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10 Bicycle Commuter Essentials

Killer Thighs and a Clean Conscience
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In case you didn’t realize it, May is National Bike Month here in the U.S. Thus, we at Gear Patrol decided to help you get ready to ride with a list of 10 cycling essentials for a comfortable, safe, and stylish commute. No excuses, guys – get up a little earlier and get your workout on the way to work. Guaranteed, you’ll feel good about it. After all, green is the new black.

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A. Bike

You can ride any old bike to work, but isn’t this a great excuse to get a stylish steed that will inspire you to swing a leg over every day? While single-speed bikes are all the rage, a touring bike with wide gearing, supple steel frame, and ability to haul a load will make the ride a lot more pleasant. The Surly LongHaul Trucker fits the bill – it fits fat tires, fenders, and a rack, has a long wheelbase that soaks up bumps and could take you to Tierra del Fuego as easily as the office. ($1,095)

B. Lights

If you’re up early or stuck at work late, you’ll be happy that cars can see you coming and going. Get a white front light and flashing rear for maximum visibility. (Prices vary)

C. Fenders

Ride through puddles with reckless abandon. Fenders come in all varieties but the best are the full coverage fenders that keep your feet and legs dry and your back and butt free of that unsightly spray streak. I like the Planet Bike Cascadias. ($55)

D. Pump

Like death and taxes, flats are inevitable. So learn how to patch and change a tube and carry a good pump. A full size frame pump will be easier to use and pump more air so you don’t get sweatier than you already are. ($20)

E. Panniers

For carrying your stuff, there are a few options – messenger bags, backpacks, or panniers. The first two have that hip and urban vibe but leave you with a sweaty back. Panniers get the load off your back but are a bit nerdy. I like both options, depending on what I carry. Banjo Brothers makes a whole line of affordable, bombproof bags to carry stuff on your bike, from groceries to a laptop. Pictured are the Market Pannier and the Waterproof Pannier. Both are up to the task. For an in-depth review of their panniers and backpacks, click here. (Prices vary)

F. Pants

Here again, anything goes, but the right kit can make your ride more comfortable and you might as well look good, too. Spandex has its place and by all means, wear it on your training rides. But to avoid an embarrassing walk through the office lobby, I recommend Chrome Shins knickers. They’re just the right length for three-season riding and have a built-in lightly padded chamois pad so you get some cushion without the diaper effect. ($160)

G. Sweater

Wool has made a comeback in sports apparel, especially after people started realizing that it does as good a job as plastic-based fibers but doesn’t stink after wearing. It looks good too. Woolistic makes the né plus ultra wool cycling trainer tops, exact replicas of the ones worn by the greats of bike racing’s golden age. ($295)

H. Gloves

I long ago learned that the most important pieces of cycling clothing are for where your body meet the bike – your crotch, your feet, and your hands. Gloves may not be a requirement for everyone, but a good pair will make the ride that much better. Pearl Izumi makes some of the best. ($35)

I. Shoes

I like Keen Commuter cycling sandals for their versatility. A stiff sole provides a good platform for efficient pedaling and they are compatible with “SPD-style” cleats, if you opt for step-in pedals. ($115)

J. Helmet

No long lecture here. Wear a brain bucket. My Bell Sweep has seen a few seasons of racing and commuting alike. It’s light, streamlined, and well ventilated. For cooler days, I wear a cycling cap under it. ($140)

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