Best Commuter Bike: Upgrades to Transform Your Cycle to WorkMay 24, 2022
You hung up your car keys for a bike lock, switched the petrol pump for an air pump, and your oyster card is collecting cobwebs; welcome to the world of bike commuting.
Cycling to work comes with its perks, it improves your health, it's better for the environment, and in congested cities such as London, cycling the city streets is often quicker than driving or taking the bus. As if this wasn't reason enough to ditch the car seat for the saddle, cycling possesses a magical quality and sense of freedom that is stranger to a 9 am traffic jam.
Whether you have just purchased the best commuter bike, you’re on the hunt or you already own a bike and want to enhance your ride beyond the essentials, here are the crème de la crème of bike accessories to create the ultimate commuter bike.
Considerations when shopping for a commuter bike
If you're new to commuting or cycling, you might be looking for your first city bike. So, before we delve into accessories to amp up your cycle and ease your ride to work, here's a brief overview of what to consider when shopping for your first commuter bike:
The length of your ride: If your ride is quite the journey, you might want to consider an vélo électrique for speed and ease
What terrain will you be riding?: Is your journey hilly or relatively flat? If you're battling many hills, a single-speed bike won’t cut it and you should consider a high-gear multi-speed bike
Does your journey involve public transport?: If part of your journey is on another form of transport, a folding bike will make the ride easier
Where will your bike be stored?: If you carry your bike up and down stairs or in and out of lifts, ensure your bike is as light as possible. If you also have to store your bike in small or awkward cupboards, a folding bike is beneficial here, too
Comfortability: Regardless of what bike you choose, the best way to get the most out of your morning commute is to simple ensure you are comfortable
Bike accessories to enhance your commuter cycle
A well-known nemesis of England is, unfortunately, its weather. If you're commuting by bike, rest assured you will encounter more wet rides than dry ones. While rain might not always be falling from above, you will still face a battle with stagnant puddles on the ground.
Full-length mudguards sit above your wheels to block and repel the inevitable backsplash from your tires, keeping you from getting wet and muddy on your commute to or from work.
Aside from the pedals, the primary contact points of your bike are the saddle and grips. As they are also both pressure points for your body weight, it's even more vital that they are comfortable.
Rubber grips not only increase handgrip in damp conditions, but the thickness of the rubber is also great for softening vibrations and it adds a layer of cushioning. Another benefit of the rubber is it prevents the grips - or your hands - from slipping on the handlebars, which can cause wrist strain over time.
Panniers and a Rear Rack
If you're commuting to work, it's more than likely you will be carrying a bag, briefcase, a laptop carrier and so on. Although you have the option of a backpack, heavy loads can cause back and shoulder pain, result in a sweaty back - not ideal in work clothes - and just be generally uncomfortable on longer commutes.
Seasoned commuters prefer to use panniers and a bike rack for heightened comfort, increased stability and the convenient transportation of heavier luggage.
Similarly to the need for mudguards, unpredictable weather conditions in the UK mean you are better off with all-weather tyres with enough grip to stand up to wet and potentially icy roads. Weather aside, heavy-duty tires offer better puncture protection and increased longevity, ideal for those on their bike every day!
The greatest body contact pressure point when riding a bike is on the saddle, so the only way to ensure a truly comfortable ride is to have a cushy saddle.
It's hard to advise on saddles as it isn't one-size-fits-all, what is comfortable for one rider might not be for the next. However, if we do have one word of wisdom when shopping for your upgraded seat, look for specialised men's bike saddles or women's bike saddles accordingly. Each is modelled for the specific needs and form of its gender, and when you find the right one for you, it can transform your cycling experience.
If a saddle isn't comfy, it should be the first thing replaced; it's incredible how much more enjoyable your work commute will be.
Front and Rear Lights
It goes without saying, all bikes must have front and rear lights for rider safety - whether you plan to ride in the dark or not. In England, it can get dark as early as 4 pm in winter, or some mornings fog can make it almost impossible to see your hand in front of your face, and both of these scenarios are very dangerous for a rider without lights.
The best lights for a commuter bike are bright with a long battery life. There should be a bright, white front headlight and a bright, red flashing rear light, with visibility of up to 800m away as an absolute ideal.
The final cherry on top of a perfect commuter bike is a phone holder. No, not to reply to your emails whilst riding, not to answer zoom calls, but for use as a sat nav if you are taking a new or unfamiliar route.
If your job requires you to be city-hopping from meeting-to-meeting, and you want to take your bike, phone holders offer a safe way to use your phone sat nav whilst riding, as we all know it's too dangerous to be holding your phone in one hand.