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Friday, 27 December 2013

Building An All Weather Commuter

All season, all weather, all the time. That was a new motto for me. The goal was to turn my inexpensive ride into an all weather commuter to take me to work and back each day.

You can research and buy yourself an expensive commuter bicycle but I think you can modify a basic mountain bike into a machine that will fill the bill nicely. You just have to add the right accessories.

First item to add is a rear rack. Yes, you can wear a backpack, but it is better to attach your load directly to the bike. Big reason is that it gives you a lower centre of gravity. It will be easier to balance and easier to manoeuvre.  I also find that a backpack will restrict your ability to move freely. A big one may even interfere with your ability to check traffic behind you.

Visibility is always important and since this article is about riding under all conditions, lighting is needed. The reflectors on most bikes are not enough. A proper bicycle taillight is a must. I put mine on strobe or flash mode. There are riders who disagree with doing this, but I find motorists tune it out if it isn’t flashing. The headlight isn’t as important. You can purchase headlights but I go cheap and just use a small led flashlight from the local dollar store attached to the handlebars. If you can see where you’re going and you’re alert to vehicles pulling out of driveways and parking lots or making left turns you’ll be just fine with that. If there is any doubt whether a motorist sees you, stop and wait. Stick to battery power for the lights. I haven’t seen a generator-powered model that impresses me yet. In my experience, they are expensive and don’t last. Even though this is a discussion about commuter bikes, it’s important to remember to dress with being visible in mind as well.

Last recommended add on is fenders. Some riders don’t like them. If you ride ten kilometres per hour or slower or you don’t care whether you wear what’s on the road, do without. I can’t afford to look like I’ve fallen into a mud puddle and then dragged through a hedge backwards when I get to work. I bought some inexpensive ABS quick release finders for my commuter and I love them. 

As always the decision to ride under these conditions is your own responsibility. This article is meant to offer my own experiences on the subject and hope that it is helpful. Before deciding to do this type of riding, I would strongly recommend seeking other informed opinions before making your decision. 

Related Articles (Photos and titles are clickable links)

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There is weather that you should try to avoid on a bicycle. In this case my wife came to the rescue. 

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