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What to Pack for Bike Commuting

What to Pack for Bike Commuting

The idea of hopping on your bike to work is liberating in so many ways. Yet, doing so spontaneously without proper preparation might find you in more of a quandary than you might expect. Here is a quick guide to the critical things to pack for your two-wheeled commute to work, compiled by former Care2 researcher Stephanie Mandell based on her own experience.

The best lock: Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-lock. If you live in a high crime area, or ride a very expensive buy, this is the top lock on the market, based on tests that use hacksaws, bolt cutters and power tools. The lock weighs almost 5 pounds and costs $75.

Intermediate choice: Less expensive U-locks. U-locks with a double bolt design (both ends of the “U” shackle are locked into the straight bar) are more effective than locks with a single bolt design.

Locks to avoid: Cable locks. They can be easily cut with a pair of bolt cutters. Chain locks can be cut with bolt cutters too.

Spare Batteries for Lights
Even if this isn’t the law in your area, riding with lights is crucial for your own safety. Wear a headlight and attach a rear light to your bicycle. For extra visibility, use flashing red LED lights for the rear and flashing white LED lights for the headlight. Remember to bring spare batteries so you don’t get stuck in the dark.

Bike Toolkit
To be able to make repairs on the road, keep the following items handy:
Folding set of Allen keys.
Basic Allen wrench kit, which will enable you to tighten most points on your bike and adjust the handlebars and saddle.
Bike pump (small ones that can attach to your bike’s frame are sold).
Preferably two, but at least one spare inner tubes that matches the diameter, width and valves of the tubes on your bike.
Bike tire patch kit to repair punctured tubes.
Tire lever to remove flat tires.
Repair link for your chain.
Lube for the chain.
Latex gloves to be able to make repairs without getting your hands dirty.

To economize on space, buy a mini tool kit, which contains Allen wrenches, regular and Philips screwdrivers and a chain tool. Mini-tools vary. Buy one that has the tools you’ll need for your bike.

Waterproof Clothes and Bag
Keep a waterproof jacket and pants in your commuting bag in case it starts raining while you’re at work or school. Your commuting bag should be waterproof too.

Your clothes and shoes to change into at work
And, because no one’s memory is perfect, it’s a good idea to keep a spare set of clothes (including underwear and socks!) at work in case you forget to bring your clothes one day. If you want to regularly carry suits or other nice clothes to work, you may want to buy a bike garment bag.

Water Bottle
It’s important to stay hydrated during any physical activity.

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
7:45AM PDT on May 1, 2013

Thanks ,interesting.

9:19AM PST on Nov 11, 2012


3:44AM PST on Nov 10, 2012

Thanks for the informative article.

1:06AM PST on Jan 11, 2012

I wish we could all just start commuting on our bikes.

7:55AM PST on Jan 10, 2012


12:42AM PDT on Jul 1, 2011

Thanks Melissa.

5:23AM PDT on May 14, 2011

Thanks, in Europe I notice not only bikes but scooters and motorcycles, and while it's not the same, still get better mileage than a car (without the sweat).

8:10AM PST on Jan 12, 2011

Go vegan!

2:03AM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

Sheldon Brown (add a dotcom for his site) has some of the best cycling advice available. For locks, he suggests a cable lock for quick errands, and a U-lock for work, where your bike will be unattended for a long time. Just leave the U-lock on the bike rack at work when you leave, so you don't have to carry it around. It might help to throw a splash of spray paint on it and to notify maintenance staff that the lock with the blue paint is yours, so that they don't think that it's abandoned and remove it. You can get another U-lock for other destinations where you spend a lot of time, but you'll be able to leave that one at home for your daily commute.

6:48PM PST on Jan 25, 2010

I love riding to work when the weather permits, unfortunately here in Iowa, there is nothing but snow and ice right now so my bike is in storage until spring and nice weather rolls around again...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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