If you’re thinking about commuting by bike, you first need to choose which type of bike is best for you. With many different types to choose from, it can be hard to decide. Our short guide here should give you some help.
There are various factors to take into account when choosing your commuting bike:
- Will your bike be used purely for commuting? Or do you want to use the bike for weekend road rides, trekking, or off road riding?
- How far is the commute? And will your commute be on roads or on cycle paths?
- Do you need to take the bike on the train or bus for any part of the commute?
- What do you need to carry with you when you commute?
Answering these questions will help you choose the right sort of bike. For example, I cycle into work only on the road, for just 6 miles. I don’t need to use public transport, and I like to ride the roads of Northumberland at weekends. So a road bike, or hybrid would be good for me. Sometimes I need to carry my laptop, so panniers can be fitted to help here.
A friend of mine however has a 12 mile commute, mostly on cycle paths, some of which are gravelly, so he uses a mountain bike to give him the extra care over the gravel. He just needs to carry some clothes, so he just rides with a backpack.
Choosing the right bike is essential. Riding into work everyday on the wrong bike will make you frustrated and annoyed. To be safe, pop into your local bike shop and ask them for advice. The guys and girls at Cycle Centre will happily help you out.
So what are the options?
Hybrid Bikes – The best of both worlds. Fairly light, with medium width tyres to give the perfect balance between road riding and gravel tracks. Suitable for fitting panniers and mudguards, and with a comfortable, upright riding position Hybrid bikes, or town bikes can be used on a range of road surfaces and are by far the most popular choice for commuters.
Road bikes – Ultra light, fast, and sporty. Road bikes aren’t just used by Tour de France riders! With skinny tyres to give a quicker ride, road bikes cover distances quicker, due to their sportier frame, zero suspension, and lighter weight. Road bikes can also fit panniers and mudguards, making them versatile. The downside of road bikes is that they are unsuitable for rough or gravelly tracks, and cannot be taken off road, so if your commute uses these paths, its best to look at another option.
Mountain Bikes – Comfortable, versatile, and extra safe in wintery conditions, mountain bikes can be ridden on almost any surface. With wider, knobbly tyres to give you the most grip of all the bikes, and often adjustable front and rear suspension, mountain bikes are easier to ride than road and hybrid bikes. The only downside of mountain bikes is the weight and speed. The softer suspension and thicker tyres will slow you down, so if your commute is purely on the road, maybe a hybrid or road bike would be better.
Folding Bikes – Innovative, practical and even fashionable, folding bikes are becoming more popular. With space limited on buses and trains for bikes, a folding bike is the ideal choice if you need to carry or store your bike on the journey, or at the office. Offering less speed and versatility than road, hybrid, or mountain bikes, a folding bike is not for everyone, but is definitely practical.
Next time, we’ll talk you through some of our favorite bikes, to make your choice even easier.