1. Ride Length Matters
Knowing the length of your commute could make all the difference in your wallet and your ride comfort. Every three miles or so, the general requirements and goal of your commute will change based on what the length of your ride does to your body and what your bike should be designed to handle. Be aware of cycling conditions in your city and try to accurately gauge how much you’ll be riding throughout the week.
If you find yourself riding less than three miles per day, any bike will fit your needs. At six miles your ride comfort will decline without paying special attention to your seat and the height of your commuter bike, and anything at nine miles per day and above benefits from bikes designed for speed and ride efficiency. Ride smarter, not harder.
2. Tire Size and Width Equals Grip
Most commuters want to make the trip between work and home as quick and painless as possible. While a totally reasonable goal, opting for a bike with large, skinny tires might lead to a quicker ride but the weather you encounter during your commute may not agree with your cycle designed primarily for warm weather touring.
If you live in an area that experiences high levels of precipitation through the year, ensure the tires on your bike can stand up to puddles and slick spots. In addition, keep in mind that approaching tram tracks with small tires can cause that they get stuck in the rail grooves more easily.
3. Suspension Is Not Always Better
In theory, a bike with a suspension system should have a smoother, more enjoyable ride. Suspension systems are designed to take the bumps and shocks that come with irregular road conditions and ensure the rider isn’t jostled around uncomfortably.
Unfortunately, low-end bikes with suspension systems often skimp on suspension quality that leads to a cycle with a lot of unnecessary weight for almost no tangible benefit.
If ride comfort is important, you should ensure the bike you wind up purchasing is well-constructed. Even if it has a solid fork frame instead of suspension, you might find the ride more comfortable than with a sticky, unpredictable suspension system that just makes it harder to pedal for no benefit.
4. Brake Systems Are Not Universally Useful
Most modern hybrid bikes meant to handle gravel roads and city streets alike will come with either rim brakes or disc brakes. Rim brakes, though much cheaper than disc brakes, rely on pressure applied to the inside of the tire via what is essentially a rubber-coated clamp. Though cost-effective and very lightweight, these brake systems are prone to slippage when overly worn or wet and often do not brake with consistent force.
Disc brakes work much in the same way as the disc brakes in the average car. As a result, these systems are heavier and more expensive yet offer more braking force and can be relied upon safely for longer periods of time. Keep in mind these systems are heavier, however, and heavy-duty braking may not be required for commutes along quiet side streets.
5. Your Comfort Is Key
If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying twice: find a bike you think is comfortable. It doesn’t matter how fancy or well-engineered a cycle is if it leaves you sore and achy every time you ride it. Find something comfortable to ride first and foremost before worrying about squeezing professional-level performance out of it.
Once you’ve gotten into a healthy routine of skipping the bus or avoiding traffic jams sitting about in your car, a commuter bike can be a more than worthwhile investment in your health and happiness throughout the week.
With a little research you can find a bike that is both safe and comfortable enough to keep you riding for years to come.