Commuting to work by bicycle is on the increase – and it’s not difficult to see why. Petrol prices are soaring, congestion charges are spreading, public transport is (arguably) becoming less cost effective, and people are taking greater care over their health, well-being and lifestyle. Lots of resources are being setup to inform people and help them make decisions like www.ridein.co.uk
Add to this the ever-increasing importance of the environment (and the many eco-related benefits that cycling has over driving), and the reasons to switch to being a bike-riding commuter become more compelling by the week.
In response to this, manufacturers now produce a massive range of bikes designed specifically for commuters. A variant on the hybrid bike, commuting bicycles take the best of both mountain bikes and road bikes and incorporate features such as mudguards, carrier racks and baskets to create the perfect bike for the journey to and from work.
Household names such as Giant, Trek and Dawes have immersed themselves in this growing market, and the result is an impressive selection of great quality bikes – with something for everyone’s needs.
This web site looks at the features of commuting bicycles, the multiple benefits of cycling to work, and answers a number of typically asked questions on the subject. It also points out some of the best buys on the market, leaving you with no excuse but to invest in a commuter bike of your own – and start to enjoy those benefits for yourself!
Features of Commuting Bicycles
Scott Sub 40 Commuter Bicycle More Info and Buy
Commuting bicycles have a number of different features, all of which can enhance their performance and usability. Some of the main things to look out for on commuter bikes are the frame type, brake system, gears, tyres, carrier racks and mud guards. We will look at some of these features in more detail below.
The frame is the central component of your bicycle – it holds everything together. When choosing a bike, you will want to ensure that it has a frame that is strong and light – making it fast and safe to ride, and easy to pick up if you need to lift it over a stile or other obstruction. Many modern frames are made from aluminium, or even carbon for the more expensive models – both of these materials are ideal in terms of weight or strength. Some bicycle frames will also incorporate suspension systems, which will make your ride more comfortable on uneven terrain.
The gear system on your commuter bike is another important component, so it’s worth reading up a little so you know what you’re looking for. Generally speaking there are two main types of gear – internal and external. External gear systems (also called derailleur gears) are the most common type; they were developed in the late 1800’s and are a familiar site on bikes in the UK. These gears operate by a simple mechanism pushing the chain to either side, thus derailing it to the adjoining cog. Internal, or hub gears are much more advanced; they operate using a planetary gearing mechanism. Internal gears are generally considered to be more reliable, clean and safe, and they are virtually weather proof, making them low maintenance.
The brakes are another mechanism that is worth checking out before you buy your commuter bicycle. Generally speaking, these days, bicycle braking systems are safe, effective and reliable. Rim brakes (often in the form of V-brakes) are considered to be a fairly standard braking system – they are fine for every day use. Disc brakes are the most common alternative to V-brakes; they are more reliable in wet weather, require less maintenance, tend to be quieter when used, and are generally more efficient.
A few other things to look out for on your commuting bicycles are the tyres, mud guards and whether or not they come with a carrier rack. Bicycle tyres vary in quality, but the main thing to look out for is whether they are slick in design (ideal for road usage), or have a thicker tread (good for off road riding). Mud guards can provide obvious benefits – if you are willing to brave the rain on your bike, or tend to find yourself riding down muddy back roads- then mud guards are a must. Finally, if you will need to carry things on your ride to work, then a carrier rack will certainly come in handy. As with all things, you need to strike a balance between the cost and your requirements when choosing your commuter bicycle.
Who Makes Commuting Bicycles?
There are a number of manufacturers that build commuting bicycles, and as their popularity increases, more and more varieties of commuter bikes come onto the market. Some of the most popular manufacturers of hybrid bikes are Giant, Land Rover, Dawes and Trek.
Although Land Rover is better known for its cars, their bikes are proving to be more and more popular. The reason for this success may be that Land Rover is simply known for their high quality machines, regardless of whether it is a bike or a car. The hybrid bikes that are produced by Land Rover are surprisingly affordable – they tend to cater for the £200- £600 market. When buying one of these bicycles, it’s reassuring to know that you are investing in a well respected and reliable British product.
Generally speaking, Trek bicycles tend to be good quality middle of the range bikes. If you are looking to spend somewhere between £400 and £700, then a Trek bicycle is a safe bet. At this kind of price, most bike enthusiasts can get everything they need. Their bikes are well made, have numerous features and will last you for many years.
Finally, Giant and Dawes are two of the bigger bike manufacturers. Both of these companies offer a wide range of different commuting bicycles, as well as a huge variety of other bikes of all shapes and sizes. Both companies cater for all comers; their bikes start at £250 and go up to as much as £2,000, if you have that kind of budget. Giant are a global company that manufacture in Taiwan, whereas Dawes are a well known British company who are experts in bike manufacture. The choice is yours.
There is lots in the news today about cyclists admitting they feel forced to jump red lights, due to a combination of bad road design and dangerous drivers.
Let’s just hope the Times’ current Safe Cycling Campaign keep moving forward, as this is just the sort of news that will scare potential bicycles commuters from ditching the car in favour of a bike!