Commuting to work by bike: Top Tips

As so many more of us are taking up cycling and commuting to work we wanted to share some of our top tips with you. Our staff and pro team riders share their tips for how to make your cycle commute more fun and enjoyable.

No tips will make a commute on the cobbles easy!

Commuting to work by bike definitely has its benefits. It saves money and helps you get fit into the bargain too, win-win! It can also be quicker than sitting in traffic jams on roads and motorways that pretty much resemble car parks during the working week.

So, many of us here at Ribble commute to work. So we thought why not share a few of our tips for making your daily commute safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.

It’s easy to commute to work when the sun is shining and the temperatures are high. So, we asked some of the hardy riders who ride to Ribble in all weathers to provide their top tips. (Sometimes we think they just want the kudos for being out in all weathers but fair play to them.)

Jamie Burrow – Head of Product

This was not a commute, but we all wish our ride to work involved Mallorca’s best roads.

I’ve commuted on and off for around two years. I said I would never do it as I was so used to having my riding as structured training for so many years. But after a long period (6 years) off the bike, I wanted to lose weight and regain some kind of fitness. Due to time restrictions, my only option was to start commuting by bike.

My direct commute is around 10 miles each way, which I lengthened to around 20 miles in the morning over summer. I initially struggled to motivate myself to ride before work unless it was actually an a to b commute. However, I’m now fully committed and currently riding 2 hours every morning before work.

I ride the CGR SL fully loaded with guards and rack during winter, and the Endurance SL R in summer.

I initially used panniers but often switched to backpacks as I feel the bike handles better without the weight of a pannier.

 Jamie’s Top Tips

  • Leave plenty of spare clothes at work. Don’t rely on riding home in the same kit you rode in with.
  • You need to get from A to B anyway. So, as long as the distance isn’t excessive, riding to start the day really sets you up mentally rather than sitting in traffic.
  • Good lights for winter and always more than one front and rear in case of battery failure.

   

Alan Gray – Copywriter

This pub stop was on a weekend ride, not a commute…honest!

I’ve been commuting to work now for the best part of 24 years – every day, come rain or shine. Being that these rides take place in the North West of England, it’s mainly the former.
If I go direct, which I seldom do when the weather’s at least half-decent, it’s only 5-miles each way.

There are a few loops that I try to incorporate into my daily rides at least a couple of times each week. These can range from anywhere between 8 miles to 30 depending upon how I’m feeling on the day. Any veteran cyclist will tell you that some days you feel amazing and others a little meh!


I’ve always heard about the qualities of steel bikes but had until recently never ridden one. So when it came time to upgrade my commuter I opted for a CGR 725 steel bike because, you know… disc brakes. I can’t begin to state what a difference they make to my daily commute. There’s a hill on the way home that ends at a mini-roundabout. Stopping in time to make it through the roundabout can be hairy in the wet but the discs provide me with complete confidence.

Here, at Ribble, you can easily differentiate the regular commuters bikes from the fair weather riders. The everyday commuters bikes all have odd wheels and/or mixtures of components. Commuting in all-weathers takes a toll on the moving parts hence the strange mix of components.

Another bonus of riding the CGR 725 is that it’s suitable for multiple terrains. So, if I feel like taking a more adventurous route to work I can always throw on my spare wheels. These are always fitted with some off-road capable tyres so I can just throw them on and partake of some trail-shredding action on my way into work, on the way home or both. But, mainly on the way home. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself stuck wearing the same dirty kit that you rode into work with!

Alan’s Top Tips

  • Mudguards. You’ll sometimes see people state that mudguards make the bike look ugly. While this is true, you will typcially find that they aren’t the type to be out riding to work in every conditions imaginable. Trust me, if you cycle every day, in every sort of weather, you need them in your life. Some of my fashionista colleagues even refuse to use them! Then you see them trying to get their shoes dry in time for the ride home. Not me though! My shoes are dry as a bone and less stinky as a result!
  • Change of clothing. If you have lockers or something similar at work, leave your clothing there and just refresh it when needed. I take in a fresh t-shirt and underwear daily. I also have about 7 pairs of trainers at work. But we won’t talk about my footwear addiction!
  • Wear layers appropriate to the conditions. As a species, we cyclists tend to employ layers of clothing rather than a thick winter jacket. I’m prone to overheating and much prefer to layer up and shed layers as required. Arm, leg, and knee warmers are easy to remove. If you wear a thick winter jacket and overheat you’re in trouble. It’s so important to regulate your body heat, so wicking away sweat is a must. Therefore, a good undervest is essential. I recommend a Coolmax style vest in the summer and a Merino type for winter (top tip: Merino wool vests don’t get pongy!).
  • Be visible. As cyclists, we rightly become annoyed at motorists close passing us, or those near misses where you know that the driver simply did not see you. However, all too often we see fellow cyclists dressed from top to toe in dark clothing. That may be fine for the weekend ride bathed in bright sunshine. On a dark, murky commute it’s another story entirely. I personally don’t like wearing hi-viz gear. However, I do prefer to wear brighter colours that stand out. I also always run a rear light if the weather is anything other than bright sunshine. Many lights now have a daylight running mode.

