Using a bike for transit has a bit of a learning curve. It takes time to figure out what works for you, what doesn’t, and what gear you need to make the ride as seamless as possible. For commuting there isn’t always a one-size-fits all solution, but there are some basic items that will help anyone using a bike as transit ride safely and get into a routine that can last throughout even the darker moths of the year.
Lights are extremely important for commuting in the fall, the winter and the early spring (so, most of the year). Studies have found that, even in daylight, cyclists who use rear lights are more visible and perceived by vehicles. The Sync Kinetic light from CatEye has some really useful safety and convenience features that make it the perfect choice for a commuter.
The Sync Kinetic has 6 visibility modes and up to 50 hours of run time. In a unique move, CatEye also has integrated an acceleration sensor into this light. This sensor will detect when the cyclist is slowing or braking and will flare up its brightness accordingly, making the rider more visible to cars and other cyclists behind them. The Sync Kinetic also synchronizes with all other CatEye Sync lights, which can be controlled as a group via the CatEyeSync app or the Sync Core front light.
Check your local bike shop for the CatEye Sync Kinetic, $80
Switching from a backpack to the convenience of panniers will truly transform a commute. Instead of being uncomfortably weighed down and arriving at your destination with a sweaty back (somehow regardless of how hot it is outside?) panniers make you forget you’re carrying anything at all.
For most bikes, installing a rack should be a straightforward process. When buying panniers, look for something made of a durable, waterproof material. Roswheel’s Tour Panniers are made of lightweight ripstop nylon with reflective elements, making them ideal for visibility and commuting. It’s important to consider what size panniers would work best for your use—are you using them for groceries? For your laptop and a spare sweater? The Roswheel 10L Tour Panniers are better for those with a slightly lighter load, whereas the Roswheel 20L Tour Panniers work for those who like to be prepared to carry anything.
Check your local bike shop for Roswheel 20L Tour Panniers, $180 and Roswheel 10L Tour Panniers, $160
When biking in the city, the thought of bike theft is hard to get out of the back of your mind. A good, strong lock is very important for deterring theft and can lend you some peace of mind while you’re away from your bike.
U-locks are regarded as the safest type of lock, as they don’t have any weak points that are particularly easy to cut through. Made of specially hardened steel the Abus 440A Alarm Lock goes beyond the standard U-lock and actually sounds an alarm of 100 dB if someone tries to steal your bike. The 440A Alarm Lock uses 3D Position Detection to detect vibrations and the smallest of movements to triggers the alarm. The alarm feature is easy to turn on an off—there are three positions on the key lock: Unlocked, Locked and Locked with alarm.
Check your local bike shop for the Abus 440A Alarm Lock, $130
It’s good to have options when choosing pedals. A hybrid SPD and flat pedal makes a lot of sense for commuters—they give you the option to clip in for longer rides (perhaps even some touring) but they don’t force you to clomp around in bike shoes for just for quick runs to the store.
Look’s Geo Trekking Roc Vision pedals are great for giving the rider choices. At 247g the aluminum pedals are easy to clip into with the included SPD clips, but can also be used with any regular shoes. The pedals increase visibility and safety with detachable 15 lumen, GT micro USB rechargeable lights. The lights can be attached to the front or back of the pedal body and have three flash modes modes (Steady/Flash/Flash Eco) with up to 30 hours of run time.
Check your local bike shop for the Look Geo Trekking Roc Vision pedals, CAD$300
In 2020 helmets are the norm for all cyclists, commuter or otherwise. Helmets come in many different styles but, as long as you’re browsing within reputable helmet brands, as a commuter you’ll be happiest with a helmet you find fits and looks the best. Features such as lightweight build, adjustable fit, good ventilation and straps that fit snugly and comfortably all help you forget you’re wearing a helmet at all.
At just 200g for the size small, the Abus AirBreaker helmet checks all these boxes. It also has the added bonus of some classy and fun colourways such as celeste and a deep opal green. Worn by Alejandro Valverde when he won his world championship race, this helmet works for long rides and short commutes alike.
Check your local bike shop for the Abus AirBreaker helmet, $360
Everyone’s commute is different, but one consistency in almost everywhere in Canada are roads weathered by harsh Canadian winters. It’s important, therefore, to buy durable tires that will be able to to take on some unexpected bumps and holes.
If you have the clearance for it, 28mm tires or larger will increase comfort and make your commute much more enjoyable. A robust tire like the Michelin Dynamic Classic or the Michelin Protek will keep you rolling without worry of flatting. The Protek has an added 1mm thick anti-puncture protection layer, which is very useful for avoiding a puncture when you’ve left your house with exactly 10 minutes to get where you have to go.
Check your local bike shop for Michelin Protek tires, $30 or Michelin Dynamic Classic tires, $23