Author Topic: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help  (Read 10550 times)

Mr. McGibblets

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Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« on: May 07, 2015, 11:13:40 AM »
Hi there Mustachians,

I am moving into a house that is closer to work, which is a huge perk because I can start riding my bike to work. I wanted to start a discussion about the finer details - including what clothing you wear during the morning and afternoon commutes, how you deal with sweating when you get to the office, all that fun stuff. I will work my way up to biking to work full time by taking the route a few times on the weekends, and then starting at a couple times a week.


Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2015, 11:17:49 AM »
Many office's have shower facilities.  If yours doesn't, you'll be stuck using the men's room lav for clean up.  I use an under desk rolling file cabinet as my 'locker' keeping a spare change of clothes, and travel gear.

Syonyk

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2015, 11:19:08 AM »
How far is your commute, what are the details of the terrain, what type of bike are you using?

I usually wear "clothes suitable to the weather," which looks a lot like waterproof bike gear in the winter and shorts & a tshirt in the summer, I... might ride an electric bike so I don't actually sweat when I get to the office, but there are showers if I want them, or if I take a mechanical bike I just take it easier, and I ride harder on the way home.

If it's a few miles, just take it easy in the mornings and sweating shouldn't be a huge problem unless it gets really hot.  Be sure to hydrate.

Mr. McGibblets

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2015, 11:27:55 AM »
I live in northern Virginia to give you some insight into the weather. I would be riding 8 miles each way, about half on a trail that parallels the major highway here, and the other half on streets with lights. My office does not have a shower unfortunately.

I know that the commute is too long to wear work clothes to work, so I wanted to see tips from folks who are in the same boat.

TrMama

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2015, 11:50:23 AM »
Your commute is very similar to mine. I wear bike shorts or tights and a quick dry shirt. In cool weather I add a light jacket, gloves, a light toque under my helmet and neoprene shoe covers when it's really raining (PNW). Then I shower and change at work. I also hang up my bike clothes to dry. If I didn't have a shower, I'd change and wipe down with a washcloth using the bathroom sink.

I leave my shoes, toiletries and towel at work so I'm not hauling them back and forth every day. I change back into the bike clothes to go home.

I don't bother with waterproof bags. I just use a good quality canvas messenger bag and put my lunch and clothes in separate grocery bags. I've been riding for years in the pouring rain and nothing has ever gotten wet.

desertCyclist

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2015, 12:21:12 PM »
I have a 9 mile commute and just wear running shorts and a tank top almost year round (I live near phoenix, az). For NOVA, in the spring/summer I would wear about the same + a rain jacket. I bike in 110+ degree heat in the summers and unfortunately my office does not have a shower, but here is what I carry to work each day (I use ortlieb panniers which attach to my bike rack):

Toiletries (Put in a separate bag in case of face wash leakage):
-face wash
-wash cloth (wipe down sweat and for facewash)
-deodorant
-brush

My hair is usually a little sweaty from my helmet/ride so I put sunglasses on top of my head to help mask that. If I were a dude, I would just keep my head shaved.

Clothing (My office environment is pretty casual, so I wear the same shoes to ride and work in):
-jeans
-breathable shirt - I usually sweat a little when I first come in too
-underwear - you do not want to sit in sweaty underwear all day

My socks are very breathable and I do not feel the need to change them.

Office Stuff:
-laptop (this is why I have a good, waterproof pannier)
-notebook

Bike repair:
-tire levers
-tube
-patch kit
-multi-tool
-mini pump/CO2 canisters

If it's raining, I bring my rain jacket and an extra pair of socks and bike clothing for the way home.


RidinTheAsama

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2015, 12:48:23 PM »
I leave my 'office shoes' under my desk, and have a small towel and deodorant in a drawer for when I need them.

I ride in typical bike clothes to suit the weather and bring a full change of clothes in a pannier each day, with my lunch tucked into a grocery bag in case of spills.  Unfortunately no showers at my office so the washroom it is.  Never tried a messenger bag since I thought it would annoyingly slide around to my front too often, and I found a backpack made me sweat a lot more, so pannier on a rack is what works best for me.

Generally I like to take it a little easier on the way to work to avoid too much sweating, and I like to really push it on the way home.  It helps that my ride to work is a little more downhill and the way home more up.

Good luck!

