Cycle to work: commuting by bike
In the UK only 3% of commuters use a bicycle to get to work, yet many of us live within walking or cycling distance. When you’re stuck in traffic, doing 5mph, you could actually be going faster on a bike, getting fresh air and exercise and saving money on fuel at the same time. There are lots of excuses out there, so we thought we’d try our hand at a bit of persuasion…
I’m not fit enough
If you haven’t cycled for a long time, it’s unlikely you’ll hop straight on a bike, cycle five miles uphill to work and arrive on time feeling ready for the day. The key is to build up your ability slowly. Try cycling to work once or twice a week, or put in some cycling practice in your spare time.
I live too far away
Perhaps a 30-mile bike commute may be a little ambitious, but if you travel by train or bus, you could take a folding bike with you and use it for part of your journey.
I need to carry things with me
Panniers fitted to a rack mean you can bring your briefcase, a change of clothes and your packed lunch with you and are much more comfortable than a rucksack.
I’m not sure of the best route
Route information is available online from a variety of sources (Sustrans is a good one), or via phone apps (search for the BikeHub app – it’s like a sat nav for cycling). Your Local Authority may also have further information. Looking at alternative routes might also be helpful if your traffic confidence is low, as you might be able to avoid busy junctions.
It rains too much!
Of course, cycling is always much more fun on a nice sunny day, but a little preparation in the form of waterproof clothing and accessories goes a long way. You can carry them with you when not in use.
I can’t afford a bike
If your company runs a Cycle to Work Scheme, you can benefit from the chance to purchase bikes and equipment and spread the payments out over an agreed time period.
The average cyclist loses 16lb in weight in their first year of commuting by bike.
Of course, there’ll be times when you need to use the car to get to work, and that’s perfectly acceptable, but even cycling for one day a week will make all the difference. Now we’ve got your attention, we’ll talk technical.
The good news is you might not need to buy a new bike for commuting. However, you may want to look at our list of commuter bikes to see if there’s one that will get you there quicker or more comfortably.
Make an excellent choice for shorter rides and commutes that may involve more than one form of transport as they can be folded up for easy transport in trains, taxis or buses.
Road bikes (drop or flat handle bar) can turn any commute into a training ride, or simply be the most efficient way to complete a lengthy commute. Whatever the case it’ll be the quickest (if not the most comfortable) way to work.
Being designed to take on mountains, MTBs will cope perfectly with commuting over any terrain. They won’t be the most efficient commuter but it will allow you to go off-road at the weekends.
Comfort, distance, speed and big luggage capacity; if these are your requirements then a touring bike may be just the ticket, and if the commute ever becomes too much then you can always take some time off and ride around the world.
It’s no good riding the best bike on earth if your trying to ride uphill in the rain wearing a 3 piece suit and flip flops. Proper riding gear will make all the difference to your comfort and enjoyment.
Obviously your cycle clothing requirements will depend on your riding style. A 30 mile dash on a road bike will require some lycra and rigid cycling shoes, whereas a gentle 3 mile trip along a bike path on your folding bike won’t need much beyond everyday clothing. There are however some items of clothing that will make any ride more pleasant.
Waterproof cycling jackets are available in modern designs and fabrics which means that getting rained on (which unfortunately sometimes happens) needn’t be a damp, uncomfortable affair.
Usually a touchy subject fashion-wise but whatever their looks, proper padded cycling shorts make a huge difference to comfort levels on anything but the shortest of rides.
A Helmet is a must have safety item for any cyclist. There is no sensible argument against using one and whilst we all hope never to crash, if the worst happens then a properly fitted cycle helmet can make all the difference.
Cycling gloves, whether waterproof and insulated or fingerless and vented, these little things can make a big difference.
Cycling shoes are as important to cyclists as proper running shoes are to marathon runners. Ranging from semi rigid soled leisure shoes to super rigid racing numbers they will all improve efficiency and if you go for clipless MTB or Road pedals then you’ll need the shoes to match.
If you look after your bike, it’ll look after you, and if you check it over regularly, it shouldn’t need too much attention. However, you’re always going to need the basics with you at all times, so a pump and a multi tool in your saddle bag are essentials.
One of our all time top tips for commuters – a lurid green slime that goes into your tyres (don’t worry, if you buy it with a new bike from us then we’ll fit it, of course) and instantly seals small punctures (up to 1/8”) so you can keep riding.
It’s the duty of every responsible (not to mention legal) cyclist to light up after dark and with most commutes taking place early morning and evening lights are a definite must have. Some modern lights have battery run times measurable in days, yet remain small enough to fit easily in a pocket.
You wouldn’t leave your car any length of time without locking it and the same should go for your bike. A lot of bikes are stolen, but it’s nearly always the ones left with poor locks or worse still, not locked at all.
Mudguards make the difference between getting slightly damp, and totally soaked. From full length touring mudguards to actually fashionable clip on guards, there’s a set to fit any bike.
Still not convinced? Try out your route to work one day when you’re not in to see how long it will take and what time you’d need to get changed or ready. You could get a lift part of the way and cycle the rest, ride one way and get a lift the other, or just ride once or twice a week. It will get easier the more you do it, get you fitter and save you money. All great reasons to cycle to work.