10 Gear Essentials for Biking to Work

Commuting to work by bike is an excellent way to add some exercise to your daily routine. Whether your commute is a couple of miles each way or a more significant distance, there are several key must-have items that will make your commute easier, more comfortable and safer.

Quick Rundown:
1. Overshoes
2. Waterproof clothing
3. Sunscreen
4. Panniers
5. Backpack
6. Lights
7. Fenders
8. Hybrid tires
9. Hi-visibility clothing
10. Repair kit

1. Overshoes/Shoe Covers

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Commuters don’t just have to deal with traffic, they also have to deal with all weather conditions. The hardiest of commuters don’t shy away from the weather, they embrace it and wear protective clothing. Shoe covers will to keep your shoes dry, especially if you commute in your work shoes instead of cycling shoes. Even on the longest rides, a good pair of shoe covers will protect your shoes from the elements.

2. Waterproof Clothing

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Waterproof clothing is essential for keeping you dry, whether you cycle in cycling gear or in your work clothes. Clothing is available from the simple jacket for light rain to full outfits for more severe conditions. The nature of waterproof clothing like jackets and trousers means they are quick drying, making them useful for commuters as they don’t need to be hung around the office all day to dry. They are also compact; when not in use they can be rolled into a small package that takes up little space.

3. Sunscreen

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It’s not all wet weather though, in many places the commute by bike is done in glorious sunshine and amid high temperatures. Depending on your commute length, you may need to apply some sunscreen before your journey to protect you from the rays. Sunscreen can be bought in small size bottles or tubs to allow them to be easily stored. Applying this when the temperatures are high is just as important as staying warm and dry when it’s cold, as sunburn will make your commute a lot less comfortable.

4. Panniers

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Cycle commuters will usually need a space to store their equipment for work - whether it’s spare clothes, laptop or even your lunch. Panniers are the perfect solution to this problem, especially if you have a lot of gear to bring to work with you. Panniers are available in several sizes and are designed to distribute the weight equally across the axis of the bike, ensuring that the extra weight doesn’t affect the handling when weaving in and out of traffic.

5. Backpack

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If you don’t have a lot of equipment to carry then a backpack may be a better option, especially if the bike you use isn't dedicated to commuting and you don’t want to permanently attach panniers to it. If you just need to carry a change of clothes then this is the perfect solution, but it is important to ensure you don’t put too much weight on your back as this can cause back problems over time, especially if your commute is a long one.

6. Lights

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In the winter months, many cycle commuters will find themselves commuting at dawn, dusk or even in darkness depending on your job. For any cyclist riding at these times of day, it is important to have a good set of lights, both front, and rear, in order to stay safe. For commuters this is doubly important as they often commute in hours where traffic is heaviest, making being seen a top priority when riding in traffic. Many lights have options to flash and blink as well as remaining constant, helping you to stand out in the rows of headlights as you ride to and from work.

7. Fenders

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Fenders are important for keeping your bike and clothing in good condition when the weather is wet or even if you ride on wet or dirt roads. They can be attached to any bike and will also extend the life of your components, especially if you ride your bike to work regularly. Fenders will keep the majority of the filth and debris from the road from getting caught up in your drivetrain, meaning your bike will perform better, for longer.

8. Hybrid Tires

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Hybrid tires will help to give your bike much better grip on the road, especially if you commute at all times of the year when there’s often debris on the road such as leaves, twigs and other small detritus that can cause slick tires to skid. These tires come in a variety of treads which will be suitable for several terrains depending on where you ride and the conditions you are likely to encounter. They will ensure the bike feels more secure in its handling and when riding at speed so you can be confident when setting off and stopping - essential when riding in traffic.

9. High-Visibility Clothing

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Along with a good pair of lights, some high-visibility clothing is crucial to help you stay safe when commuting in traffic. Most items of cycling kit come with a luminous option - usually in yellow or green to help the rider stand out against the backdrop of darker cars and surroundings. Along with being bright and color they often have reflective panels and detail on them to help drivers spot you easily as you commute, whether you’re riding on main roads and through busy intersections or if you’re riding in a more remote area.

10. Repair Kit

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With all the debris that comes with riding on the main roads, commuters often have to deal with punctures and mechanical issues that happen on their ride to and from work. Being self-sufficient in repairing these will help you to commute confidently without the worry of being left stranded.  We would recommend carrying two inner tubes and a spare chain link, along with a chain breaker tool, on your commute. These can be stored in your panniers/backpack or even saddlebag with little space taken up and will allow you to ride with peace of mind.