April 09, 2022

The best bike accessoriesMountain bike outfitted with the latest gear

Some bicycle accessories are just for fun, like a clown horn, banana holster, a rubber ducky attachment or a chariot for your terrier.

Yes, those are all real. But many other bicycle “accessories” aren’t really accessories at all. They’re necessities, for safety, security, comfort and performance. Knowing how to trick out your bike best depends on many factors, not the least the type of riding you’ll be doing.

Read on for a few tips!

ROAD SAFETY

First of all, wear a helmet. Prioritize comfort and fit so you’ll actually want to wear it. It doesn’t matter how great your hair looks while riding. In America, some people are willfully blind to the existence of cyclists (if not actively hostile to them). It turns out, you cannot actually expect the unexpected. And, even a mild head injury is still a head injury.

You can’t control what’s going to happen, but you can control if your skull directly hits something at high speed.

If your helmet encounters a strong impact, replace it with a new one. This is the one place you don’t want to go cheap.

Now, let’s talk about visibility. Unless you’re mountain biking in the deep wilderness, being hyper visible on your bike is always a good idea. You’ll never be less impressed with the human race than when riding through traffic at night.

While bright, reflective vests can definitely help, actual lights are even better. Many of these are even visible during daytime. You’ll want a rear light and either a helmet or handlebar-mounted lamp. Light & Motion and Blackburn are well-liked brands, but whatever your local bike shop has is likely pretty good. Just keep in mind that these lights are made for different things. Some lights are meant to simply alert traffic where others are nearly as bright as car headlights. You don’t want to blind motorists! An even more high-tech option is a light up helmet, like the Lumos Ultra, which even has turn signals!

Serious road cyclists also invest in a mirror. Even if it’s only on the side that cars pass you on, it can be a lifesaver. Saving yourself a split-second glance makes for a more relaxing ride too. There are even cheap radars by Garmin which warn you of approaching cars. Both items help you know when to scoot over, both for your own safety and to make motorists less annoyed. You’ll be happy you did this the first time a troglodyte in a car tries to scare you off the road.

If you’re riding through college campuses or busy trails, a road bell is also a good idea. Mountain biking trail bells are especially useful, because the only thing less impressive than the intelligence of daily commuters is the caution of a 23 year old guy bombing down a single track.

Trail bells are mandatory on some trails for good reason. Giving other people a few seconds heads up is sometimes the difference between a good ride and disaster.

Alternatively, a bluetooth speaker (like the one by Ultimate Ears) can be a great way to alert people if you like riding with music, though you will have to subject the world to your embarrassing playlist.

EMERGENCY
REPAIRS

Depending on the type of riding you’ll be doing you might want to bring a spare bicycle tube or patch kit. This can be mitigated somewhat by puncture-resistant tires, but never entirely. Check out this blog post for maintenance tips, but the long and short of it is that you never think you’ll need a tube until you’re walking ten miles home.

You’ll want to pick up a whole maintenance kit in this case (Park Tools is a good brand), with tire levers and a multitool. Just make sure you watch some YouTube videos first, and carry a small pump or CO2 cartridge. A few zip ties or extra chain links won’t go awry in case of bigger problems.

SECURITY

If you’re parking your bike outside, the only real option is a beefy Kryptonite U-lock. The unfortunate truth is that any bicycle can (and likely will) get stolen, but with a big enough lock at least you can slow them down or make it impractical. Prioritize locking your frame, not your wheels. If your bike has a quick-release on its front wheel or post, you’ll also want to string a security cord or small chain through them.

COMFORT
AND PACKING

First and foremost, your clothing should be comfortable and moisture-wicking. Check out The Workout Tee and The Training Shorts for lightweight gear made with performance fabric.

Panniers are excellent for commuters for a few reasons. Because the weight is much lower on your bike it’s a lot more comfortable than a heavy backpack. You won’t get as sweaty, and it will help you keep everything organized. For example, all your bike gear — lock, maintenance kit, and so on — can be in one pannier. That way your work laptop won’t get scuffed. A basket is undeniably cuter but they can make the bike harder to control with a big weight.

For many cyclists, a little seat bag just under your saddle is a great place to put your basic emergency supplies: first aid kit, tire pump, tube and basic tools.

If it’s always in the same place, you’ll never have to think about it. Throw a five or ten dollar bill in there too.

A water bottle cage isn’t really an accessory, as it’s default on most bikes, but it’s a good idea. On that topic, try riding with some electrolyte-powder enhanced water. You’ll be surprised at the energy boost.

For the handlebars, a Quad Lock phone mount (or similar) is an easy way to attach your phone within reach. This way, you can fiddle with texts while you plow into a tree.

HAZARDS

If you’re cycling in rainy places, you really need fenders. Otherwise, the front tire acts as a mud spray towards your groin and the hardest parts of the bike to clean.

Good glasses are also mandatory. Whether these are sunglasses, night glasses or just clear eye protection, being suddenly blind from a gnat while going 30 miles an hour isn’t a good idea. Similarly, gloves can be a big help if you like the skin on your hands.

Finally, you may need pepper spray depending on where you’re riding. Some people and animals don’t always like cyclists.

TIME TO
TRICK IT OUT!

We hope these tips help you get your metal steed ready for your adventures! Have fun!