It's no secret that we think everyone should bike to work. This guide was put together with a mix of information from Two Wheel Gear survey data and our own experiences to help bike commuters getting started. For a deeper dive into bike resources, take a cruise through our commuter resources. Pedal forward with confidence.
The Two Wheel Gear Bike to Work Guide
1. Choose Your Bike
Top Choice: Hybrid Commuter Bike
For commuting, the majority of people start with a hybrid bike.
Our Pick: Specialized CrossTrail These are a blend of road, touring and mountain bikes and offer front shocks for a smoother ride. Hybrids have all around attributes for weather and road conditions and are well set up with rack, bottle, and fender mounts.
Perfect for longer, hilly commutes. More fun than you can imagine.
Our Pick: High quality components, long lasting batteries with pedal assist technology from OHM Electric Bikes. One of the best commuting Ebike companies on the market (and they are perfectly setup for our bags...)
Light and fast.
Our Pick: Check out our local Vancouver pals, Brodie Bikes
A "road bike" is a general term but typically means a bike meant for travelling on paved surfaces at speed. They don't have shocks or anything that would typically slow the rider down. Usually they will have drop bars, loads of gears and are considerably lighter than other bikes on the market.
Regular Tune Ups
There are few sweeter pleasures than riding a freshly-tuned commuting machine. Take care of your chain, brakes, tire pressure, spokes, gears, headsets and wheels. Show your bike some love with a professional tune up ($30-$75) or do it yourself for free regularly throughout the season.
2. Get the Right Gear
What accessories do I need for my bike?
Everyone will have different preferences for gizmos, gadgets and gear, but here are some of the essentials:
- Front light - White
- Back light - Red
- Bell - It’s the law in most of the world, check your local laws
- Bike lock - No cable locks (Invest in a U-Lock or Bordo)
- Water bottle cage
- Bicycle rear rack (highly recommended)
- Fenders (optional)
What Clothes Should I Wear?
People like to get hung up on this. But the truth is, you really don’t need anything special. A pair of comfortable shorts, tights or jeans that stretch (we recommend DU/ER), solid sole shoes, helmet, and perhaps some sunglasses is a good start.
If you want to add in some light gloves, a wind breaker or rain shell, waterproof pants and possibly a reflective vest when the days get shorter.
What is a Pannier?
A pannier is a bike bag that attaches to either your front or rear bike rack. You need to have a bike rack installed to use panniers but they are a relatively inexpensive and simple accessory to add to most bikes. Panniers carry the load and free the rider from a sore, sweaty back. A Two Wheel Gear pannier is designed to convert for easy carry when your off your bike as well.
Here is how the Two Wheel Gear Pannier Laptop Messenger Bag Works.
What pannier is best for me?
Two Wheel Gear specializes in bags and panniers for bike commuters. Here are a few of our convertible panniers and what they were specifically created for carrying.
Pannier Backpack Convertible
Best Used For: All around bike commuting
Converts between pannier and backpack for quick and easy carrying. Organized with pockets that protect your laptop and gear. This bag makes you ready for anything.
Best Used For: Commuting with clothes
The business professional's bike bag. A cross between a traditional travel garment bag and a double sided pannier. Keeps clothes wrinkle-free and organizes everything from laptops to shower gear. Explore all garment panniers.
Pannier Laptop Messenger
Best Used For: Laptops
A ready to roll business bag with 4 sections. The pannier attachments zip away turning it into a hybrid messenger bag for the office. Attaches to any standard bike rack.
Pannier Duffel Bag
Best Used For: Lots of Gear
All the convenience of a waterproof duffel bag in pannier form with detachable shoulder strap. 35 Litres of space to pack spaciously for the day or weekend with a separate bottom divider pocket for shoes, dirty laundry, or accessories.
I don't have a bike rack. What bike bag should I get?
Best Used For: Basically Everything
The perfect A to Beyond commuter bag. The streamlined design and airmesh backflow make it perfect for your ride or daily hustle. The side laptop access simply makes your life better.
Dayliner Box Bag
Best Used For: Commuting, Errands, Shopping
This bag is in it's own category with 4 modes to use. It's a trunk bag that can be attached to a front or rear rack, your handlebar bars or carried like a messenger bag. This large waterproof roll top lets you over pack when you get too much at the farmer's market.
