If you're coming back to cycling after a long lay-off, spurred on perhaps by Cycle to Work Day, the price of bikes might seem alarmingly high. Don't panic. Getting a bike and equipment through Cyclescheme will save you money whatever you choose. Paying through salary sacrifice saves on Income Tax, PRSI and USC.
By availing of the Cycle to Work scheme you will save between up to 52% (2017 savings) on the cost of a new bike and accessories up to the value of €1,000. Your employer purchases the bike package for you and you spread the cost by repaying via a Salary Sacrifice payment from your salary on a monthly basis (cannot exceed 12 months. You make your savings by not paying Income Tax, PRSI and USC on the cost of the bike package (up to €1,000.) You are eligible for the Cycle to Work scheme once every 5 years.
Our suggested Cycle to Work package contains most commuting essentials but there may be items you'd want to swap in or out – adding a helmet, for example, or changing the rack-top bag for panniers.
Pinnacle Lithium 1
This aluminium-framed hybrid is simple and lightweight, tipping the scales at under 11kg – much less than most of its rivals. The mountain-bike-style riding position provide easy control, and it will take badly-surfaced roads or tracks in its stride thanks to 38mm-wide tyres. It doesn't come with mudguards or a rack, both of which you'll want for commuting, but it does have the threaded frame eyelets you need to fit them. The gear range is narrower than many hybrids as there's only one chainring and one derailleur – a 7-speed Shimano Tourney model. That's fine unless the hills are very steep on your ride to work, and the lack of complexity means fewer things to fail and less chance of being in the wrong gear. V-brakes provide ample stopping power and don't compromise tyre or mudguard clearance. Sizes: S-XL. A women's version is also available.
Tortec Reflective Mudguards (700x36-44)
Full-length, frame-fitting mudguards are your best defence against wet roads, preventing dirty water spraying over you and the bike. These ones are made from chromoplastic, which is lightweight and doesn't break easily. The stainless steel stays are secure and stable, but the front ones will pop free if anything gets jammed under the guard – which could prevent an over-the-bars accident. As well as a rear reflector, the guards have reflective stripes down each side to make them extra visible at night.
Axiom Transit Rear Rack
You'll sweat and ache less with luggage on your bike instead of your back. This aluminium rack is strong enough for any load you'd conceivably carry on a hybrid: it's rated for 60kg! You won't need that for the daily commute, but it's good to know it's strong enough not to flex and crack. The top platform gives better support to a rack-top (or trunk) bag.
Vaude Silk Road L Bag
A rack-top bag that's big enough for your commuting essentials is a better solution than a single pannier, as it won't compromise the bike's balance or aerodynamics. This one holds 8 litres or, when the bellows-like expansion is zipped open, 11 litres. There are pockets and compartments for organising your load, and the luggage cord on the top is ideal for stashing your jacket. It comes with a removable shoulder strap, a rain cover, and a loop to attach a rear light.
Moon Nova 80 & Pulsar Light Set
Further up the price range, disposable-battery lights have been superceded by rechargeables. These Moon LED lights are pretty economical, however: the front light should last at least a week on one AA (over 7 hours on standard mode), while the rear should last a month or more on two AAAs (43 hours even on 'overdrive' mode). They're both bright: 20-80 lumens for the front, 12-25 lumens for the rear. That's ample for streetlit riding.
Abus Ultra 410 Mini D-Lock
D-locks offer the best compromise between security and weight. Short D-locks like this one (140mm long) are even more portable; if you don't want to fix it to the bike frame via its bracket, it'll go in a rack-top bag. The Ultra 410 Mini has a 12mm hardened steel shackle and a pick-proof lock. Since it's short, there's little room for a jack or pry bar – although the lack of reach limits what you can lock it to as well. It's rated Sold Secure Silver.
Outer Edge Waterproof Jacket
Be wary of showerproof jackets: waterproof is what you need for rain. That means sealed seams, which this has. The lined fabric is lightweight and breathable, although you'll still need to moderate your pace to avoid overheating. Reflective piping provides visibility, while the cuffs, hem and collar are adjustable to fine tune the fit and prevent daughts.
Adie Reflective Trouser Clips
A chainring guard won't always keep your trouser legs off the oily chain, so clips are a no-brainer if you want to stay smart. These ones are reflective. Their up-down motion when you're pedalling immediately says 'cyclist' to a motorist at night.
Zéfal Jet Mini Pump
Mini pumps are hard work but if you get a soft tyre on the way to work, any pump is better than none. And mini pumps are so portable: this one weighs 90g. The reversible head fits Schrader or Presta valves, and it'll reach 6bar/87psi – if your arms can take it.
All of the above and much more can be found at our Cyclescheme Ireland partner stores – to find your local store please visit: https://www.cyclescheme.ie/partners
If you want to calculate your potential savings please visit: https://www.cyclescheme.ie/calculator
And if your company does not currently provide a Cycle to Work scheme invite them to find our more: https://www.cyclescheme.ie/signup-email
Cycle commuting improves your physical and mental health, as well as boosting productivity at work – so long as you do it right.
As well as lights and reflectors, cycle commuting at night requires some adjustments to the way that you ride.
On the first really wet commute of the winter, you may find your old waterproof jacket isn't as good as it was. Here's what you can do about it.