So what do you need to become a bike commuter? Well, as expected, all you need is a bike. But there are some accessories that will make your ride more enjoyable and fun.
Remember, your helmet is not an accessory, it’s a necessity. Always wear a helmet that fits you properly when you’re riding your bike. No matter how safe or cautious a rider you are, if you ride your bike long enough you will fall off.
1) Bike rack or backpack: A way to carry your stuff
- A back cage is one of the most efficient and effective way to carry your stuff. The idea is to let the bike carry the load. If you’re looking to buy a new or used bike, you may want to consider a bike that has screw holes in the sides of the frame to facilitate the cage installation. But there are bike racks that don’t need these screw holes, so if the bike you have/want doesn’t have them, no worries.
- Front and back baskets can be useful too. I see many people attaching a plastic basket to a rack over the rear wheel. If you or your bike is too cool for such practical accommodations, then the backpack may be the best choice. A typical school backpack will work, but if you’re looking to avoid back and shoulder pain, we recommend small backpacks with a small bowed out metal frame. Originally designed for hiking, these back packs will put the weight of the load on the top of your shoulders and on the base of your hips. This will keep pressure off the middle of the back and prevent pain while riding.
2) Clip in pedals – For a more efficient pedal stroke and faster ride
- If you’re riding more than a few miles to school/work, you may want to consider getting clip in shoes and peddles. This will allow you to deliver power throughout your entire peddle stroke and to transfer more energy to the actual pedal, thus a much faster ride. If you like having the option of riding with both clip in shoes and regular street shoes, there is also hybrid pedals that allow both.
3) Waterproof jacket, pants, shoe covers, etc
- Bicycles are meant for ALL weather, embrace the elements and have fun in the rain again.
4) Eye wear
- It’s important to protect your eyes from sun, air-born debris, insects, and wind. Cycling is a great excuse to get those custom Oakley’s with light illuminating lenses. But remember, wearing flashy Oakley’s is only socially acceptable when you’re riding the bike or standing next to it. You can also save some money and just barrow some standard lab goggles.
5) Bike socks
- Dri fit for your feet. These socks will keep your feet cool and comfortable without soggy sweat build-up.
- Lights are one of the best ways to avoid getting hit on your bike. Get white lights for the front of your handle bars and attach red lights for the back of the bike around your seat area. A set will be around $15-20.
7) Bike lock
- See Park & Lock page
8 ) Saddle Bag and its contents
- This is a small bag that fits underneath your seat and contains all the components to change a flat tire. Flat tires are infrequent but unpredictable so it’s always good to be prepared. See the maintenance page on how to change a flat tire. In your saddle bag you should keep: (1) spare inner tube (2) wedge to pry off tire from wheel frame (3) directions on how to change a tire from the inner tube box (just in case you forget under pressure). We also recommend keeping a pair of latex gloves in there to protect your hands from getting greasy. (To change a flat you will also need a way to fill up the inner tube with air. You can either attach a small hand bike pump to the frame of your bike or keep one in your bag. Alternatively, you can carry CO2 cartridges in your saddle bag.) You can look for a kit with most of this gear sold together.
9) Biking shorts
- No matter how comfortable or expensive your seat is, when you first start biking long distances your butt may hurt during and after riding. Biking shorts can help mitigate this effect. It will take time to condition your muscles underneath your sit bones to get used to your bike seat. Don’t be discouraged, after a few weeks your butt will understand the greatness of your new hobby and comply. There are many styles of bike shorts, including the quality of the spandex, cushion type, and overall fit. If those tight spandex are too revealing for you, they also come in more conservative “mountain biking” shorts that resemble typical everyday shorts.
10) Water bottle and its holder
- Cycling can be as leisure as you make it. But if you really push it, it can be a great workout. Stay hydrated for those intense rides chasing after speed.