The best commuter bike accessories will help get you and your work essentials into the office in comfort. They'll also add all-weather reliability and help keep you safe on your ride.
For example, many commuters will carry a backpack. The best cycling backpacks are a handy way to keep all your work materials with you that leaves your hands unencumbered and makes off-bike travel easier. But a single pannier or a pair of panniers is a good alternative that you may find more comfortable and stable when riding.
Turning to safety equipment, it's sensible to run bike lights to increase your road presence even during the day and, of course, they're essential at night, dusk or dawn. Even if you plan to ride only during the day, it's easy to get delayed and find you're ending your commute when it's getting dark.
A helmet is another essential piece of safety kit. As well as providing protection in an accident, many of the best commuter helmets include lights, which will further increase your visibility to other road users.
Mudguards will make a damp or wet commute much more comfortable. Many of the best hybrid bikes come equipped with mudguards (and often a rack for luggage), but if yours doesn't we have some suggestions.
There are more details below for each of these items, as well as some products we'd be happy to buy in each case.
What are the best commuter bike accessories?
Most commuters need to carry items with them into work, whether that's a laptop, spare clothes, or some of the other items further down this page that they might need during their commute.
Many commuters choose to wear a backpack, as you don't need to fix it to the bike or remove it once you reach your destination and it's easier to carry around. Our picks of the best cycling backpacks are designed with cyclists in mind. They will be the right size to help you to carry your kit comfortably, they are weatherproof and are stable, so that you're not encumbered with a bouncing pack.
We loved the Chrome Industries Barrage pack. It's just the right size for commuting and its thick fabric and rolltop closure make it weatherproof. But above all, we liked the external cargo net that gives you expandable stowage for more bulky items.
The Rapha Backpack is comfortable to wear and a little softer than the Chrome Barrage, although the same size. Only the main compartment is waterproof, but that's lined in pink, making it a lot easier to find things.
If you want to make sure that you're visible for commutes in the dark, the Proviz Reflect360 is for you. The whole rear and sides of the pack are made of highly reflective fabric and its long zip makes it easy to get stuff in and out.
The alternative to a backpack is to carry extra stuff on the bike. This has the advantage that you're not encumbered by your load, it's carries lower down and your back shouldn't get so hot. On the flip side, it's more hassle to remove a bag from a bike and it will usually be more awkward to carry around off-bike.
Although many of the best commuter bikes come ready-fitted with a rack, you'll need to buy luggage. That might be a rack bag, a saddle bag or a bar bag. Bikepacking bags are also an option. Panniers are a popular choice as they have plenty of capacity, are weatherproof, are easy to clip to the rack and fairly easy to carry too.
Ortlieb's bike luggage has a reputation for phenomenal quality. There are a bewildering array of different Back Roller models, including hi viz options. You can buy either single or double sets, depending on how much you need to carry.
Another pannier with a large number of options available, Vaude sells the Aqua Back in a wide range of colours and as singles or pairs. The roll-top pack has welded seams, a hard back and comes with a removeable shoulder strap.
Another waterproof pannier, Topeak's option is sonically welded and waterproof with a rolltop. It's available in either 16 or 24 litre capacity, with a quick release rack mount system and comes with a shoulder strap.
For the winter months, lights are a necessity as you'll probably be commuting 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 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.
You also need a quality rear light. We've reviewed the Lezyne KTV Pro Drive 75 but you can often save some money by buying a front and rear light set.
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.
The Mini Drive 400XL will emit its peak output for an hour in constant, or seven hours in day flash mode. With eight modes in total, there are lots of options to match the conditions on your commute.
The Ion Pro RT emits 1300 lumens for up to 90 minutes, making a good option if your commute takes in dark roads at night. Its five modes include day and night flashing as well, for increased ride safety.
There are three Garmin Varia rearview radar options including this top spec model with a camera, which records what's going on behind as well as alerting you to approaching vehicles and their proximity.
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 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 with more ventilation may be more comfortable though.
