Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Becoming a Bike Commuter

One of the things I enjoy most about running a small business is meeting, and doing business with, other proprietors. I've found that talking to other business owners keeps me excited about running my own business and motivated to excel in my work. My most recent interaction of such was with Tim and Lisa Ingram, owners of Momentum Bikes in Platteville, WI. Tim & Lisa have made several purchases at Custom Futons and so in turn I recently had Tim tune up an old beater bike of mine because I'm trying to become a commuter.

Walking into Tim's shop is an experience. Long boards, bicycles and other alternate transportation accessories line the walls tempting your attention. Employees help customers and busily work on bikes in an open-to-the-public repair room. Barely visible, through a door opening to the back alley, is another employee grilling lunch for the entire staff. It quickly becomes apparent that this shop isn't just a fun place to be, it's also a fun place to work. The employees seem genuinely excited for the bicycling adventure that awaits each customer who enters the door. Their enthusiasm for biking and the lifestyle it can provide their clients is evident in every conversation that takes place.

Long story short, Tim helped me get my bike (and me) ready for commuting. "It's a lifestyle" he said, and I'm starting to understand what he means by that. The past week I biked to work almost everyday. I've also made trips to the grocery store, restaurants etc... all on my bike! Surprisingly, I've been getting to these places in nearly the same amount of time it would take me to drive and I'm not paying $4 per gallon to do it. I'm discovering how rewarding it can feel to approach the challenge of getting where I need to be without using a car.  

Tim helped me realize a few good things about using an older bike as a commuter. He pointed out that "bolt on" wheels accompanying an older frame help insulate your bike from potential thieves. He also pointed out that commuter bikes get a lot of ware and tare and for that reason it's good to start with one that already has some bumps and bruises. So what exactly did Tim do to my bike? I'll let the pictures and their captions tell the story.

The first thing Tim suggested was to put fenders on my front and back tires. After getting completely soaked this past week on a 12 mile ride into work from Sherril, I must say I am very glad to now have these fenders. I'm finding that riding in the rain is just part of commuting so these fenders were well worth the money. ($50 for the pair)
Tim stressed the importance of staying visible. This head light is detachable so it doubles as a flashlight and has two settings; solid on and flashing. Law requires a headlight to ride at night, taillights are optional. I chose to have a headlight, taillight, and rear reflector. 
The taillight is also detachable and can be mounted in a few places depending on where I feel it will be most effective. It came with a belt-clip that also allows me to put it on my backpack if I want to. It also has different settings for flashing or staying on solid.  
Here is the rear rack and fender. The rack added another $50  but it will allow me to hang saddle bags on both sides AND have a basket or milk crate on top. I should be able to get all my groceries on this rig once I get it decked out the rest of the way. Also, notice the bike lock chain wrapped around the seat pole. 
So this is my commuter bike! I should also mention in addition to these accessories, Tim did a complete tune up; truing the wheels, greasing the chain, checking the breaks etc. Look out Dubuque, here I come!!!
Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar setup. Served me well before my son was born. Waiting for that day when I can get back into bike commuting (next summer, hopefully).