I’m a big believer in “use what you have” and starting simple. Having said that, when I took up bike riding for fun and exercise, I quickly realized that to have a more comfortable and safe ride there were several items I really needed. So I added gear and accessories, one thing at a time.
Here is a list of the type of bike accessories I use. Some are critical and some are nice-to-haves, but all have made a difference in giving me a better ride.
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A helmet is a necessity, for safety and because in many states and localities it’s the law. Even though I mostly ride in my development, I take safety seriously. If I’m on my bike I’m wearing my helmet.
I recommend getting a helmet that has removable pads inside, so that you can hand-wash them regularly — they will get sweaty! A good fit, and the ability to adjust the inside of the helmet and the straps are also important.
Bicycle helmets come in a variety of sizes and colors. There’s certainly something for everyone.
Sure, you could just wear any pair of sunglasses — but you’ll discover the distinct difference cycling glasses make when you use them. They are specially designed to keep the wind out of your eyes. With regular sunglasses, wind comes in the sides and can make your eyes water uncomfortably. I have a set similar to this one, with several different shades of lenses that just pop on and off. Be sure to get a set that comes with a clear lens as well. This will keep the bugs out of your eyes when you’re riding in the evening or early morning. Trust me, you need that.
Honestly, I’m surprised at the number of riders who don’t use lights. I consider this a very important safety item. The more visible you are to cars, the better it is and the safer you are. Even during the day, I always have my front headlight (white) on, and my rear light (red, set to blinking mode).
Do yourself a favor and get a cushioned seat cover like this that slips over your seat. You’ll thank me later. Cushions come in narrow and wide models, so be sure to get the kind that works with your bike’s seat.
This also makes a big difference in comfort. Even with a gel seat cushion, I always wear padded bike shorts.
Cycling gloves are padded in all the right places, to help you avoid callouses and discomfort from pressure. In warm weather I wear the fingerless style like above. In colder weather I use a thicker, full-finger cycling glove such as this one.
Bright Shirt or a Cycling Vest
Like I said, the more visible you are the safer you are. So always wear a bright colored shirt if you can. If not, a bright vest overlay such as this one will do the job.
This is another fantastic safety item to have. Bike mirrors come in many varieties. Some clip to the handlebar and others fit in the ends of the handlebars (that’s the kind I have). Thanks to the mirror, I never have to wonder if a car is driving up behind me, or if it’s safe to make a turn.
Using an air pump is just a part of cycling. It’s important to have properly inflated tires, so check them regularly. Be sure to get a pump that has a pressure gauge and an adjustable valve.
Staying hydrated is important. Yet, most bikes don’t come with a bottle holder – so you’ll need to install one (or two, if you take long rides).
I prefer a covered phone holder that is also a case. The phone is much more protected from damage than with the non-covered kind, and it’s water resistant. I also like that I can fit keys, a few tissues, and a lip balm in the case. During my rides, I use a tracking app (MapMyRide) and it’s easy to see the screen when it’s front-and-center like this. Just make sure to get one that fits your phone.
On a few occasions, unfortunately, I’ve had dogs run out at me and act aggressively. Even worse, I had a very scary experience from a man who harassed me while I was riding. After that, I decided that keeping pepper spray on the bike is a must-have. I haven’t had to use it yet, thankfully, but I look at it as cheap insurance against a potential threat. I use a model like this one, and wrap the velcro around the handlebar so it’s easy to access quickly.
I have a trunk-mounted bike carrier like this one, that doesn’t require anything to be permanently installed to the car. It’s so much fun to be able to go riding in other places than just the neighborhood. It opens up a whole new world of riding.
I love listening to music or podcasts when I work out. But I also know the importance of personal safety when using music on a bike, run or walk. It’s vitally important to be able to hear what’s going on around you – whether it’s oncoming cars, people or animals. Aftershokz are a special kind of headphones that do not go inside your ears or cover them at all. Even so, if you choose to use Aftershokz, be sure to keep it set to a LOW volume while you’re out there. See my full review of this product.
Other useful items:
Enjoy your ride!