BikeCommuters.com

bike train

Eating my own dog food

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Welcome back Bike Commuters and Metrolink riders! It finally stopped raining and I am really happy to be back doing the train/bike commute to work. It is interesting that the “comforts” of your car are forgotten once you realize that you are not stuck in traffic and you get to exercise too!

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You may remember that I launched Awnry Bikes last December; these singlespeed/fixed gear bikes are meant to be simple, efficient and really affordable. So I built one for myself to ride to work, I figured that if I am peddling (not pedaling or petaling) these bikes, I might as one ride one!

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I went ahead and built what I call a “Raw Deal” bike. Why “Raw Deal”? Because the frame is unpainted and untreated so it is basically “raw”. I also chose bullhorns on the front and switched to my Crank Brothers pedals (not peddles nor petals) other than that, the bike is “stock”.

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The bike comes with Neco and Lasco parts, I know, they are not name brand but what do you expect for $200? So how does it ride? For being an inexpensive bike, it is surprisingly smooth and comfortable. I thought that the saddle was going to be a pain in my ass (pun intended) but I was really happy with it.

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Interestingly, the bike got a lot of looks and positive comments. The person who scans the tickets in the train stopped to take a second look and nodded in approval! If there is one negative thing about this bike is that it lacks bosses for water bottle holders but I ordered this Bell Clinch Universal mount and cage from Amazon for about 9 bucks and problem solved.

I heard it is supposed to rain this week in Southern California, so stay tuned to see how those SealSkinz products held up.

2016: The year in review

Hello fellow bike commuters, roadies and mountain bikers; I hope y’all had a great Christmas and you got the bikey stuff you wanted. The big dude in the red suit was kind to me and eight Awnry Bike frames and parts are now in the works of being assembled. I am really excited to offer these simple but fun commuter bikes.

So now that I am done with my bikes plug, let us get into what happened at BikeCommuters.com on 2016. 2016 is the year that “The Bike Geek” returned to BikeCommuters and I am so happy that I did return. Although I never stopped cycling, health reasons really motivated me to keep riding but I never thought about riding my bike to work because of the “logistics”. Excuses, excuses…

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Well, if I was going to be writing for a bicycle commuting blog, it would have been a little hypocritical that I would not be riding my bike to work right? So I did my research and came out with a solution: Bike-Train commute.

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I went ahead and purchased a used Devinci Caribou cyclocross/touring bike for my cycling needs and by pure coincidence, the fine folks from 2wheel gear asked us to review their new backpack pannier convertible which is one of the best products I reviewed for 2016.

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Being new at riding the train had me a little nervous, I did not know about the train bike etiquette and as you may remember, I was a little over dressed for the occasion.

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I had forgotten how much fun commuting on bike is and I was also reminded of how many asshole drivers happen to be on the road. I guess things will never change so riding defensively and predictable is the best advise I can give someone who wants to give bike commuting a try.

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2016 was also the year that I got my wife involved in cycling, if you don’t remember, my wife does not know how to ride a bicycle. The solution was to order a Bike Friday Family tandem so her and I can go riding. The Bike Friday Tandem was the best money I’ve ever spent on a bicycle, my wife and I really enjoy riding together.

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I also got to add a little more excitement to my commute; I sold the Davinci Caribou and got me a rare Spicer Cycles Cyclocross bike for cheap. I was able to ride offroad for part of my commute on my way back home, that was just plain stupid fun. Oh yes, that was also the first time I tried Facebook’s “live” feature.

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Fast forwarding towards the end of 2016, I also stopped making excuses on riding while is dark and got totally lit with the help of NiteRider and BrightLightz. Commuting at night was a different but pleasant experience that I truly enjoyed.

2017 should be an exciting but busy year with the launch of Awnry Bikes, but I do plan to keep doing my weekly post for all of you to enjoy. I do want to take the time to thank the following companies for letting us showcase and review their stuff:

2Wheel Gear, NiteRider, ShowersPass, Abus Locks, DZR Shoes and Burley.

