So you just bought your new commuting bike, and it most likely came stripped down without any bike accessories. This is fine! But just a few additions will go a long way in making you a better bike commuter.
All you need are: a helmet, a lock, bike lights, a basket/rack and fenders.
These essential bike accessories are 100% worth it because you will use them every time you get on a bike. Moreover, these are usually low cost, affordable additions to your bike that will not break the bank!
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In my opinion, your helmet is more of a requirement than an accessory.
But if you don’t agree with me, look at it this way: a helmet is an excellent way to highlight your sense of style and personality all while protecting your beautiful brain (I’m a neurologist remember). But in all seriousness, helmets at least make you feel safer and are good to have in case of a fall.
Furthermore, helmets have come a long way over the years. Some of the more common helmet complaints (helmets are ugly, helmets mess up your hair, helmets are uncomfortable etc.) have been addressed by helmet companies more recently; they are no longer the clunky, hair-sweat inducing contraptions you might imagine.
The possibility of bike theft is an unfortunate reality of bike commuting; however, a good bike lock is an excellent first line of defense.
There are thousands of bike locks and options to choose from, at different price points, with a myriad of pros and cons. Needless to say, the process of choosing a bike lock can definitely be overwhelming. But I am here to help!
Check out this infographic from The Best Bike Lock that walks you through how to choose a bike lock in 3 simple steps. Instead of trying to just sell you a specific bike lock or listing a bunch of pros and cons, it guides you through points you should consider in choosing the best bike lock for your needs.
This is the bike lock I use, and I feel very reassured about the security of my bike anywhere in the city! Mostly in part to this video I watched that showed how a bolt cutter was no match for this lock!
For new bike commuters and cyclists, you may be surprised to discover that this is in the midrange price-point for locks – bike locks are not cheap! But they are an investment that is definitely worth it!
Many first time bike commuters think, “I won’t be biking in the dark” but inevitably that day arrives when you’re heading out on your bike and it is, in fact, dark.
For the most part, bike lights are cheap (average price $10-20 for two) and durable. Get your bike lights the same day you get your bike and you’ll never have to think about them again! Very much like with a car or any vehicle, you will need a white light for the front of your bike that helps with your visibility and a red light for the back of your bike that helps others see you. Usually, most bike light kits come with both.
In my experience, rechargeable LED bike lights last the longest and are the easiest to use. I’ve had my bike lights for 6 years with no issues!
Check out the ones I use here!
I would recommend charging your lights every once in a while at fixed intervals because nothing is worse than heading out only to find your bike lights are dead! It’s almost as bad as not having bike lights in the first place.
Bike Basket or Rear Rack
I do not know what I would do without my trusty bike basket. It has come in handy for everything from impromptu grocery runs on my way home from work to a place for my overnight bag when I’m headed in for call.
Baskets are easy to install and cost an average of $20-30. I bought and had mine installed when I bought my bike at my local shop. They are a straightforward, easy way to carry extra things when needed. A rear rack is also an excellent option for carrying objects. You can attach things directly to the rack and carry more weight. They are slightly more expensive than a basic bike basket, but are very sturdy and versatile. You can also always attach both for maximum cargo-carrying capacity like the image above!
Furthermore, if you suffer from sweaty-back-syndrome (check out more on that in the post 2 Tricks to Minimize Sweating on Your Commute), putting your backpack in your basket or on your rack is a great way to get relief!
Bike Fenders (Mudguards)
I discovered fenders (also known as mudguards) late in my bike commuting journey and I don’t want you to make the same mistake!
Fenders keep all that rain, dirt and gravel from the ground from getting on your clothes. Fenders catch this moisture and prevent them from being kicked upwards. You will never have to worry about that dreaded splash of gross water on the back of your shirt and pants ever again.
Fenders are relatively light and do not add too much extra weight to your bike. I bought and had mine installed at my local bike shop, but they would also be easy to install on your own! They cost about $20-40 dollars (depending on their level of coverage) and are well worth the investment.
That’s it! There are plenty more bike accessories out there you can consider (bells, GPS systems, etc.) but these 5 are what I consider essential for your bike commuting success! Check out the other “Style” posts for more inspiration!