I've just accepted a new job and plan to sell the car and cycle commute instead. It's a 20-mile round trip through the Leeds hinterland, so nothing too arduous if a little busy traffic-wise.

I've only ever ridden for leisure before so I'm looking for advice - kit tips, lights and any hard-earned knowledge.

My plan is to buy a trailer to take the baby to the childminder. That's only half a mile away so I'll ditch it and then ride to work. I'll be riding my Spesh Allez.

It's been a dream of mine to be able to do this. Now it's happening the practicalities are starting to get a bit scary... Just thinking of that first snowy, minus 5 morning.

Any helpful advice would be a great help.


PS - Get signed up to 30daysofbiking if you've not done so already!


robert.brady [155 posts] 5 years ago

Mudgaurds are essential. I commuted for ages without them but won't take them off the commuter bike now. They do a great job of keeping your feet/lower legs dry.

If you're riding on unlit roads, buy the best set of lights you can afford - don't scrimp. Good lights result in improved safety and speed. Now might be a good time to buy as people will be putting them away for the summer.

If it rains you are going to get wet. There is little point in spending hundreds of pounds on waterproofs. Just put a second pair of socks and shorts and jersey in your bag for the ride home. Also, wearing layers is a good idea as the weather on the way home can be very different to the way in. And don't worry too much about the cold; it can be preferable to arrive at work cold than a complete sweaty mess!

Carry suitable tools to fix common mechanicals by the side of the road - you're on your own out there.

Last tip: Allow plenty of time - it'll take longer than you think.

Good luck!

Rob (year round commuter).

Oh, and enjoy it! It's a great way of putting the miles in.

LondonCalling [151 posts] 5 years ago

Agree with Rob on everything, except the waterproofs. It's no fun to arrive at work soaking wet, especially in the winter. And there is a chance that your clothes might no dry by the time you have to head home and will have to put wet or damp clothes on. You don't want that, trust me.

I find the Endura jackets and overtrousers really good. My commute used to be a 16 mile round trip and they kept me dry. In the freezing winter, that is a major plus. And they also protect you from cold head winds.

Just my opinion.

jimmo62 [55 posts] 5 years ago

get neoprene overshoes for when it's wet, cold or both. I commute year round and they are a real luxury. I hate cold wet feet!

Jon [33 posts] 5 years ago

Definitely mudguards!
I'd recommend panniers to avoid a sweaty back, carry your work stuff and be able to pick up some shopping on the way back. A Tortec velocity slimline rack will give you less weight & drag than a wider conventional one.
For kit I think you need to buy some expensive stuff but you can get away with cheaper options like Tenn Outdoors for everyday jerseys etc.
Best waterproof overshoes I found are BBB waterflex - under £20 on eBay and good quality. (Or waterproof boots and toe clips if you prefer)
I use cheap lightweight waterproof tousers over cycling trousers/leggings to keep the worst off my legs It's not a great look but they are cheap, light and packable.
Lights - "Kree" led lights & rechargeable batteries will give you the brightness of a much more expensive light. My one was £12 on eBay and is fine on pitch black lanes at 25mph. You'll need a backup light and/or spare batteries.
A DHB minima jacket is very light and waterproof with good quality zip for about £35 (RRP £50). Not massively breathable but you'd need to spend a lot more to get one that is.
If you're in traffic, 2 or 3 bright back lights including one attached to the back of your helmet. Smart lunar R1/R2 are bright and inexpensive.
Good winter gloves - I'm still looking for some that fit well. Freezing hands are best avoided.
I use two head warmers for different conditions - a thick one and a waffer thin one which doubles as a face cover when it's really cold - from camping shops.
If you can find some alternative routes it will make the journey less of a drag when you're not in the mood.
If you've got an expensive road bike and are thinking of using that you might want to get a commute bike instead to avoid expensive wear and tear. A 8 or 9 speed drivechain wears out slower and is cheaper to replace than a 10 speed.
Commuter traffic is probably the most dangerous so you need to be very alert and look out for bad driving and potholes etc. all the time.

mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 5 years ago

On the waterproofs topic - I think it depends on the facilities once you reach work

If there are showers available then the full boil-in-the-bag kit is fine - but if not then reconsider, as even a fairly gentle commute in full waterproofs can have you perspiring quite heavily

msw [113 posts] 5 years ago
mad_scot_rider wrote:

On the waterproofs topic - I think it depends on the facilities once you reach work

If there are showers available then the full boil-in-the-bag kit is fine - but if not then reconsider, as even a fairly gentle commute in full waterproofs can have you perspiring quite heavily

Seconded. If you're cold when you walk out of the door you're probably about right once you get moving. It took me a long time to get out of the habit of over-dressing.

If you can take a big bag full of clothes in to work on Monday the rest of your week will be easier. If you wear a suit at work can you leave it there and just transport shirts on Monday and Friday?

Also agree about the mudguards and panniers. If I remember rightly though the Allez doesn't have mounts for either, so you might need Raceblades or something similar and D-clips to get the pannier rack mounted. I did a similar commute to yours on an Allez for a couple of years but when it was nicked I replaced it with something that had rack and mudguard mounts.

*edit* - ALSO - fit the biggest tyres you have clearance for. On an Allez with mudguards that might be 25s but if you can go for 28s then do it.

SideBurn [890 posts] 5 years ago

I now cycle commute and would agree with the comments above. I found the 30 mile round trip too much at first, so I part drove and part cycled, in my defence the first bit of the route is hilly. It took me a while to get used to it and in particular not treating it as a training ride, take it easy, you have a days work to do! After a few years I can now ride at a fair pace and not pay the price at two in the afternoon needing a doze! I now feel a lot better if I cycle. If I drive I get to work half asleep. I would suggest you give it a go but initially not ride every day if possible.I found that a few days of riding in poor weather is very draining and asking for colds etc. The thing that keeps me going is keeping a log of how much I save in petrol! £600 last year! Thats better than a kick in the teeth! I Am going to get rid of the car soon...honest. That will save a lot more. Go for it!

dangerousdan [2 posts] 5 years ago

Thanks everyone!

Just bought some lights, muguards, commuting tyres and reflecty bits.

Luckily my new office has a shower so I can get soaked and it not be a massive deal. Might get some cheapo waterproofs for the really sh1tty days though...

Having just done 51 hours in four days leaving zero time for exercise in the current job  20 I'm really looking forward to it!

Game on!