Saturday, May 11, 2013

MY CURRENT MULE

This is my current commuting mule as of May 11, 2013. A Schwinn Frontier GS (model year unknown).

Of all the bikes I've used and abused for biking to work, this one has been the most comfortable, durable and useful. The steel frame accommodates front and rear fenders and a rear rack. The panniers were added a few months ago...I'll never ride with a backpack or messenger bag again, especially in the summer. I keep my lunch on the left side and clothing on the right side. Inside each pannier are smaller, zippered compartments which I use for spare tubes and tire tools.

This bike was purchased for $60 at a Georgetown pawn shop. The tall handlebar stem really caught my eye. It's not pretty to look at but it puts me in an upright position, practically eliminating the lower back pain I was experiencing on my previous bike. Commuting to work everyday is not a sprint so aerodynamic tucks really don't apply here. If you plan on riding tomorrow, next week, next month and next year, it's all about comfort and utility. Slow and steady wins this race.

Speaking of comfort and utility, I'm often asked about my tire choice. I understand that a narrow tire with a small contact patch and high PSI may ride faster than a mountain bike tire, but you must consider the geography and physical condition of the route. My route to and from work is covered with blotches of blacktop patches, potholes, railroad tracks, trails, glass and all sorts of road debris. Wider tires with tall knobbies just do a better job of soaking up the bumps and collecting sharp objects without actually puncturing the tube. I've tried solid rubber, Kevlar strips inside the tires, fix-a-flat and combinations of all the above. A wide, knobby tire with a heavy duty tube is simple and inexpensive. If I do get a flat, I change it and move on. It's not right for everyone but it works for me.

At the end of the day, what matters most is that you like your bike. I've heard this so many times but it's true, if you don't like your bike you won't ride it, so ride what you like. Don't feel pressured to ride the latest trend. You are not a trend so why should you ride one?



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