Bike to work, because driving cars everywhere makes us soft and weak.
-Nathan Ruffing, January 2014, from The Ultimate Commuter Bike
On my last Ultimate Commuter Bike, I gave links to all of the products. It is very easy to find these items online, but I recommend that you go to your local bike store with this list and use it to order some of the items through the store. You get a lot of good advice buying at the store and learn a lot about bikes while you are there.
It has been 4+ years and thousands of miles since my last Ultimate Commuter Bike post, and I am still using the same bike and same gear after zero tune-ups and very little basic maintenance.
The Ultimate Commuter Bike 2 Video Tour
Frame / Bike
$400: Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno (or similar)
If you can find that specific model, it is a great bike. Otherwise, there are many options out there. You are looking for:
- Single speed, not fixed-gear, or “fixie.” Make sure it has the freewheel.
- You will find them under cyclocross or hybrid bikes.
Good bikes are sized by the inseam length. My height is 186cm (6ft 1.5in) and I ride a 61cm bike. 61cm is a size up for me, but I like the larger bike. If you are over 6ft tall, you have to go to a bike shop just to get a bike that really fits. Cheap bikes are made for average height people only. With a proper bike, your legs will extend to the pedals the way they should and you will be more comfortable and efficient.
Single speed bikes are great because:
- they are very very low maintenance,
- you get a variety of exercise throughout the ride,
- it naturally limits your speed. Most of my friends who ride have crashed at least once. Some crashed fast. Trust them, you want to crash slow. Single speeds go reasonable speeds.
- unless you live in a mountainous area, or are pulling a trailer, you really don’t need the extra gears and moving parts.
$40: Sette Flex-V
Sette makes various cushion sizes of this seat. They are the best.
$80: (for both, $35-$40 each) Continental flat resistant tires
Continental makes tires that have a teflon guard against flats. They are not cheap, but they are worth it!
Write down the tire size that comes on your bike. 700c is very common and is roughly equivalent to 29″.
Again, you want a single-speed that freewheels. You do not want a “fixie.”
$50: (+ bike shoes if you don’t have them) Crankbrothers Eggbeater clip-in pedals
These pedals are typically used for mountain biking. They are ideal for commuter biking because:
- They are very easy to clip in and out.
- They allow your foot to rotate, avoiding any knee issues you might have with clips that are too rigid.
- They can get dirty.
- You can walk almost normally with the shoes as the cleat is not very big.
Bag and Rack
$120: Topeak MTX Trunkbag DXP. $80 for the bag, $40 for the rack
You want to get the rack and bag from the same company so that the attachment works properly.
$35: Topeak Alien II bike multi-tool
Cold Weather Gear
First, ride less in the cold because it’s cold. Keep all this stuff together so that it’s not a nuisance to find when you want to get out and ride.
Thick socks are nice, but feet get cold in wind. They make foot covers for rain that also block wind and would help when very cold. I haven’t gone to that length yet. My feet get cold.
You want a tight-fitting under layer like UnderArmor because the wind can’t get between the clothes and your skin.
You want good thick gloves and a balaclava that can fit under your helmet. You want to cover up all exposed skin. Any exposed skin will have a 20mph sustained wind.
You want to be a little cold starting the ride because if you sweat too much, you will be very cold when you slow or stop.