Bike to Work Day - 10 tips for first time bicycle commuters
May 8, 2023
Justin Christopher

Riding a bike to work or school for the very first time can be intimidating. Will I get there on time? Is there a safe place to lock my bike? Are there showers? What happens if I get a flat tire?

Riding an eBike can eliminate some of these concerns by helping with hills or headwinds, but there's still a lot to think about. As we prepare for National Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 19, 2023) we thought we'd share some ideas for getting started commuting by bicycle. It's part of the League of American Bicyclist's National Bike Month throughout May.

Spend some time thinking about your bike, your gear, and your route, and we hope to see you out there on this special day.

#1 - Lock it up

Be prepared with a quality lock that can secure your eBike, including the wheels. If you normally drive or take transit to the office, a quick preview mission can reveal the best place to lock up on Bike to Work Day. There might be bike racks outside, or a dedicated bicycle parking area underground, if you work in a high-rise office tower downtown. If you've got a folding eBike, you might even be able to store it under your desk!

If you're locking your eBike outside, we recommend a U-Lock and cable combo. Use the U-Lock on one of the bicycle frame tubes and make sure it's attached to a sturdy object - bicycle rack, pole, and so on. Then use the cable to pass through each wheel, and the U-Lock, so that the wheels are secured from theft as well. 

EBike riders can also remove the battery from their eBike while it's locked up outside for security. As a bonus, this also allows charging during the workday at your desk. 

#2 - Use an anti-puncture product

Every Denago eBike includes puncture-resistant tires, but a flat can happen to any type of bike, anywhere. You can minimize the risk of a flat by keeping your tires inflated to the recommended pressure and avoiding debris, like glass, while you're on the road.

Flat tires are less of a big deal on recreational rides which aren't time sensitive, but when commuting to work or school, a flat tire can make you late! For bicycle commuting, you might wish to use an additional measure of puncture prevention. Some ideas to consider:

  • Use a preventative like Slime liquid tire sealant inside your inner tubes. These types of products can seal some punctures "on the fly" so your commute isn't interrupted.
  • For riding on streets with lots of glass and debris, Tannus Liners are a physical barrier that can be installed on your eBike, in between the tire and tube.

#3 - Charge it up!

Your first bicycle commute can be hectic as there's a lot to think about. Give your eBike battery a full charge the night before, so you'll have one less thing to think about on the morning of your ride. 

A full charge ensures you'll get the most possible range out of your commuter eBike, and you'll also be able to power built-in accessories, like headlights, if your eBike has them.

Depending on the length of your commute, you might be able to make a round trip on just a single charge. If not, keeping a spare charger at the office is a great strategy, so you can recharge during the workday.

#4 - Pack a change of clothes and lunch in advance

Carrying clothing, briefcase, laptop, and/or lunch is definitely possible on your eBike, but requires a rack and some panniers or a rack top bag. If you aren't ready for those accessories and you still drive to work most days, consider bringing all your gear to the office the day before via car. That keeps your bike and body lighter and less complex on Bike to Work Day.

The next time you drive, take the opportunity to bring home all the dirty clothes and food containers all at once. As your skills grow, add accessories that let you haul that gear on your bike.

#5 - Bring lights

Casual Saturday afternoon rides don't require lights, as you're riding in full daylight. Commuting by eBike, however, might have you riding in early morning or late evening hours, so make sure you're ready with front and rear lights.

Some eBike models include lights that run off the primary battery. If your bike doesn't have these built-in, you can still add some accessory lights. Modern lights are small, lightweight, and economical; many have batteries that you can charge via USB at your desk during the work day.

Every Denago eBike includes reflectors. Reflectors are great, but they aren't a substitute for lights when riding in dim or dark conditions. You need to see, as well as be seen.

#6 - Check for freebies and discounts

Many employers celebrate and encourage employees to participate on National Bike to Work Day with incentives! They know that employees who ride are fitter, happier, and less likely to call out sick.

In Southern California, for example, some workplaces greet employees arriving by bike with hot coffee and donuts or even a full hot breakfast. Other perks sometimes include bicycle valet parking, raffles, and giveaways.

Check with your HR office for details of programs at your workplace, and if you don't find any, perhaps you can be the person who starts one up!

#7 - Scope out the showers, or shower alternatives

"Where will I shower?" is one of the most common concerns among new bicycle commuters. Savvy workplaces may have a locker room and showers available for bicycle commuters, but if not, don't despair. Body wipes (check the camping aisle) can be used for a quick refresh upon arrival.

One of the benefits of eBikes equipped with cadence sensors is the ability to "ghost pedal" - minimizing effort while still getting full power from the motor. This feature can allow you to travel quickly, near the top speed of your eBike, without breaking a sweat. On the way home, choose less pedal assist, so you can still get your workout when desired.

#8 - Find a great route

Any eBike can help you keep up with traffic, when desired, but paths, dedicated bike lanes, and trails are great options for commuting as well. Every town has "secret" routes that could be a better match than streets packed with cars.

Ask other local cyclists for their favorite alternative roads. A local bike shop can also provide expert guidance with real-world experience in your local market.

It makes sense to plan your route ahead of time to maximize these opportunities. We like these websites and mobile apps, which can help you find the best places to ride:

  • Google Maps (click on the "bicycle" icon)
  • Ride Spot by People for Bikes (Android and iOS app)
  • Strava's "heat map" feature allows you to see at a glance what routes near you get the most bicycle traffic

#9 - Be smart about accessories

Any bike can be used for Bike to Work Day, but choosing the right bike and the right add-ons can enhance your riding experience, helping you ride faster, safer, and more comfortably. Think about adding some of these accessories to your eBike.

  • A kickstand makes your bike easy to park when hanging it isn't an option
  • A rear rack opens many options for carrying cargo - you can add a bag, basket, or panniers and carry a laptop, clothing, lunch, spare battery, and more.
  • A cell phone holder for your handlebar can keep useful information available, like Google's bicycle-friendly routes in the Maps app. Check out popular brands like Rokform or Quad Lock.
  • Fenders can help keep you dry, if you regularly ride in wet conditions

#10 - Don't make it a one-off

We encourage everyone to try bicycle commuting on National Bike to Work Day, Friday, May 19, 2023, but keep in mind, that's only one day. The benefits of commuting by eBike extend year-round, not just for one week or one day.

National Bike to Work Day is a great place to start, but we encourage you to make it a habit! With a little practice, almost everyone can be a successful bicycle commuter.


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