How to Choose Series [4] Commuter Bike Gear

The rising price of petrol. Fun. Fitness and health. Climate change. Well, there are plenty of great reasons to start bike commuting right now. In case that you want to get started with this, we’ve compiled a complete guide with a variety of commuter gear items and options that range from convenient to essential. The 4th part of our How to Choose series is right here. Let’s see what you should focus on first. 

Bike commuter riding to work

Understand Your Priorities

There’s no such thing as the best bike for commuting. Road conditions, the terrain, your personal preferences, the distance, all of these are highly relevant, too. If you don’t own a bike and consider buying one for commuting, we’ve prepared some things for you to consider: how to choose a commuter bike.

Mountain bike

  • Pros: Has wide tires for a well-balanced and stable ride, along with flat handle bars for an upright & comfortable riding position, and more resistant tires than road bikes. Adapts perfectly to any off-road and road commuting conditions.
  • Cons: Heavy, boasting a great rolling resistance when compared to road bikes (important when commutes are long).

Road bike

  • Pros: Has narrow tires for reduced rolling resistance. Fast, lightweight, excellent for any kind of commute.
  • Cons: More susceptible to flats because of the tires. Energy-efficient but stiff ride, not as comfortable and relaxed as alternatives. If commute involves trails, you'll have a hard time.

Commuter bike

  • Pros: Allows an upright riding position and maximizes energy efficiency. Good geometry for minimizing weight.
  • Cons: A very simple bike, not as light and sleek as a road bike nor as rugged as a MTB.
 Group of bike commuters going to their workplaces

Bike Commuting Clothes

Avoid Getting Wet

One of the best investments you can make as a commuter is a breathable, waterproof jacket. In addition to this, go for neoprene shoe covers and pants to make the ride to and from the workplace/school way more healthy and comfortable. The costs for these are quite low and don’t take much space. Be prepared for surprises when it comes to weather.

Comfortable Cycling Shorts

We all know how professional cyclists look like. We’ve all seen them on TV or in reality. While you don’t need expensive, special clothes to become a bicycle commuter, it would be a great idea to invest in some cycling shorts with chamois padding if your commute is longer than 4 miles (about 7 kilometers). Opt for a pleasant ride. Shorts come in many styles: body-hugging and sleek road-racing shorts and looser mountain-bike ones.

Protecting Your Head

Always strap on a decent helmet before getting on your bicycle. You never know when an unexpected incident can come. That helmet can make a difference between some bruises and scrapes and dangerous injuries.

In addition to this, the helmet will add a great layer of warmth.

Feet and Hands

Once you become a bike commuter you’ll understand that cycling gloves aren’t just for fashion. Those padded palms actually absorb road vibration, effectively reducing arm fatigue. In addition to this, you’ll also get protection in case that you fall. Switch from full-finger to fingerless gloves depending on weather.

Shoes

Choose shoes that suit your bike. Read more on this topic in our dedicated article on How to Choose Bike Shoes. Your bike can have platforms pedals, toe clips or clipless pedals. Choose wisely.

Protecting Your Eyes

Be prepared for bad weather conditions by using sunglasses. Search for light-colored lenses to help improve contrast in cloudy weather and in the very low light of dusk or dawn. Opt for dark polarized lenses to reduce eye strain and sun glare.

 Bike commuter

Commuting Essentials

Repairing Tires – Necessary Gear

Every seasoned biker knows it’s impossible not to have a surprising flat tire. Learning how to repair or change a tube is a vital thing. Always have with you the following:

  • Mini-pump
  • Tire levers
  • Tubes or spare tubes (plus patch kit)

Packs

Many people need to take extra clothes, as the work environment is rarely casual and the commute is rarely short. What are the options?

Daypack

  • Pros: Big capacity, good choice in case that you use more than one bicycle (you keep it with you, no hardware included). Best for riding mechanics, not stressful at all.
  • Cons: Can cause sweating, though some models are specially designed to avoid this. Can increase fatigue because you’re carrying huge weight on your body.

Rack trunks and handlebar bag

  • Pros: Quite easily accessible. These options keep shoulders and back free from weight.
  • Cons: Capacity is limited and can obstruct different parts of your bike, such as bike computer, lights or GPS unit.

Panniers

  • Pros: Keep shoulders and back free from weight
  • Cons: Small capacity. Added stress and weight on rear wheel. Can impede pedal stroke. Increased wind drag.

Underseat Bag

  • Pros: The perfect way to carry patches, repair tools, and tubes. For short commuting, add the wallet, keys and phone there.
  • Cons: Quite limited capacity. Impossible to carry clothes.
 Bike commuter gear

Lights & Locks

Lights - A must-have on rainy days and at night. Invaluable when travelling large distances or where lighting is variable or poor. Invest in decent lights for a safe ride. Stay tuned for the next article, as we’ll cover more info on this topic.

Remember the back, side, and front reflectors and lights, yet put a reflective item on your helmet as well and always opt for reflective clothing. You need to be safe when riding.

Locks – Even if your workplace offers secure places for bikes, always carry a lock with you. When your bicycle is quite easily accessible, opt for a premium U-lock that will protect your bike perfectly.

Stay tuned for the next article on bike lights.

 Bike lights

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