Every bike commuter you meet will have a set of equipment that they have selected to make their rides safe and enjoyable. However, if you are new to this, you may be thinking where do I start when it comes to selecting equipment to stay?
To answer this question, we are going to go through six pieces of equipment that are essential to every rider, and what to look for in each piece. We will be focusing on safety equipment, as this is the first thing a bike commuter should invest in for obvious reasons, as follows:
- Reflective clothing: When you are commuting by bike, one of the most important things you want is to be seen. After all, you are going to be considerably smaller than any other vehicle on the road and far less protected. Being seen by others clearly will allow them to give you enough space and will help avoid any nasty run-ins.
- MIPS Helmet: Choosing the right helmet is extremely important and you don’t just want to buy the cheapest. The Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is a helmet technology that has been proven to improve head protection drastically in the event of an accident.
- Spoke Reflectors: This can be a relatively cheap piece of equipment; however, it can make a huge difference when it comes to being seen. It also gives other road users an indication of your bikes dimensions and the direction you are travelling.
- Powerful lights: When riding at night, you don’t just want to be seen but you want to be able to see the road yourself. A good light will illuminate your path and ensure you don’t end up in a muddy ditch or going on a blind off-road adventure.
- Back-up lights or power bank: Its good planning to ensure you have a back-up light just in case your main light fails, or that you have a way to recharge it if the battery dies. Pre-planning like this will ensure you don’t have any nasty shocks on your journey.
- Loud Bike Bell: You want a bell that is not only loud enough to let pedestrians know you are there, but also one that is loud enough to let other vehicles know you are there. This especially important if you are riding in a built area that has a lot of noise pollution, as you don’t want a bell that is going to be drowned out and in-affective.
This may look like a long list and you might be thinking that there are a lot of items that you need to pay out for. But it’s not as expensive or as drastic as it may seem, and we are going to go into detail for each item and give you more useful information. It will seem like a breeze and we will get you on that bike safely in no time!
When looking at reflective clothing, you want to make sure it applies to as many garments as possible. Look at getting reflective gloves, helmets, leggings/shorts and jackets. Its all well and good getting a reflective top, but if you are going to cover it in a waterproof jacket that’s not reflective, it won’t be very effective. Another point to make is to stay away from Hi-Viz garments as these are not as appropriate. They don’t have to be expensive, just effective. And remember its not about fashion its about safety, so think about this when buying.
As mentioned before, Multi-impact Protection System helmets are far safer than regular helmets and don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to buy. You can pick up a good MIPS helmet for around £60 and could be the best investment you ever make. Hopefully you never have an accident and it will last you years. Just be sure to replace it if it does get damaged as this will affect the helmets performance if you do have an accident. Just think what is more important, your brain or your money.
These are a cheap and effective way to increase safety and ensure you are seen. They are also a legal requirement when riding between sunset and sunrise. You need to ensure you have a front white reflector, a rear red reflector and four amber pedal reflectors, one on the front and back of each pedal. However, there are loads of options when it comes to reflectors and it is a good idea to add spoke reflectors as well. They are inexpensive and can add a bit of flare to your bike as you can personalise it and mix and match different ones. At the end of the day, it all helps with being seen and when you weigh the costs against the benefits, it’s worth adding them to your setup.
Lights are another legal requirement that you need to have when riding from sunset to sunrise, and there are a few things to bear in mind when choosing them. You need a white light in the front, a red light to the rear and both need to be visible and clear of obstructions. You can have flashing lights if they flash between 60 and 240 times a minute. For the front light, you should look for a light that is at least 600 lumens to ensure it provides you with good visibility. The back light should be less powerful though, as you don’t want to distort the view for other road users behind you.
Back-up Lights or a Power Bank
If you forget to charge your lights and they die mid journey, you want to have a way to charge them to ensure your journey stays safe. A power bank charger is an easy way to recharge them on the go and you can find ones that will fit in a phone holder that you could have on your handlebars. You also don’t want to have a run in with the law, which could happen if you are caught riding at night without lights. The same goes if you had a light that broke or stopped working. Its always best to be prepared and a spare light or charger on hand is and easy way to prevent any issues.
Loud Bike Bell
This is an essential piece of equipment that allows you to make other road users aware you are there as they may not always see you. Now you may be tempted to get a small bell that pings like a fairy, but I can assure you that other people are probably not going to hear this. This would be the case if there is a lot of noise pollution around you, like there would be on a busy road. You want to make sure that it is the same volume as a car horn, which may seem extreme, but its better to be heard and avoided than the alternative.
What is the best bike for a 15-mile commute? For a commute like this, a touring bike is ideal. They are designed for long day rides and have several features that make them a good choice. The frame comes in a variety of materials. You can add mudguards making them perfect for all weather types and are designed to be able to carry loads like your bags etc. Another feature of their design is good stability.
Can a hybrid bike be used for mountain biking? Although hybrids have many good uses, they are not recommended for mountain biking as they lack suspension. This is a vital necessity when it comes to mountain biking due to the uneven terrain. In addition to this, due to the width, you are not able to put mountain bike tires with a hybrid frame.