9 Essentials to Make Your Bike Commute More Comfortable

You don't want to get on public transportation right now, do you?

By Ben Fox
July 15, 2020 10:54 am
9 Essentials to Make Your Bike Commute More Comfortable

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The right gear can make your bike commute better. And we’re not just talking about the wheels and frame beneath you. Here are nine accessories, all of them available at Backcountry.com, that will help you stay to be safe, comfortable, and organized next time you ride to work.

Smith Portal MIPS Bike Helmet

A helmet is not something you want to skimp on. For commuting, protection and fit are important, but so is style. I recommend the Smith Portal MIPS, which at $110 is a fair price for concussion protection and has a sleek silhouette but won’t have you looking like a Tour de France racer. Gaping vents means you won’t show up to the office with a mop of sweaty hair and Smith’s VaporFit adjustment system—marketing jargon for a small dial in the rear—helps it fit better than any other helmet I’ve tested.

Crank Brothers M-17 Bike Multitool

Hopefully, you’ll only need to service your bike once a year, and when you do, you can bring it to a shop. But on the off chance that something happens on your ride (a crash bends your handlebars, or a bolt loosens) it’s always nice to be able to fix it yourself. This small multi-tool will stay unnoticed in your bag until you need it. And when you do, it offers 17 different tools including screwdrivers and the eight most common sizes of hex wrench.

Chrome Dima 2.0 Bike Shoe

During my years of bike commuting in Boston, I was too lazy to change into special biking clothes. But I always biked in a different pair of shoes so I didn’t scuff my oxfords. These days my go-to is the Chrome Dima 2.0. Sure, they may not match your normal style, but they’re lightweight and come in all black so no one will even notice. Plus their flat, rubber bottoms provide ample grip and you don’t have to worry about them getting ripped apart by the pedals. My favorite part: they’re slip-on so there’s no dealing with laces. 

Brooks England Pitfield Flat Top Backpack

If you plan on carrying a change of clothes to work, you may need a slightly bigger pack than what you’re used to carrying. Skip the grungy bike messenger look and instead check out the Pitfield from Brooks England. Stylish without being overkill, it features a padded laptop sleeve and 28 liters of carrying capacity. Further, top-notch touches like aluminum buckles, a waterproof nylon outer, and reflective accents mean you’re getting the best of the best. 

Competitive Cyclist

Blackburn Dayblazer Rear Bike Light

After your helmet, a rear light is probably the most important piece of bike gear. You can get away without a front light but a rear light is a must. I’ve been using the Dayblazer for about two years now and it’s a cut above the rest. Unlike most lights out there, it’s made of aluminum instead of plastic and features 125 lumens of attention-grabbing light. It’s dust and water-resistant, charges via USB, and hasn’t shown any signs of wear. My favorite part? It can be removed from your bike in two seconds so if you stop by the bar on your way home, you can quickly throw the light in your bag and don’t risk it getting stolen.

Ottolock Cinch Bike Lock

Hopefully, your office provides a safe, locked spot to park your bike for the day. If it doesn’t (and even if it does) you need a good lock. Generally, I recommend a U-Lock like the Kryptonite Evolution as they provide the best security. But U-Locks are bulky and heavy. I’ve been using the much lighter Ottolock for a few years now and haven’t had any problems with it. A bit of a unique design, the Ottolock is made from thin layers of steel, kevlar, and plastic that are too thin for bolt cutters to grab. Trust me, I’ve tried. It also features a metal combo lock and rolls up into a scant three inches.  

Spurcycle Bike Bell

I scoffed at bike bells until I got one as a gift and reluctantly mounted it to my handlebars. I still find them a little pretentious, but in practice, they’re very effective. The Spurcycle is also one of the best looking. With a classic brushed brass dome, anodized aluminum hammer, wire thumb lever, and stainless steel mount, the USA-made bell is streamlined, stylish, and loud. It mounts with a few quick turns of a 2.5mm hex wrench, so you can let ear-budded joggers, texting walkers, dogs, kids, cars, and anyone else you encounter that you’re coming. 

Portland Design Works Bar-ista Coffee Cup Holder

Admittedly this isn’t the sexiest product on the list, but it may be the most practical. If sipping your homemade brew is part of your morning routine and something that’s holding you back from biking, then this is your solution. The Bar-ista securely holds any conical coffee cup to your handlebars. It won’t spill and as long as your commute isn’t too long, your coffee will still be hot when you arrive at the office. Note: it doesn’t work with water bottles or thermoses. 

Raen Hirsch Polarized Sunglasses

Sure, you don’t need a specialized pair of sunglasses just for commuting, but if you’re in the market for a new pair anyway, I like the Raen Hirsch. They’re stylish with dark Acetate frames and a keyhole nose bridge, and have some nice performance features like polarized lenses and five-barrel hinges, that will last forever. 

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