Count the ways you can commute!
My cyclocross bike, turned road, turned commuter.
Working at Gregg's Bellevue Cycle, I meet customers who are looking for a commuter bike. Before leading them to a bike that is marketed as a "commuter bike," I first ask, "how do you want to commute?" because the truth is-- there are so many ways to commute!
- How far do you want to commute? No more than a few miles? Or 30 miles a day, round-trip?
- Are you commuting only to and from work or for other errands as well?
- Do you want to be able to carry anything? How much?
- Is your commute long or hard enough to warrant cycling specific clothing?
- Will you combo your commute with public transit?
- Will you be an all-weather or fair-weather rider?
- Do you prefer to take your time or get there as fast as you can?
Only after answering these sorts of questions, do we begin our tour of various bikes suited for commuting-- because really, you can commute on anything!
While I lived in Walla Walla, WA, a small town in Eastern Washington, I commuted primarily on my Xtracycle. My job and lifestyle often required transporting "stuff," whether it be bicycles or groceries-- and the Xtracycle did it all. But I never had to go very far, nor take public transit.
Now that I live north of Seattle, WA and work in the city-- my bike commute involves 50 minutes of bicycling and 50 minutes on a bus. Sadly, I don't interact with the town I live in very much, nor do my own grocery shopping, so I haven't used my Xtracycle since living here. It also doesn't fit on the bus. If I lived closer to my place of work, I'd likely be riding it every day-- as it's fun to ride and will hold whatever I care to toss in it.
The bikes that I have been riding since I adopted this new commute are my touring bike, cyclocross bike and folding bike.
My TREK 520 touring bike is outfitted like a "traditional" (stereotypical?) commuter. It sports a rack and panniers; wide, fast and comfy flat-resistant tires; full fenders; a comfortable, efficient and stable geometry; a saddle that feels good with khakis or bike shorts; various reflective stickers; a safety triangle; serious lighting to the front rear and side; and 'flip-flop' pedals-- one side platform, one side SPD (clipless). This bike is ready to commute!
My DAHON SPEED D7 I use when all I need to do is ride two miles into town to catch the bus, meet a friend and toss it in their trunk. Conveniently, it also has (teeny tiny) fenders and a (teeny tiny) rack. I don't wear bike-specific clothing when riding the Dahon (except, perhaps a rain jacket and ankle strap), because I'm not ever riding it very far.
My Jamis Supernova Cyclocross Bike I use when I don't need or want to carry much or anything at all-- and I want to ride FAST. I don full-on cycling gear (Smartwool cycling knickers, jersey, wind jacket, gloves..) because it's comfortable, flexible and it's something to sweat in. Sometimes I wear my CamelBak (Hawg NV) with my work clothes stuffed in it and sometimes I drop off my clothes at work on a day when I drive in, so that I don't have to carry anything at all. I am fortunate that Gregg's supplies a shower and lockers for their employees!
So you, see-- there are MANY ways to commute. None wrong, all different. What suits you?