Fueled by a global pandemic and the sudden shift away from mass transit, bike sales skyrocketed in 2020. In fact, right now, in the U.S., we are in the middle of the biggest cycling sales boom since the 1970s. Come next year, millions of new riders will have taken to the streets, many for the first time. To help all those beginner bikers get the most out of their cycling experience, we’ve put together a handy buying guide of cycling accessories.
The number one rule of bike safety is always going to be wear your helmet. In fact, we would go so far as to say that a bike helmet is less cycling accessory and more life-saving necessity. No sales pitch or clever wordplay here. If you own a bike, wear a helmet. That’s it.
Recommended Product: The Macon 2.0 from Bern champions the cool aesthetic of the original Macon helmet, while managing to improve both its comfort and ventilation. In other words: It’s not as heavy and your head won’t get as warm. Oh, and it will protect your brain in case you fall.
Another way to enhance your cycling safety is to equip your bike with lights. Similar to head and taillights on automobiles, bicycle lights will announce your presence to nearby motorists and other riders, helping you avoid collisions. Both head and taillights are also a good idea if you enjoy evening rides in parks, neighborhoods, or other areas where lowered visibility can result in a crash, and headlights can help illuminate the ground in front of you to safely avoid potholes or other hazards.
Recommended Products: For the front of your bike, the BR35 Bike Light, from Nitecore, clips right onto your handlebars and has an internal rechargeable battery that powers a pair of Cree LEDs: one 1000-lumen long-range light and one 800-lumen close-range light so you’ll have ample illumination on the road ahead and right near your front wheel. Even if illuminating the road ahead of you isn’t necessary, having front illumination is a good idea to make yourself more visible to oncoming motorists or other cyclists.
And for the back, the Varia RTL510 from Garmin is more than just a taillight; it’s also a radar. Not only does the Varia RTL510 alert others to your presence, it also detects approaching vehicles up to 459' away. When a vehicle is detected, the Varia will alert you with your choice of audio signal or a visual alert that can be sent to any compatible display, including smartphones and wearables.
Speaking of smartphones: A reliable bike mount is a must-have for anyone who needs easy access to their smartphone during a ride. When searching for the right mount, be sure to check its compatibility (not all mounts are universal) and security rating. Nowadays, most smartphones cost upward of a thousand dollars. If you’re going to be riding around with something that expensive in such a vulnerable position, you want to make sure it is mounted safely and securely, with zero chance of fall.
Recommended Product: When it comes to mobile mounting systems, RAM MOUNTS is a name you can trust. Its catalog includes an exhaustive list of reliable mounting solutions, including the EZ-On/Off Bicycle Mount with X-Grip. This particular mounting system accommodates most any smartphone, regardless of size. It installs easily, holds your phone securely, and can withstand even the harshest of environments.
For cyclists looking to elevate their overall biking experience, a mountable cycling computer might be a good option. Cycling computers offer many useful features, including GPS-based navigation, various degrees of performance tracking, training analysis for athletes, and more. When shopping cycling computers, take care to evaluate your own personal needs and goals. Some cycling computers are designed with competitive athletes in mind and feature advanced training metrics like tracking maximum oxygen intake and heart rate. If you’re someone who only rides to and from work, then you probably don’t need that. Stick with a simpler option with less specialized features.
Recommended Products: When it comes to cycling computers, Garmin is one of the best in town. Its line of Edge cycling computers covers every experience level, from casual rider to competitive athlete, with features to match. Do you need a large and bright color screen, or is a smaller, more minimal monochrome screen okay? Do you just need navigational info, or do you want fitness stats to be on display at the same time? Choose the one that best addresses your own personal profile, and you can’t go wrong.
Although it doesn’t go on your bike per se, a smartwatch can be a great cycling accessory. Many smartwatches offer cycling performance tracking, either through their own software or third-party applications. Likewise, most smartwatches can pair with your smartphone for directions or navigation tools. Some even have built-in GPS, access to topo maps, and turn-by-turn navigation. If you want more insights to your cycling behavior and easily accessible navigation controls, but you’re not ready for something as specialized as a dedicated cycling computer, a compatible smartwatch is a good alternative.
Recommended Products: If you’re thinking about purchasing a smartwatch to supplement your cycling, there are two possible routes to consider. The first is to look at an all-purpose smartwatch that supports the cycling features you’re looking for, either with its own OS or through a third-party app. The Apple Watch Series 6, for example, is a great example of an all-purpose smartwatch that also supports cycling features.
The other route is to look for a watch that focuses heavily, if not exclusively, on cycling features. Here, again, you should look at Garmin, which has a long list of multisport wearables that includes some of the most in-depth and sophisticated cycling features on the planet. When it comes to sports tracking, you really can’t go wrong with a Garmin watch, so we’ll just go ahead and recommend the fenix 6 Pro, because it’s the company’s top-of-the-line wearable and it just looks incredible.
What other accessories do you bring along for your cycling adventures? Let us know what accompanies you on your bike outings in the Comments, below.