The best commuter bike accessories will help keep your commute trouble-free, or at least help you to sort ay issues that do occur.
Above all, you want your bike commute to be dependable, so sturdy tyres, a quality helmet and pedals suitable for commuting are all important, as are quality front and rear lights and mudguards and a robust bike lock.
If something does go wrong, you need to be able to get up and going again quickly. So a good minipump and multitool to carry with you are a good starting point, along with inner tubes and a puncture repair kit.
We have put together a checklist of some important things to consider so that you arrive at work on time and ready for the day ahead and recommended some choices for what to buy.
What are the best commuter bike accessories?
While your bike will come with tyres, and any tyre will work for commuting, city streets are littered with glass and potholes waiting to dish out punctures to unsuspecting cyclists. Upgrading to a high-quality, commuter focussed tyre will greatly improve reliability as they prioritise puncture resistance and durability. They will feature additional puncture-resistant layers, thicker rubber and reinforced sidewalls to keep debris from causing damage.
If you are accustomed to road tyres you may notice a rolling resistance and weight penalty but we think, as a trade-off for not having to fix a puncture in the rain when you're late for work, it is more than worth it.
There are many commuting tyre options to suit all riders from the tank-like Schwalbe Marathon to winter training tyres like the Continental Gatorskin. For more information check out our guide to the best commuting bike tyres (opens in new tab) , which includes our favourites along with a handy guide as to what to look for when buying some.
While they aren't necessarily an essential commuter item, full mudguards (or fenders, for our readers across the pond) make a huge difference to riding enjoyment in poor weather conditions. By keeping the dirt, grime and spray off you and your bike, rider comfort is greatly increased and wear on expensive drivetrain components reduced. They may look a little dorky, but after the first commute in the rain without a wet bottom, or having to hose down your salt-covered drivetrain, you won’t look back.
Mudguards come in many different forms, and you really get what you pay for. Full mudguards are the way to go if you have the mounting points and SKS Bluemels (opens in new tab) or Kinesis Fend Off (opens in new tab) are great options. If you don’t have mudguard mounts on your bike, Crud Roadracer Mk3 (opens in new tab) mudguards will fit on most bikes.
If you are looking for more choice, check out our road bike mudguard guide (opens in new tab) to learn everything you need to know about mudguards.
3. Pumps, tubes and repair kits
No matter how puncture-resistant your tyres are, the day will come when they are faced with a nail or piece of glass that is just too much to shrug off. Carrying a pump, spare tube, tyre levers and repair kit will mean that you aren’t left stranded halfway between work and your house. These items can live in your backpack or, even better, stored in a little saddle bag on the bike so you always have them when they are needed.
Road bike pumps are capable of achieving high pressures. The Topeak Race Rocket is good value, while the Silca Tattico (opens in new tab) should last forever. The alternative is a CO2 inflator (opens in new tab) like the Topeak Micro Airbooster or the Lezyne Control Drive.
Choosing the correct spare inner tube may seem like a mystery if you are unsure what size you need, however, all tyres should display the diameter and the tyre thickness, for example, 700x28C. If in doubt your local bike shop will be more than happy to help you find the correct size inner tube for your bike.
Swapping a tube will get you back on the road quickly but a good old fashioned repair kit will get you out of a truly sticky situation. They generally come in two options, self-adhesive or standard patches and glue. Self-adhesive patches can be a bit hit-and-miss, although we have had good experiences with Park Tool’s Puncture Repair Kit Super Patch (opens in new tab). For a standard patch kit, Wiggle’s own brand, LifeLine Puncture Repair Kit (opens in new tab) comes with everything you need for the paltry sum of £1.25. It is important to remember that any patch is a temporary fix and, although we have seen standard patches hold tight for years, there is always a chance they will come unstuck in the future.
The best bike multi-tools can prove the difference between riding home and paying for a taxi, and will be extremely handy should something come loose or need to be adjusted mid-commute. It doesn’t need to be a foldable workshop in your pocket, but simply having a few common size hex keys and a screwdriver can mean that you can fix most on-road problems.
We recommend looking for a tool with at least a 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm hex keys, Philips and flat-head screwdrivers, Torx keys (if your bike uses Torx bolts) and a chain breaker. These tools will likely get you moving again 95 per cent of the time.
Lezyne has a great range of tools, including its RAP II 19 CO2 (opens in new tab), which gives you 19 tools and also a CO2 inflator head to get a flat tyre up to pressure quickly without a pump. The Park Tool I-Beam tool is neat and easy to carry, while the Topeak Mini PT30 (opens in new tab) is very compact and also comprehensive.
