Got a new bike? 8 accessories you need for the perfect ride
Don't hit the pavement without these.
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There are two types of people: those who spontaneously hop on their bike and ride off into the sunset, and those, like me, who prepare for a 30-minute bike ride an hour in advance. Even though I’m not venturing any more than a few miles from home, I, ahem, go the extra mile to ensure I’m equipped with the right gear to enhance both my performance and enjoyment of the ride.
If you’re part of the rising group of folks who’ve purchased a bike since the pandemic began (in March, the cycling industry saw a 121 percent increase in adult leisure bike sales compared to the year before, according to market research firm NPD Group), you’ll want to invest in a few other pieces to ensure the perfect ride. Here, our top picks to prime you for summer’s trendiest mode of transportation.
1. A top-rated helmet
This one is a no-brainer: a helmet can make the difference between life or death if you get into an accident. Our staff writer Sara Hendricks rounded up the best helmets you can buy this year, and noted that the Giro Register is best for everyday riders since it features a protection system designed to minimize the amount of head rotation that occurs after a fall, thereby reducing brain damage. Reviewers praise the helmet for how light and breathable it feels to wear for extended periods of time.
If you plan on riding at night, grab a bike helmet like the Lumos Kickstart with built-in LED lights you can customize through their app. Boasting 500 lumens of lighting at eye-level with 360-degree visibility, 10 white front lights, 38 red rear lights, three customizable flashing modes (like turn signal capabilities) with up to six hours of rechargeable battery life, it doesn’t just increase your own visibility, but also that of others on the road. One customer says calls it “Probably the best cycle helmet I have owned in over 55 years of cycling. Very well made, extremely comfortable, and gives a real feeling of security when worn. As for the lighting system...all I can say is that it is first rate.”
- Get the Giro Register MIPS Helmet from Amazon for $59.95
- Get the Lumos Kickstart Smart Bike Helmet from Amazon for $179.99
2. A water bottle that comes with a cage for your bike
If your bike doesn’t have a built-in water bottle cage, installing one is essential for staying hydrated and maintaining your energy levels on long- and short-distance rides. One of Amazon’s top-selling water bottle cages also conveniently includes a 22-ounce water bottle made of squeezable polyethelene, so it’s guaranteed to be the perfect fit for your bike—and your active lifestyle. The cage itself is made with lightweight plastic that reviewers say is super easy to install (though you do need to supply your own adhesion or mounting screws depending on whether your bike comes with pre-drilled holes or not). Additionally, customers note the plastic material won’t bend out of shape like aluminum cages tend to do.
3. Bike shorts
Sure, you can totally rock a floral sundress on your bike with a matching bouquet at your handlebars, but it’s not exactly as aerodynamic an option as bike shorts that hug your body. The bike shorts to wear depend on the kind of ride you’re looking for: a simple pair of form-fitting moisture-wicking bike shorts from brands like Lululemon are fine for running errands, and look chic enough to wear off your bike. You’ll want some seat padding if you’re looking at an extended ride. Amazon’s best-selling Beroy bike shorts feature spandex and polyester to both absorb sweat, reduce odors, and optimize range of motion. A three-dimensional gel padding prevents chafing and pressure sores for a smooth ride all around, according to the nearly 2,000 reviewers.
- Get the Align Super High Rise Short 10” at Lululemon for $58
- Get Beroy Women’s Bike Shorts on Amazon starting at 24.99
4. A fanny pack to hold your things
I am such a fanny pack truther that I really hope some celebrity wears one to a wedding one day making it “okay” for such occasions. Luckily, I get the most mileage out of my fanny pack when I’m riding my bike, so the tabloid announcement can wait. The Herschel Seventeen Waist Pack—which has a 4.8-star rating from over 800 reviews—includes several compartments, an adjustable strap, key clip, and is available in 34 exciting colors and patterns (many of them light-hued, which is a great way to get drivers and other riders to see you at night). Reviewers say it’s both stylish and practical, since it can stow larger items like cameras, portable chargers and more without feeling bulky against your waist.
