Q & A: My 5 Fave Bicycle Accessories

This week’s question comes from Diane in Grand Rapids, who asks “I’m getting my bike ready for spring. What are your favorite bicycle accessories?”. Glad you asked! See my top five after the jump: 

First, here’s the Q & A video from Po Campo TV:


1. Rear Bicycle Rack & Bungee Cord
I don’t know how people ride around town without one! I don’t like to carry backpacks or messenger bags because I find the weight uncomfortable and they make me too sweaty. Instead, I let my bike do all the work by piling things onto the rear rack. I have a simple steel rack similar to this one from Wald Sports ($20).

I also always have a bungee cord with me, which I use for strapping things onto the top of the rack, like my lock or a shopping bag from an impromptu shopping trip or whatever. I use a generic bungee cord from a hardware store ($3), but you can also get more bicycle specific ones, like Delta’s Cargo Net.

2. Bicycle Bags
No surprise here, but I like my bicycle bags! As I said, I don’t like backpacks/messenger bags, so if I’m carrying more than a few things, I always use a bike bag. Po Campo’s Loop Pannier ($115) is probably the bag that I use the most because it fits my 13″ laptop, which I always have with me. I don’t feel like the weight on the bike affects my bike riding at all, and it so nice to have it out of mind while I am riding. Dottie from Let’s Go Ride a Bike recently did a video on all sorts of bike bag options if you want to see what else is out there.

3. Bike Lights
Lights are a must-have if you are out after dark, but I always have mine with me because I don’t know where the day will lead me. I’m currently using Knog’s rechargeable Boomer USB Light ($40). They are pretty bright and the silicone strap is easy to take on and off my handlebars.

4. Fenders
I generally don’t ride if it is raining or snowing, but sometimes you get caught in it regardless, and then fenders are a godsend. I rode in the rain the day we shot the video, and as you can see, my black tights are spotless. I use SKS Silver Fenders ($40), which are lightweight and have retro black pinstripes. A bike shop can attach these for you.

5. Kickstand
I wouldn’t say a kickstand is necessary, but it sure is handy! I don’t miss having to find a surface to rest my bike on when I’m not riding it, which, since I’m only on my bike for an hour or so a day, is most of the time. I use a basic Greenfield kickstand ($10), but I’m interested in upgrading to a double leg kickstand for the extra stability because sometimes my bike falls over if I have a lot of stuff loaded onto it.

Other accessories
On my bike, I also have a CRANE classic bell ($14), which makes a lovely *ding* but isn’t really loud enough in traffic. Suggestions of louder bells are definitely welcome!

My coffee cup holder ($15) gets a lot of comments but honestly it is hard to ride without coffee splashing about. Still, it is nice to have a sip of morning joe at a stoplight like a normal commuter.

This year I am contemplating adding a chainguard to my bike to eliminate greasy chain marks on my right calf. I’m eyeing some from Velo Orange.

Resources for better-than-average bicycle accessories
Isn’t it frustrating how black and boring most bicycle accessories are? Here are some of my favorite places to find accessories with a little more character:
Velo Orange
Adeline Adeline
Eleanor’s NYC
Public Bikes
Did I miss anything? Please share your favorites accessories (or places to find cool accessories) in the comments below.

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