Commuting by bike – give me the cold, hard truth

Home Forum Bike Forum Commuting by bike – give me the cold, hard truth

Viewing 34 posts - 81 through 114 (of 114 total)
  • Commuting by bike – give me the cold, hard truth
  • wors

    Its all in the mind!


    Clean the bike once a week (IMPORTANT ONE!)

    Huh? My bike gets cleaned about once a year and still works perfectly.

    Agreed, the winter/wet day commuter very rarely gets a clean, bit of lube on the chain and its fine. Summer commuter gets more care though. And I’m usually pretty fastidious about my kit. But I’m not going to spend time cleaning a bike at the weekend thats going to be manky after one ride.

    Premier Icon njee20

    Mine gets cleaned once a year and is totally and utterly shagged! Clear daylight between teeth on the big ring and the chain all the way round now, it’s not far off being a useful bash ring frankly! But that’s why it’s a winter bike!

    Back on the Madone now the sun’s reappeared, that may get a quarterly hose off.

    It is great, mornings like today it’s a lovely start to the day, wakes you up all day! Love riding the 45 miles home on a summer evening too, leaving the City of London, through the suburbs, over the North Downs then through the back roads home. You don’t need more food though, for most people it’s less than an hour of exercise. If you need to shift a few pounds do it without breakfast, eat at work.


    My 30th anniversary of commuting by bike this year. The distance has varied over the years, currently is a base distance of 14 miles each way, which I can vary (upwards) by detours. I do this 4x per week. Here are some of my thoughts:

    Get mudguards. Proper ones. Getting wet on your mtb is a laugh, getting wet twice a day, every day, on your commute is not even slightly funny.

    I have always used geared bikes. Why? Because on a Friday, when you’re tired, it’s windy and raining and you have a heavy pack, gears are very good – include a nice low one for that last, long, lonely slog up the hill to home.

    Get lights.

    Get a D lock, spend a bit of money on this, it’s well worth it. Remember if you have quick release wheels or seat post to secure them too. (Don’t do what a newbie here did and just lock your q/r front wheel to the stand).

    How cycling-specific your clothing is is up to you, but I would get padded shorts and a helmet for starters – you can add special shoes/gloves/etc later. Glasses are good, keep rain and sun out of your eyes and, at this time of year, Plane Tree pollen.

    Don’t skulk along in the gutter, ride at least a metre into the road. Keep good observations, look over your shoulder a lot and when manoeuvreing (as long as it’s clear) indicate clearly and make a big bold move.

    Gods, I could go on all afternoon – that’ll do for now.


    Premier Icon piedi di formaggio

    Key is working out the ‘idal’ zones on your route. I have these on mine when I do the long commute:

    City of London to Aldgate: SUICIDAL Zone
    Aldgate to Bow: SUICIDAL/HOMICICAL Zone
    Bow to Chadwell Heath: HOMICIDAL Zone
    Chadwell Heath to Harold Hill: Neutral
    Harold Hill: HOMICIDAL Zone
    Harold Hill to Chelmsford: Neutral

    In the suicidal zone, it’s pedestrians randomly stepping out infront of you
    In the homicidal zone it’s people trying to kill you wil metal boxes of various sizes
    In the Suicidal/homicidal zone, it’s a mixture of both

    Unfortunately this was proved all too well to me yesterday when a myopic tart in a Micra overtook me to turn left. First I knew of it was when she collided with me. How I stayed on the bike and didn’t get a ride in an ambulance is a bit of a mystery to me. Just a sore hip as a result. This happened in teh Chadwell Heath Homicidal zone!

    Commuting by bike is brilliant. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do another job where I can’t ride to the office


    Minimise the stuff you carry each day – keep a load of stuff at work and you should only need underwear and shirt on a daily basis. Keep a D-lock at work so you don’t have to carry one.

    5 miles is frustratingly short (but you really wouldn’t need to change clothes). 10 miles is great. 20 would be great some days and a real drag on others. Hated singlespeeding in London – nothing worse on a cold dark evening when you’re tired. Get mudguards, even if only clip on ones.

    Find a good route – a slightly longer trip on more pleasant roads is a good compromise. Going through a park, or along a river or canal, makes a big difference.

