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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7-8. Rain and wind resistant outerwear
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.
10. Something to carry your stuff!
Other useful items:
If you have any other tips for safe and comfortable year-round bike commuting, please let me know in the comments.