First Commute of the Year

I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions, but one thing I did promise my self was making sure I rode my bike more than I did last year. My first commute of the year will be tomorrow to my office. I’m really looking forward to it and take all the steps to prepare my stuff for my maiden voyage.

1. Charge battery pack for lights
2. Have change of clothes picked out
3. Check over my bike and make sure its in good working order.
4. Pack tube, pump and water bottle
5. Get all my hygiene stuff packed
6. Set my alarm!

So that’s about it, I’m thinking of getting into this wool stuff that Russ Roca so avidly supports. I also like the classy/vintage style commuter bikes that I’m seeing more through people’s comments and emails that we get. I may just have to slowly convert one of the bikes into something that sorta accentuates the Russ Roca-ish style of bikes. I’ll start off by saving up for a Brooks saddle…

Wish me luck!


  1. RJ

    Cheers to that!

    And for all those cyclists already riding to work regularly– they’d do well to make it a resolution to take newbies and prospects under their wings! I’ve repeatedly found that just that little extra personal time spent with someone– teaching them to fix a flat, maintain a chain, etc– it goes a LONG way towards keeping them on a bike!

  2. Iron_Man

    Thanks for the light charge reminder. I’ll go do that now.

  3. Mike Myers

    RL—If you decide to take the leap to wool, make sure to buy a size larger than you normally wear. You and I are pretty much the same size, and my size L wool jerseys from Portland Cyclewear are kind of tight. Then again, cycling clothing isn’t made for those of us who are built like the Thing. XL in wool is probably a good idea.

  4. Vance

    I am one of the league of cyclists who bike to work. It is a great way to develop discipline, strength and stamina as well as confidence. Indeed, luck to you guys!

  5. Tinker

    I saw on (Your?) bloga few months ago, a sort of a short bicycle flag, ,o=unted horizontally to “force” cars to give bicyclists a bit more clearance, and stored a link to the souirce. But when I got around to it a couplke weeks later, it seems ed to have gone out of business.

    But tonight, I found a reference to “FLASH FLAG” and keyed it into google, and turned up a blogger reselling them (with a useful mod). He has a link on as well as at

    These things are different than the others, mostly shorter, with reflective yellow stripes on blaze orange flags. But they seem to work pretty much the same, and, wonder of wonders, are sold all over the world as Flash Flags. Thanks a bunch for the idea, as this seems ideal, and I was too cheap to make my own.

    RE wool bicycle wear. Wool stays warm and dry, under damp conditions, and does not lose its insulation ability, I’ve been wearing wool socks for years (here in Central Texas, that says a lot for the moisture control, if not for warmth!).

  6. Ghost Rider

    Yep…that D-Tour flag guy disappeared…we haven’t been able to contact him in a long time.

    Check with Nollij…that post referenced above is almost two years old. Flash Flags are available elsewhere if you look, too.

  7. Jesus Christ

    Yes that was my resolution as well, but I am going to try to bring my clothes to work on Mon. and ride the rest of the week (less time packing and weight). Great website as always and I am really diggin that ultimate commuter, it kinda of made me horney. jk (not really)

  8. Bob

    Wool makes me itch and it gives me a nasty rash. I like Under Armour as a base layer followed by an Under Armour long sleeved shirt. Add a Showers Pass jacket and pants as an outer layer and I’m ready for Pacific Northwest constant damp and rainy winter.

  9. Richie

    Okay, first time posting a comment here – what exactly is a Russ Roca-ish style of bike? I don’t commute – work at home but I try to run all my errands on bike – I’ve been looking for a reasonably upright style bike for a year, but just don’t want to spring the $1600 or more for a dutch bike. Any suggestions?

  10. rapps

    First ride of the year yesterday, was a balmy 36-40 degrees out. Took a video back to the store, short 3.2 mile ride. Was wonderful! No ice, light mist but still sure was nice to be on a bike again.
    Too cold today to ride to work, when it’s 22 at 7:30 and 32 at 9:30 I’m not running out to get on the bike.
    I love wool socks, find them on the cheap at the resale shops, $2-$3 a pair, new 🙂 People don’t like wool, I find them soft, warm and they keep my feet warm. I even knitted wool slippers (felted) so it’s a double layer in the house. A wool sweater over something is great, next to ones skin-itchy.