    The right bike will depend on your route – minimal traffic lights on major roads very different to stop start. Hub gears and disc brakes FTW.

    Premier Icon nedrapier

    njee – how often do you ride the 45 miles?


    Key is working out the ‘idal’ zones on your route

    I surround myself in a zone of zen. It is impenetrable and only contains magical flowing riding of contentment.
    Apart from Monday mornings, if it’s raining or head-windy, dark, if I’m late or being pursued.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    Leave with enough time – it’s horrible being late

    It’s one of the best training aids going though – I’ve put in some of my best performances trying not to be late 🙂

    Does anyone have any recomendations for clothing I could commute in without needing to get fully changed or is that just not practical ?

    For me, that would not be practical. That kind of distance I’d be in full road gear. I used to not get changed when I had 4.5 miles into town, but I’d still get sweaty unless I really held back, which I hated. In the summer I’d wear a technical tee and stick another in the bag. So on arrival at work I’d nip into the loos or changing rooms, wipe myself down with the old tee, spray some deodorant and put the clean one on. Cool air conditioned building and smell wasn’t a problem.


    Mine gets cleaned once a year and is totally and utterly shagged! Clear daylight between teeth on the big ring and the chain all the way round now

    But is that down to it not being cleaned? I keep my bike well maintained so it runs perfectly smoothly, I just don’t clean it – it gets a new chain more often than it gets cleaned.

    Does anyone have any recomendations for clothing I could commute in without needing to get fully changed or is that just not practical ?

    As others have said, depends on the distance, but merino stuff (for your cycling kit) is a good move – no fun for your co-workers having stinking kit hanging around.

    Endura Merino Tech Jersey recommended.


    But is that down to it not being cleaned? I keep my bike well maintained so it runs perfectly smoothly, I just don’t clean it – it gets a new chain more often than it gets cleaned.

    Personally speaking my winter commuter is shagged as its been ridden around 4000 miles a year for the past 7 years. New chain/cassette every six months new chain rings, bar tape and cables once a year.

    And clothing depends on the distance, full cycling kit for me.


    Full kit mainly for me, partly because I wear skirts for work which isn’t entirely practical cycling kit, and also because I need a shower at some point in the morning so may as well do it after my commute rather than before – and if I’m changing at that point anyway I may as well wear kit designed for the job in hand despite my relatively short commute.

    On maintenance, I cleaned my bike after the first few rides on it. I did the 1000km alfine service at closer to 1500km and at the same point finally got round to cleaning/lubing the chain for the first time… I bought something that needed minimal maintenance and have made the most of it…


    PDF – that overtaking then turning left was the start of an incident for me, similar outcome bruised hip etc although I’ did also manage to get a cut knee and all without I clipping.

    I think it would be my message of the week printed on my jersey ” please don’t overtake then make a left turn” wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference I know.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    but merino stuff (for your cycling kit) is a good move

    It doesn’t hold off stinkiness for me.


    I did Surbiton to Mayfair ( About 12-13 miles each way) for a bit, but it was pretty miserable in the Winter, quite nice in the summer. The current answer to my travel woes is my Brompton which lets me cycle a bit from Epsom into Zone 4, get on a train, get off in Zone 2 and cycle the last bit. Has cut my monthly train fare from £230 to approx £80, so easily paid for itself.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    Probably repeating what’s been said by others…

    Plan your week – can you take a load of kit in by car/train and leave it at work? Leave shoes/wash kit etc at work. What are the work facilities like for storage, drying etc?

    Two schools of thought re kit. Best you can afford vs Aldi sale gear. If you’re commuting that sort of distance daily that’s a hell of a lot of wear, commuting kit just gets trashed. I’d go halves – top notch merino base layers, any old stuff on top. If I get a load of road grime/chain oil over a £10 Aldi waterproof, I won’t care. If I get it over a £240 Rapha softshell I’d be heartbroken!

    Know your route and more importantly, know the escape options. Know where you are so you can phone for help if need be and say that you’re at … without thinking about it. At some point, you’re going to need that information.

    Carry a few pairs of nitrile gloves – they’re invaluable when you’re fixing a puncture in the rain or trying to unwrap an errant plastic bag thats got tangled in your gears!

