Friday, May 13, 2011

Bike to Work Week

NYC executive style!  Faux Alligator Panniers by Lumpkin Cycle Works

May 16th - 20th is Bike to Work Week.  Are you ready for the Commuter Challenge?  This is a great time to find out how much you can do on your bike. Really if you do a little planning and invest in a few pieces of equipment, you can turn your bicycle into a second car!  Panniers are a start because they free you from having to carry a bag that can shift, interfering with steering.  The ones shown above are by Lumpkin Cycle Works and are handcrafted in Detroit Michigan, USA.  These are so elegant but roomy enough to accommodate large items with ease.  They are tapered away to avoid heel kicks and include straps for extra tail lights.  Beauty meets function in these panniers that can hold your portfolio, iPad, cell and a lot more.

Terry's new Urban Collection cyclewear
The Basics

Whether are looking to bike to work or do some errands, you'll need a few things to be comfortable and safe out there.  If your bicycle doesn't have a chain guard, you might want to get a large elastic band to cuff up your right pant leg.  Also fenders on your bike help keep road nasties from spraying onto your clothing.  I don't have fenders or a chain guard but I also don't ride in the rain.  Assess the type of riding you'll be doing and adjust accordingly.

I just touched on this but you should make sure your clothing choice doesn't interfere with the workings of your bike.  Another good idea is to wear a pair of hard soled shoes.  These will give you more power to the pedal over soft, flexible soles.
I also like to carry a change of clothes.  Panniers or bicycle saddle bags allow that luxury and a lot more.  Pick a shirt, pants and keep a jacket tucked away in case of rain or cooler weather.  Temperatures can sometimes drop from out of nowhere and goosebumps don't look that great riding around.

CatEye Commuter Wireless

Timing is Everything

When I used to bike to work in college, I never knew how long it would take me so I'd often leave a bit too early.  A cycle computer is a good idea of course but for commuting, the CatEye Commuter Wireless is the instrument of choice.  Gives you the usual speed, distance, etc. but also gives time, date, temperature AND estimated time of arrival.  See your progress with a tracking bar that evaluates your speed vs time.   
The CatEye Commuter Wireless is the first computer dedicated to cyclists who use a bike to commute.  It really is made with the commuter in mind and allows you to access the data screens by just pressing the unit.  Even has a night light for riding after dark.  Well thought out piece of equipment.

Bright Idea's 3 Watt Rechargeable Headlight
A Bright Idea 

I like to have a very strong headlight on my bike, not just to see at night but to be seen during the day.  That's why this rechargeable 3 watt bicycle light from Bright Ideas was such a find.  Very Planet Bike-ish but reasonably priced.  You get high - low beam and flashing PLUS it's bright enough to be seen in broad daylight.  I had it on flashing this week and a driver had moved in front of me into my lane to make a right turn.  He saw the flashing light and moved OUT of the lane, allowing me to move to the front.  That's what I'm talking about!  Comes with batteries fully charged so it went from the box to the bike in a snap.  Probably the most important piece of gear you'll buy for your bike is a head and taillight.

CatEye Reflex Auto Tail Light
You're Looking at Taillights  

A really bright flashing tail light is important for being seen at night.  The thing is, we often forget to put it on!  CatEye's Reflex Auto Tail Light solves all that.  It has built in light & motion sensors that turn it on automatically.  It is probably one of the brightest tail lights out there. I like to pair this up with a daytime-visible tail light such as the Trek Flare 10 with 10 LEDs (sorry, only available only at bike shops, not sold online).  Another tail light that is very bright is by Portland Design Works but we haven't tested it yet so I'll reserve comment.  Really any type of bright flashing red LED will be a great boost to visibility out on the road.  I clip them to my panniers and the CatEye Reflex Auto is  permanently mounted onto my bike rack.

Living for the Weekend?
Basil's Jada Rear Basket and Double Panniers 
NEW! Basil's Jada Rear Bike Basket in Blueberry Purple
Ok so you've made it through Bike to Work Week.  Yeah!  Well there's no need to stop now.  These Basil Double Bicycle Bags and Rear Basket are from the Netherlands where cycling is a way of life.  These bags and basket show that as they are VERY well made and designed.  The basket clips on your back rack so easily and has feet so you can take it with you to market for shopping.  Load it up with a bottle of wine, baguette sandwiches and some fruit for a lovely weekend picnic.  Has a rain cap and inside / outside zippered pouches.

The Jada Double Bicycle Bags feature reflective tape, rain resistant fabric and a zippered outside pouch.  This is great because you needn't unclasp the bag to get at things you prefer to keep handy such as a cycle cap or your Park Multi Tool. Work or play, there is a way to use you bicycle for the maximum amount of pleasure.

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