Mr. McGibblets

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2015, 01:08:11 PM »
My hair is usually a little sweaty from my helmet/ride so I put sunglasses on top of my head to help mask that. If I were a dude, I would just keep my head shaved.

Thanks for all the insight so far! And I am a dude, and do have my head shave, so I have that going for me :)

mskyle

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2015, 03:42:28 PM »
Do you have an office where you can store your stuff? If so, just bring all your work clothes for the week in one trip. Assuming you have one non-rainy morning a week, you don't need to worry about your work clothes getting wet. Also if you're going to wear the same pants twice, you don't have to bring them home and then bring them back again. This is especially useful when you're still driving a day or two a week.

Northern Virginia in summer is pretty sweaty (you've probably noticed). Ideally you will want to get there a little early so you can cool down *before* you change your clothes. Use the end of your ride as a cool-down and drink a giant glass of cold water as soon as you arrive.

aetherie

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2015, 07:57:24 AM »
Following with interest. In one month I will be moving to a new apartment closer to my work (in Maryland, similar to OP) so I can start bike commuting. My ride will only be 4 miles, so I'm hoping to get away with not changing clothes, although when the summer really gets going I'll probably have to.

darkadams00

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2015, 11:09:08 AM »
1) Trunk bag - carries office clothes (business casual) rolled up, lunch, bike repair items, and lights when needed for one way but not the other.
2) Keep office shoes at work as well as an extra change of clothes in case of an issue on the ride to work. In the years I've been riding, the change has been backup for items I forgot much more than items that got wet or unwearable for some reason during the ride.
3) A simple set of toiletries.
4) A hand towel if no shower availability.

I ride in whatever clothing the weather dictates because I always do a quick change. I don't wear bike-specific clothes--just LS/SS t-shirts, bargain activewear layers, basic shorts, old pants, etc. I keep a log including temp and clothing, so after a while, I could quickly tell what worked, what was too cold/hot for the given temp and conditions. 9ish miles each way if taking the shortest route, and I'm out the door and at my computer post-change in under an hour.

During the warmer months, a desk fan helps for the first 30 mins or so after I get started working.


Oslo_gal

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2015, 05:31:16 AM »
If you haven't already gotten a helmet (which you should), you should think about getting one with a visor. I find it hard to bike in the rain because I get rain in my eyes :'( Now, I don't have a helmet with a visor (yet) myself, but I always think about it when I'm out in the rain with my bike. (Luckily, I now live within walking distance from work so that rarely happens!)

Mr. McGibblets

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2015, 01:50:45 PM »
Following up on this post. I am actually moving closer to work (~3 miles!) so am excited that it will only take 15-20 mins to bike to work. Unfortunately since I am a contractor at a company here in northern VA, I do not get access to the locker room/showers. I guess I will be keeping my stinky bike clothes at my desk, tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

I saw some great recommendations on panniers. I am going to check them out. Are you able to store your laptop in those? My only concern would be if I fell, the laptop would most definitely break.

Also, can anyone suggest a bike odometer?

jeromedawg

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2015, 02:18:27 PM »
I've been riding in more regularly in the past few months. Things I carry/wear:

what I'll normally wear:
- bike helmet (I wear this all the time)
- sunglasses (both to protect my eyes from the sun but also to serve as a shield so I don't get blinded by whatever... insects, water, etc)
- tail light (I leave the batteries out and don't use it though since I ride when it's light out... I probably should just use it though)
- bandana (sometimes I'll wear this under the helmet cause I get bad hat hair)
- polyester/nylon short-sleeve workout shirt
- padded bike shorts
- hiking shorts over the bike shorts (i feel like i'm walking around in underwear with just the bike shorts)
- long-sleeve half-zip shirt (will only wear this on colder mornings)
- leg sleeves (will only wear this on colder mornings)

inside the backpack (I should probably get a bike trunk/panniers though):
- small cheapo led flashlight and rubber wristband to secure to handlebar (haven't had to use this yet)
- spare tube
- bike multi-tool
- bike levers
- patch kit
- keys
- bandaids, alcohol wipes, neosporin... (basically a small first aid kit)
- change of clothes/shoes
- lunch
- microfiber towel
- lezyne bike small pump (this is actually mounted to the bike frame in place of a water bottle mount)