    Take out a membership of British Cycling. Discounts at Wiggle, all sorts of special offers and importantly, insurance if you’re involved in an accident.

    It doesn’t hold off stinkiness for me.

    Halo Sport wash works for me, I had one particular top that always smelt nasty as soon as I got warmed up, after a couple of washes with this stuff it’s back to being usable in a group again.

    As for clothing, I always went for full cycle clothing. It meant that i could ride in as fast as I liked without worrying about getting sweaty and also if the weather was foul it didn’t really matter as I had a change of clothes with me.

    [edit] Clothing expense;
    Jersey’s -any old thing, t-shirt, lidl special, whatever was to hand.
    Shoes – Summer, anything thats comfortable. Winter, best waterproof shoes I could afford.
    Shorts – Best I could afford, These gradually got more expensive until I ended up with Assos shorts, they lasted well and 8 years on they are still my main shorts.
    Tights – Again started with cheap ones that were ok but ended up with expensive ones that stood up better to multiple wearing / washing cycles a bit better.

    I justified the expense by looking at the the couple of hundred quid a month I was saving on train fares and the fact that i was ending up with a lot of good quality cycle kit that should (it has) last me for years.

    It probably helped that I always worked in a casual office so jeans (swapped over once a week) and t-shirts, pants, socks (brought in every day). I used to keep a coat and a sweatshirt at work that got worn infrequently If I had to nip out in colder weather. If the requirement was for smarter office wear then I’m sure I would have got a routine that worked for me, i do know one of my friends that does casual for the office but smart for client meetings keeps a clean suit and shirt at work all the time, don’t think the suits ever go home, he just drops them into the cleaners and then takes them back into work.

    Basically any minor problems can be worked around.

    Premier Icon edhornby

    have a commuting bag with commuting set of tools, pump, tubes in, Aldi is your cycling tailor – towel, shoes, emergency coat, soap all live at the office

    monday, take in trousers, 2 shirts and sock-pants
    tuesday to friday wear shirts in rotation, office trousers are ok for a week, fresh sock-pants every day, friday take stinky clothes home

    get up in morning, put cycling clothes straight on, don’t think about journey, then you are past the point of no return and you are a bike commuter, shower when you get there, stand up wash when you get home if you need it


    Oh lots of posts to catch up on!

    Edit: prob worth me adding more info re logistics. I need to be smartly dressed, I won’t have an office and not even sure about a locker yet. There are bike lockers and showers but I’m trying to confirm my access to them. I’m/I wil be a junior dr so shift patterns and long weeks which is partly why I have a thread about scooters for commuting-even this morning I looked at the weather*and was very glad I didn’t have to muster the energy to ride

    *I am in glasgow though

    get up in morning, put cycling clothes straight on, don’t think about journey

    That is good advice. The weather is never as bad as it looks from the kitchen window. I must admit I did cry off a couple of times when the combination of heavy rain and a strong headwind just felt like too much effort, but it was a rare occurrence and normally I regretted it by mid morning.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I’m/I wil be a junior dr so shift patterns

    This is in your favour – roads are far far better outside normal rush hour.

    If you need smart clothes, you’ll need an Eagle Creek Pack-It folder.


    if you are a doctor you positively MUST ride to and from work. Cycling’s mental health benefits will do you good. It releases tension and problems melt away. Oddly. It gives you more physical energy too. Keep some suits on the back of a door at work, and a clean shirt, smart shoes. Ask the secretaries for help finding storage space (we know everything).


    This morning wasn’t very enjoyable i’ll tell you that. I’m now in summer mode, so bib shorts, no gloves, base layer and jersey. Got to say When i got to work I couldn’t feel my hands 😆

    Still all good fun though…

    ron jeremy

    I’m thinking of swapping from rucksack to panniers for summer, non sweaty backness, can anyone let me know the pros and cons of running a 20litre back on just one side of the bike and also which side do you have it, (common sense tells me to have it non drive side) looking at a tortec ultra lite rear rack, and an ortlieb back roller as a bag, sorry for slight hijack

    Premier Icon njee20

    njee – how often do you ride the 45 miles?

