Embarking on a cycling journey comes with its own set of joys and challenges. Ensuring safety and convenience is paramount, and choosing the right bicycle accessories can make a significant difference. In this blog, I'll share my personal experiences and research-based recommendations to enhance your cycling experience, focusing particularly on safety, locks, transport options, and maintenance.
Turn Signals: Clear communication on the road is crucial for safety, especially during turns. The Wing Lights from CYCL are my top recommendation. Mounted on the handlebars, they provide clear signalling without requiring you to remove your hand. The Wing Lights 360, the latest version, includes front and rear lights, enhancing visibility and safety by showing the dimensions of the bike at all times. These lights are durable, affordable, and comply with regulations. Furthermore they can take quite a beating and the company offers a great customer service. All this is offered for an affordable price as the company regards safety of cyclists important.
Lights: Visibility is key, and lights play a vital role. I tested the brands Spanninga, Busch + Müller (B&M), and Trelock which offer reliable options. B&M lights have consistently met expectations, while Trelock's LS 633 DUO TOP is a great dynamo rear light with LED technology. The LS 633 DUO TOP looks similar to conventional lights, yet uses LED technique and offers parking light. When mounting a rear light on the fender, consider adding a metal guard for extra protection.
Reflectors and Wheel Lights: Front and rear reflectors, along with pedal and wheel reflectors, contribute to visibility. All reflectors on the market appear to be fine as long as the front reflectors are white, rear reflectors are red, and pedal reflectors are yellow. As most tires come with integrated reflectors, additional reflectors in the tires are not necessary, but can be added. Do make sure that all reflectors are clean. Wheel lights should not be used. They are prohibited in several countries as they may cause distraction. I also advice against reflective strips as they stop working quickly.
Protecting your bike from theft requires the right locks. Using two locks to secure the front and rear wheels, along with the frame to a fixed object, is recommended. Ensure that the bike can not be twisted to avoid trying to use the bicycle as a crowbar. Also make sure that the lock is tight and high so that a thief with bolt cutters can not place one leg of the pliers on the ground for better leverage.
Certified frame or ring locks with a chain can not be forgotten and the chain can be used to secure the bike on a fixed object. However, as spoke blockages is possible, I do not recommend the use of smart frame or ring locks. The best locks to avoid your bicycle been carried away are locks with a hardened steel chain and links of 8mm. Those can only be opened with a noisy and attention drawing grinder. Another good option are U-bracket / folding locks of good quality.
For more in-depth tips on theft prevention, visit www.fietsendiefstalshow.com/tips-van-de-fietsendief and www.fietsendiefstalshow.com/goede-fietssloten (Dutch).
Carrying essentials is made easy with specially designed baskets and bags for bicycles. Other options are backpacks and containers for the bottle cage. When buying products for transport consider the amount and type of cargo, as well as whether you want a detachable container or not. Quality is another important factor.
In the past I tested several bicycle baskets and bags. Most of the bags and baskets broke sooner or later. In general it can be said that baskets for the rear luggage rack break sooner than bicycle bags and that double sided bicycle bags last longer than single sided bags. An exception are the durable, eco-friendly, and fair products from Vaude. While I managed to break most transport products within a year, those are still almost as new after more than - five - years of use.
Backpacks have never failed me and offer versatility as they can be used on different bicycles and taken into the store, office, gym, or home. However, some may find them less stylish or less suitable for formal attire. They may also cause sweating on the back.
Crates for front carriers and containers for the bottle cage, I have not tested extensively jet. However, containers for the bottle cage allow to easily take tools with you when leaving the bicycle, avoiding them from getting stolen.
Maintaining your bicycle is essential for longevity. Products from Atlantic have been my go-to for cleaning and conserving. While I haven't compared them to other brands, Atlantic's reliability and great customer service keep me satisfied. You can order directly from their website, even outside Germany. Their products are also available at Rose and other reputable bike shops. What they do not offer are brushes.
I am not affiliated with any of the mentioned brands and these recommendations are based on my experience and research.