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Discussion Starter #1
So I just graduated college and can't afford a car, so I got a bike. It's purchased, registered, and insured under $1,400.

Who else commutes with JUST a bike?

What do I need?

Dry day condition riding doesn't bother me. It's the rain riding (especially at night) that I'm trying to prep for.

My guess is I'll need:
-a running bike with GOOD tires for wet/dry conditions (it'll rain 3 weeks on end over here in MA)
-armored motorcycle jacket (I have a textile fieldsheer)
-waterproof gloves (still to buy)
-armored motorcycle pants (still to buy)
-helmet, with a new visor...wash the inside w' soap and water to prevent fogging
-waterproof motorcycle boots that look like "business casual" shoes, when I have pants over them (still need to buy...Sidi?)
-a waterPROOF rain suit that'll fit on the bike (still to buy)
-toolkit for the bike, cell phone w' #'s of towing companies and friends w' bikes

Oh, and I'll be doing a 2nd shift that's 3:00-11:30pm (which means there will be plenty of night-rain riding).

Thanks in advance.

Oh, and here's the bike: a '95 FZR600 I got last Thursday.

 

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I commute on my bike except for winter (snow and cold), and once you get set-up and get into a routine it is very practical. I would add a tank bag or saddle bag or a proper bike backpack to your list. I don't use my tankbag all that often because my bike has enough room under the seat for lunch, cell phone etc., but is really handy at times. I am able to leave a set of dress shoes in my office and so ride in my usual riding boots. I don't mind riding in the rain but I do have a good rain suit for when it is really wet. My textile jacket and pants are good enough for light rain. You just have to realize that you need to travel more slowly and really pay attention to road markings and manhole covers. I also wear a safety vest over my rainsuit (it is grey which is road camoflage, not good). It doesn't look cool but is way more visible, for some reason couldn't find a yellow rainsuit, they mostly come in grey and black which are the last colours you need when it is overcast. Riding at night in the rain sucks, particularly in the city, keep your head up.

Remember that the more you ride, the better you get, if you are paying attention and working on your skills. More seat time also means the chance of getting smacked by some idiot in a cage is greater. With that in mind, as you ride your route, watch for areas in which one lane is better than another, look for alternate routes if there is a spot that just seems really high risk. NEVER get complacent just cause you know the road, unless you can read minds, the cagers will always be your greatest risk. My commute is 2/3 hwy 1/3 city, there are some different risks hwy vs city. More deer and less cages on the hwy. Deer are stupid, shoot'em, shoot'em all. Sometimes on the hwy I let it rip but not in the city (okay maybe just a brief handfull of throttle occasionally). Traffic riding is a different skill than track riding or ripping up twisties, but it can still be enjoyable (not as much, but still better than being in a cage) if you treat it as a challenge. If you are constantly changing lanes and trying to get a couple of cars ahead on a daily basis, you are tempting fate. Seems like every other cage driver is on the phone and paying more attention to the conversation than the traffic. Get it in your head that your main focus is to get to work and back safely, so ride to get there, not to get there in the least amount of time.

I bet after awhile you are going wonder why everbody doesn't ride to work. Everything in life is risk vs reward so minimize the risk and enjoy the reward. Ride safe and enjoy.
 
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good thread. i will be commuting with only my bikes pretty soon. getting ready to sell the car. i have a backpack where i store the computer, clothes, toolkit, and other misc. tihngs. i do need to get more waterproof stuff.
 

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There was a time last year where I commuted solely on bike for a month. I soon found out that to get a rain suit that keeps you COMPLETLY dry is tough...and expensive. Keeping a clean suit and dress shoes at work along with a few essentials, was the best thing I ever did. I just wore old clothes to commute so it didn;t matter if I got wet or not.
Other than that, some good drybags to keep your stuff dry is a must. Also, if you're going to wear a backpack. Look into a kyaker pack so youre stuff will stay dry.
 