    These days very rarely! Was doing it once a week for a while.


    ron jeremy, I run an Ortlieb back roller on the non-drive side of a Tortec Expedition. Pros are a less sweaty back, no weird back aches when you have to carry a heavier load and ortlieb’s are waterproof without much faff. Cons are errr, it rattles a bit if you dont put leccy tape on the rack rails.

    I don’t seem to ride my road bike differently when i’ve got a rack/pannier on. Always fun to burn past the mamils on full on carbon road bikes/rucksacks with a rack/panniers on the back and the dynamo light on 🙂

    Well I did 24 miles today into work, and therefore will ride 24 home again, (shortest route).

    Bike is in my office and we have excellent changing facilities, otherwise it would be a non-starter

    I’d say that doing it every day would be hard work, (I’m in the grand scheme of things quite fit), however I would expect to see my race results improve if I were to throw in a few intervals and take a longer route home now and again.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    For three months or so I had a 42 mile each-way commute between Cardiff and Bristol, between 2 and 4 times a week. It was lovely, really. Country roads and good scenery for most of it, and the Severn Bridge is cool.

    Oh, and remember if you do have an accident, don’t come looking for sympathy on here – it will have been your own fault. Remember the STW rules for cycling on the road –

    If you were riding in a marked bike lane you should have been ‘taking the lane’
    If you were ‘taking the lane’ you either
    a) were not sufficiently taking the lane
    b) were holding up traffic and fully deserved what you got

    If you go up the inside of traffic (even if it is stationary and you would otherwise be travelling no faster than motorised traffic) and something happens, you are in the wrong (even if there is a marked bike lane or bus lane) – you must not filter on the inside.

    If you are filtering on the outside and someone turns into you it is your fault – you should never filter on the outside if there are side roads (try to ignore the fact that there are few roads in London where there are not side roads at regular intervals)

    No matter how dangerously someone drives around you, whether a frighteningly close pass or someone dangerously distracted using their mobile phone, don’t be tempted to take it up with them – if you do and they hit you it’s your fault.

    If a vehicle is speeding it’s your responsibility to get out of the way more quickly. Speeding by motor vehicles is fine – speed limits are not limits and drivers are free to make their own assessment of a safe speed at which to progress. Don’t be tempted to jump red lights though – even if the area is completely clear of motor vehicles and pedestrians or if it makes your journey safer by avoiding a drag race for two lanes to merge. That is bad. Unless you’re in a car – accelerating towards an amber light, or passing a light at red within about 10 seconds, is perfectly acceptable.

    There are nutters on the roads but they should be allowed to continue their business unfettered by cyclists. It’s your responsibility to get out of their way.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I dunno why you bothered to type out such a daft reply. Being cyincal actually works better when you type less.

    There’s a lot of support for victims of accidents on here. We just aren’t that tribal that we automatically blame the evil motorist.

    Cyclists do make mistakes too.

    can anyone let me know the pros and cons of running a 20litre back on just one side of the bike and also which side do you have it,

    Single pannier is fine, you think you’re going to notice the bike being off balance but in practise it’s just not the case. Personally I put the pannier on the drive side, because I think it adds bulk to the area between me and cars and might cause vehicles to give a little more space when passing.

    Premier Icon GDRS


    I live in Surbiton and go into town – some envy that you are going the other way. However a couple of points to note cause I have gone th eother way.

    It’s an easy trip on the road – some of the roads towards Chertsey bridge are busy and if you go through Walton same.

    If you use the towpath between Hampton Court and Walton get on the road therefter to either Weybridge then over St Georges hill to one side of Chertsey or to Cherstsey via Shepperton (watch for nobs on duel carridgeway).

    The tow path is always busy around HC / Molesy / Walton. Schools launching Rowing boats at 7 am is a particular hazard in the half light if you are tanking along on Cross bike!

    In the winter there is a bale out / one way option to use the train to waybridge from Surbiton.



    GDRS, might fire you an email -surbiton is on our radar but don’t know enough about it

Viewing 34 posts - 81 through 114 (of 114 total)

The topic ‘Commuting by bike – give me the cold, hard truth’ is closed to new replies.