Riding a bike to class?

  • #1
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Do any students here (or faculty for that matter) actually ride a bicycle to class? For the past few weeks I have been thinking it's a good idea. I live something like 2 miles from my university, and there are virtually no busy intersections that I would have to cross.

Lately, traffic has been so random that some days if I leave an hour early I still can't find reasonable parking anywhere near my classes. I have class at 10am a few days a week, and others in the evening on the other days, but if I am not out the door by 8:30 you literally cannot park anywhere.

I have not done it yet because:

a.) I don't own a bicycle, and I don't even know what type would be appropriate. I'm not 17, I'm in my late 20's.

b.) I live in Florida where it's hot as heck most of the year (which is nice), but I don't want to show up drenched in sweat. During the winter it can get a bone-chilling 70°F and I don't even want to leave the house I am so accustomed to the warmth.

c.) What the heck do you wear to bike to class? I worked a full-time business casual/formal job before going back to school, and practically everything I own consists of slacks et al. What if it rains?

d.) I don't know, I have some sort of stigma about pedaling anywhere at my age.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Astronuc
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I rode a bicycle to my office (in grad school) rather than park a car. I was in my mid to late 20's. It was good exercise, especially with a 40+ lb backpack. I could ride as fast or faster than the cars on campus.

It was also the middle of Texas, and it go pretty warm, especially in the summer. It also got me across campus and to neighborhoods some distance from campus. It was much easier to navigate congested roads, and I didn't have to worry about parking.
 
  • #3
1,564
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I used to ride my bike to school every day, even in the winter time. Its about a 5 mile ride. I stopped because I started working very late hours and was just getting to tired at the end of the day to ride home.

Now I work and go to school so I converted my pedal bike to an ebike so I don't show up to work covered in sweat. The electric part gets the bike up to about 25mph and I can pedal until I start to get sweaty. Works out great.
 
  • #4
461
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I find it weird that you live just 2 miles from your classes and you drive.I have to walk about a mile in addition to 45 mins in public transportation.Parking doesn't even exist around my school.
 
  • #5
jhae2.718
Gold Member
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I brought a bike freshman year, never rode it and the tires deflated. I pretty much walk everywhere.

It was also the middle of Texas, and it go pretty warm, especially in the summer.
Still does. :grumpy:
 
  • #6
turbo
Gold Member
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I tried to use a bike for on-campus commuting, but wasn't rich enough to afford a bike that the campus cops would give a damn about when it was stolen. After spending my money to buy two new bikes and having them stolen, I gave up and walked.
 
  • #7
Hepth
Gold Member
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I love biking now, basically anywhere (aka cycling? :)) And I'm 28. Our whole group of friends all bought bikes last summer and we ride all the time, feels like being 10 again.

But as for class, look for a bike on craigslist if you're cheap(<$100). Bikesdirect.com if you're not that cheap.(cheapest road is about 279)

Get a ROAD bike. Find out what size you need, itll be really uncomfortable at first, but the lack of effort needed to ride it around a city will keep you from sweating and YOUR seat will break in after about a week of riding.

If you're only going a few miles a single speed (read NOT FIXED GEAR) is also great.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/track.htm

like that. A bunch of us got our bikes off there. You can assemble it yourself, its basically completely put together and takes about 15 minutes to figure the rest out. (have to put on handlebars, seat and front wheel)


Some of my friends have mountain bikes, some have hybrids and both struggle to keep up the pace we set with our road bikes, and we're basically coasting a lot.

Also, if you get a bike with lock in feet or straps, remove them. You dont need them for city riding and they'll probably just get you hurt if you havent ridden in a while.



I should stress that cycling happens to be back in style(especially for ages 25-30) as its not just fun, its healthy and economical. This means there are a LOT of bike shops that can help you figure out what you want (then go buy on bikesdirect) in almost ever area. Streets are constantly being upgraded with bike paths, cities have added a ton of bike-lock-stands. It costs you zero gas, zero parking, and if its stolen you're only out of about 300 bucks. Just get a good u-lock with an extra small cable lock. The new road bikes are REALLY light, i carry mine up and down my apartments stairs every day, especially the single speeds.

