Commuting setup, bike, racks, bags, etc

Maybe not the best forum to ask but have seen a few threads discussing commuting and its effect on training and commuting and nutrition but have recently landed a job starting next month that is commutable by bike ~20k.
Looking into commuting in nice weather to start. Have a Norco Search XR A1 (2021) that I have 2 sets of wheels for, one of which has commute worthy (IMO) 32c Roubaix Pros.
I was considering upgrading to a carbon gravel or endurance bike given I will be spending a lot of time but for starters may just use the Search.
Would like to transport a laptop, shoes, a lunch bag and maybe a change of clothes. Could this be done with a rear rack and trunk rather than panniers?
I am unsure if I will want to try and commute in business casual clothing (polo or button down and chinos with stretch and a liner with chamois) or change in and out of cycling clothes when I arrive at work. My plan was to maybe get a bike nook and keep my bike in my office.

Any thoughts or suggestions? What is your setup? I’m thinking a rear trunk would be less of an aerodynamic drag than panniers but unsure if it will accommodate the larger work supplied laptop I will be getting (don’t have it yet but guessing its 15-17" model, rather than a Macbook air).

Are there carbon gravel bikes out there that would be an upgrade for racing that would also work well for commuting with a rear rack? My Search weighs in at 26.2 lbs with pedals, fenders and saddle bag (+contents). So like the idea of upgrading to something lighter and more aero to use for gravel and mixed surface racing as well as commuting. At the moment don’t really have the space to use the Search to commute and add an upgraded gravel/endurance so at the present would need something that can also do it all rather than an additional bike. Suspect a Checkpoint would work for this, unsure if something faster like the MOG or Aspero would take a rack and fenders.

I think backpacks are better for bike commuting personally. I also think that you’ll likely want to change when you get to work, it’s easier to be clean and presentable that way. It keeps stuff from getting jostled as much, is more aerodynamic, and the bike stays more balanced. I think that a back pack with a small hip strap is the way to go. As far as rack-capable carbon bikes, they do exist if that is the direction you want. I think salsa do that, and otso have a rack adaptor. I’ll bet the rodeo trail donkey does too.
I raced the otso waheela at many gravel races and it is very good for them. My fastest solo road ride ever was on it with road tires, at 22mph century, though its frame is not aero.

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Number one tip is to keep as much stuff as you can in the office. Change of clothes, laptop if you can, snacks, towel, best all stay in work. Then you can commute in some sort of bike kit and change there. Is 20km one way or the return trip? If one way, I’d try and ride in bike kit, but if it’s only 10km one way, I’d probably ride in more casual kit, because the need to change straight away in work is lower. Once or twice a week, get there some non-bike way (car/bus/train), and bring all the clothes, snacks etc you need for the week.

Also: if there is a place for you to lock up your bike, buy another lock and leave it there. You’ll only need to take the key, and locks are heavy.


Its 20k each way so 40k per day. Was thinking of just getting a bike nook and putting my bike in my office, at this time, not planning to commute by bike on rainy or snowy days so shouldn’t be an issue with mess.
Maybe will have to commute by car on one day of week to bring in a load of clean clothes/bring home a load of dirty clothes.
Even with doing that though, I will still have to cart my laptop and lunch bag back and forth, would love to find a rear rack bag that could accommodate that rather than resorting to panniers or a back pack.

I agree with the earlier comment around leaving as much as possible at work (shoes, for instance) and then carrying as little as possible. I use a Chrome single-strap bag but for what you’re describing a backpack would probably be more comfortable if you’re going the on-body route.

I would plan to wear bike kit unless you’re really confident you can leave early enough to never need to rush…this is an ongoing issue for me :joy: nothing worse than sitting down for a meeting and your clothes are sticking to you haha.

You’ve mentioned a rack a few times; a back rack will do what you describe, as would a big enough seat pack, but you should also consider a front rack or basket. You can get a nice wide load in there without it interfering with your legs like a back rack, and if you’re planning to get a new bike anyway, you can find one with the mid-fork mounting points for a front rack.

Path Less Pedaled on YT has a deep list of reviews for the type of stuff you’re looking for, too!

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Definitely keep food and clothes and shoes in the office. I have a small chest with my clothes, a drawer full of food, and a shoe rack under my desk. Resock on days you drive. Any bike can be a commuter.

I don’t have advice about the laptop. I VPN into my work laptop from my personal laptop when working out of the office. I do have a small backpack in case I ever need to bring it with me. So far, I haven’t used it.


So if changing out of bike kit in the am, do you wear the same chamois for the trip home or do you go through 2 pair of bibs per day?

Same one…I realize this is a point of some contention in these parts haha. I hang it up to dry and then pop it on for the ride home. I don’t get nearly as sweaty on the ride in (generally) due to it being the cooler part of the day.

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Like others my advice is to leave whatever you can at work. You can really tell when anything extra is in your bag. I leave my lock, shoes, work clothes, and laptop (when I can) at the office. I also have a fleece and rain jacket that never leave the office. Ideally I am just riding with my lunch/snacks and a flat kit. I always change at work.

I use a steel bike with rack/panniers so I don’t have much advice on the gravel bike and trunk questions. I commute in a more urban setting so I don’t care too much about weight and aero with all of the stops. I do find it much more enjoyable to keep that stuff off of my back and let the bike carry the load.

