Urban bike commuting gear that is superb, is much better than average gear that barely get’s the job done.
You can buy a cheap commuter bike from a department store that falls apart within a few months. Pick up a set of cheap panniers that aren’t water-proof or don’t have reflective material for riding at night. You can go without a helmet or get a cheap one that’s not crash certified, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!
Just read my article, “Crash Dummy, Bicycle Accident Guy” and you’ll see that when urban bike commuting is done the wrong way, it can be deadly.
This is not to scare away from urban bike commuting, or that you need the fanciest gear in order to do so. When done properly, bike commuting can be healthy, affordable, and extremely enjoyable.
What you need is the proper gear, in order to make bicycle commuting safe, which it is when done properly. Compare that article to this one, “How To Become An Urban Commuting Pro”.
That’s the difference between being able to conquer your urban commute on a daily basis, or being miserable when your gear fails you. AND FAIL YOU IT WILL!
FAILING URBAN BIKE COMMUTING GEAR DOESN’T HAVE TO HAPPEN TO YOU! DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU!
You don’t have to put up with inferior commuting gear that fails you the first time it rains or snows. You’re better than that. You know it, and I know it.
I know it because I use to be in your same exact shoes, unless you’re wearing clip-less shoes. If so, we cant talk anymore. JUST KIDDING!
Unless you’re into bicycle racing, or done research, there’s a possibility you don’t know what clip-less shoes are. And that’s okay.
When I first got into urban commuting I had no idea where to begin either. I bought a cheap, heavy mountain bike from a department store that weighed over 40 lbs. It only took me two weeks of suffering up hills to give up, and sell it to another poor victim.
Weather is a part of urban commuting
I’ve been caught unexpectedly in thunderstorms, resulting in panniers filled with water by the time I got home. And shoes that resembled jacuzzis. SQUEEK SQUEEK AS I WALKED, AND LOOK AT THOSE WATER TRAILS LEFT BEHIND.
That’s still not as bad as the snowstorm I had to ride home in one time. Or commuting all year round without the proper headwear or gloves to keep me warm in below-zero weather.
Once you bike commute all year round, you learn things you never would as a fair-weather cyclist. You have to deal with rain, humidity, wind, cold and even ice.
There’s more to urban cycling than racing
You’ll also learn that bicycling isn’t all about competitive cycling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just understand, that you don’t have to wear competitive cycling gear or buy a racing bike.
What you need is a proper, reliable bicycle, with the gear to make your urban commutes not only more enjoyable, but also safer. Just don’t forget to smile and wave as you pass stressed, angry, motorists trapped in traffic jam hell.
How do we get started with your urban commuting journeys?
We’re going to go over lots of cool, fun stuff in order to get you started on not only commuting on a daily basis, but absolutely conquering it.
What will we go over?
- Getting a proper, reliable bicycle for urban commuting.
- Wearing a helmet.
- Eye wear.
- Cycling gloves.
- Locking your bike.
- Panniers, backpack, etc.
- Rear rack.
- Cute little bicycle bell.
First you need a bike
Before you can start commuting to work on a daily basis with a huge cheesy grin on your face, you’ll first need a bike. Unless you love walking. If that’s the case, we recommend a good pair of walking sneakers. To get you started I’ve included this awesome article, “Coolest Sneakers For Hitting the Hot City”.
Choosing a bicycle can be very confusing, but doesn’t have to be
HEAD TO YOUR LOCAL BIKE SHOP RIGHT NOW!
Don’t go to the department store and buy one of those cheap bikes that will give you nothing but problems. I KNOW, I KNOW! They cost more money. Of course they do, because the quality is 200% better. What you pay for upfront will save you on on repairs over time.
These cheap bicycles break down constantly. The tires ride horribly and get more flats than you breathing heavy from trying to ride this junk uphill. Your gears will slip worse than the tires in bad weather. And your butt will get more blisters from the crappy seat than your sun burned skin.
In fact, you’re better off getting those well made sneakers I recommended and push that heavy contraption up the hills. It will be much faster and less tiring.
By the time you spend money upgrading the seat, tires, pedals, and constantly getting this hell on wheels repaired, (thats if any bicycle shop will even touch it) you’d be much better off getting a bicycle you’ll actually want to ride.
All you’re going to do is waste your money on a bike that’s going to sit in your garage, or be used as a clothes hanger in a spare room or your basement.
Get help with choosing a bicycle
Just like the sneakers that I recommended, no one size fits all. We all have different torso, leg, and arm lengths. Unless you actually do test rides, you’ll have no idea how various bicycles fit you or rides.
Some bicycles will ride faster, but more harshly due to harder, thinner tires. Others will ride smoother and provide more cushion on the road due to their softer, wider tires. They will also come with more or less gears. The more gears you have, the more capable you’ll be able to climb hills.
