The addition of a few select bicycle accessories like fenders, bicycle lights and a multi-tool add solutions for safer riding, a more pleasant cycling experience and less hassle if you have a flat tire, or ride your bicycle in the dark or rain. I'll cover a range of bike accessories to consider for use including bicycle lights, bicycle fenders, a bike tire pump, bike locks, seat bags and basic bicycle tools. Also there's some information on solutions for a bicycle work stand. The information provided is what The Bicycle Fixer considers the best bicycle accessories by type for your riding and budget consideration.
Bicycle setup for touring with recommended accessories: fenders, racks, lights and hydration.
One item marks your presence in the dark and they're generally required by law, a bicycle headlight for riding in the dark. Planning to spend money on the best bicycle accessories, put it into a bicycle headlight and quality bicycle lock. Good practice is using a bicycle headlight that illuminates the path or road conditions ahead. Look for a bicycle headlight system with 650 lumens with at least narrow/wide beam options and a flash mode. If your concern is just to be seen, consider a light with at least 350 lumens.. Add a rear bicycle light or 2 with at least 80 lumens for good all-around lighting. Most bicycle headlights attach to the handlebars or an accessory bar. Bicycle lights come in several types, including rechargeable (li-ion), battery (alkaline) powered, motion activated and generator systems. We'll discuss the more modern rechargeable and traditional battery operated systems as they dominate the marketplace and are what most riders are familiar with. Rechargeable li-ion bicycle light systems first came to the marketplace in the latter 1990's's replacing old ni-cad battery powered systems. Quality bicycle headlights have standard features including a Cree led bulb, programmable modes, low battery warning, li-ion batteries and well engineered optics design. The modern rechargeable bicycle headlight and bicycle taillight can plug into a USB port.
Alkaline battery systems have existed since the 1960's and have vastly improved with longer battery life (some rechargeable), better optics and bulb technology. For the occasional jaunt at dusk you'll get a decent amount of light to see and be seen by. Small battery operated or rechargeable led bicycle taillights are a nice safety addition to the bicycle's headlight if you're a year round rider. If you occasionally ride in the dark, find the best bicycle headlight that offers at least 350 lumen's. If you ride in the dark regularly, consider a minimum of 650-750 lumen's. For very dark night time travels, a bicycle headlight can have around 1300 lumens! Shop carefully as optics play a crucial part in the function of the best bicycle lights. For these reasons I offer only brands that I can contact to resolve problems or have any questions. I offer lights from Planet Bike, Cateye, CygoLite, Niterider as well as Light and Motion. I was always impressed with the service provided by the folks at Cygo-Lite and it's the brand I use. Cygo-lite is designed and assembled in the US and NiteRider produces everything here in the U.S.A. Both have been producing bicycle lights for over 30 years. Light and Motion has been around the bike industry about 10 years, but as a company, they've been around awhile and offer engineered and built in the US products. They've caught the eye of the shops and consumers with their functionality, technology, looks and wide array of offerings for a reasonable price. NiteRider started out making underwater lights for scuba divers so they understand the word "waterproof" for those that ride in inclement weather. Cateye, well, they're probably the oldest and most well respected bicycle light company from Japan (offices in the US). Planet Bike offers mostly well-regarded alkaline battery operated bicycle headlights, taillights and systems though they've entered the li-ion market recently with some incredible offerings. Check out their various Planet Bike Blaze Combo set offerings. The Blaze is the number 1 brand name alkaline battery powered bicycle headlight sold in the US.
Though rechargeable bicycle headlights start as low $20 you also get "what you pay for" and in this case, about 50 lumens. Below, I've provided links to some well known and trusted bicycle light brands. My listed price range starts with 350 lumen bicycle headlights and 80 lumen taillights. These brands offer excellent bicycle headlights and taillights with overall best value, customer support and r&d.
(Li-ion batteries) starting around $35 (rears $10)
Pro's: higher lumen's, optics, efficiency, programmable, lightweight, usb compatible, CREE Led, Li-ion battery, durable, compact
Cons: cost, battery disposal and the cheap ones are...cheap.
