Best Bicycles for Commuting – How to Pick the Right Size of Bike

Best Bicycles for Commuting - How to Pick the Right Size of Bike

Welcome to Bicycle Bob’s CyclEssentials

Best Bicycles for Commuting – How to Pick the Right Size of Bike

Is there such a thing as a perfect fit on a bicycle?

The answer is yes. But it can take some time, effort and/or money to achieve it.

If you buy a bike “off the peg” from a store if they are anything worth their salt, they will try to fit you to a bike which “generally” fits your body shape best. “Off the peg bikes” are made by all manufacturers to fit the average body shape.

The problem here is that we are all different shapes and sizes; long torso or short torso, long or short arms/legs than average body shape.

Even so, this can be catered for in most cases with an off the peg bike. You can raise or lower the height of the saddle and/or handlebars move the seat forward or backwards, change the handlebar stem to move the handlebars closer or further away, even change the length of the pedal arm on the chainset. All of these can lead to a more comfortable fit of an “off the peg” bike. But in some cases you may need to pay to replace a part, such as the handlebar stem or the crankset pedal arms, these are not specified as options on most “off the peg” bikes.

Of course, there is another way.

You can have a bike custom made for you. When I say custom made, I mean from scratch. With the frame being measured, cut and fabricated for your specific shape. With the additional parts selected at the optimum length, width, height for your specific torso, leg, arm length etc..

Due to the (usually) large expense of having a custom bike made, many people put up with the first option, they buy “off the peg” and then change the components as required to get the best fit with the baseline frame size they have to work with.

However, I would say that the vast majority of casual cyclists just put up with it and don’t even bother changing anything. I see many, many cyclists on undersize or oversize bikes, or with the seat too high or too low, etc….

How to size your ride:

Choosing the correct bicycle is very essential to enjoy cycling at its fullest. If your cycle is too large, you might face difficulties in getting on and off it. If it is too small, your knees might hit the handlebar when you pedal.

In order to choose a correct bicycle, refer to the chart below.

Bike Barn

Every body has different proportions while typical bikes come only in a few standard sizes. Start with what the manufacturer recommends but don’t take it as gospel. If it doesn’t feel right, try a different size. Start with a bike that you can comfortably straddle, of course.

If you plan to ride daily then you’ll want a bike that you look forward to riding and the fit would be quite crucial. Did know that you can change out the stem to bring the handlebars closer or further away, or up and down? The saddle position can also be moved in a variety of ways, so keep that in mind if the fit doesn’t feel just right?

Ultimately though, you’re not going to really know what will suit you without a test ride. You’ll want to see whether the saddle is too high or the frame is too big if your hips rock as you try to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. If the frame is too small you may feel too scrunched up. Note also that some serious riders look for frames that are too small (because they are lighter) and then make adjustments with longer stems and setback seat posts. So a small frame should not be seen as a dealbreaker. (not really recommended though)

It’s pretty difficult to get a fit that is just perfect for you where you’ll be comfortable riding for hours at a time. That’s why there are professionals who do bike fittings. You can do it on your own, of course, but it takes a lot of riding time and trial and error adjustments.

Just to give you an example, I’m 6’ with a 34” inseam and I ride 56cm through 60cm bikes very comfortably, with adjustments, of course

Importance of a bike fit

A pro fit will run you $100–300, depending on who does it and where.

A well-fitted bike will meet your body where it is, without you having to under-reach, over-stretch or compensate; it will be just right. That’s pretty important especially for frequent but short rides (e.g., commuting), longer, endurance type riding or highly technical riding (single-track and criterium).

If it’s just a flat-foot (your feet can be flat on the ground when stopped and seated) or cruiser type bike, it’s unlikely a pro fit is needed.

Bonus: if you have solid health insurance, you might get them to pay for it under “preventative health measures!”

A bike fit is a must for anyone planning on spending an hour or more at a time on their bike or doing any kind of intensity.  In my view this includes all riders from weekend warriors to daily cyclist to centurions ect…

  1. You have to consider comfort and safety.  A bicycle is a dynamic machine supporting your entire body for hours as you work through different levels of exertion.  A frame size is a general fit, but in the same way a 44 jacket should be tailored to your particular body type, it’s critical that the angles that your knee bends, your torso leans and the rest of it is adjusted to your own anatomy, flexibility and preference.
  2. For performance, it’s critical to set up so you get your maximum range of motion and extension to get the most out of each stroke and have your weight ideally positioned over the pedals and the saddle supporting as much of you as possible to be able to apply pressure.
  3. Especially for the guys out there, you want to adjust the saddle and to some extent other components to make sure that the all-important manly areas are safe.  Miles in the saddle can put some wear on them, and the difference between a good and bad fit can mean a lot in terms of your manly health and success in the future.

