Friday, May 9, 2008

Bike Commuting -- Equipment

Updated. Doug made a great point about pumps in the comments. (In fact, I have a CO2 pump, myself.)

To commute by bike, you need a bike. What else?


  • Bike — More on choosing a bike later

  • Helmet

  • Tail light — Required by law when riding after dusk

  • Commuter head light — Required by law when riding after dusk. Important even if you don't need the roadway illuminated. A (relatively) cheap commuter head light will let people ahead of you know you're coming.

  • Lock — See tip of the day, below.

Nearly essential:
  • Rack and pannier — You're going to carry stuff. Do your back a favor and carry it on the bike. (A pannier is a special bag that attaches to your rack.)

  • Fenders — Even if you plan to ride on nice days only, you're going to get stuck in the rain. A front fender keeps your shoes dry. A rear fender prevents you from getting a stripe of road grime up your back. And, a rear fender keeps your pannier dry.

  • Tire kit, spare tube, and small pump — You're going to get a flat. As Doug says in the comments, get a small C02 pump. Quick and easy way to inflate your tire and worth the extra money. Not necessary if you don't know how to change a flat tire.

Nice to have:
  • Bell

  • Bike computer — It makes riding a lot more fun when you know how far and how fast you've gone.

  • Powerful head light — Useful if you're planning to ride much after dark on roads that are not illuminated. They can be expensive, but they're worth it if you need it (say when you have to ride across Weston on Route 30).

Tip of the day

Buy a good solid lock and leave it on or near the rack where you'll leave the bike at work. Odds are you won't stop between home and work and work and home, so why lug a heavy lock back and forth. If you do plan to stop, carry a lightweight nuisance lock for those times when you have to grab groceries.


Jeff Stevenson said...

Hi. Please join the Bicycle to Work! LinkedIn networking group. Members pledge that they will try to ride their bicycle to work or on an errand at least once a week. Although the benefits should be obvious, let me outline them here.

Right now people in the industrialized world are facing two very grave problems: obesity and a growing scarcity of oil. Compounding this problem is the new food shortage brought about, in part, by the conversion of food cropland to bio-fuel crop production. Most people feel powerless to help, but there is one thing that we can do. Ride our bicycles to work.

If everyone would agree to ride their bikes to work one day per week we could cut oil consumption by as much as 10-15%. No one would argue that riding a bike burns more calories than driving the car. Although popular politically right now, most bio-fuels consume more energy than they produce. We would be much better to eat those bio-crops then use our own energy to transport us around.

So spread the word. Make it a movement! Bicycle to work one day a week and do your part to cut back obesity and the overuse of oil and precious cropland.

Just go to my profile at and you can click on the group to be included. While you are there, don't forget to ask to link to my network of more than 8,000,000 like-minded professionals. I accept all invitations and look forward to meeting you.


Doug Cornelius said...

Sean -

Nice list.

I would put the bell up higher on the list, depending on where you are biking. If you end up in an area with lots of pedestrians it is nearly essential.

Instead of a small pump, I recommend a CO2 pump. It is smaller and inflates tires faster.