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I wear First Gear Kilamanjaro jacket, and first gear hypertex pants. The jacket has some think pad things that I hesitate to call armor...the pants just foam padding. Both have removable inserts for warmer weather, the jacket also has multiple vents that can be opened for more air flow. They keep me pretty dry in the rain, and with the inserts in I don't notice a chill till temp drops below 40. I have leather non-armored gloves from First Gear that work pretty well they are not water proof, but even in heavy rain my hands only get slightly damp. For footwear I have Sidi Way Tepor boots. They are comfortable and keep my feet dry and warm. Basically with my current gear when I ride in the rain the only parts of me that gets damp is the back of my neck in the gap between my jacket and helmet, and my hand.

About the soap thing someone told me to wipe liquid soap on the inside of the visor and just buff it off to prevent fogging. I tried it with the liquid hand soap my wife buys but it didn't seen to work very well. Is there any particular type of soap that works best, or was I doing it wrong?
 

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screw riding in the rain. i have a 94 ford escort that gets 29 miles to the gallon. hitting one of those reflectors while changing lanes in the rain sucks too. ^ about the fog there is products like fog city that will keep the fog out of your helmet I reccomend the fog city visor that sticks inside the visor, they also make a spray.
 

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Take the advice from this forum and read as much as you can, proficient motorcycling was a great book for me. Also, get experience in the rain on some back roads or in a parking lot so you can see how the lean angle, brakes, max power and all relate to the wet roads. I never set out to ride in the rain, but I've been stuck in really bad rain twice. The first time was for a couple of hundred miles when I rode up to Laconia last year, it's not as bad as you think. I found that wearing sunglasses helps because you can open up the visor a bit when its foggy and the glasses will stop the water from hitting you in the eyes. Also, if you duck behind the windscreen just enough, the air flowing off of it will blow the water right off your visor. Check your brakes before you need them, so that they work when that cager cuts you off. Good luck! I often think about getting rid of the car so that I can just use the bike for everything, but its a nicer bike than I'd like to leave in all the parking lots and places I have to go, also its hard to carry my 70 lb mesa boogie and guitar on the bike.
 

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Originally posted by rockstar84
also its hard to carry my 70 lb mesa boogie and guitar on the bike.
Same reason I keep a cage, hard to tote around my engl and midi gear on my bike. Guitar not a problem with the gig bag, I strap it to my back.
 

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In all the years I've been riding, I rode in the rain at night only once. And I hated it. I couldn't see a dang thing. The water collecting on the visor acted like a prism and spread all the road lights all into my helmet so I couldn't see anything. Intersections were the worst. All I could see was a big ball of green when the light was green. Was it mine? Was there a car in the middle of the intersection? I honestly had no idea. I was riding blind. Lifting the visor helps, but then it feels like bullets hitting your eyeballs.

As far as the fogging goes, just use toothpaste. I'm certified SCUBA and that's all I've ever done (along with many other divers). Works great. You should do it at least four or five times the first time you wash it out.

I have to run, but I'll see if I can add some more when I get back. Good luck and congrats on finishing school.
 

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With the helmet/visor thing, get a good helmet with a good visor that comes with a fog-proof coating...most of them work well. Vemar, Shark, Scorpion, Suomy, Arai...all their fog proof stuff works well...and coat the outside of the visor with Rain-X (do NOT let any rainx get on the inside of the visor, and also don't wash the inside of a fog-treated visor with soap...especially dish soap / degreasing soap...it pulls the fog coating right off). Even mist/fog on the outside of the visor will bead up and run off, and rain just slides away. Oh, don't rain-x a reflective visor, though, because buffing it in can take off some of the tint/reflective stuff.

As for gear, I keep a pair of rain pants in my trunk, and my leather jacket's waterproof liner. I always wear the leather jacket, even in the summer, so the liner's always there.

