Controversial Commute Tips 3 – The Bike

[If you haven’t already, and are wondering why my cycle commuting tips might be controversial, please read the introduction!]

OK, now a REAL controversial tip. If you can afford it, buy yourself a decent bike.

Of course, it doesn’t REALLY matter. I’d rather you rode a knackered (but SAFE, of course) old steed than nothing at all. But a decent, fit-for-purpose, well-maintained bike makes the whole experience so much better.

Type of bike is, I think, important. I KNOW that mountain bikes are cool status symbols, but you’ll mostly be riding on tarmac (unless you have, and choose to use, offroad routes), so get a bike that suited to the road – a road bike, tourer, or hybrid.

I’ve never regretted buying a not-quite-bottom-of-the-range road bike – it’s improved my commuting experience no end. I bought it for fitness but I love riding it now and it’s become the workhorse too. The curved, drop handlebars allow me to get out of the wind, it’s light and fast, and it flies up hills.

Get mudguards – you’ll be riding in the rain too right? If you need to take luggage (future tips will show how you can reduce the need to carry stuff), then make sure you’ve got racks, or the screw holes need to attach them.

At the very least, if you insist on using a mountain bike, get some road tyres. A friend at work announced with great glee this week, that he’d swapped his knobbly off-road tyres for slicks and, I think the word “awesome” was used. He pedalled, and he went somewhere – the difference was dramatic!

If a new bike looks expensive then help might be at hand. If your employer runs a Cycle-to-Work scheme you can get a bike to ride to work on for almost half price and with a 12-month interest free loan. The CycleScheme Site is pretty handy at explaining this – check it out!