Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I'm a 16-yr old sophomore in high school here in Birmingham, Alabama. Being utterly obsessed with cycling, I would really like to start commuting to and from school, seeing as my other commitments leave me little time to actually ride on the weekends. My commute is around 15 miles one way, depending on the route--there is one big downhill no matter what route (into downtown), and one slight uphill no matter what route. I figure it'll take me just about 1 hour if I'm moving at a decent pace.
My main problem is the issue of carrying school stuff. On any given day, I might have to carry a textbook or two, a few notebooks, and increasingly more often, my laptop. I could leave the laptop locked up in school some days, and use study halls to do more homework during school, but I need a bag that will allow me to take stuff comfortably and without having to replace a bag every few weeks. I've tried backpacks (back pain, bounce around a lot), panniers (old beater bike, didn't enjoy the cumbersome-ness and laid the bike over in several sharp turns), and messenger bags (dep't store buys, ripped up within a month and not comfy). What do you commuters and messengers out there use? I need something comfy and that won't bounce around too much, and still be able to fit a laptop, a few books, and a spare change of clothes.
Also, anyone that commutes to/from school, any tips? I'm riding my '05 Specialized Allez Sport Triple, sans fenders but w/ lights.

Ride on,
Aron
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,047 Posts
I don't know how panniers had anything to do with your crashes- I use ONE generally, and have never had a problem. It is amazing how much I can stuff in one. I don't trust my laptop in the pannier, nor do I think it would fit, so I use a backpack laptop bag. I swore i would never bike with a backpack again, but it makes sense for me.

The key to panniers is they will affect the bikes handling- especially when standing while climbing. Just ride accordingly. Save your racing techniques for your racing bike.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,047 Posts
specialeyezd said:
I'm seriously looking at Chrome's Backbone bag as the solution to all my woes. It this a good assumption?

If you want to look cool... but I would rather have the weight on my bike than on my body for anything more than 10km.
 

·
Cycling Boob
Joined
·
844 Posts
if your commute distance is less than 5 miles like me, use the messenger bag. however, 15 miles with a bag will give you that sweaty streak mark on your shirt, or maybe the look in general. In other words, use panniers
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Here are some tips from another person who rides to school:

Talk to the textbook hire department, see if you can get a second set of textbooks, one for at home and one for your locker.

Talk to the teachers about where they lock up there bikes, see if you can avoid the mas student storage as good bikes can destroyed quickly in those sorts of places.

I do things like take a 'special folder' full of only what I need for the day/home. Then I transfer what is in it into the appropriate folders/books when I am where I need to be. It saves on carrying things.

I also use a pannier, never had any problems with it. I suggest try one again and get used to it. I do find it a bit heavy on take-off (have done the odd little wheely as I tried to beat traffic when I took off from traffic lights). However it is preferably to a backpack, especially for a long ride.

As for finding the shortest route, I look at it this way, if you start and finish in the same place (ie home) then the work required to complete the journey is the same (sort of). I generally look for a route to avoid traffic. So the route to school takes me half as long as getting home, as I do a few detours to avoid the mad rush of school parents in the afternoon.

Last bit of advice, leave early to avodi traffic, so get used to being an early morning person and do your homework at school before school starts.

If you are a young man....take a face washer, give yourself a bird bath after your ride...spraying yourself with deoderant in order to cover up body odour is a gross mistake that young men often make.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,302 Posts
I think a good rack and multiple bungy cords will work for all that stuff. Leave stuff in your backpack if you like. When I was a student and commuted I had a 2100 cubic inch jansport backpack stuffed to the gills. I would put it on my blackburn rack and with about 4 bungy cords worked great. You just have to get all the backpack straps out of the way when bungying.
 

·
What'd I do?
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
You can get a nice messenger bag for a lot of money. It would be comfortable, stable, and give you up to 3000 cu. in. of room, depending on the bag. It would be enough to carry everything, but make sure you have a padded sleeve for the computer, or 2. Backpacks are more ideal for moving computers, as they sit flatter than a messenger bag, but have less room. Carrying that much weight is a drain, though, especially on your back. I think a rack and set of panniers would be the best way to do it, provided you have a way of getting everything off the bike quickly--that's why I don't use them more. It's a little bit of work to get your commute setup perfected, but once you do, it's a breeze and well worth the trouble. Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Just one word of advice...

Don't put your laptop anywhere on the rack (or probably panniers). I learned the hard way a few weeks back - now I have a 60 gb portable hard drive instead of a nice laptop...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I do have a rack and pannier system off of my old beater Hardrock that I put to rest earlier this year...would it be easier to put the rack and panniers on the new road bike (Allez Sport) and commute that way---and how would the handling of the bike be affected with book weight on the sides of the rack?---or should I do as Peter suggested and get textbooks specifically for home use so that I can still commute minus the extra stuff? I also just learned that I might be interning at a theatre during the day, so being able to clip in and haul from school to internship back to school in a set amount of time is important.

Man, its time to get back on the bike...so much riding to do, not enough time to do it.

Thanks for all the input, guys. Any from others that have a similar commute would be great.
 

·
What'd I do?
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
specialeyezd said:
I do have a rack and pannier system off of my old beater Hardrock that I put to rest earlier this year...would it be easier to put the rack and panniers on the new road bike (Allez Sport) and commute that way---and how would the handling of the bike be affected with book weight on the sides of the rack?---or should I do as Peter suggested and get textbooks specifically for home use so that I can still commute minus the extra stuff?
You might actually resurrect the hardrock. Depending on the condition of the bike. The frame's a solid steel frame, so that's not a problem.

specialeyezd said:
I also just learned that I might be interning at a theatre during the day, so being able to clip in and haul from school to internship back to school in a set amount of time is important.
I also commute between classes and theaters. Keep as much appropriate stuff as you can in each place, and it shouldn't be a big deal. Will you be in a shop or in an office?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I'm a tech major, so I'll be in the shop and doing lighting crap. I believe I'll be going to my LBS and looking at some bags. My plan is to use a combination of all the suggestions I've received, but to avoid using the rack and panniers if possible, so here's what I'm looking at doing:

-) Getting copies of textbooks to keep at home AND at school, (thank you Peter5), so I don't have to carry books on my back.