The downside of having more gears is more trips to the bike shop for adjustments. A bike mechanic might suggest getting a bicycle with less gears if all your commuting will be in the city. Or even a single speed if you have no hills at all, have the physical fitness for it, and want little maintenance.
Get a proper bike fit
After you’ve chosen your style of bicycle, the color, number of gears, let’s make sure the darn things fits you right.
There’s no use in choosing a pretty looking bicycle if it isn’t comfortable to ride. Here’s the part where your super helpful bicycle expert comes in handy, yet again. SEE WHY WE RECOMMEND GOING TO A REAL BICYCLE SHOP?
This oh-so-nice bicycle expert will make sure your bicycle isn’t too small or large. If the bicycle is too small, you’ll feel like you’re crammed into a high-chair. A bicycle thats too large will have you reaching way too forward. TALK ABOUT NECK AND BACK PAIN! OUCH!
Your new friend (bicycle expert) will also adjust your seat height so that your able to get the right pedaling efficiency, especially while climbing Mount Everest sized hills. Or battling hurricane strength winds.
A seat that’s too low will tire you out quickly, while putting extra strain on your knees. Adjust you’re seat too high, and you’ll end up with back pain from rocking your hips. And an injured knee from overextending. Get your seat height just right, and you’ll be looked at with jealously from onlookers stuck in traffic. Or other cyclists walking up hills because they bought a cheap, poorly adjusted, and heavy bicycle from a department store. DON’T LET THIS BE YOU!
Another added benefit from buying a bicycle from a bike shop is that you’re going to be establishing a strong relationship with them. SO MAKE SURE YOU LIKE THE SHOP YOU BUY FROM!
Many times they will give you a years worth of free tune-ups or discounts when you buy a bicycle from them. HOW COOL IS THAT?
It’s time to get a helmet to protect your jelly bean (A.K.A your head, noggin, etc)
Now that you have your shiny new bike that fits you like the cycling gloves you should be wearing on your hands, you’re all ready to get out there and conquer urban bike commuting.
WAIT! NOT SO FAST YOUNG GRASSHOPPER, OR WHATEVER AGE YOU ARE!
You’re forgetting an important piece of gear that’s known to save lives during a crash, and preserves intelligence that would otherwise perish without a trace.
No matter how safe your city is, or how good the cycling infrastructure, always wear a helmet that’s crash certified. NO! A helmet won’t prevent scrapes, bruises or broken bones. But it’s still a lot better than receiving a crushed skull from that 5000 lb SUV that just ran a red light, because the driver was too busy drinking a Latte, instead of paying attention to the road. WOULDN’T IT BE BETTER TO BE DRINKING A LATTE ALSO, INSTEAD OF BEING A VEGETABLE LAYING IN BED?
I’d go with something like this: Triple Eight Certified Sweatsaver Helmet. I’ve been wearing this bicycle helmet for over a few years because if professionals such as, TONY HAWK-pro skateboarder and ELLIOT SLOAN-pro skateboarder trust it to protect their noggin’s, so do I.
Just make sure you get the right sized helmet that fits comfortably, and adjust the chin strap to the proper length.
Triple Eight helmets can be purchased at: https://triple8.com/
Protect those pretty eyes with stylish cycling eyewear
They say the eyes are the window to the soul. Well, we say the eyes are a way too see where you’re going while conquering your urban bike commute.
You can still look stylish and cool
Don’t worry, sunglasses or clear cycling glasses won’t make you look dorky. Your bicycle commuting friends won’t stare or point fingers at you while laughing uncontrollably.
Nobody will start an online forum or social media group that solely focuses on you and your glasses.
In fact, quite the opposite might happen. There’s many different styles and colors available on the market. And at different price points to fit any budget.
Once all your cycling friends and social media followers see how cool your sunglasses or clear cycling glasses look, they might spread the word, making you an internet sensation.
Soon enough, they will start wearing sunglasses or clear cycling glasses (just like you) because they do so much more than make you look phenomenally cool. They also protect your eyes and allow you to see what’s going on around you much easier.
Urban bike commuters should always know what’s going on around them at all times. YOU DEFINITELY WANT TO SEE THAT CAR SPEEDING THROUGH THE INTERSECTION!
Is that vehicle going to run the red light or stop sign at the intersection? Will that vehicle on the left cross over into the lane you’re in, running you off the road? Is that person in the parked car going to suddenly open the car door, resulting in you being DOORED?
These are all examples of things that you need to watch out for, along with pedestrians and other cyclists that don’t follow the rules of the road. (Unlike you, right?)
