The Commuter Bike Shopper’s Checklist

Use the checklist below to comparison shop at your local bike stores or identify the cost options for making your current bike a fully-equipped commuter bike. (PDF version)

two week bike tour/camping set-up
too much stuff!

Bicycle

Rear light
Front light
Fenders
Rack
Panniers
Bell/horn
Lock
Rain gear – Top
Rain gear – Bottom
Boots/Booties
TOTAL


The Bike

Your best choice if buying a brand-new
commuter bike is a model with 700c size wheels.
These are the same size wheels road racing and
touring bikes use. They are faster and lighter
than 26 inch mountain bike wheels and better
suited to commuter riding. Converting a road
bike by swapping the racing style ‘drop’ bars for
riser, or cruiser style handlebars, is another fine
option. If you are going to use a mountain bike,
replace the off-road knobby tires with 1.5 inch
street tires. You’ll gain speed, control, and dayto-
day puncture-resistance.

Rear Light
By far the most important piece of safety
equipment you should have installed on your
bike. They are cheap and ubiquitous. Buy a
couple. Attach at least one to your bike and keep
the other to clip onto clothes or a dead-sexy
safety vest.

Front Light
If you’re commuting in the city, all you really
need is the small, cheap, white LED blinky. Add
candlepower depending on your financial
tolerance and urge to be seen. An easy-to-use
quick release can come in handy.


Fenders

Get the black plastic and steel kind that attach to
your frame at three or four points. Unlike the
ones that stick out from your seat post, or the
motocross style plastic fenders designed for use
with front suspension, they actually keep your
feet and butt relatively dry. Beware of potential
hassles with disc brakes when buying a brandnew
bike.


Rack

Look for a nice one? Make sure it will work with
your bike and doesn’t limit your choice of
panniers.


Panniers

Rubberized, roll-top super-waterproof panniers
are awesome. Regular panniers with your stuff
inside shopping bags will do as good a job unless
you regularly ride in typhoons. More
importantly, the easier they are to take on and
off, the more likely you’ll use them.

Bell/horn
You can tinkle, or toot, or yell in a pinch. The
bell is our first pick because it’s friendly. More
than a few commuters have a bell and a horn.
Room on the handlebars for both is sometimes
an issue.


Lock

Buy the best one you can afford and use it.
Always. If you don’t know how, get the bike
store or a knowledgeable friend to show you how
to lock the both the frame and front tire to a bike
rack for maximum security.

Rain Wear
If you want to go fast, get the sleek, form-fitting
stuff. Booties to go over your regular riding
shoes make a very big difference, keeping toes
both dryer and warmer. If you don’t plan on
breaking speed records or a sweat, just use your
most waterproof rain coat (or buy one) and rainpants
that you can put on over your regular work
clothes. Rubber boots, which are incidentally the
latest fashion, are also the best choice for
footwear. Take your regular shoes with you, or
leave a pair at work.

2 Comments

  1. Rob | |

    There’s a bike in that picture? Where?

    Nice list. BTW, the bell is for pedestrians, the horn is for motorists.

  2. admin | |

    LOL. That was my bike before setting out for Nevada on a bike/train trip. I eventually pared it down so that the big duffle bag on the back was replaced with a smaller one, but a few weeks on the road, plus bringing along a laptop and video gear definitely makes for a big load!

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