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It’s a 20km commute, I would not worry about aero. You’ll soon work out what time you need to leave your house to be sat at your desk on time.

How often does the laptop need to come home? I leave mine secured at work as often as possible. When I do transport, it’s inside a padded laptop case, in a pannier. I commute on roads.

Bring fresh set of clothes and three towels in on the Monday. Take used clothes and towels home as a use them. Bring the odd item in on its own during rest of the week.

I use packing cubes to keep shirts crisp and clean during transport.

I keep shoe polish and rags at work to keep shoes spick and span.

If you can hang things up to dry, so much the better. You can get small cupboard dehumidifiers to dry stuff during day.

During Arizona summers, I keep a second pair of bibs in the office. Get in, change, wash bibs in office sink, hang to dry. Wear second pair home. Washed bibs in the office are dry before time to go home the next day. (Not offended by people who manage to wear the same set home–I do it in the winter, but it doesn’t work for me in the summer.)

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Year round bike commuter in Anchorage. Winter on a fat tire, spring/summer/fall on a Checkpoint with a Trek Bontrager rear rack and fenders installed. I have 2 sets of wheels, one set for commuting on roads to/from work and then another set I swap out for gravel riding. Backpacks are nice and will carry your laptop but I ride 10K to work in the morning and 12-15 K on the way home (to avoid traffic) and for me wearing a backpack eventually got to cause back issues. I’m a firm believer in panniers on the rack (especially if your going to take the laptop home and back again). Bontrager has a rear rack top mount bag that has hidden panniers that drop down to use for larger items, then you can roll them up and stow them away for when you don’t need the extra room. I store my bike in my office on a bike nook (Amazon) stand so it takes up less room. Additional things that are nice to have is a 6 port USB power block to charge lights/bike computer while I’m at work, and a boot/glove dryer so I can dry out my shoes/gloves (especially if it was a wet ride in). I also keep a floor pump and patch kit in my office for the occasional tire refill/repair. Look at frame bags as well that could carry extra stuff that won’t fit in the rear trunk (Revelate makes ones that fit the Checkpoint as do others). Once you start commuting in questionable weather invest in a good set of rain gear (Showers Pass) and look at bar mits for the hoods when the temps are a little bit chilly (much easier to wear lighter weight gloves and use the bar mits versus big lobster style mits that impact using brakes/shifters). Last thing if you put fenders on make sure you really measure/research the tire width actually installed on rims the fenders will impact the width of tire you can use and manufacturer stated widths can be off.

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Rack & panniers, full mudguards, go full commuter bike. :slight_smile:

No, to start with whatever you have is Good Enough.

If you find yourself committing to months of commuting then you’ll soon realise a backpack (anything you carry) is literally a pain. Removable mudguards also soon become a hassle. I’ve commutes lots of ways, after several years I got me this Italian steel beauty, although I’m basically a fair weather commuter now.


I’m even wearing flats and trainers (no power meter!)

I was surprised last summer with how effective a merino polo is, and working without changing or showering.


Im commuting at the moment 18-19km one way once or twice a week with a laptop. I would recommend getting a bike that can take full mudguards @Dexvd Some folk prefer a/panniers, I have done that but personally I prefer keeping things agile and using a backpack. Not a biggie but when I used panniers in the past Id sometimes forget to take them off and walk away. I prefer to commute with clips, mainly as I am used to pulling my right foot up with the clips to be ready to push off smoothly. At the moment they are spds as I my commute involves the train and bike. I think a fast gravel bike would be ideal, at the moment I am using a winter road bike but a couple of times when it has been sketchy Ive took the gravel bike.


I commute if it’s nice out a couple times a week. 12 miles each way. I just use my regular gravel bike and a backpack. Same backpack I use if I drive. I just roll my clothes up and put them in the night before. I do keep a pair of shoes at my desk along with some deodorant, hair stuff, and wet wipes. Bike in regular bike kit and change in the bathroom.

You honestly don’t need a lot. I did a ton of research and looked into special clothes and racks and bags. Sure you might not look so goofy walking into the office, but its not worth the money to me.

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My bike commute is 21k each way. I am lucky that we have a full locker room and showers + full size personal lockers. I keep toiletries, towel, and shoes at work and carry clothes for the day in a backpack on either the road or gravel bike depending on the route of the day. Bibs and jersey hang on the open locker room locker (nobody touches anyone else’s stuff) to dry.

I just use a bike rack with panniers. The asymmetry isn’t that big of a deal; it’s only especially noticeable if it’s an especially heavy grocery run. And even then only if I’m standing (and, generally, not going very far). I’m not too concerned with aerodynamics on that bike and riding with something on my back annoys me.

My pants are cycling specific jeans and slacks (Duer, at the moment, been pretty happy with them); I haven’t bothered changing at the office. I used to keep shoes at the office but transitioned to just wearing my bike commuter bike shoes (recessed SPD). If it’s raining hard I’ll bring a dry set of shoes with me. That said, my office is fairly close and biking is my primary method of transportation and I can’t store clothing most places I go.

Does a cycling cap under the helmet help with helmet hair?

Never thought of that. I only wear one to help with rain.