Commuter Profile: Danny Abalos

Howdy Bike Commuters… We put out a call to arms for Commuter Profiles back in the day, and we had some lukewarm responses.  Since none of the velo monsters who initially emailed us have responded with a completed questionnaire, I have decided to cajole my friend Danny from NYC into submitting his Commuter Profile!  We hope the photos inspire you to share your commuter profile story too.  Get ready for more silly sarcasm and major hipster points… without further ado, Danny Abalos’ 15 minutes of Bike Commuter Internet fame:

Danny Abalos and his red single speed Schwinn in a white spaceship (a.k.a. his office)

Name: Danny Abalos


How long have you been a bike commuter?

5 years since college + 5 years at college before that. So, 10 years!

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I hail from California, but I hate driving and traffic, so I got a job in NYC which is super bike friendly and it’s totally extra hipster points when you ride your bike everywhere. The subway is cool too, but bikes rule. My ride to work is a pretty easy 3 or 4 miles of  the beautiful bike lane-lined Brooklyn waterfront.  It only takes about 20 minutes, allowing me to get to work only 20 minutes late every day!

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I already mentioned the extra hipster points right? So you can assume that I have five hundred friends on facebook because I ride a bike.  Also I never buy an unlimited metro card because they are lame, so I save about a hundred dollars per month to spend on things like… not gas.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I work at an Architecture firm in New York City.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have a lovely minimal shiny red single speed Schwinn with an awesome “ratio” that I know nothing about.  Editor’s side bar: one time Danny g-chatted me telling me the story of how some guys were admiring his bike on the way to work, and they kept asking him what his ratio was.  I told him they meant his GEAR ratio, but that I also did not know an easy way to answer the question! HA.

The red single-speed Shwinn with street cred and something about "ratios"

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

Sure, but it’s more of a photo thing. I see lots of public art (or maybe it’s wannabe graffiti) during my commute that is pretty cool!  Plus, check out the dope view of the city I get twice a day over the Pulanski Bridge as I ride from Long Island City to Brooklyn to and from work.

Clever stencil...
Does this count as public art?
Along the bike path.
More art on the bike path.
Scenic Waterfront views.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

Nobody is phased, come on this is Brooklyn!  Honestly though, I’m just a regular guy like everybody else.

How about bicycling advocacy?  Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

I try to get my friends to bike everywhere by saying that we are in a bike gang, but I still don’t have a name for it yet.  Editor’s side bar: this is actually true and not sarcasm.  Our other friend, Justin, was bummed that he doesn’t have a bike yet so he can’t join the unnamed architecture bike gang.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Sure, check out my ghetto fender I made out of an aluminum foil box today cuz the roads were a little moist in the pictures over there.

Danny's bike on the way into town- check out the killer view (I'm obviously talking about the view of his Aluminum foil box "fender"!)

Thanks for sharing, Danny… All the readers out there must be jealous of your separated bike path and green painted bike lanes – I know I AM!  So, if there are any other Cycle Ladies and Gents interested in submitting their commuter profiles, please email us at info{at}bikecommuters{dot}com.  It’s so easy and fun, even Danny can do it.

Product Review: BTB Sunglasses

I’ve been testing the BTB 500 sunglasses out for our sister site, MtnBikeRiders.com, but have ended up using them for commuting even more than mountain biking, so I’m giving them a shout out here as well! I started out only wearing them off-road, but as time progressed I found myself reaching for them when commuting, walking, running, and even driving (even though they’re not polarized!). I liked them so much that I even returned the last pair of (more expensive) sunglasses I bought.

For more info, check out the full review!

Motiv Electric Bicycles

Not too long ago, I met up with the folks at Motiv Electric Bicycles. They gave me one of their bikes to test out for the site. But before I get into that, I wanted to talk about how you could customize your very own e-bike.

