Healthy Living: Year-Round Bike Commuting Essentials

Photo of the author on his commuting bike. The ten numbered essential items

Ten essentials of year-round bike commuting

1. Bike

First and foremost, you need a well-maintained bike that you are comfortable riding and that fits you well. To keep your bike in good working order for your daily ride, make sure to do a weekly maintenance inspection:

  • Inspect the tires for wear and road debris
  • Inflate the tires to your preference within their specified range
  • Lubricate the chain
  • Check that the wheels are true, spinning freely, and that there is no play in the hubs
  • Check the brakes pads for excessive wear and check your brake power and modulation
  • Shift through your entire gear range to make sure the shifter cables are working properly and front and rear derailleur are properly adjusted
  • Make sure all bolts are properly tightened and there is no play in the crankset

If you don’t have the tools, parts, and/or experience to address any maintenance needs, your local bike shop will help you get back on the road in a hurry.

2. Helmet

Just as important, you’ll need a properly fitting helmet that is no more than five years old.  The more visible, the better.  I use a Giro Feature for mountain biking, road biking, and commuting.  It offers more head coverage than standard helmets and comes in bright green to catch drivers’ attention.

A bright green Giro Feature helmet with a red LED light attached to the back

I use a zip tie to attach a LED light to the back of my helmet for extra visibility

3. Eye-protection

Even on a calm cloudy day, I always wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from bugs and airborne particles. Sunglasses have also saved me from the wrath of tree branches on numerous occasions while mountain biking.

4. A bike lock

Since I garage my bike in a locked storage room and park it in a secure bike rack at work I don’t need a heavy duty lock. Here’s a great article on choosing the right lock to protect your bike.

5. Fenders

Biking in the rain is totally miserable without fenders. They keep the rain and mud from kicking up off your tires and splattering all over your shoes, pants, face, and backside. I can’t think of a better $20-40 dollar investment.

6. Gloves

The right pair of gloves is paramount to safe, comfortable riding. In the summer, gloves are optional but can help save your hands if you do take a spill. When winter comes you’ll need a warm pair, as you can’t shift or brake effectively with half-frozen fingers.

Three gloves lined up, on the left is a light pair, the middle is a thin pair of wind-resistance gloves, and on the right are thick, heavy duty winter gloves

Gloves for warm, cool, and cold conditions

7-8. Rain and wind resistant outerwear

Rain and wind resistant outerwear are essential to staying dry and warm when riding in inclement weather.  My Showers Pass jacket and pants are holding up great after years of heavy use.

9. Neoprene shoe covers

Waterproof shoe covers will keep your feet warm and dry in cold, wet conditions. An added bonus is never having  to store a pair of soaking wet, smelly shoes and socks in the office all day.

A shot of the author on his bike wearing neoprene shoe covers

Neoprene shoe covers keep my work shoes clean and my feet dry in the rain and snow

10. Something to carry your stuff!

Since I’m usually only carrying work clothes and food with me, I prefer a backpack over paniers. I use a Respro Hump backpack cover for added visibility and to keep the contents of my bag dry.

Picture of the author riding away on his bike with the highly visible bright yellow backpack cover facing the camera

The hump backpack cover makes me look like a moving traffic sign!

Other useful items:

Picture of a tire pump, tire levers, and spare tube

I always carry a bike pump, spare tube, and tire leavers in my backpack in case of a flat

Picture of my bike with a LED headlamp lit up

Whenever cars have their headlights on, cyclists should too! I use a Niterider headlamp and Cherrybomb taillight

If you have any other tips for safe and comfortable year-round bike commuting, please let me know in the comments.

This entry was posted in Healthy Living, Road Cycling and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Healthy Living: Year-Round Bike Commuting Essentials

  1. Oshri says:

    Glad to see you’re keeping moving and staying safe and warm through the winter.

  2. Oh my goodness!! Last year I was desperately searching the internet for a post like this for my hubby who bikes about 2 miles to school in Oklahoma where it’s windy and rainy a lot in the spring! Got anything for biking in tornado weather? ;) This is great information! Thank you!

    • amodestou says:

      Thanks, I’m glad you found it useful. I would strongly discourage biking in tornado weather, as no matter how strong and balanced you are, tornado (or hurricane) force winds can blow you off your line and into the path of cars speeding behind you. Flying debris is also no joke. I had my fare share of scares growing up in Iowa. Thanks for reading!

  3. Julian says:

    Thanks a great article, currently testing times to keep the bike rolling in the midst of Winter. One Product I could add to the list is the Wingman suit and garment bag allowing you to carry your suit, formal clothes or uniform strapped comfortably and crease free over your shoulder. Have a look at the product at http://www.henty.ch

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