In this post were going to discuss the different types of commuter bicycle accessories you might want to equip either your bike or yourself with.
In our opinion, bike accessories fall into two categories, ‘essentials’ or ‘luxuries’. We’re going to discuss bike accessories which we think lie in each of the two categories below.
Essential Bike Accessories
On top of a bike and some cycling clothing, your going to need some other accessories to make sure your safe whilst your riding. Listed below are the we think you will NEED to safely ride to work.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that riding with a helmet is essential. Looking back on the few accidents I have had whilst cycling (predominantly mountain biking), having cracked a few helmets, and split one nearly clean in two, I can hand on heart say I may owe my life to those bits of styrofoam.
But, no-one wants to look like a super mario mushroom when they’re riding their bike. Helmets do tend to get smaller, more compact and have better styling the more you spend on them. So in this instance, it might be worth splashing the cash, if buying a more expensive helmet will keep it on your head then this is absolutely a worthwhile investment.
Would you leave your car unlocked? If your like me, your bike is your pride and joy, and should be left securely. Therefore a suitable and robust bike lock is a must if your leaving such a treasured possession alone in public for 8 hours a day. Also, you may have bought the best lock in the business, but, there’s also a correct way to lock your bike, and not using your lock correctly is just as bad as tying your bike up with a piece of string, as the image below shows.
Theres inevitably going to be a certain amount if ‘kit’ you’ll need to transport between your home and your place of work so that you can do your job. there are many different shapes and sizes of bags, some attached to you,and some attached to your bike. Either way, you’ll need enough storage to carry all your essential items for work comfortably and safely.
If your going to be riding when it gets dark then a good set of lights are a must. Bike lights tend two have two functions, first is to be seen by other road users, and secondly the see the road with. The majority of bike lights fall into the first category, as the brightness needed to illuminate a dark road infant of you bright enough to see requires some serious battery power. However, with the onset of LED bulbs, bike lights are quickly becoming a lot brighter, smaller, energy efficient and cheaper. You’ll want to equip yourself with a front and rear light at the minimum. Lots of riders use multiple lights attached to both their bike and their clothing. You’ll also want to be wearing high viz clothing, but we’ll cover that in another clothing post.
Tools and Pumps
When ever your out on your bike its a good idea to carry at least a basic set of tools incase you have a mechanical. We’re not talking stuffing an entire workshop into your back pack but you’d be surprised what you can fix with just a basic set of allen keys, screw drivers, chain tool and spoke keys. Fortunately, bike tool companies have combined the majority of the basic tools into handy multitool devices.
As well as tools you should also carry a pump and either a repair kit or spare inner tubes incase the dreaded puncture strikes. Some tyres, particularly on road bikes can be very tight to take off the rim, so its also worth carrying a couple of tyre levers. Tyre levers help hinge the tyre off the rim without damaging your tyres or the surface of your rims.
The accessories below are certainly very useful, but we don’t feel they are essential to commuting by bike.
When the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse, having fenders on your bike can really help stop tyre spray getting in your eyes from your front wheel and leaving a suspect muddy trail up your back from your rear wheel. A good set of fenders is nice for the wetter months, or when rain is more likely, but they can be a bit of a drag when they’re not needed.
Bike computers give you lots and lots of detail about about your performance such as speed, average speed, max speed, cadence and travel time. Recording your times and speeds for your commute can be a fun way to measure improvements in your fitness. There are also GPS smart phone Apps available that can record your route and provide the same metrics on your rides, but your phone tends to be in your back pack or pocket when riding so a computer can give you real time information.
A step on from the bike computers is the bike GPS. These units use the GPS satellite system to track your rides and give you real time data about your ride in the same way as a normal bike computer. Think of these devices as the smart phone App and the computer in one handy unit. Some of the higher end models can also give you turn by turn directions, in much the same way as your car sat nav, which can make exploring new areas fun, without the risk of getting lost.
Racks and Panniers
If you have to carry lots of stuff with you to work, cramming it all in a back pack or shoulder bag can make you a little top heavy when your riding and make things a little less stable. Racks can be attached to your bike above either the front wheel or the back wheel (or both). The majority of racks attach to special rack mounts that are welded onto the frame when its made. But there are options available for bikes without these mounts that can bolt onto your seat post or other areas of your bike.
Once you have racks attached to your bike you can then look at bags to fit to the racks, or panniers. Panniers are the best way to carry heavier loads whilst on your commute, this could be a bulky laptop or a heavy lunch bag. The benefit of using panniers is that they don’t disturb your cycling centre of gravity or balance on your bike.
Bike and Helmet Cameras
Theres no shortage of dangers when your riding your bike, especially when your on the road. Cars and other road users are an ever present threat to cyclists. In response some riders have taken to using bike and helmet cameras to back them selves up incase they have to prove their version of events after a collision. On a lighter note, you can also create great films by cutting and editing the footage to show your friends and share via social media.