Bicycles have enormous potential in our cities – learning to move around the city quickly and efficiently will help you use your bicycle to the fullest. This guide can help you with this.
Most people started by simply giving it a try. Many gave up after a few days. So what’s the best way to go about it when you’re just starting out?
You don’t have to drive if you don’t want to. What to add to that?
A bike for the city should above all have adequate equipment, the type of bike is not so important. Usually you can start riding the bike you have, you just need to adjust a few details. Or get an ordinary city bike with a comfortable upright position, on which you will appreciate the minimal maintenance requirements.
However, a different type of bike may be suitable for some routes. A mountain bike for more challenging terrain – unpaved roads, mud, but also pavement in city centers. A road bike for a long route on asphalt. But you have to equip such bikes for city driving, and it is not always technically easy to do so.
Electric bikes are now a common alternative for conquering hills. On the other hand, a light folding bike or scooter is advantageous for combining with public transport or frequently carrying up the stairs. If you have children and want to transport cargo, a cargo bike may meet your specific requirements.
There are also many personal mobility devices that are not considered bicycles. Small folding scooters, self-balancing hoverboards, monowheels and others. Without the option to add mandatory equipment, they are usually considered „sports equipment“ or „personal transporters“ and their user more or less a pedestrian. On the other side of the spectrum are powerful electric scooters and accelerated electric bikes with driving characteristics that classify them more as mopeds. The widespread use of these vehicles in crowded centers arouses considerable passions, so consider carefully whether you will not be a nuisance in your city with such a means of transport.
New or Refurbished?
Consider carefully the money you invest. It is not advisable to park expensive or newly bought bikes on the street. Less luxury can give you more freedom than a super expensive bicycle, which you will be afraid to leave even fifteen minutes before the store.
A new bike for the city of ordinary quality can be purchased for around 20,000 Czech crowns (for an e-bike, the price range above 30,000 makes sense). It is best to choose a place of purchase not too far from home, as you will certainly need service and with such a purchase you are „supporting your sheriff.“ Even if you are short on cash, try to avoid bikes from supermarkets. For a low price, you’ll get a bike that is not very durable and difficult to service.
For a second-hand bike, check its origin so you don’t support thieves by buying a stolen bike. Check the frame and components that are more difficult to replace (front forks, bottom bracket). Refurbishing an old bicycle from the basement or the attic is rarely more advantageous than buying a new one, but new components ensure greater reliability. Refurbishment can make sense if you have an older bike available and you don’t need to buy it anew, and if a regular bike service can also handle the modifications.
Handlebars, saddle and tires
The size of the frame, the height of the handlebars, the size and type of saddle are basic parameters that must be adapted to your figure when buying, no matter what type of bike you buy. The height of the handlebars may affect your posture. Arms should be slightly bent at the elbow, not stretched out. A straighter posture requires a more comfortable saddle.
Tires will make a big difference on city bikes. Broken pavement, tram tracks, gravel, broken glass and other complications are not an exception in the city. If your bike allows it, use tires as wide as possible. The tread should be smooth in the middle, „knobs“ will require too much effort in the city. City tires are also equipped with puncture protection.
The mandatory equipment for cycling in the city is defined by the Decree of the Ministry of Transport No. 341/2014 Coll. in Annex 12, and includes:
In reduced visibility you will also need:
You can solve your lighting needs with removable flashing lights, but fixed lights are better. The lights fulfill the principle of „being seen“, the bell the principle of „being heard.“ Using a bell makes life much easier on busy bike paths. However, it is necessary to ring the bell politely, as per etiquette.
Heavy rain is not as common as a wet road. Then it is very difficult to reach the city on time and cleanly without mudguards. The front mudguard should be as long as possible. The chain cover is an essential device to protect your pants.
To ride in the city, you need to decide how you will transport your belongings. Functional messenger backpacks are stylish, but a regular back carrier will do the same job without making your back sweaty. You can attach expedition bags, a bag to hang from the side, a basket or even a lockable box to the carrier. A front basket is also practical. Additional options include extended longtail carriers or a large-volume basket or cargo bike platform.
When you have bags or baskets, you’ll need a kickstand. Rear fork kickstands exist, but those mounted near the center are more stable, with two legs, especially for heavier bikes.
We’ll discuss safe parking of a bicycle in more detail elsewhere, but the lock cannot be overlooked among the necessary accessories. A mirror is not absolutely necessary, but you will appreciate it in heavy traffic. Cheaper handlebar mirrors usually break quickly, the classic ones on metal poles are the most durable. Equipping a bike doesn’t have to be a chore. Treat yourself to something that will please you, such as a cup holder for your coffee, or a decoration that will make your bike unique.
Don’t weigh it, just go!
If after equipping the bike with selected accessories it seems that it has doubled in weight, do not despair. Unless your route involves five flights of stairs, you’ll hardly notice the difference in weight. The important thing is that you will arrive at work in much better condition with a well-equipped bike, regardless of the weather. Don’t weigh in on your bike too much – just go for it!