I keep some deodorant at work and just wipe off with the towel and drink cold water to cool off as soon as I get in. We do have showers but I've never used them. My commute is only a little over 4 miles so I don't feel the need to shower. I should probably keep a couple changes of clothes and also shampoo/soap at work anyway though. Kinda gross but I try to wear the same bike clothes for a week and then wash on the weekends. I really don't care to wear 'clean' clothes when I'm biking and sweating anyway (and I do wear underwear under the padded bike shorts, which is a no-no but I don't ride that far anyway... it's worth the extra comfort from the padding IMHO even though it's a relatively short ride but yea if you do that on longer rides, expect chafing and saddle sores). And yea, as mentioned, it's a great idea to get a bike trunk/pannier and keep stuff off your back. I'm too cheap to buy more stuff though.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2015, 02:21:20 PM by jplee3 »

KCM5

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2015, 02:34:43 PM »
3 miles!? Even in Virginia I doubt you'll need to change. The ride home may be sweatier, but you're going home so change there. Congrats!

Also, I know there are a ton of recommendations for gear to carry, but here's my suggestion: flat proof tires and something to carry your stuff - such as a milk crate on a rear rack. Fenders and a rain cape for when it rains. Lights if you're going to be riding when its dark - and if you're going to be doing that regularly, think about dynamo lights. But in general, don't over think it, just do it!

klystomane

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2015, 02:53:58 PM »
Following up on this post. I am actually moving closer to work (~3 miles!) so am excited that it will only take 15-20 mins to bike to work. Unfortunately since I am a contractor at a company here in northern VA, I do not get access to the locker room/showers. I guess I will be keeping my stinky bike clothes at my desk, tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

I saw some great recommendations on panniers. I am going to check them out. Are you able to store your laptop in those? My only concern would be if I fell, the laptop would most definitely break.

Also, can anyone suggest a bike odometer?

I recently started biking to work (about 3 miles one way also). I carry a laptop, lunch, and change of clothes in a laptop bag that I modified into a pannier for less than $10 using items from Home Depot. I am lucky that I have access to a change room with a locker, so I keep changes of clothes there, plus work shoes, deodorant, baby wipes, cologne, etc. If I did not, I would keep these items in a drawer at my desk.

I have not needed to shower at work yet; temperatures have been around 90F recently but most mornings are bearable (sometimes surprisingly chilly) - it's the trip home that makes me sweat a lot. I wear stretchy shorts (essentially long swimtrunks) and a thin, breathable, compression t-shirt. I have two sets that I alternate and hand wash and line dry when I get home after work. They dry by the following morning, so I could technically survive on one set if needed.

The minimum items I recommend having with your bike are a helmet, and a bright rear taillight. Patch kit and all that stuff I honestly would just ignore for 3 miles; worse comes to worse, if you have a flat, you can walk your bike to where you need to go or just call somebody...or even a cab.

Amazon should have many decent, cheap odometers (cyclometer). You can't really go wrong with a wired CatEye one.

I believe the key is to just start biking and you will eventually figure out what you need or don't need.


hyla

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2015, 03:40:56 PM »
I saw some great recommendations on panniers. I am going to check them out. Are you able to store your laptop in those? My only concern would be if I fell, the laptop would most definitely break.

I have carried my laptop in regular panniers (I have ortlieb backrollers, they are awesome and waterproof! They also have an interior sleeve that keeps the laptop from jostling around) and am not too worried about falling and breaking the laptop... in 25 years of bike riding I've only crashed 3 times, so crushing my laptop seems highly unlikely. 

If you are really concerned about your laptop, you might look up "kitty litter bucket panniers".   You can make cheap, rigid DIY panniers with kitty litter buckets and hardware store parts, and I bet with some padding they would make a durable laptop holder.  Another (more expensive) option would be to buy a waterproof crush proof laptop case (pelican etc.) and put it inside a normal pannier.

Mr. McGibblets

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2015, 07:39:59 AM »
Following up on this post. I am actually moving closer to work (~3 miles!) so am excited that it will only take 15-20 mins to bike to work. Unfortunately since I am a contractor at a company here in northern VA, I do not get access to the locker room/showers. I guess I will be keeping my stinky bike clothes at my desk, tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

I saw some great recommendations on panniers. I am going to check them out. Are you able to store your laptop in those? My only concern would be if I fell, the laptop would most definitely break.

Also, can anyone suggest a bike odometer?

I recently started biking to work (about 3 miles one way also). I carry a laptop, lunch, and change of clothes in a laptop bag that I modified into a pannier for less than $10 using items from Home Depot.