If you were to visit Motiv’s website: http://www.motivelectricbikes.com, you can actually pick and choose the colors for your frame, rims, tires/cockpit and battery pack size. Below is what I went with. I had thought about going for the hot pink…but decided to stick with something more conservative.
motive shopping

Here she is in all her glory. Not bad eh? Ya I noticed that the tires didn’t quite match the photo above, but I was pretty happy with the overall look of it.
Motive Electric Bike

To view the specs of the bike, click on this link: Specs

Motiv comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame (as long as you are the original owner). The battery carries a 2 year warranty as well. More warranty information can be found by clicking here:Warranty

Originally Motiv Electric Bicycles set me up with a 36v battery pack. This actually rode well — very smooth — and gave me distance of 23 miles per charge with a top speed of 20mph. Then, at the 3 week mark, they provided me with their bigger battery pack, the 48v. According to Motiv, this pack would let me go faster. Sure enough, they were right! I hit a whopping 31mph and traveled 21 miles in one charge.
Motive Electric Bike
Rear motor has good torque and mated with the 48v battery pack, I was cruising up the hills un-assisted (no pedaling).
Motive Electric Bike

Motiv’s frame is pretty unique when it came to the battery placement. Other e-bikes we’ve tested either have the battery pack in the back or between the head and seat tube. The problem with the rack pack design is that your center of gravity is…well…off centered. To me, those types of bikes feel less stable. But Motiv placed their pack directly behind the seat tube, which basically sits it in the same location as the rider would. This in turn gives the rider (me) a more natural feel. Having the pack in this location makes it feel less squirrely when riding.
Motive Electric Bike
Motive Electric Bike

I think the best thing Motiv did was spec their bike with 7″ disc brakes. With the added weight of the motor and battery pack, you’ll need decent braking power. Again I dare compare it to the other E-bikes that I’ve tested. The 6″ disc brakes on the OHM Urban XU700 was ok, but not great. But these 7″ rotors mated with Tektro levers and calipers…this bike literally can stop on a dime. Just think about it, when you’re rolling at 27MPH and need to stop right away, you NEED those big brakes!
Motive Electric Bike

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and answer a few questions you may have. “How does it ride?” Well, it rides like a beach cruiser. The upright riding position is great for leisure riding. It surprisingly corners really well with its Schwalbe Fat Frank tires. No flat tires during the testing period, wheels stayed true and no mechanical issues ever occurred. Oh did I mention it comes with a bell? Ding Ding!
Motive Electric Bike

How much does it cost? The test bike I had retailed $1929.99 (with 48v battery pack). Though it may look like a beach cruiser, the Motiv Electric Bicycle can easily be outfitted with fenders and racks since the frame has eyelets and mounts for them.
Motive Electric Bike

Who should buy this bike?
The Motiv Electric Bicycles actually sell more to Baby Boomers than any other demographic. Truth be told, this e-bike is a ton of fun. Not only is it cheaper than the Ohm XU700 and Urbana Current that we tested, but it’s faster too!

Our review disclaimer.

Bike Your Drive – Top Commuter Basics

Hey there Bike Commuters!  It’s me, Mir.I.Am, and I’ll be the host for our show BIKE – YOUR – DRIVE! (Sponsored by “Log” from BLAMMO!)

Tonight’s guests include the Bike Commuters staff writers: Matt, Ghost Rider, RL, and Elizabeth.  Since we wanted to ride the high of May 2012’s Bike to Work Month (hehe, get it? ride the high, like ride a bike) we thought we’d put together a list of our Top Commuter Basics tips for all you who are biking your drive for the month of May… AND BEYOND.  Make sure to get clicky on the links for more bike commuter basic resources – get ready to bone up on your bike commuting skills, contestants!

“I’ll take Bike Commuting 101, for $500, Trebek!”  Take it away, Sean Connery

1.     Get a Bike – If you find yourself asking “which is the best commuter bike?“, the answer is: Any bike will do!  A hand-me-down, garage revival, or a loaner from a friend.  You don’t need carbon fiber or colorful fixies to get from your house to your work.  Okay, minimum stipulations should include: sufficient air in the tires, brakes that work, and a chain.  Head to your local bike shop to tune-up the rusting garage monster if needed – often times whatever we already have is good enough!  New bike commuters can always graduate to a new bike after they’ve gotten the hang of it.  Try before you buy.

Got questions about what bike to buy? Here’s a handy article that will get you started…sort of a simple “shopping guide” to arm you for your encounters at the local bike shop.

