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Top Ten Commuting Tips

09 May 2023

Improving cycle infrastructure in many cities and the wide range of eBikes on offer is fuelling ever-increasing numbers of urban cyclists. And what's not to like? Riding your bike around town or to and from work saves money, keeps you fit, negates congestion and parking hassles... and is good for the planet. 

As always though there are a few helpful tricks to transition from a recreational cyclist to a cycle commuter.

1. It's (Not) All About the Bike
  • For most of us the best bike is the one that's already sitting in the garage. Slicks, mudguards and lights will transform most bikes into capable commuters.
  • If you're contemplating a purchase then an urban-specific eBike or cargo bike is worth researching. 
2. Rolling Stock
  • Slicks or semi slicks pumped up hard (around 60 psi) offer reduced resistance on the tarmac
  • Mid volume, say up to around 40mm, will help resist pinch flats when hitting curbs or pot holes. 
  • Kevlar belted models defend against slow leaks from broken glass and other road flotsam.
3. Muck Off
  • A front mudguard stops spray from flying in your face and slows down the drenching of your shoes.
  • A rear mudguard stops road splatter from spraying up your back.
  • Old style guards that hug your tyres work best. Mtb-style front and rear fenders are a simpler and ok second choice.
4. When it Rains It Pours
  • Keep a lightweight rain jacket or vest and over pants or over shorts in your bag as an essential insurance policy against flash floods or chilling winds. 
  • When it's stormy or late it's invariably getting dark. A bright coloured jacket makes sense.
5. Urban Threads
  • Wind chills you out - especially on an eBike when you can easily hit your bike’s 32 or 45 kph max speed.
  • In cold but dry conditions a softshell jacket or vest is a versatile solution that lets you transition effortlessly from bike to café.
  • Cycle-specific baggy shorts or long pants provide comfort in the saddle and freedom of movement when pedalling.
  • They provide many of the benefits of lycra while avoiding the risk of public nuisance citation when stopping for a short black or emergency groceries.
6. Mr Bright
  • There's no guaranteed protection against distracted drivers, but bright clothing is a useful first line of defence for daytime travel.
  • Ground Effect Agent Orange or Limelight jackets and vest help you stand out like the dog's proverbials.
  • Arguably the most visible wearable item is your helmet. Bright is good; black or dark grey less so.

Photo: Dominic Blissett

7. Light Me Up
  • Ground Effect has a range of lights to see and to be seen. Models like the Lezyne Zecto that are easy to remove and slip in your pocket or bag are a good option.
  • Day-time flash is pretty standard on good quality lights and is extraordinarily effective.
  • More detailed wisdom at Seeing the Light

Photo: Dominic Blissett

8. Lock Down
  • A lightweight 'minimum' security bike lock won't weight you down but will slow down any opportunist scoring themselves your bike while you nip in for a pint or some last minute groceries.
9. Skill Up

Practise defensive cycling. Even if you're on the right side of the road code, you're likely to end up worse off if you suffer a crash with a motorised vehicle. The standard bogies to anticipate:

  • Don't hug the curb. About a metre into the traffic gets you into the flow so vehicles are encouraged to wait and overtake, rather than squeeze past.
  • That distance also helps evade the dreaded car door being opened on you. Keep an eye on wing mirrors of parked cars - you can often spot a driver about to exit.
  • Anticipate the 'overtake-then-turn-left' manoeuvre.
  • Be predictable, but never boring. Erratic riding is unfair to motorists. Avoid excessive speed in congested zones.
  • Much more at On the Road

Photo: Caleb Smith

10. Same Same
  • Establish a standard route to and from work each day - hopefully mostly on segregated cycle paths, cycle lanes or lower volume roads.
  • Identify any black spots and invoke appropriate defensive habits.

Pedal on