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I have seen many people put off using a commuter bike because they felt they didn't have the right bicycle, not realizing it was already in their garage.

Building the ultimate commuter bike with what’s in your garage

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

I have been using a commuter bike almost exclusively for the past twenty years. In that time, I have seen many people put off commuting by bicycle because they felt they didn’t have the right bike. While the right gear is important, many don’t realize that the right equipment is closer than many think. Take a look at how I would built the perfect bike for commuting, it may surprise you how close it might be to that bike hanging in your garage.

The ultimate commuter bike

For the sake of this article, we will start with a bike that is similar to what most people already have hanging in their garage. The Marin Farifax SC1, an aluminum hybrid with V-brakes, 24 speeds, and a flat handlebar. This bike is comfortable and efficient for most riders and durable enough for the rigors of daily riding. Additionally, the tires use a puncture resistant layer to fight flats.

commuter bike

The Fairfax SC1 is similar to bikes you will find in garages everywhere.

Bare minimum to be a commuter bike

As a bike goes, the Fairfax SC1 is pretty much commuter ready out of the box. If I were to add one thing it would be lights. Being visible as a commuter is job #1. While commuting, you typically share time and space with cars, so it is important to let them know where you are. I like to use a good tail light and a strong head lamp. The tail light is kept on blink mode while the headlamp shins bright and steady. This way, vehicles approaching from behind can see me easily, and the light from my headlamp allows others to see me and me to see them.

I would also recommend the basic tools necessary to fix a flat tire. That includes a spare tube, pump, tire levers, patches and a 1-$ bill. If you have never changed a flat before, practice once or twice at home before heading off on your first trip.

commuter bike

Being visible is a must

Next best thing

If I were to make another suggestion, it would be for a rear rack with bags, or a good backpack. While both options are designed to carry your stuff, they do their jobs slightly differently. A rack a bags work well to keep the weight of your gear on the bike and off your back. This option is far more comfortable than a backpack, but can be more jarring to the gear you carry (a real concern if you lug a laptop around). The backpack is not as comfortable, but is better for your gear, and easier to use if you have more than one bike. For either option I look for something waterproof. Eventually you will get caught in the rain, and keeping your gear dry is a necessity.

commuter bike

A rack and this bag from twowheelgear make carrying your gear easier.

On the subject of Dry

While not a necessity, fenders are a welcome addition to any commuter bike. I prefer the permanent, bolt on, style fender. I find they keep you dryer and stay in place better than the clip on variety. The fender does an amazing job of keeping you dry when the road surface is wet.

commuter bike

Fenders round out the commuter bike build.

The ULTIMATE commuter bike

Ok, I know “the ultimate” gets thrown around a a lot and it’s probably a better headline to grace the cover of cosmo than HaveFunBiking. So This is an overview of My ultimate commuter. As a base, I will start with the Marin Fairfax SC6 DLX. This commuter ticks a lot of the boxes for my ultimate bike and is not the only one on the market. Look around to see what is available in your market, and test ride to see what you like best.

commuter bike

Marin’s Fairfax SC6 DLX is a fully loaded commuter.

I like the Fairfax SC6 DLX because it uses a generator front hub, Internally geared rear hub, belt drive, full fender set, hydraulic disc brakes and a full carbon fork. The things I would change to make it even better is to use lighter rims (light weight wheels make a bike ride easier), and a Carbon handlebar to quiet some of the road noise. Other than that, I would probably loose the rear rack (as I prefer a backpack) and install some egg beater clipless pedals

Everything else

Beyond the bike there are lots of other topics that arise when you start commuting by bike. Things like what to wear, how to care for my bike, rain riding, etc. Rather than focusing on those concerns, I encourage you to think about how you are going to enjoy your increased fitness, what are you going to feel like when you loose those extra few pounds, and what amazing things will you create after you kickstart your mind aboard two wheels.

The Frog 62 is special because it is at the spear tip of a new movement in children’s bicycle development that fits better and weighs less.

The Frog 62 shows off a new approach in kid’s bike design

by John Brown, HaveFunbiking.com

It almost feels like Christmas here at HaveFunBiking.com. Why such a great day?…..Because we have a new bike to review! The Frog 62, our review bike, is special because for the first time this writer won’t be the one reviewing it (more about that in a bit). Frog Bicycles is at the spear tip of a new movement in children’s bikes. They develop bicycles exclusively for children that fit better and weigh less than anything else. Considering I am not a child, I won’t be riding this bike. Instead, that duty of reviewing the Frog 62 is being passed along to my nine year old son.

The Frog 62 Bike

The Frog 62 uses an aluminum frame and fork designed to accept 24” wheels, and is very light weight for a kid’s bike (sub 20lbs). On paper, the Frog 62 could look like almost any other kids bike, but looks can be deceiving as Frog has hidden a few amazing fit-features in plain sight. To start, the handlebar and stem combination on this bike is custom for Frog. It is shorter, lighter and perfectly sized for small riders. On that subject, Frog also produces a custom crank that has arms that are both shorter and narrower to accommodate children’s shorter legs and narrower stance. To accept a narrower crank, Frog needs to build their frames specifically to accept those custom cranks. Out of the box, the Frog 62 comes standard with two sets of tires (knobby and smooth) as well as a complete fender set.

Frog 62

Frog 62 in all its green splendor.

Durability

I know what you are going to say. “My little Billy destroys every bike we get him, why do I want to buy a bike with custom parts I can’t replace when Billy does what Billy does?” I knew what you were going to say and so did Frog, that’s why Frog designed their bike around that very issue. In my experience, kids find new ways to destroy bikes every year, but almost never break the crank or stem. So with the Frog 62, that is where they stop with proprietary parts. The rest of the bike is put together with readily available components. While most are readily available, Frog did use the best combination of parts to fit children better than ever before.

Frog 62

Frog’s custom crank in action.

The Fit

The biggest selling feature of a Frog bicycle is the fit. Many mid-sized children’s bikes are just scaled up, tiny, kid’s bikes. By this I mean there is little allotment for size, the bars are typically too high, top tubes are short and they are designed as if the child doesn’t know how to ride a bike. Frog bikes on the other hand uses ongoing scientific testing at Brunel University to drive their bicycle fit dimensions. Due to the results of their testing, the bikes are built to fit children better, handle more accurately, and weigh substantially less than the competition.

Frog 62

Next steps

With Minnesota locked in winter, my son and I won’t be heading out onto the bike paths any time soon. Instead, I plan to use this bike first as a teaching opportunity while the ground is covered with snow. Meaning, that my son and I will build the bike together. Then, I plan to complete a full bicycle fit for him. Paying careful attention to see just how well the engineers at Frog designed this bike for children’s proportions. Also. the knobby tires and fenders will be great for when the weather finally breaks. Stay tuned to learn how the bike fit and build go.