2.     Map it Out – Knowing your route will put your mind at ease like Ritalin on the first day of school.  Check out Google Maps Bike feature for recommended routes in your area, ask an experienced bike commuter to help you pick the most pleasant routes, or contact your local bike organization for comprehensive maps.  You can even take a test ride and bike through your route on a weekend, where you can relax and take as long as you want to figure out the best way for Monday.  We wrote an article a couple years ago about other route mapping Web utilities that may be useful for planning your excursion. For those of you in our audience today with smart phones, click on this link to check out some awesome bikey apps with maps that may also be of interest.

wet commute
Know where you're going before you ride.

3.     Clothing Choice – There are two schools of thought on clothing: those who change at work and those who don’t!  You may consider changing clothes at work if a) you are a “sweater” – any kind of physical activity can make you glisten b) weather is either rainy/snowy or extra hot -OR- c) you just don’t want to wear your work clothes on your bike.  Wear something that won’t rub in the crotch, flap around and snag in your gears or chain, or cuffed shorts/skirt that can get tangled up in your saddle.  If you are biking to work in your work clothes, take it slow and enjoy the scenery!  Liquid soap for a pirate shower in the restroom is easier to carry than a bar, and a small towel to dry off with call be helpful to freshen up.  Cycle Ladies, check out this link for looking fresh after exerting all that energy pedaling to work!  If you are bringing a change of clothes to work, carrying a lunch, or a small dog, jump to item #4!

Puppy transport inspiration!

4.     Carrying Cargo – Whether it’s a rack and panniers, messenger bag, a backpack, or cleverly-rigged purse with small dog, bike commuters need to bring things along the way!  We echo the sentiments of item #1, in that “whatever you already have will probably work just fine.”  Whatever your choice for carrying your clothes, laptop, lunch, or pretty much anything barring children, any backpack lying around the house should do the trick.  The backpack is a great go-to for a no hassle bike commuter cargo containment because a) everybody already has one b) two straps are better than one since they don’t swing around to the front of your body while pedaling -AND- c) you can pretend you are the Rocketeer on your way to work.

From Randonneur to Citaden:  Conversion of a touring bike to city kid and cargo hauler
Rack to the Max: front and back!

5.     Lights – front n’ back. Everyone at Bike Commuters has a passion for blinky lights, make sure you can at least be seen with one white and one red light.  We’ve got so many bike light reviews in our archive that it’s best to just give you the direct link to them all. Here you go…lights for the front, back, sides and everywhere in between!

6.     Invest in a good lock – and learn how to use it effectively. Our article on locking strategy will help you ensure your bike is still there after work. Don’t forget to secure your wheels…we’ve also got a handy article that addresses the various wheel-retention methods.  The best method for avoiding thieves (if your work is okay with it) is to bring your bike inside – unless you work with shady individuals of dodgy moral character.  Scope out the bike parking situation at work, covered bike parking would be best.  Co-workers that are bike commuters may have good tips on the best place to secure your steed.

Untitled
So maybe now is not the season to check the weather for SNOW, but you never know!

7.     Check the Weather – before you head out, and be prepared for rain or heat or bitter cold. We discuss raingear, layering for winter weather (not such a big concern now, of course…but file it away for the cooler months), more winter wardrobe tips, and more crucial to the coming months — beating the heat.  Speaking of beating the heat, on a related note, you may want to check out item #8:

8.     Beverages – Depending on how long you will be commuting by bike, a beverage may be necessary! If your commute is longer than a few miles, bring a water bottle.  A cage mounted squeezy water bottle like this one would be perfect.  If you haven’t yet mastered riding with one hand and drinking with the other, you can always grab a swig of water at a stop light or in a greeny pasture.  Another option for carrying a water bottle is to stash them in side pockets on your backpack for easy access (unzipping your bag to search for water at a light could result in fumbling and angry drivers when the light turns green).

The active life...
"Water is the Essence of Beauty...!" - MerMAN.

9.      Repair Kit – any bike commuter should be prepared to tackle basic repair and maintenance issues out on the road, especially tasks like changing a flat. You don’t want to be late to work, do you? Here’s an article that shows a basic toolkit… easy to carry and damn handy when you need it.  There are some great comments in that article, too: simple additions to the toolkit like gloves, a few dollars and – of course – a working cellphone to help bail you out if a breakdown has you stranded.  Remember, it’s quicker to replace the inner tube rather than trying to patch it on the road. You can patch the tube later at home.   If you’re not into toting around 2 tubes, a pump and tire levers, hate getting your hands dirty with repairs, or would just rather opt out for the day in the event of a flat, just bring bus or metro fare and bike in parallel with your public transit system!