For the winter months, lights are a necessity as commutes are likely to happen in dim light conditions and poor weather. In summer you may feel that there is no need for lights, however, even during the day, daytime running lights can make a cyclist far more visible to other road users. The best bike lights will have different modes to cover all riding conditions, just make sure they are charged and ready for the morning ride.
For urban commutes on lit roads, a lower output front light like the Lezyne Mini Drive 400XL (opens in new tab) would probably be adequate. If you are going to be riding on unlit roads, you probably need a light with higher peak output though, like the Bontrager Ion Pro RT 1300 (opens in new tab).
You also need a quality rear light. We've reviewed the Lezyne KTV Pro Drive 75 (opens in new tab). They're expensive but the Garmin Varia series lights include a rear-facing radar that alerts you to approaching traffic. The Garmin Varia RCT715 adds an action camera to record events as you ride.
Depending on your local laws, wearing a helmet might not be compulsory. Regardless, we would always recommend wearing one no matter the distance of your ride. It is irrefutable that, even in the event of a slow-speed crash, a helmet will provide potentially life-saving protection. You can buy commuter helmets (opens in new tab)which offer a more casual aesthetic and may include more city riding features such as built-in lights and reflective panels to aid rider visibility. If your commute is longer a road bike helmet (opens in new tab) with more ventilation may be more comfortable though.
Commuter helmet choices include the Kask Moebius (opens in new tab) and the custom 3D printed Hexr (opens in new tab). If you're looking for a more road-oriented helmet, the Lazer Vento (opens in new tab) lets you add a rear light to the fit adjuster, while the Giro Aether Spherical (opens in new tab) is consistently rated for its safety, airflow and comfort.
7. Pedals and shoes
Deciding what pedals to use and shoes to wear while commuting really depends on your journey. For short distances in which you wear your normal clothing and regular shoes, platform pedals will be the best option. That said, should your commute go over longer distances or be required to deal with inclement weather, then cycling-specific footwear is advisable.
What shoes to choose from will depend on whether you prefer a flat pedal or clipless pedal (opens in new tab) setup for commuting. Clipless road bike pedals (opens in new tab) attach the shoe to the bike for better power transfer, however, flat pedals (opens in new tab) will appeal to less confident riders or those who require a sure-footed shoe to walk in.
The middle ground would be a double sided clipless pedal and shoe which use a different mechanism and recessed cleat in the shoe's sole. This makes walking a lot easier, as well as clipping out and in for stops and starts.
Flat pedal choices include the Look Trail Grip and Shimano PD-EF205, while double sided clipless pedals include the Shimano M540 and Crankbrothers Candy. Choose road bike clipless pedals and the Shimano 105 (opens in new tab) or Look Keo 2 Max (opens in new tab) are good options.
Bike thieves are an unfortunate reality so equipping yourself with the best bike lock (opens in new tab) will help ensure that your bike will be where you left it. D-locks are generally the best way to go thanks to their compact size and security features although they can be somewhat limiting when it comes to choosing your anchoring point. There are other options such as chains and compact folding mechanisms.
The Hiplok D1000 (opens in new tab) and Abus Granit (opens in new tab) D-locks have received high marks in our reviews, as have the Hiplok Gold (opens in new tab) and Abus City Chain (opens in new tab) if you prefer a chain lock.
9. Emergency procedures
With governments increasingly investing in cycling networks to improve safety and encourage environmentally friendly modes of transport, it has never been a safer time to commute by bicycle. However, unexpected circumstances can arise so it is important to consider what you need in case of an emergency. This could be as simple as checking the weather and investing in a waterproof jacket (opens in new tab), to the worst-case scenario of a crash or collision with a car.
No matter how careful and responsible you are, accidents do happen and it is important to be prepared. As most commuters carry a mobile phone this will likely be the most important tool in the event of an emergency. Something as simple as making sure it is charged will allow you to call for help or for emergency services to access your details and ICE (in case of emergency) contact information. Having some of the best bike insurance too will either potentially help should the worst happen, or at least provide a mental cushion.
Many brands have developed tracking and alert features that assist if something goes wrong, for example helmet manufacturers such as POC and Specialized (opens in new tab). POC’s Medical ID feature allows first responders to access medical info using NFC, while Specialized’s ANGi system (opens in new tab) and Strava's Beacon (opens in new tab) will send a distress call if it detects you having a crash. All these features are aimed at saving valuable time which can make a huge difference in a critical situation. GPS computers (opens in new tab) also often include tracking and emergency alert features and even phone apps like Strava have a live tracking feature although you will need to pay a subscription.
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