I’ve been regularly bicycle commuting since 2002 — though only since 2007 has my commute increased to 3 miles each way up from less than one. I commute pretty exclusively on my Cannondale road bike, as the full-suspension mountain bike with downhill tires is way too slow and the unicycle is even slower.
The road bike is wonderfully fast and a blast to cruise through traffic with. What is less fun is carrying my laptop bag and a duffel-bag for my gi (heavy cotton Aikido training clothes). A backpack is a little better at handling the weight than the two smaller bags, but hotter due to more contact with my back.
After a few wet rides last week and increasing frustration with the weight of the laptop and sweat-soaked gi I decided it was time to get a dedicated commuter bike with fenders (for the wet) and a rack with panniers (to get the crap off my back). I test-rode a Trek at the Middlebury Bike Center and a Kona and the Giant “Tran Send DX” at the Middlebury Alpine Shop.
While the Trek and Kona felt like perfectly good bikes and were reasonably priced, the Giant felt wonderfully peppy and nimble for a pretty beefy bike. I really like how its geometry manages to maintain an efficient peddling position while still being quite upright. The other bikes didn’t feel quite so efficient. What fully sealed the deal was that the Tran Send came with a custom rack and fenders that felt really solid and fit well on the bike, all for the lowest total cost.
After riding the new bike home I mounted a set of head and tail lights for the bi-weekly rides home in the dark. The tail light will be much more visible on this bike than my road bike as I was able to bolt it to the back of the rack where it won’t get covered up by my coat or bags like the under-seat mounting position does. I also picked up some rain pants and ordered a set of panniers to complete my foul and fair weather setup and plan to ride rain or shine through at least November.