10.     Rules of the Road – So now that you’re ready to hit the road in style on two wheels, let’s keep you safe on the road.  Check out our Commuter Tools Page for state-by-state bicycle laws.  The League of American Bicyclists has a simple 6-point Rules of the Road list to help keep the ride safe and fun:

1. Follow the law.
2. Be predictable.
3. Be conspicuous.
4. Think ahead.
5. Ride Ready.
6. Keep your cool.

Plus more Ride Better Tips page offers specifics on riding to the right, signaling, traffic and much more!  Be aware while riding, always be scanning the road for debris, obstacles or jerks.

11.     Get a Bike Buddy – If you don’t feel safe getting out on your bike alone, consider a bike buddy! Chicago has a new program called “Chicago Bike Buddies“. In addition to helping you plan your route and help you gear up for your commute, a buddy also offers support and helps keep you safe out there. There is safety in numbers! Seek out or start a similar program in your neighborhood, or just reach out to anyone else you know who bikes to help get you started. Most of us cyclists love helping fellow cyclists…

Asian Love
Accountabili-buddy. Bike Commuters Unite!

Well contestants and viewers at home, thanks for tuning in on this week’s episode of BIKE – YOUR – DRIVE (Sponsored by “Log” from BLAMMO!)  We hope you enjoyed our show and learned some snazzy Top Commuter Basics Tips – this show is made possible by viewers like you!  For more information on how you can become a Bike Commuter, check out our final link from the League of American Bicyclists.  Make sure to bike your drive next week: same bike time, same bike channel.

A list of lists…

A bunch of bike-related lists have appeared on the interwebs in the past few days, and we wanted to share some of them with you. Plus, creating our own list is a good way for me to clear out my email inbox in one fell swoop:

1) The League of American Bicyclists published their 2012 State Bike-Friendliness Rankings. Here they are, in order:

1. Washington
2. Minnesota
3. Massachusetts
4. Colorado
5. Oregon
6. Wisconsin
7. New Jersey
8. Maryland
9. Maine
10. Delaware
11. Illinois
12. California
13. Utah
14. Arizona
15. Pennsylvania
16. Iowa
17. Virginia
18. Vermont
19. Michigan
20. Connecticut
21. Florida
22. New Hampshire
23. Georgia
24. North Carolina
25. Wyoming
26. Tennessee
27. Texas
28. Missouri
29. Nevada
30. Indiana
31. Louisiana
32. South Carolina
33. Alaska
34. Kansas
35. Oklahoma
36. Idaho
37. Ohio
38. Mississippi
39. Rhode Island
40. South Dakota
41. Hawaii
42. New York
43. Nebraska
44. Kentucky
45. New Mexico
46. Montana
47. Alabama
48. West Virginia
49. North Dakota
50. Arkansas

More details can be found on the LAB website.

2) The LAB has also updated its “Bicycle Friendly Cities” list…with some new entrants and plenty of old favorites. Check out the interactive Bike Friendly Cities map by clicking here.

3) The folks at Walk Score announced they have a new “Bike Score” in the works…currently, it only has 10 cities, but there are plans to expand the listings based on Tweeted votes and future growth of the Bike Score system. Check out the current list of cities here.

4) Bicycling Magazine has gotten in on the act, publishing their 2012 list of America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities. There are lots of pages to click through, but the process is enjoyable and illustrative. Check out that list by visiting Bicycling’s website.

5) Perhaps most important for OUR purposes here at Bikecommuters.com (and a bid at shameless self-promotion!) is that we are nominated for Loving the Bike‘s “Crank Honors 2012”. We ask that you swing on over to their site and vote for us as Favorite Commuter Cycling Blog. It’s a 1-minute process, and there is no site registration required…just click on the radio button next to our site name and click “vote”. And, best of all, you can vote for us EVERY DAY until June 1st!!! Please take a second and vote for us…simply visit the virtual voting booth and click away! Thanks in advance for your consideration!!!