Guest post by Duncan Hurd, managing editor of Momentum Mag
I truly believe that my bicycle is the ultimate urban tool. My bicycle provides a solution to every city travel problem that I may encounter. Bicycling is fast, efficient, inexpensive, and let’s not forget fun.
Like any tool, a bicycle becomes more useful if it is designed for the task at hand. The growing demand for city bikes has resulted in an increased availability of bicycles that are made to be used daily, carry items, and keep the rider free from grease and street crud.
Do you need a new bike to make city cycling simpler? Not at all. Any bicycle will do. However, there are ways to improve any bicycle so it becomes better suited to daily city use. These five simple add-ons will help make your bike an attractive daily travel tool:
1. Fend Away Street Grime with Fenders
Unless you live in a place where it never rains and the streets are kept in pristine condition, you will benefit from fenders. As far as add-ons go, fenders give you the most bang for your buck and make city cycling a cleaner experience. And not only do fenders help keep you clean, they also keep tire spray away from riders around you. Since there are so many different fenders available it is difficult to make a specific recommendation, so visit your local bike shop and explore the available options that will fit on your bicycle.
2. Take More with You in Your Front Basket
I’m almost embarrassed by how long it took me to finally add a front basket to my bicycle. I thought I’d never use it; I’ll just use my messenger bag when I need to carry things. Boy, I was wrong. I honestly couldn’t imagine benefiting as much as I do from my bicycle without that front basket. As far as low-cost improvements go, a front basket is right up there with fenders. Any wire basket will do, though if you expect to carry more delicate items I recommend finding a basket with a solid base to provide support.
3. Keep Grease Where it Belongs with a Chainguard
Bicycle chains get dirty. They pick up road grime and are the number one culprit when it comes to ruined trousers. While their availability isn’t as widespread as fenders and baskets, adding a simple chainguard will help keep your pant legs clean and keep grease where it needs to be, on your chain.
4. Light Up Your Nights with Bike Lights
Having both front and rear lights on your bicycle is one add-on that is actually a necessity. Not only does having lighting on your bicycle improve nighttime safety (and save you from traffic fines) but it also makes you more likely to ride longer. In many European countries there are strict regulations on bicycle lighting, ensuring that the majority of riders are visible at night. In North America, the laws vary but lights are still required in most places. If you tend to leave you bicycle parked outside all night look for models that are easy to remove so you can take them inside with you. Another option that will ensure you never forget your lights is to install permanent front and rear lights powered by a dynamo.
5. Keep Your Bicycle Yours with a Secure Lock
While every bicycle lock can be defeated, the best locks take thieves longer to break. The goal of a good lock is to make your bike the least attractive option to would-be thieves. Heavy chain locks and solid U-locks are the most popular choice. Look for the security rating provided by the manufacturer to give you an idea if the lock can provide the security you need.
Duncan Hurd is managing editor of Momentum Mag, an independent media company that promotes, encourages and inspires “Smart Living by Bike.” He lives in Toronto, Canada and believes that every ride is a group ride, even if those around him don’t know it yet. Subscribe to Momentum Mag’s free newsletter.
Photo: David Niddrie