For a couple hundred bucks, it’s worth it for anyone with any real riding ambitions.  Beginners tend to get re-fit every season or so since they can usually get a more aggressive riding position as flexibility and power increase.

How to know your bike fits properly: Ah, a perfect fit of a bike can make a world of difference.

Here are a few major things to look for:

  • Standover height: Wear the shoes that you would normally wear cycling and stand over the bike. You want to have about 1″ of clearance between your body and the top tube. You can measure this by standing over the bike, lifting up the handlebar until the top tube hits the bottom of your crotch and checking that there’s 1″ of clearance between the ground and the front tire

  • Saddle height: have someone hold the bike upright for you and get on the saddle. Clip-in to your pedals, and check that at the bottom of your stroke, your knee is almost fully extended, but not 100% extended (some recommend 80% to 90% extension)
  • The reach: this one is a bit harder to measure, and is often done more or less by feel. The big thing here so make sure that you don’t have to lock your elbows when reaching for the handlebar.  REI recommends that the reach should feel almost comfortable enough that you feel like you can play piano on your handlebars. I found that this one required just testing out different bikes and feeling which one was more comfortable for me.

In addition to those, I highly recommend getting a custom fitting if you can.  A professional fitting will adjust the bike down to the millimeter to fit your body and can make a huge difference in your cycling experience.

Oh, and be sure to read this article from REI about bike fit:…

Thank you for taking the time to read our article, I hope that you found it helpfull, if so dont forget to sign up for our mailing list. if you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section. Im looking forward to seeing you in the next article where i will be going over fixies and single speeds, and if you haven’t already read our Urban Cycling Gear series make sure to check it out.

Samuel “Bicycle Bob” Cunningham

Founder: Bicycle Bob’s CyclEssentials

Urban Cycling Gear – Part 5 – Adding Application to Your Ride

Urban Cycling Gear - Part 5 - Adding Application to Your Ride


Today in the Urban Cycling Gear series we are going to get focused on adding some tracking to our daily commute. I will be going over my top 5 best cycling apps for iPhone and android, that will give you a bit of an advantage when getting around. They are great for both tracking your commute route and if you want to keep track of some cycling data. If you haven’t already read the last 4 articles in the series check them out here.

Best cycling apps: iPhone and Android for cyclists

New cycling apps are constantly showing up on the market. Whether you want to record your ride, monitor your training, or hassle your local council to improve the roads: there’s an app for that.

Below is a list of the most useful cycling apps I’ve found – but there are new apps appearing every week.

The best cycling app for ride tracking: Strava

Strava’s heat mapping features allow a cyclist to study what routes get used most and perhaps derive the best routes by those most chosen by cyclists. Strava from things I’ve read have been sharing some of this info (aggregated to maintain cyclists privacy) so that governments can make decisions about traffic infrastructure. I think that could be helpful for a cyclist as well …

Offering an array of handy ride logging functions which are then uploaded to your online Strava profile. The app keeps track of your ride stats as you travel, including speed, time and distance all the while tracking where you’ve been. At the end of your ride, you can view further stats such as calories burned and elevation ridden – plus whether you have set a new record on any of the numerous Strava segments.

A lot of cycling communities/groups use Strava when they have event rides, so that members of the ride can see the route before they join the ride. This is a great because, with all the data that is collected and shared. This gives you an inside look to see if you are up to par for the event. (in the near future I will be setting up meet ups/rides using this app)

Available for: iOS, Android

Price: Free (paid for upgrade to become a Premium Strava member)


The best cycling app for tracking training: Training Peaks

Training Peaks app

TrainingPeaks is one of, if not the most, popular platforms used for tracking athlete performance. Coaches can input workouts, or if you’re self coached you can use it yourself.

If you want to schedule activities for future, you do have to upgrade to the paid for version ($19.95 USD a month).

The app is a useful add on which means you can always access your training schedule, see coaches comments or add your own.

Available for: iOS, Android

Price: Free (Premium version needed for extra features)


The best app for time trialists: MyWindsock


Perhaps this is a bit of a cheat, as MyWindsock isn’t available as a phone app yet, but the desktop version works well.

The founder Ben Norbury wanted to check how weather conditions would affect his upcoming time trials, so he created this application.

MyWindsock can tell real-time data on the weather along your planned route, if you upload a GPX file. Alternatively, you can copy and paste the URL for a Strava segment into this clever piece of software to see what sort of conditions you can expect – nearly all UK time trial courses have a segment if not several.

You can also feed MyWindsock a Strava leader board, to see which weather conditions have produced the fastest times.

Available for: currently desktop only

Price: Free (premium version also available)


Other yet still really good cycling app: Bike Computer

Bike Computer app does what it says on the tin. If you’re using your phone as a cycling computer, this app pretty much gives you all the data that you might want.