I promise you won't be sorry you bought it.
 
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  • #8
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2
I find it weird that you live just 2 miles from your classes and you drive.I have to walk about a mile in addition to 45 mins in public transportation.Parking doesn't even exist around my school.
Well, google maps claims the total distance is 2.6 miles. The internet tells me that a "modest pace" is 2.5 mph walking. That's a little more than an hours walk and there is no public transportation around here, well there is, but it's about 2.0 miles to the bus stop. The average bicycle is around 13.5 mpg though, so that would likely take me 15 minutes. That's shorter than the time it takes me to park usually.

Thanks Hepth!
I'll look into that site. How would I go about sizing a bike? I'm approx 6'0" 190lbs. That one you posted doesn't even have brakes unless it's one of those pedal backwards things?
 
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  • #9
DoggerDan
I have not done it yet because:

a.) I don't own a bicycle
Buy one.

and I don't even know what type would be appropriate.
One that fits you, your cycling experience, and your riding style.

I'm not 17, I'm in my late 20's.
So? I'm over 50 and I still ride a mountain bike and a road racer.

b.) I live in Florida where it's hot as heck most of the year (which is nice), but I don't want to show up drenched in sweat.
Most commuting cyclists don't wear their work/school clothes while cycling. They wear appropriate cycling gear and keep their normal clothes in a locker. I used to keep my shoes and a jacket at work and haul my daily shorts/pants and a shirt back and forth.

During the winter it can get a bone-chilling 70°F and I don't even want to leave the house I am so accustomed to the warmth.
I used to live in Florida, but in the panhandle. Every once in a blue moon the bird bath might actually freeze!

At least you'll save on cycling clothes.

c.) What the heck do you wear to bike to class? I worked a full-time business casual/formal job before going back to school, and practically everything I own consists of slacks et al. What if it rains?
That's why commuter cyclists wear cycling clothes. If it rains, I put on a rain jacket and rain legs. Both are very lightweight and breath well.

Bottom line, if it rains, you'll get soaking wet, it's just part of the fun! Bring a towel.

d.) I don't know, I have some sort of stigma about pedaling anywhere at my age.
You're in your late 20's? Lol, like I said, I'm in my early 50s. Look around and you'll find cyclists of all ages.


The average bicycle is around 13.5 mpg though...
I think they get a lot better milage than that! Ok, 13.5 mph sounds reasonable.

How would I go about sizing a bike? I'm approx 6'0" 190lbs.
The only way to properly size a bicycle is to go to very good bicycle store and have an experienced cyclist size you. In fact, go to three different ones. If they agree, that's your size. If not, they should be close. Try several different bicycles of both sizes.

That one you posted doesn't even have brakes unless it's one of those pedal backwards things?
If an old-fashioned is your style, go for it. I'm more of a roadster.
 
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  • #10
254
0
just get any bike, it doesnt really matter.
 
  • #11
Hepth
Gold Member
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Thanks Hepth!
I'll look into that site. How would I go about sizing a bike? I'm approx 6'0" 190lbs. That one you posted doesn't even have brakes unless it's one of those pedal backwards things?
Woops meant http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/clockwork_blkbrry.htm

Im exactly the same size as you then, I think the 56-58 are fine, try them at a bike store first.
Yeah the one i linked said single speed but its actually a fixie.
 
  • #12
Chi Meson
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I ride to work, 5 miles each way, I'm in Connecticut where the weather hits both extremes, ... what else...

Consider a "cyclocross" bike, but do NOT get a "hybrid." Spend as much as you can afford, get the right size frame, and keep at it.

Everything else said so far I agree with.
 
  • #13
jtbell
Mentor
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How would I go about sizing a bike?
As a first approximation, you should be able to straddle the bike (not sitting on the seat, but standing in front of the seat) with the top horizontal bar an inch or two below your crotch.

