11 tips for a ladies bike
I rode to work for 20 yrs through the centre of London. I have to say not always on a ladies bike, but on occasions. (Elswick 1936 ladies bike ). Cycling is quick efficient economic and pollution-free. I learnt a great deal, of what to do and have and not do and no need to have. That is why I have put together these 11 tips for a ladies bike together.
When starting out it can be quite a daunting task to choose the right bike. I have not listed a series of bikes you could buy. No, my list is comprised of the aspects I would consider before buying the bike. It would be similar for a man’s bike or a ladies bike. Each of these tips are serious considerations. Often learnt the hard way. So, please don’t just go for the name on the frame, think the whole thing through. The most important tips from 20yrs
20 yrs of cycling through London
Below are the most important things I learnt. 30 yrs ago when I started cycling to work very few others were doing it. I would cycle in all weathers, all seasons. From Parliament Hill, Hampstead to South Kensington. 7 miles there 7 miles back and it always took 1 hr each way. ( by car, bus or tube would take the same time, if not longer)
My journey would as far as possible avoid the big roads, using cut-throughs in parks and cycling along the canal paths. Not rushing, not getting up a sweat, just a steady tootle.I had no special clothing and had my cycle clips to keep my work trousers from becoming covered in oil from the chain. I would arrive at work calm relaxed and feeling refreshed. It is surprising but in London it really doesn’t rain as often as you think. Hardly ever would I arrive soaked through.
Here are my top 11 tips for a ladies bike.
- Have good lights on your bike.
Re-Chargeable are best, You don’t want to be buying batteries all the time and it is not very eco-friendly. You need to be seen all the time. The brightness is important.
My lights cost me more than some of the bikes I bought! For after being knocked over, in dramatic slow motion on a winters evening in Regents Park by a taxi cutting in off Prince Albert rd, I realised that he just had not registered my dim lights. That’s when I got a serious amount of Lumins front and back. I still have my trusty Cats eye volt 700 which cost around £90, 15yrs ago. ( Prices have dropped since then ) but it is a rugged bright beam and USB rechargeable.
2. High vis jacket and well-fitting helmet.
I didn’t always where High vis but after the Regents Park episode, I changed my mind. Being seen is a good idea and never take for granted that the driver in the car has seen you, for they usually haven’t.
3. Have good brakes.
To be able to stop well is a great asset. In the last 20 years, the technology has improved so again spend on the brakes. All-weather brakes are a must. The old block brakes really will not stop you in the wet, and that’s quite scary. ( I am still alive to tell the tale). The best is the rear wheel coaster braking system. Where you use the pedals to engage the rear brake by backpedalling, they are inside the rear hub and work well.
4. Have good locks.
You need to have locks for your bike. The great thing is that with a bike you can park anywhere, but you need to secure your front wheel, your back wheel and your frame altogether, with equipment which is going to deter the casual bike thief. The serious thief will have hydraulic cutters and sorry but you can say goodby to the bike if they are around. ( I had 12 bikes stolen in 10 years Central and East London.)
5. Have puncture-less tyres.
This saves hours of hassle and walking. Riding on a bike, unless it’s a bike path, you tend to get edged into the gutter where all the glass and shrapnel live. If you have thin normal tyres, you will pick up punctures, this can be very demoralising. A good reasonable price make is schwable, I use them and find them reliable.
6. Have mudguards on your bike.
When I see bikes without mudguards I cringe. Mudguards keep you dry more than any other single piece of equipment, I believe all bikes should be sold with mudguards.yuck a dirty wet back from a damp road is gross.
7. Have carriers fitted at least on the rear.
Going to work? You will have your laptop tour lunch, your, books and on the way home the shopping. Goo solid carriers are a must they are indispensable for otherwise you have to carry everything on your back and guess what you will get a hot and sweaty back so arrive at work or at home really soaked. Use paniers not backpacks.
8. Carry lightweight waterproofs
Enter the untrendy rain poncho, it was always my first choice as it just covers all of you and the rain goes straight off you, or some 100% waterproof jacket and over trousers. But another reason for the poncho you will get hot cycling in the waterproofs, and they take time to put on and take off. The poncho is 20 seconds and your dry and the air circulates well. Trust me a sturdy plastic poncho does the trick. Some worry about the wind flapping etc, seriously its not the Tour de France, it is getting to work dry, slow down in the rain and be careful.
9. Don’t have too many gears
Simple is best and it is not a race. In the town or city, you really don’t need many gears, 5 is almost too many, but if you live up a hill then make sure the gearing ratio is adequate to give you the ability to do a hill climb.
10. Don’t have a hugely expensive bike
But have good wheels and breaks. The weight doesn’t really matter especially if you are carrying shopping or laptop etc. Treat your bike like a workhorse, not a fashion accessory. Quality yes, but not fancy.
The main reason is that bike thieves know a good bike when they see one and if you park it every ay in the same place don’t be surprised if you come out of work one day and it will be gone. Tip: ( Add your bike to your household insurance, it makes the loss easier to take).
11. Make sure it fits you
Your leg length, get a bike which fits you well and is easy to ride and you enjoy riding, you could be doing 2hrs a day on it.
The last thing is you don’t need to wear lycra sports gear, that’s for the MAMIL’S. (Middle Aged Men In Lycra.) Don’t try to look trendy, dress practically and comfortably in everyday clothes. ( but hey, that’s just my opinion).
The traffic and the traffic lights and the road works will slow you down more than your clothing! Wear what is comfortable, (clogs as footwear are not a good idea, back in the 70’s I lost one of my clogs going round Old street roundabout, but that’s another story)
- in my following blogs, I will break down in more detail each of these aspects of getting cycling in the city.