Holigay Gift Guide 2013: Accessories For Your Lovely Bikes And Your Even Lovelier Faces

Welcome to the second installment of a dedicated biking column, where we’ll discuss the joys and perils of getting in – okay, on – the saddle. Here we’ll talk how-tos, gear guides, politics and history, travelling and anything else that comes to mind – all while making terrible jokes about putting our legs round things.


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Now that you’ve got your new shiny lesbosexy bike, let’s talk about getting kitted out! This is the first of two biking x Holigay Gift Guide crossovers, to give you lots of ideas for what to get for the cyclists in your lives (including your own beautiful selves).

This is a two-part gift/gear guide situation: first, we’ll look at what to put on your bike, and then we’ll look at things to put on your body. Aside from the stuff that’s super important for you and your bike’s safety (lights, locks, helmet, brakes), you won’t need all – or even most – of this; I am a big advocate of just wearing whatever you were going to wear anyway on your daily commutes. But! Remember that just getting a couple of accessories can do wonders for your warmth, comfort and visibility, and plenty of cyclists don’t want to splurge on these extra things for themselves. Stuck on what to get for that one person (read: me) who only appreciates practical presents? Here’s where you, the benevolent giftmo, come in.

Lights

In most areas, it’s illegal to cycle in the dark or inclement weather without lights (white for the front, red for the rear) – and for good reason. Here’s what to consider when buying lights:

  • Brightness: Usually measured in candela or lumens. Choose one that’s as bright as you need it to be to be seen in the kind of conditions that you’ll be cycling in – fog and heavy traffic, unlit paths or just to the store down the road? – and look for lights with good side visibility, not just narrow, focused beams.
  • Power Source: For most commuters, AA/AAA battery-powered or USB rechargeable lights are more than adequate. Dynamo-powered lights are best for long, intensive bike rides.
  • Portability: Clip-on lights or those with quick release mounts mean that you can take the lights with you, reducing the chances of theft or damage. If you leave your lights on the bike, you want to make sure that they’re screwed on as tightly and as securely as possible.
  • Location: Most front lights are mounted on the handlebars and rear lights on the seatpost. If a rear light on the seatpost is likely to be blocked (e.g. if you wear dresses or long coats), consider mounting it on your bike rack, clipping it onto your backpack or pannier, or getting a helmet light.
  • Back Ups: Get a set of emergency lights in case your main lights fail or get stolen.

1. CatEye HL-EL135N/Omni 3 TL-LD135 Combo (battery-operated, quick release, clothing clip)
2. Planet Bike Blinky Safety 1-LED Bicycle Light Set (battery-operated)
3. KNOG Boomer USB Rechargeable Front Light and Rear Light (quick release)
4. CatEye Uno HL-EL010/Rapid 3 TL-LD630 Combo (battery-operated, quick release, clothing clip)
5. CatEye Loop Bicycle Front and Rear Safety Light Kit SL-LD110 (battery-operated, emergency lights)
6. KNOG Beetle Front and Rear Twin Pack Lights (battery-operated, quick release, emergency lights)
7. Topeak HeadLux Helmet Light (battery-operated)
8. Light and Motion VIS 360 Degree Plus Bike Light (helmet light, USB rechargeable)
9. KNOG Blinder Road 2 Front USB Rechargeable Light (quick release)
10. CatEye Orbit Bicycle Spoke Safety Light Kit SL-LD 120 (battery-operated)
11. Supernova E3 Pro 2 Headlight (dynamo-powered)
12. Supernova E3 Pro 2 Tail Light (dynamo-powered)

 

Locks and Security

Keeping your bike secure is such an important topic we’ll have a whole post dedicated to it in the near future but in the meantime, here’s a quick look at what’s available. Ideally, you’ll want to lock your frame and both wheels to a bike rack. Stronger locks tend to be bulkier, heavier and harder to transport, but many come with brackets so you can attach them to your bike frame. Here I’ve also included the Sold Secure three-tier rating of each of the locks, which is what most UK insurance companies use, to indicate their relative strengths.

