Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through London

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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby Vorpal » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:11 am

Can you carry a change of clothes? preferably in something that won't let them get wet?
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby aspiringcyclist » Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:57 pm

Vorpal wrote:Can you carry a change of clothes? preferably in something that won't let them get wet?


Well I was intending to get a (waterproof) pannier but I would have to carry the wet clothes inside of it or in the locker at the university. The shoes I was wearing weren't very waterproof but I don't think waterproof shoes would fare much better either. Muddy water splattered as high as the handlebar and saddle if that is significant. I reiterate that it rained for an exceptionally long time so the puddles were probably much larger than would be from ordinary rain.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby Vorpal » Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:32 pm

Well... sometimes it's just impossible to stay dry. The only real solution is carrying a change of clothes. Stick them in a couple of layers of carrier bag, or better a bag that seals. You can strap that to a rack or put it in another bag.

This time of year, you can wear shoes that dry quickly, like sandals. They can be worn later into the the autumn by adding something like Sealskinz socks. Otherwise, maybe you can keep a pare pair of shoes (even crocs, or something?) in your locker.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby aspiringcyclist » Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:24 pm

Vorpal wrote:Well... sometimes it's just impossible to stay dry. The only real solution is carrying a change of clothes. Stick them in a couple of layers of carrier bag, or better a bag that seals. You can strap that to a rack or put it in another bag.

This time of year, you can wear shoes that dry quickly, like sandals. They can be worn later into the the autumn by adding something like Sealskinz socks. Otherwise, maybe you can keep a pare pair of shoes (even crocs, or something?) in your locker.


To be honest I would probably do that anyway as I wouldn't want to wear the same clothes I cycled in due to sweat and comfort. Cycling shoes as well. I wonder though, if you cycled and your clothes got wet, do you wear the same clothes you changed into on the way back? What if you used cycling clothes? Would you need two sets in rain or do you have somewhere to dry them?

By the way, I have a u lock and would like to get a second lock. Since I can leave the locks there, is there any advantage to a chain over another u lock? I've heard people say you need two separate tools to break different kinds of locks but that doesn't really make any sense. Heavy duty bolt croppers should be able to cut most locks and angle grinders pretty much all of them. Perhaps chains would be more susceptible to bolt croppers and u locks could be attacked with a car jack - but with a good enough lock and locking technique the argument doesn't hold.

Anyway thanks again.

Edit: looking back through this thread I noticed that you also gave this advice. I have the fahgettaboudit mini and use the Sheldon Brown technique. I need something larger for the front wheel and will leave the saddle and post in the locker.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby mjr » Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:02 pm

aspiringcyclist wrote:By the way, I have a u lock and would like to get a second lock. Since I can leave the locks there, is there any advantage to a chain over another u lock? I've heard people say you need two separate tools to break different kinds of locks but that doesn't really make any sense. Heavy duty bolt croppers should be able to cut most locks and angle grinders pretty much all of them. Perhaps chains would be more susceptible to bolt croppers and u locks could be attacked with a car jack - but with a good enough lock and locking technique the argument doesn't hold.

As I understand it, if you lock the U low enough on the seat post (and back wheel and stand) then bolt croppers large enough to cut a thick enough bar struggle to get leverage, while the crank hinders smashing the lock mechanism on the floor. That's why ITV Sport's The Cycle Show cheated slightly by cropping U-locks that were dangling loosely around a parking stand and top tube.

That show was using a portable angle grinder and I think they struggled to hold some chains down to cut them. So yes, I think there's an advantage and I'd go for a more versatile chain or even a thickish cable over a second D-lock. If using a chain, remember to lock as few links as needed and not always the whole thing - that's why rubbery-coated links are better than a sheathed cable. It also gives you the option of some (less but some) protection in safe-ish places with no good parking stand that a D can fit on.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby mjr » Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:09 pm

mjr wrote:If using a chain, remember to lock as few links as needed and not always the whole thing - that's why rubbery-coated links are better than a sheathed cable.

OK, have I missed something or is no-one selling these any more?
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby aspiringcyclist » Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:21 pm

mjr wrote:
aspiringcyclist wrote:By the way, I have a u lock and would like to get a second lock. Since I can leave the locks there, is there any advantage to a chain over another u lock? I've heard people say you need two separate tools to break different kinds of locks but that doesn't really make any sense. Heavy duty bolt croppers should be able to cut most locks and angle grinders pretty much all of them. Perhaps chains would be more susceptible to bolt croppers and u locks could be attacked with a car jack - but with a good enough lock and locking technique the argument doesn't hold.

As I understand it, if you lock the U low enough on the seat post (and back wheel and stand) then bolt croppers large enough to cut a thick enough bar struggle to get leverage, while the crank hinders smashing the lock mechanism on the floor. That's why ITV Sport's The Cycle Show cheated slightly by cropping U-locks that were dangling loosely around a parking stand and top tube.

That show was using a portable angle grinder and I think they struggled to hold some chains down to cut them. So yes, I think there's an advantage and I'd go for a more versatile chain or even a thickish cable over a second D-lock. If using a chain, remember to lock as few links as needed and not always the whole thing - that's why rubbery-coated links are better than a sheathed cable. It also gives you the option of some (less but some) protection in safe-ish places with no good parking stand that a D can fit on.


If you watch this video (around 6:40) it looks like low locks still allowed them to have leverage. With the angle grinder, are you saying your links should be loose so that they move and make it difficult to cut?

I don't know the type of chain you are referring to. Generally, with the larger chains, you can only use the end links.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby mjr » Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:43 pm

aspiringcyclist wrote: If you watch this video (around 6:40) it looks like low locks still allowed them to have leverage. With the angle grinder, are you saying your links should be loose so that they move and make it difficult to cut?

