Bike commuter wearing EVOC backpack while riding out from under a bridge on a cobbled bike path

Bike
commuting

A FEW SIMPLE TIPS TO GET YOU ROLLING

Words by Lars-Erik Johnson

I’ve spent most of my life riding bikes. From the first feeling of coasting down the driveway on my sister’s hand-me-down Schwinn I was hooked. Freedom. Flying. Unimaginable fun…well before I had to try pedaling back uphill anyway. But I soon mastered that too, and now enjoy the rhythmic ticking over of the pedals that seems almost like my own life-giving pulse.

But I wasn’t always a bike enthusiast. I liked it, but was relegated to the usual ten speed bike that was the norm of my middle America upbringing at the time. My mom wouldn’t give in to my desire to get a BMX bike…those ‘wide handlebars’ just looked too dangerous. So it wasn’t until I was off to college that I exercised some of my new found freedom to buy my first mountain bike. At the time it was solid transportation, but it proved to be more than that. It was a stepping stone to a long term active lifestyle, one not dominated by car dependence.

Bicycle commuter wearing an EVOC backpack while riding in traffic at dusk
Bike commuter wearing EVOC backpack while riding on multi-use path next to a river

For a long time, I didn’t have a car. I either rode my bike or took public transportation. I even worked on my bike, doing stints as a bike messenger in both Seattle and Oslo, Norway. Life was pretty simple, and short of occasional weekend trips up to the mountains, I really had no need for a car.

So what things have I learned about getting around and commuting by bike? They’re pretty simple really, and things that might even fall into the realm of common sense. But sometimes you don’t know until you go, and if that’s you, then let me help you out with a few tips.

Man wearing an EVOC backpack bike commuting along bike path under a bridge

Carry Tools

If you’re taking the leap to bike commuting, then it’s likely you already ride an amount for exercise and fun. Would you venture miles from home on the weekend without at least a little fix-it kit? (I hope not.) Then you shouldn’t go without on your way to work either. And if you get sidelined on your Monday morning ride to the office, then it's unlikely you can just call someone to come pick you up…because they’re on their way to work too.

EVOC Seat Bag open revealing spare bike inner tubes, multi-tool, and tire levers

Mechanicals happen. Whether you get a flat tire or something just slips out of adjustment, it’s good to be able to handle situations to get yourself moving again. I’m not saying you need a full tool box, but some essentials like a spare tube, pump, tire levers, and multi-tool will go a long way in getting you out of a jam. I have a dedicated seat bag that carries what I need, short of the pump, and it just lives under my saddle so I never need to worry about forgetting something.

Use Lights

Visibility is a bicyclist’s best defense in avoiding collisions with motorists. ‘I didn't see…’ is almost cliche in accident reporting. Take away: make yourself visible when you’re riding around motor vehicles.

Just as important, they help you see and be seen in all environments. If you’re on an unlit stretch of bike path for example, in an effort to stay safely away from cars, you still need lights. They will allow you to see and avoid both obstacles and other path users in the dark, making for a far safer experience.

Cyclist riding bicycle with lights on a dark street
Bike commuter wearing EVOC backpack using bicycle lights riding at night heading into a tunnel
EVOC seat bag with red bike light attached to commuter bike with bright headlight shining in the dark
Bike commuter wearing EVOC waterproof backpack riding a bike with protective fenders

Fenders block that spray and help keep you dry. How dry depends on how much coverage they provide, but by and large you'll be far better off than without. Some of my most hypothermic experiences ever have been in the rain on bikes. And that’s saying something given I’ve also been a professional ski patroller in addition to being an avid cyclist. Trust me. Cold and wet is something to avoid.

How about your stuff? You want to keep it dry too, and a good pack can do that. Whether you go with something water resistant or fully waterproof will depend on what you feel is prudent. Are you carrying a laptop in driving rain? Well then, waterproof might be your choice. The most reliable messenger bag I ever had was literally a roll top drybag with backpack straps. It was very basic, but it worked. The good news is that since then, much more refined products have been developed with special accommodations for things like your laptop.

So there you go, a few simple pointers to set you up for bike commuting success. You will undoubtedly do a little trial and error experimenting before dialing in your own system. That’s great! It’s how we all learn, and it’ll lead to rich, memorable experiences – on your bike.

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Duffle Backpack 26

Regular price$150.00
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Shipping calculated at checkout.
  • Waterproof and 100% PVC-free upper material
  • Detachable chest strap
  • Lid with aluminium buckle which also serves to adjust the volume of the main compartment
  • Separate and easy to reach lateral compartments for a laptop, phone and keys
  • Material: Tarpaulin (PVC Free), P 600D
  • Volume: 26L
  • Size: 31 x 50 x 17 cm (12.2 x 19.7 x 6.7”)
  • Weight: 875g (1.9lbs)
Attributes
Volume Range 26-30L
Waterproof Water-resistant
Color