Awesome tips to help you start bike commuting

Bike commuting is amazing. It saves money and gas, is often just as fast as driving and is a good way to get some exercise before you sit at your desk all day.

The benefits are huge and the downsides are few. So why not start getting yourself prepped for a new morning routine?

RELATED: Grind Guru: How do I bike to work?

Here are five tips to help get you on the road.

Know your route

2270405484_8ac40c48ce_z

Commuter routes are no secret. Photo: Courtesy of Google Maps

Often, the safest, easiest and most direct ride isn’t the same one you drive, so map out your trajectory before you go.

Take a Saturday to figure out the best route to work and how long it will take you so that you won’t spend Monday morning getting lost and showing up late.

Google Maps shows bike routes, and in a lot of cities your local cycling coalition will have maps of all the bike lanes.

Dial in your ride

5342526988_2491c9ee6b_b

These babies are ready to ride. Photo: Courtesy of TW Buckner/Flickr

Get your bike tuned up before you start riding.

Inflate the tires, lube your chain and tighten all your bolts. Figure out how you want to carry your gear on your commute: Backpacks are easy, but they’ll leave you sweaty, so investing in panniers can pay off.

Live somewhere rainy? Fenders and a solid raincoat should get you through the ride.

Stash your gear

2198776247_d241d2b98e_o

These are non-biking shoes. Photo: Courtesy of Helen Palsson/Flickr

Leave work-appropriate shoes, toiletries and a change of clothes at your desk.

If you don’t have a shower at work, wet wipes and dry clothes can make a huge difference.

RELATED: Essential gear for winter bike commuting

If your commute is short, or if you don’t want to change, companies like Iva Lee (and even Levis) are making bike-appropriate gear that’s also real-life ready. No Spandex needed.

Know how to fix a flat

5756674017_8760fe51a3_b

Always be prepared for a flat. Photo: Courtesy of TW Buckner/Flickr

Nothing slows down your commute like having to call a co-worker to come pick you up on the side of the road.

RELATED: New study: Less than 1 hour of cycling per week slows aging

Learn how to do basic bicycle maintenance, and carry a patch kit with spare tubes and a pump. Bike shops often will have a beginner maintenance class, or a bike-commuting class, so check your local shop for events.

Be safe

2356136060_8c61099860_b

Safety first, always. Photo: Courtesy of Phil and Pam/Flickr

Wear a helmet and learn appropriate hand signals, which will inform cars and other bikers about what you’re doing.

Get a white front light and a red rear light; even if you don’t think you’re going to be riding after dark, you never know when you’ll have to stay late in the office.

Although it’s tempting to ride with music, especially if your commute is long, forego the iPod on busy streets.