Tom Timothy, Ribble Weldtite Pro Team rider

Always be getting the miles in

I commute into Manchester. My commute is 20 minutes on the way there on-road and 45 minutes on the way home on gravel.

Tom’s Top Tips

  • Get a decent backpack and rear mudguard to stop any rain or dirt being thrown up as you’re riding.
  • When possible, ride off peak if you can.
  • In the evenings why not extend your ride slightly along canal towpaths and the like to avoid traffic?
  • I also leave heavy stuff at work throughout the week under the desk. Shoes, towel (in case it has rained), deodorant, hair stuff. All I carry is a shirt, trousers, laptop, puncture repair kit. It’s pretty easy to fit into a rucksack.

Kevin McCambridge, Ex- Ribble Weldtite Pro Team rider

Recently I was commuting 5 days a week into college. It was a 60min ride in and a 90min ride home usually. The commute was on my Endurance SL R race bike with training wheels. I rode it all year round but had mudguards. I would use a big backpack to carry my work with me and it was waterproof, so nothing got too wet. I was doing sport so showers and a wash-up area was easy to access. 

Kevin’s Top Tips

  • Check out what direction the wind will blow in from the night before so you can leave at the right time. 
  • Get into college, or work, in plenty of time. Preferably before you need to be there so you have time to chill out for a while and eat breakfast. Cycling makes you hungry!
  • Make sure your lights are charged and you are visible.
  • Always take extra kit as the weather can change throughout the day. 
  • Eat well throughout the day to fuel your ride home.

Last, but certainly not least, here’s Katie Kookaburra to share some of her top commuting tips:


Confused when it comes to bike sizing? Help is at hand for we have a guide to help you decide what’s right for you. Read it here.


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4 Comments
  1. I’M 60yrs old next birthday and regularly commute to work its 9 miles each way. I can choose 3 different routes the best being the Bridgewater Canal from Leigh to Worsley and then on to Swinton mostly traffic free. Next best is a guided busway with a pathway for cyclist and walkers but the surface is not what was promised in the original plans this also traffic free apart from crossing junctions and then joining the A580 East Lancs Rd. Then finally the road routes again a choice of 3 all are 9 miles or just over but on some days I go extra miles just for the feel good factor. Love It
    .

  2. Hi Barry, thanks for getting in touch.
    It sounds like you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to traffic-free routes to work. There’s little of that nature when commuting from Preston to Ribble HQ sadly, the River Ribble that gives our company its name severely restricts routes out of Preston. 9 miles each way is pretty good going, some days it’s a struggle just to travel the 5 miles each way, especially when it’s dark and wet! You just can’t beat extending the commute on a lovely summers evening, or when the mornings are crisp! Keep them commuting wheels a’turning from all of us Ribblers!
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  3. Thanks for the useful information. I sometimes ride my bike to the company because I want to change my mood and add interesting experiences to my working days. I am quite similar to Tom, I started cycling to work very early to avoid traffic jams and to have more time to relax with fresh air and see the city. And when I come back, too, I walk around the alleys, along rivers and lakes, enjoy the time, and then return home. It is really interesting. I will follow your tips to prepare additional fenders and a puncture repair kit. I don’t care much about looks, I just care about what it does for me. Thanks for your sharing.

  4. Hi Patrick,
    Thanks for getting in touch, we are happy if any of our tips help out our fellow riders in any way. Riding to and from work is such an important mood enhancer and is really underestimated in my opinion. Setting off that little bit earlier than you need to is also key to avoiding most of the pesky traffic that can have a negative effect on your ride enjoyment, you sir, are definitely doing it right! Happy cycling from all of us at the Ribble Team.
    Best Regards
    [email protected]

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