SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.

10/31/2007

Things I Want

Been doing more thinking than riding lately (again!), and as such these are some things bubbling around in the ol' grey matter...

Admittedly it's half vanity, but also balanced by equal parts functionality, I'm frequently thinking about and searching for the ideal bike-commuter wardrobe. Everybody (well, everyone who does it) does bike-commuting a bit differently, from a half-mile jaunt down the lane with coffee in hand (probably doesn't require a change-o-clothes) to a multi-hour, full-on ride where you'd definitely also need a shower along with a full set of office-appropriate clothes. My commute's kinda in-between and there's a train-ride in the middle, so what seems to work for me is to wear some sturdy trousers that are passable at work (I despise riding in jeans) and a thin wooly T-shirt that I swap for a button-down once I get to work. I pack the folded dress shirt in a zippered travel packing pouch to keep it from getting too wrinkled, and toss that in my Timbuk bag. I also prefer to ride in clipless pedals (fixie) so I keep a spare pair of street shoes at work, too. If it's spring or fall chilly (usually) I wear my favorite Bontrager cycling sweater (wool blend), and if it's winter-time cold I add a thin fleece vest underneath that. This system has worked fairly well for me for several years of on-and-off bike-commuting, but is getting a bit stale. Inspired by both the Velocouture group at Flickr and the discovery of a good-n-cheap sewing machine, I might have to try my hand at modifying some clothing to get what I want:

  • I'd like to modify some trousers so they have a gusseted crotch (no seams to chafe) and discreet snaps at the hems to bind them up at the ankles to prevent chain snagging (I usually just roll up the legs but this is sometimes too chilly when the weather turns cold, and I hate fumbling with those goofy velcro ankle-straps). Another idea I had was to sew some reflective ribbon onto the insides of the pant legs so that it gets revealed when the leg is rolled up to perform its car-warning duties.

  • I'd really like to find the ideal commuting jacket -- preferably wool but nice fleece might work too (windproof shells get too hot), in a not-too-dark-yet-not-eyescortchingly-bright color, and not super expensive. I've heard great things about the nice-looking Ibex jackets, but they seem pricey (meaning >US$100). That sewing machine might come in handy here to add some subtle reflective bits here and there, too.

  • Clipless-compatible shoes that don't scream "bike geek"! I've been wearing the same pair of Specialized Ground Control Sport MTB shoes for over ten years and the soles are worn enough that the cleats click when I walk around. I like the looks of the Specialized Sonoma and the Adidas Cyclone, but finding these shoes in the US at a decent price seems difficult.


Last summer I built a LED-based bicycle headlight and, now that the days have gotten shorter, I've started using this light in earnest. I'm quite impressed with it, but I've realized that while my bike is well-lit from the front and from the rear (Planet Bike Super Flash), I've little in the way of side-marker lighting. Yeah, I could screw those goofy spoke reflectors onto my wheels, but I'd rather work out a proactive lighting solution instead of a passive reflective one. I've seen a bike with TireFlys installed, and those are definitely noticeable at night. Unfortunately they seem to mainly be offered in strange, non-vehicular colors like blue, green, and red -- I'd prefer white or yellow. I might try to come up with a DIY solution using a few self-blinking LEDs spaced evenly around the wheel...

I also really really want a Park TS-2. I have a wimpy folding stand that flexes so much it's hard to see where a wheel wobbles. Now that I have my own work bench, I want a TS-2 to bolt to it.

And finally (for now), I want my damn Kogswell frame to get here!!!

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2 Comments:

Anonymous alex wetmore said...

If you watch Ibex and REI-Outlet for sales you can get good deals on the jackets. My Breakaway was under $100 direct from Ibex. I bought my wife an Ibex jacket (not a cycling specific model) this fall for about $60 from REI-Outlet.

I haven't tried sewing clothing from scratch, but I do like using my machine to modify stuff. I still like wool pants from Goodwill (at $5-$10 per pair) for general riding. I need to add something to tighten up the ankles though, normally I just use a Jandd ankle strap and eventually they slide down.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Jim G said...

Hi Alex,

Yep, I found an Ibex Icefall jacket at SierraTradingPost.com that was heavily marked down from the original price. Adding an additional discount from a coupon code let me buy the jacket at about half price!

11:23 AM  

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