|Road bike in battle dress for the ride up the ski hill|
Appropriate gears for an old guy and light wheelset
|Salsa LaCruz cross bike/commuter in winter commuting dress|
heavier wheels with light knobbies, fenders, reflectors, lights
Lower wide range (11-34; 46-34) gearing, disk brakes
For fun, a bicycle need not be festooned with lights, fenders, or other utility stuff unless one plans on riding where that stuff is necessary. Fenders don't make a lot of sense in a desert environment but lights might be handy, if not mandatory, if riding before or after work during dawn or dusk hours. Gears appropriate for topography and one's strength and level of fitness are the difference between fun and misery. As is proper bike fit and good saddle/handlebar choices. Having a bike that has passed the ABC quick check (don't forget your patches and tool kit) and sporting a rider prepared for potential inclement weather (I once was stuck in the Jemez in summer kit as the temperature dropped by thirty degrees and hail pelted me until I found a rock outcrop to hide under) and who is competent at the handlebars is a must. Fun riding is often done in low traffic conditions but one must still be situationally-aware and know how to dance with cars.
|And not to be left out...|
Effective commuting usually means more of a "utility" bike rather than a gossamer racer. My choices are touring or cyclecross bikes since they are more easily fit with fenders (to ward off rain and slush), larger and burlier tires (that can shed debris and possibly get you home in some snow or after hitting a pothole) and where you are not heartbroken over festooning a featherweight carbon bike with lights, reflectors, fenders, drop tanks, bomb racks, and a luggage rack to carry stuff. Plus, a longer wheelbase bike is more stable steering and, depending on chainstay length, can have more room between the backs of your feet and the panniers you might hang on a rear rack. These bikes can also be fit with a variety of tire widths and wide range gear trains useful for hauling you, your stuff, and a fully loaded bike back and forth to the factory.
Paying attention to the Five Layers of Safety is pretty important and puts a lot of stuff in context. Its about being competent and effectively utilizing your skills, situational awareness, and the amazing abilities of your highly maneuverable bicycle to keep you out of trouble. Its also where the "wear a helmet" campaigns get it bass-ackwards. A helmet is the innermost layer of safety and you should hopefully never have adversity pierce those other four layers. Using your helmet up in a crash should be an extremely rare event (unless you are a gonzo mountainbiker or similar) but hitting your head can be a high consequence event. Avoid smacking your bare skull on something hard such as Mr. Pavement. Traumatic Brain Injury ain't fun and I have indeed experienced it, quite predictably, back when I was an inexperienced cyclist riding in traffic. Nearly ended my budding career as a scientist, if not my life.
Safe and effective cycling is a combination of good local policies and infrastructure, effective enforcement of traffic laws to keep people honest behind the wheel and handlebars, education/training so we all react appropriately when necessary, and finally, making use of the grey matter between the ears to integrate all of that within the scope of the bicyclist and his or her steed. Eventually, it all comes down to looking out for #1 and the best person to do that is #1.