Beyond 2 wheels and a frame that can get you form point A to point B, a bike is also a platform for fun and fitness. In all these capacities, there are many accessories on the market that can enhance your enjoyment of ridding. A few I consider essentials for safety. Others are nice-to-haves that can make ridding more pleasurable, or more effective as a fitness training tool. Because there is so much to discuss in this topic, in this post I’ll discuss safety, saving the other categories for future tips.
There are a few things everyone should have on their bike at all times to stay safe on the road and get you where they are going and back again.
Reflectors. If your bike did not come with these, add them. Front, back, and on the wheels. No matter the lighting conditions, these will help you be seen by motorist; your second biggest threat after potholes.
Mirror. On you helmet or on your bike, if ridding on the road you should have a left side mirror to help spot traffic overtaking you.
Spare inner-tube, bike repair tool, and means of inflation. The further you plan to ride, the more important these items become. Pushing a bike home with a flat for 10 miles will be long and exhausting. Far better to be prepared for a road repair so you can keep riding. See this post on how to change a flat.
Make sure you have the proper sized tube for your bike, and a bike multi tool that includes tire tools. I favor the combination over separate tire tools for space saving and simplicity.
For inflation, you can carry a miniature hand pump, these all come with some means of attaching them to your frame, or CO2 cartridges. There are pro’s and con’s of each. Small hand pumps can take a long time to fill a tire, and they don’t always seal that well to valve stems. It’s also near impossible to generate 150psi to fully inflate road tires with these small pumps, but they are infinitely reusable – unlike CO2 cartridges which are only good for a single tire refill. If your seal to the stem is less than perfect, you blow that CO2 into the air rather than your tire (I write from experience here) and then you’re stuck. I consider CO2 a convenience therefore, and the hand pump the essential tool.
Bike Bag. You are going to need a spot to carry the tube, tools, and CO2, so a bike bag is the next essential. Unless you are touring and getting a full set of paniers for your gear, there are two basic bag types a day-rider is likely to choose from; under saddle, and on-frame. The seat type clips to the bottom of your saddle, and secures to the seat post as well. Frame style bags either sit below or above your top frame bar. The above-style often has a clear pocket for your phone; great for displaying fitness app data. But please don’t try to text and cycle. Any type will do. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
With these items (and a helmet, but that’s a given), you’ll be able to ride more safely, which means more serenely, which leads to greater enjoyment. And that’s really what bicycling is all about.