I commute to work on a Trek 7100e hybrid bike. It's about 15 miles (24km) each way, along flattish suburban roads and a (fairly smooth) canal towpath. It takes me about an hour. Due to the distance (and extra time compared to driving), I only do this about once a week. I'm a medium-height, slightly built guy, reasonable fitness level. What is the best way to improve my speed and reduce my time, without spending much money?
- Pedals - I don't really want to go clipless due to the expense, but I'd consider it if it's the best way. Are toe clips and straps likely to make much difference?
- Reducing 'luggage weight'. My standard pack for work is a change of clothes and some basic bike maintenance stuff (tube, pump, tools, and a cable lock). It's currently in a double pannier that's probably overkill. Should I consider going to a rack trunk, a handlebar bag (no rack required), or something else? I don't like cycling that far with a backpack.
- Tyres - change to slicks? Or narrower tyres? Would that mean I'd need to change the wheels too?
- I'd assumed (and read somewhere here) that changing to drop handlebars would be more trouble than it's worth.
- Something I haven't thought of?
EDIT - just a quick update. A work colleague had some spare LOOK clipless pedals and shoes, so I gave them a try. And I'm a convert! I see a definite improvement in performance, especially in acceleration - I can get up to speed a lot quicker than I could before. Thanks to everyone who answered. I'll probably try skinnier tyres too, but not until I actually need to change them.
EDIT three years on. I upgraded to a road bike (Pinnacle Dolomite 4, 2016) and that's been the biggest improvement in speed. I still have a rack on the back (just a rack top bag now, no panniers), clipless pedals, and 25mm tyres inflated to 100psi. I usually try to leave some clothes in work to reduce weight. Record time is now 51 minutes!