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How to Start Commuting by Bicycle.

Updated on January 22, 2015
Truer words could not be spoken.
Truer words could not be spoken.

Where To Begin

Commuting to work on a bicycle has become exceedingly more popular with each passing year, there are new products and bicycles specifically just for this type of riding. As part of this change, commuter bikes have become vastly even more economical. No Matter if you want to find a new bike for your commute or refurbish one that you already have, talk to your local bike shop about the specifics of you commute, including the terrain, time of day, and items you need to carry. They can help you figure out just what bike and the assortment of accessories you will need to make your commute a success every day.

No Matter where you start, knowing some basic on the ride service and repairs will be essential, it is recommended you seek out a way to educated yourself in anything you may encounter there.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Choose a bike that you find both fun and functional, but not to pricey as to attract thieves to steal it while you lock it up outside your job.
  2. Choose all weather tires and puncture resistant tubes. Getting a flat on the way to work will be a significant delay and may make you late for work. Not to mention you'll have to change it in a suit, or worse, while it's raining.
  3. Stock up on the Basic essentials likes tires, tubes, handlebar tape/grips and batteries(for you're lights.), so that you have an readily available supply to pick from.


When Selecting your Commuter Bike

Be sure to look for the following:
  • A light, sturdy frame and a wheelset that can take some abuse.
  • Multiple Gears for varied terrain or single speed, depending on what your commute dictates.
  • Racks and Fenders, or a bicycle that at least has attachment points for them.
  • Bell, or other noise making device, yelling at people just angers them.
  • A Chain guard or pant-leg strap. Not even mechanics like chain grease.
  • Space for Lights, even if you travel on well lit streets you can increase your life expectancy by using lights.
  • A Lock, unless you only want to ride your bike once and forever walk to and from work, you'll need this to keep you're bike from being stolen.

The Rules of the Road

When you select your commute route, you need to forget about the roads you would normally drive on. Most traffic heavy road are also not the safest roads for you to be commuting on, besides, a few extra mile and you can have a few extra beers later. If you have never ridden it before or are worried you may get lost, ride the route on your day off and familiarize yourself with it.

Though it can be, at time hard, be as courteous to motorists and others on the road as much as possible. Don't do so at you own safety's expense and ride as alert and defensive as possible. Stay focused on the road in front of you as much as possible and look out for obstacle up ahead. If safe enough, avoid riding near parked cars as much as possible, people may open doors with out warning or pull out in front of you. Do your best to make eye contact at intersections before you decide to proceed. At night using a head light will help ensure they will notice you, the brighter and flashier the better. Bright color clothing and reflective surfaces can also all aid in you being visible to motorists. At the end of the day, ride defensively and wear a helmet to keep in that gray matter we call a brain.

Packs

Throwing the brief case over your handle bars is dangerous and not efficient. Experienced commuters will carry all their vitals (documents, computers, lunch) in messenger bags, back packs and even panniers or on their racks attached to the bike. You need to keep a few things in mind when picking a carrying systems. Things like comfort, weight, capacity, portability and waterproofing are all important to consider for your commuting needs. Try a few different combinations to see what works best for you. Carry only what you need to and if at all possible plan ahead.

Lights

Despite the prayers of bicycle commuters around the world, daylight fades and lights become necessary.The good news is that there are plenty of bicycle lights available, you can lights you self up like a Christmas tree and roll along. The most important light for a commuter is a strong powerful head light with decent luminosity ( 150 lumens minimum) that you can mout to you handle bar or helmet, and a flashing red light for the rear. Several companies produce other reflective products that can also help aid in the visibility of your bike, reflective tapes can be attached almost anywhere. Don't shy away from a reflective vest or jackets and be sure to avoid wearing black as much as possible. This is you're life we are talking about here, so don't be cheap, get solid gear and keep yourself bright and visible.


When You Arrive

So you rode to work, now what? Your work may already be set up for bicycle commuters, with storage spaces or designated parking areas. If you have access to neither, speak to your employer about possibly improving these conditions to help promote an active healthy work place. Be sure to seek support from other whom would also benefit from adequate bicycle facilities.

Lock it Up

Protect your bike by making it too hard for a thief to steal it. Use at least one lock at all times, a U-Lock, and armored cable lock heavy duty chain, or your own mixture of the aforementioned will do. Always secure your bicycle to a metal post or sign and preferably in a well lit heavily trafficked area. When using a U-lock, secure it around a post through the rear triangle of the frame and around the rear wheel, then remove the front wheel and place in between the post and bicycle and secured by the U-Lock. If you don't like removing your front wheel, you can use an armored cable lock and "snake" it through both wheels and around the post, of course, still use a U-Lock.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Until you build up your fitness, or are pressed for time for some reason, consider alternate travel options like taking the bus or train. You could also drive to work, leave you car there and ride home and then alternate the next day.
  2. Seek out other commuters for advice and tips, cycling is a friendly community, they will be glad to help.
  3. When locking you bike up, make sure that it is physically impossible for some on to just lift your bike up and over the top of the post you re locking it to.
  4. Before you head in to work, remove anything that isn't bolted or locked on your bicycle. Seat packs, computers, water bottles, bags, pumps, etc. More than likely they won't be there when you are done work.

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