyre.

    Just don't do what I did and do that with marathon plusses and slime - I recently had a puncture on my tyre and it had been so long ( about 8,000 miles plus and a couple of winters) that the valve nut had locked. Luckily my swiss army knife has a hacksaw and I was able to saw through the valve stem to remove the tube. I think the tube had just perished with age.

    Depending on the age of the bike, you might want to be wary of the wheel rim breaking ability in the wet.
  • wandsworthwandsworth Posts: 354
    A few thoughts from my own experience.

    GPS: what TangledMetal said, basically. I recently bought a Garmin Edge 1000, which is a great bit of kit but pricey. It seems that you want maps so the 200 and 500, though great for what they do, won't help you. I don't know much about the 800s but take a look at the DC Rainmaker site for everything you could possibly ever want to know about GPSs.

    Rucksack: I use an Ortlieb messenger bag, which keeps everything dry - never had a drop of water in it even in torrential rain. I've carried laptops in it no problem. It's very rugged.
    https://www.ortlieb.com/en/produkt-details/?produkt=messengerbag&list=kuriertasche&slug=kuriertasche&clearname=Messenger%20bags

    Tyres: I'm a big fan of Continental GP 4 Seasons. They're strong but don't seem to slow you down compared to regular tyres. Not cheap, but someone usually has them on discount and the big cycle chains will price match.

    Shoes: I thought most SPD shoes had recessed cleats. Mine do - Shimano. You can also get shoes that look more like casual shoes or trainers but have a recessed cleat.
    Shut up, knees!

    Various Boardmans, a Focus, a Cannondale and an ancient Trek.
  • lg18lg18 Posts: 92
    I also carry a laptop, tool kit, lunch, but keep a set of work clothes at work so I don't need to carry them all the time (only occasionally when need washing) - this saves a lot of weight/space.

    I would definitely suggest panniers not rucksack, espcially for something as heavy as laptop and for a long distance of 15miles (my commute is 27km each way and the once time I took a rucksack it was horrendous after not long!). Ortlieb are v good and v waterproof. Not sure about racks, but when choosing take your pannier along to see how easily and securely it fits on. My commute is offroad (on a gravelly, rooty, muddy ole railway line) and the pannier often gets jolted off on one of its hooks. V annoying.

    Can't comment on tyres, GPS etc sorry.

    If you manage 15 miles each way every day you have my complete respect! I can only do my distance both ways max 3 times a week, usually less, and often only one way (beg a lift share back sometimes!).

    Good luck!
    Lucy
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 4,040
    *ADDED* - my wife is picking me up on the way back at the train station so I need a cycle carrier which is permanently fixed to the bumper of the car - are there any models I should look for?
    Permanent but with minimal impact the rest of the time?

    I'd get a tow bar fitted and then get yourself a Thule Xpress bike carrier - goes on in seconds.
    You only need two tools: WD40 and Duck Tape.
    If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.
    If it shouldn't move and does, use the tape.
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 5,281
    Luggage - this is a biggie, I have showers at work so would need to carry shirt, trousers, bike tools, lights, lock and my work laptop plus associated cables and a work iPhone.
    I guess the answer is no, but can you leave your laptop in work?

    I manage with a camelback type backpack (from Lidl) and have no problems with set of clothes, small tool kit, pump, first aid kit, wallet and some snacks.
  • Ah the age old commuter challenge - how much can I get on my bike.

    I bought a pannier bag from halford which works a treat for my laptop and shirt. It looks like this is the new version of it - looks a lot more interesting than the old grey dull version:
    http://www.halfords.com/cycling/bike-accessories/bike-baskets-panniers/ridge-laptop-messenger-pannier-bag
    The rigidity of the laptop helps to keep the shirt flat. I recommend carefully folding your shirt over a piece of thick card (approx A4 size) or a magazine to help as well. The only negative is that the waterproof cover that comes with the laptop bag covers the front and sides well but in a downpour the back can get wet. You might want to put your lappy inside a binbag if really wet. For all your other stuff I would suggest a pannier on the otherside or a trunk bag on top. I have topeak MTX which is great for a lunch box and all my bits but you need the specific rack for that. It is a bit heavy but very functional.

    On your bike rack question, I also agree with the tow bar comment above. I have a thule rack for multiple bikes but also use one similar to this:
    http://www.witter-towbars.co.uk/cycle_carriers/buyCycleCarrier.php?partNo=ZX98
    It bolts between the towball and the plate behind it to give you a permanent sleeve. You then just slide in the upright post and top bars. Fits nicely in the boot so I always have a way to carry one or two bikes. If you live near edinburgh, I am selling one for £25 at the moment plus £10 for a lit registration plate board.
  • I've been commuting for nearly 2 years now (50 miles all round). Started off driving half way three days a week and now i'm doing the full route three days. Here are my thoughts:

    The racer will need an overhaul - any tyres I should specifically look out for that give me a good compromise on speed/grip/puncture protection. Continental Gatorskins. Ive been running 23mm's but will be going to 25mm when they wear. Great puncture protection, reasonably priced and good all round rolling resistance and grip.

    Cycling computer - Any ideas on the best models, would need something with GPS navigation so the racer could double up for training at the weekend. I'm one of the few people left on the planet that doesn't have a smart phone so just use a basic £5 model for calls. Totally depends on your budget here. I love my Garmin 500 but it doesn't have 'Car like' GPS, it does however have a very simple bread crumb trail feature that works well when you get used to it. If you don't have a smart phone then I would suggest avoiding the Garmin's that have the Phone syncing features... wasted money if you don't have a phone to sync with!

    Luggage - this is a biggie, I have showers at work so would need to carry shirt, trousers, bike tools, lights, lock and my work laptop plus associated cables and a work iPhone. Given the tech I want a rucksack that is 100% waterproof, I did think of carrying panniers and adding a rack to the rear of the bike but think it's just going to slow me down. I used a Lomo rucksack (Drybag). It was great, 100% waterproof, cheap and extremely well recommended in Motorcycle forums (where I found out about the brand). However, I found that having the rucksack just meant I would lug a load of stuff to and from work that I didn't need. Now I don't use a bag. I have all my clothes at work and transfer them on the days I don't cycle. Works great and so much more enjoyable without a bag!

    Footwear - I'm using SPD's as I can leave my shoes under my desk at work, are there any shoes that have the cleats imbedded within the shoe? At the moment the ones I have stick out. Don't be ashamed to switch to MTB Pedals and cleats. The shoes are much more suited for commuting. Why waste your money replacing road cleats, its easy to swap the pedals if you want to go training in road shoes. You may even end up having more than one bike!

    *ADDED* - my wife is picking me up on the way back at the train station so I need a cycle carrier which is permanently fixed to the bumper of the car - are there any models I should look for? I used a carrier that strapped to the back of my car... it was hassle and not that great. I took the plunge and bought some 2nd hand roof bars and a Thule carrier for the roof; bike would be secure in seconds and I was away!!!

    Good luck with the commute!
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