There are so many benefits of cycling to work. It's healthy, it's better for the environment, it helps you avoid traffic jams, and above all - it's fun! If you're new to the cycling commute or you're still a bit unsure whether it's feasible for you, we've put together a guide to bike commuting for beginners.
So read on, grab your helmet, and let's get out there
How to choose the best bike for commuting
The key to becoming a happy commuter? Choose a bike that's the right size, comfortable and practical for your needs. There isn't a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to the best commuter bike, and you'll need to think about things like the overall journey distance, where you'll be storing the bike, the type of terrain you'll be covering, your body type and preferred style of cycling.
You'll also need to remember to factor in things like the right bike commuting gear and cycling accessories for commuters - such as a roomy bike bag to pack all your essentials for the work day ahead.
Purpose-made commuter bikes
Commuter bikes have their own category, offering the perfect combination of practicality, durability and portability. If you're considering everyday cycling for the first time, a commuter model might be the ideal choice for a better bike commute.
Electric bikes for commuting
Electric bikes are ideal for commuting, adding a bit of a boost to your ride to work. The pedal assist and electric battery will help you power away from traffic lights or tackle any particularly gruelling inclines, and the handy display will help you keep track of your journey.
There’s also the option of an electric hybrid bike, which are excellent for a range of versatile terrains with a comfortable riding position and the electric components on top. They’re also usually fully-equipped with accessories like bike lights, a pannier rack and mudguards.
Folding bikes for commuting
If you're short on space at home, have a small office at work, or need to pack onto a bus or train as part of your commute, a folding bike might be the ideal option. The Stowaway folding bike has a comfortable saddle and 7-speed gears, but folds away into a package just 850x630x420mm.
There's also the option of a folding electric bike, combining versatility and lightweight portability with electric power and convenience. The Stow-E-Way includes a 250wh battery and a powerful TransX motor to help pedalling - whether you need a little helping hand for motivation to get into the office, or are just that desperate to get home after a long day.
Bike commuting tips
No guide to cycling to work would be complete without some helpful advice on making the most of the commute. Here are our top tips for biking to work, for beginners and seasoned riders alike.
Choose the right bike for commuting
The most important piece of cycling advice is always to make sure you've got the bike to do the job. We've listed some of the best options for commuter bikes above, but it's important to consider all the specific factors that will affect your commute - from terrain and distance to your preferences and experience.
Even though you've probably done your commute more times than you care to remember, it's always a good idea to plan your route ahead. Road closures or other issues can seriously derail your plans, so using a reliable cycle route planner or specific cycling app can be a real lifesaver on those busy mornings.
Prioritise bike safety
Even when you're in a rush to make your Monday morning meeting, it's vital to make safety a priority on every bike ride. Road cycling can sometimes be a bit hazardous,, so make sure you've got your helmet and other safety gear, like bike lights, ready to go.
Be mindful of traffic
Give yourself ample time to complete your ride to work, and pay plenty of attention to motorists and other road users - particularly if you can't use a dedicated bike lane. Make sure to give cars a wide enough berth to avoid any suddenly opening car doors, and watch out for any drivers' blind spots.
Pay particular attention to lorries and buses, which often have major blindspots - don't ride too close or filter up the inside at traffic lights. Communication is key for any bike ride on the road - hand signals for turning and attempting to make eye contact with drivers are key steps to staying safe on the road.
Get the right cycling gear
As well as a new bike, it's a good idea to invest in some reliable cycling clothes for your commute. You don't have to go all out with the lycra (unless you really want to), but having some waterproof bits like trousers, a jacket and mudguards can save your office outfit from the Great British weather.
Cycling to work benefits
We may be a little biased, but we think cycling to work really is the best way to tackle the commute. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of a bikeable journey to work, but if you do live within cycling distance of the office, especially if you are lucky enough to have access to a cycle to work scheme, there are loads of key reasons to give it a go. Here are some of our favourite cycling commute benefits:
If you've got an easy route - perhaps along city streets or even cycle paths - ditching your car in favour of two wheels can open up a world of convenience. You won't have to bend your schedule in accordance with the local public transport schedule - no more waiting at the bus stop for hours or finding your train cancelled. At the end of the work day, simply pack up your stuff and get on your way - you won't need to hang around waiting for the bus or sit in a queue to exit the car park or a congested road.
Plus, cycle commuting can help you avoid that dreaded traffic. You can make use of dedicated cycle routes, cut through alleys and side streets, and push off at the traffic lights quicker than other vehicles. Plus, cycling is often no slower than jumping in the car in urban areas - in congested London traffic cars travel at an average of just 7.6mph while cyclists clocked almost 14mph.
Health benefits of commuting by bike
Choosing to bike to work also has numerous health benefits, of course. Cycling is one of the best forms of physical activity, raising your metabolism, increasing your heart rate and even boosting mental health. Getting some fresh air as part of your routine is always a good idea, and this way you'll be able to build it into that necessary daily commute for a double benefit.
Even if your commute is too long to cycle the whole way, hopping on the bike for part of the journey is still a great way to fit some exercise into your day to maintain your fitness. Perhaps you'll bike to the station and get the train to the office, or take public transport most of the way and finish the trip on two wheels. If that's an option for you, a folding e-bike might be the perfect solution - all the joy of cycling with the convenience of space-saving.
A bike commute is a healthy choice for you, but it also helps the environment too. Cycling instead of driving (or even taking motorised public transport) can significantly lower your carbon footprint. Bikes cut your carbon emissions, and also help reduce pollution - one car fewer on the road contributes to healthier air.
Cycling also helps with noise pollution, whether you're commuting through an urban, residential or rural area. Opting for a peaceful cycle to work will do wonders for your mental health, but it also might just benefit local wildlife too.
If you're able to, swapping your car for a bike can see significant savings. For a start, you won't need to factor in costs like road tax, parking fees and petrol prices. Even if you're just travelling to work by bike a few days a week and driving the rest, you'll be reducing your fuel costs and can save money on all those other fees that add up with daily trips to and from work - from expensive car parks to wear and tear on your family car.
If you keep up with regular bike maintenance you'll find that your bike pays for itself over time - plus you don't have to worry about annual MOTs or regular engine services like daily motorists. Plus, bike insurance is significantly cheaper than insuring your motor...
To get started with your bike commute to work, browse our range of electric bikes or check out our guide to cycle to work schemes.