Cycling the commute

Emma Fouracre at Evans Cycles shares her expert advice on everything from working out your cycling route to prepping for a puncture

With lighter days and sunnier weather, now is a great time to start cycling your commute. Held back by worries about busy roads, changing a puncture or how to secure your bike? Evans Cycles expert Emma Fouracre has the reassurance and know-how you need to stay safe and enjoy your journey.

1. How should I carry my gear when cycling the commute?

It’s worth investing in a lightweight rucksack that fits close to your body to carry your clothes and work essentials. You can also try panniers if you have a rack to avoid a sweaty back! A saddlebag is also great for carrying any spare kit or tools you might need, such as a tire pump.

2. What essential kit do I need?

A breathable waterproof jacket and warm gloves are key items for challenging the elements – add arm and leg warmers when the days get really chilly. You should fit your bike with lights and wear reflective clothing so you’re seen by other road users.

3. How do I work out the best route for my commute?

Calculate your route on Google Maps and see if there are any cycle paths you can follow or quiet roads running parallel to the busier ones. You can also use an app such as Strava to find your best cycle-friendly route. Invest in a phone holder that you can attach to your bike frame, as it’ll make it easier to read your phone screen while you ride. Never cycle with your phone in your hand or try to call or text while you’re riding.

If you think you might start cycling more regularly, Garmin cycling computers enable you to download maps and track every mile, incline and the speeds you achieve on route.

4. I’m worried about traffic. What do I need to know?

Your confidence will build as you do more commutes but, to start, try to find a buddy to ride with. You could also attempt the route over the weekend when there’s less traffic and you have more time. Take things slow and at your own pace.

When it comes to the rules of the road, they’re the same as when driving, so it’s essential you adhere to any traffic symbols, signs, roundabouts or traffic lights in the same way. Always leave extra room, plenty of time and indication of future manoeuvres so drivers notice you. If you’re not a driver or are feeling really nervous about attempting a road ride, a lot of local councils offer proficiency courses that you can book into. You can also visit Cycling UK.

5. How can I be ready if something goes wrong mid-journey?

Check out YouTube for videos on learning how to deal with basic issues such as punctures, putting your bike chain back on or adjusting your seat. Try practising removing and replacing the inner tube of your cycle tyre in case of a puncture, as the more you practise, the quicker you’ll be able to change it and be on your way. Evans offers FIXIT classes for all levels of riders looking for one-to-one experience in bike maintenance.

6. How can I work out the best bike for me?

To help you find the right bike, Evans also offers a free test ride on most of our bikes. This can be booked in store. We can also help with the initial set up in every store, taking you through your key measurements and ensuring you’re seated in the most comfortable and aerodynamic position.

7. Which bikes would you recommend for cycling the commute?

Our top pick would be a Pinnacle Neon because it’s a great all-rounder, with a light frame, mudguard and rack compatibility for carrying your kit. This particular range is ideal for riding on roads, navigating lanes and cycling easy tracks.

8. What type of bike lock would you recommend?

I’d recommend a Litelok, as it’s both robust and lightweight. If you’re locking up your bike in a city, we recommend a gold-standard lock (locks are rated on a bronze, silver or gold standard). It’s worth doing some research on this – you can sort locks by their rating on the Evans website.

9. Anything else I should consider when cycling the commute?

Don’t forget about bike insurance. Bikes are often covered by home insurance, but not when they’re securely locked up on the pavement. It might be worth looking at specific bike insurance, which can often replace old for new or cover you for accidental damage. Evans Cycles will be running 20% off bike insurance from 6 June to 6 July. Visit here for more information.

Looking for more cycling tips? Read our essential guide to getting started with your bike.

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