10 Mile Bike Commute: What Complete Beginners Need To Know


Whether you are sick of traffic, or you want to burn off those unwanted pounds gained, so you are considering starting to bike to work. “The only thing is,” you say to yourself, “is that it is 10 miles each way! I am only a beginner! Can I even do this? Or am I stuck with my hard-earned pounds?” 

With the right attitude, the right fitness level, the right amount of time, and the right bike, a 10-mile commute each way for a beginner is realistic. It can be challenging at first, so one or two days per week may be enough at the beginning. After that, the number of days of commuting by bike can be increased gradually.

Can you manage a 10-mile commute, even though you’re just a beginner?

If you have the mindset, that is, you have made the decision to commute, you are on the right track because you have the most difficult part out of the way! And since you are just starting out, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, either. There is nothing wrong with getting your feet wet before jumping in to the deep end! 

It will be challenging, so begin by doing it just one or two days a week. Once you see that you enjoy it, and that you can indeed do it, it will motivate you to do more, so start with baby steps and gradually build up. You may become a daily commuter in no time!

As a disclaimer, since you will be using muscles that you are probably not used to using, you will most likely have some soreness after the first few days. This is normal, so don’t give up. This will go away as your muscles get used to the commute.

If you are just getting started and want a little bit of general orientation on how to become a bike commuter hero, such as what clothes to wear, what gear to buy, and what factors to be aware of, check out this post I wrote with you in mind

How much time will it take to do a 10-mile commute?

Obviously this depends on many factors, such as your fitness level, the type of bike you have, and the type of terrain, but you can generally expect a 10-mile commute to take between 35 minutes and 60 minutes each way (20 mile round trip 70 – 120 minutes in total). 

As you can imagine, if you have to stop at traffic lights all the time, or if there is intense traffic on your route, it will probably take longer, so just make sure you take that into consideration when planning your commute.

In my experience, as you get used to your commute, you will probably find that the time you take to get to and from work will be less. As you become a regular commuter, you will become fitter and you will find shortcuts, which will be able to shave off some valuable time. You can use cycling apps such as Endomondo and Strava to give you a hand finding them.

This will give you great satisfaction and will make your commute that much more enjoyable! You may even be part of the few people on the planet that actually look forward to the commute to and from work! 

If you want to take a bit of a better look as to how much time your commute would take, check out this post, where you will find a handy-dandy commute calculator which will take into account the various factors that affect your commuting speed such as fitness level, your bike type, and the amount of traffic on your route.

What type of bike should you choose for a 10 mile commute?

A 10-mile commute is not a very long one, but it is not a short one either. Thus, you will need to make sure you get the right bike, as the longer your commute is, the more uncomfortable it can be if you don’t get the right one. 

If you just get a so-so bike, your commute will become an exercise in which you torture yourself unnecesarily, and you won’t enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy your commute, you will probably end up throwing in the towel. 

Don’t fall into the trap of buying a cheap bike! It is not worth taking shortcuts, as it will only frustrate you and make whatever you put into getting started a total waste of time, money, and emotional investment. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to set out and buy yourself a Bentley-of-a-bike right away, either. You can expect to get a decent bike for your 10-mile commute for about $600 if you buy new. 

Types of bikes that are good for a 10-mile commute

The type of bike you need for your medium-to-long-distance commute will depend on many factors, such as terrain, what you need to carry, and your fitness level. Let’s look at a few options, taking into account various combinations of these factors:

Fitness bike/Road bike

These two bikes are quite similar, although the fitness bike is the easier of the two to ride for a beginner. The main difference is that fitness bikes have flat handlebars instead of the drop bar of a traditional road bikes. If you have a little bit of experience, either one will do fine. If you have a little bit of a climb in parts of your commute, or would like to get to work a bit faster than you would with a touring bike, the fitness bike and the road bike are just perfect. 

Hybrid bike

The hybrid bike is another option that could really work out well for someone starting as a bike commuter hero. It’s a tad bit slower than a fitness bike, however if the terrain on your commute is a little more challenging (such as parts with gravel), this can be the perfect solution for you.

Hybrids also open the door for a more comfortable ride by offering front suspension forks, the possibility of carrying a pannier, full size fenders, just to name a few.

Gravel bike

Easily mistaken for the untrained eye, gravel bikes can make a commute much more comfortable by offering more tire cushioning, mounting points for fenders and racks and other convenient features. A gravel bike can be the perfect option for someone just getting started with commuting on two wheels. As the name suggests, it gives you the flexibility of travelling through stretches of gravel, and, as a bonus, you can bike on urban and paved roads as well. It is not as fast as a fitness or a road bike, but it is a hair faster than a hybrid.

You may already see clearly that one or more of these three bikes is already a clear fit for your commute. In case you haven’t, or if you are interested in looking at other options, I have dedicated a post to this very topic, which you will see is a very practical guide to finding the right commuter bike for you. 

Once you see the type of bike you need, I would suggest you try out a bike or two before buying one. Check if you know someone who can lend you one to see how you do, and then you can make an informed purchase. 

Conclusion

As you can see, if you have the right mindset, bike and a little bit of time, you can handle a 10-mile commute, even if it is just a day or two at the start. Your commute can even be something that you look forward to.

Happy riding!

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