Beginner: What essential gear to purchase?

Bazzer

Setting the controls for the heart of the sun.
As someone who also does 17.5 miles each way, keep an eye out for bargain clothing you can use for layers. Aldi and Decathlon are good, but there is also the Found a Bargain thread on here.
But be prepared to spend on shorts and leggings as your backside spends a lot of time on the saddle.
As we are heading toward Summer, you are spared the sudden expense of warm clothes, lights etc., but I would say definitely a waterproof "breathable" jacket such as Altura and waterproof bootees/overshoes. A wet upper body and/or feet is soul destroying on longer journeys.
Moving towards Autumn and Winter, you may want to consider a Buff and a warmer base layer. You will also find advice on the forum about lights. Things like gloves are depend upon your tolerance to cold, but as Autumn approaches you will get a feel for the types you may need.
 

Pat "5mph"

A kilogrammicaly challenged woman
Moderator
Location
Glasgow
Hello @Merlin86, welcome to CC!
I commute (only 5 miles) every day, have done so for the last 8 years.
I know London's weather is much milder than Glasgow's, so I won't tell you about ice tyres ^_^
Essential commuting items are, for me, in order:
A safe cycling route: this may not always be the same, I change mine slightly according to day of the week, time of day, even to the weather.
On a Monday for example,, some cycle paths are full of broken glass.
A sturdy bike.
If your London canal is anything like out Glasgow canals, a sturdy hybrid/cyclocross bike with 35/38mm Marathon green guard tyres (say 80% puncture proof, I had two punctures with them, ever), or Marathon plus tyres, the latter are really puncture proof (say 90%) but also really heavy.
Mudguards, a sturdy rack and waterproof pannier bags.
I recommend Ortlieb or Vaude.
Good commuting lights, the front one powerful enough to see.
I like the CatEye range.
Waterproof(ish) jacket, I like the Altura range - completely waterproof in general means you get a boil in the bag effect.
Waterproof socks, Aldi's are perfectly adequate.
Something to keep your head and neck warm and dry(ish), I like fleece lined skullcaps and buffs, warm beanie hats - not woolen, wool does not dry easy.
Gloves: I have many, in winter my favorites are a cheap thermal pair.
I also have more expensive ones (Sealskins) but I find them a bit restrictive, warm though.
You better carry a spare inner tube or two, the pump of your choice, and the know how of puncture repairs.
There is also the option of subscribing to a cyclist rescue service in case of a break down.
The rest is up to you, experiment with layering clothing, with shoes and with pedals.
Summer is almost here: enjoy your bike.
 

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
I'd suggest you read up on cycling helmets before deeming one a priority.
Whereas your motorcycle helmets are designed and made to save your life, a cycle helmet is designed and made to be light, ventilated and to look pretty. They aren't even advertised by the manufacturers as safety items.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the above, loved ones often regard helmets as beneficial safety items and, as such, worry more if a cyclist isn't wearing one. That alone would be a reason for me to wear one
 

ColinJ

It's a puzzle ...
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the above, loved ones often regard helmets as beneficial safety items and, as such, worry more if a cyclist isn't wearing one. That alone would be a reason for me to wear one
That is actually why I started wearing one. My elderly parents were worriers and it reduced their stress a little so I mainly did it for them.

TBH, I had also fallen off a couple of times and smacked my head on the road and decided that I didn't want to do that again. (I don't want to get into a scientific discussion about how effective helmets are in given scenarios, but if I could have stopped myself in mid-flight and put a helmet on before I nutted the road, I would have done!)

Yes, I could have avoided the crash by NOT standing up and sprinting (in which case, I wouldn't have launched myself headfirst over the bars when the chain came off...) but where's the fun in that! :laugh:
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
You don't need bib type cycling shorts for the distance. Just nice quick drying and comfy shorts is fine. After I'd commuted a few weeks I invested in a few wicking t shirts so didn't have to wash my kit every night. They don't have to be cycling jerseys to start if you have luggage carrying capacity on the bike. I also got some Tesco value towels for the shower at work.
 

Phaeton

Guru
Location
Oop North (ish)
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the above, loved ones often regard helmets as beneficial safety items and, as such, worry more if a cyclist isn't wearing one. That alone would be a reason for me to wear one
I am just going through this now sort of like @ColinJ but mine is my grandson who wears one because of my daughter & it just keeps family harmony so I bought one today
You don't need bib type cycling shorts for the distance.
True but depending on your shape bib shorts are better, I much prefer them & the price of DHB/Decathlon ones aren't bad.
 

