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  • Writer's pictureJoel Zanatta

Bike Commuting to Work - Equipment and Beginner Tips

In the last two years there has been a huge rise in bicycle ownership. Canadians purchased bikes en masse in an effort to spend more time outside. With things returning to normal and more people going back to the “office”, there has never been a better opportunity to embrace bike commuting as part of your daily routine.

There are so many reasons to use your bike to get to and from work. No gasoline, no parking issues, no pollution and no more need to spend hours at the gym doing cardio! How good would you feel if every day you burned calories, saved money and improved your physical and mental health. Bike commuting is the alternative that health conscious, green oriented, budget wise Canadians can no longer ignore.

Proper equipment and a good strategy for making the leap will help you make the transition away from your car.

“The advantages? Exercise, no parking problems, gas prices, it’s fun. An automobile is expensive. You have to find a place to park and it’s not fun. So why not ride a bicycle? I recommend it.” — Stephen G. Breyer Supreme Court Justice

Equip Yourself

Successful bike commuting requires a bit of planning, a small financial investment and a whole lot of conviction. You may have to get up a little bit earlier. You may have to arrange some shower facilities and a safe place to park your bicycle. You may have to buy some gear. But ultimately once you have started the process, commuting by bike becomes an habit that you do not want to break.

The following is our gear checklist if you want to make the move from casual cyclist to committed commuter.


A good helmet is a must. Make sure you buy the right size helmet and adjust the fit properly. The helmet should have a certification sticker from the CSA, EN, ASTM, CPSC or Snell B90/95.


Gloves will keep your hands warm and protected, allowing you to maintain dexterity and properly control your bike.  Canadian weather is unpredictable so you may want to invest in gloves that are water resistant.

Eye protection

Riding in traffic requires constant vigilance. Clear or lightly tinted sunglasses will help protect your eyes from road debris and/or glare.

Water resistant/warm layered clothing

There is nothing worse than being cold and/or wet on a bike. Equip yourself for the unpredictability of Canadian weather by investing in an outer layer of clothing that sheds water and keeps you warm. In addition to protection from the elements, clothing designed for commuting should be breathable and reflective.

Bike Lights

Whether its day or night it is always best to ride with lights (white up front and blinking red in the back).  Being highly visible is a key to safe riding.

Bicycle Bell

Bikes are quiet so it is important to make your presence known. A good bell is a must. Ring it early and often so that you are seen and heard.

Water Bottle and Cage

Add a cage to your bike so that you can always keep a water bottle with you to stay hydrated.

Tools and spare inner-tube

Be ready for mechanical issues.  Carry a spare inner tube, an air cannister or pump, tire levers, patch kit, and a set of Allen keys.  You never know when you will need to fix your bike or when someone else will need your help.  Stash a small tool bag in your commuter bag.

Bike Lock

Bike theft is rampant.  Many bike locks are inadequate.  Speak to your local bike shop and take their recommendation as to which locks are the best at protecting your bike. 

Waterproof Backpack or Paniers

Investing in a good waterproof backpack or panier system will pay dividends.  It is much easier to ride safely when you know that your belongings are secure and well balanced.

“All you need is the plan, the roadmap and the courage to press on to your destination” – Earl Nightingale

Additional Tips for Breaking the Ice

The truth is that most cyclists will never turn into hardcore 365 day bike commuters, however, our observation is that when people begin to commute by bike they tend to enjoy it so much that they want to do more of it. The key is to get started. Here are some tips to get your commuting life on the move.

  • Ease your way in. Start commuting in the spring/summer during a period of good weather. If the weather is nasty do not judge yourself for choosing not to ride. Those days of driving to work will remind you of how much you love riding your bike.

  • In the early days give yourself plenty of time. Bike commuting is best when you are relaxed. If you have a pressing meeting that you cannot be late for, either leave really early or take a day off from commuting.

  • Study your route in advance. Riding on designated bike routes is far safer than riding on roads that are not designated for cycling. It may take you some time to learn the best and safest routes for commuting. Every commute has some particularly dangerous spots. Know them in advance and avoid them whenever possible.

  • Consider starting your journey into bike commuting by committing to riding one day a week rather than every day.

“Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel, But Ride” – Eddy Merckx

A Final Word

Once you take the plunge and start bicycle commuting, we are confident you will begin to love it as much as we do. After a few months you will begin to wonder how you ever survived without the joy of riding to and from work. We always love to hear from other cyclists. Whether you are an experienced bike commuter or just starting, reach out to us and share your biking stories and advice!

Always remember, if a collision occurs report your crash online and contact us immediately

Photo @hofmarkphotography
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