There's also a rule for the length of a bike (how far the handlebars are from the seat), but I forgot what it is. In any event, with your height the bike is more likely to be a bit too short than too long. A bike that's too short is less of a problem than one that's too long and makes you bend too far forward to reach the handlebars.

Then adjust the seat so that when a pedal is at the bottom of its cycle, your leg on that side should be straight when the heel is on the pedal. In practice when you're riding, the ball of your foot will be on the pedal, your heel will be somewhat raised (like you're in the middle of a step) and your knee will be slightly bent.

I didn't use a bike when I was an undergrad because I was at a small college where I could walk from one side of campus to the other in less than ten minutes.

In grad school I got a bike and used it for most of my transportation in town. I didn't have a car until the last year before I finished my Ph.D. I didn't have to worry about parking it while at work because I could keep it in my office.
 
  • #14
1,039
2
I was talking to some people about this today and everyone generally thinks it's a good idea, and not strange at all. I'm an avid runner, I probably do 10 miles every other day, and I think this might be good exercise on the weekends if I am so inclined. Granted, I haven't been on a bicycle since I was 16.

What are your thoughts on the following two bikes?

This is my first choice, the price is fantastic, it's a bit above an entry level, has carbon forks and some other things it looks like. The color is a-okay with me, reminds me of a storm trooper.
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/liberty_1.htm

Here is choice number two. Everywhere online (review wise) says that this is a pretty decent bike. It's a bit more expensive though.
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/motobecane_record_x.htm

I read a ton of reviews and how-to's online and I simply cannot find any reason why I would take a single gear over multiple or the other way around. After reading all of that and talking to two local bike shops I still can't decide on one or the other.
 
  • #15
MATLABdude
Science Advisor
1,655
4
Do any students here (or faculty for that matter) actually ride a bicycle to class? For the past few weeks I have been thinking it's a good idea. I live something like 2 miles from my university, and there are virtually no busy intersections that I would have to cross.

Lately, traffic has been so random that some days if I leave an hour early I still can't find reasonable parking anywhere near my classes. I have class at 10am a few days a week, and others in the evening on the other days, but if I am not out the door by 8:30 you literally cannot park anywhere.

I have not done it yet because:

a.) I don't own a bicycle, and I don't even know what type would be appropriate. I'm not 17, I'm in my late 20's.

b.) I live in Florida where it's hot as heck most of the year (which is nice), but I don't want to show up drenched in sweat. During the winter it can get a bone-chilling 70°F and I don't even want to leave the house I am so accustomed to the warmth.

c.) What the heck do you wear to bike to class? I worked a full-time business casual/formal job before going back to school, and practically everything I own consists of slacks et al. What if it rains?

d.) I don't know, I have some sort of stigma about pedaling anywhere at my age.
I've recently started try to cycle as often as I can to school (15 to 20 km each way, 2 to 5 times a week)--I generally just wear shorts (not necessarily gym shorts) and t-shirt, and since I don't have BO (at least I don't think so) I just wipe down a little in the washroom with soap and water so that I don't feel as grimy or sticky. Some people actually bring changes of clothes and shower in the rec center (or, in some of the newer buildings, the shower stalls they put in for the bike commuters!)

Bone chilling 21 C!? That's a balmy (but not hot) day around here! Then again, I'd probably die of exhaustion trying to cycle during a hot day in Florida.

For sizing (and getting a first bike / servicing), I'd recommend your LBS (Local Bike Shop). Prices shouldn't be that much different from the online sites. If not, Sheldon Brown has some suggestions:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-sizing.html

I ride to work, 5 miles each way, I'm in Connecticut where the weather hits both extremes, ... what else...

Consider a "cyclocross" bike, but do NOT get a "hybrid." Spend as much as you can afford, get the right size frame, and keep at it.

