Carefully chosen accessories can transform any bike from a leisure vehicle into a valuable year-round mode of transport.
There are many accessories available for you and your bike, but what should you spend your money on? Well, this article should guide you from the 'must have' accessories through to the luxury items to kit out your bike with.
Why should you invest in accessories?
Safety is the number one reason you should consider accessories; you need to be seen and you need to be protected. The second reason is comfort; the more you ride the more you will benefit from extras that make life on a bike a bit easier.
Essential bike accessories
Lights are a must have for making sure you can see and be seen! When cycling in the dark, you’re required by law to have a white light on the front and a red light on the rear. These can clip onto your bike, backpack or your clothes.
If you are looking to eliminate the need for batteries opt for lights with a generator, that get powered by your pedalling.
It’s a good idea to have your own pump so you can keep your tyres well inflated and you can sort out a flat tyre. There are a couple of types of bike valves - most pumps will adjust to fit both, or you can buy an adaptor.
Always lock up your bike when you are not riding it. Cheap locks are not worth your time, so make sure that you keep your bike safe and secure with a strong, reliable lock.
Tools and puncture repair kit
It is sensible to carry a puncture repair kit at all times. For long journeys, you may want to consider a spare inner tube and tyre levers too. Read our guide to bike maintenance to find out about other useful tools.
A lot of bikes are still sold without mudguards, so you’ll need to get a pair fitted if you want to avoid mud or dirty water being sprayed up your back in wet weather. They also reduce the spray trail left by your bike in wet weather, meaning that you're being considerate to other cyclists, as well as your washing machine.
Nice to have bike accessories
Panniers, baskets and trailers
Rucksacks are fine for carrying light loads, but they can make you hot. If you are making long, regular journeys or carrying shopping, it’s worth investing in panniers. Alternatively, you could strap your rucksack to a bike rack, or put a basket on the front of your bike. If you want to carry really heavy loads use a bike trailer.
Bell and Mirrors
A friendly ring will let people know you’re approaching, but never assume they can hear you. Mirrors can be useful for checking traffic behind you- they can be attached to the handlebars or clipped on to your helmet.
What cycling clothing do I need?
For most short local cycling trips there is no need to wear special clothing. You can even cycle in smart clothes, provided they give you enough freedom to pedal.
Flat shoes that are suitable for walking are also great for cycling. A shoe with grip will make good contact with the pedals and give you more control.
If you ride at night or in heavy traffic, it’s important to make yourself as visible as possible to other users. A reflective vest or jacket is ideal. Vests are a cheap solution and easy to stow in your bag.
Wear gloves to keep the cold away, and ear muffs can also come in handy.
Don’t let a little rain hold you back. All you need is a waterproof jacket and trousers plus some reflective gear.
There is a variety of specialist cycling clothing for any budget and technical requirements. But don't forget you can cycle comfortably in your normal clothes.
Personal safety equipment
A helmet is not required by law and it won’t prevent accidents from happening, but can provide protection for your head if you fall off your bike. They are particularly recommended for young children. Ultimately, however, wearing a helmet is a question of individual choice.
Out top tips for cycling helmets:
- always buy a new helmet which conforms to one of the recognised safety standards such as BS or CE
- a good helmet should be firmly fitted with no gap between the helmet and your head
- if you will be cycling for long periods, choose a helmet with air vents to help keep you cool
- check your helmet regularly for wear and tear and, if it takes a bash, replace it
For more information on our position on helmets read our helmet policy position.
Shopping for cycling gear
Visit the Sustrans shop for cycling accessories and bike maintenance essentials.