27 Mar 2015

Bicycle Commuting Setup

Throughout my life, my bicycle has been an integral part of how I get around. For most of my childhood, I got to and from school by bike. I used my bike to get around in the small-ish town I grew up in. When I moved to Richmond, I used my bike to get to and from work. I had several years where I drove instead, believing that to become a professional meant leaving my bike behind and driving a car.

But over the last couple of years, I have come back to my bicycle as my principle mode of transportation. It has been my main mode of transportation around town, the main focus of my exercise routine, and, since last July, a major component of my commute (you may remember THIS post from last July).

With two small children at home, I am frequently looking for ways to balance the schedule of a busy family with the demands of my career and still finding as much time as possible to ride my bike. Using my bicycle as a part of my commute to and from work helps me achieve that. The bigger challenge will come in the fall when my youngest begins day care - I need to find a way to pick up a one-year-old from day care and a five-year-old from school, all along a 5 km route home. But that's a post for another day. 

I find myself in an endless struggle to get my bicycle to that perfect setup. You know the one - where everything is exactly the way you need it and still looks awesome. I love the style of my bicycle (read about my Norco Threshold HERE) and the clean look. But functionally, I need to have some things on it. I've added the following accessories/components to get the function I need:
  1. Full coverage Axiom fenders - they're black, plastic, and have reflector tape along both edges. Perfect for what I need and they're black so they match my bike. Even though aesthetically I would prefer no fenders at all, with our wet coast weather, these are critical.
  2. MEC Quattro USB white light - fantastic head light I bought a few months ago. Charges conveniently by USB and has a warning light when the battery is low. By getting a USB rechargeable light, it saves my having to constantly buy, replace, and dispose of batteries. This light has a bright flash and a very good throw (distance) on the beam. Has more than enough light to ride on the dyke at night (in near complete darkness). This has to be about the best and brightest light available under $50. In fact, it's better than other lights I have paid well over $100 for. And in black, it matches my bike.
  3. MEC Plasma USB red rear light - similar to my MEC Quattro light above, this one charges by USB and has a warning light when the battery is low. This is a bright rear flashing red. I love it.
My next question is to pannier or not to pannier? I have traditionally hauled everything in a backpack. While I love my backpack, it is often stuffed as full as it will go and I find myself struggling with how to get things to and from the office. Thus, I am currently considering a rear rack and panniers. I currently have my eye on the Timbuk2 Tandem Panniers at MEC, which look like a convenient setup to haul a change of clothes, shoes, and laptop on my bicycle and, subsequently, on foot using the shoulder strap.

So I pose this question now, what is your commuter setup? What components or accessories are important to you?

Update: I ended up going with The Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier from Two Wheel Gear. Read my review of it HERE

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