Everything else said so far I agree with.
What's wrong with a hybrid or commuter? I've got one (Norco Malahat) and I love it! The suspension works great, I like the upright position, and the saddle is (IMO) quite comfy!
 
  • #16
Ryan_m_b
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For the past year I've rode a hybrid city bike to and from uni. With all the nightmare traffic in London it was much faster than any other form of transport over distances of up to 10 miles (obviously not for all routes). My advise would be to go to a bike store and talk to the people there about what you want. Try out sitting on a few of the bikes and get an idea of how they size up.

Lastly make sure you know what roads are safe to ride on and what ones should be avoided. I have no idea what it is like where you are but in a major city there are always hotspots where cyclists regularly get injured or die because there is insufficient infrastructure (segregated cycle paths, pedestrian/cyclist/traffic stop lights etc) and too much traffic.
 
  • #17
Ryan_m_b
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For the past year I've rode a hybrid city bike to and from uni. With all the nightmare traffic in London it was much faster than any other form of transport over distances of up to 10 miles (obviously not for all routes). My advise would be to go to a bike store and talk to the people there about what you want. Try out sitting on a few of the bikes and get an idea of how they size up.

Lastly make sure you know what roads are safe to ride on and what ones should be avoided. I have no idea what it is like where you are but in a major city there are always hotspots where cyclists regularly get injured or die because there is insufficient infrastructure (segregated cycle paths, pedestrian/cyclist/traffic stop lights etc) and too much traffic.
 
  • #18
Pythagorean
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Oh yeah, from temps of -40 to 85F
 
  • #19
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I used to live in Philadelphia and walked to work. Then I lived in Japan for 9 years and rode my charinko bike to work about 3 miles each way. Then I moved back to the states, got a job and bought a house about a mile from work and rode my bike for about a year. Then the company moved about 3 miles up the road, but I continued to ride my bike. Then I got a job 35 miles away and finally bought my first car for commuting at the age of 49.
 
  • #20
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Then I got a job 35 miles away and finally bought my first car for commuting at the age of 49.
Do you mean that you bought your first car at that time? Or you had other cars for purposes other than commuting before?
 
  • #21
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Do you mean that you bought your first car at that time? Or you had other cars for purposes other than commuting before?
I bought my first car when I was 44, but it was for getting around in the burbs, not commuting.
 
  • #22
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2
First car at 44 wow! I have never really lived in a place that would facilitate such transportation. I can commute to school where I live now, but virtually everything else is on the other side of town.

I think I am going to order the white Gravity in the link I posted today. I measured my leg length from crotch to ground without shoes and it was 32.5cm. All of the road bike size calculators (the ones that took into account geometry) claim I need a 56cm, but that bike only comes in 55.5cm. Hopefully everything will work out okay.

I'm going to order those rods that lock in the wheels/seat and a small U lock.
 
  • #23
253
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I bought my first car when I was 44, but it was for getting around in the burbs, not commuting.
That is awesome. My friends are pushing me to buy a vehicle (instead of the streetbike I bought), but I am going to put it off until there is no other option.
 
  • #24
lisab
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First car at 44 wow! I have never really lived in a place that would facilitate such transportation. I can commute to school where I live now, but virtually everything else is on the other side of town.

I think I am going to order the white Gravity in the link I posted today. I measured my leg length from crotch to ground without shoes and it was 32.5cm. All of the road bike size calculators (the ones that took into account geometry) claim I need a 56cm, but that bike only comes in 55.5cm. Hopefully everything will work out okay.

I'm going to order those rods that lock in the wheels/seat and a small U lock.
32.5 cm leg length? Are you sure?

In any case -- I know we've had this discussion before on PF, and it can get heated -- but I want to urge you to wear a helmet. Protect your investment!
 
  • #25
253
1
I'm going to order those rods that lock in the wheels/seat and a small U lock.
Never ever, cheap out on the lock.

In any case -- I know we've had this discussion before on PF, and it can get heated -- but I want to urge you to wear a helmet. Protect your investment!
I do agree with this.
 

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