Commuting by bike is a great way to boost your fitness and refresh your mind before and after work. However, if you’re new to a cycling commute, there are a few common mistakes you’ll want to avoid. Keep reading to discover the key mistakes often made when cycling to work to ensure your commute goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Getting stranded by a tyre puncture
Even on a short commute, tyre punctures or mechanical hiccups can happen, so you’ll want to carry the right bike tools with you.
It’s good practice to be prepared to handle a puncture during any type of ride, but no one wants to get stranded on their way to the office. So, you should always carry spare inner tubes and the must-have tools to fit them. This includes a hand pump, multi-tool and tyre levers.
Of course, you also need to know how to use the tools, so we’d recommend having a practice with them at home first. Take a look at our guide on how to fix a bike puncture for some pointers.
2. Not planning ahead
The hardest part of commuting by bike is committing to it, especially in colder or wetter weather. Some mornings, you’ll lack the motivation, but once you’re riding, you’ll love it.
To avoid the morning fatigue, try to get everything ready the night before. If you haven’t prepared, it’s easy to back out in the morning and hop in the car, but when everything is laid out and ready, it’ll give you some added motivation.
Pack your bags, lay out all your clothes, and make the most of the morning commute.
3. Forgetting your shoes
Preparing everything also means sorting out your post-ride clothes. Whether you get changed completely when you arrive at the office or just swap your shoes, make sure you’re not left in your riding attire for the day!
4. Not bringing snacks
Cycling to and from work requires lots of fuelling, so number one on any packing list should be plenty of food and water.
This is especially important in the mornings – you won’t want to cycle in on an empty stomach so make sure you’ve had breakfast and bring some refuelling snacks with you for when you arrive. Just be sure to pack your bag properly to avoid squashing anything!
5. Hugging the kerb
Many beginners think it’s safer to ride as close to the kerb as possible to stay out of the way of traffic. However, if a car gets too close or cuts you up, you’re left with nowhere to go.
Luckily, this situation doesn’t happen very often and commuting by bike is generally very safe. But to reduce the chance of any accidents, leave a good distance between yourself and the kerb – we’d recommend a metre out or more.
6. Being unprepared for winter
Here in the UK, we’re not blessed with amazing weather. So, the chances are you’ll get caught in the odd downpour while you’re riding.
This is fine, as long as you’re prepared. This means wearing the correct cycle clothing and winter-proofing your bike – specifically, a mudguard is a must. Not only will it help to keep you dry, but it’ll also stop your rear wheel from spraying mud onto any other cyclists behind you.
7. Not protecting your bike
Even if your workplace has bike facilities, we’d still recommend using a bike lock. Bike thieves will take any opportunity, and a missing bike is the last thing you want at the end of a day’s work. In most cases, a bike lock will mostly act as a deterrent, but you’ll still want to choose a high-quality option just in case.
Look out for a Sold Secure rating. That means it’s been tested and meets high standards. Check out our guide to Sold Secure ratings here.
8. Picking the busiest route
It’s always tempting to pick the shortest route in the hopes of a quick journey. However, it’ll usually be on busier roads which means more traffic. The great thing about cycling is you can avoid these busier routes and, although it might be slightly further, it’ll probably end up being quicker.
Don’t just treat the commute as a means of getting from A to B. It’s something to enjoy and you can use it to explore canal paths or off-road tracks.
9. Not charging your lights
This one’s a common one, especially in autumn and winter. At this time of year, the days are shorter and darker, especially at the times you’ll be commuting. To stay safe, you’ll need a bright set of bike lights.
Just as importantly, they need to be charged. Otherwise, you’ll get halfway through the journey and the lights will start to fade out. Not only is that dangerous, but it’s also illegal to ride in the UK at night without a front light, rear light, and rear reflector. So, make sure you’re fully charged before each ride to avoid taking any unnecessary risks.
10. Not cleaning your bike
If you’re just heading to and from the office a few times a week, you might not think you need to regularly clean your bike. While you likely won’t be picking up as much grime as you would out on the trails, you’ll still need to carry out some basic maintenance to keep your bike in good condition.
Did you know that you can get a brand new bike at a discounted price through the Cycle2Work scheme? Cycle2Work is a government initiative that offers the most cost-effective way to get new cycling equipment. The scheme is run through participating employers, meaning you do not have to pay tax or national insurance on these products – saving you up to 47%! This reduced cost is then deducted from your payslip over 12 or 18 months.
To find out more about the Cycle2Work scheme and how to sign up, visit halfords.com.
More and more people are discovering the amazing benefits of commuting by bike. If you want more commuting and cycling advice, head over to our help and advice guides. You can find all the bikes, accessories and clothing you need for a commute over at Halfords.com.
You want to enjoy cycling to work, you want Halfords.