10 Must-Have Bike Accessories and Gear for Urban Riders

Gear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders 11 photos
Photo: unsplash / Kbo Bike
Gear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban RidersGear Up: 10 Must-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Many accessories can improve your riding experience regardless of the type of cyclist you are. Today, I'd like to dedicate this article to those of you who are (or who'd like to become) urban/commuter cyclists.
Many cyclists start by commuting – it's an easy way to get some exercise, an environmentally friendly way of traveling, and can easily be factored into your day. It's not expensive either, unlike mountain biking or road cycling, which can get costly pretty quickly if you go for more premium two-wheelers. When commuting, you don't really need a big-budget two-wheeler; any bike will do.

For instance, one electrified bike I got to test and was pleasantly surprised by was the Engwe P26 - here's my review of it. Here are other affordable commuter e-bikes worth checking out.

Anyways, like with pretty much anything in life, you can make do with the bare minimum. Still, some investments will go a long way towards improving your experience, making it not only more enjoyable but also safer. As an avid commuter cyclist racking up many miles daily, I feel these accessories will make the biggest difference.

1. Helmet

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: unsplash / Viktor Bystrov
Of course, I have to start with the most obvious accessory: the helmet. Safety comes first, and your head is the part of your body that needs the most protection. Hypothetically, if you were to choose a single accessory on this list, there's no doubt that it should be a helmet.

When buying a helmet for commuting, you must consider several main factors: whether it has helmet safety certification, how ventilated it is, and whether it has MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system).

Long story short, MIPS reduces an impact's rotational energy that gets transferred to the brain, which can be a lifesaver in a severe impact. Look out for the MIPS sticker on the back of the helmet to check whether the helmet has this technology.

Let me tell you a short story: two weeks ago, I was riding my bike home, and I made the mistake of not topping off my tire pressure beforehand. It had just rained, and my front tire slipped on the last turn before getting home. Before my brain could comprehend what happened, I went head-first, full-force into the ground.

Luckily, I wasn't going fast and was wearing my helmet, so my head was completely fine; I can't say the same for my knees, but those have already healed by now. I used to go out riding with headphones occasionally or sometimes simply left my helmet at home because it was too hot outside. But this was the best wake-up call – I'm not going out riding even to the local grocery store three minutes away from home without wearing my helmet. I can't stress enough how important it is to wear one.

A good helmet doesn't have to be expensive - budget-friendly ones will also do the job. There are countless options available. My choice, the one that saved my head in the story mentioned above, was a Specialized Mode helmet. It's an urban option with a sleek look. Although it doesn't look like it, it provides adequate ventilation through a hidden vent system and comes with MIPS certification.

2. Lighting

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: unsplash / Thomas Jarrand
The minimum lighting a cyclist should have, regardless of whether they're riding on a country lane or city streets, is front and rear lights. The most basic setup should be a white, non-blinking front light and a red and eye-catching rear light. Moreover, you should also have some reflectors on each wheel. The more lights and reflectors you have, the higher the chance other road users will notice you.

Like with helmets, there are many options available, from standard front and stop lights to pedal lights, helmet lights, bag lights, and a whole lot more. They can be battery-powered, solar-powered or rechargeable via USB.

Ideally, you'll want to get lights that are waterproof. Moreover, if you're looking to buy a stoplight, I'd suggest getting one with auto-brake lighting. This feature is especially useful in urban scenarios – the light can detect whenever you brake, further lighting up to make those behind you aware you're slowing down.

If you want a budget-friendly product that will take care of your basic lighting needs, check out this two-piece set.

3. Storage Solutions

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: Florin Profir for autoevolution
One of the things deterring some people from taking up cycling is the lack of storage space. Well, of course, you can't carry a lot on your bike, but there are some accessories that make it way easier for you.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is a backpack. But a backpack has some limitations. For instance, it may not be waterproof, or its straps might not be sturdy enough. That's why you should consider cycling-specific backpacks, which are typically smaller and come with chest straps.

If you don't want to strain your back, take a look at storage accessories that strap directly to your bike. The most popular ones are small bags that strap to your top tube, like this one.

A rear rack can also be a game-changer for on-bike storage. Some bikes come with them already installed as standard, but you can also find aftermarket options to suit your two-wheeler.

Other options are pannier bags, usually mounted to the bike via racks. Some bikes offer them as standard, but just like with racks, you can also find off-the-shelf ones to attach to your bike if you don't have them.

If all these aren't enough and you really need to haul a lot more cargo, consider getting a cargo bike. The added weight on a conventional bike will make it a lot harder to pedal. So, maybe consider a cargo e-bike – here's my list of the seven best utility/cargo e-bikes you can get your hands on right now.

4. Mudguards

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: unsplash / Alejandro Lopez
They might not be the most aesthetically pleasing solution, but mudguards are, in most cases, a must-have on bikes. Unless you live somewhere it hardly rains, mudguards allow you to ride without worrying about staying clean, avoiding puddles, or packing a spare change of clothes.

The e-bike I'm currently testing as using as a daily commuter, the Himiway Cobra, isn't made for urban riding but it still does the job perfectly – stay tuned for its review, which is coming soon. It doesn't have any mudguards, and a few days ago I rode home after a bout of heavy rain.

In case you haven't ridden on wet roads and puddles on a bike without mudguards, let me tell you – it's not a pleasurable experience. By the time I got home, I was drenched in a disgusting mix of dirt, water, and dust, both at the front and at the back.

Using mudguards isn't just about you staying clean. They also protect any cyclist riding behind you.