My Bike-Train commute in the dark

Hello Bike Commuters, I hope you enjoyed my NiteRider Lumina Micro 600 review from last week. This week’s post is sort of a prequel to last week’s post, I want to share my experience of riding my commuter bike to the train station in the dark.

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I’ve always been hesitant to ride my bicycle on the streets during darkness and I guess I am not alone because I did not see many bike commuters during my ride. As with most of my bike commutes, I always tend to plan methodically my rides and my equipment. Did I over do it? Maybe a little, but you can’t tell me that I wasn’t visible.

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I got a few questions regarding the green light that I installed at the bottom of my bike; this is a Brightz, Ltd. Go Brightz LED Bicycle Light that I purchased from Amazon for $12.99.

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Another question I got was what the hell is that on the downtube? That is the Folding Abus Bordo Folding Lock Granit X 6500 which came in handy because I had to lock up my bike to a post while I retrieved my car from an indoor parking lot (I have a roof rack).

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Enough of product placement, how was the ride? My apprehension of riding through the streets turned into excitement; cars actually moved over to their left because they actually saw me coming on their rear view mirrors! The NiteRider Lumina 600 Micro Light was plenty enough to light my way through the streets and never worried about outrunning it.

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Riding the San Diego Creek is also part of my commute, fortunately Irvine happens to be a very safe city and the bike trail was fully lit. I still recommend using a decent light while riding on the trail, the rider on the left was barely visible in dark areas.

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My last concern was the train station, I’ve seen plenty of movies where shit goes crazy at dark, creepy stations. My concern was unfounded; the Tustin Train station is fully lit and I felt safe.

I truly enjoyed bike commuting while is dark and I plan to continue doing it… until it rains.

A rear rack that can has a 200lb load capacity

Since I published the article for the Vigurvant, we were then approached by the folks from Companion Bike Seats to see about testing their rear rack/bike seat.

Here’s a short description:

A Companion Bike Seat gives your bike many of the same features of expensive cargo bikes and utility bikes, but is easy to install and works on most existing bikes, and some ebikes and motorized bicycles as well!

Not only is there a locking stash-box for your belongings, but Companion Bike Seats support passengers up to 200 pounds. Start a daily bike commuter “bike-pool.” Pick your kids up from school on your bike. Ride your bike to the bar instead of taking a cab, and you can still bring someone home with you!

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After checking out their site, I was really intrigued by the whole idea of being able to carry full grown adult and a sandwich in the storage compartment. So after a few email exchanges, Paul O’Leary agreed to send a test unit over. I’ll most likely use it with the Vigurvant pedals. It would actually make sense for both of of these companies to work together and see if they can do a combo deal.Anyhow, I’m looking forward to the Companion and we’ll report back to you on our findings.

Bike trains?

Have any of our readers taken part in a “bike train”? We wrote about Portland bike trains back in 2011. A “bike train” is when a group of commuters come together for safety. While our article pertains to bike trains of schoolchildren getting together to ride to school (led by a parent or other adults, in most cases), it’s interesting to learn that the concept is becoming more popular.

The other day, I spotted the following article on NPR’s “All Things Considered”:

One of the largest obstacles in getting people to bike to work is their fear of getting hit by a car. A new grass-roots project in Los Angeles is helping folks navigate the ins and outs of traffic.

It’s 6:45 a.m. and Barbara Insua is busy packing a bag. She will ride seven miles from her home in Pasadena to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, where she works as a graphic designer. She only started doing this ride a few months ago.

“It was kind of daunting,” she says, “because seven miles to the lab — I didn’t know how to do it. I’m not an avid cyclist.”

Enter L.A. Bike Trains — an organization that arranges commutes by bike in groups.

Read the rest of the article or listen to the audiocast by clicking here. This sounds like a really cool concept, and one I’d like to try. In my experience as a commuter, I’ve only taken part in group commuting rides during Bike To Work Month — it seemed like folks would go out of their way to get together to ride during such special events, but not other times.

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Arranging bike trains should be relatively easy, and I look forward to seeing more of these happening around the U.S. Safety is in numbers for cyclists!