1. ABUS Centuro 860 (85cm) Lock and 860 (110cm) Lock (Bronze)
2. ABUS Granit Steel-O-Flex 1000 (80cm) Lock and 1000 (100cm) Lock (Silver)
3. ABUS Granite City X-Plus 1060 Chain Lock (Gold)
4. Kryptonite Evolution 4 Integrated Chain Bicycle Lock (Gold)
5. KNOG Bouncer U-Lock (Bronze)
6. Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 Standard Bicycle U-Lock (Silver)
7. Kryptonite New York Standard Bicycle U-Lock (Gold)
8. Kryptonite Kryptoflex Looped Cable (deterrent chain if you only have one lock)

 

Bells and Horns

Sometimes you need a tourist out of the way and sometimes you need to just– hey, girl, hey. (No I’m kidding, don’t do that, that’s street harassment and it’s not cool. Context and consent, y’all!) Realistically you probably won’t need anything fancy to do the job, so you could spend on a branded, quality bell… or you could just go with whatever’s cutest on the handlebars.

1. Kikkerland Dring Dring Bike Bell – Speedometer
2. Vavert Hamburger Bell
3. Sunlight Squeeze Bicycle Horn – Shark
4. Vavert Dude Bell
5. Crane Suzu Lever Strike Brass Bell
6. Bell Be Alert Classic Bugle Horn
7. Delta Airzound Bike Horn
8. Hornit dB140 Cycle Horn with Remote Trigger

The last two on this list are considered the loudest horns in the market, in case you’ve ever thought to yourself, “wow, cycling’s great and all, but I really wish I could be as loud as a jetplane while I was at it.” You do you, my friends, you do you.

 

Racks, Panniers and Baskets

Bicycles are the one of the most efficient means of cargo transportation, because of the low weight of the bike relative to what it can carry. Of course this will mean little to you when you’re lugging a sack of potatoes up a hill (real-life experience) and you might not be say, moving house by bike any time soon, but getting your bike fitted with just a couple of carrier racks, pannier bags or baskets can make your life substantially easier. Most carrier racks are fixed to the rear of the bike – lower fixtures destabilise the bike less, and wider ones increase wind resistance but allow you to carry more. If you own a folding bike or a weak frame (e.g. a bike with a very low crossbar), you might want to look at front-fitting fixtures instead.

1. Planet Bike Eco Rack
2. Topeak Explorer Bicycle Rack with Disk Brake Mounts
3. Ibera Bicycle Quick-Release PakRak Mini Commuter Bag and Seat-Post Rack
4. Rixen & Kaul KLICKfix Vario Rack
5. Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EXP with Rigid Molded Panels
6. Green Guru Carbon Cooler Pannier
7. Banjo Brothers Canvas Saddle Bag
8. Topeak Pannier Dx Drybag
9. Topeak Trolley Tote Folding Basket
10. Snoozer-Pet Bicycle Basket (dog not included)
11. Nantucket Lightship Classic Front Handlebar Bike Basket
12. Avenir Folding Rear Wheel Basket

 

Child Seats and Trailers

Do you have a small human to transport and/or entertain? It can take a while to adjust to the additional weight and different centre of gravity, but cycling with a kid can be super fun for both of you. Rear-fitting seats, which can be attached to the bike frame or a carrier rack, are a bit safer and offer better protection from wind-chill. Front-fitting seats destabilise the bike less and offer the child a better view but can make for awkward pedalling. In choosing a child seat, don’t compromise on safety and comfort: the kid must be able to sit up on their own and be under the weight limit. For bigger small humans, consider a bike trailer!

