Bike commuting has become more prevalent in recent years, creating new products and options specifically for this type of riding. As part of this evolution, commuter bikes have become some of the most economical rides out there. Whether you want to find a new commuter bike or transform one that you already have, talk to your local Performance Bicycle® store about the specifics of your commute, including the terrain, time of day, and items you need to carry. They can help you dial in a bike and the accessories you’ll need to make your ride a daily success.
When selecting a commuter bike, look for:
A light, but sturdy frame
and wheelset that can take some abuse but still be fun to ride.
Multiple gears for varied terrain, or a single-speed if your commute is flat.
Racks and fenders, or at least attachment points for them.
Multiple reflectors and ample space for attaching lights.
A bell (because yelling "look out!" will scare the daylights out of people).
A kickstand (you may not always have access to bike racks
A chain guard or pant-leg strap (because that whole chain-grease-on-the-pant-leg fashion trend still hasn’t caught on).
, because you’ll need your bike to get home.
RULES OF THE ROAD
When selecting a commute route, step away from your driving mentality and think beyond the most direct, traffic-heavy route to work. It is likely not the safest or most pleasant route for a bike. Practice your route on a day off, and time it in both directions at a realistic pace. Then give yourself a little extra time when starting out, until you figure out exactly how much time you need.
While it can be difficult, be as courteous on the road as possible. At the same time, ride alertly and defensively. When commuting by bike there are many things to be aware of, so always keep your eyes on the road ahead. Avoid riding too close to parked cars, which may open doors without warning. Anticipate the places where vehicles may enter the road and never assume that a driver has seen you. Make eye contact with drivers at intersections before you proceed. At night, a head lamp can help with this by putting a spot on them until you're sure you have their attention. Bright-colored clothing and bags can help drivers spot you during the day time, while reflectors and lights can help at night.
Defensive riding is your best insurance policy. That, and a helmet to protect the brain you rely upon to do your job.
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Have a long commute? Until you build up your fitness or on days where you are pressed for time, consider commuting one way and taking the bus or train in the opposite direction. You can also drive to work, leave you car there and ride home. Then alternate the process on the next day. 2
Learn the best commuting strategies for your area by talking to other commuters. They are usually overjoyed to help out a convert. 3
When locking your bike to a post or parking meter, make sure it has a wide enough "head" to keep a thief from simply lifting the bike off the top. 4
Before you head to the office, remove anything from your bike that isn't bolted on. Seatpacks, computers, water bottles
, and pumps
can disappear in a hurry. 5
Choose a bike that's fun and functional, but not so coverted that it will be attractive to thieves while locked-up outside your office. 6
Choose all weather tires and puncture-resistant tubes. Getting a flat on the way to work is bad. Having to change it while wearing a suit is worse. 7
Stock up on basic essentials like tires, tubes, handlebar tape/grips and lighting batteries, so that you have an easily-accessible supply on hand at all times.
PACK IT UP
Strapping your briefcase to the handlebar just won’t cut it. Experienced commuters carry their documents, laptop computers, clothing and other gear in messenger bags and backpacks, or in panniers or racks attached to their bike.
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LIGHT IT UP
Despite the prayers of bicycle commuters around the world, daylight fades and lights become necessary. Fortunately, with all the bike lights available today, you can light yourself like a carnival ride if you feel the need. At a minimum, purchase a strong, white light for your handlebar or helmet (or both) to light the way ahead of you, and a flashing red light for the rear. Reflective tape can also be sewn on to bags and outerwear, or affixed to your bike frame and helmet. Most commuting-related accidents are related to lack of visibility, so don't skimp on lighting choices.
In addition to using a strong lighting system, make yourself visible by wearing brightly colored and/or reflective clothing. Light cycling jackets and vests are available in very bright colors. They fit over most clothing and easily stash away in a pack when not in use. Adhesive reflective strips can also be affixed to the pant legs, shoes, helmets, etc.
LOCK IT UP
Protect your bike by making it too hard for a thief to steal. Use at least one lock at all times, which may consist of a U-lock, an armored cable or heavy-duty chain. Always secure your bike to a fixed, metal post or sign in a heavily trafficked, well-lit area. Secure a U-lock around a post, through the frame and rear wheel, and then remove the front wheel and lean it against the bike, closing the U-lock around the front wheel. Securing a bike in this way makes it less likely that a thief can force the lock apart. Don't like taking off your front wheel? Carry an armored cable to reach around the post and snake through your wheels in addition to the U-lock.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE
One of the biggest hindrances to bike commuting tends to be the "now what?" factor of dealing with changing and bike storage upon arrival. Your work may have designated bike parking or you may be able to bring your bike inside. If you have access to neither, talk to your employer about your commuting plans, and band together with other bike commuters to ask for improvements in bike storage and changing areas.
View our Riding to Work PDF »