Like all good hobbies, the initial investment is only the start of things when it comes to draining your finances. The fact that there are so many different ways to ride a bike has an exponential effect on the type of accessories you can purchase too – from gram-saving components to help you save watts on the road, to tough survival gear to fix any mechanical issues on the trail.
The good news is with the recent boom in cycling and the number of places to bolt things to on your bike, you could easily spend double what it’s worth on all sorts of clever time- and effort-saving devices. That’s before you’ve even considered personalising the way your bike looks to your exact specification too.
It can be tricky to separate what is a gimmick and what is a genuine can’t-live-without-it innovation. You can be pretty sure that anything promising to give you Chris Froome’s climbing ability for a fee is probably the former, while accessories that improve your comfort or confidence can quite often have a positive knock-on effect when it comes to speed.
There’s also safety to consider - from making yourself seen in low light to protecting your carbon fibre pride and joy from thieves when it comes to parking up, this is probably the first place you should invest before buying any speed or styling trinkets.
We’ve not covered them in this list, but really the best thing you can spend money on when it comes to cycling is a decent helmet. As the saying goes, only buy a cheap helmet if you have a cheap head.
The best cycling accessories
1. Lezyne Zecto Drive lights
With three bright LEDs apiece these 250/80-lumen front and rear lights will help you see and be seen in low light, and because they're compact and fasten with a simple elastic strap, they're easy to store in a bag for when you need them or to take off and keep safe at the end of your ride. Waterproof and rechargeable, you've now got no excuse to ride without lights at night time.
2. Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Bicycle Chain and New York Disc Bike Lock
No bike lock and chain is truly theft-proof, but the best ones will at least slow criminals down or put them off entirely in the case of this absolute whopper. This pricey (and weighty) combination from Kryptonite comes with its highest possible rating and is claimed to be secure enough to leave your bike overnight in a major metropolitan area. It also has a cool name (forget about it) and high-strength steel construction. Basically, thieves will be better off trying to dig whatever you lock it to out of the ground.
3. USWE Outlander
Normal rucksacks (even those with a chest strap) just can't keep up with the constant movement of rough terrain, leading to chaffing and discomfort or at the very least a feeling of being unbalanced. USWE bags are different because the straps do up in an X across your chest, promising the kind of fit you'd expect from a tailored pair of gloves. You can fit a hydration pack and even an action camera mount thanks to a large catalogue of accessories, too.
4. Topeak Mini PT30 multitool
Even a well-maintained bike will suffer from a mechanical failure at some point and usually, this will happen when you're miles away from your car or house. Whether you ride a road or mountain bike, few people want to carry a big bag of tools around the whole time, and so the likely solution is a clever multi-tool with all of the things you'll ever need. We've tested this one in real life and it's brilliant.
5. Knog Oi Bike Bell
If you're going to ride on roads near pedestrians, particularly in busy urban environments, it's best to protect yourself and others with an easy-to-hear bell. Trouble is, the traditional design looks pretty dorky, tends to loosen over time and move around, and somehow manages to get snagged on clothes whenever you brush past. Solving all of those problems is this sleek and simple design from Knog, which looks so cool it's tempting to install one simply as a styling upgrade.
6. Garmin Edge Explore GPS Bicycle Sat Nav
If you like riding off the beaten track or simply logging the miles you grind out week on week, then a dedicated bicycle sat-nav is a great upgrade. Users of this compact Garmin unit claim 8-12 hours of battery life is possible, which means it'll keep running long after your phone would have run out of power, and because it comes with a map of Europe preloaded, you won't get caught out and lost in an area with no 4g signal.
7. Brand X Ascend dropper seat post
Nothing amazes non-cyclists like a dropper seat post. Put simply it works just like an office chair u2013 stand up and press the bar-mounted button and the saddle goes up, press it again and sit down and it goes back down again. As an off-road upgrade we consider a dropper post an essential upgrade due to its ability to give you a high seating position for pedalling and a low one for steep descents. Once you've ridden a bike with a dropper, you'll never ride one without. This model from Brand X is great value, a good length and the cable routes through the frame for stealthy looks.
A**dam Binnie** is the Commercial Content Editor and reviewer for WhatsTheBest, specialising in bikes, fitness, cars, parenting and cooking.
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