This is great - the cost of the ortleib panniers are pretty high. How did you go about making your own?

klystomane

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2015, 10:18:06 AM »
Following up on this post. I am actually moving closer to work (~3 miles!) so am excited that it will only take 15-20 mins to bike to work. Unfortunately since I am a contractor at a company here in northern VA, I do not get access to the locker room/showers. I guess I will be keeping my stinky bike clothes at my desk, tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

I saw some great recommendations on panniers. I am going to check them out. Are you able to store your laptop in those? My only concern would be if I fell, the laptop would most definitely break.

Also, can anyone suggest a bike odometer?

I recently started biking to work (about 3 miles one way also). I carry a laptop, lunch, and change of clothes in a laptop bag that I modified into a pannier for less than $10 using items from Home Depot.


This is great - the cost of the ortleib panniers are pretty high. How did you go about making your own?

Any half decent set of panniers is going to cost an arm and a leg. I am still looking for the perfect set, but until I do, I need something to use temporarily. Although, if I find a bag that I like, I feel I can just make another one (obviously put a LOT more effort into it than I did with this one).

My laptop bag conversion is a total hack job, but it actually turned out better than I expected, minus the mistakes you'll see in the picture LOL - two unused grommets...I initially wanted the hooks to go there but it didn't work out too well that way.

What I did:
- got some threaded screw eyes, nuts, washers (1/4" I think)
- put two holes in the bag using a screwdriver (eyeballed the position/location)
- took a piece of foam core and sized it to fit the small, back, inner pocket - there's a zipper right below the handle there...you can use plywood or anything that's somewhat firm. If you look at the two grommets that don't belong there, there's a white patch you can see through them - that's the foam core that fills up the entire back of the bag.
- put a grommet at the bottom and put a hole in the foam core that lines up with the grommet...the grommet set turned out to be the most expensive part of this whole operation ($6 at Lowes)...and I only ended up needing 1...doh.
- took a bungee cord, snipped off the end, threaded it through the foam core and grommet, tied a knot and singed the end with a lighter. The bungee cord is for hooking the bag to the bottom of the rack so that it doesn't swing back and forth.
- hooks - you can use whatever you like really. My hooks actually go on the other side of the rack, and the screw eyes essentially "rest" on the rack - I have not felt the bag shift at all during my rides so far.

If you need more ideas, you can try Googling "DIY panniers," I basically looked at what other people did, went to Home Depot/Lowes to see what accessories they had, and just went at it.

Pic for your viewing pleasure:

]



*Edit added pic of the pannier attached to the bike
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 12:35:57 PM by klystomane »

mlejw6

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2015, 12:20:41 PM »
Any half decent set of panniers is going to cost an arm and a leg. I am still looking for the perfect set, but until I do, I need something to use temporarily. Although, if I find a bag that I like, I feel I can just make another one (obviously put a LOT more effort into it than I did with this one).

My laptop bag conversion is a total hack job, but it actually turned out better than I expected, minus the mistakes you'll see in the picture LOL - two unused grommets...I initially wanted the hooks to go there but it didn't work out too well that way.

What I did:
- got some threaded screw eyes, nuts, washers (1/4" I think)
- put two holes in the bag using a screwdriver (eyeballed the position/location)
- took a piece of foam core and sized it to fit the small, back, inner pocket - there's a zipper right below the handle there...you can use plywood or anything that's somewhat firm. If you look at the two grommets that don't belong there, there's a white patch you can see through them - that's the foam core that fills up the entire back of the bag.
- put a grommet at the bottom and put a hole in the foam core that lines up with the grommet...the grommet set turned out to be the most expensive part of this whole operation ($6 at Lowes)...and I only ended up needing 1...doh.
- took a bungee cord, snipped off the end, threaded it through the foam core and grommet, tied a knot and singed the end with a lighter. The bungee cord is for hooking the bag to the bottom of the rack so that it doesn't swing back and forth.
- hooks - you can use whatever you like really. My hooks actually go on the other side of the rack, and the screw eyes essentially "rest" on the rack - I have not felt the bag shift at all during my rides so far.

If you need more ideas, you can try Googling "DIY panniers," I basically looked at what other people did, went to Home Depot/Lowes to see what accessories they had, and just went at it.

Pic for your viewing pleasure:

]

This is awesome.

Home Stretch

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2015, 02:53:58 PM »
I've just started biking to work in the NC summer heat (although not this week yet... 102 degrees and humid needs more training on my part).