1. Hamax Siesta Bike Child Seat (rear-fitting, frame mount, max. 48lb/22kg)
2. CoPilot Limo Bicycle Child Seat (rear-fitting, rack mount, max. 40lb/18kg)
3. WeeRide LTD Kangaroo Child Bike Seat (front-fitting, max. 40lb/18kg)
4. iBert Safe-T Front Child Seat (front-fitting, frame mount, max. 38lb/17kg)
5. TYKE TOTER Front Child Bicycle Seat (front-fitting, frame mount, max. 45lb/20kg)
6. WeeRide Co-Pilot Bike Trailer (rear-fitting, frame mount, max. 75lb/34kg)
7. InStep Quick N EZ Double Bicycle Trailer (rear-fitting, frame mount, max. 80lb/36kg)

 

Cleaning and Maintenance

Here’s another topic that we’ll be going into in the future, but for now here are a few all-in-one cleaning and repair kits that are useful for getting started in your DIYke biking journey and make a great gift for the handy queers in your life.

1. Finish Line Pro Care Bucket Kit 8.0
2. Muc-Off 8-in-One Bike Cleaning Kit
3. Park Tool Chain Gang Cleaning System
4. Topeak Alien II 26-Function Bicycle Tool
5. Zefal Universal Patch Kit with Levers
6. Roswheel Bicycle Repair Tools Set with Pouch and Pump

 

Various Thingamabobs

1. Planet Bike Black Hybrid/Touring Hardcore Fenders (45mm) (you really don’t want to get mud thrown up onto your fancy new coat)
2. Topeak Modula Ex Bottle Cage
3. Green Guru Recycled Bicycle Tubes Dashboard Handlebar Bag (for maps, phones and other small necessities that you need within your sight or quickly within reach)
4. Mirrcycle Original Bicycle Mirror (for racing or if it’s hard for you to turn around to look behind you when on the road)
5. Serfas Women’s Reactive Gel Bicycle Saddle
6. KLOUD Black Soft Gel Relief Bike Saddle Seat Cushion Pad Cover
7. White Lightning Saddle Johnny Bike Seat Protector (TIP: a shower cap works just as well – here’s just if you wanna get fancy about it or need a stocking stuffer)
8. Ergon Grip P-1Mg Series Bicycle Handle Bar Grip

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Politiqueer, student and future cubicle drone-person fond of trees, bicycles, and strawberry sponge cake. Abuses en-dashes. Undecided about the Oxford comma. Follow her on Twitter or her occasionally updated blog.

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40 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    That “Fjällräven Kraken” typo is one of my favorite things.

    But seriously, I LOVE my Kånken. I’m rough on my clothes/shoes/bags, but I take mine everywhere, and several years later it’s still just as sturdy and looking great. The fabric’s somewhat water-resistant, but if you’re out in more than a drizzle, that’ll only do so much.

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      Fixed it, thank you! I would like to thank my brain and/or autocorrect for that original typo. Both work in mysterious ways.

      No matter what bag you get I strongly recommend getting a hi-vis backpack cover because it’s a lot easier and more useful than a jacket sometimes imo. I cycle just about long enough in London to get my stuff soaked through in a drizzle, and S’pore has tropical rainstorms.

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      Yes, maybe, I don’t know, who makes the rules around here?? (Also that was my partner’s choice, she was tasked with finding bags that normal people who don’t spend all their time thinking about how to optimise their commutes would carry for like… normal life. I only own bike bags.)

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    Super glad you are giving out good details on bicycling. I am an avid bicycle commuter. I do it by bicycle as much as possible–bad weather and good alike–approximately 20 miles round trip a day. I live in MI, so I live in a gray, dark, cold climate for about 7 months a year. A couple of quick things I’d like to throw in the conversation. While bike gear is a wonderful thing, you don’t have to have it all to make a go of it. The big price tags on some of this stuff are sometimes a bit freaky. Even for winter riding you can make it happen with solid base layers (yes! to merino wool and all wool for sure and even cheap synthetics that have no hint of cotton in them) for all of your parts–feet and hands being especially important, good lights, and a not-beat up helmet.

