Different cyclists will have different priorities on what accessories to get. The list here isn’t comprehensive; it’s a starting point, listing the items we think you should consider first.
Some accessories are a matter of personal preference; lighting is required by law. If you cycle on a public highway between dusk and dawn, which is inevitable if you commute year round, your bike must have a white front light and a red rear light. Dynamo lights that bolt to the bike are the most convenient, as you don’t need to remember to bring them or charge them. Rechargeable lights are the next best.
Riding a bicycle on wet roads without mudguards is a bit like driving through a car wash with the windows down. Mudguards prevent dirty water being sprayed over you and the bike, saving on washing and on maintenance. Any mudguards are better than none, but full length frame-fitting guards are the most effective – so much so that it’s worth choosing your commuter bike on the basis of whether or not full mudguards will fit.
Every commuter needs a bag. For shorter journeys and lighter loads, a backpack or courier bag works fine. Look for a waist or chest strap to stabilise the bag. If your bike has a rack, or can have one fitted, small panniers or a large rack-top bag are better. You’ll sweat less and suffer fewer aches and pains. Get sturdy, waterproof bags that go on and off the rack easily.
Whenever your bike is out of your sight, it needs protecting with a lock – a locked door, a bike lock or both. While no lock is impregnable, one that takes too much time and effort to break will dissuade thieves. Short D-locks offer the best compromise between security and portability. Make sure the bike is locked through the frame to something immovable.
Unless you top them up regularly with a pump, bike tyres gradually deflate. Overly soft tyres are draggy and inefficient, making you work harder. They compromise bike handling and they’re more susceptible to punctures. It’s worth having two pumps: a floor pump (or track pump) with a pressure gauge for use at home, and a hand pump to carry on the bike. If money or space is tight, a mini floor pump will do both jobs.
6. Waterproof jacket
You can use a normal coat for cycling, of course, but many are too bulky and too hot on a bike. A lightweight, breathable waterproof cycling jacket will keep out the rain and wind without making you overheat. The cut will be better for bike use, with longer arms and a longer back, and most have bright colours and reflective details for conspicuity. Useful year-road, a waterproof jacket is the one cycling-specific garment any commuter can benefit from.
Unlike lights, cycle helmets aren’t a legal requirement, so it’s up to you if you wear one. Some cyclists never do, some won’t get on a bike without one, and there are plenty in the middle who wear one in some circumstances and not others. Whatever your feelings, it’s worth noting that helmets are not heavy and need not be expensive; the budget ones have to pass the same safety tests. Comfort, ventilation, and appearance are thus the key criteria.
8. Cycle clips
Most bikes have exposed chains, so if you commute in normal clothes and don’t want oil on your trousers you’ve got a choice: tuck your trouser leg into your sock (not a good look); or use cycle clips or ankle bands. Reflective ones are best as they’ll stand out in car headlights at night, the up-down motion immediately signifying a cyclist.
Your local shop will be happy to service your bike. That’s no substitute for having the tools and learning the skills for simple ‘running repairs’ such as fixing a puncture and adjusting brakes. A basic, bike-portable toolkit requires: two tyre levers; a puncture repair kit; several Allen keys; one or two Torx drivers; and a chain splitter.
Drivers won’t hear a bicycle bell so you might think ‘why bother?’ Because pedestrians and other cyclists will, and it’s a more polite and arguably more reliable way of alerting them to your presence than shouting. A bell is exceptionally useful on shared-use cycle tracks and works well around town. It weighs almost nothing too.
All of the above and more can be found at our Cyclescheme Partner Stores: www.cyclescheme.ie/partners
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