Saturday, November 17


A week ago Friday marked my 400th consecutive commute since the last time I drove to work - February 9, 2011. Over that period of time, accumulations have built up.

Mileage Accumulations
The obvious accumulation is the mileage and how those are distributed. Namely, I tend to simply keep riding a bike to work every morning because it is set up. That mileage switches to a different bike when the first one becomes inconvenient due to maintenance or other needs. This year, I rode one bike the first couple of months, and another the rest of the year.

Wear Accumulations                 
Trunk Bag Earlier This Year
 Wear is a commuter’s equivalent of rust – it never sleeps.  For example, I noted early this year that my bike trunk bag was starting to come apart. Well, the initial wear has become a lot more wear.

Trunk Bag in Early November. Another Has Been Procured. Cracked "Superflash" is at Bottom of Photo
For another example, I note that the “love affair” with Cateye equipment has lost some of its initial attraction. The “Cateye Commuter” has experienced added failures, such as the spoke magnet. The Cateye rear light also failed and I’m using a second one that I “borrowed” from my oldest daughter’s bike. The Cateye front lights also show wear, and I minimize my use of the HL-EL-530 so that I do not experience yet another bracket failure. In truth, I’m not sure that the Cateye lights are worse than their Planet Bike equivalents. My “Superflash,” for example, regularly experiences switch failures and the plastic “on/off” switch cover has a crack in it.

One Form of Broken Cateye Equipment
The wear is not limited only to lighting and bag items either. I’ve noticed that a chunk fell out of the shackle of my Kryptonite U Lock. It doesn’t affect the function, but the typical lock reviews don’t note how durable these things are in daily use over time. The worst thing the OnGuard locks have suffered is the Velcro poops out, the paint wears, and occasionally water freezes them shut in the winter.

Pattern Accumulations                                                                                            
Over time, I’ve also become aware how little many of us actually work. I have not called in sick once since the last time I drove to work, but over that time, I find that my log reveals I work only about 85% of week days. Vacations, holidays, and business trips accumulate the other 15% of days. The 15% “off days” were accumulated despite taking “half day” vacations in 2011 while continuing to bike commute.

Equipment Accumulations
Better than in the past, I understand the plethora of “lightly used” equipment that is available in places like eBay. Frankly, in my case, I’m looking for better combinations to support my trips. That means different bags, different clothing, different bike lubricants, and so on. Sometimes the new stuff works better and becomes part of the “daily drill.” Sometimes, new stuff winds up staying pretty new. Sometimes, the new stuff is an early purchase and will be put into service when the old stuff becomes unusable.

One of Three Panniers I Now Have Accumulated


recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Interesting post Steve. Reminds me of my Topeak seatbag which holds my cable lock. I've been using it for five or more years and I notice that the body of the pack has become more soft and it's harder to zip and unzip the pack one handed. Little details that one becomes aware of when a bicycle is a part of daily life.

Trevor said...

A very interesting post Steve. Good information to share.


cafiend said...

I do a lot of mending on fabric items. I've sewn new straps on the rack trunk on my Cross Check. Very soon I have to replace the straps that attach it to the rack. The original hook-and-loop comes undone. I haven't decided whether to put on new hook-and-loop or use plastic buckles, as I did with the compression straps when I replaced those.

The list goes on of gear nursed through much longer lives than its original shoddy construction would have allowed. I was helped by working as a sailmaker for a few years and then hanging out with a frugal backpacking crowd.

Right now I'm accumulating generator light systems. I only have two modern ones but I might pick up a third. Reliable lighting is a huge boost to confidence and the bike's usability.

John Romeo Alpha said...

Repeated patterns of usage yield interesting wear patterns. I'm waiting to see if a plastic piece can actually wear through an aluminum rack. I think the accumulations also give you time-saving options when you're trying to get out the door and something turns up broken, yes?

RANTWICK said...

You haven't driven to work since Feb 2011? Awesome! Thanks to ditching that 2nd car I'm way more consistent too, but not that good.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad fact that stuff does wear out and break. It's a pretty common thing for me also. Lights, batteries, bags, and clothes all have a finite useful life. I regularly budget money for equipment and upkeep, and believe it or not, I usually manage to spend every penny of it.

Jamesw2 said...

Good article. Thanks for not driving your car to work.

Ham said...

I like things wearing out, as it means that don't need any excuse to buy new stuff!

I'm in a similar position as far as actually getting through kit - I think London roads are particularly harsh; the dirt that comes up off the road acts like a grinding paste, also I often hold line rather than swerve around a hole for obvious reasons, and we have LOADS of holes.

Here's some of the choices I make:

I've settled on Carradice Bike Bureau pannier in cotton duck, but I still have an Altura cordura one that is seeing good service, that's because it is waterproofed by a plastic bag around the outside. All other waterproof bags are long gone. (ok, ok, fair cop. My employer buys that particular bag for me, but I would spend my own money on it) The Carradice has very robust carriage mechanism, so much so that the racks wear out before the bag. Caveat - just bought another (the old one is still good after 4 years) and the mounting mechanism appears to be a downgrade. Time will tell.

I use the Cateye lights too, although I think the brackets supplied as standard stink (the H34), the H32 is much better but relatively hard to get. Rear light is on the pannier rack, I always have several at different levels so I am never reliant on one.

For winter lube I love Chain-L No 5.

Steve A said...

Ham, I'm glad to hear the Altura is still hanging on, though I still have never seen them in the US. As for Cafiend, the shoddy gear that irritates me the most is actually - the chain. And, JRA, the answer is "yes" - to both items.

Post a Comment

No Need for Non-Robot proof here!