Like many people, I only recently started cycling. After more than a decade without a bike, I bought my first bike as an adult at the start of the pandemic and immediately fell in love with what it had to offer. The bike was my escape from a world that no longer made sense. It has since become the main way for me to stay in shape, relax after a long day and get where I need to go.
Along the way, I tried many different cycling gadgets. The entries in the list below represent some of my favorites. Other than essentials like a helmet, multi-tool, and spare inner tubes, you don’t need most of the items listed below to enjoy your time on your bike or e-bike. but some will keep you safer or make it easier for you. your fitness goals – if that’s what you want to get out of this hobby.
Knog Plus rear light
Cycling often involves sharing the road with cars, and one of the best ways to stay safe is to make yourself as visible to drivers as possible. One way to do this is to use a seat post mounted LED light. You have plenty of options when it comes to bike lights, but one of the best in my experience is Knog’s affordable Rear Plus.
You’ll notice that the Rear Plus is one of two Knog products on this list. The reason is that the company makes cycling accessories that stand out for their user-friendliness and smart design. With the Rear Plus, for example, you plug it into your computer like a USB stick whenever you need to charge it, meaning you don’t have to fuss with a micro-USB cable like with many other bike lights. Additionally, Knog claims that you can get up to 40 hours of battery life from the device depending on the light mode you are using. And because it’s so easy to charge, you’re much less likely to find yourself in a situation where you don’t have light when the sun is about to set.
If you’re willing to spend more, an even safer option is to buy a backup radar like the $200 Garmin Varia RTL515. As well as being a light, it pairs with your smartphone or bike computer, with supported Garmin and Wahoo models, to provide visual, audible and haptic alerts when cars are approaching you. It can detect a vehicle up to 150 meters away and will warn you more urgently if it is approaching it quickly. It’s not a replacement for checking your blind spots, but it will take a lot of the stress out of road cycling.
Buy Knog Rear Plus Light on Amazon – $18 Buy Garmin Varia RTL515 on Amazon – $200
Knog Oi Bike Bell
After an LED light, you’ll want to make sure you have a bell installed on your bike. I know what you’re thinking: you can’t just warn people when you’re about to pass them. The answer is yes, but they probably won’t hear you or react quickly, especially if they’re talking to someone at the time. You’ll be surprised how much better a doorbell is at communicating with pedestrians than your voice. I find one is also invaluable when you’re faced with a driver waiting to make a turn.
For an “aero” option that won’t feel out of place on a carbon road bike, consider the Knog Oi Luxe. It’s easy to install and features a sleek design that won’t clutter up your cockpit. For something with a more classic style, look at the Spurcycle Original Bell. Both produce distinct sounds that cut through traffic and other noises.
Buy Knog Oi Bike Bell on Amazon starting at $17
Ornot Mini handlebar bag
Chances are you want to take your phone and other belongings with you when you go on a bike adventure, and that’s where a handlebar bag can come in handy. The amount of choice here is endless, with almost every major cycling brand offering at least a few different models.
Another option is to support a local business in your area. On this side, there have never been so many independent bagmakers as there are now. In the US alone, you have companies like Swift Industries, PS Bagworks, and Roadrunner Bags making thoughtful, durable bike bags in all shapes and sizes. Seriously, a quick Google search and you’re bound to find someone who sews bike bags in your area. And if all you want is a surefire recommendation, consider the Mini handlebar bag from Ornot. It’s the perfect size for carrying a phone, sunglasses and a few snacks, and like all of the company’s products, the quality of materials and craftsmanship is second to none.
Buy Mini handlebar bag from Ornot – $44
At some point, you’ll have to leave your bike somewhere where you can’t watch it all the time. Since 2020 I’ve been using a Kryptonite Kryptolok to lock my bike, and so far it hasn’t been stolen yet (knock on wood). Many people swear by Kryptonite locks and I like the one I bought for its simple key mechanism. It also comes with a bracket that you can mount on one of your bike’s bottle cage mounts.
Buy Kryptonite Kryptolok on Amazon – $64
Even if you consider yourself an occasional cyclist, you should use an app like Strava to log your rides. As with any activity, it can be easy to get discouraged with cycling, especially if you’re finishing a ride where you feel like things haven’t gone your way. But here’s the deal, you get better whether you realize it or not.
When I started cycling in the summer of 2020, I was riding at an average speed of around 15 km per hour. I can now do about 23 km per hour. I know this because I have a record of almost every ride I’ve done since I bought my first bike at the start of the pandemic. And all thanks to Strava.
The best part about the app is that you don’t need to pay its $60 premium annual subscription to access some of its best features. Logging your rides is free, and the company recently made its Beacon feature available to all smartphone users, which can automatically notify loved ones of your location. In my opinion, it’s worth upgrading to Strava’s premium tier if you think you’ll benefit from its route-building tool. It uses company data to generate routes around nearby areas, and I find it’s a good way to add variety to your trips.
Subscribe to Strava – $60/year
Wahoo Element Bolt V2
Inside your phone you already have one of the most useful cycling accessories money can buy. Not only can it point you in the right direction when you get lost, but you can also use it with apps like Strava to track your routes. In these cases, it can be useful to have easy access to your phone when you’re in the saddle. This is where a handlebar phone mount can be invaluable.
One of the more secure options I’ve tried is made by Quad Lock. The company’s system includes a case specifically designed for your brand of phone and a two-step locking mechanism that ensures the case and device stay firmly attached to your bike. They also offer both stem and front mounts, with the ability to orient your phone horizontally, making it a great choice for Zwift.
Another option is to purchase a dedicated bike computer such as the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt. The Bolt offers step-by-step navigation and an interface specifically designed for cycling. This means the inclusion of touch sensitive buttons that make it possible to interact with the device feeling alone, even when wearing cycling gloves. Plus, a $300 bike computer is much more affordable to replace than a high-end smartphone if you end up in a crash. Just make sure to opt for the V2 version. Wahoo recently updated the Bolt to add USB-C charging and a color display.
Buy Element Bolt V2 on Amazon – $300
Garmin rally pedals
If you already have some variation of everything else on this list, you’re probably at the point where you’re considering a power meter so you have a more consistent way of measuring your fitness gains.
To be clear, the majority of people, even those for whom cycling is their primary form of exercise, don’t need a power meter. But if you’re absolutely determined to buy one, Garmin makes one of the best options. The company’s Rally pedals offer several advantages over other models. They are much easier to install than power meters that replace either your bottom bracket or your cranks. All you need is a pedal wrench. Plus, with Garmin offering the Rally pedals in Shimano SPD, SPD-SL and Look Keo versions, chances are you won’t have to replace your existing clipless cleats to use them. Garmin also offers a conversion kit that allows you to use the spindle mechanism on multiple bikes. With a price that starts at $649, they are expensive, but also one of the most versatile options on the market.
Buy Rally Pedals from Garmin starting at $649
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