The main key to using your motorcycle as a commuting tool is that you have to not care if you get soaked. You have to be able to grin and bear it for your ride, and laugh about it after. I work at a smaller company, so it helps because the boss is very friendly and understanding. I got drenched one day riding to work through a hurricane, and everyone pooled together to get me clothes that they had in their cars or what not, so I ended up working the whole day in shorts, a t-shirt, and barefoot, and my slacks, shirt, undershirt, tie, socks, and loafers were all hanging in the bathroom, in the break room, in front of a space heater...it was pretty amusing. We had clients come by, and my coworker's all dressed professionally and I'm sitting there reclining at my desk in my office barefoot with shorts and a ratty old t-shirt. hehe... good times.
 

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I commuted 25 miles each way exclusively on a bike (a Honda CB350) when I was in college... Cold or rainy days sucked (especially when it was cold AND rainy). Even though "cold" for S. Florida is anything below 50, it still sucked. That was in the early/mid 1970's, and both gear AND bike technology have progressed lightyears beyond anything that was available back then.

The most important thing for inclement weather is to stay DRY and VENTED (if the rain stays out but you sweat up a storm, it doesn't help at all - it'll feel like a sauna). So get GOOD raingear, and have it with you whenever you ride (sitting in an air-conditioned building, soaking wet also sucks).

Layered clothing is better than one heavy item (esp. if it's cool on the way in and warmer on the way back.

A good tank bag (I prefer the magnetic variety) will be invaluable - good place to store your rainsuit and extra clothing layers...

Good luck & enjoy the ride - it will definitely hone your skills...
 

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Originally posted by dragknt
We had clients come by, and my coworker's all dressed professionally and I'm sitting there reclining at my desk in my office barefoot with shorts and a ratty old t-shirt. hehe... good times.
That had to suck, what kind of job were you working?
 

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Tony has a good point about sweating in a rainsuit. You don't even notice you're doing it until you get out of it, and find you're soaking wet from sweating.

I'd also stock up on chain lube. If you don't already know it, rain removes chain lube faster than you can say "I'm sure I lubed it this morning".

I commute soley on my bike, but I don't have the rain to contend with, so I just make sure I've got enough fuel, plonk myself on the bike, and go.

Good tyres in the rain are essential.
 

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I'm a fair weather commuter/rider. When I am able to ride it does significantly offset the gas expense I'd otherwise be dumping to my Exploder. So when I am able to commute I just use my Targa laptop backpack and go. Watch out for everyone else on the roads, highways, interstates... cause they arent gonna be looking out for you. With enough time you'll be able to notice when people are checking their mirrors proir to a lane change and other tell tale signs of a drivers actions. Keep in mind that sometimes it's best to ride offensively (don't confuse with offendingly), cause sometimes riding defensively will put you in the wrong situation. It goes with the whole thing of being proactive instead of reactive.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I appreciate all the responses, this is all great to know.

I've rode out in a light drizzle, so I started learning a thing or two about its capabilities. I agree w' GWN, and I noticed that even in light rain, I was trying to go 5mph faster than traffic and pass people (which is bad). I really don't mind getting wet, but if I can find a way to stay dry, then riding in the rain won't even be a sweat (but I'll look into good rain gear too).

I haven't done much research on bags though. I think a tank or saddle bag will be quite helpful to keep my stuff dry, but in any case, I'm hoping to ride light anyways (keys, wallet, cell phone, rain suit in the trunk w' basic handtools).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Ok...so I started work today and did the commute. Just from the first day I decided I needed a tank bag to carry lunch.

Where do you leave your rainsuit?

I got a teknics 1-piece waterproof suit, but it's made of thick rubber and there's NO way it'll fit under the passenger seat.
 

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By the way, nice bike , sounds like you got a great deal. FZR's have solid power and are good handling bikes. Have fun and stay safe. Do you have a garage to keep it in at home? When I was commuting and living in an apt I kept my bike under an old tarp every night. It was a pain sometimes to cover it but it kept it out of sight from thieves and protected it without drawing attention to it. When I did have a garage I didn't need the tarp but I did carry a motorcycle cover to work with me and kept the bike covered. It went along way in keeping the elements off the bike and kept it looking good alot longer. Also might think to use several different locks on the bike, and use them all the time, even if you run into a store for a short time.
 
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