  11. Iron Man

    If your thoughts of wool are cable knit sweaters from Abercrombie then yes those are itchy, but merino is oh so soft. I don’t wear wool jerseys because of the steep price point. $160 is fairly average and with two kids I just can’t bring myself to spring for it. Even if the cash is in hand I can’t do it. I’d rather buy two good synthetic tops and get the boys something.

  12. Dean Peddle

    Richie, I too came back from Holland and was looking for a Dutch style bike and bought a Breezer Uptown 8. The Uptown has all the nice dutch feature you like…upright position, dynomo hub generated lights with senso and standlight features, 8sp Nexus hub with full chain guard, fenders, rack and ring lock. If you can give up some of these features they have cheaper models as well. Plus I think Russ has one of these (Breezer). I have extra large panniers (60 liters) and haul all kinds of stuff. Bike rides beautiful and has been maintence free for just under 2 years….even being ridden in a Canadian winter !!!!

    Also check out the Redline bikes. I did not see these when I was shoping but they have some very Dutch models.

  13. Ghost Rider

    Moe’s got a Breezer…but I don’t think Russ does.

    A “Russ Roca-ish” bike is one that has classic features and is also versatile for touring, cargo hauling and getting around short and long distances.

  14. Richie

    Thanks, Dean,
    I tried a Breezer but found the seating position not exactly upright, sort of upright-ish. I talked to the guy at the store about switching the handlebars and/or putting in a longer stem- so maybe I’ll do that. I also tried the Gary Fisher Simple City – same deal on geometry (although the seat tube is at a better angle) plus no rack, no lights and a half-hearted chain guard. The three -speed has coaster brakes, which I’m not in love with.
    I don’t understand why US bike makers can’t produce a faithful copy of a Dutch bike. It seems people are willing to pay a lot for the genuine thing just to get the right geometry and features. More stores are selling Azors and Batavus and Pashleys in spite of the foreign exchange markup. I’m tempted to break down and buy one from Clever Cycles in Portland, but then I’d have to add $200 in shipping.

  15. Ghost Rider

    “I don’t understand why US bike makers can’t produce a faithful copy of a Dutch bike. ”

    They do: the Electra Amsterdam

  16. Moe

    Also, Torker bikes will be coming out with an affordable Dutch style bike, check out our Interbike video:

  17. Clancy

    Richie, Look at this thread from Bikeforums. You can dutchify any bike including the Breezer.

  18. Lance

    D-Tour Flags:
    If you guys can find that guy again I’d buy another one of these. I will NOT ride without it in Orange County, CA. I forgot it one day and the difference in the amount of space cars give you is night and day. A couple feet = night and day while commuting.

    Best commuting accessory every, in my opinion.

    Actually had a guy almost run me over one time with it on. After scolding him at the stop light, he admits his error and asks “what’s the flag for?!” OY

  19. Clancy


    Try these though they may be hard to order.

  20. Ghost Rider

    send me an email — if I can find all the parts to my D-Tour, I’ll send it to you.

  21. Dean Peddle

    Ghost….PLEASE. Amsterdam is nothing like a Dutch bike. I read an Interview once by someone from Batavus laughing at this bike.

    Richie…you are right about the seat angle….I do notice in store windows I’m not completely upright but I came from a Racing background so I feel super upright. I’d stick with the Breezers and just change the stem…that is simple. I changed out the saddle and seat post as these are con Dutch !!

  22. Ghost Rider

    Dean, how is the Amsterdam not like a genuine Dutch bike? It’s got full chainguard, skirt guard, three speeds, similar seating and handlebar positioning…really, the only thing missing is the AXA wheel lock and about 20 extra pounds of weight!

    Sure, there are minor differences…but none of them detract from the very European idea of a simple bike that is built for one thing: getting around town.

