Our guide to commuting

Riding advice  |  Jun 10, 2021  |  Dave Bowater

Have you ever cycled to work? If not, why not? Maybe there are practical reasons, like you are a carpet fitter and must transport 100kg rolls of the soft stuff.

Some of us may have mental blockages; simply not wanting to turn pedals at the end of a long workday, reluctant to venture out on wet mornings or having to contend with car drivers eager to get home to re-heat last night’s spag bol.

As more of us head back to the workplace we are seeing road congestion reach pre-pandemic levels. Cycle commuting not only benefits physical and mental well-being but also the environment, whilst reducing congestion.

While e-bikes flatten the hills and give the sensation of a permanent tailwind, there are many other things that make cycling for transport easier. Here are a few:

Mudguards – If you only get one accessory for your bike, make it mudguards. Even if you don’t intend to ride when it’s raining, they will keep you clean and dry when the roads are wet.

Luggage – For longer commutes we recommend having luggage fastened to your bike. Using panniers instead of a rucksack avoids a sweaty back and helps to lower the centre of gravity, making you more stable. They’re also ideal if you plan to stop for groceries on the way home. If you are riding short distances (distance being relative, but say less than 3 miles) you may find a rucksack more convenient, especially if you are taking your bike on and off a train.

Lights – if you are leaving your bike in a public place, have lights that are easily removeable. The ones we sell are great for occasional use, but if you need to remove the lights regularly (to prevent theft) the rubber straps that fasten each light will become a nuisance. Look for lights that secure to a bracket on the bike so you can easily remove them.

Locks – like most things, the options are endless and each one tailored to different circumstances. Hiplok have a nice tool to help you choose. In general, get something more robust the longer you are leaving your bike.

Spares – If a puncture anywhere along your route would leave you stranded, carry at least one spare tube (ideally two), a puncture repair kit, pump and multi-tool. If your ride is short and walking in the event of a puncture is okay, you may not want the extra to carry.

If you get more than one puncture every 12 months – even if commuting daily – consider fitting puncture resistant tyres. Punctures need not be a feature of bike commuting.

Helmets – or whatever you put on your head; we recommend that you wear something bright as your head is often the only part of you visible above cars or other street furniture. Though this blog post is advice for adults, for the avoidance of doubt we recommend that children always wear a bicycle helmet when riding.

Rainwear – If you commute by bike five days a week for a year, on average you will be rained on 12 times. While manufacturers wax lyrical about how breathable their rainwear is, there is no substitute for vents. If you are riding for leisure you may be fine with getting sweaty as a shower awaits you at home, but maybe not on your morning commute - in which case staying cool becomes a higher priority. E-bikes come into their own here as you can keep moving at a reasonable pace without overheating.

Your route – Wherever possible, choose one with minimal vehicle traffic. This may or may not be the shortest route, but adding a little distance to avoid a busy stretch of road will be safer and less stressful than negotiating rush hour traffic. Depending on your fitness and the terrain in your area you may also prefer a longer but flatter route. 

If you have questions specific to your needs we are more than happy to help! Call us on +44 (0) 1584 708 383 or email us: info@islabikes.co.uk.

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