Our abilities and commutes are all different so why should our bikes all be the same? Learn how bike customization can make your commute more enjoyable with this recap of our "Customize Your Commute" event with Redbeard Bikes.
For people looking to try out bike commuting, the first hurdle is often getting used to riding on city streets. This can be daunting, but also surprisingly easy to get accustomed too, with most people saying that they feel pretty comfortable within weeks.
Once that hurdle is crossed, the next question is often, "how can I bike more?". The barriers to biking as much as you like can often be overcome with a little bike customization.
For our "Customize Your Commute" event that we co-hosted with Redbeard Bikes on August 24, we assembled a panel of three women bike commuters with different types of commutes. We first gave them the stage to introduce themselves and to talk about how they've customized their bike (and accessories) for their commute. Then, our founder Maria Boustead led a panel discussion to probe deeper into the topic, and finally we opened up the conversation to the audience. A couple of insights:
It's a process
All of our riders talked about changes they made to their bike over time to get it to where it was that day. Don't feel like you have to invest in everything new right out of the gate!
Photo from @karenfoto
First, ask your local bike shop to help you pick out a bike that fits you and is suitable for the type of riding you want to do. On our panel, we had a woman with a hybrid, Brompton folding bike, and Giant Momentum street bike represented on our panel. Next, think about changing out the "touchpoints" - the parts of the bike you physically touch the most, like the saddle, grips, and even pedals, to what feels good to you.
After you're comfortable with your bike, you may realize you need a cupholder for picking up your ice coffee, a bike rack for carrying your Po Campo Uptown Trunk Bag, a kickstand so you don't have to hunt for a place to lean your bike all the time. These are all things that can be added on over time.
Consider theft and security with bike customization
Depending on where you live, the possibility of theft is something that you may need to take seriously. If it's discouraging you from adding accessories to your bike that could just be stolen the next time you lock your bike up outside - the panelists offered some ways to work around this!
- One way to avoid the theft problem is never to leave your things outside. Montana likes having her Brompton because she can bring it in everywhere she goes. Po Campo bike bags are also easy to attach and detach so bringing it in is not a problem.
- Equip your bike with anti-theft components, like Fortified Bike Lights and Zefal Lock N' Roll Keyless Lock for your wheels, so you don't have to worry if they will be taken or not.
- For everything else that is removable on your bike, weigh how important it is to you. For water bottles, it might be okay to leave it behind because they're easily replaceable. That sweet sounding Spurcycle bell though? You might want to bring that inside with you.
Don't overlook the aesthetic touches
While it's normal to be functionally minded with bike customization: "I need X to help me with Y", don't overlook the value of choosing products and components that appeal to you aesthetically, as this can go a long way in making the bike feel like "yours".
Photo from @theycallhermontana
Montana, one of our panelists, lovingly showed off the brass accents on her Brompton, while Krista talked about the ding of her bell, and Jen showed off her pink accents throughout. These little details can bring you the most joy day after day.
How have you customized your bike to suit you and your commute? Leave your ideas in the comments below.