If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know about some of the issues I've had with my rear wheel and spokes - specifically spokes breaking on me.
It happened again late last fall and I've been busing for a while. And while part of the reason for that is that my bike's just had a lot of miles put on it, what with three solid years of commuting, another reason is that the weight on my bike just isn't managed particularly well.
One of the tenets I have for my bike commuting is the old Keep It Simple, Stupid. In other words, I don't like to have to make lots of changes to my daily lifestyle in order to ride daily. I'd prefer to simply hop on my bike the way other people would hop into a car, and go. I don't want to change clothes if possible. I don't want to have to tie up my pants so that they don't get chain grease on them. I don't want to have a briefcase for every day stuff and one for riding days.
So here's what I was doing for my daily commute, basically, last fall: roll up a pant leg; throw my briefcase into one of my (rear) panniers, my other one always staying on the bike with my bike-specific stuff like rain cape, tools, spare tube, etc.; put on my bright green Pearl Izumi Vagabond jacket, helmet, and riding glasses, and off I go. During the summer I was changing into shorts and a t-shirt but during the fall's cooler weather it wasn't necessary.
I don't ride particularly fast on my commutes so I don't sweat too horribly unless it's hot out. I try not to let my heart rate go any higher than 55-75% of my maximum while I ride (part of the Primal Blueprint diet and exercise plan I follow - you can read more about this at Mark's Daily Apple if you're interested).
When I get to work, I pull out my briefcase, lock my bike (luckily I park in a parking garage at work) and head into my office for the day. And I'm good to go - with as few changes as possible. Very minimal.
Well, my system has encountered a bit of a flaw - all that regular riding with the weight of me and two panniers (frequently full) on the rear wheel of the bike has led to the aforementioned broken spokes. I need to rebuild the wheel, and plan to do so before spring. But I also want to do something to make this situation go away as much as possible (realizing, naturally, that spokes simply break sometimes, with wear).
So, after some discussion back in November with my friend and fellow LCI Ken Cohen, the idea struck me about redistributing the weight on my bike into a front rack and rear rack instead of the two rear panniers. As most of the weight on the bike falls onto the rear wheel (and that weight would be ME), putting as much weight forward as possible might make things more stable. That means putting the briefcase up front.
The Cetma rack is a messenger-type item that is used for heavy duty work. They're really sturdy and carry lots of very heavy items. Like you can see in the picture to the left - this dude is carrying around a cooler on his rack. Very functional piece of hardware.
The Civia Loring front rack is a somewhat classier-looking model. Normally I'm not so much into the look of cycling, but I do like the use of wood/bamboo on it. What can I say, I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy. But I also like the "basket"-type nature of it - the rails float my boat. The Cetma can come with rails, too, but it's a LOT more expensive.
So, does anyone else have any ideas? Opinions? Reviews of the products I've mentioned? I'd love to hear them.
People, not speed.