Before you scoff at the potential discomfort of wearing an actual kangaroo pouch while you ride, remember my life hack: Go ahead and fill it up to the brim so that you’re forced to engage your core, lift your belly away from your knees, and keep your back straight so as not to squish your belongings. And there you have it—accidental perfect biking posture. For extra style points, wear it around your shoulders like a messenger bag.
I used to rely on that one-inch visor built into my helmet to protect my eyes from the sun, but the ensuing migraine was enough of an incentive to invest in a protective pair of sunglasses instead. Ever since I started wearing proper cycling glasses, I can devote more energy to staying safe on the road. The Oakley cycling collection includes many great options with features like wraparound lenses to prevent the sun from penetrating the side of your eye, as well as scientist-designed Prizm lens technology to enhance visibility and color clarity. One reviewer says they “look awesome and perform even better. Very quality feel, firmly remain on your face when cycling at speed and in heavy wind.” Others note zero distracting fogging.
For a more laid-back ride—be it a sunny or overcast day—opt for lightweight sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection from a trusted brand like Ray-Ban. Their Icon style, which is a welcome alternative to the classic aviator, features nose pads to prevent slipping (which would likely otherwise occur due to all that sweat). Their round shape helps provide additional coverage, and customers who typically struggle to find sunglasses that suit their face find these universally flattering.
- Get Oakley Sutro Shield Sunglasses on Amazon for $166
- Get Ray-Ban Icons 50mm Round Metal Sunglasses at Nordstrom for $154
6. An easy-to-attach bike crate
I have friends who swear by their bike crates for holding groceries or transporting items that would otherwise be too heavy to carry by hand. Amazon’s best-selling bike crate is detachable, so you can snap it off to bring into the grocery store, and pop it back on when you’re ready to bring home your kale (it’s always kale). The crate is made of weatherproof steel, includes a mesh layer to prevent small objects from falling through the base, and measures 9.5 inches high, 10.5 inches wide, and 14 inches long. What makes the basket totally worth it is how easy it is to install—simply clip the base of the basket onto your handlebars with no additional hardware necessary. Perhaps the most heart-warming benefit to this basket, which has over 1,400 reviews, is that customers report being able to comfortably fit their dogs in it for extended rides. Best riding buddy ever?
7. A sweat-proof sunscreen
At some point we've all underestimated the power of the sun on an overcast day and deeply regretted it. Fix your aversion to sunscreen by using an option you actually like, be it a scent or texture that works for you. I’ve been going through a healthy rotation of several non-greasy mists that provide even coverage, my favorite being Coola’s organic and fragrance-free take on sunscreen (trending editor Amanda Tarlton notes it’s one of the most popular sunscreen varieties on the market right now, and stays put for up to 80 minutes). On my face, I’ve been using Eir’s reef-safe cult-favorite with SPF 50 that’s so popular it sold out on sites like Madewell and Urban Outfitters. It comes in a mini deodorant-like roll-on, which is perfect for tackling small sensitive areas, and I appreciate that it’s designed in compostable packaging.
- Get Coola Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 Fragrance-Free at Sephora for $25
- Get Surf Mud Pro SPF 50 Facial Sunscreen Stick at Eir NYC for $30
There’s only one thing that makes me hungrier than fasting on Yom Kippur: bike rides. Since food is fuel, you’ll want to make sure you have something substantial stashed either in your fanny pack or basket. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy, so now’s your chance to cosplay as a triathlete by triumphantly announcing you are “carbo-loading” pre- or mid-ride. I’ve been obsessed with tracking down energizing and satisfying sources of plant-based protein that are high in satisfying carbs, and can safely say Lupii bites made of lupini beans are the most filling option I've tried that's tiny enough to fit in my pocket. For a standard granola bar that you’ll want every day for the rest of your life (at least I do), Purely Elizabeth satisfies every sweet tooth without the sugar crash, helping you ride harder, better, faster, stronger.
- Get Lupii Lupini Bean Protein Bar Variety Pack on Amazon for $34.95
- Get Purely Elizabeth Grain Free Superfood Bar, Coconut Cashew, 12 Count on Amazon for $27.99
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.