What are the essential things to commute by bicycle in Sydney?

Posted by:
February 6, 2013 3

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We are really pretty lucky weather wise in Sydney. Unlike colder climates you can cycle all year round without having to worry about things like being freezing cold, snow or endless rain.

But what are the absolute essential items that you need to commute by bicycle in Sydney? I appreciate that your list may be different to mine (and if so, please share it!) but here’s my thoughts.

I believe these six items are absolutely essential

1. Helmet – whether you like it or not, that’s the rules so you have to have one

2. A bag to carry your stuff – you can ride with a backpack, however I recently purchased a pannier bag that clips in to a rack and sits behind me. It holds more than a backpack. It has two sides and can easily carry my work clothes, shoes, makeup, wallet, laptop and lunch. These are not that cheap but I think they make cycling more pleasant.

3. If you are riding at dusk, before sunrise or night – lights, lights, lights. At the very least you should have one light on the front of your bike and one light at the back – in fact this is required by law. You can also add lights to your backpack or helmet. I’m of the opinion that the more you have the better. Change the batteries relatively regularly so your lights stay nice and bright. (I don’t like to promote products, but I have to say my Ay-up lights are pretty amazing at lighting up the road and they are Aussie…)

4. A spare inner tube, 3 tyre levers and a hand pump – at some point you will probably get a flat and need to change the inner tube. So unless you want to call someone to come pick you up, you will need this stuff and know how to use it. (Or bat your eyelashes and hope some cute male cyclist riding by will take pity on you? – kidding!)

5. Working bell or horn – I only learnt this recently thanks to one of the other BikeGal chicks, according to the New South Wales road rules ‘your bicycle must be fitted with at least one working bell or horn, or a similar warning device’ – does yelling very loudly ‘BIIIIKE!’ at pedestrians count as a warning device?

6. A lock to lock up your bike – there are lots of different sorts but get advice from a bike shop, you don’t want your bike to be nicked do you?

Cycling seems to have about a thousand accessories that you can buy, which I don’t consider to be essential. Some of these might include:

• Gloves – some may say these are not essential but when I first started cycling in gloves, I was amazed. So comfy. I have fingerless ones for summertime that are easy to get on and off, and warmer ones for winter. In my opinion they just make cycling more comfortable

• Water bottle in a bracket attached to the frame of your bike – always nice to take a sip of water while sitting at the traffic lights

• Cleats or cages – can make for a smoother ride but take a little getting used to

• Cycling pants with built in padding in them – if you are riding a long way, this will provide more comfort. Note that you don’t wear undies underneath them!

• Appropriate clothing – I prefer to ride in the type of stuff I would wear for the gym – breathable fabrics that are light weight. I like to wear tights, bike pants or shorts – something that isn’t going to flap around and get caught anywhere in the bike. And ideally a light coloured top so you can be seen. If you want to you can also get sports tops that have reflective stuff on them – again just helps you to be seen

• Fenders or mudguards on the front and back wheels – these can be purchased from a bike shop and get them to fit them to your bike for you. They stop dirt, grit or puddles from the road splashing up onto you. Not essential but not a bad idea!

• In winter months you can go all out on warmer cycling gear – booties, arm warmers etc etc. Go wild.

• Rear view mirror – can help you to see what’s going on behind you without having to turn your head.

• Again this is not essential, I just find it comfortable to wear a head band under my helmet. It’s just a comfort thing. You might too.

• Bicycle computer – if you are one of those that has to know how far you pedalled then this is for you!

What do you think are essential and non essential items for commuting by bike in Sydney?

Happy cycling!

  • February 06, 2013 at 11:25 am, Virginia Woods said:

    Hey BikeGal,
    Great list! You could add in a chamois cream – for a bit more comfort if you’ve got a longer commute… or if you take the long way to work!
    I also attempt to carry little as possible by keeping things at work – set of makeup, towel, clothes, hair dryer, the lot. Speedo sports towels are excellent for keeping your towel un-soggy! My wallet is usually a zip lock bag, and I use zip locks to protect my mobile from sweat or rain. If you’ve got a spare drink cage, a tool tube (a plastic tube with a lid) is big enough to fit a few bits and pieces.
    So on my list – Chamois cream, second set of make up etc, Speedo sports towel, zip lock bags and a tool tube
    Happy riding!


  • September 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm, Sydney Commuter said:


    Nerves of Steel


  • September 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm, samiul said:

    I think, because of variations in elevation of sydney roads, smart-phone applications that suggests me least calorie routes would be excellent in choosing routes to a destination. Sometimes shortest path may be more toiling than a longer path which has less slopes. Any suggestions on such android or iphone application?



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