(Alkaline battery) starting at $20 (rears $7)
Pro's: cost, long run times
Cons: inefficient, bulb technology, limited modes, lower lumens, battery disposal
CygoLite light set
Western Washington liquid sunshine! Rain........are you tired of a wet butt and a dirtier bike?! Consider a set of bicycle fenders! Now don't think fenders will keep you totally dry, they don't. Good raingear helps with that but a decent set of bicycle fenders make riding in the rain more tolerable and help protect your bicycles components. Offering's from SKS, Topeak, Planet Bike and Portland Design Works (or PDW) range from hybrid to road to mtb fender sets that attach directly to the frame, and versions for the seatpost and fork. Those bicycle fenders that don't use struts or rods to support the fender are known as clip-ons (some may use zip ties). The more traditional bicycle fenders are referred to as full fenders as they cover more of the tire. In the case of many high-end road bicycles, there's no place to attach bicycle fenders, so Planet Bike and SKS take the approach of using shorter struts attached to rubber feet which are then attached to the frame/fork with rubber straps. If you want something more durable in road bicycle fenders, an all metal road type set like the bicycle fenders from PDW (Portland Design Works) are nice looking and use the hubs quick-release as a place to mount the struts. Another unique option for a road bicycle rear fender is the Topeak Defender Iglow . It incorporates an led bulb in the fender for added safety. Surprisingly, these run about $35! For the racer or anyone using a road type bike for training or commuting in the dark, this is a nice addition to your bicycle light system. Iglow is also offered in other fender models as well.
Want bicycle fenders for the old beach-cruiser look and chromes your king, look at Wald's bicycle fenders selection. Note: not all bikes were designed with fenders in mind so customized installation is a possibility. This would more likely be found on disc-brake equipped and road racing bikes using traditional bicycle fenders.
The prices listed are a general starting point.
Full Fenders: $30/pr plus (expect to pay at least $65 for a quality set)
Pro's: coverage, durability, adjustability, stability, something for most bikes
Cons: cost, installation
Clip-ons: $16/pr plus (singlets from $10)
Pro's: something for all bikes, cost, installation
Cons: less coverage
SKS Longboard fender set
Something that really isn't thought of too much as an accessory until you realize your tires are flat! The bicycle pump. High pressure, narrow profile tires like those used by racers and road bike enthusiasts have a tendency to lose about 8-10% of air pressure in about 24 hrs. So if you pump those tires to 100lbs, the next day they're down to about 90lbs. Let them go for a few more days and they're sitting at about 70-75 psi and riding at that level with a heavier load can potentially ruin the rims they're mounted to. Larger section and/or thick walled tires will still lose air but only about 4-5% overnight because they only are pumped up in the range of 40-80 lbs. Ok you say, so what should I do?
There's a wealth of prices and types of bicycle pumps to meet your needs. What is the best bicycle pump? First, we need to clarify what it takes to produce a good pump. A quality bicycle floor pump for home is needed since tires lose pressure every day as noted above. All qood bicycle floor pumps come with a quality gauge to read tire pressure. For most riders and those with a families worth of bikes, brands such as SKS , Topeak , Park , Pedro's and Lyzyne all offer a range of price points and quality levels. My favorites the SKS and Topeak line of floor pumps. Look for a metal barrel at least 20" tall and the larger the barrel's diameter the better (for faster inflation), a gauge with large numbers, a stable base and comfortable grips. A bicycle floor pump in the $40-$60 range is perfect for most applications. Expect to pay more for a specialty or tubeless floor pump. If you must have a pump that measure exact lbs. like for race mechanics, Sears Craftsman offers a digital, handheld li-ion battery powered bicycle pump. Leave that for specialty mechanics. I should note, I found a decent floor pump I sell for about $28 that has most of the above noted features (gauge numbers are smaller and the barrel is plastic).
With tubeless tires, a compressor is still the best as bicycle floor pumps need to match the capability of shop air compressors to seat the tire bead, but a quality pump design remained elusive until the last few years. A few companies offer a separate cannister/barrel that can be charged with a standard floor pump or compressor. Specialized Air Tool (about $65) and the Airshot ($100+) fill this niche. If you're looking for a floor pump that fills the need for tubeless and standard tubed tires, the newer Topeak Joe Blow Booster ($150) will fill the bill. This led me to try the Topeak Joe Blow Booster and though one of the most expensive, I can see why. It features a larger, easy to read gauge, much longer hose, integrated charge/inflation switch, bleed button and a larger, more stable base. Also, Topeak offers replacement parts and it's patented "Smart Head" design works better than the rest.
