Why I do it

Since this is my first post, I thought it would be best if I gave you a brief version of my “story? – and how I became a bike commuter.

I moved to Phoenix, AZ from Mobile, AL a little over a year ago to seek my fame and fortune. After finishing college, I was ready to see a new part of the country, and my big brother happened to live in Phoenix. I drove my car across the country, found myself a job, and began the nightmare of driving 22 miles, one way, from the suburbs to downtown Phoenix – along with the other million plus people making the same drive. This was my routine for about 6 months, until I just could not take it anymore. I decided that my sanity was worth more than the money I was saving by living with my big brother in a nice house, and found a reasonable (but still overpriced) apartment about 8.5 miles from my office. I moved in during the last week of July, and on August 1, I became a full-on bike commuter.

I rode my bke to work every day for the entire month of August. I withstood 23 work days of 110 plus degree heat – and no matter how “dry? the heat is, 110 degrees still feels like a blow dryer in your face. Everyday, at least one person would ask me why I did it. I would shrug and say, “I like riding bikes,? but there is more to it:

I do it:

* because I don’t want to be like everyone else in my office, who, when seeing someone walk in with a bike, tries to justify themselves by saying, “well I would ride my bike but…?;
* because politicians can talk about global warming and climate change all they want, but I am actually doing something about it;
* because I like showing people that, despite what they tell me, it can be done;
* because the more cyclists there are on the road, the more motorists will know how to behave around us;
* because it is guaranteed exercise every day;
* because I get to see my community on a more personal level; and
* because I, being of sound mind and body, can not imagine choosing this:


traffic in phoenix
[image courtesy of USA Today]

over this:

Finally, I do it because I really do like riding bikes. They’re fun, they let you roam free, and they’re fast – if you can make them be fast. Viva la Velorution!

I’ve had the Nirve Ultraliner for the past few months. And have used it to commute to work and around town for fun.

The Ultraliner comes in 15? for the ladies, 17? and 21? for the guys.

MSRP: $499.99

Advertised as:

NEW AUTOMATIC SHIFTING TECHNOLOGY
Shifts automatically just like your car to always keep you in the right gear
No more guessing which way to turn the shifter and ending up in the wrong gear
Climbs hills easier. Keep up with your friends with less effort
Lightweight & easy rolling alloy 700C wheels with stainless spokes
SHIMANO 3 speed automatic transmission always chooses the right gear for your riding conditions
Upright Nirve Sports Cruiser handlebars for comfortable cruising
Nirve comfort saddle with springs
Tough impact resistant Polycarbonate fenders
Alloy kick stand

Eye Candy: Whether on my commutes or just for fun, the Ultraliner was always catching some eyes. This bike definitely has more bling than most bikes. The burnished aluminum is a great touch for this bike.

The Ride: The upright position was very comfortable. Even after riding several miles, I did not experience any neck or back pain from slouching over like I would get from other bikes that I’ve had. It’s wide saddle made the ride smooth. Breaking was no problem at all. It’s V brakes worked beautifully.

The Shimano 3 Speed Automatic transmission worked flawlessly. Whether I rode up and down hills, or on rough terrain it shifted at the precise moment I needed it to. It’s shift timing could be easily adjust to shift sooner or later by a dial on the CPU located towards the rear of the bike.

Likes: The ride was smooth, thanks to the 700C wheels. It comes with a full chain guard to keep your legs from getting greasy, and fenders to keep dirt or mud off your back. Extremely low maintenance. The only thing I’ve had to do to this bike is pump the tires. Plus, I love the fact that you don’t have to worry about shifting! I have to mention that this bike totally kicks the Trek Lime’s butt by far. It’s cheaper, and its a bit faster because of the 700c wheels.

Another great thing about the Ultraliner is the Shimano Dynamo Hub not only powers up the CPU for shifting, but it also has enough juice to power up a dynamo light that we added from Planet Bike.

Dislikes: The bike is a bit on the slower side. But then again it’s called a Cruiser for a reason.

