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The Essential Guide to Commuting

In recent years there seems to be a greater effort put into making the life of cyclists on British roads easier. There is obviously still room for improvement, but with safer cycle paths being created away from traffic riding to work has never been easier. Cycling clothing for commuters has also become better looking, attracting more and more full-time workers into cycling to work regularly. At Planet X we ride to work every day and with some help from our best selling products it’s always a joy. Cycling to work not only makes you fitter and healthier but also takes less time than driving a car – you can avoid all the traffic and just roll past cars that stand in long queues forever. And, last but not least, you do not need expensive petrol. We guarantee that the annual amount of money you spend on petrol would easily get you a nice and shiny new bike and all the gear!  

Now, with the existence of Cycle 2 Work scheme, cycling to work is easier than ever before. You can get a really big discount and pay for your bike and gear in monthly instalments – you don’t even need to feel like you have bought one. The only thing you need to do is decide which bike to buy, but with the current wide range of bikes and cycling kit available making the right choice can be ultimately quite confusing. This is why we have come up with a guide to make your choice a bit easier.


First of all, you will need to find the most convenient route to work and determine what kind of terrain it is. Depending on the type of terrain you may want to consider one of the following bikes;

Road Bike – for fairly smooth and fast roads where you can pedal without the need of going on the pavement or any kind of paths – riding one to work would also be a great opportunity to do your daily road riding training. The Pro Carbon is by far our most popular road bike and it will work perfectly as your daily commuter!

Mountain Bike – perfect if you want to commute off-road, on trails, single tracks and fairly rocky paths. It would allow you to go fast over some really rough terrain, jumping on and off curbs/ pavement and let you avoid traffic easier. On the other hand though, due to its wider, knobbly tires a mountain bike would be significantly slower on roads compared to a road bike. You could still use it for your off-road weekend rides though. The best bike for that would be the On-One 45650b – it’s tough enough for your daily commuting and would also allow you some serious off-road weekend riding with your mates.

Cyclocross Bike – A good mix of road speed and off-road capabilities, these bikes allow you to ride roads quickly and still be able to choose a canal path or a smooth single track instead if you wish to. Owning a cyclocross bike would also allow you to try cyclocross racing, which is great fun! Please note that some of cyclocross-specific bikes might have limited pannier rack and mudguards compatibility. Riding with drop bars might can also take a little getting used to if you have never used them before, but the multiple hand positions they offer gives added comfort to longer rides. Finally, it will still be a bit slower than a road bike due to knobbly, more off-road specific tires, but in the winter through snow and muddier conditions a cyclocross bike comes into its own. If you were thinking about trying a cyclocross bike our XLS would be your perfect bike here. A lightweight carbon fibre construction and race-ready geometry would make your commuting more fun than ever before!

Urban/hybrid bike- This kind of bike is a mixture of all the best features of the bikes above and the perfect option if you are planning only to commute on your bike. These bikes are fully compatible with mudguards, a pannier rack and also offer big tire clearances so that you can mount some really robust and puncture-proof rubber. This would allow you to ride canal paths and rough pavements if you want to avoid roads. Hopping on and off curbs should not be a problem on these either if you already have this skill from your mountain biking background. Our ultimate urban commuting bike is the London Road – modern geometry, lightweight frame and fork as well as its unique all-round capability that might make it just that one bike you need for all the riding you do.

Once you have your dream commuter sorted its time to choose some essential cycling gear. Ordering all the kit you need at the same time of your bike is beneficial, so that you have everything you need when the bike arrives and you can start commuting on your next working day.

MET Camaleonte Executive Urban Helmet

Helmet: We would strongly recommend using one, especially if you are cycling in a busy urban environment. A helmet with a high-visibility design will also dramatically increase both your safety and visibility.

Exustar E-SM346 MTB Shoes

Shoes: Commuting on a daily basis surely favours riding with clipless pedals and shoes and we strongly recommend this as it will vastly improve your pedalling efficiency and make you get to work faster and with less effort. We have a wide selection of shoes available for various types of riding, for better power transfer on the rode we suggest a shoe with a stiff sole. Whereas if you are riding off road something with a tread underneath will help you stay up right should you need to get off and walk.