SKS now offers a tubeless tire canister that fits in a water bottle cage! What?! Yes, RideAir Inflation tank is roughly 10" long and can be filled to 230psi. It has a hose and bleed off valve. Cost about $70.
At $50, I have to say (as do industry sales numbers) that Topeak's Joe Blow Max HP is the best value floor pump going. In all honesty, I don't use one anymore as I need a compressor for my business but for personal use it's an excellent bicycle floor pump. The barrel is steel construction for durability, is tall enough, has a decent sized gauge that reads up to 160psi and has Topeak's Smart Head.
But what about if I have a flat tire while I'm riding? Traditionally, the best bicycle pump is a frame fit but they don't fit all frame types. In the last 20 years, mini-pumps and CO2 have been fitted to bicycle frames to help with the inevitable. Frame-fit pumps, which by design have a longer barrel, are quicker to use if you don't want to stand by the side of the road pumping that tire for a while. I've included a link here to a review of frame fit vs' mini-pumps. Note on the frame fit pump review, though I disagree with the ratings ( I prefer the current Zefal HPX ), I still use the traditional Silca (made in Italy) pump on my steel framed bikes, the pro's/cons are pretty spot on.
Mini-pumps are offered by all the major pump manufacturers and distributors under their house-brand name. There's only a few companies offering frame-fit pumps, Topeak, Silca and Zefal. If your bike can accept a frame-fit bicycle pump, get one!
Probably the best all-around mini bicycle pump for on the road repairs are offered by Topeak with their Morph G line of mini-pumps. Some have a foot that folds when in use and allows the user to pump like it's a floor pump along with a swivel hose with an inline gauge. I guess we can call them a mini-floor pump. Costs runs about $45. I don't recommend it as a permanent floor pump alternative. CO2 systems crossover into the mini-pump realm as they are very small. Some incorporate a CO2 cartridge with a mini-pump that can work with or without the cartridge as in the PDW Barkeep Inflator. Most mini-pumps are 7"-8" in length. CO2 cartridge inflators also work for tubeless tires out on the trail or on the road.
Last but not least, one thing that kills the ability of any bicycle pump to work effectively is what the head clamps onto, the tubes valve stem. There's a rubber insert within the pump head that seals around the valve. Even the best bicycle pump head is susceptible to wear. Though better pumps can be rebuilt, why kill the bicycle pump head prematurely? Over the course of usage on threaded Presta valves, and to a lesser extent, Schraeder Valves, this rubber insert wears out and leaks air while inflating the tire. One way to slow this problem is to use smooth presta valve stems. These types of valves are found on a limited number of tube brands and generally only on narrow road and some mountain tire sized tubes. Sunlite, Michelin and Specialized come to mind. So based on 40+ years of riding and servicing bicycles, the best bicycle pump is really a matter of two. One for home, a floor pump and something for the bike. And for my bike(s) and the best bicycle pump for me, any Topeak Morph G. Secretly I like frame pumps but most folks probably wouldn't so in that case, old school Silca or the Zefal HPX.
Frame-fit bicycle pump: $40 plus
Pro's: longer barrel for more air/stroke, durability, rebuildable
Cons: Cost, doesn't fit all bikes
Mini-pump: $15 plus
Pro's: compact, cost, best have a gauge, fits any bike
Cons: short barrel ( low volume/stroke ), durability
Floor Pump: $15 (no gauge), $30+ w/gauge
Pro's: gauge, stroke volume, durability
long hose, broad price point
Cons: cost for mid-level and up
Topeak Joe Blow Max HP
Of all the things that can go wrong involving your bicycle (besides meeting a hard object), the worst may be theft. Bicycle theft has risen dramatically the last 5-10 years for many reasons. Some reasons are easier to rectify than others like using an inferior bicycle lock. The experts will always caution on where and how to lock it. Remember I mentioned earlier, if you're going to spend big dollars on accessories, spend it on a rechargeable high lumens bicycle headlight and great bicycle lock. You can purchase a bicycle lock as a; U-lock; cable with shackle or U-lock; combo lock and padlocks. Quality, brand name bicycle U-locks coupled with a thick chain are considered the best deterrent to theft. For securing the wheels to the bike, use a bicycle lock that looks like a hub quick-release without the handle. Google "bicycle hub locking quick-release. Many options will show up. One end has a security fitting so regular tools can't remove them.
