To cycle somewhere, all you technically need is a bike. Simply owning a bike will allow you to get cycling, but there are loads of other gadgets, gizmos and other bits that you can buy to enhance your experience, make things safer or simply show off.
If you want to know the full range of accessories available, visit your local cycle shop. To help out, we have compiled a basic guide to the most widely available cycling bits and bobs that you can buy. We’ve also tried to give you an idea of price for each but they are only a guide. You may be able to get bits slightly cheaper if you shop around, and you can almost certainly spend more than our ‘top’ prices if you go for absolute top of the range stuff!
Although there is no legal requirement to wear a helmet when out and about on bike in the UK, we recommend them as a cycling accessory that you shouldn’t be without. Your head is quite important. It contains many important organs that you want to protect. Yes it might mess up your hair a bit but we think the pros far outweigh the cons on this one.
Modern helmets are thin, lightweight and stylish. A cycle shop will be able to measure you up to ensure it fits properly to provide maximum protection.
Good for: Everybody who cycles!
Cost: £15 to £250
Carrying your stuff in a rucksack might give you a not-so-pleasant sweaty back and will make you less stable by raising your centre of gravity. Panniers are carry cases that (normally) fix either side of the rear wheel and will make carrying your belongings easier and more comfortable by enabling your body and arms to move freely. If you cycle more than a few miles, they really can make a huge difference.
Make sure you invest in waterproof panniers though, or your belongings might arrive wet through (which isn’t great if you are carrying a laptop or change of clothes). Talk to your cycle shop about fitting a pannier bracket to your bike for you.
Good for: Anyone who cycles more than a few miles with things to carry
Cost: £40 to £300 for a pannier rack and bags
It’s easy to overlook mudguards and think they are for ‘off-roading’ only. It’s worth us pointing out that cycling on wet roads will leave you with a dirty wet line up your back without them, and we live in the UK, so it’s quite likely that the roads will be wet a lot of the time! Some mudguards can even be clipped on and off when you need them without the need for bolts or screws.
Mudguards are easy to fit, cheap and can be fitted to most bikes. Ask your cycle shop to fit them on your bike from new and you might get a discount too.
Good for: Off road riders and anyone who rides in the wet
Cost: £15 to £80 for a set
Lights aren’t just for night-time riding. Rain and fog can reduce visibility and can make cyclists harder for motorists to see. All cars have lights and so should all bikes!
Most cycle lights now use LEDs rather than other bulbs and can last hundreds of hours on one set of batteries. You can even get rechargeable lights that simply need plugging in whenever they get low so no messing around with batteries. Make sure you buy detachable lights if you’re going to leave your bike unsupervised.
Good for: Everybody who cycles on roads of shared paths
Cost: £15 to £500 for a set
Getting back on the saddle for the first time in a while can sometimes bring uncomfortable and, erm, slightly embarrassing sore areas. Changing the standard saddle for a more padded (or different shaped) version can really make your journeys more comfortable. You can also buy padded covers that fit over your current saddle.
In general, road bikes come with the most solid saddles and mountain bikes have more padding. A cycle shop will help you to find the comfiest saddle for your shape and size.
Good for: Anyone wanting a comfier ride
Cost: £5 to £300
Cycle Computers and GPS
If you like to know how fast you’re going or how far you’ve been then you want one of these. Modern cycle computers fit onto the handlebars and will calculate speed, time and distance for you. Some even link wirelessly to your smartphone to track your progress. Isn’t technology great, eh?
A GPS is basically a sat-nav for your bike and is great if you like to cycle long distances. It may be a bit of a waste of money though if you only cycle a few miles to work each day!
Good for: Serious cyclists and gadget lovers
Cost: £15 to £500
If you cycle regularly you will probably be unfortunate enough to suffer the annoying set-back that is a puncture every now and again. A puncture really isn’t that much of a problem as long as you know your bike and have a spare inner tube in your bag. A cheap hand pump might seem like it will do the job but you will have no idea what pressure your tyre is pumped up to and this could lead to more problems further down the road if you get it wrong.
Investing in a good hand pump with a pressure gauge will make dealing with punctures easier. Another solution is a CO2 tyre inflator which uses a small canister of gas to quickly inflate the tyre, without any pumping whatsoever.
For home use we’d recommend getting a good quality foot or electric pump, because, as anyone who has tried to pump a road bike tyre to 120PSI with a hand pump can tell you, your arms will get quite tired quite quickly!
Good for: Everyone with a bike
Cost: £15 to £100