-) The madre has nixed riding to school, so I can use a bag without having to worry about getting all nasty at the moment...also, we have showers at school.

-) I'm going in to my LBS and looking at a few messenger bags, as well as the Chrome Backbone (or smaller bag) to see what fits the bill for my needs (able to carry laptop and notebook, extra clothes comfortably).

-) Lastly, I'll keep a towel, some cycling shorts, and my swanky-style ripped up, cut off, virtually crotchless jeans that are oh-so-comfy for cycling and a tee for riding during the day to and from tech-work, since I'll be getting dirty anyway.

Does this sound like an efficient plan, or am I missing something? Any good/bad experience with the Backbone or various other bags?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
727 Posts
specialeyezd said:
I'm a tech major, so I'll be in the shop and doing lighting crap. I believe I'll be going to my LBS and looking at some bags. My plan is to use a combination of all the suggestions I've received, but to avoid using the rack and panniers if possible, so here's what I'm looking at doing:

-) Getting copies of textbooks to keep at home AND at school, (thank you Peter5), so I don't have to carry books on my back.

-) The madre has nixed riding to school, so I can use a bag without having to worry about getting all nasty at the moment...also, we have showers at school.

-) I'm going in to my LBS and looking at a few messenger bags, as well as the Chrome Backbone (or smaller bag) to see what fits the bill for my needs (able to carry laptop and notebook, extra clothes comfortably).

-) Lastly, I'll keep a towel, some cycling shorts, and my swanky-style ripped up, cut off, virtually crotchless jeans that are oh-so-comfy for cycling and a tee for riding during the day to and from tech-work, since I'll be getting dirty anyway.

Does this sound like an efficient plan, or am I missing something? Any good/bad experience with the Backbone or various other bags?
messenger bags definitely have a certain cool-factor, but i've always preferred a good backpack with chest-straps. messenger bags are meant for, well......messengers. theyre used because they offer easy, shallow accessibility on the go. having used both, there's no doubt in my mind that backpacks are the better bet for the average commuter. if looking hardcore is more your thing, dump a couple hundred on a fancy messenger bag.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
cmatcan said:
messenger bags definitely have a certain cool-factor, but i've always preferred a good backpack with chest-straps. messenger bags are meant for, well......messengers. theyre used because they offer easy, shallow accessibility on the go. having used both, there's no doubt in my mind that backpacks are the better bet for the average commuter. if looking hardcore is more your thing, dump a couple hundred on a fancy messenger bag.
It's not so much the cool-factor, its more of the being able to stuff more stuff with more flexibility. This is why I'm looking at the Chrome messenger packs ....I should have made that a little clearer before, I think. I have a Camelbak HAWG that I've used before, but the Chrome messenger packs are messenger bags with backpack straps (including sternum support---big plus). Check it out at www.chromebags.com, I'm going to try one out pretty soon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
681 Posts
I am a teacher

and commute to school and would happily let a student put a bike in my room so they would not need to use an outdoor rack. I commuted your distance for two years a year ago and I used a chrome messenger bag, back pack, Baggins bags from Rivendell like the banana bag but very handy and or a combination of two. I had no problem with my Chrome bag it is comfortable, holds plenty, and is very stable. They are not that costly and last a long time. I used none of the above for a cool facter because at 51 that is pretty far from my mind. LOL
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
commutenow said:
and commute to school and would happily let a student put a bike in my room so they would not need to use an outdoor rack. I commuted your distance for two years a year ago and I used a chrome messenger bag, back pack, Baggins bags from Rivendell like the banana bag but very handy and or a combination of two. I had no problem with my Chrome bag it is comfortable, holds plenty, and is very stable. They are not that costly and last a long time. I used none of the above for a cool facter because at 51 that is pretty far from my mind. LOL
What did you have to carry as far as books and such? My teachers are glad to loan me extra books for home usage, but I'll still have to carry a few notebooks and my laptop...Also, my bike has a special place in most rooms of the school. Thanks for the input, commutenow. I'm going to play around with the routes tomorrow and see what feel I can get from each way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
681 Posts
I had clothes

food, art stuff, supplies and other assorted goods. I left shoes, clothes, and other stuff at school. I left at 6am because it took about an hour because it was about two miles less than your commute. I saw some cool things so take a digital camera with you. Good luck! I wish I had a student with your interest.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,910 Posts
No!

You should commute EVERYWHERE!

Chrome bags are nice and I sometimes use one. I also use a big ol' camera backpack, a waist pack, a BOB trailer and sometimes nothing at all. Vary your equipment depending on the load.

As far as commuting by bike goes; just give it a try and soon everything will be fine and you will be offering advice to rookies.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
134 Posts
Be careful with a messanger bag and too much weight. My buddy has a real bad shoulder problem from it. The problem with the messanger bag is it puts all the weight on one shoulder, where a backpack splits the weight evenly.
 

·
What'd I do?
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
Bertleman said:
Be careful with a messanger bag and too much weight. My buddy has a real bad shoulder problem from it. The problem with the messanger bag is it puts all the weight on one shoulder, where a backpack splits the weight evenly.
True, I'd forgot. Stick with the backpack, unless you're absolutely sure you'll be under 15 lbs every time out.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top