There's three well- regarded and time tested bicycle lock makers, Kryptonite, OnGuard and Abus. Some folks recommend you spend 10% of the value of your bike on a bicycle lock. That's a crazy percentage if you own a $3k - $12k bicycle but at least spend $60-$70 on a quality U-lock (more for a higher end bike or if it's your commuter bike) and cable. A bicycle lock is rated on a scale and the higher the number the better. Some thieves carry around a power disc cutter that can waste any U-lock in seconds so how you lock your bike is as key as buying a great bicycle lock. So search youtube for "bicycle lock" or "how to lock your bicycle". There's some good stuff from the GMBN channel. Here's a link to one they do for the urban bike environment:
Pro's: hardened shackles, better locking mechanism, the best need a powered disc grinder to cut through
Cons: weight, cost
Cable & Combo locks: $10+
Pro's: inexpensive, lightweight (compared to a U-lock)
Cons: easy to cut, bulky
Chain locks: $15+
Pro's: better versions have very thick special metal links, tougher to break than combo's
Cons: less expensive versions are very easy to cut, weight, cost, bulky
Krptonite New York Fahgettaboudit chain lock and shackle. Arguably the best
The ability to finish a bike ride sometimes depends on the tools carried during your ride. Flat tires, broken chain and other maladies can cut your ride short or leave you late for work on a commute without basic bicycle tools and repair parts. At a minimum, one can carry a multi-tool (several tools that generally fold into a compact holder), a patch kit, tire levers, tire boot and bicycle pump. A seat bag allows you to carry bike gear out of way under your seat. Many companies sell mini-tools but ParkTool and Topeak offer probably the widest range of multi-tools. Today's bikes have many types of fasteners so at a minimum I'd recommend a tool that contains a flat blade screwdriver, a selection of hex wrenches and a torx t25. Also carry a set of tire levers from Kool-Stop, Park or my personal favorite, Pedros. I don't recommend riding tubeless tires for commuting as they generally require special tire levers and at least CO2 cartridges to reinflate while on the trail. A patch kit from Rema or another favorite of mine and many experienced cyclists is the offering from Park Tool, the GP-2 preglued super patch kit...no fuss, no mess. The other item most riders may not be familiar with or don't think much about until a slice occurs in the tire sidewall is a tire boot. In an emergency, a dollar bill or something that can withstand tire pressure will do in a pinch but better yet is an actual tire boot. Again, our friends at Park Tool offer us this, TB-2, or more formally, the emergency tire boot. Just remove your tire bead from one side of the rim, take out the tube and install the boot. Reinstall the new tube (if you cut the tire it's highly likely the tube is toast) and tire and inflate with your bicycle pump and be on your way.
To carry the spare tube, tire levers, patch kit, phone, wallet, keys and extra food, you'll need something to hold all of it. A seat bag will do the trick and there's many to select from. SKS and Topeak offer probably the best mounting systems for security though most bags are fine. There's sizes that are compact enough to carry a tube, tire levers, CO2 inflator and room for keys. If you want to carry that plus food for a long ride, consider an expanding seat bag. If you must carry your phone, there's also special mounts and cases. One line of bags that's the most enviromentally cool thing going is from Axiom. Axiom is the accessory line distrubuted by the Norco bicycle co. They use recycled fishing nets for thir Oceanweave product line.
Notice I didn't list costs and pro/cons here. The availability of products in this category is hghly varied, there's lots of good brands (Park Tool and Topeak are my choice) and prices galore.
Pedros RX Mutli-tool. Contains just about everything needed for roadside repairs.
