Some add-ons to Make Life Easier
You have a bike, and you’re ready to go. Check out this overview of popular bike accessories before you head out the door. Small investments can make a big difference in the comfort, convenience and safety of your ride.
Chain, Cable and U-lock
One of the most basic pieces of gear for your bike is a good lock. There are a variety of different types of locks. Your local bike shop will be glad to help you select one that meets your needs.
Unless you ride only on the brightest and sunniest of days, you need to have lights. Flashing LED lights for both the front and rear of your bike are an inexpensive and invaluable piece of safety equipment. They’re good to have on those gray days too! If you ride in an area where there are few street lights, invest in a solid beam front light to illuminate the way.
Managing the Moisture
Even if you don’t normally ride in the rain, fenders (i.e. mudguards) make riding on wet streets a more pleasant experience. Fenders keep water and grit from being sprayed onto your feet and legs. Your local bike shop can set you up.
Carrying Cargo and Kids
You can haul a lot on a bike if you’re properly equipped. But it can be frustrating and dangerous if you’re not. Listed below are some great ways to help carry cargo.
A basic backpack is very convenient for small loads. A messenger bag with a single strap is a nice piece to use for small amounts of cargo.
A rack for the rear of your bike is extremely useful. You’ll need one if you want to use panniers, buckets or baskets. Panniers are bags that attach to a rear bike rack. They’re usually waterproof, removable and allow you to carry more weight than a backpack. Baskets and buckets are generally a less expensive option, and they can attach to the front or rear of your bike. Some are collapsible and others are easily removable to go into the store with you.
Trailers attach to the rear of your bike and are best for carrying large loads, whether it’s children, pets, groceries or whatever else you can think of. (Hot tip: watch the classified ads for inexpensive used trailers!)
Seats, Trailers, Tagalongs, Trail-A-Bikes
Seats can be mounted on a bike—usually above the rear wheel—to allow you to carry a child. Most bike trailers are designed to carry kids, along with a shopping bag or two. Bike tagalongs or trail-a-bikes are designed for older children to pedal along with you. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications for how to use the product safely and be aware of any age or weight limitations.
Dressing Correctly Improves the Ride
There is gear that everyone should wear when they ride. Then, there is gear made for specific conditions such as riding at night, in the rain or in the cold. Choosing the right clothing will take a bit of experimentation on your part. Here’s an overview to get you started.
Wear one! You need a helmet if you have a head on your shoulders. If you’re under 16 years old, City of Columbia Ordinance No. 17642 requires you to wear one.
Leg bands are a cheap and easy way to keep your pant legs free of your bike chain.
Wearing gloves serves two purposes: they protect your hands from the elements and prevent aches and pains in your hands and wrists. Use full-fingered gloves in colder weather and half-fingered in warmer weather.
Layering can be the key to staying comfortable when riding in wet and/or cold weather. Multiple layers can be a low-cost alternative to high-end performance clothing. In addition, layers can easily be added or removed to improve comfort as you ride. Try a base layer that breathes, another layer that provides warmth and an outer layer that keeps out the wind or rain.
Reflective and Bright Clothing
The right clothing can provide you with added visibility during dark or low light conditions. You can buy clothing with reflective panels and/or piping, or add reflective tape to existing items.
Note: Reflective clothing is not a substitute for bicycle lighting equipment.
Water-resistant and waterproof clothing specifically for cycling can make year-round riding a breeze. A good rain jacket with a longer flap in the back is a good start. You can also find rain pants, waterproof gloves, helmet covers and shoe covers.
Shoes and Pedals
Generally, any shoe will do for riding. Choose something casual and comfortable with a good traction sole. Toe clips (cages attached to the pedals for your foot to slip into) can be added for better pedaling efficiency. A more technical alternative is a pair of clipless pedals that require cleated shoes.
Wet Weather Tips:
- When parking outside in wet weather, carry a plastic bag to put over your seat to keep it dry.
- Use plastic bags to keep your feet dry—just use a rubber band to keep them on.
- Keep an extra pair of socks and shoes at your workplace in case you need to change.