Top 10 Must-Have Cycling Accessories
As we all know, cycling has nothing to do with transport. It’s all about satisfying the urge to buy gadgets!
Here’s ten accessories you really shouldn’t be without.
Lights aren’t just to make you visible to motorists in the dark, but a good headlight will help you see where you’re going down country lanes.
Modern LED headlights offer unrivaled brightness to weight/power ratio compared to other lights. I’d strongly recommend going LED, that is if you can afford it. A good LED bicycle headlight can cost in excess of £100.
Rear LED lights are typically a lot cheaper and there is little difference between different price ranges. A typical rear light shouldn’t set you back more than about £10.
2. Air Pump
Small hand-held pumps are ideal to attach to your bike for emergencies, but they are utterly useless for getting a decent pressure in your tyres. A good track pump is easy to use and takes only 20 seconds to get 100psi into your tyres. So much easier and efficient. Plus the addition of the included hose prevents you from bending and wobbling your tyre’s valve. If you don’t have a track pump, foot pumps prove a good alternative, if you have the correct valve adapter of course.
3. Puncture Repair Kit
This is one accessory which you rarely need. But when you do, you cannot do without it. The last thing you want is to stuck 20 miles from home, with a puncture. I personally recommend ‘Slime Skabs’. They simply peel and stick to your inner tube, without the usual chalk and stuff. Ideal for that emergency roadside repair to get you going again.
Along with a puncture repair kit, I’d recommend carrying a tyre lever. This makes getting the tyre off the wheel a lot easier.
4. Bike Lock
It only takes 30 seconds as you pop into a shop for someone to grab your bike and make off. A bike lock is a necessity in my opinion.
The mega lightweight extending locks are easy to carry and should be fine for the occasional shop or public toilet visit, but don’t rely on one to keep your bike safe for extended periods of time. Get yourself a chunky cable-based lock. Whilst no lock is 100% safe from the most determined thieves, a decent lock should stall a potential thief for as long as possible.
5. Saddle Bag
Carrying all of these accessories is going to be difficult without a decent place to store them. Topeak do an excellent saddle bag called the ‘Aero Wedge’. These things are deceivingly roomy, holding a phone, keys, tools, puncture repair kit and more, with room left over!
Whilst not a necessity, a small travel toolkit comes in handy surprisingly often. There are loads of types available, but I’ve found that the swiss-army style fold-out tools to be the most convenient. Make sure you have a couple of hex keys (Allen keys) too.
7. GPS Tracker
By GPS tracker, I mean a smartphone app. You can get GPS tracking security hardware which tracks stolen bikes, however professional bike thieves are not stupid and I know somebody personally who had a high-end bike stolen, the thieves removed parts from the bike known to potentially contain a security tracker. Whilst useful, I don’t consider these gadgets essential so I have not included any in this list.
In my experience, the best iPhone/Android GPS tracking app by far has to be Strava. This free app not only logs your ride, but log into their website and compare your ride (or portions of it) against loads of other cyclists. You can track speed, distance, plus premium users can see advanced statistics such as cadence and heart rate (with the additional hardware.)
Strava will add an extra dimension to your cycling and every cyclist needs to at least give it a try.
8. Energy Gels
If you’re heading out on a long bike ride, you should definitely pack a few energy gel sachets. They’re small, so they don’t take up much pocket/bag space, yet they contain e great hit of energy to keep you going that extra 20 miles. Cheaper alternatives are available such as sweets like Jelly babies or fruit such as tangerines or bananas.
9. First Aid Kit
It’s inevitable that at some point in the future, you (or someone around you) will experience some kind of accident. When that does happen, I guarantee you that you will be thankful you packed a first aid kit. For the sake of a couple of quid, you really have no excuse to to pick one up and shove it in your saddle bag.
10. A Bell
I rode for months without a bell without too many problems. However once I started using cycle paths, I realised how useful they are for preventing accidents.
If you’re approaching someone for an overtake, or someone walking their dog, a quick ‘ding’ is the difference between them being aware of your presence, and swerving in your way, blissfully unaware that you’re even there.