Cycling: 5 essential accessories

You’ve chosen the best bike for your budget and your kind of bike trips, but have you looked into accessories? There are a range of accessories that make cycling safer and more pleasant—because a little discomfort can become painful over a few hours and ruin a nice trip— and a lot more fun.

For occasional cyclists to those for whom cycling is their favourite mode of daily transport, check out our list of essentials to shop for before hitting the road.

A good helmet

For both short jaunts and long bike trips, you need a helmet to protect you in case you get into an accident. Helmet prices vary according to their performance levels (for example, the more vents, the more expensive). A well-vented helmet is lighter and lets sweat evaporate more quickly.

To properly choose your helmet, don’t hesitate to try a few on at the store and ask for advice. First of all, you’ll want to know which size is right for you. Try the helmet on, adjust the chin straps and bend your head forward. If the helmet doesn’t fall off, it’s the right size. To properly adjust the strap, lower your head and make sure there’s just enough room to pass a finger between the strap and your neck.

If you have a tumble and your helmet hits the road or if any other impact has damaged it, replace it immediately for safety’s sake.

There are plenty of different models in a vast range of prices, so you’re sure to find the right one for you!

Cycling gloves

You have a choice between short-finger or full-finger gloves. The former do not protect your fingertips if you fall, but they offer more aeration. The palms can be padded with gel for more comfort or they can be made of mesh to let your skin breathe. Ideally, choose gloves with an adjustable strap at the wrists to keep them snug.

Cycling gloves absorb shocks on the road, particularly for the wrists during long-distance tours. However, even if you cycle short distances (to get to work, for example), you win by putting on a good pair of gloves, because they’ll protect your hands if you have an accident. Slip them on whenever you hop on two wheels.

An effective repair kit

When you get a flat on the road, you’ll want to have a repair kit handy. There are a variety of kits sizes: more or less complete, they generally contain CO2 cartridges or a manual pump and several tools to quickly repair a flat tire. Designed to be compact, they should slide easily into your bag during trips.

It’s worth paying a bit more for a proper kit. Don’t forget to replace the missing pieces you’ve used and to check every year that the CO2 cartridges are still good (the expiry date is usually indicated on the container). Even on short trips, a little kit can save a great deal of hassle, as flats never happen with advance warning!

Packs designed for every type of cycling trip

A pack that attaches to the frame, seat or handle bars, or saddle bags in the front or back of the bike: there’s something for every style and budget. The first question to ask when you’re shopping around is about how you plan to pack. Do you ride your bike to work every morning? You may want to have deep bags to slip your work clothes and files into. Are you a road cyclist in search of top performance? Get yourself a minimalist bag to carry just the essentials. If you are heading off on some serious bicycle touring, go for complete bags that you pack your clothing, snacks, water bottles or tent into. Consider your needs before you head into a store, for you’ll find the vast selection is overwhelming!

A comfortable seat

A comfortable seat is essential: the more you ride, the more you’ll want to adjust it. You have two solutions: changing the seat or adding padding to the original seat. Changing the seat is more expensive, but it means you can adjust it to your anatomy and for how you use your bike. Added gel or foam padding, on the other hand, is an affordable, easy solution. Again, to know what suits you best, try it out in store and ask for advice.

Buying a bike is a long-term investment. Adding hundreds of dollars in accessories may seem like a bit much, but beginning with the essential investment in a helmet, the more adapted and comfortable your bike is to your kind of riding, the more you’ll want to hit the road. Plus, safety and comfort go hand in hand: if you’re comfortable on your bike, you’ll be better able to concentrate on the road.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the cycling essentials, head to the store and check out the vast range of accessory materials, shapes and sizes. Make your bike you’re very own, then take full two-wheeled advantage of the summer.