That being said, I'm still a pretty sweaty dude, but what I found is if I shower immediately before leaving for work and change out of my sweaty clothes when I get to the office, I actually don't feel gross/stinky at all throughout the workday. I hang my wet clothes up to dry while I'm at the office and then ride home when it's considerably warmer out in the afternoon. At that point I can take my time (I'd rather not die of heat stroke) and it doesn't matter how nasty I am when I get home since I can just shower again.

StacheInAFlash

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2015, 09:52:23 AM »
For a 3 mile commute, you can definitely just wear your regular work clothes. To keep sweating to a minimum, just bike slower! This sounds kind of stupid, but it is amazing the difference in sweat between giving 100% effort and giving 90% effort. Sometimes it is hard to do when you're getting passed in the bike lanes by other people, but try your best to purposely not push yourself to bike in the highest gear. Now, on the way home, make up for that by giving it all you got! You'll end up sweaty and tired, but it'll make up for the lazy morning ride and you're head headed home to a shower and change of clothes.

aetherie

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2015, 10:03:17 AM »
For a 3 mile commute, you can definitely just wear your regular work clothes. To keep sweating to a minimum, just bike slower! This sounds kind of stupid, but it is amazing the difference in sweat between giving 100% effort and giving 90% effort. Sometimes it is hard to do when you're getting passed in the bike lanes by other people, but try your best to purposely not push yourself to bike in the highest gear. Now, on the way home, make up for that by giving it all you got! You'll end up sweaty and tired, but it'll make up for the lazy morning ride and you're head headed home to a shower and change of clothes.

That's probably true if you live somewhere less hot and humid than the Mid-Atlantic. I tried wearing my regular work clothes on my 3 mile commute and that lasted all of one day, even going super slowly up the hills (and I'm not generally a very sweaty person). What works for me is wearing shorts and a tank top, then changing into work pants and putting a work-appropriate shirt over the tank top.

Mr. McGibblets

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2015, 11:04:32 AM »
For a 3 mile commute, you can definitely just wear your regular work clothes. To keep sweating to a minimum, just bike slower! This sounds kind of stupid, but it is amazing the difference in sweat between giving 100% effort and giving 90% effort. Sometimes it is hard to do when you're getting passed in the bike lanes by other people, but try your best to purposely not push yourself to bike in the highest gear. Now, on the way home, make up for that by giving it all you got! You'll end up sweaty and tired, but it'll make up for the lazy morning ride and you're head headed home to a shower and change of clothes.

That's probably true if you live somewhere less hot and humid than the Mid-Atlantic. I tried wearing my regular work clothes on my 3 mile commute and that lasted all of one day, even going super slowly up the hills (and I'm not generally a very sweaty person). What works for me is wearing shorts and a tank top, then changing into work pants and putting a work-appropriate shirt over the tank top.

This. I sweat just taking out the trash!

Following up on this post. I am actually moving closer to work (~3 miles!) so am excited that it will only take 15-20 mins to bike to work. Unfortunately since I am a contractor at a company here in northern VA, I do not get access to the locker room/showers. I guess I will be keeping my stinky bike clothes at my desk, tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

I saw some great recommendations on panniers. I am going to check them out. Are you able to store your laptop in those? My only concern would be if I fell, the laptop would most definitely break.

Also, can anyone suggest a bike odometer?

I recently started biking to work (about 3 miles one way also). I carry a laptop, lunch, and change of clothes in a laptop bag that I modified into a pannier for less than $10 using items from Home Depot.


This is great - the cost of the ortleib panniers are pretty high. How did you go about making your own?

Any half decent set of panniers is going to cost an arm and a leg. I am still looking for the perfect set, but until I do, I need something to use temporarily. Although, if I find a bag that I like, I feel I can just make another one (obviously put a LOT more effort into it than I did with this one).

My laptop bag conversion is a total hack job, but it actually turned out better than I expected, minus the mistakes you'll see in the picture LOL - two unused grommets...I initially wanted the hooks to go there but it didn't work out too well that way.

