Tips & Tricks for Bicycle Commuting
More and more people are switching to bicycles to get to work. What is completely normal in other countries, such as in the Netherlands, is becoming increasingly popular. There are various methods of cycling to work. Many use their bikes in combination with the train or use a local bike sharing provider. A commuting bike should be as versatile and flexible as possible. For this reason, the range of suitable models for commuters is growing. But it is not only the right choice of bike that is essential, also sensible clothing for different weather conditions is of great importance to get to work dry and relaxed. For this reason, we have some exciting tips and recommendations for commuters on bicycles below.
How to find the right commuter bike
Commuters should note a few things when buying a bike, because a classic commuter bike has to be equipped for a wide variety of weather conditions and transportation. In order to be perfectly prepared in every situation, the new bike should be as versatile as possible. So that the way to work does not become a nerve-wracking trip, a commuter bike should above all be robust and durable. A bicycle in daily use with a wide variety of path and weather conditions should not carry unnecessary frills with it. A simple design and reliable components make a good commuter bike. This aspect should come first with every purchase.
In the following, you should first consider which type of commuter you are. What is the daily way to work? Are you more sporty or cozy? What does the bike have to transport? Is the backpack enough on the back or do you use additional luggage bags on the front or rear wheel? How big can the bike be? You can also read our guide: What kind of bike should I get?
Here we describe some commuter types and the right bikes:
The bike is suitable for commuting in the city. It is reliable, simple and a little bit of a holiday feeling. Most bikes have three, seven or eight gears, which is sufficient in normal commuting and makes the bike particularly low-maintenance. The deep-drawn mudguards protect against wetness from below in bad weather and don’t get your clothes dirty. The chain guard that is often installed is also practical. This prevents unsightly black spots on the pants. Modern bicycles already use a hub dynamo that is located in the hub of the front wheel. Rarely do you see the classic dynamo. The luggage rack behind the saddle or the basket on the handlebars available in some women’s versions is used for transport.
A bike for all occasions is the trekking bike. A very popular model that is safe on the road as well as on the bike or forest path. With the all-rounders, longer distances can also be covered comfortably. The trekking bikes are especially suitable for cyclists who like to take extensive tours through the green or on numerous bike trails on weekends. There are several options for luggage, because bags can usually be mounted on the front and rear luggage carriers. There is usually enough space for handlebar, frame and saddlebags.
Bike and Ride
Many commuters mix two modes of transport when they get to work. The way to the train is covered by bike and the route between the station and the office is also done on bicycle after the train ride. A folding or folding bike is particularly suitable for this purpose. The small, practical bikes are perfectly adequate for the mostly shorter distances. With a few simple steps, the foldable wheels can be reduced to a handy pack size and thus fit into the well-filled train compartment. Despite their small dimensions, some folding bikes have a small luggage rack that can accommodate a bag. Folding bikes are the ideal companion to integrate the train on the way to work.
If you like to combine sport with the way to the office, you should get a sporty road bike. These bicycles offer a comfortable to sporty seating position and generally narrow tires that have good rolling properties. This way, calories can be burned on the way to work or after work.
A gravel bike is just the thing if you want to go over hill and dale. The cross-capable bikes based on road bikes combine the properties of road bikes and trekking bikes. The sporty seating position is supplemented with wider cross tires and so the gravel bike offers a high level of riding comfort even on rough terrain. There are specially developed bags for gravel bikes that can hold a lot of luggage. So if you want to shorten your way sporty and also on a gravel track or through the forest, you are well served with a gravel bike.
For the exotic, there is the option of a recumbent bike. In contrast to conventional bicycles, the seating position shifts to a horizontal lying position. In contrast to conventional cyclists, the rider does not sit on a saddle, but in a kind of seat shell. Adjusted to this position, the bottom bracket and pedals are at the front end of the bike. The main advantage of such a bike is the significantly more relaxed position of the driver. The back, shoulders and buttocks are less stressed by a wider distribution of the weight.
Pedelecs are becoming increasingly popular. With the bikes supported by electric motors, longer distances or steep climbs can be covered with little effort. A pedelec is particularly worthwhile for commuters with a long or particularly hilly commute. Also attaching various bags is usually not a problem, because the electronic support can easily cope with a few extra kilos. The way to work is definitely less sweaty and other trips are also a pleasure.
