The Ultimate Guide To Urban Cycling

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Talk to somebody about cycling nowadays and the common images that spring up are of
LYCRA-CLAD FITNESS BUFFS pumping down dual carriageways or zooming round country lanes.

But cycling first began as a mode of urban transport, and still today the vast majority of cyclists are urban cyclists, wearing urban clothes. We’ve put together the comprehensive ultimate guide to urban cycling so you know what you’re doing and how best to do it when it comes to cycling around town.


Talk to somebody about cycling nowadays and the common images that spring up are of
lycra-clad fitness buffs pumping down dual carriageways or zooming round country lanes.


But
cycling first began as a mode of urban transport, and still today the vast majority of cyclists are urban cyclists, wearing urban clothes. We’ve put together the comprehensive ultimate guide to urban cycling so you know what you’re doing and how best to do it when it comes to cycling around town.

the cycle

The first place to start should be obvious – the bike.
Do you buy a road bike? A hybrid? Or maybe a mountain bike? Most people seem to have fast-looking road bikes nowadays – is that what you want? All three types offer their own benefits and drawbacks when cycling around towns and cities.

road

Lightweight frames make road bikes easy to cart on and off public transport when needed, as well as allowing for quicker acceleration when starting off. The other main plus is the speed, helped by their typically thin tyres. The downside for road bikes around town is that they’re generally built for good, smooth roads and not manhole covers or potholes, meaning that you’ll feel the full shock of any blemishes in the tarmac.

hybrid

The ground is generally split on hybrids.
 
Many people think they’re neither one thing or the other, a halfway house between road and mountain bikes that fall short on the advantages of either one. However, many others find them to be a perfect blend of speed and sturdiness. The key benefit of a hybrid is that it is designed to handle both road and off-road. They generally have wider tyres than road bikes, and sometimes come with front suspension, meaning you can endure the shocks of city surfaces much better than on a road bike. At the same time, they offer a speed and nimbleness that you can’t get with a cumbersome mountain bike. The main drawbacks of hybrids are that they don’t generally do well outside of urban environments or well-worn tracks, as road bikes are much better adapted for open roads, and they can’t handle any serious kind of off-road surface like a mountain bike can.

mountain

Whilst probably the least suited to urban cycling, mountain bikes do offer some great benefits. The main benefit is that they’re much, much comfier than other types. Suspension, along with thicker tyres, means going up and off kerbs, over poorly repaired streets, or through potholes need not worry you. The frames are also sturdier and more likely to hold up if you get into a minor accident. The drawbacks are that they’re less efficient to cycle, they’re heavier, and more cumbersome, making more work of cycling.

safety

Safety on the roads is something that stops a lot of people from cycling around town, with busy junctions and inconsiderate motorists fuelling fears of road accidents. But it needn’t be this way. Every day we’re all becoming much more cycling conscious, and local councils are increasingly making changes to better accommodate cyclists.
 
But what can you do to take charge of your own safety while out on your bike?

Proper signalling is one of the most basic things that all cyclists should be doing whenever turning, making it clear to all those around them what they’re intending to do. Night-time cycling poses the biggest risks, but this is easily combated by using front and rear lights, as well as reflectivity on clothes – it can be a bag, bag cover, jacket, top, gloves or arm straps.
 
We feel a helmet is your personal choice. You’re intelligent enough to make an informed choice. Most of us here at Vulpine wear one, but we won’t judge you if you don’t!
 
Cycling is statistically very safe, so we’re not going to get in your face about it!

style

Urban cycling is a different thing to proper road cycling.
 
You don’t necessarily want to get fully kitted out in lycra and bright colours if you’re just going out for a casual bike ride around town. Especially if you’re cycling to work, you might not have the facilities to change at the office, or indeed the time to do so. The alternative for many people is just to wear their normal clothes, but these can be cumbersome and restrictive, and potentially dangerous if something gets caught in your pedals. But mainly they’re not equipped to deal with sweat, or the prevention of it. Nobody wants to worry about odours or feeling wet all day – Yuck!
 
Generally, your normal clothes will slow you down, or make you sweatier than you need to be when cycling somewhere important. Urban cycling clothing exists and provides both the practical benefits of proper cycling gear whilst still dressing you up as a normal person.

Men’s urban cycling clothing can look similarly understated: tailored rain trousers offer freedom of movement and both wind and rain resistance, whilst looking like humble chinos; an urban cycling merino wool polo continues the sophisticated urban look; and a British cycling mac completes the outfit, providing style as well as safety, with its reflective tail split.

Typical women’s urban cycling clothing might look like a pair of urban cycling jeans, with tough, stretchy fabric that gives you a full range of motion whilst staying tough; a sleek, merino alpine jersey with both the warmth and luxury of a wool sweater, and the enduring performance of sweat-wicking sports tops; and a women’s Harrington rain jacket that does what it needs to whilst maintaining your urban look.

spending & scrimping

Many people typically cycle in their own clothes, but the more they cycle, the more they understand the benefit of proper cycling clothing, which can enhance your cycling and keep you dry. Especially with urban cycling clothing, you don’t need to sacrifice comfort or style when choosing what to wear.
 
Lastly, insurance is something you probably want to get for your bike as soon as you’ve bought it. It comes pretty cheap and it can be a lifesaver if your bike does get stolen, or if (through no fault of your own, of course) you get into a minor accident and need considerable repairs or even a new bike.

You’re compelled to get out there and start cycling, but what do you need, aside from the obvious?
 
One of the most important things to get yourself – and not to go cheap on – is a good lock. Most low-end cheap bike locks are a bike thief’s dream and offer little protection from someone who’s really determined to steal your bike. A solid chain or U-lock will serve you well, and look for the Sold Secure certification (Gold being the best) providing you with a guarantee on the lock.
 
When it comes to what to wear, there are many options and many ways to save money.

other tips & tricks

Other things to think about are add-ons like a pump (which is probably essential) and possibly also a portable pump – many of these are small and lightweight and can be stuck in a pocket or bag.A roadside puncture repair kit could also be handy if you encounter a problem on the way to an important day at work. You might also think about things like spare batteries for your front and rear lights, though almost all of them are USB charged these days, so chuck a cable in your bag, to avoid inexplicably disappearing in front of tired motorists at night.Bearing all the above in mind, you should be well-equipped to navigate the urban cycling world with ease – whilst truly well dressed for the occasion.

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Urban Cycling”

  1. Don’t bother signalling if there’s nobody to signal to. The safest place for both your hands to be while riding is on the handlebars, so if you don’t need to take ’em off, don’t. Looking behind you before making any manoeuvre is key, alongside making eye contact with drivers. ‘Bikeability’ is not just for kids: https://bikeability.org.uk/what/

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