Fenders

I’m a big fan of fenders. I’ve had them on almost every commuting bike I’ve owned since the 1980’s. Besides helping to keep the rider clean and dry in wet weather, they help to keep road grime off of the bike, reducing the amount of maintenance and cleaning required while also prolonging drivetrain and component life. Personally, I like to keep fenders on year ’round as they also protect the bike and rider from lawn and agricultural runoff in the summer.

Civia Loring Fender
Civia Loring Fender

Honjo Fender
Honjo Fender

Planet Bike Fender
Planet Bike Fender

Civia Bryant Fender
Civia Bryant Fender

Brompton Fender
Brompton Fender

How about you? Do you run fenders on your transpo bikes? If so, do you leave them on all year or do you remove them during the dry season?

Do you run fenders on your commuter/utility bike(s)?

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Kickstand Plate Fetish

Civia Kickstand Plate
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OK, I’ll admit I have an irrational fondness for well-designed kickstand plates. It’s just that I’ve had to fuss and fight with clamp-on kickstands for too many years, and because I depend upon them nearly every day, a solid interface between the frame and kickstand is a big deal to me. As a matter of fact, not so long ago right here on this blog I vowed to never buy another bike without a kickstand plate. Call me weird, but this wasn’t an insignificant factor in my decision to go with my new Civia and its turbo kickstand plate with integrated fender mount and slots for control cables on both sides (check out the design process that went into its development here).

How about you? Do you feel a kickstand plate is a necessary part of a purpose-built commuting/utility frame or is this just much ado about nothing?

Do you feel a kickstand plate is a necessary part of a purpose-built commuting/utility frame?

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How Old is Your Commuter?

XO-1
1993 Bridgestone XO-1

The great response to our “Refurbs” post from the other day has me wondering how many of our readers are riding older bikes as their primary commuter. This calls for a poll… :-)

How old is your commuter bike?

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Should it Stay or Should it Go?

LHT Commuter
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I keep having this thought that it’s time to consider a new commuter project bike, perhaps built around a steel frame like a Civia Bryant with an Alfine 11 IGH. It would be a fun project to document here on the blog, plus I’d learn some things in the process. The thing is, every time I think about selling my good ol’ LHT, I take pause and reconsider. I’ve got the bike sooo dialed in, and there’s really nothing I’d change at this point (save, perhaps, the addition of a hub generator), so I’m finding it very difficult to part with. Keeping it while adding another bike is pretty much out of the question at this time, both for financial reasons and a lack of space. And in any case, the bikes would be wholly redundant and I’m not one for more bikes for the sake of more bikes (I know, weird, huh?).

For fun, I thought I’d put it out there to my readers. Should I stay with the LHT and continue on with the process of refinement, or should I sell it and start from scratch with a new project bike? Just to be clear, I’m very interested in your input, but I still have to make my own decision on this one, regardless of the outcome of the poll. Many thanks!

Should I keep the LHT or sell it and build a new commuter bike?

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The Nerd Factor, Part II

Tour Easy Recumbent

While we’re at it, we might as well see how folks feel about those other nerdy bikes, recumbents. So, let’s ask the same question. How about you? Would you feel self-conscious riding a recumbent bicycle? Does the look of a recumbent turn you off or would you feel comfortable riding a bike on which you lean back into a seat? (I’m talking purely self-image here, not practical reasons related to bike design.)

Would you feel self-conscious riding a recumbent?

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PS – I rode recumbents for years, so I’ve earned the right to call them “nerdy”. —Alan

The Nerd Factor

AB on a Brommie
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I get the feeling that one of the main reasons folding bikes aren’t more popular among urban bike commuters is the fact that they look different than “normal” bicycles (I’ve actually had people comment that they look like “those little bicycles bears ride in the circus”… LOL). After figuring out how incredibly useful they are for city riding and multi-modal commuting, I no longer see them as “weird” or “nerdy” at all. In fact, when I see a person on a nice folder, my gut reaction is one of admiration for the wise and enlightened choice they’ve made.

I’m not saying folding bikes are the end all, but they’re certainly powerful tools that would probably be much more widely used if they didn’t so strongly go against the grain of what we intuitively think of as “bike”. I suspect this is the same reason recumbents have never gained in popularity past their measly 0.5% of market share.

What about you? Assuming you had the need for one, would you feel self-conscious riding a folding bike? Does the look of tiny wheels turn you off or would you feel comfortable riding a bike with 16″ wheels? (I’m talking purely self-image here, not practical reasons related to bike design.)

Would you feel self-conscious riding a folding bike with 16" wheels?

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Commuting Loads: Bike or Back?

Civia Loring
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I really like messenger bags for quick trips to the grocery store, library, or coffee shop when I’m just carrying a few small items. They’re convenient and quick, and I almost always have one hanging near the door to grab on the way out when needed.

On the other hand, for commuting, weekly shopping excursions, or any trip that involves transporting a larger quantity of heavier items, I prefer to carry the load on the bike. For smaller commuting loads I carry everything in a single rear convertible pannier such as an Arkel Bug or Ortlieb Downtown. For even larger loads, I prefer to balance the weight between a pair of rear panniers and a front porteur rack.

How about you? Do you carry your commute load in a messenger bag or backpack, or do you prefer to carry the load on the bike?

Where do you carry your commute load?

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