What I did:
- got some threaded screw eyes, nuts, washers (1/4" I think)
- put two holes in the bag using a screwdriver (eyeballed the position/location)
- took a piece of foam core and sized it to fit the small, back, inner pocket - there's a zipper right below the handle there...you can use plywood or anything that's somewhat firm. If you look at the two grommets that don't belong there, there's a white patch you can see through them - that's the foam core that fills up the entire back of the bag.
- put a grommet at the bottom and put a hole in the foam core that lines up with the grommet...the grommet set turned out to be the most expensive part of this whole operation ($6 at Lowes)...and I only ended up needing 1...doh.
- took a bungee cord, snipped off the end, threaded it through the foam core and grommet, tied a knot and singed the end with a lighter. The bungee cord is for hooking the bag to the bottom of the rack so that it doesn't swing back and forth.
- hooks - you can use whatever you like really. My hooks actually go on the other side of the rack, and the screw eyes essentially "rest" on the rack - I have not felt the bag shift at all during my rides so far.

If you need more ideas, you can try Googling "DIY panniers," I basically looked at what other people did, went to Home Depot/Lowes to see what accessories they had, and just went at it.

Pic for your viewing pleasure:

]



*Edit added pic of the pannier attached to the bike

This is awesome! Thanks so much for laying this out and for posting pictures. I will see if I can replicate.

StacheInAFlash

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2015, 12:36:59 PM »
For a 3 mile commute, you can definitely just wear your regular work clothes. To keep sweating to a minimum, just bike slower! This sounds kind of stupid, but it is amazing the difference in sweat between giving 100% effort and giving 90% effort. Sometimes it is hard to do when you're getting passed in the bike lanes by other people, but try your best to purposely not push yourself to bike in the highest gear. Now, on the way home, make up for that by giving it all you got! You'll end up sweaty and tired, but it'll make up for the lazy morning ride and you're head headed home to a shower and change of clothes.

That's probably true if you live somewhere less hot and humid than the Mid-Atlantic. I tried wearing my regular work clothes on my 3 mile commute and that lasted all of one day, even going super slowly up the hills (and I'm not generally a very sweaty person). What works for me is wearing shorts and a tank top, then changing into work pants and putting a work-appropriate shirt over the tank top.

This. I sweat just taking out the trash!



Fair enough! Its true I don't have a ton of experience in ultra-humid environments (thank God!). Still couldn't hurt though. For specific bike commuting clothing then, in that case, I would stick to merino wool shorts and an ultra lightweight merino wool top. Look at Icebreaker or Smart Wool...just don't let the price scare you, to a sweaty bike commuter it is easily worth double what they charge. I'd recommend this over everything else because 1) its super breathable and will help wick the sweat away from  you, and 2) merino wool doesn't stink so you can really wear the same thing over and over again with washing maybe once every week or 2, and it won't stink up the office if you don't have a private place to put them. That's what I've been doing for the past 4+ years, and I can't imagine doing anything else. My $85 merino wool t-shirt (that's not a typo, but take advantage of the REI sales!) has been put through more sweaty abuse and constant wear, day after day, year after year, than practically the rest of my wardrobe combined...

jeromedawg

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2015, 02:09:02 PM »
Following up on this post. I am actually moving closer to work (~3 miles!) so am excited that it will only take 15-20 mins to bike to work. Unfortunately since I am a contractor at a company here in northern VA, I do not get access to the locker room/showers. I guess I will be keeping my stinky bike clothes at my desk, tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

I saw some great recommendations on panniers. I am going to check them out. Are you able to store your laptop in those? My only concern would be if I fell, the laptop would most definitely break.

Also, can anyone suggest a bike odometer?

I recently started biking to work (about 3 miles one way also). I carry a laptop, lunch, and change of clothes in a laptop bag that I modified into a pannier for less than $10 using items from Home Depot.


This is great - the cost of the ortleib panniers are pretty high. How did you go about making your own?

Any half decent set of panniers is going to cost an arm and a leg. I am still looking for the perfect set, but until I do, I need something to use temporarily. Although, if I find a bag that I like, I feel I can just make another one (obviously put a LOT more effort into it than I did with this one).

My laptop bag conversion is a total hack job, but it actually turned out better than I expected, minus the mistakes you'll see in the picture LOL - two unused grommets...I initially wanted the hooks to go there but it didn't work out too well that way.

