Starting to commute? 5 items to make sure you keep it up.
That's it, you've made the decision, with Covid and all, you're gonna go to work by bicycle. But as the month of September progresses, the days are shortening and the temperature is dropping, here's 5 items and tips to make sure you keep it up and don't find yourself once again seeking a (socially distant) seat and minding the gap.
1. A good set of lights
You will need a set of lights, front and rear. When selecting lights, think of your commute and think whether you want to see, be seen, or both. If your commute is in a well lit up area, you do not need to buy top of the range "mega lumens" lights. However, if you cross patches of darkness where you will need to be able to see, we recommend splashing out on more brightness.
For urban commute, 200 lumens is plenty, but for unlit areas you want to look at 400 lumens and more.
2. A waterproof, high vis jacket (and maybe trousers too)
Now, we're gonna be honest with you. When it comes to waterproof high vis, it's worth spending the money. If you got yourself a middle of Lidl special at £19.99 and get to the office drenched, don't wonder why. A good waterproof is expensive and here is why.
To measure waterproofing, companies use a tube of about 6 inches width and add water inside said tube. They then add pressure to replicate the weight of the specific height of water that would have been in the tube. Still with us? They increase the pressure until the water leaks through and once it does, bam! You have your measurement. This is why the measurements are in millimetres.
The legal minimum measurement to be able to write "waterproof" on a garment is 1500mm, a top of the range Gore Tex pro shell is about 28,000mm. Yeah, we know, it's a big difference. And it doesn't stop there. There is also breathability to take into consideration. To measure that, companies use steam beneath the tested fabric and measure how much water evaporates over a 24hr period. This is measured in grammes.
Most waterproof jackets will have a membrane and a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) coating working in unison to keep you dry. Some cheaper jackets will only have a coating.
Making a membrane which is waterproof, stretchy and breathable is expensive. This is why your lesser expensive jackets are not as waterproof, and erm... sweaty.
Finally make sure you wash your jacket regularly with the correct wash detergent (Grangers or Nikwax) and reproof it every once in a while.
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3. A comfy saddle
Let's be fair, this is the number one point of contact between you and the bike and where most of the weight is being carried. Now, a cushty look doesn't always make for a cushty ride! It's quite important to visit us in store and get us to advise you on the right width and shape of saddle. It will all depend on your ride style and your sit bones width (which have nothing to do with your height and weight!).
4. A good waterproof bag
Nothing worse than getting to destination with a wet notepad and computer! Make sure you get a good waterproof bag either for your back or for your bike. Waterproofing on bags differ that you do not need breathability. So most bags which have a "rubbery look" will work well.
5. Some decent gloves
Having cold hands on your commute is just uncomfortable. So Invest in a decent pair of gloves to make sure your fingers stay toasty warm.
If you tend to get very cold, it's worth looking at mitts as they will keep your finger warmer.
Insulated gloves are great for the depth of winter, windproof fleece ones are great for Autumn and Spring.
Gloves not only protect you against the elements but also against any abrasion from a pesky tree or branches!
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