Commuting by bicycle in Wellington

In the past few years the number of people I see on bikes riding from Newtown to town in the morning has literally quadrupled. Unfortunately, many of the people I see stopped at the lights are on seriously terrible bikes.
I’m see rusty, too-big or too-small mountain bikes with brakes that barely work and people look unconfident and uncomfortable on their bikes. Riding the wrong bike can actually make cycling seriously not fun.
Recently several of my colleagues have gotten bicycles with the intention of cycling to work. I have noticed that they too seem to have missed some items that to me are essential for bike commuting.
Namely:

  • Gears- There are hills here.  You need gears to get up them. I have 21 but 7 is probably enough.  
  • Comfortable seat  – Be kind to your behind!  Give it some cushioning.
  • Mud guards – This follows on from the point above.  It rains here all the time.  You will wind up with a seriously wet bum without mud guards.
  • Rear rack – If you’re like me and live at the top of a giant hill, when you leave for the morning you take everything you will need with you and consequently look like a hobo (ok, that’s just me).  But really, most people will probably need to have a bag of some sort, maybe a laptop, lunch, gym gear, a raincoat, yoga matt, several books, keys, phone etc etc.  You don’t want to carry all this in a backpack, your back gets sweaty and it’s not comfortable.  Also one of the great things about riding a bike is it’s easy to stop at the shops as you pass them, so you can pick up groceries and other stuff on the way home.  A rack is essential for carrying all your stuff!
  • Helmet – It’s the law, even if you hate them, you kinda have to have one.
  • Lock – yes, I have accidentally left my bike unlocked all day at the railway station and no one stole it, but don’t be foolish and tempt them, lock it or lose it!
  • Lights – Front and rear.  You need them.
  • A bike that fits you – this means the frame is the correct size and shape for you.  I have a vintage ladies frame bike that I like because it has a step-though frame and it basically the perfect size for me.  Personally, I don’t recommend mountain bikes for anyone who is commuting, or fancy expensive road bikes.  You want something that is functional and sturdy, that you can ride in the rain or the wind, leave outside, carry 20 kgs of groceries home with, and it to run perfectly and not need all sorts of fiddling.

Linus Scout or Pilen Women’s Sport would be my pick for ladies (sorry I just have a personal problem with Mixtes!)

linus-scout-7-speed-bicycle-5-537x405

For men I would suggest Linus Roadster or any of the Pilen men’s models.   Just do make sure you get a rack!

Are considering commuting by bike or have questions about it?  Feel free to ask any questions and share your thoughts on biking to work with us.

[Originally posted by Nicole]

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