What I did:
- got some threaded screw eyes, nuts, washers (1/4" I think)
- put two holes in the bag using a screwdriver (eyeballed the position/location)
- took a piece of foam core and sized it to fit the small, back, inner pocket - there's a zipper right below the handle there...you can use plywood or anything that's somewhat firm. If you look at the two grommets that don't belong there, there's a white patch you can see through them - that's the foam core that fills up the entire back of the bag.
- put a grommet at the bottom and put a hole in the foam core that lines up with the grommet...the grommet set turned out to be the most expensive part of this whole operation ($6 at Lowes)...and I only ended up needing 1...doh.
- took a bungee cord, snipped off the end, threaded it through the foam core and grommet, tied a knot and singed the end with a lighter. The bungee cord is for hooking the bag to the bottom of the rack so that it doesn't swing back and forth.
- hooks - you can use whatever you like really. My hooks actually go on the other side of the rack, and the screw eyes essentially "rest" on the rack - I have not felt the bag shift at all during my rides so far.

If you need more ideas, you can try Googling "DIY panniers," I basically looked at what other people did, went to Home Depot/Lowes to see what accessories they had, and just went at it.

Pic for your viewing pleasure:

]



*Edit added pic of the pannier attached to the bike

This is SICK! I was shopping around for a pannier/trunk bag solution, and preferably one that can be converted to a backpack (like the Arkel Bug) but doesn't cost $100+
Maybe I should just suck it up though and bungee-cord my backpack to the rack that I'll be getting.

klystomane

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2015, 02:33:10 PM »
This is SICK! I was shopping around for a pannier/trunk bag solution, and preferably one that can be converted to a backpack (like the Arkel Bug) but doesn't cost $100+
Maybe I should just suck it up though and bungee-cord my backpack to the rack that I'll be getting.

I have my eye on the Arkel Signature H...but for $150, I want to be sure it's "the one" before I pull the trigger.

But until then, this previously unused laptop bag will do.

mlejw6

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2015, 03:27:56 PM »
This is SICK! I was shopping around for a pannier/trunk bag solution, and preferably one that can be converted to a backpack (like the Arkel Bug) but doesn't cost $100+
Maybe I should just suck it up though and bungee-cord my backpack to the rack that I'll be getting.

I have my eye on the Arkel Signature H...but for $150, I want to be sure it's "the one" before I pull the trigger.

But until then, this previously unused laptop bag will do.

For those who aren't as handy, I recently purchased one of these at my local bike shop (at a higher price, argh!):

http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_577640_-1___

If you order two, it's just $60 plus tax (free shipping).

Luckily, I only bought one, so I was able to order my second from Nashbar at the $30 price. It doesn't become a backpack, but it is a nice messenger bag with shoulder strap. It withstood a rainstorm the other day, so I'm pretty happy with it.

Matt_D

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2015, 04:27:32 PM »
I'm in NoVA, and while I unfortunately drive most of the time now (26 miles each way), I have biked everything from 2 to 17 miles on a regular basis.

For 6 miles (what I had for 4 years), you usually need some non-work clothes... others have outlined that pretty well. I will note though that I didn't use too many bike-specific clothes - I used a lot of general outdoorsy gear which is a little less expensive. I did have a shower at work, but if I hadn't then some wet wipes would've done the job OK.

For 2-3 miles (which I had for a little less than a year), you can do it in regular work wear almost any time of the year. If you go earlier in the summer, you don't have blazing sun yet - and as others have said just keep it slow. I usually hit the restroom to wipe my face/head with a wet paper towel once I arrived - but there were people who drove/took transit who looked worse than I usually did!

One big tip - if you really want to avoid sweating, keep stuff off your back if you can! Helps a lot to have it on the rack instead of making a big sweaty puddle on top of you.

mskyle

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2015, 10:00:10 AM »
If you have a rack and a couple of bungie cords, you can strap pretty much anything on there - no need to even mod a bag. I have some REI brand panniers which have served me well over the years, but a lot of the time I just strap my laptop bag to my rack with bungies. Bungie nets are handy too, but I got my last one all caught up in my wheel and had to cut it free. Uncool.

Mr. McGibblets

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2015, 11:29:55 AM »
Thanks everyone. I am going to pull the trigger on a Fuji Absolute 1.7 (2014). Pretty excited about gearing up! Although clothes/accessories for the bike are pricey, it's easy to justify as I will no longer be using a car during the week!

Mr. McGibblets

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #31 on: July 13, 2015, 07:42:23 AM »
I purchased a Transit Grocery Pannier from Performance Bike and tried to use it to carry my lunch and work clothes. The damned thing keeps slipping off the rear rack and gets caught in the bike spokes. I think the hooks that you mount to the rear rack are too wide - and the bungee cord isn't quite tight enough. Does anyone else have an issue with this type of pannier?