If you mean about 7 minutes in, it looks like they're using small bolt croppers to get in that low and attacking the weaker chain links rather than the thicker D locks like the Kryptonite New York Fahgeddaboutit. I see what you mean about only being about to use the end links and soft-coated chains being unavailable now. It looks to me like things have gone backwards there.

Yes, I'd want links that can move. Put the thief's fingers at risk holding the link still! :twisted: From the looks of it, if I was buying today, I'd lock just enough of a chain around front wheel, down tube and stand, probably with a motion-alarmed padlock that I put around something like a mudguard stay too. Make it harder for them to ride away without attracting attention! :twisted:

But this is mostly guesswork. I've attacked a few locks after I replaced them to see how they fail, but I don't steal bikes. I've not yet had one nicked to be left with an example of a real-world dead lock.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby aspiringcyclist » Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:50 pm

mjr wrote:If you mean about 7 minutes in, it looks like they're using small bolt croppers to get in that low and attacking the weaker chain links rather than the thicker D locks like the Kryptonite New York Fahgeddaboutit. I see what you mean about only being about to use the end links and soft-coated chains being unavailable now. It looks to me like things have gone backwards there.

Yes, I'd want links that can move. Put the thief's fingers at risk holding the link still! :twisted: From the looks of it, if I was buying today, I'd lock just enough of a chain around front wheel, down tube and stand, probably with a motion-alarmed padlock that I put around something like a mudguard stay too. Make it harder for them to ride away without attracting attention! :twisted:

But this is mostly guesswork. I've attacked a few locks after I replaced them to see how they fail, but I don't steal bikes. I've not yet had one nicked to be left with an example of a real-world dead lock.


Those are weaker chains but still pretty expensive.

I'm a bit confused. You say you want the link to move but you also want to lock 'just enough chain'. Doesn't that mean the chain won't move as it is tight fitting?

The thing is the chains of comparable strength are more expensive than the u locks.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby aspiringcyclist » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:11 pm

So I cycled on Green lanes today at around 6:30pm between Wood Green and Enfield town and it was not at all pleasant. The biggest problem with that road is the number of parked cars and traffic islands; there is very little space for a safe overtake by cars. Cars seem to tailgate and speed fast and close before these 'calming' islands. What is the best way to deal with these sorts of roads and what speed should you cycle at? I know ordinarily going faster is safer (to a point) as it reduces the number of interactions, but in this case it seems that going slightly slower and then moving out before the traffic islands would allow more time for a car to overtake you safely.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby Vorpal » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:37 pm

Move out (take the lane) well in advance, and go round islands as if you were driving a car. Do it at whatever speed you fell comfortable with, but in general, slower in the face of oncoming traffic is good, in case you need to take evasive action. With only following traffic, they may be happier if you at least look like you're trying ;)

If you've picked up a copy of Cyclecraft read what it says about traffic islands and build outs.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby aspiringcyclist » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:45 pm

Vorpal wrote:Move out (take the lane) well in advance, and go round islands as if you were driving a car. Do it at whatever speed you fell comfortable with, but in general, slower in the face of oncoming traffic is good, in case you need to take evasive action. With only following traffic, they may be happier if you at least look like you're trying ;)

If you've picked up a copy of Cyclecraft read what it says about traffic islands and build outs.


Thanks. I think I need to start moving out earlier. My main point was that there are so many parked cars and traffic islands that moving back in is not a wise move as you will just have to move out again almost straight away. This is what prevents drivers being able to overtake safely.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby Vorpal » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:55 pm

If there are parked cars on your side, or both sides, stay well out. In Bikeability, we said, 'the width of a door & a little bit more'. Both to remind students of the hazards, and give a rule of thumb about distance. It may not *seem* like it, but parked cars can be helpful in one regard. They slow traffic and narrow the road. But you are correct that drivers may not be able to overtake safely. That means you need to protect yourself by riding out far enough to discourage them from overtaking unsafely.

It often becomes more comfortable as it becomes habit. That doesn't mean that you won't get the occasional idiot. And there will always be drivers who resent cyclists 'out in the middle of the road'. But it's your right, and your safety.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby Slow Loris » Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:38 pm

Good advice above. Enfield is one of my least favourite places to cycle. One thing I'd add is to make regular eye contact with drivers behind you when approaching traffic islands as this often gets a favourable response.

For narrow roads with parked cars and pinch points, you are definitely safer in the centre of the lane. It may feel intimidating at first but in built up areas you're likely to be riding at the same speed, or only marginally slower, than motor traffic. Most drivers don't wish anyone harm – they simply don't consider what's in front of a cyclist so best to remove the opportunity for an unsafe overtake. Although a minority of people can get cross, I find the majority respectful of this. I also find waving thanks to a driver for waiting gets a good overtake that is then copied by the cars behind. On the rare occasions I've felt threatened, I've held up my hand in a 'stop' sign which is generally heeded.

For roads without parked cars where traffic is light but fast, I'll take a different tack and stay in a strong secondary position (left but well out the gutter) to allow overtakes. When approaching a traffic island I'll do a shoulder check well in advance and move into primary (centre) when safe. Sometimes I have to slow down and remain in secondary because someone is trying to race me to the traffic island, so regular shoulder checks are essential. Where feasible, I avoid certain A and B roads like this as I find them unpleasant. There's no shame in taking a detour so you can still enjoy your cycling :) .
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Postby [XAP]Bob » Tue Oct 07, 2014 1:02 pm

I'd add that a mirror is an excellent tool - it doesn't replace the shoulder check, but it does give you an easier "continuous glancing" option.
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