If you like to tinker and perform your own bicycle repairs then bicycle work stands make it that much easier. You can find dyi bicycle work stands on youtube but if you're looking for something more stable and compact, then I recommend something more traditional. Again, Park Tool bicycle repair stands are the leader and offer the widest range ( 2 shop, 7 portable, 2 race, 6 wall mount and an electric assist) and arguably the best bicycle work stands in the market. I own 5 bicycle work stands, all from Park Tool; PRS-3 for home, PRS-25 for The Bicycle Fixers repair shop and race service, PRS-20 (now PRS-22.2)Team race stand used for tribikes, bike washes and the original Park Tool race mechanics stand, the PRS-15 (now out of production). I recently added the PRS-33.2 electric assist for ebikes. Lifting 75# bikes into a work stand ain't easy! The PRS-25 is my favorite to use but is a bit expensive for basic work but great for more extensive repairs at about $410. I'll review 3 bicycle work stands from two companies, Park Tool and Feedback Sports, for your home repair needs. Park Tool also offers bicycle work stands accessory tool/lube trays priced from about $20-$70. Some need adapters costing $14-$20
1) Park tool Repair stand PCS-9.3. Parks least expensive floor stand with trickle down features of the race stands.
Folding legs with a clamp, narrow clamping jaws for short seatpost, height adj 39" -57",
80lb capacity (over center) base 3' x 3', rotating head.
2) Park Tool Repair stand PCS-10.3. This Park stand is for the serious home mechanic.
3-point stability, height adj 39"-57", clamp to 3", 360' rotating head, micro-adj clamp,
foldable, powder coated steel tubing, capacity 80lbs.
Follow this link to see other Park Tool bicycle work stands
3) Feedback Sports Recreatioinal Bike Repair Stand 2.0. Home mechanic stand
Features: 360' rotating head, 52" base with rubber feet, folding capability. Least expensive brand name stand.
A link to Feedback Sports other offerings
There's several high-quality bicycle work stands and bike tools I didn't mention here as I could write a book on that. Read reviews from other sites with an eye on what is said. Also check Bikeradar's past reviews of products. Bicycle work stands can be a fairly expensive investment but then so is a multi-thousand$$ bike. Same with tools. Cheap, not inexpensive, bicycle tools will kill your bicycle, it's components and fasteners. Park, Pedro's, Bondus, Enduro and CDI (Snap-On torque wrenches), Felco C-7 (cutter), Knipex and Wheels Manufacturing tools are highly regarded in the bicycle industry. Next time you're at your local IBD or LBS have a look at the wall of tools in the service area...do they all pretty much have the same blue color on the handles? All industry folks know the blue immediately, as Park tools, and the color is actually trademarked! If you want to invest in a bicycle tool kit, as I've mentioned prior, find your way to the Park Tool website (http://www.parktool.com/) and look at the mechanics kits. There's something for everyone from the minimilast (WTK-2) to the shop starter Master mechanic kit (MK-15) that "only" costs about $9100 plus shipping. Oh, there's no kitchen sink included or a bicycle work stand. At about $5000+ is the Base Master mechanic kit (BMK-15). It comes minus any major frame cutting tools compared to the MK-15. If you're serious about maintaining your own bicycle, consider nothing less than Parks PK-5 . It's cost runs at least $940 and includes general tools, bicycle spcific tools, and the dropout hanger alignment tool. Another good option in bicycle tools is the brand Pedro's mentioned above and in the in the pump section. They also offer a good selection of tools and kits but not quite the spread of Park Tool. Whatever tool kit you buy or build up, make sure you have a chain checker tool. A chain checker will save you potentially hundreds on prematurely worn cogsets and chainrings. The Park (here we go again!) CC-3.2 is the best for enthusiasts. They only cost $15. Hey, a 7 speed freewheel is almost double that and 12 speed cassette can be $200!
Heavy duty Park Tool bike repair stand. Most bicycle shops use a variation of this stand.
Let's review what to take on a bike ride
Bicycle headlight and taillight
Bicycle fenders (for wet weather)
Hydration/ Water bottle cage and bottle
Food (Energy bar or your fave snack)
Computer ( optional )
Now that your bicycle is loaded and outfitted, enjoy your bike wherever it may take you!
Safety ~ Efficiency ~ Enjoyment
Enjoy Your Bike!
The Bicycle Fixer
Mobile Bicycle Repair
a sampling of accessories for your bike and rider