Dayliner Mini Handlebar Bag
Best Used For: Your "Purse" on a Bike
Easy to use handlebar attachments with a removable shoulder strap. The roll top closure with zipper and internal pockets make this perfect for your small errands.
Best Used For: Tools, Jacket, Gloves
Extra storage space that is out of the way and easy to access. Perfect for all your on-the-road maintenance tools and extra layer when your not sure if the weather will hold out.
The Frame Bag
Best Used For: Touring
Whether its a day trip or weekend adventure, the frame bag takes un-utilized space on your bike and turns it into an efficient place for tools, jackets, camping gear, or anything you pick up along the way. Available in 2 sizes to fit most frames.
3. Plan Your Route
How far is the typical bike ride to work?
According to our research, the average Two Wheel Gear commuter rides about 8 miles (12.8 km) one way to work.
How long does it take to ride 8 miles (12.8 km) on a bike?
Every rider, route and bike is different. But on average you can expect 8 miles to take about 40-45 mins on your bike.
How to plan the best bike route?
Maps & Tech
4. Pack Your Bag
What to pack when biking to work?
Depending on your dress code and job, the nitty gritty might change, but for the most part, every Two Wheel Gear commuter will tell you they have an assortment of the following in their bag:
- Work clothes - Full suit or simple change, Shoes (Tip: just keep your work shoes under your desk), Accessories (tie, belt, cufflinks, jewelry), Socks / Underwear (Tip: keep extra set in your desk), Towel, toiletry kit, makeup (anything you need to spruce up), Laptop, charger, Keys, Wallet, Phone, FOB/Key card, Lunch, Bike lock
Bike Commuter 101:
What are the essential bike tools to have handy?
- - Tire pump / mini hand pump
- - Spare inner tube or patch kit
- - Multi tool (screwdriver, hex wrenches, tire levers)
5. Plan Your Arrival
Where should I park my bike?
Ideally, you may have access to bike parking in your building’s parkade. Find out! Invest in an annual bike stall if possible. Bring your bike into your office or park outside in a public place. For tips on parking your bike check out the Bike to Work Blog.
Biking to work with no shower?
If your workplace doesn’t offer shower and change room facilities, you still have options for getting cleaned up once you hit the office.
1. Find a gym nearby your workplace that does. A lot of commuters stop at their local YMCA or gym before work. You can shower and sometimes even lock your bike there for the day. Then casually stroll over to the office feeling like a million. Many cities are also starting to offer cycling centers that boast bike lockers, repair centers and shower facilities that can be joined for various membership periods. Google search your city!
2. The showerless wipe down. This one is self explanatory. You can pack a small towel or wet wipes to give yourself a spruce up in the bathroom.
3. Multi-Modal Transit. Investigate if you can take your bike on the train or bus for a portion of the ride. This significantly cuts down on the amount of work (and sweat) required to complete the trip. You might even be able to wear your work clothes on the commute.
Bike Commuting by the Numbers (Example)
While its certainly different for everyone, tracking your stats on your commute is great way to measure your progress and the impact your having by choosing your bicycle. An example from Jason Ditzenberger gives you a good overview of the impact created by riding your bike to work (most days).
Jason's Bike commuting stats for a typical month:
- 18 days commuting via bicycle
- 4 days commuting by car
- 324 Miles not driven
- 18 gallons of gasoline not used
- 360 pounds of carbon dioxide not emitted
- $54 not spent on gas
- $216 not spent on parking
What about riding in the winter?
We've wrote several blog posts about how best to hack your winter commute:
- Winter Bike Commuting | Why I Try To Ride Year Round
- Winter Bike Commuting Hacks | Special Equipment Not Required
Frostbike by commuting fanatic, Tom Babin - Shifter Blog will make you want to get out there and take in the crisp, fresh, winter air. Full of commuting inspiration, historic Alaskan bike races, fat bikes, and the most winter bike-friendly city in the world. Recommended read for any dedicated commuter. Buy it on Amazon ($20): Frostbike: The Joy, Pain and Numbness of Winter Cycling
Where can I find more answers to commuting questions?
Here are a few more articles on commuter blog that might be helpful:
- A Beginners Guide to Bike Commuting | Five Things to Consider
- A Beginners Guide to Bike Commuting | Ask Me Anything
- Fall Bike Commuting Hacks | When Cold & Wet is Irrefutably Miserable
You can also check out our commuter resources page or search the following bike community forums. If your question isn’t listed...ask it!