My gear list for cycling to work.

I often get asked what gear is needed for cycling to work. Below is my gear list and a few tips for cycling to work. I take a fairly minimalist approach. I have separated the list into what I do each “Weekend”, what I do the “Night” before, what clothes I put on in the “Morning”, and what I grab on my “Way Out”. I also have a list of what is “Already at Work”.

Weekend

Clean Bike.
Maintain Bike.
Inflate Tires.
Lube Chain.

Night

Charge Lights.
Charge Camera.
Pack Tools in dry bag in rucksack. ( Multi-tool / Levers / CO2 Inflator & Canisters / Inner Tube / Pump )
Pack Clothes in dry bag in rucksack. ( Boxers / Socks / T-Shirt / Jeans ( Monday Only ) )
Pack Personal items in rucksack. ( Wallet / Keys / Passes / Phone / Prescription Eyewear )
Pack Lunch in rucksack.

Morning…

Cycling Socks.
Cycling Legwear.
Cycling Shirt.

Way out…

Bike.
Helmet.
Lights.
Camera.
Cycling Shoes.
Cycling High Viz Soft Shell.
Gloves.
Buff / Balaclava.
Cycling Glasses.
Cycling Bottle.

Already at work…

Lock.
Shower Gel.
Microfiber Towel.
Deodorant.
Hair Brush.
Hair Spray.
Belt.
Footwear.
Jeans. ( taken Monday )

A few cycle to work tips…

Clean and maintain your bike. Clean your bike, lube the chain and inflate the tires if required every week for efficiency, safety and longevity. Learn how to do basic maintenance on your bike, especially fixing punctures, most cities now have free regular cycle maintenance workshops.

Buy tires with puncture protection. I was averaging a puncture every 200 miles until I swapped to Schwalbe’s Mountain Marathon Plus range. Since then I have done over 1500 miles and still no puncture. The inconvenience of changing punctured tires in bad weather can be demoralising.

Leave stuff at work. Don’t carry a heavy lock to and from work, buy a separate lock to keep at work. If like me you wear the same jeans all week, take them in on Monday and taken them home Friday. Don’t carry cosmetics into work every day, just leave a batch at work. I use a micro fibre towel at work like those from outdoor shops for travelling, it dries quickly and can be washed at work. Leave a pair of shoes or trainers at work too.

Spend wisely. Your hard earned cash is best spent on things like tyres with puncture protection, decent lights, quality tools and of course a bike with longer lasting higher quality components. These things will save you time, your life, and money in the long run.

Weatherproof yourself and the bike. Fit mudguards to your regular commuting bike. Or if that is too uncool try crud catchers. They not only keep you clean but also help keep your bike clean and protect parts from the horrific mixture of water, oil, mud, leaves, grit and corrosive salt that our roads are covered in during the winter months. Decent gloves, balaclavas and buffs keep your commute enjoyable in winter. Overshoes are also worth investing in for winter for the same reasons. Protective glasses both clear and tinted are in my opinion essential at all times of the year. And don’t forget sun cream during the summer if your commute is long and you don’t sun stroke or those lines on your legs.

Backup Lights. Buy yourself a pair of Knog Frog Strobe lights and leave them on your bike, they are tiny, discreet, surprisingly effective and cheap. One day you will forget your lights or run out of power and these will save you.

Use Common Sense. Wear a helmet. Use decent lights. Make yourself seen. Always be ready for anything to happen at any time. Don’t run red lights. Don’t cycle down the side of vehicles as approaching junctions, instead slow until you are between them. The vehicle that is now just behind you can see you and if the one that is now just in front of you makes a sudden manoeuvre you will be ready. Don’t listen to music.

New chain, cassette and chain rings.

