Bike Commuting Tips

Bike Commuting Tips

Bike commuting is on the rise. And it’s no wonder. Biking to work is good for your body, the world, and your wallet. Read on to get tips to make it more comfortable and convenient.

You can pretty much wear anything for biking but your main concern when choosing your clothes should be COMFORT. Wearing jeans for a 8 km (5 mi) bike commute on a hot, humid day will quickly spoil the fun. If you have a short commute, ride in your work clothes at a relaxed pace. If your commute is on the long side, you’ll want to wear comfortable cycling clothes, so be prepared to change clothes once you arrive at the office. It’s easy to keep your work clothes wrinkle free… just hang them in a dry-cleaning bag, roll it up and place it in a bike bag, pannier, or basket.

Pay attention to the weather: don’t overdress if it’s warm or underdress if it’s cold. When it’s hot, breathable clothing will keep you comfortable and dry. When it’s cold, consider getting the following items and, for longer rides, plan to wear layers so that you can strip them off as needed but make sure you have the cargo capacity to hold the layers you peel off.

Windproof and weatherproof jacket
Warm gloves
A hat or something to cover your ears (if it’s really cold, consider a balaclava)
Thicker socks and/or overshoe covers to protect your toes from the wind and moisture
Eye protection like sunglasses so that your eyes don’t tear up

Keep shampoo, soap, deodorant, and a towel at your office. Plus, baby wipes and disinfectant hand gel can go a long way to help you freshen up for the day. Just in case, leave a pair of shoes and an extra change of clothes at work.

Your ideal route for biking from A to B is probably not the same route you’d choose for driving. So, when planning your route, don’t think like a motorist. Try to pick the most pleasant route. Think flatter, more trees, fewer cars, bike lanes, and interesting scenery. Sometimes a longer route will be the better choice simply because it’s nicer. There are plenty of resources for this. Some to try are… Google Maps, smartphone cycling apps (e.g. Get There By Bike), your local department of transportation (they often publish bike route maps), a local bike shop, or a local bike club. Test new routes on the weekend when there are no time pressures.

The best way to avoid theft is to bring your bike inside with you. Fold it and put it under your desk or tuck it the corner of your office. If you don’t have a folding bike, lock your bike outside to an immovable object in a highly visible area or ask your employer to provide safe, covered parking. You could even hang your bike on the wall with a bicycle wall mount or store in on top of a credenza or bookcase.

It’s no fun carting stuff around on your back. You’ll be less achy—and less sweaty—if you equip your bike with a rack and bike bags (or baskets). With the right gear, you can carry everything from a six-pack to full bags of groceries. For more details, check out our guide to Boosting Cargo Capacity.

Besides the cargo-carrying gear mentioned above, you’ll want to make sure you have:

Lights & reflectors (See more details here)
Bike lock
Mini tire pump
Patch kit + spare tubes
Water bottle cage (Check out our cages)
GPS or smartphone with a map app (See our bike cases & mounts)
First aid kit

Some good things to always keep in your bike bag: spare lights, a multi-tool, a mini tire pump, first aid kit, patch kit, and spare tubes.

Fenders (i.e. mudguards) are the best way to keep rain, dirt, and mud off of your legs. So, if your bike doesn’t already have them, you may want to get some. You should also look into waterproof bike bags or a waterproof bike-bag cover like our Storm Cover.

Many motorists drive practically on auto-pilot, some have poor eyesight, and plenty are focused on things like smartphones, a GPS system, and the radio. So, load up on lights and reflectors to help you stand out on the road. For details, check out our See and Be Seen article.

It stinks to get a flat when you’re running late for work. So, be sure to maintain the air pressure in your tires, and replace them when they’re worn out. For details, check out our tire maintenance tips.

Make sure you know the rules of the road… check out these safety tips from the experts at Yield to Life. And wear a helmet!

See our recommended maintenance schedule to ensure that you’re not waiting too long between regular tunes ups. Plan to oil the chain every 160 km (100 mi)—and more often in wet weather. And do the ABC Quick Drop test before EACH RIDE.