It’s Strava compatible and has the capability to call a chosen contact in case of emergency and claims to operate 12% more efficiently compared to any other mobile fit tracker app – saving battery life.

Available for: iOS, Android

Price: Free (premium version also available)


If you’re using an app that isn’t listed, let us know in the comments. The more supported platforms the better: iPhone and iPad (iOS), Android, Windows, or whatever.

I hope this article was helpful, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for future topics let me know in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you, and wish you all the best on your daily adventures. See you in the next article where I will be going over some apps and sites that you can use to get involved in a ridding group.

If you haven’t yet, get out there and ride.

Thank you for your support, see you in part 6

Ride fast, Ride hard, Be Confident

Samuel “BicycleBob” Cunningham

Founder: Bicycle Bob’s CyclEssentials




Urban Cycling Gear – Part 3 – Put it on The Rack

Urban Cycling Gear - Put it on the Rack


So your getting ready to leave your house to go on your commute. It’s chilly out right now, you have your jacket, some gloves and a riding hat under your helmet to keep you warm, but on your way home it’s going to be nice enough that you won’t need all this extra gear. On top of that you have your laptop, your lunch and a few other miscellaneous items needed for work. Sound familiar?

In the last 2 articles we have gone over the gear that you need to both be safe and comfortable while making your commute. Now that you have all that gear. By now you should have everything from, your essential tools that you will need for just about any roadside issues that you will come across. The gear and apparel you need in order to stay dry comfortable and

visible by motorist. To the gear that’s going to make you more comfortable and confident in your saddle.

Now that you have all this Urban Cycling Gear, it is time to get it all organized on your bike. You are probably wondering what do I do with all this stuff?

Continue reading “Urban Cycling Gear – Part 3 – Put it on The Rack”

Essential Bicycle Accessories -Everything you need to start riding

Essential Bicycle Accessories


Welcome to Bicycle Bob’s CycleEssentials, today we are going to go over the essential bicycle accessories that every cyclist must have when going for a ride. I have broken these cycling essentials into four categories; Helmets/Lids, Lights, Locks, and Essential tools that every rider should have.

Helmets / Lids – Functionality and Styles

Cycling helmets are designed to protect riders from head injuries. When looking for a helmet some factors come into play; like comfort, aerodynamics, and breath ability. All helmets sold by reputable retailers will meet the standards set by State and Federal authorities in the country of sale.

Mountain Bike Helmets:

There are two types of helmets for mountain bikers, they are full – face and half – shell.

  • Full – Face: Protects the whole face they come with a chin and face guard.
  • Half – Shell: Protects the head, above the ear and back of the head.

Road Bike Helmets:

There are many types of helmet for Road Cycling. The two types I will be going over are leisure /commuter and performance. Leisure helmets are ideal for people just getting into cycling or people who aren’t about spending a lot of money to save a few grams of weight. Usually they are just as comfortable as the more expensive helmets but slightly heavier.

Performance Helmets: Are among the lightest available, often seen worn by professional riders during races. You’d be spending extra money to have the ultra lightweight and added venting.

Commuter Helmets: They tend to be more trendy, heavier, and has less venting.

Commuter cyclist have different needs in a helmet than a road cyclist and a Mountain cyclist. A commuter helmet should be stylish, low profile, for easy storage off the bike you are ridding. It should offer plenty of ventilation, in addition to protection and not empty your wallet in terms of affordability. Additionally features integrated helps you safely and easily navigate through the busy city streets.

When choosing your helmet take into account ventilation during the summer months, you will be grateful for this. Less so in the chilly months, however to combat the chill your can throw on a cycling cap and or helmet/lid cover.

Lights – Rechargeable or Battery operated

When looking at lighting there are a few factors you will want decide before buying your first/next set. The first thing to decide is do I want battery operated or rechargable. To do this I made a list of the pros and cons of each.

Rechargeable Styles Lights


  • Can be recharged either on the go with a portable charger or at home.
  • Can use for  or many hours before needing to recharge
  • Usually made of higher quality


  • You have to plan your night ahead
  • The price is higher

Battery Operated Lights


  • Cost is cheap
  • When it dies you can just pop new batteries in it.
  • Almost everywhere sells batteries


  • The long term cost of replacement batteries.
  • They usually are of cheaper quality.
  • They are more likely to build corrosion.

Keep in mind when purchasing your lights that not all lights are created equal. You are going to want to consider what are your going to be using them for? If your are going off-road, through busy city streets, etc. The lumen levels vary greatly (lumen=brightness), most now are waterproof but not all. Some even have added features to improve safety in the city, like built in turn signals and stopping notifications. Some can even link to your GPS. If your want to add a bit of character to your ride your can even get lights that project designs either on the ground around your bike or on your rims. Really the sky is the limit all depending on your budget, so have fun while lighting the trails.

