Liz Connor shares expert picks that will help you ride more safely and efficiently.
After a year of working from home, it’s become clear that sitting in standstill traffic on a busy bus, or even in the car, is never a fun way to spend a morning – which is probably why more of us are discovering the joys of cycling to work.
Secretary for Transport Grant Shapps has said that cycling in the UK has increased by 200% since lockdown, and it’s no great surprise really, considering that biking your route is usually cheaper, more fun and often quicker than other forms of transport.
One of the first things you’ll quickly learn as a newbie cycle commuter though, is that comfort and practicality is key. Here, we’ve rounded up all the essential kit you need for a ride that’s as smooth as silk.
1. Kryptonite Kryptolok 685 Foldable Lock (£57.99 down from £69.99, rutlandcycling.com)
Keeping your bike safe from thieves with a decent lock is a must, but D-locks can often be cumbersome to carry around in your daily backpack.
This foldable option from security heavyweights Kryptonite is ideal for everyday commutes – the 5mm hardened steel links can be packed down to just over the size of a water bottle, making it easy to mount on the bottle cage of your bike.
2. Rapha Roll-top Backpack (£100, rapha.cc)
If you’re cycling into work, chances are, you’ll be hauling a lot of gear with you: a change of clothes, lunch, a water bottle and potentially multiple pieces of tech.
This design-savvy, roll-top bag from Rapha has been built with commuters in mind: there’s a padded 15″ laptop sleeve, an easy-access side zip pocket for your phone, and attachment loops for locks and lights.
We also like that it has retractable clip at the top, so the fastening doesn’t get in the way when the bag is open.
3. Halfords Essentials Mini Bike Pump (£5, halfords.com)
There’s nothing more devastating than getting squishy tyres mid-ride and having to push your bike to the nearest cycle shop for some air.
A mini pump is hopefully one of those items you won’t need to use all that often, but will always be there to give you a small top up when you need it most. If you’re short on bag space, it also comes with an attachment so you can clip it to your bike frame.
4. Closca Folding Helmet (£110, tokyobike.co.uk)
Lugging your helmet around quickly becomes a frustration if you’re the type of person that flits between the office, the gym and the pub.
Social butterflies will love this folding helmet, which can be packed down to a flat shape, so you can easily slide it into a bag. Closca says the helmet complies with the strict safety standards in Europe meaning that the helmet will never fold while you’re wearing it.
5. Hammerhead Karoo 2 (£359, hammerhead.io)
Riding with this sleek cycling computer means you’ll never have pull over and check the directions when you’re pedalling to a meeting.
It has a smartphone-like touchscreen, so you can plug in your destination and bring up the route if you’re connected to Wi-Fi, or build and load routes using an online web builder. As well as showing you the map with directional arrows, it’ll chirp when you need to turn, and also track your performance metrics, such as distance, average speed, calories burned and power.
6. Lezyne Micro Drive 600XL/KTV USB Rechargeable Light Set (£55, down from £71, tredz.co.uk)
Being seen is a big part of staying safe on the roads, which is why bike lights should be top of your commuter shopping list.
It’s easy to scrimp on lights, but we recommend investing in this set from Lezyne – the ultra-high output LED front light delivers up to 600 lumens, creating a bright beam on the road ahead, and there’s a highly visible backlight too.
The lights can easily be secured on and off, and charging is easy with an integrated cable-free USB stick.