The beauty of biking is that you can ride happily by just putting on some dead simple casual clothes, grabbing a knapsack, and be gone. However, if you ride regularly, having the right tools and gears makes your time on the saddle a lot more enjoyable, safer, and comfortable. Yet when you walk into a bike shop, you have no idea where to start with all sorts of gizmos and design-savvy gadgets available. What is that thingamajig over there? Do I need that?
What Bicycle Accessories Do I need?
In reality, you don’t need anything fancy to get started. We’ve compiled a list of the most essential bike accessories that are not only affordable but last a lifetime. So, grab your helmet, load up these must-have bike accessories and you’re off to a solid start. If you don’t have a bike yet, we’ve got a guide on various types of bikes that match every rider and every style.
As keen as you want to have your hair floating in the air while riding, you cannot risk going without protection. If you want to stack the odds in your favor, grab your helmet, even if it is a three-minute ride to your local store or a couple of hours commuting to work. Although you feel safe, you never know what’s around the next corner. So, while any safety accessory is nice to have, a helmet is non-negotiable.
When selecting a bike helmet, fit and comfort should be your primary focus. If a helmet is going to offer some protection at all, it needs to be snug, sit level on your head, and meet industry safety standards. There are many safety-obsessed high-tech brands that offer lightweight, well-ventilated, affordable, and good-looking helmets. You’d have no reason not to wear one.
Unless you never plan to leave the saddle, you will likely need to lock your bike. Cable locks are useful if you need to stop for a coffee or snack. Leaving your bike alone longer than that, you might as well not find it when you get back. If you want to lock your bike to something sturdy, try the chain locks or the U-lock. They are more difficult to crack but are usually more expensive.
Nobody plans to get a flat tire, but at some point, they lose that precious oxygen and you need to inflate them back. If you want to avoid the unexpected, it’s important to be prepared and tote a pump along on your rides. Having said that, it’s preferred to have both a floor and a hand pump. The former is nice to keep in your garage but it will be a lot heavier to carry. A hand pump, on the other hand, is more practical and a nice option to tire your pump in the event of a sudden flat tire.
CO2 inflators are another option if you get a flat while you’re on the go but they usually take longer to inflate. Consider these options if you want to be perfectly geared up and enjoy your ride without having to worry about flat tires.
Lights and Reflectors
Regardless of whether you bike during the day or night, you should always have flashing lights mounted on your bike to make sure you’re visible to others on the road. This gets even more serious if you’re riding on poorly lit roads or on the outskirts where there’s not enough light. You need a more powerful unit to illuminate the road and most bright LED lights would do the trick. Whichever option you choose, tire spoke reflectors, flashing lights, rear lights, make sure they make you visible on the road and are compliant with safety laws.
Water Bottle and Bottle Holder
Cycling can be thirsty, especially on longer rides. Staying hydrated helps you recover quickly and ride longer. Water bottles might seem trivial at first, but after one hour of riding, you’ll soon find them necessary. Most road bikes come with one or two water bottles and bottle holders, but in case your bike doesn’t have them, make sure to choose one that has enough capacity for your needs as you might regret buying something too small, especially if you plan to do long-distance rides.
These come in handy if you have an extensive list of stuff to pack including wallet, keys, snacks, hand pump, phone, and other accessories you can’t do without. The bag is placed right under your saddle and has an easy access. When picking up a saddle bag, make sure to choose one that is waterproof to protect your stuff from sudden rain.
If you plan to take cycling seriously, you’d better be proactive than reactive. In order to avoid going to your local bike shop every time you need a bolt tightened or phone somebody for a lift because your tire broke down, buy a small tool kit and learn basic maintenance yourself. These kits come complete with a variety of Allen key sizes and wrenches, tire levers, and countless other repair necessities depending on the kit.
This is far from essential but nice to have if you want to know how fast and how far you’ve ridden. Depending on the price, computers come with more or fewer features. If you opt for something more expensive, buy one with GPS. You can download maps and see where you’re going. You can also plug them in your laptop and download all the data. Bike computers come particularly in handy for those who bike for fitness as they help track all necessary metrics and measure progress. All the information you need is right there, on the handlebar.
With the sheer range of accessories available, you can be easily overwhelmed especially if you’re new to the sport. While the helmet is always non-negotiable, others depend on your riding and convenience needs. We hope that this list simplifies the process of collecting your gear by putting forward only the essentials.