Got Newbie Tips?

I want to compile a list of tips from our readers that will help newbies commute.

So don’t be shy and leave a comment of your commuting tips. Once I get enough, I’ll post it in the Articles Section…with your name next to your tip!

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0 thoughts on “Got Newbie Tips?”

  1. Warren T says:

    If you’re going to be riding in traffic assume every other person on the road is an idiot and that no one can see you.

    When the temperatures get nicer you will find that many small winged insects have a “nutty” flavor. Don’t worry about it; but if it ‘bugs’ you breathe through your teeth…

  2. Doug says:

    Remember that when you ride, you create your own wind. Which means that just because the temperature is bareable outside, doesn’t mean that you should not layer.

  3. RC says:

    Assert yourself in traffic. The best defence against being squeezed at intersections is to take your legally deserved lane.

  4. jay says:

    I appreciate the fact that RC wrote that commuters should assert themselves LEGALLY. PLEASE do that–I’ve seen commuters and racing roadies go through red lights after only slowing down (if that), with just a brief look for oncoming traffic. Everywhere I’ve been, you’re a vehicle according to the law. Be sure to act like it–consistency with regard to traffic laws is KEY to good cyclist-car relations.

  5. martylane says:

    Choose a comfortable, inexpensive bike with fenders, flat pedals and a lock you can carry on the bike for commuting. The less special gear you need to suit up and ride — such as cycling shoes, cycling clothes, a bag to carry gear, etc. — the more likely you are to grab your bike a use it for short trips on a impulse.

  6. Val says:

    Nothing but excellent advice, here. One of my favorite strategies is to never be in a hurry. If I feel like it, I can tap into my inner beast and try for a personal best commuting time, but I always try to make sure that this is not necessary to get me to my destination on time. I usually allow an extra half an hour; this way, if there is something I want to stop for (sunrise, conversation, aiding another rider, errands), it won’t be a conflict, and if I have some mechanical problem, I won’t stress while doing the repair. It also keeps me from doing stupid things in traffic, such as trying to get in front of a clueless driver – I just let them go, and stay behind, where I can keep an eye on them.

  7. Nick says:

    Lots of great advice above, but I think most of the important things you’ll learn through experience.

    The first piece of advice I’d give a new commuter is to not put too much pressure on yourself. If you feel like driving or taking the bus or train, go ahead, and don’t feel guilty about it. You might look at the nice weather and wish you took your bike, but there’s always tomorrow.

    I’m a bit of a zealot when it comes to biking – I only take the subway a few times a month – but one morning last month, I felt compelled to take the subway. Lo and behold, I ran into an old friend from high school on the platform. Chalk it up to coincidence, if you will, but it’s the only time I’ve felt such a strong, unexplainable desire to take the subway, which I usually detest.

  8. Moe says:

    Planning your route is also essential. I drove different routes and decided which one was the safest one, it was not the shortest one, but the safest one. I also used Mapquest to identify which streets ran parallel to those not-so-bike-friendly streets. Once I got used to riding my bike on traffic, I was able to ride the shortest route.

  9. Paul Hayden says:

    Your bike:
    Once a week check, clean and oil the chain.
    Wheels- spin them to see if they need truing or have a broken spoke. Check the tires and air them up. Make sure the quick release skewers are on correct.
    Brakes should not rub when wheels are spinning; give them a good going over, check the pad and then pull the levers hard a few times.
    The headset should turn easily and have not play also check the pedals and bottom bracket.
    Last, make sure all bolts are tight.
    20 or 30 minutes is worth it.

    Always carry a spare tube, patch kit and bike tool kit.

    Now that we are in winter, dress for it.
    Wind even if you tool along at 10mph its steady wind. I ride 15 to 20mph in 20 degree temps, sometimes with a 10 mph headwind. Keep legs loose, and wear a zipper jacket as you ride you can unzip it. Protect feet, hands and face- plastic bags over feet and heavy gloves, rubber bands around cuffs and a thick scarf wrapped around the face and neck keep it so you can look behind easily and tape over the vents on the helmet, my winter helmet is the bell metro with winter kit. Glasses to protect the eyes, I prefer clear.

    Good lights and lots of reflectors along with a cyclist vest. I have 3 taillights fender, rack and helmet also reflective gloves help cars see what you’re doing, I use glo-gloves. A mirror, I like the third eye pro that attaches to my helmet.

    I also carry rain gear in a pannier all the time. I prefer the carradice rain cape.

    Good tires are worth it when your 5 or 10 miles from home, Kevlar can make a difference. I also like reflective sidewalls tires, when sitting at intersections my front tire glowing helps cars see me as they turn in.

    The Cyclist-Inferiority Phobia is all too real, being prepared can be a big help.

  10. B Herron says:

    All great advice. Don’t know if any of you commuters on this list are using commuting as a training tool, but if you are, you surely get VERY sweaty on your rides. If your destination does not have showers, your co-workers may not be very sociable. Here’s how I combat being a social outcast: let your body cool down (stop sweating), should take 10-15 minutes unless you really hammer (great time to stretch out those legs and have your recovery drink); wipe down with “Baby Wipes” (work great and are not expensive); throw on some deodorant and cologne or aftershave and have a great day being able to talk to all your co-workers without them trying to run away.

  11. gil says:

    Always carry a pair of thin latex gloves (similar to those used by surgeons). They’re useful for unexpected roadside bike repairs and keeping hands a little cleaner and in winter for adding an extra layer to ward off the cold. I keep mind permanently stuffed in my seat bag.

    I’ve also found that the individually wrapped pre-moistened “towlettes”. Three or four take no space and can stuff inside a bag or even handlebars. Good for cleaning up or refreshing after a grundgy commute.

    When traveling next to a car always look at the right (or left, depending) front wheel rather than the car body. The wheel turns before the car and thus gives advanced warning of a car’s lane changing intentions.

    Finally, I love bike sandals/clipless pedals for commuting. I live in a reasonably cold and hot climate and find they adapt to extreme temperatures better than other footwear. Match with the appropriate socks and layers and one is good to go!

  12. Juan says:

    In cold weather, if you are warm when you first start out, you are over dressed.

    Team up… girlfriend and I work about two blocks from each other, so we ride together most days. It makes the ride more enjoyable, and you have a helping hand there if you need it. You also get double the flashing tail-lights.

    Be prepared. Always carry a spare tube, pump and small toolkit….and know how to use them. I use my toolkit for all my bicycle maintenance so that if something happens on the road, I know I have the tools for it.

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