Shimano A530 SPD Pedals

Pedals: choose MTB or Road style pedals depending on what kind of bike are you going for. In the case of urban bikes, we recommend a set of MTB pedals with an additional platform that allows easier clipping in as well as the possibility of riding in your casual shoes should you need to.

Planet X Aqualight Packable Commuting Jacket

Jacket: we all know that British weather can be a bit moody sometimes and a practical and packable commuting jacket can be just perfect for these unexpected rainy showers and downpours. Once again, something high-viz would significantly increase your visibility not only in the darkness but also when you ride on a more blurry, cloudy day. Even if fluorescent yellow is not your cup of tea just remember – it might be lifesaving!

Planet X Clubamn Light Bib Shorts

Bib shorts: If you have never tried them before you might not consider them a necessity in the first place, but a good-quality set of bib shorts will dramatically increase your riding comfort. Thanks to their advanced ergonomic pad, often called a chamois, bib shorts will successfully absorb all the annoying road vibrations leaving you with a smooth and pain-free feeling, especially on longer rides. Our Clubman Bib Shorts are ideal for commuting - lightweight, protective and functional, the multi panel construction also gives you that little bit of extra freedom of movement compared to a more racing-style products:

Aero Shark Glasses

Cycling glasses: eye protection is vital especially during your daily commutes in heavy traffic. We would not recommend purchasing anything too expensive and fancy – a solid pair of sport glasses with good-quality UV-protective lenses will be just what you need:

Planet X 365x Race Gloves

Gloves: a good pair of gloves will increase your everyday comfort on the bike protecting your fingers from rain and cold allowing you to control your bike safely without slippy or numb fingers. Having at least two pairs of gloves for the changing seasons is recommended – full finger gloves for those chilly spring and autumn mornings and a pair of fingerless mitts for summer commutes:

Smart Lunar Light Set

Lights: .Its highly dangerous to yourself and other road users to cycle in the dark without a decent set of lights. A good set of lights will make you more visible to other road users and make commuting in the dark safer. Purchasing a complete set of lights is often cheaper than buying a front and rear separately, but you might consider this if you are looking to get a brighter front light for less well lit roads or trails.

Boeshield T-9 Waterproof Lube

Chain lube: a good, all-weather chain lube will ensure your drivetrain withstands even the harshest commuting conditions:

Airace 20 in 1 Folding Tool Set

Multitool: a functional and practical set of tools will let you repair your bike on the go and let you be at work on time:

Airace Dual Jet TS Mini Pump

Pump: some of the roads you will be commuting on might be quite harsh on your tires and tubes. Make sure you have a decent pump so that you can repair an unexpected puncture quickly and efficiently. This is a good example:

We also recommend carrying a couple of spare tubes, a spare gear cable and spare batteries for your lights in case of any emergency. All the items above should turn you into a well-prepared and sensible commuter.

You will also need something to carry all these essentials and any personal belongings you might need for work. If you are riding a bike with rack mounts we recommend using a good quality, waterproof set of pannier bags.

Agu Waterproof Painnier Bag

Obviously, this kind of bag need to be mounted to a pannier rack. We have a selection of racks in stock. Different models will be compatible with various frames.

Vavert Sherpa Touring Rack

If your commuter is not compatible with a pannier rack we recommend a strong and waterproof backpack instead. It would be perfect if it also had some high-visibility parts added to increase your security on roads.

After a few weeks of cycling to work regularly you will see a vast improvement in your fitness. You will also be feeling more fresh and energized due to increased amount of physical activity. Increased fitness will transform you into a better rider during your weekend rides as well – so whats not to like about commuting?

To keep commuting interesting why not try taking different routes and roads or team up with some colleagues and cycle home together, after all riding in a group is much more social. In case you happen to cycle on your own consider getting a GPS device so that you can track your efforts and see how your cycling time is improving week by week!

Finally, make sure you treat yourself from time to time with some tasty food – as a cyclist on a regular basis you will be burning way more calories than what you would by driving to work so you will earn it! 

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