back to school basics

September marks the start of a new school year in Portland. This – which is really exciting – is my third year commuting to University strictly by bike. I wanted to talk about some of the things that are going to make your commute A) Possible and B) More enjoyable.

Parking/Bike Resources 

Parking on campus sucks,  and it doesn’t seem to vary much from school to school. People need to get from A to B quickly and parking isn’t always available if you go by car. Bicycle parking tends to be ample on campus and can at times allow you to ride right up to the building you need to be at.

PSU has outdoor bike racks, garages, and lockers. (For more information click here.) If you’re especially worried about taking your bike with you to campus, paying an additional fee to lock your bike up for the duration of your classes can be a good alternative to locking at a staple rack. The fee for bike garage storage is $15/term, compared to a $300/term rate for cars at Portland State.

Lewis and Clark, PCC, and Reed also have information about riding to/around campus as well as services for cyclists.

For bike + walk maps of Portland Click Here.

You can also come by the shop and snag a map from us for free.

So let’s say you’ve figured out where you’ll be storing your bike and you’ve figured out how to get to campus. I picked five pretty basic items that I think are valuable to have for your commute to school. Once fall hits you might feel the need to expand to cool things like rain jackets or breathable gloves, but right now we’re in wonderland. It’s still beautiful out and you really don’t need much more than yourself and your brain to get you through.

Which leads us straight to the first product.

1. Helmet

Protect your head and find a helmet that suits you and your needs. I’m a big fan of my new Limar helmet, and Bern helmets are pretty big at Crank. The cool thing about Bern is that you can rock a warm liner in the winter to keep your head toasty warm – or wear it bare in the summer for a more breathable feel. It’s a great versatile helmet if you’re looking for something that will both protect you and protect against the elements.

2. Lights

It’s good to always keep a set of lights with you if you’ve got night classes or if you’re just not sure when you’ll be out riding. One front light and one rear light. The best bang for your buck is going to be the PDW Spaceship and Radbot 500 set. We’ve got these going for $45 at the shop right now and will have you set for quite a long time. These are the lights that I’ve run on my bike for the past couple of years. If you’re looking for something a little fancy, we’ve also got the rechargeable Knog Blinder lights. Search around a bit and see what you’re looking for in a light (inexpensive? longer lasting? batteries? rechargeable?) or come see us and we’ll show you what we’ve got in stock.

3. Bag

I’m still using my Ortlieb Office Bag that I wrote about a couple years ago. It’s got just enough space for a couple books, a notebook, my laptop, lunch, and your basic necessities. It hooks onto your rack and has a strap to be used as a messenger bag. I’m a big fan of pannier options because I don’t like having something on my back while I ride. If you’re indifferent, Ortlieb has lots of great bag options for both backpacks and painniers (click here). We’ve also got some great North St. bags in stock right now which are awesome made-in-Portland bags. The Woodward Convertible is a backpack and a pannier that is both waterproof and full of pockets. Pretty much exactly what you need in a school bag.

4. Lock

I asked the guys at the shop what sort of locking system they use when they leave their bikes out. The general consensus was it’s best to double up and use a cable lock and a u-lock, especially if you’ll be leaving your bike out for a little while. We sell (and use) cables and locks from Kryptonite. They also have useful tips on how to lock your bike up on their website.

5. Water

Symptoms of dehydration can include exhaustion and tiredness. Dehydration can make you lose strength and stamina. Drinking water will help keep you healthy both mentally and physically. I know that carrying around a bottle with me during my classes forces me to include water as a part of my day whether I’m on my bike or in class. These Polar bottles are insulated which means you can keep water cooler for much longer. Tip: If you’re a fan of ice water, try filling a bottle halfway full, and then lay it on its side in the freezer. Once frozen, take the bottle out of the freezer and fill the remaining half with water.

If you’re not sure what sort of bike accessories are best for you and the type of riding you’ll be doing, come by the shop and ask us. We’re more than happy to show you what we’ve got, advise you on what other options are out there, or special order something for you if you’ve got an idea.

Happy Riding!

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