The bike in the header photo was once for sale on eBay. (Photo copyright unknown seller.)

Not everyone’s idea of an ideal commuting bike (crossbar optional).

It’s got wheels, a comfy saddle, two brakes (a legal requirement unless you ride with a fixed wheel), mudguards (some people prefer getting wet), luggage rack and a bell.
it’s really easy to carry what you need for your working day on your bike, especially if you have a pannier rack and panniers – clothes/shoes, basic tools, maybe a spare tube, lunch etc. (or just a credit card!)

Plenty of people are happy with courier bags or rucksacks but panniers are increasingly common – singly or in pairs. (“Single Panniers… left or right side?” CCE discussion, the rucksack limited my movement.)

(Almost) any bike will do – as long as it goes (and stops safely).

It needs to ‘fit’ and feel comfortable. Not too big or small, saddle the right height (generally when the toes of both feet just touch the ground.)

Once there were two main sorts of bike – roadsters (straight handlebars and often 3 gears) and ‘racers’ (anything with dropped handlebars – including bikes for actually racing or, fitted with mudguards and a rack, for touring). Then came Mountain Bikes with fat tyres – good for potholes and off-road trails – with (generally) better brakes and more (particularly lower) gears than most other bikes.

Straight handlebars became came the norm – except for actually racing or touring. Since then many varieties of hybrid have been produced and sold. These are like ‘touring’ bikes with straight handlebars or MTBs with thinner wheels/tyres.

In recent years a lot of commuters have turned to lightweight racing style bikes (often carbon fibre), many just below the £1,000 Government Cyclescheme limit. One variation is bikes intended for cyclo-cross – racers with fatter tyres!

No wonder N+1 becomes ‘necessary’.

Traditionally there were Gents bikes and Ladies bikes. Some people prefer a bike without a crossbar – often called step-through these days. Crossbars used to be horizontal but now sloping ones are common, also frames with compact geometry. (EBC’s Bike Sizing Guide)

If you are not sure if your bike is in good enough condition, The Cycle Service (Southside) and Pedals (Tollcross) will give it a FREE check (just mention you read about them on the ‘cycle to work site’).
Beginner’s guide to living with a bike


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