Recommendations: This is such a fun bike to commute or ride recreationally. If you like taking leisure rides without having to worry about shifting into the right gear because you’re not sure which is the right gear, then you’ll love the Nirve Ultraliner with its Autoshift technology. This is definitely one of the most pleasurable bikes I’ve had a chance to test out.

here’s this event called Burning Man that happens on the last week of August in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Bikes are the preferred method of transportation on the ‘Playa’.


Burning Man Bike, does this look like a freaking Magna???

Like clockwork, a huge amount of ‘Burning Man bikes’ surface on CraigsList LA. Most of these bikes are Discount Store bicycles that have been left out in the yard and what not. I’m all into recycling, but calling a piece of shit bike a ‘Burning Man’ Bike for the sake of selling it, it’s just plain ludicrous.

Based on our poll, a reliable bike is what matters most, being comfortable is second. So, how can you make your existing bike reliable AND comfortable?

Reliable:
Maintenance is the key to a reliable bike. Check out Jack’s article on Commuter Bike Maintenance. Inspecting your bike before a ride is also really important, check the spoke tension by running your hand over them, check your tires for proper inflation and inspect them to make sure that there’s no glass or thorns stuck in them.

Maxxis Over Drive tires with reinforced Kevlar Belt

I can guarantee that everyone of us has dealt with a flat tire, and they usually happen at the most inopportune time. There’s a slew of products that help minimize flats, the most common is Slime. You can either buy a bottle of Slime at your LBS or at Wally World and simply follow the instructions, got a presta valve? Check Out RL’s article on how to slime tubes with presta valves.

Heavy Duty Tube on the left, regular on the right

Heavy duty tubes and reinforced kevlar tires work really well too, the penalty is added weight but the trade off for piece of mind is certainly worth it.

Single Speed kit from Performance Bike.

For all of you that are mechanical inclined and your commute is not that hilly, you may consider “simplifying your drivetrain?. Turn that multi-speed commuter onto a singlespeed. Not only do you eliminate the need to tune derailleurs, you also save yourself weight in components. If your commute does not feature Monster hills and you still have the need for gears, consider a 1X9 or a 1X8 setup.

The NuVinci Hub, wide range of gear ratios, totally bombproof.

Hilly commute? The NuVinci hub that we are testing was not difficult to install, with a super wide range of gear ratios and it’s enclosed hub this setup is bombproof.

Comfort:
A comfortable bike can be a matter of individual preference. For example, a saddle is a very individual choice, myself, I can’t really deal with wide saddles, they rub against my inner thighs. Some people swear by cut outs, often referred as ‘love channels?, they are supposed to eliminate the “numb nuts? syndrome on men. Other people use those gel covers and swear by them, my suggestion is just to try stuff and stick to what works for you.

Suspension post, standard on Breezer Villager Bikes

Gel Inserts absorb road vibration and are really comfortable

Your choice of seatpost and handlebars also affect your comfort level. Suspension seatposts and raised handlebars do help to eliminate fatigue on your back and on your wrists. If your ride with drop bars or bullhorns, gel inserts are the way to go. I installed them on my F20-R and my wrists are really thanking me for it.

Carbon Fiber Seapost on my Swobo Sanchez

If it fits your budget, I swear by carbon fiber seatposts, bars and forks. Carbon Fiber is supposed to absorb some of the road chatter.


Giant Cypress with a suspension fork

Suspension forks are often used in ‘comfort bikes’, yes they are plush, but they are not as efficient as a rigid fork.


SweetSkinz tires: low pressure, comfortable and super stylish.

Lastly, tires. High Pressure tires are supposed to have less rolling resistance, but they can be rather jarring on rough pavement. Switching to low pressure tires will give you a more comfortable ride.

Thanks to all that participated on our poll, polls help us write articles and pick test bikes based on your choices.

1. I have a meeting to go to and its far.
2. I have a meeting and I need to dress nice (suit and stuff)
3. I need to pick up a big piece of furniture.
4. My tires are flat and I don’t have any tubes or patches.
5. It’s too hot.
6. It’s too cold.
7. It’s raining.
8. I’m running late.
9. I’m sore from yesterday’s bike commute.
10. I have to go to the grocery store after work.

I’m sure you folks have some other ones to add. So feel free to chip in your reasons why you have to drive.