Tips & Tricks
It’s September now and for many of you, it means ‘Back to School’ time! Are you ready for a new school year ahead with all the necessary books, stationery and – means of transportation? Undoubtedly, for many students, bikes are the ultimate choice to cruise into university. In this blog, we’ll give you a back to school cycling guide so that you can get in by bike with good preparation, ready and raring for the day ahead.
Why are bikes the ultimate choice for students?
Getting to and from university can be a hassle when you don’t live near enough to the campus to walk or are forced to take a bus or two, or more to get there. Therefore, cycling to school can be an amazing alternative as it saves a great amount of time and effort. In addition, riding a bike to school also provides you with its health benefits. Furthermore, we know that some of you students like to have a few messy evenings, so what can be a better hangover cure than a bike ride in the fresh air the next morning?
Which bike is the right one for students?
For those of you who haven’t got a bike and are wondering which bike you should go for, we’ll give you cycling newbies some fundamental tips and advices. First of all, here are a few categories of bikes for your reference.
Road bikes have lightweight frames and components, meaning their fast and nippy in addition to their thin tyres which are made for low rolling resistance and large diameter wheels for speed. Road bikes are designed for flat, paved surfaces, so it would be ideal if you travel in the city or have to travel a little further and want to get in quicker.
Mountain bikes or MTB have thicker frames and chunkier wheels. They were born to tackle muddy trails and winding country roads. They can take you to uni on flat roads, and even accompany you off-road, too.
Vintage style bikes have traditional timeless design and have the benefit of modern componentry. They are often made with simple design for novice riders, so are a great choice for someone looking to ride short distances, who doesn’t understand or doesn’t need all the frills of a fancier bike. A great option for those who want to ride safely in style.
Commuter bikes are fast and durable bikes that offer a more upright and comfortable riding position for less stress on your back and improved vision in traffic. They are made specific to take on the harshness of the urban environment and get you from A to B in no fuss, no matter what the weath///er.
Electric bikes or eBikes are no stranger these days. They come with an electric motor and rechargeable battery. The motor assists you on pedalling up the hills easily, which you will feel extremely grateful for this invention! Nonetheless, basically you still have to cycle along the way, so the physical exercises are still guaranteed. To know more about eBikes, you can check out our previous blog for all the benefits that eBikes offer.
Each discipline of biking definitely carries its own strength for its suitable purpose, nevertheless, for university students, we personally recommend the Commuter and Vintage categories because they are usually the cheaper and have best value for money for the cycling you will be doing.
Now you’ve got the bike or are on the right path to purchase, the next step is to learn about safe cycling.
Find your cycling route
You will realise that cycling routes are not usually shared with buses and cars. Quiet roads or even off-road options are sometimes safer and more enjoyable for cyclists. You should utilise smart phone apps to search for the optimum cycling route, such as the basic Google Maps or some cycling-specific apps like Bikemap and CycleMap.
Advisably, test the route before officially cycling back to school. In some cases, you might find one suggested off-road route is not suitable for your bike type. If there’s a slightly longer route with fewer cars around, you might actually save time by not getting stuck in the traffic and enjoy a safer ride. Once your cycling route is set, you’ll enjoy your cycle to school with freedom every day!
Safe cycling equipment for your university ride
Your cycling route to school may not be long, however, it’s always a great idea to save yourself from all the potential accidents on roads.
A helmet is the utmost important accessory for anyone travelling on two wheels. For you youngsters, helmets may be a pain to carry since they are not fashionable and will ruin your hair. However, all of those can’t be worse than having a serious head injury. Also, there are plentiful of helmet styles nowadays that we believe can catch your eyes. Or you can always personalise your noggin protector!
Bike lights are highly recommended if you go home from school when it is quite dark (especially, winter is coming!). They are affordable and easy to install. With the bike lights, you can be noticed by drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists in order not to be hit. Moreover, they also light the path ahead and help you avoid embarrassing collisions with bumps and holes on the road.
Besides you cyclists, the bikes themselves need keeping safe, too. You ought to invest in a robust lock that thieves cannot steal your bike easily. The recommended bike protectors are D-locks, chain locks and cable locks. Make sure that the lock goes through your wheel or bike frame; and that the whole set can’t be lifted off the fence once it’s locked. More remarkably, park your bike in a well-lit area with CCTV coverage or at least avoid the empty back street where the thieves can commit a crime without anyone seeing. Notably, even when you keep your bike inside the halls of residence or university campuses, remember to lock it. It’s always better safe than sorry!
Cycling on the road
Sharing your commute with cars can be terribly daunting to some of you, especially for inexperienced bike riders. There are, however, some tips to help you navigate more confidently on busy roads.
Spare some space, like a good two to three-foot gap, between you and other commuters. You don’t want to hit a car driving in front of you when it abruptly comes to a halt. Moreover, even though you’re in a hurry, don’t try to overtake moving cars; we all know how bad drivers can be and you don’t need them suddenly turning into you, knocking you down and ruining your day, or life. When you need to make a turn or approach a roundabout, signal clearly and confidently with your hand to show the direction you intend to go, even if it means going in the very middle of the road.
In slippery conditions, take extra care because rain and ice can make roads perilous. Ride slowly and carefully. If the weather is horrible, lock your bike in a safe place and wait in a café or bakery until the weather gets better. Don’t risk being blown away by gusty rain and wind.
More importantly, don’t cycle under the influence. For many students, university life can’t go without a few drinks, then don’t attempt to cycle home even after a couple shots. First, participating in the traffic under alcohol influence is actually illegal and you could end up with a fine. However, the worse part is that riding a bike when you’re not fully conscious can lead to unfortunate accidents that can badly affect you and others. Just grab a taxi or walk, the time and money is worth it for your life and the lives of others.
We believe that with all these practical tips, you are now ready to go back to school by bike and enjoy it too! At Reid, we’re working to give everyone freedom to move to their beat on two wheels, because it’s better for the planet and better for the people. We offer no barriers to this kind of freedom, meaning we keep costs down, as the joy of cycling and being free should be accessible to everyone. We design and manufacture premium quality, affordable bikes for every kind of rider: novice to experienced, casual to obsessive, style-conscious to technically-minded.
Looking for a suitable bike this school year?