The sun is shining, and the weather is sweet… temperatures are gradually rising, and they will continue to do so. Winter commuting is full of mudguards, kit to stop you losing all the feeling in your fingers – summer riding is generally simpler, here’s a handful of tips to keep in mind.
Panniers, not backpacks
Backpacks are a handy way of carrying your kit. That said, it means placing a potentially heavy, thick layer against your tshirt/jersey/shirt. If you’re changing at the office, that’s ok (though you might want to keep the backpack on until out of sight…) – but a T-shaped sweat patch isn’t a good look to be wearing all morning.
Panniers can often be made to look like normal handbags, or “manbags”, so you can whip them off and carry them round about your daily life. For example, the bags from Goodordering can clip off the bike to make stylish accompaniments to your outfit.
Sunglasses don’t just look cool – they keep the glare out your eyes on a sunny day, and prevent dust and road debris clouding your vision as well.
You can buy cycling glasses with interchangeable lenses – so you’ll opt for yellow or clear lenses at dawn and dusk, and black tinted lenses when the sun is high in the sky.
The alternative is light reactive, or photochromic glasses. These change automatically depending upon light conditions. I got a pair of Tifosi Fototec Smoke Lens Glasses (colour change lenses) after leaving the lenses for my old glasses in a saddle bag, with a gel packet. Needless to say, the lenses were not repairable (I did scrub!) and the fototec glasses are so much easier. Interchangable lens glasses are cheaper, but if you’re riding into the evening, when light conditions are changing, or early in the morning, photochromic glasses are a real asset.
Is it warm? Is it a bit nippy? Is it nippy now, but about to get warm, or vice versa? All valid questions – and even if you know the answer, you don’t want to be carrying an extra jersey when it warms up, or rolling up your tights into big uncomfortable bunches above your knee.
Arm and leg warmers are the answer. Slip these on and off as needed, and fold them up into your pocket when not. We reviewed the top arm and leg warmers here.
We all know that warmer weather = more sweat. For those who don’t have showers at work, or want to change between dropping off the bike and arriving at their desk, this is an inconvenience. However, dehydration is a much greater inconvenience that is harder to bounce back from.
More sweat will mean you need to drink more, and not doing this will affect your concentration, efficiency and can make you feel sluggish or result in headaches. Make sure you drink a big glass of water when you get to work, or better still – attach a bottle cage and hydrate as you ride.
Upgrade your tyres
You don’t have to do this to be safe or comfortable – but if you’ve currently got winter tyres on your bike, whipping them off and replacing them with some summer rubber will feel amazing.
Summer tyres are less resilient to punctures, but that’s because there is less risk of hitting a snag on dry roads. They will generally have less grip, and will be much faster rolling.
My personal favourites have always been Schwalbe Ultremo ZXs, though after a few Spring time trial punctures I’m starting to lose faith in them a little. These tyres feel amazing, but they are really best for smooth roads on summer days.
Next on the favourites list, are Continental Grand Prix 4000s. Conti have just brought out a new version (the Continental Grad Prix 4000 II – original!), and they’re meant to be even faster rolling, with even more puncture protection.
We reviewed some summer slick tyres a while ago, so take a look if you want some reviews on what’s out there.
Do you make any changes to your commute in the summer that we’ve not mentioned?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.