I was reading a blog yesterday (which, oddly is gone today so I can’t link to it) that was talking about modifying a mountain bike to make it a lean, mean, commuting machine. Now while I don’t normally condone taking a perfectly good mountain biking and wussing it out, gas prices ARE getting ridiculous and some of us do have a spare mountain bike (or five) sitting in the basement. So, if you’re so inclined, here are some ideas for making your mountain bike a commuter:
1. Cut your rolling resistance: Changing your knobby tires for semi-slick or even slick tires will make your commute feel smooth as butter. I’ve ridden slick tires on my mountain bike in the past and I will warn you about two things: a. they look silly as hell and b. they will make you think twice about hopping curbs and cutting across dirt paths. Go for the semi-slick or hybrid variety for a nice compromise.
2. Protect your pants legs: Chains have an insatiable appetite for fine denim and khaki cuffs so you’ll want to either roll up your pants and look like a geek or attach some kind of chain guard mechanism to your bike. Unfortunately I don’t have a recommendation for a particular product here and you may even need to go with a custom solution depending on your gear configuration. Nobody wants to fall on their face because their pants got wrapped around the crank
3. Keep your ass clean: Of course I’m talking about fenders here – bosses tend to frown upon brown racing stripes in the workplace (thanks Fitch). When you get caught in the rain you’ll have a tough time dodging every puddle and fenders can help keep the water off your backside.
4. Get your reflector on: I know, I know the first thing you did when you bought your new bike was take the reflectors off so you could look like a bad ass but now you’re a commuter and reflectors are important (if not required in your state). You never know when you might get caught late at the office (or the bar) and reflectors help cars see you on the road. These days they also sell all kinds of blinky things to make you even more visible – don’t skimp in this department.
5. Change out your pedals: If your old bike rocks the clipless pedals, consider placing platform inserts into the clips or changing the pedals entirely. Personally I don’t mind riding SPD clipless pedals in street shoes but I know many friends who just can’t make it work. Often times bike shops will have free pedal inserts to give away – just ask!
That should do it for the obvious stuff and fortunately all these mods are undoable because ya never know – gas prices might drop enough for us to drive everywhere again