Had a bit of a nightmare with both bikes on Friday. Several weeks ago I stupidly left my mountain bike unwashed for a fortnight. After riding it every day for a week on salted roads. I will never do it again. A lesson learnt the hard way. I was shocked at how badly my chain, cassette and chain ring were all corroded. The chain was so bad it was a complete write off. I was using dry lube and it looked like the dry lube had actually attracted the salt out of the splash and accelerated its corrosion properties. I bought a new chain this week and fitted it Thursday night. I used my mountain bike for my commute Friday morning and soon realised I wasn’t going to get away with changing just the chain. I had to return home as the chain constantly slipped off the old and corroded cassette. I took my adventure road bike instead which had also been giving me some slippage in the week. Its cheap chain drive components have needed replacing for months. I had stupidly and lazily ignored that fact. On my way home Friday night it finally gave up the ghost. I couldn’t even ride the bike and had to get my girlfriend to come pick me up. You can see from the photo above just how badly worn the big chain ring is compared to the smaller one. I always ride the big ring and never use the small one. I live in a flat region with very few hills. My next bike will definitely be a single chain ring for this reason and easier maintenance. I went to my local bike shop on Saturday morning and ordered new big chain rings for both bikes. I also purchased a new cassette on the mountain bike to replace the old corroded one. The chain rings will take a few days to arrive but for now luckily the mountain bike with its new chain, new cassette and lesser worn chain ring is rideable. It felt brand new this morning. I never realised until this week the importance of replacing the entire chain drive. Chain, cassette and chain ring instead of just individual singular parts. Its not the cheapest thing to replace all at once but its not the most expensive either. It is by far the best way to give your bike the feel of brand new efficiency. Have you had any good or bad experiences when it comes to your chain drive or replacing it. If so let me know by commenting below…

Almost doored by car door on cycle home.

I almost got “Doored” whilst cycling home the other night. I approached a car that looked like it was only temporarily parked. I guessed this as its left indicator was on and engine running. Luckily my experience told me to look over my shoulder, check my surroundings and approach with caution as I know from experience that temporarily parked cars can suddenly pull out or their occupants open doors. As I approached the car I slowed down slightly and checked there was a gap in the traffic for me to manoeuvre into if I had to suddenly. Thank god I did. It meant I was able to safely swing out into the road and avoid the door that opened into the cycle lane. Had it happened at the same time the white car was passing and I lacked the experience or concentration, I hate to think what could have happened. I hope that by reading this both fellow cyclists and fellow drivers will think about this scenario in future. Cyclists should always be aware of the possibility of this happening and motorist should always be aware of the possibility of a cyclist passing, especially on a road like this with an obvious cycle lane. I read an interesting article recently about the “Dutch Reach”. Learner drivers in the Netherlands are taught to open their car doors with their right hand. This means that their body has to swing around giving them a view of any cyclists that may be passing. Brilliant idea that will hopefully make more drivers think before they open their car door. Try it yourselves the next time you open your car door. Though obviously in our country it would be a case of opening your drivers door with your left hand. Have you ever been doored or have any advice for drivers or cyclist on how to avoid being doored? If so let us know by commenting below…

Bike lube I use in winter conditions.

I think I may have finally find the bike lube that works best for me. Over the past few years I have ridden over three thousand miles cycling to work and tested dozens of different bike lubes. Ranging from basic pound shop bike oils and wet lubes to the top selling brand ceramic dry lubes. Weather conditions, terrain and application know how can all be a factors but for overall general usage I have finally found the perfect bike lube. Best thing is, it is one of the cheapest too! Wilkos £2.49 All weather lube with Teflon surface protector. This excellent product has been by a mile the best performing, most consistent and easiest to use bike lube. I clean my chain as normal with the rest of my bike. Put my bike up against something or on its stand. Reverse the pedals to move the chain and drop the oil over the rollers of a dozen or so inches of the chain at a time, using a cloth underneath to catch excess and wipe along the chain. The oil does its job perfectly, dropping into the rollers and on to the pins where it cleanly and effectively lubricates for days. The lube does not seem to attract dust or mud from the road like most other wet and dry lubes that I have used and is not weakened or removed by the rain. I have been massively impressed by what is a relatively cheap product. I think some other retailers sell the exact same product just branded slightly differently. For example I think it is the same product as Decathlon’s £2.99 B’Twin Teflon All Weather Bike Oil. Have you used this product or have any other recommendations? If so let me know by commenting below…

Frosty roads this morning, proper winter cycling.

Roads were treacherous this morning. In areas shaded from the low and weak winter sunshine of recent days, the build up of several frosts made it look like snow. I’m a lover of snow but when on the bike and it is hard and icy the is no more love. When it is like this I tend to stay off the cycle lanes and stick to the main roads as they are more likely to have been gritted and salted. Going slower and not making sudden movements when you hit unavoidable patches of ice also helps. Do you have any advice or tips for cycling during the winter on icy roads? If so let me know by commenting below…