Commuter helmet choices include the Kask Moebius and the custom 3D printed Hexr. If you're looking for a more road-oriented helmet, the Lazer Vento lets you add a rear light to the fit adjuster, while the Giro Aether Spherical is consistently rated for its safety, airflow and comfort.
With great ventilation, the Kask Moebius's peak is removable from the helmet, while the shell is scratch resistant, which is useful for commuting use. You can swap out the standard rear retainer for one with an in-built red LED light.
Bern specialises in urban helmets and the Hudson MIPS includes both a rear light and a MIPS liner, designed to add extra protection in a crash. There are 13 vents for good airflow and a removable visor.
If your commute is a little longer, a road bike-style helmet will be more comfortable than an urban helmet as there will be greater airflow. The Bontrager Circuit can also be fitted with lights to increase your road presence.
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 and the need for cleaning are 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 or Kinesis Fend Off are great options. If you don’t have mudguard mounts on your bike, Crud Roadracer Mk3 mudguards will fit on most bikes.
If you are looking for more choice, check out our road bike mudguard guide to learn everything you need to know about mudguards.
SKS has a reputation for producing quality, durable mudguards, with extra features like safety clips on the frame which allow them to snap off safely if an object gets caught between them and the wheel.
The Kinesis Fend Off mudguards are another quality option. Made of aluminium they are durable and available in two widths designed for the wider tyres that usually feature on commuter bikes.
Designed for bikes without mudguard eyes, the Roadracers nevertheless provide good coverage to keep you drier and cleaner. They fit to the frame away from disc brakes with velcro pads to help stop them from rubbing.
Deciding what shoes and pedals to use and shoes to wear while commuting really depends on your journey. The best commuter cycling shoes will give you a firm, comfortable grip on your pedals, with a sole that's stiff enough for efficient pedalling but still easy to walk in.
There's a decision to make whether you prefer a flat pedal or clipless pedal for riding. While flat pedals make putting a foot down easier, pedalling may not be as efficient as using clipless pedals for a more secure connection to the bike.
While some commuter cycling shoes are designed with soles that only work with flat pedals, others give you the choice of either using flat pedals or removing an insert from the sole to fit cleats for clipless pedals.
The FiveTen Sleuth is a canvas upper shoe with a grippy rubb er flat sole that's great for pedalling efficiency and will keep your feet cool. It's now available as a lace-up only, It's a shoe that's as comfortable and stylish off the bike as on.
An MTB shoe, the Shimano GR5 is a robust option for the commuter. Its upper is well ventilated and made of durable synthetic material that can withstand plenty of abuse, while the sole is sticky enough that your feet won't slip on the pedals.
The Giro Rumble VR is designed for use with SPD pedals, although it could also be used with flat pedals. Mesh inserts in the synthetic uppers keep your feet cool and the Vibram sole ensures grip whether it's wet or dry.
Bike thieves are an unfortunate reality so equipping yourself with the best bike lock will help ensure that your bike will still 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.
It's worth looking at the Sold Secure rating of a lock and choosing one appropriate to the security needed where your bike will be locked up. Diamond is the highest level, then gold, silver, then bronze.
A classic D-lock, the Onguard Pitbull offers enough space to lock your frame and a wheel to an anchor, providing a reasonable level of security at modest price for a bike that isn't going to be left in a high risk area.
The Hiplok Gold provides high security in a wearable chain lock, which can be adjusted for waist sizes from 30" to 44". Its locking length of 85cm gives you plenty of options to secure your bike's frame and wheels.
Kryptonite makes the Fahgettaboutit in several sizes, with the Mini its smallest shackle. It's Sold Secure Diamond rated but still very affordable and a little more compact than many options.
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Paul has been on two wheels since he was in his teens and he's spent much of the time since writing about bikes and the associated tech. He's a road cyclist at heart but his adventurous curiosity means Paul has been riding gravel since well before it was cool, adapting his cyclo-cross bike to ride all-day off-road epics and putting road kit to the ultimate test along the way.