By: Katrina Franco
Aside from sports and recreational activities, bicycles can be used to take you anywhere without paying for fuel or public transport fares. This non-motorized vehicle only needs a bit of physical effort from the rider to get you from one place to another. Hence, regular cycling does not only burn calories, but also improves fitness and reduces air pollution. These are only a few reasons why commuting by bicycle is becoming a more popular option today, especially during this pandemic when public transportation options are limited for safety reasons.
So if you’re thinking of cycling as a potential alternative for your daily commute, then here are High Five things to consider before you get cycling.
Type of Bike
Photo from Pixabay
There are different kinds of bicycles out there so you may be wondering which one will work best for you. When choosing a bike, it’s always best to remember your preferences and the circumstances around your commute. Will you be riding more on paved surfaces or rough terrains? Do you prefer comfort over speed? Do you have limited space for a bicycle at home? These are just a few things to consider before buying a bike.
If you want a comfortable bike ideal for short distance trips, then a city bike or cruiser is perfect for you. For a compact bike that’s suitable for homes with small spaces, a folding bike is ideal and will help you ride in a relaxed upright position. Road bikes are lightweight and fast, but their drop handlebars may require you to ride in a bending position. A mountain bike is bulkier than others, but it’s versatile nature allows it to be used both on rough or paved surfaces. Researching on different bike types that are suitable for your personal preferences and commute situation will help you make the right choice.
Road Bike Size Chart
Whether you’re looking to get a mountain bike or a road bike, you need to know the right bicycle size for your height. Precise bike frame measurements that complement your height will make your ride more efficient and comfortable, so check out these charts below to find the right bike size for you.
Mountain Bike Size Chart
The bicycle seat or saddle is one of the most important parts of the bike, but is often overlooked by casual bikers. It is an adjustable part of the bike, which means you can change its height depending on your reach. But did you know that saddle heights can also make or break your riding experience? Saddle heights that are too low may cause knee pain or discomforts, but adjust your seat too high and you may lose grip on the pedal while riding.
To find the right saddle height, get on your bike and place your heel on the pedal. Adjust your pedal position to six o’clock or a vertical position. If your extended knee is bent, you should increase the height of the saddle until your knee is completely straight.
Saddle height not only affects pedaling comfort but is key to a safe trip. Make sure to adjust it properly to avoid any injuries!
Changing Inner Tubes and Inflating Tires
Having a portable air pump and extra inner tubes is essential before going on a bike commute, especially for long-distance rides. Bicycle tires lose pressure whether you use them or not, and the bumps you encounter on a ride reduce the air in your wheels. If you feel like your tires have too much give or have lost too much air, then inflating them with an air pump should fix the issue. But if inflating doesn’t work and your tires still feel off, then you should check your inner tubes for a possible puncture.
First, take the wheel off your bicycle. If your bike wheels are secured with a bolt, use a spanner wrench to withdraw the wheel set from the frame or fork. Remove the tire from the rim using tire levers to extract the inner tube, then inspect the inner tube for holes. Try inflating the tube and feel if there’s air coming out. Most cyclists hold the tube close to their ears to hear where the “hiss” sound of the air leak may be coming from. If you’re at home, get a bucket with water and submerge the tube. The puncture is located where the bubbles are coming out.
Inner tube punctures can be repaired with a tire patch kit, but if you have no time to repair the damage, then this is where an extra inner tube will come in handy. To replace the tube, you’ll need to pump a little amount of air into the new inner tube first to make sure it would sit properly inside the tire. Place the tire with inner tube back on the rims and use your air pump to add more pressure. Check your tire or inner tube box for the precise air pressure needed (in PSI or pounds per square inch) and use it as a guide in pumping. Finally, return the wheel set on your bicycle and secure it using a spanner wrench.
Take note: there are two types of inner tube valves. Schrader valves are more the more common type while Presta valves are usually found in slimmer tires (700c). If you’re tires have Presta valves then be sure to bring a handy valve adapter, as regular air pumps (especially if you’re pumping air from a gas station) are almost always compatible only with Schrader valves.
Always equip yourself with essentials every time you leave to ride your bike. Remember to bring the following must-haves on each ride: a helmet for safety, a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your ride, gloves to provide comfort and to avoid slippage while holding on to the handlebar, a bicycle lock to keep your bike secure, bike lights – one in front to guide you at night and one at the back to alert vehicles behind you, and an extra shirt so you wouldn’t stay soaked with sweat after a long session of biking.
Photo from Pixabay
It’s also wise to prepare a repair kit, so remember to keep the following items at hand when you’re in cycling mode: a portable air pump and a Presta valve adapter in case you lose air in your tires, extra inner tubes or a tire patch kit for potential punctures, a spanner wrench to unscrew your wheels in case of emergencies, and tire levers to safely remove tires and inner tubes without damaging them.
Always remember that bicycle commuting is not a race. Your travel time is actually much faster than cars stuck in traffic. There’s no need to go rush – just plan your routes, manage your time and ride safely. In the meantime, don’t forget to say hello to fellow bikers on the road, do side trips or stopovers if something interesting catches your eye, enjoy the scenery and feel the wind on your face. As always, it’s about the journey, not the destination.