Bicycle Commuting 101 – The Benefits

All week, we’ve shared great information about commuting to work by bike.  Today, we thought we’d give you some reasons why it’s all worth it.  It’s no secret that commuting by bike saves money, is better for your health, and lowers your carbon footprint, but the numbers may surprise you:

According to an article published in Forbes Magazine, the average bike commuter reported they paid an initial $500 to $800 for a bike and commuting related accessories, and had an annual maintenance cost of around $100.  Compare that to the average cost of a vehicle today.  It’s very easy to spend upwards of $10,000 to $20,000 to purchase a car, and then factor in the cumulative costs of commuting by car: $2.41/mile as calculated by Commute Solutions, which takes into account everything from gas prices to insurance to road repair costs.  Say your average commute is five miles round trip and you work five days week.  Within a month, you’ve already spent more than the average yearly costs of riding your bike.  And with the uncertainty of gasoline prices, that number could easily increase.

Another benefit of riding a bike is better health.  Our mechanic lives two miles from the shop, and commutes the 20 minutes to work and back daily.  That’s 20 minutes of increased heart rate daily, which any doctor would tell you is beneficial.  Plus, exercise in the morning has been linked to increased awareness and productivity throughout the workday.

Lastly, we all know it’s better for the environment to commute on bike.  How much you ask?  Shreya Dave, a graduate student at MIT, recently concluded that an ordinary sedan’s carbon footprint is more than 10 times greater than a conventional bicycle on a mile-for-mile basis, assuming each survives 15 years and you ride the bike 2,000 miles per year (or slightly less than eight miles per weekday).  That’s a lot of trees saved, a lot less gas used, and way cleaner air for us all to breathe.

Still not convinced?  Give it a go for a week.  See how you feel, experience the feel of the wind in your face on your way to work, and how much happier you are during your work day.  We’re pretty sure your stress will be lowered not having to deal with driving in the morning rush, and you’ll be way happier looking at your bank statement every month.  And if you find it’s not for you, we urge you to still get out on your bike a few times a week and reap the benefits they provide from a recreational standpoint.

Happy riding everyone!

Bicycle Commuting 101 – The Gear

Think you need to break the bank to get into bicycle commuting?  Think again!  Most people already have a bike sitting in their garage, so as long as it’s in proper working order, it’ll certainly do the trick.  Then, add a few key items to make your ride to work a safe and enjoyable one, and you’re all set!

Below is a no-nonsense list of all the equipment you’ll need.  Depending on the length of your commute, you may only need a few things listed or you may need them all.  Whatever you needs, make sure you get yourself the first three on the list – we consider them must-haves when hitting the street on your bike.

1. Helmet – Likely the most important piece of cycling equipment you’ll ever buy, helmets are a no brainer.  Don’t take chances with your head; it’s just not worth it, especially since today’s helmets are very inexpensive, fit great, and look good too!

2.  Lock – Most people don’t have the luxury of parking their bike inside while at work or school, so good lock is a must.  Unfortunately, bicycle theft is a problem that isn’t going away, so protecting your bike with a secure lock is a great idea.  Locks come in all different shapes and sizes, with combination or keyed locks.  And for prices as low as $9.99, buying one is a pretty easy choice. 

3. Lights – With commutes sometimes starting in the early morning hours and ending when the sun is setting, keeping yourself visible is a must!  At the minimum, riders should have a white blinking light at the front of their bikes with a red flashing light in the back.  Headlights are a inexpensive add-on, and greatly increase visibility while riding in darker conditions.

4. Fenders – Don’t let a little rain stop you from hitting the road in the morning on your bike. Fenders do an amazing job of keeping water and road grime off you and your bike.  With prices starting as low as $10, fenders are an easy add-on that go a long way to making your ride to work loads more enjoyable.

5. Basic tool kit – Just like cars, bikes sometimes break down.  Unlike cars though, fixing your bike is usually quick and easy when you have the right tools.  A simple multi-tool, flat tire kit (tube, patch kit, tire levers), and pump/co2 pump are usually all you need to get your bike back up and running.

6.  Rain gear – Like a bike, most people have a rain jacket in the closet.  Perfect!  Use that!  There’s no need to purchase bike specific outerwear for a short commute.  As long as what you wear fits snuggly and doesn’t impede your ability to ride a bike, it’ll be great.

7. Backpack / bike bag – Almost everyone has stuff they need to bring to work, and finding a way to carry it all on your bike is actually pretty easy.  There are hundreds of different bags, racks, or packs you can outfit your bike or yourself with to get your personal items to work.  Our shop mechanic Pete even found a bag to carry home his weekly selections of new vinyl records from the Inner Sleeve!  From lunches to laptops to business suits, theres a bag out there to carry your items while on your bike.

Think you’re ready to give it a try? Hop on your bike tomorrow morning!


It’s National Bike to Work Week!

According to the League of American Bicyclists, more than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2011, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 47 percent.  Are you part of that 47%?

To celebrate Bike to Work Week, we’ll be blogging daily to bring you all the information you need to make your bike commute easier, safer, and more enjoyable.  Not sure what to wear to beat the weather?  Does carrying all your work stuff on a bike have you scratching your head? Or, are you still thinking about switching from the car to the bike and not quite sure how to make it all work?  You’re in the right place!  Be sure to check back daily!

To kick off the week, we’re bringing you a few smokin’ deals on a some great bikes that would make excellent commuters.  Stop in today for a test ride and start saving money (and feeling better in the process).


Marathon County WI Is Getting Bike Friendly

In spring 2012, Marathon County began the creation of a route & signage project to make bicycle commuting convenient and safe in our area. Now, 10 routes encompass each of the seven municipalities (Wausau, Rib Mountain, Schofield, Rothschild, Weston, Kronenwetter, and Mosinee). The 100-mile route system includes over 600 custom bike route signs that are color-coded and numbered by route and include county & municipality information.  

Over 500 steel posts and 280 arrow signs complete the route system. The Route and Sign system also features The Central Loop, which is a 26-mile circular route that includes sections of multiple routes and highlights many of the prominent bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the metro area. The project also includes a Wausau Area Bike Map and user guide. This map (as seen below) is available in print at our downtown Wausau store.

This advancement in Central Wisconsin’s bike friendliness has more community members taking a shot at the sport. Take a look at the map below and find a route for a Sunday afternoon stroll or a Monday morning commute. If you’re looking for tips on rides & commutes or to need to get the necessities (or extras) to make your ride as enjoyable as possible, call or stop in the shop. We’ll help get you set to ride.


Interested in Mountain Bike riding instead, get to know the experts in Central Wisconsin Off Road Cycling Coalition and join the fun.  Our friends in the Wausau Wheelers Club welcome you too.

(Text & photo taken/modified from