KCM5

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #32 on: July 13, 2015, 08:18:08 AM »
Have you tried to shorten the bungee by tying a knot in it? That may help keep it on.

spokey doke

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #33 on: July 13, 2015, 09:02:03 AM »
"Never tried a messenger bag since I thought it would annoyingly slide around to my front too often, and I found a backpack made me sweat a lot more, so pannier on a rack is what works best for me."

^ this piece is really critical - don't put anything on your back, esp. where you are.  Get a rack and figure out what bags work best for you and your budget.

I've liked the laptop panniers from Arkel for the computer, and other work stuff.

If I needed to also carry clothes, lunch. etc., I'd just get a simple grocery pannier from REI (or something similar, as there are plenty of versions out there that work fine) for the other side (you can get a waterproof stuff sack or use a big ziploc for rainy days).

desertCyclist

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2015, 09:30:48 AM »
I purchased a Transit Grocery Pannier from Performance Bike and tried to use it to carry my lunch and work clothes. The damned thing keeps slipping off the rear rack and gets caught in the bike spokes. I think the hooks that you mount to the rear rack are too wide - and the bungee cord isn't quite tight enough. Does anyone else have an issue with this type of pannier?

I've tried a couple different panniers and many of them are just finicky. I'm sure there is a decent solution to yours, but if I were you, I would return those panniers and purchase some Ortlieb waterproof ones. There are many other great DIY pannier options, but these ones are waterproof, incredibly durable (I've taken a good spill with no damage to my panniers or my laptop) they carry everything, and are easy to snap on and off. I know many people who are happy with the kitty litter panniers, but I would imagine you would want to put a backpack inside of them and carry that into work (especially as a contractor).

For a bike odometer, I use strava which is a free app you can download on your phone. It tracks time, distance, elevation, calories (i think) and shows how you did compared to other riders riding the same "segments."

Many people recommended riding slowly, but if you sweat taking out the trash then you will sweat regardless of speed. Just bring the extra clothes/clean up stuff and within 10 minutes of AC you will probably cool down. Plus, it's way more fun to go fast ;)

letired

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2015, 09:16:58 PM »
I bike ~2-4 mi  one way with moderate hills in Texas.

In the winter, I bike in my regular clothes, or take a change of underwear + shirt if it's warmer.

In the summer, I bike in any old shorts and a tshirt and bring a complete change from the skin out. Also, deodorant. If it's really gross or I'm motivated, I take some wet wipes or a wash cloth to wipe down with. I change in the bathroom as there are no showers or anything at my office. When I worked in a more casual environment and had a shorter commute (grad school with a bunch of hippies/ecologists) I biked in regular clothes year 'round and just wore things that breathed well and were low on synthetics.

Different strokes for different folks, but I find my synthetics stink up FAST.

I strongly recommend a rack, because carrying things on your back will get you hot and sweaty like nothing else. I used to have a basket on top of the rack with a bungee cord and just strapped everything in. I now have the Ortlieb panniers which are killer and ultra waterproof for that time I get caught in a random rainstorm.  That said, that really has only happened 3 or 4 times (but we've also been in a giant drought for a while, so ymmv).

If there is any chance you will be biking at night, or even when it's a little dim out, get good lights, both in front and back. They greatly add to how much you can see, and if you are in areas with lots of cars, greatly increase your visibility to cars (though you should always ride like you are invisible anyway).

Ocelot

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #36 on: July 14, 2015, 01:40:49 AM »
+1 for wearing good cycling clothes for the ride, and changing into fresh clothes at work. I carry work clothes with me in a backpack, and have room to stash them at work too. No shower at my current work either unfortunately, but as others have said, clean clothes, a quick wipe down of trouble spots and a little wait before you get changed can go a long way. I don't drive, and have commuted only by bike or running for the last 20 years. Having a shower at work is amazing if you can get it though, and cuts down on the home bills as well!

Mr. McGibblets

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Re: Riding Bike to Work - Newbie needs help
« Reply #37 on: July 14, 2015, 11:38:46 AM »
Thanks all for your help! I returned the crappy transit panniers and went to REI to get some good quality Novara ones. They are a little pricey (~$150/pair), but I signed up for their emails to a junk email address and got a 15% off coupon. After my ride in this morning, the pannier cost was justified.