  23. Mike Myers

    GR–I think I read the same article from Batavus. The gripe they had with the Amsterdam is it’s not as well-built as a true Dutch bike. Apparently, Dutch bikes are designed to withstand 20 years of abuse and being parked outside, and the writer didn’t think the Amsterdam was.

    That being said, Americans are different than the Dutch. Most American bikes spend their ‘off time’ safely resting in garages, sheds, or living rooms. And the Amsterdam is a lot cheaper than a Batavus.

  24. Ghost Rider

    Well, I’d sure love to hear some specifics…the only real difference between the Amsterdam and a 3 speed Batavus is the rims on the Batavus are stainless steel, not aluminum alloy. Running gear is virtually the same, and the frame is made of the same material. Does the Batavus have thicker frame tubing? Does that really matter?

    I mean seriously — look at them side by side and tell me a real difference…it’s easy for Batavus, maker of “real” Dutch bikes, to say their bikes are better!

  25. Dean Peddle

    Ghost, the extra 20 lbs of weight is there for a reason. Lighter is good for racing bikes but heavier is better for city bikes. I still feel it looks like a beach cruiser with its crank position.

    I’m not saying its a bad bike. I guess I’m just saying someone in Holland would ride it so its not really “Dutch”.

  26. Richie

    The difference is in the riding position. The Electras are more like comfort bikes, the seat tube angle is so slack you can put your feet on the ground and stay in the saddle. I’ve never understood why people need to do that – it’s not important to me. Sitting that far back makes it harder to pedal.
    Quality wise it’s probably not as sturdy as a Batavus or Azor – Bike Hugger had a review of the batavus Flying D
    I think I might be able to find a local dealer for that. But it’s not clear if it’s just got coaster brakes

  27. Ghost Rider

    Batavus Flying D is aluminum-framed and has roller brakes…at least according to City Bikes in D.C. The Bike Hugger article varies by saying “coaster” rather than roller. And, of course, the bike doesn’t appear on Batavus’s own website.

    There’s a misconception about the Amsterdam — it does NOT have Electra’s “foot forward” geometry — it is a little more relaxed than a Batavus or Azor, but it isn’t at all like the rest of the Electra line. Still plenty upright for city riding!

  28. Ken Sturrock

    Richie: Most non-serious riders don’t like to have their saddles up so that they have to balance a bicycle on their toe and have to learn to properly mount the bicycle. The Electra frame is designed so that you can get decent leg extension without feeling like you’re “jacked up”. I agree with you, *I* hate the “flat foot” frame but virtually everyone I’ve ever talked to who isn’t a serious rider loves the Electra design. In fact, my wife loves her Electra Gypsy, which is flat foot, even though she has become a serious rider. If the Electra design gets more people on bicycles then I’m all for it – just not for me.

    Ghost: I’m pretty sure the Amsterdam is flat foot. Maybe it’s geometry is different from a townie or Amy’s gypsy but looking at pictures, it sure doesn’t look like the seat post intersects the bottom bracket.


  29. Lock Master (Jeff)

    I ride with only a base layer and outer shell for my upper boddy and maybe throw fleece on if the temp drops into single digits. My core dousn’t have problems w/ the cold, but my fingers are chilly for the first half of my ride. Then my toes start to go evn though I am wearing ski socks inside winter boots. I’m thinking of using the same battery powered footbeds I use in my ski boots.

  30. Stone

    I know most of you probably dont speak Dutch, but if you look on the “.nl” version instead of the “.com” website for whatever Dutch manufacturer you want, you will find a MUCH larger selection to look at. Try and check out the “stadsfietsen” which means city bike… I noticed the american (.com) website for batavus doesnt have anything at all for their city bike line.

  31. Ghost Rider

    Good point, Stone — Batavus is under-represented here in the states, but the U.S. distributor (Seattle Bike Supply) is doing what they can to make it better for us over here!

    There are a lot of European-only bikes that would sell like hotcakes here in the U.S. Here’s hoping more companies “see the light” and bring some of those beauties over here.

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