It’s hard to see these types of dangers while squinting to prevent sun glare from roasting your eyes out of your head, (wear sunglasses to prevent this) or trying to wipe dirt and debris out of your eyes. (Wear clear cycling sunglasses at night to prevent this)
Cycling gloves give a helping hand during urban bike commuting
Cycling gloves are the stuff that commuting dreams are made of. At least as far as hands are concerned. Consider them your HELPING HAND.
Many professional racers wear gloves, and for good reason. They ride in the saddle for many hours, with lots of weight placed onto their hands from riding in the drops.
As an urban bike commuter, you might not be riding in the drops for many hours like a professional racer does, but can still enjoy many of the benefits that cycling gloves offer.
Cycling gloves have palm padding that helps eliminate road vibrations from shooting up through your arms and upper body, something that can tire you out quickly. They also keep your hands from sliding off the handlebars while sweating in humid riding conditions.
In the winter time when it’s below-freezing out, gloves will keep your hands warm so that you don’t lose fine motor unit control. And because the gloves are form fitting, you can still easily change gears, unlike regular gloves. They also protect your hands from scrapes in the event of an unexpected crash.
Cycling lights allow you to see and be SEEN
There’s a reason why serious urban bike commuters use cycling lights. THEY WORK!
During night commuting, lights can be very helpful for seeing where you’re headed, and also avoiding dangerous obstacles in your path, such as potholes. They also let drivers know you’re there.
Rechargeable lights are your best option because they are more powerful than battery operated lights.
For city commuting, front cycling lights with a maximum of 300 lumens is plenty. If you must commute in areas where there’s little or no light at all, over 800 lumens is best. For rear lights, a red light that can be seen for at least a mile away is highly recommended.
Just remember to keep them fully charged because the higher the lumens, the faster they lose their charge.
Also, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of using daytime cycling lights, especially when it’s rainy and cloudy out.
Lock your bicycle up
There’s nothing worse than coming out after leaving your bicycle for an extended period of time, and seeing it gone.
For this very reason, it’s important that you get yourself a good quality lock(s), and learn how to properly use them.
When locking your bicycle up be sure to do the following:
- Remove all accessories such as lights, bags, etc.
- Use a U-lock to secure the back wheel and frame.
- For the front wheel use a cable lock, or better yet, another U-lock.
- Never lock your bicycle to anything that can be moved or cut.
- Lock your bicycle in an area where you can see it and get to it quickly if you see something suspicious.
Get a great set of panniers or a backpack/bag for urban bike commuting
Depending on how much you carry and how far you commute, will determine if you need a set of panniers or a backpack. For shorter distances, carrying only a few items, a backpack or small bag will be best.
If your commute is much farther, or you need to carry lots of items such as clothes, laptop, lunch, extra shoes, etc, a set of panniers will keep your back from sweating and aching. Just make sure that whatever option you choose, it’s water-proof in order to protect your valuables. And has reflective material to make you more visible at night.
- Origaudio’s El Dorado Roll Top Backpack Is Perfect for Commuting And Travel
- Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack Convertible
- Ridgebake Postal 2 Backpack For Every Day Carry
You need a rack in order to use panniers
Unlike racing bikes, commuter bikes can accommodate rear and sometimes front racks. If you’re into speed, you won’t be able to use a rack if you commute with a fast road bike.
Make sure your commuting bike has eyelets for at least a rear rack so that you can carry your items in panniers instead of on your back.
Fenders can save you money on bike repairs and dirty clothes
Fenders on a commuter bike can save you lots of money on repairs while also keeping your backside clean and dry.
Riding in the rain and snow kicks up all kinds of dirt and grime that can cause your bicycle components to wear out much faster. Fenders can prevent this from happening. A good pair of fenders can also prevent that POOPED YOUR PANTS ON THE WAY TO WORK LOOK, by keeping mud and slush from kicking onto your backside while riding.
RING, RING, GET A BELL!
A bicycle bell is a very useful way to alert pedestrians that you’re approaching from behind.
It’s always a good idea to avoid riding on the sidewalks when pedestrians are present, but if you have no choice, a bell can be effective at alerting them without startling them, unlike yelling.
CONGRATULATIONS! You are now officially an expert at urban bike commuting.
- You have learned how to choose a bike.
- The importance of wearing a helmet.
- Why you should wear sunglasses and clear cycling glasses.
- How cycling gloves protect your hands.
- Choosing lights.
- How to properly lock your bike.
- Which type of pannier, backpack is best for your commuting needs.
- The reason why you should choose a bike that has eyelets for a rear rack.
- The importance of fenders.
- Why you need a cute little bicycle bell.
Now get out there and conquer all your urban commutes, and don’t forget the big cheesy smile as you pass others.
Let us know what your favorite gear is to use on your daily bike commutes in the comment section below.