    You can find great old sweaters at a thrift shop along with wool socks for cheap. Wool socks can work on the inside of your shoes (like how socks are supposed to be worn) and then you can also cover whatever shoes you are wearing with a big thick pair of wool socks. If you have cleats, you just cut the outside sock around the cleated area and you can clip in and out no big deal. You do not have to use cycling shoes at all–but fat, used wool socks are way cheaper than the neoprene booties.

    If you spend any big money on bicycle stuff and you plan on riding in the winter, get good, thick (but finger friendly) gloves (lobster claws work too but your dexterity goes awry).

    I cannot stress the importance of being visible. Lights matter a whole heck of a lot. If you intend to commute at dusk or night (or you already do so), lights matter so very much. I have a amazingly full on dorky helmet mount and 230 Lumen removable, rechargeable battery flashlight insert. The battery lasts for about 8 hours and charges up really quickly. I got the whole set up for something like $35.00 from Deal Extreme http://www.dx.com Hot Trust Fire lights

    I also use two cat eyes on my handle bars. I basically have three,very bright annoying lights at night. Always keep back up batteries in your bag or pockets. One more thing about the helmet light. It both lights ahead, while my handle bar lights let me see close range, and the helmet light works as a light weapon for me against motor vehicles. Example: four way stop; motorist starts to roll on through even though you were there eons before motorist; turn head and shine that bright light into the eyes of the motorist; motorist stops befuddled; you pedal on through without a scratch.

    I also always have two blinky lights on the rear–one on my bike and one on my helmet. My Bell City helmet has a strap on the rear that a clippy light can mount to no problem.

    Bravo to the shock yellow segment. I love my new,fancy, migraine inducing yellow, water resistant wind breaker.

    So my long-winded comment (due to the fact that I love bicycles a lot and find my body over one many hours of the week) means you can bicycle no matter your income level as long as you have a bicycle and access to some small amount of cash and creativity. And, please be visible at night and in dark weather. My friend always says, “if it is daytime and half of the cars have their lights on then you should switch your bicycle lights on also.” This means always have at least one front and one rear light within reaching distance.

    In addition, a good rack and a decent waterproof pannier or a waterproof messenger bag are essential for commuting success. My ortlieb panniers are fantastic.

    Oh, and if folks are interested in bicycling with kiddos. I bicycled thousands of miles before my kid and I have bicycled thousands of miles post kiddo/ many of those miles with kid. So, I have all kinds of tips and other good info on kid friendly bicycling.

    Yes to bicycles. Thankful for this regular bicycle column.

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      How do you deal with the snow and ice? Do you ride all winter long? I just put my bike in storage after our first major snow here in Wisco and I was sad. I need to figure out if I’m tough enough to bike through the winter months.

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      I agree that it’s completely possible to bike on a budget. When I first started biking I didn’t have money to buy *anything* other than the bike. It’s more annoying, but you can even use regular bulky layers and shed some partway through. And rig up stuff you have around the house. Biking can save you tons of money.

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      Thank you for this comment! I would really really love to hear more about kid friendly bicycling, maybe submit a thing to us about that sometime.

      Re: biking on a budget, I’d also recommend checking out local cycling events because sometimes they give out the tiny things that are super useful and yet too much hassle to go out of your way to buy for free (like trouser clips, hi-vis bands, etc.).

      For people reading this who don’t live in MI (I don’t think I could deal with 7 months of darkness omg, you are a champ), I wouldn’t recommend getting excessively bright bike lights if adverse weather isn’t that common and you cycle through heavy traffic a lot – blinding other cyclists/motorists isn’t always the safest thing. Also there are usually legal limits on these things, and when the London Met gets cranky about cyclists dying they do things like go around and fine people for having the wrong lights. Because y’know. That makes sense.

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    First, thanks for promoting safety so much! I know *way* too many bike nerds who ride around without lights, reflectors, helmets, etc., and so know more people who’ve sustained relatively serious and easily avoidable injuries than I’d like.

    Second, definitely seconding the recommendations for a bell/horn – I had no idea how much I’d want one until I started riding around without one. Of course, even though I realized that several years ago, I still haven’t actually bought one…

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