Commute Gear Talk Part 2
It’s been a while since we have talked commuting gear in this little series so I thought it was time for an update. It seems like there isn’t a day that goes by that some new and exciting piece of equipment that you simply must have is introduced to the market. I blame Fancy and Pinterest for being able to assemble a seemingly endless supply of unique and overly priced awesome stuff. However, let me be the first to tell you what you already know, you don’t need all that junk. I know, it’s a shocking revelation, and one that I did not come to easily.
I am a total gadget and gear geek, it’s no secret. When new stuff comes out there is a small part of me that jumps up and down and gets excited like a 6-year-old on Christmas Eve. Then there is the other part of me that has a wife who, thankfully, keeps me from spending all my money on the latest and greatest things I discover on the internet.
Since completing my fixed gear (and adding a brake) I have learned about a different aspect of commuting. @Egggman once told me during one of my first #Bikeschool sessions that he loved riding a fixie because it was so simple. In theory that made sense to me, but you don’t really understand what that means until you are riding one regularly. There really is something about riding a fixed gear bike that captures the heart of what I think riding is all about.
For many, riding captures a feeling that we haven’t had since we were young. Many of us rode a bike as children but at some point our two-wheeled adventures stopped. I don’t know about you, but the first bikes I owned didn’t have gears either. I didn’t worry about derailleurs or my bike frame weight, I just rode. Riding a fixed gear brings all of those feelings rushing back. While I still love to go fast and am even looking to try my legs at racing (I will have just raced my first Cat5 road race by the time you read this), I have a new appreciation for riding thanks to my old 80’s model Schwinn Traveler. I finally get what @Egggman loves about his fixie.
That said, I have made an adjustment in my commuting gear, as I haven’t been taking advantage of these daily rides to train for racing. Early on in this series I introduced you to the awesome folks at Chrome and their awesome Kursk Pro commuter shoe. A while back I acquired one of their famous commuting bags. Chrome is most famous for their customizable messenger bags, designed by bike messengers to be able to carry the large loads of commuters and messengers alike. These higher dollar bags are worth every penny. Chrome offers stock colours, but if you really want you can design your own bag to look however you want. Frequently they often have sales on certain colours of bags allowing you to save some cash. My Chrome bag is the only bag I have carried to work that has easily been able to fit everything I need to bring on my ride while remaining comfortable strapped across my back. The strap offers incredible shoulder comfort and the unique design allows for easy on-the-go adjustments. The outside of the bag is made from a thick canvas and is lined with a vinyl material that keeps everything inside safe and dry on those wet rides.
I also recently acquired a helmet from a popular company called BERN. This company specializes in urban looking helmets that have a brim on the front making them look more like a baseball cap than a helmet. While the company offers several models with different features, I went with the base, the Watt. Even at the base level this helmet is probably the most comfortable helmet I have ever worn. For some reason I have a special place in my heart for cycling gloves and helmets, and I am really not too sure why. I have more of both than I really need, but occasionally I find someone who needs one or the other and I get to pass them on.
I have tried $30 dollar helmets and $300 dollar helmets and none compare to the comfort of this helmet. I could actually wear it like a hat all day. One of the best features of this helmet is that the lining is snapped in. Bern offers inserts for this helmet that help you better prepare for the elements. I already have a lining that simply snaps together in seconds creating a nice winter helmet that covers my ears and keeps the wind out. I look forward to trying it out once the temperatures drop (if they ever drop).
Both this bag and helmet will set you back a little, but the quality is guaranteed. Chrome always impresses me with the durability of their products. They truly understand the abuse a commute can put on your gear as well as just how much space you need to carry everything with you comfortably. Likewise, Bern seems to grasp our needs. Bern helmets are slightly more expensive than some helmets, but not by much, and they prove their worth instantly. Reliable and comfortable gear helps me enjoy my commute even more. I don’t have to pre-pack my bag anymore to make sure everything will fit the night before, and my helmet keeps my head safe and ready in a snap.
When I was a kid I didn’t want to take time to think about stuff, I just wanted to ride. Now when I wake up, I have some breakfast, enjoy a cup of coffee, and I am free to hop on the bike, clip in and ride my trails to work.