Cyclescheme is the UK's most popular cycle to work benefit, creating more cyclists than any other provider.

Longer spring days are an ideal time to start cycle commuting – or to begin riding more often. Here’s how to get (back) into the bike-to-work groove

Changing how you commute can be as challenging as changing any other habit. It’s easy to fall back into old behaviour. Feeling a bit tired? Looks like it might rain? Problem with your bike? Switching back to the car/train/bus can be tempting. The way to overcome this and ride more isn’t about willpower. It’s about removing or dialling down the reasons not to ride. Here are 10 things to try.


1 Prepare the night before

Pack your commuter bag. Lay out the clothes you’ll wear for your journey to work. Check your bike lights are charged. Check that your bike’s tyres are properly inflated. Now when you get up in the morning, you won’t end up rushing around looking for a missing shoe or glove, or racing to the office because you spent too long stuffing things into your bag or dealing with a flat tyre. You can leave on time and enjoy an unstressed journey to work.


2 Get dressed like you mean it

Don’t sit around in your dressing gown debating whether or not to ride. Dress in whatever clothes you wear for cycling to work (minus shoes and helmet), then have breakfast, and only then look of out the window at the weather. The hard part about choosing to ride in the morning isn’t the cycling itself – it’s getting out the door. Once you’re outside and saddled up, it’s job done. Simply getting ready flips the question around. Instead of “Am I going?” it becomes “Am I abandoning?”


3 Invest in good waterproofs

Rain is rarely as bad as it looks from behind glass. But the saying that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” is only half right. There is bad weather and it’s rarely a joy to cycle in. With suitable clothing it is nevertheless tolerable. You will need: a decent waterproof jacket that doesn’t make you too hot; waterproof trousers; waterproof footwear or overshoes; gloves; and either a helmet with a peak or a peaked cycling cap (which can be worn under a helmet) to keep rain out of your eyes. A cape or poncho can replace the waterproof jacket and trousers if you prefer.


4 Fit better mudguards

Spraying water up your back and over your feet is worse than being rained on. And it’s something that happens even when the rain has passed – unless your bike has good mudguards. Many mudguards are inadequate because they’re too short or too far away from the tyre, so the water can spray past. The best ones are frame-fitting mudguards that wrap closely around the wheels. Ideally you want the rear edge of both front and rear guards to extend below the level of the bottom bracket. Add mudflaps if not. You can sometimes fit frame-fitting mudguards to bikes without the necessary threaded mounts by using P-clips instead. Road bikes that lack the clearance for traditional mudguards can be equipped with SKS Raceblade Long or Crud Roadracer guards.


5 Fit tougher tyres

A flat tyre can end your ride to work before it starts, and you might not have noticed a slow puncture (see point 1). A puncture en route will either cause a delay or end your ride. Tougher, more puncture resistant tyres are the answer. Many tyres have a puncture resistant layer of some kind. The best – such as the Schwalbe Marathon Plus and Continental Contact Plus – have a thick layer of springy rubber under the tread. They’re heavy but very tough. If you prefer to ride lighter and more supple tyres, consider switching to tubeless tyres with sealant. This sealant will plug smaller holes and prevent the loss of too much air.


6 Improve your riding comfort

The more comfortable your bike is, the more you’ll enjoy riding it. That’s obvious right? Yet many cyclists assume that aches and pains are a normal part of cycling. They’re not. You can make your bike more comfortable by changing or moving the contact points – the handlebar, saddle and pedals. Raising the handlebar and bringing it closer towards you sits you up more, relieving stress on the hands, shoulders, neck and lower back. Padded cycling shorts or undershorts, which can be worn underneath looser clothing, help with saddle discomfort. If your bike has room, wider tyres run at a lower pressure will soak up bumps and vibrations better.


7 Develop a better route

The best route to work by bike isn’t the most direct; it’s the one you’re happy to cycle most often. Use apps or maps to plan a nicer route. The new commute might take five minutes longer but if it enables you to arrive relaxed and sweat free, it’s worth it. Deviating from the direct ‘driver’s route’ may enable you to avoid that busy and intimidating junction. It may take you around that steep hill instead of over it. Or might take you along a serene section of traffic-free cycle path or tow path instead of a traffic-choked road.


8 Log your rides

Motivation is easier when you have a target of some kind. The simplest of these is to commit to riding to work a given number of days per week, then tick off the days you do ride on a calendar. A more sophisticated option is to use a phone app like Love to Ride or Strava to record your commutes. Apps like these will log daily and weekly distances, average speeds, calories burned and many other metrics, and you can share the information with friends and colleagues. Making your data public like this can help prevent ‘backsliding’; it’s why Weight Watchers has weekly check-ins.


9 Find a commuting buddy

Commuting part way with someone else can get you out on your bike when you otherwise might not go. Apart from the social aspect, you’ll have someone who is depending on you to turn up – and it’s the same for them. If either of you doesn’t show, you’re letting the other person down. It’s easiest if your commuting buddy works where you do, as you can then arrange a time and place to meet and do the rest of the route together. But it also works if you go your separate ways towards the end of the journey. A variant of this is to combine your commute with the school run or nursery drop-off. Cargo bikes are great for this.


10 Buy an e-bike

E-bikes take the hard work out of cycling. They flatten hills and banish headwinds.  If you’re feeling tired it’s not a problem: with an e-bike you can still cruise to work. If it’s raining, you won’t overheat in your waterproofs because you won’t be pedalling as hard. If your commute is further than you’d otherwise find comfortable, that’s fine: you can breeze there by e-bike at a steady 15mph. An e-bike doesn’t give you as intense a workout as a normal bike but it still boosts aerobic fitness. Studies have shown that new e-bike riders often enjoy greater fitness benefits than new unpowered cyclists. Why? They ride further and more often because they enjoy it.