Bike commuting is better for the environment, cheaper than maintaining a car and a good way to integrate fresh air and exercise to your daily routine. You’ll arrive at your destination energized and return home having cycled off the day’s stress. Win-win!
Here are the things you don’t want to be without on a successful commute.
- The Right Bike
Your bike and how it fits are the most important aspects of a successful bike commute. You don’t need the most expensive bike for a successful commute but you do need a bike that fits properly. It’s a common misconception that bike fitting is only for racers or professional cyclists. When a bike isn’t fit properly, you’re likely to be inefficient, uncomfortable, or even in pain and eventually injured. Seat height and reach are key elements when it comes to a proper bike fit. When shopping for a new bike, test ride a few different makes and models to make sure size and geometry are right for you.
Let’s be honest, having a bag dangling from your handlebars or rolling into work with a sweaty back aren’t great options. Pannier bags make for a practical alternative. Look for a bag that is waterproof, protective, easy to mount and has some reflective details.
Tip: Keep a low volume windbreaker or waterproof jacket in your bag and you’ll always be prepared for inclement weather.
No commuter bike should be set without fenders. No matter how long your commute, you want fenders to protect you against mud, rain and anything else that your tires might whip up on your ride. Most commuter and hybrid bikes are equipped with fender mounts as a standard feature giving you the option of taking them off and on easily.
We’re strong advocates of wearing helmets when biking. Keep in mind, however, that a helmet can’t protect you from anything if it doesn’t fit correctly.
When it comes to your safety, visibility is vital. Lights are a must even when you’re not planning to ride by night. Use a rear and front daytime running light and make yourself more visible to drivers and other cyclists.
Just like lights, a bell is a necessary essential for a bike commuter. Bells are great for bike lanes, where you’re likely to encounter cyclists riding at different speeds, as well as the occasional pedestrian. Also, keep in mind that in some jurisdictions it is required by law to have a bell or horn on your bike.
- Change, ID and Phone
Keep some cash, your phone and ID in your saddle bag. Whether for an unexpected cab or bus fare or for a coffee stop along your route.
- The Right Saddle
Few things can take the joy out of cycling like an ill-fitting saddle. There’s no reason to suffer the pain and discomfort caused by a saddle that doesn’t mirror your anatomy. Being the primary point of contact between the body and the bike, the slightest adjustment to the saddle will affect your position on your bike. Also, keep in mind that males and females have different saddle requirements and a gender specific design is key. For cyclists on hybrid or commuter bikes that put riders in a more upright position, a wider saddle with a little more padding is typically the best option.
- Cycling Clothes
Depending on the length of your commute, it’s a good idea to pack your work clothes and ride in bike friendly clothing. Opt for a sweat wicking top or cycling jersey for the ride, and change when you get to your destination. If you’re keen on adding some comfort, try a pair of cycling shorts.
Tip: If Lycra isn’t your thing, opt for a loose fitting pair of shorts.
If you want to find your bike where you left it, a lock is a necessity. Even if your workplace offers indoor bike storage, it’s great to have a lock handy for any unexpected stops.
- Knowledge of Bike Routes
Keep in mind that the fastest route or the route you would take in a car may not necessarily be the best route for travelling by bike. Familiarize yourself with bike lanes, bike boulevards and low traffic alternatives.
Tip: Google Maps offers bike navigation! Download the app and check for the best route before rolling out.
Mechanicals happen. And, you don’t have to be a certified mechanic or know how to fix every possible issue, but there are few things we’d encourage you to learn. Among them, fixing a flat and putting your chain back on. In case of a flat tire, you always want to have a spare tube, tire levers, a CO2 cartridge or a small pump with you. A multi-tool always comes in handy as well.
Tip: Pack a pair of latex gloves in your saddle bag and keep your hands clean even after the messiest of mechanicals.