The right bike clothing for commuters
The right clothing for commuters on the bike is essential so that the way to work does not become a “torture”. Whether in midsummer at 30 degrees in the shade, in freezing cold in winter or in storm and rain in autumn. Commuters who use the bike must be well prepared for any weather situation. An old and well-known saying sums it up well: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.” Hardly any other saying goes well with bicycle commuters like this one.
Helmet and cap for commuters
When the year is slowly coming to an end and the days are getting colder, you should protect yourself from the weather. In order not to get one cold after another from the freezing wind, the choice of the right clothes should be carefully considered.
It starts with the baselayer, the lowest layer of clothing that sits directly on the skin. This layer should keep the body warm and wick sweat away. The perfect base layer underpants or shirts are made of merino. The merino sheep belongs to the class of fine wool sheep and, as the name suggests, has particularly dense and fine wool. Merino clothing is therefore ideal for bicycle underwear in winter. The sheep’s wool stores the heat from the body and transports cool sweat to the outside. Functional shirts made of synthetic fibers can also serve as an alternative, but they usually cool down faster in the wind, but are also usually cheaper.
The second layer is the insulation layer. It significantly protects against the cold from outside. Flow or softshell materials are mostly used here. The jackets or sweaters are often roughened on the inside and thus have better heat storage. With a particularly dense fabric in the right places, the second layer is also windproof. In addition to the high density against wind and weather, the clothing for cyclists should above all remain breathable. In this way, the body is prevented from cooling down even with longer downhill passages.
If it gets really dirty, a last third layer can be applied. If you continue to insist on moving your bicycle to work in heavy rain and storms, you should apply it. This layer is the thinnest of the three layers of clothing. It is solely responsible for keeping the rain and wet outside. Such waterproof jackets and pants are usually not well ventilated and can quickly make the driver sweat. For this reason, we only recommend the third layer in really extreme conditions. A good soft or hard shell two-layer jacket or trousers is usually sufficient.
Most clothing for cyclists is equipped with reflective stripes or even small lights. If there are no or insufficient reflectors on the top layer of the pants or jacket, we strongly recommend that you do so. Especially in the dark season with bad weather conditions, every cyclist should pay sufficient attention to himself in order not to be overlooked.
There are various variations of reflectors. For experienced hobbyists there are some for ironing on or sewing. If you prefer not to touch your brand-new jacket, you can use so-called snap-reflective tapes or slip on safety vests. Backpack rain covers in striking neon colors with reflective applications are also practical.
Protect free body parts
For normal clothing, a commuter should wear a hat, gloves and a scarf for particularly cold days. There is hardly anything more unpleasant when cycling than ice-cold fingers or draughty ears. Thermal hats and water-repellent gloves keep you warm. However, a hat on a bike does not mean that you have to do without the helmet. There are special caps for cyclists, which are made of weather-resistant softshell and do still fit under the helmet. So-called buffs are ideal for a warm neck. The tube scarves lie comfortably on the neck and protect it from the cold.
Do not let the rain stop you
If it rains, you cannot avoid high-quality rainwear. If the softshell jacket gives up its spirit and is soaked, you should switch to a rainproof jacket at an early stage. Here it is practical to use a light and thin jacket. The rainproof jackets have a particularly small pack size and can therefore always be carried with no major problems. Another advantage is that these jackets can be pulled over the warm layers in winter and over the thin cycling jerseys in summer. The aspects of the water column (watertightness) and breathability are to be considered here. Values above 10,000 are generally considered to be well waterproof. Top products, however, have values of around 30-60,000, but are significantly more expensive.
Don't go down in the rain
When it gets really hot, riding a bike to work shouldn’t be sweaty. On the contrary, you should look forward to enjoying the beautiful weather in the fresh air. The basis for a successful commuter ride by bike in summer is the right clothing. Short pants, a jersey and practical functional clothing are in demand. Particularly breathable clothing should be used for the lower layer. So that the sweaty body does not cool down in the wind, the sweat must be removed well. Vests or wind shirts are a great advantage so that the chest does not get too cold and you don’t catch a cold despite the good weather. These have a windproof front and a well-ventilated back. If you combine your journey to work with the train, you should also have a light jacket to put on. The warmed-up body can otherwise cool down slightly while waiting at the train station. A thin rain jacket can also be an advantage during a summer shower.