BlackSchmuck

New Member
Absolutely the route is the most important- especially in London. Brush up on your road skills - as a motorcyclist you'll be aware of this - but you're even more vulnerable now. Find a safe route you enjoy - even if it's a bit longer.
A decent rack and waterproof panniers - but defo try Lidl and Aldi and Halfords! Decathlon stuff is brilliant. Get a bright rear flashing light - I use one all year round.
Warm gloves in winter and glasses all year round.
Think about tubeless wheels and tires!

Get a decent helmet (why not?!) with a peak - it'll keep the sun and rain out of your face.....
 
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mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the above, loved ones often regard helmets as beneficial safety items and, as such, worry more if a cyclist isn't wearing one. That alone would be a reason for me to wear one
If they love you back, they won't want you to wear one after they see how ineffective they are, even compared to 1990s voluntary standard helmets.
 

Rickshaw Phil

Overconfidentii Vulgaris
Moderator
Mod note:

You should all know the rules on helmet debate by now . Advice about choosing a helmet is fine in this thread but discussion about whether or not helmets are effective goes in here: https://www.cyclechat.net/forums/helmet-discussions.174/

No more after this point please.
 

BlackSchmuck

New Member
I think its fair enough to edit someone's post to remove certain elements re the 'debate' - but the main thrust of the sentence could/should have been left in - especially when you leave all the above posts in - which basically hijack a thread.
Hey-ho - I'm a newbie to this forum (not the world) - but a little surprised by the ott mod.
I haven't read all the site's rules (and don't intend to) and maybe I'll incure the wrath of the mod bods again...I promise I won't ever mention the 'h' word again...
Sorry for hijacking the thread and hope the OP has fun on his comute!
 
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Rickshaw Phil

Overconfidentii Vulgaris
Moderator
I think its fair enough to edit someone's post to remove certain elements re the 'debate' - but the main thrust of the sentence could/should have been left in - especially when you leave all the above posts in - which basically hijack a thread.
Hey-ho - I'm a newbie to this forum (not the world) - but a little surprised by the ott mod.
I haven't read all the site's rules (and don't intend to) and maybe I'll incure the wrath of the mod bods again...I promise I won't ever mention the 'h' word again...
Sorry for hijacking the thread and hope the OP has fun on his comute!
Since you're new to the site I'll be nice and partially reinstate what one of my colleagues removed. For reference for yourself and for anyone else who is new, helmet debate is controlled because many members have very strong feelings one way or another meaning that debates on the subject in the past have often descended into argument and name-calling at some point.

Back on topic from here please.
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
For commuting tyres you want something with reasonable puncture protection and possibly a light tread for the towpath. Think something like a Schwalbe Marathon and go from there. You are looking for what might typically be found in the touring tyres section of a website. Reliability is what you want for a 17.5 mile commute on mixed surfaces.
 

netman

Senior Member
Keep spare sets of clothes at work (both work clothes and cycling kit) - if you get caught in a real downpour, even lightweight cycling kit can still be wet after a day at work... not nice putting it back on then! And it's only a matter of time before you forget something like socks when packing your bag in the morning! A drybag like these https://www.wiggle.co.uk/osprey-ultralight-drysack-12-1/ is worth putting your clothes in, even inside a saddlebag or pannier - worth £7 for guaranteed dry clothes and phone etc!). As for specific brands, take a look at Gore Bike Wear - really good stuff, particularly their goretex jackets.
 

davidphilips

Über Member
Location
Onabike
If and i mean if you want to buy a helmet there are some great deals on Amazon, i bought a Catlike Olula with free delivery for £15.14, nice summer helmet, the prices seem to change and go up and down like a yo-yo, also seen the Bren helmets on sale a few weeks ago for £20 some thing on Amazon and they are a really comfortable helmet not many vents so not for the warm weather but the most comfortable helmet i have even worn.
 

Phaeton

Guru
Location
Oop North (ish)
If and i mean if you want to buy a helmet there are some great deals on Amazon, i bought a Catlike Olula with free delivery for £15.14, nice summer helmet, the prices seem to change and go up and down like a yo-yo, also seen the Bren helmets on sale a few weeks ago for £20 some thing on Amazon and they are a really comfortable helmet not many vents so not for the warm weather but the most comfortable helmet i have even worn.
Just another recommendation is a Bell from Decathlon £24.99 https://www.decathlon.co.uk/paradox-mountain-bike-helmet-id_8382585.html
 
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