Most (if not all) types of bikes can be used to commute to work or school. That’s why most lists of the best commuter bikes are composed of different bike types like hybrid bikes, folding bikes, electric bikes, and others. That said, choosing a type of commuter bike will depend on several factors including the terrain you’ll be cycling in, personal preferences, and others.
For instance, if you’ll be riding uphill most of the time then an electric bike is certainly worth considering. If you’re passing through rough terrains on the way to work or school, then mountain bikes are excellent options.
In any case, you’ll want a commuter bike that has a sturdy frame, yet lightweight at the same time. You’ll want to outfit it with essential commuter bike accessories such as the ones mentioned next for a smoother and safer commute.
2. Handlebar Bike Mirrors
When riding in high traffic areas, it is important to know what’s going on behind you. It further helps if you can see vehicles or other cyclists following you without having to turn your head around and thus keep your eyes on the road ahead. This is what makes a handlebar bike mirror one of the most essential commuter bike accessories. Having bike mirrors installed in your commuter bike is one of the best ways to make sure that you stay safe while cycling on the streets.
Bike mirrors come in a wide array of styles and shapes, so the choice practically boils down to personal preference and your budget. In any case, just make sure that your mirrors are installed properly and securely so that they don’t fall off as you ride.
3. Lights and Blinkers
Lights and blinkers not only add a touch of awesomeness to your commuter bike but is practically a necessity as well. This is especially true when you tend to stay late at work and have to travel by night.
When choosing a bike light, it is best to go for those with LED lamps. They are much brighter and run on lithium batteries that pack a lot of power in small packages. A rear blinker light is an important safety feature since it allows commuters behind you to see you, especially during foggy days. Also, make sure that your lights and blinkers are rated for water-resistance to prevent damage or short circuits.
Not many people like the sight of mudguards on their bikes, but you’ll be thankful for having them when you ride after a downpour. They’ll help keep your clothes and shoes safe from splattering water and mud so you don’t have to worry about getting to work all dirty and muddy.
One downside of bike commuting is having that sweat stain on your back after riding with a backpack. This is where a pannier can come in handy. Most of the selection you’ll see in bike shops are touring panniers, which are pretty big and bulky considering how they are intended to be used. However, you should be able to find several panniers suitable for commuter bikes if you look hard enough.
Panniers for commuter bikes are a lot smaller and have a more streamlined design. When buying one, look for those that have a solid backing and water-resistant rating since these are designed for carrying laptops. Also, make sure that you choose a pannier that is easy to slap on and take off your bike so you can carry them into your office or classroom.
6. Cycling Helmet
Cycling helmets are one of the most critical bikes commuting gear you’ll need to have. There’s simply no excuse for not having one. In fact, in many places, it is considered illegal to ride a bike without a helmet, whether you’re just commuting to work or traveling on a multi-day bike tour.
It is important to choose a cycling helmet that fits your head perfectly. You don’t want it to be sliding down your forehead or backward since not only is this uncomfortable but will lead you to keep adjusting it, leaving only one hand to maneuver the handlebar which can be pretty dangerous. Also, choose cycling helmets that are made with breathable materials and vents to keep your head cool while riding.
7. Cycling Gloves
For most commuters, cycling gloves aren’t a necessity, but the truth is that they are. A good pair of cycling gloves will not only protect your hands from cuts and abrasions, but they also help improve your overall grip on the handlebar, hence resulting in better and safer maneuverability.
Cycling gloves come in a wide variety of styles and designs so you’ll find one that should match your aesthetic tastes. In any case, choose cycling gloves made from breathable materials so that your hands don’t end up all sweaty while biking.
8. Shoe or Toe Cover
Shoe or toe covers are designed to prevent water and mud from getting onto your shoes. That’s practically all they are, as most people see it. However, they are a pretty important piece of bike commuting gear, especially during the cold season.
Shoe covers are designed to improve insulation in your feet. Not only do they ward off cold winds from entering your shoes, but they also help to preserve the heat coming off of your feet while riding. For hardy winter riders, a good pair of shoe covers are a must.
9. Rain Jacket
Some people will find it necessary to ride through drizzles or light rains, and for such occasions, a rain jacket is a critical piece of riding equipment to help you keep warm and dry. Rain jackets come in an array of styles so choosing one that fits your taste shouldn’t be difficult.
In any case, make sure that you choose a rain jacket that fits you right. You don’t want an overly sized jacket since it will be flapping all around you while you ride, nor would you want a version that is too small since this will make you feel very uncomfortable.
10. High Visibility Vest
Some places require cyclists to wear a high visibility vest while on their bikes. Such vests will make you more visible to other riders, drivers, and even pedestrians on the road, especially during foggy days. There isn’t much to these vests when it comes to design, but they are available in different colors, so just choose one that matches your taste.
11. Water Bottle
Keeping yourself hydrated while commuting is vital, so be sure to bring lots of water with you. It is recommended that you use a water bottle instead of a hydration pack since it is much easier to carry around and access. Besides, you don’t need that much water especially if it’s just a 15-minute ride.
12. Repair Kit
If you haven’t been keeping up with your bike maintenance, you can expect your bike to fail at some point while you’re out on the road. Hence, you must keep a small bike repair kit with you at all times.
In general, your bike repair kit should include a spare tube, a tire patch, a multi-tool, a pedal wrench, and some Allen wrenches. A lubricant and spare chain links should also be included in your kit.
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Using your bike to commute is a great way to get your daily dose of exercise, reduce carbon emissions that arm the planet, and save money on gas or bus fare all at the same time. If you’re interested in giving bike commuting a try, then you’ll want to invest in the different bike commuting gear and accessories mentioned above. Feel free to add or remove items from the list of commuting bike accessories and gear as you see fit (i.e. if you are biking to work wearing cycling jerseys and cycling shorts, then you’ll want to pack along a change of clothes, a towel, etc.). Just make sure that you don’t remove anything that will compromise your safety while cycling.