Commuting to work is a blast. Not only is it kinder to your wallet than the daily drive, it’s better for your body and mind too – there’s nothing better than starting your day with a healthy ride.
If you're planning on cycling to work, or you're already a commuting convert there are a few essentials that you'll need to keep your journeys stress-free, comfortable and probably more importantly – as safe as possible.
A lot of what's on our checklist will apply to general leisure riders too, so take a look below for advice, inspiration, or motivation to ditch four wheels for two.
The main event
You’re not going far without the right bike for the job, and there’s plenty to choose from. Think about the route you’ll be taking and the distance you’ll be riding – maybe you’ll want a dedicated road bike if your route is all on-road. Possibly a city bike for canal towpath commutes? Mountain bike if your journey’s all off-road? Maybe a cyclo-cross bike is the tool for you. Whatever you go for, using a bike suitable for the task will make your journey more enjoyable, and certainly more bearable in the long-run.
Ever heard of the Ride to Work Scheme? It’s a government sponsored benefit scheme (Northern Ireland and mainland Britain) that can save you up to 52%* off a brand new bicycle and accessories. You can read more about it here.
Commute in comfort
Clothing choices will vary as to the length of your commute and the pace of your riding – but whatever type of ride you have it's always good to have a waterproof or windproof for when the weather turns. And it will at some point. Waterproof trousers, leg/knee/arm warmers are also advisable too.
If you want to increase your visibility to other road users, it’s worth considering some high-viz accessories. You can also pick up trousers, shorts or tops which incorporate reflective elements for extra effect.
Pack it up
If you’re anything like us you’ll be riding with a backpack, although you might choose to use panniers or travel light and keep a stash of clothes at work. We use a nice lightweight breathable pack so we have enough room for a change of clothes, plus space for back up clothing and accessories.
Our daily checklist comprises of:
• Puncture repair kit/patches: Punctures are without doubt the most annoying things that can happen during a ride, and with the amount of road debris and cyclepath crap around, you're definitely going to get a flat tyre at some point.
• Pump: Once you've fixed your tube, you're going to need to pump it up – there’s plenty of choice including mini versions that'll fit in your jersey pocket, to track pumps for the home or workshop.
• Multi-tool: A multi tool will always come in handy and we'd advise you carry when in your riding pack or pocket every time you ride. It doesn't have to have hundreds of tools and parts – as long as it has the basic Allen keys that'll tighten a loose seat collar or saddle – it'll be fine until you can get to your workshop or a bike mechanic.
Daylight saving ride
If you're riding in the dark then a good set of lights – front and back are essential. Many riders choose to ride with lights as extra visibility in the daytime as well. With hundreds on offer, you need to decide whether you need a front light to see by, or simply to make you be seen. Is your commute on unlit country roads or through the relatively well-lit roads and cycleways of the city?