Many bikes come with the pre-installed, but you can also find aftermarket products to fit pretty much any bike type or size. The most basic solution is to fit a shorter mudguard like this one. However, the most effective are the ones that better wrap around your wheel. Here's a good example.

5. Tools

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: unsplash / Tom Conway
You don't need any advanced technical skills to be able to work on your commuter bike. Anyone can do regular maintenance, such as cleaning and lubricating the chain, fixing a puncture, tightening up loose parts, and checking the tires and other components to make sure everything is working properly.

There's no need to buy a huge toolset if you'll take care of the basics for your bike. One of the best purchases regarding tools is a multi-functional tool you can take everywhere with you.

A great tip is to have a spare inner tube or two as well back home. Moreover, the quintessential tape and cable times will come in handy for a quick fix.

Finally, you should also get a simple puncture repair kit. If you're traveling somewhere with few bike repair shops (although you'll probably find one nearby if you ride in cities), having one with you might save you a lot of time and trouble. It doesn't take up too much space and doesn't weigh much, so just have it lying around in your backpack or your preferred storage solution.

If you don't want to shop around for all the tools, I suggest you get a kit with all the basics, such as this affordable one.

6. Pumps

If you have a puncture and repair it with a kit, naturally, you'll need something to pump air back into the tires. Sure, you can go to a nearby gas station, but if you want to save yourself the trip, consider carrying a compact, hand-operated pump with you.

I definitely recommend having a pump at home. The best option for home is a track pump. They're larger, so you won't be able to carry them around with you, but they're easier to use and usually come with built-in gauges that allow you to measure the tire pressure. With a hand pump, you'll have to measure the pressure "by hand," and it's easy to miscalculate. However, some hand pumps have gauges as well.

A slightly pricier but more convenient solution is a tiny electric compressor.

7. Locks

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: unsplash / Jayka Herrera
One of the worst feelings that I don't wish upon anyone is getting back to your bike and seeing it's missing. You can't ensure your bike won't get stolen at any given time, but you can certainly take the necessary measures to minimize the chances of that happening.

There are four main options for locks: U-locks (also known as D-locks), foldable locks, cable locks, and chain locks.

Typically, a standard cable lock won't be enough, as they can easily be broken. You'd be surprised by how well-equipped some thieves are.

U-locks are essentially giant padlocks. They're hard to pick, pretty cheap, and resistant to bolt cutters, although that depends on the model. However, they also tend to be quite heavy and not that flexible, as they can't be looped around bigger objects.

A folding lock is easy to carry, especially since you can mount it to the like frame. It's generally lightweight and can be a secure option. However, there aren't many options available since this type of lock hasn't been on the market for a long time.

The heavier a chain lock is, the more secure it is usually. What's more, it can be a visual deterrent for thieves. On the other hand, a chain lock is heavy and can still be cut with bolt croppers. However, keep in mind that if a thief is set on breaking a lock, they probably will.

Locks come with various ratings. The more public your bike's parking spot is, the higher the rating you should go for. Naturally, the higher your lock's rating is, the more expensive it will be. But do you really want to use a cheaper lock, get your bike stolen, and lose way more money than you would've spent on a better lock?

I highly recommend an Abus lock. I use a chain lock from Abus, but they also offer U-locks and folding locks.

8. Phone Mount

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: unsplash / Jay Miller
Numerous apps are useful for cyclists—in fact, I'll probably dedicate an article to this topic in the near future. So, to be able to use these apps on the go, you'll need something to mount your phone to on the bike.

There isn't a single best accessory in this category, but the rule of thumb is to avoid cheap ones. Different mounts are designed for different kinds of riding. For urban commutes, your bike won't be subject to as many impacts as when you're mountain biking, so you don't need to buy something too crazy.

Some mounts secure to the case, some come with a bag that attaches to the top tube, and others simply clamp your one. One budget-friendly option is the Lamicall phone mount.

9. Waterproof Clothing

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: unsplash / Robert V Ruggiero
Funnily enough, as I'm writing this paragraph, my trousers are drenched, as I just got caught in a very unexpected summer-style bout of heavy rain. This wouldn't have been a problem if I had left home with waterproof clothing. Remember what I said above about what happened after riding in the rain without mudguards? Well, it just happened again.

The very least you could have is a very lightweight and thin waterproof jacket prepared on those days when you know it might rain. Better to be prepared for any scenario, right?

If you want to go fully waterproof, consider a water-resistant pair of trousers as well. Moreover, shoe covers are also a simple yet effective solution to keeping your feet nice and dry.

Although it's not a stylish solution, a reflective jacket significantly improves the chance of you being spotted by cars.

10. Gloves

Gear Up\: 10 Must\-Have Bike Accessories for Urban Riders
Photo: unsplash / Viktor Bystrov

Regardless of the type of rider you are, gloves are essential for comfort and safety. They will not only protect your hands but also make the ride more comfortable.

Short-finger gloves are the better option when riding on the road and in hotter environments. Long-finger gloves are ideal if you're riding in the cold or off the beaten path. Furthermore, consider a pair of gloves that work with touchscreens for more convenience.

Measure your hands to get the right fit for gloves. They should be snug without being too loose or restrictive. These gloves are a simple yet efficient option.
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About the author: Mircea Mazuru
Mircea Mazuru profile photo

Starting out with a motorcycle permit just because he could get one two years earlier than a driver's license, Mircea keeps his passion for bikes (motor or no motor) alive to this day. His lifelong dream is to build his own custom camper van.
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