10 Tips for your Bike Commute

Commuter

It’s Bike Everywhere Month!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The sun is shining. The temperatures are rising, and the rain is finally (fingers crossed) starting to chill out. Suddenly the streets become home to thousands of people attempting to ditch their cars and put the pedals to the pavement! While many people have been doing this for years, it’s always exciting to see new faces out and about on bikes. After all, more people on bikes means less traffic, less carbon emissions, healthier communities, and healthier business for local bike shops.

While ditching four wheels for two may seem intimidating at first there are things you can do to ensure your ride is fun, practical, and safe. 

1.    Make sure your outfit is bike friendly. You don’t need to go buy fancy lycra to ride to work or to the grocery store, but be sure your pants aren’t going to get stuck in the chain. Also, make sure you’re wearing material that breathes well. If you live in a rainy climate, grab a lightweight rain jacket that will keep you dry both outside and inside of the jacket. It’s not a bad idea to take an extra shirt to change into if you tend to be on the sweaty side.

2.    So fresh and so clean! If you are biking to work and your workplace doesn’t have a shower, consider bringing some kind of sport wipes to help you freshen up before hitting the desk all day long. A great choice to try is Shower Pill athletic wipes. If that’s too fancy for you, the good old paper towel wipe down works pretty well too!

3.    Fenders, fenders, fenders! If you’re in a climate that is known for rain like the pacific northwest, definitely go the extra mile and add fenders to your commuter. There are all different types so if your bike doesn’t come with predrilled fender mounts consider alternatives that attach to your fork, steerer tube, or seatpost. Arriving to your destination without mud butt is a glorious thing!

4.    Pre-plan your route. You may think you know the best way to get to wherever you’re going, but have you ever tried biking that specific route? Sometimes the roads less traveled make for a much more pleasant riding experience. Check out Google Maps and their bike route option to find multiple routes to your destination. Ask your friends for advice, and also seek guidance from your local cycling club. They often have forums where people can suggest the best routes for traveling to downtown areas from various neighborhoods. Also, get lost. Sometimes exploring is the best way to find your perfect route!

5.    Lights and reflectors are paramount. While the days are getting longer, we’re not out of the woods for darkness yet. You also never know when something may arise that will force you to ride in the dark. Be sure to wear gear that is reflective and have front and rear blinking lights on your bike. You may be riding in the bike lane, but cars really need the extra clue to see your presence. Assume they don’t know you’re there, and ride like you NEED to be seen.

6.    Bring the necessary supplies. While no one wants to have a mechanical, it’s important to carry basic tools on your ride. Bring a spare tube, a pump or CO2 canister, tire levers and a multi tool. More importantly- know how to use them. Passersby may offer to help with a flat, but they’re trying to get somewhere too.

7.    Consider clipless pedals. If your ride is more than a couple miles, consider switching from flat pedals to clipless pedals. Clipless pedals provide better power transfer than traditional pedals by allowing you to use more muscles to pull up while also pushing down through your crank rotation. They may seem intimidating at first, but they’re easy to get used to.

8.    Consider getting a waterproof backpack or panniers. Lots of companies make great commuter packs. Check out offerings from Ortlieb, Timbuk2, Chrome, and SealLine. These products have been around for ages and have stood the test of weather and time.

9.    Be cargo friendly! While a backpack or messenger bag is the obvious solution, you can get creative with your cargo. Milk crates and buckets can double as great panniers for extra cargo storage. Plus, they’re usually really inexpensive. If you use buckets, consider drilling holes in the bottom to ensure that any rainwater drips out. 

10.    Most of all have fun while working out! Biking as your primary transportation is not only fun but it’s phenomenal exercise. Studies show the average person loses 13 pounds when they commit to commuting full time via bicycle. Whether weight loss is part of your goal, you can’t argue with the health benefits of built in cardio. You may even get to toss that gym membership into the trash and save yourself a few bucks in the process.

Don’t have a great bike for riding around town? Check out diamondback.com to find your perfect commuter!