Locks – Three main types

A bike is only as good as the lock that keeps it safe. Make sure yours can STOP any would-be thief.

There are three main types of locking system, lets go over the pros and cons of each but first lets explain what the three main types are. You have your cable, chain, and your U-Locks also called D-Locks;

How to lock your bike
3 options on how to use a U-Lock

Cable Locks come in different styles. Many have armored coatings, some feature stylish designs with integral combination or key locks. Others require a separate pad locks. They are versatile and adaptable but offer less theft protection than U locks. Thieves can easily carry cable cutters in their pockets or bags that easily cut through even high end cables, like a sharp knife through a tomato.

These are ideal when paired with a U lock to secure easily removable parts(e.g., seat, rims, and racks). They are also suitable for low crime areas.

Chain Locks can vary from chain that your can buy at your local hardware store, to specially designed chain link made from cobalt steel with special liners that resit hack saws or chisels. When using this type of lock system remember to invest in a sturdy padlock. No matter how strong the chain, thieves can easily cut or break cheap locks

The downside of these is that they are heavy, bulky and only as strong as your padlock you put on them and can cause possible damage to your frame if not coated.

U-Locks (my preference) are very widely used and an excellent theft deterrent. The bulky locking mechanism is resistant to hammers and chisels, the U shape can limit leveraging if your buy the right size for your bike. When purchasing a U-Lock the goal is to size the lock in a manner that allows it to go around a pole, your frame and through your back rim with as little gap as possible. They work best when in pairs. One for the front and one for the back.  They also can be used in combination with a cable to stop thieves from stealing easily removed bike parts.

Additionally there are some added features that you can look for in locks, for example some high end locks offer theft notification via messaging in an app, screaming when tampered with and unlock by phone features to name a few.

In my option the U locks are your strongest defense against bike thieves.

Tools – Travel / Portable

When you are out and about on a ride, your going to need to be prepared to do some maintenance/quick repairs. To ensure that you have what you need in your travel tool kit. I have created this Basic tools list that I believe every cyclist should have, to help you be prepared for those unexpected moments like

  • Making adjustments to improve performance
  • Small repairs if something on the bike breaks
  • Making adjustments to improve comfortability
  • To do regular maintenance to keep your bike happy

The specific tools you will need will vary depending on a few different factors.  Like the difficulty of the road or trail at hand, distance from home/bike shop, and your own mechanical skill set. If your a novice then you can start with just the basic (essential bike repair tool kit). If you are more advanced in your mechanic skills and you are going out on some crazy trails, you might need more.

If you’ve been riding for a long time or are just starting out, you probably already know that the most common problem cyclist face is a flat tire. So to start your tool kit you will need;

Tire repair kit:Bicycle patch kit

  • Sparetube
  • Patchkit
  • Tire levers

Tire levers help you remove the tire from the rim of your wheel set, especially helpful in removing road tires because of the tight fit they typically have on the rim.

  • Bike pumpBike pump

Durning replacement/repair of a tube/tire while out on the road you’ll need to be able to re inflate the tire after reassembly. You can either buy small hand/frame pump or a co2 pump that can easily fit in either your backpack, bike bag or mount to your frame. Make sure your pumps max inflation is above the recommended tire pressure for your wheel set.

  • Multi-Tool

Next you will need to be able to handle the occasional break down. The best tool for this job if you are just commuting locally or on the trail is a basic multi-tool. This small tool can handle a large amount of repairs, making it invaluable. It is small enough to fit in your backpack or bike bag.

When looking for a multi-tool pay attention that it is made of good quality and has the following:

Bicycle Multi-Tool

  • allen wrenches, 2.5mm to 8mm
  • adjustable, hex, or open wrenches(I recommend it at least have 8mm,10mm, and 15mm)
  • phillips and flat head screwdrivers
  • a chain tool

You will also want to carry

  • electrical tape
  • zip ties
  • Bungee or some type of cord
  • lightweight lube.

Where do I put all this

Once you have built your kit up  you can carry it in many ways. You can put it all in your backpack, or a bag designed to mount on your bike frame. Some options include saddle packs, handlebar bags, rack trunks, frame bags, panniers and bottle bags. Any which way you decide to carry it, I recommend that you use a tool wrap (you can buy one or make your own) to keep everything organized and easy to get to in an emergency.

Thank you for Reading

I really hope that this helps you when you purchase your cycling essentials, so many of these items are overlooked when people buy their bike. Even though they are every bit as necessary as the bike itself. If you found this helpful or if you can think of anything that needs to be added to this list please add it to the comments below or contact us directly. I always enjoy hearing from my readers, until next time ride safe and I hope you enjoy your bike as much as I enjoy mine. Continue reading “Essential Bicycle Accessories -Everything you need to start riding”