Bike Commute
• My earliest real ride was a 1986 Shogun road bike. The frame was way too big for me and I had to really lean it when I rested over the crossbar. Still, a good bike and it took care of me with many rides over the greater metropolitan area. I donated it to a 6’3” friend and it fit like a ‘T’. Ten years later I got my first mountain bike, a Specialized Rockhopper. A very basic bike but man, did I have fun learning how to ride like I was on a Nissan commercial. This became my first commuting bike and lasted me for seven years. I suppose we really never departed since I still have what’s left of the frame hanging in my garage as a constant reminder of how dangerous the velocity of a car can have on a bicycle. See how the accident happened here.
The History
  She was a beauty, once
courtesy of
With the Rockhopper out of the picture I need another commuter bike and I had a real good idea of what to look for. I finally decided on a Gary Fisher Dual Sport 129 with the 700cc tires, hydraulic disc brakes and Manitou suspension. I couple of years early I had bought a new 2000 Gary Fisher Big Sur and was happy with the overall design of their bikes. The Dual Sport was a bit heavy and I did have a number of issues with the hydraulic brakes but a very good bike overall. My world was slightly rocked right after I walked into the parking garage across from my work one night and saw an empty bike rack where my baby was park just a few hours earlier. I couldn’t believe they cut the Kryptonite lock within ten feet of the parking attendant. I had more people working on this case (like I realistically thought I was going to get my bike back?) including the head manager of the garage, a top official from MASCO, the deputy chief of security at my work and a detective from the local precinct. I never got the bike back but I did learned an incredible amount about the bike theft industry, how big it was and considered if I should open up my own franchise.

I’m extremely lucky to have 80% of my commute on non-motor vehicle pavement which carries me through dense pine forests, pristine waterfront vistas and notorious rock-slinging single track. The proximity of the area lies close to typical urban communities but geography and luck would have it that my route ventures through scenery that would have you believing you were closer to the rugged wilderness than the back of a Stop & Shop parking lot.

After that incident, the Big Sur became my commuter bike and I replaced the Dual Sport with a 2007 Canondale Optimo cyclocross. This is a wonderful upgrade for me and it cruises the roads beautifully and it still allows me to go off road occasionally.

So with mileage like that you can’t seriously think you’re commuting for free, which everyone seems to thinks it costs. I’ve made a summary list of what I usually end up buying throughout the course of a year for the bike. I don’t like to do this because once I see it I question whether it’s really economical to commute or not.

Average spending budget for 1 year (2000 miles) of commuting:
$70chains x2
$60set of tires x1
$48V-brakes pads x16
$18cables (shifter/brake) x2
$36(3oz) bottles dry/wet lubricant x3
$12(16oz) can dry spray lubricant x1
$75(16oz) degreaser x6
$1251/4 lighting system
$80major repair (bottom bracket/headset/freewheel, etc) x1
$150something gore-tex will inevitably wear out
$50bike shorts
$20cheap safety glasses x2
Total: $744
Redefining the list: the majority of the list is parts, which have been bought either locally or online and always installed by myself. Most basic repairs and maintenance can be performed by an average person with some mechanical skill and experience. To have the work completed by a bicycle shop you should multiple the price by at least 3. Not covered in this list are the essentials: tools, air pump, work stand, helmet, bike w/ reasonably working components and a “can fix it myself” attitude. This list could be deferred if you are starting with a new bike. Routine maintenance still applies but at a considerable less cost. Price of a commuter bicycle could run between $400 – 1500. Not exactly what you would call a free lunch.
Next - Bike History - Find out what bikes I'be been through and why they're no longer with me. Also, who would deface a perfectly good bike like this?
One ugly bike
  A face only a mother could love