Bikes are enjoying more popularity in the US than they have in awhile. The 1990s and early 2000s saw a significant rise in commuting cyclists and while that growth has plateaued these past few years, there is still general growth predicted for the future. Bike shares are getting more and more popular, and while they might have some immediate problems, there’s no reason to think those problems can’t be solved in a way that pleases everyone. After all, there are a lot of reasons to ride a bike instead of driving a car.
For that reason, we wanted to make sure any of our readers who cycle to work, or are thinking about cycling to work, have the gear they need to make their commute the best it can be. Here are the best gadgets for you biking commute.
Wald 582 Folding Rear Bicycle Basket
There are certain extremely practical things that somehow became shortcuts to being a very lame person. Fanny packs spring to mind, as do cargo pants and cargo shorts. Baskets on bikes are another one. Somehow the most practical way to carry things around while riding the most efficient form of human transportation became the mark of a particularly effeminate woman and, like many great things, men were no longer allowed to use them without being mocked until they died. We refuse to leave the bike basket behind like that.
This basket is best used as a set of two. You’ll have double the carrying space and will find it balances the ride better than if you stuck everything on one side of your rear wheel. The basket also folds, so you only have to break it out when you really need the space. We’d recommend going for the black basket. It has the least visual impact on your bike, just in case you’re still worried about people making fun of you. $23
Fabric USB 300 Light
There’s not much of a point in putting on a headlight if you can’t use it as a headlight. We’ve had lights that alert drivers we’re here on the road but didn’t do anything to alert us to what was on the road in front of us. Those were mistakes. The Fabric USB 300 Light makes sure that won’t happen again. It’s 300 lumens, which is more than enough to light up the road ahead of you and keep you from putting your front wheel in a pothole and your ass on the asphalt. The light can also be switched to different spots on your bike, so you’re not limited to a headlight. The mount requires no tools to move, so you can pull over and put the light where ever you think you need it. $46
Quad Lock Bike Kit
If you feel like you need your phone out while you’re biking, we understand. Just make sure you’re using a mount that’s not going to have you flailing around to catch your falling device. The Quad Lock Bike Kit should keep you from having that problem. It comes with everything you’d need to keep your phone securely attached to your handlebars, including the mount itself, an attractive case, a great lock to keep the two attached, and a “weather poncho” for when you find yourself caught out in the elements. There are a bunch of different configurations that fit everything from the iPhone 5 all the way up to the X, the Galaxy 8,9, and 9+, and a universal kit that attaches to everything else (as long as you’re comfortable putting adhesive directly on your phone). It’s a highly capable kit that will keep you connected during your commute. $70
Blackburn Local Basket
That’s right, we’re back on the basket issue. We covered our main feelings already, so let’s get right into the benefits of having a front basket for your bike (this basket can also be mounted on the back, but we like our earlier pick more for that). Your bike is far more capable of handling errands with a front basket. You can go on small grocery runs, pick up breakfast, or, really, stop at any store that sells things that are smaller than the basket itself. You can put your commuter bag directly in front of you instead of having it hanging from your body. Basically, you can put stuff in your basket. Why is that something people don’t like? $70
Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Bluetooth Workout Headphones
Using headphones while on your bike should be done with a reasonable amount of caution, since it seems like the Dutch are the only people on Earth who know how to handle any number of bikers. There’s also the simple fact that biking requires much more attention to surrounding noise cues. For example, cyclists can hear cars coming much better than a car can hear a bike coming and that means the cyclist should react accordingly. That’s why we like these headphones for riding. You get good sound quality without heavily compromising your ability to hear what’s going on around you, perfect for getting yourself to and from work safely and with a good soundtrack. $72
Biologic Joule 3 Dynamo Hub | Reecharge Dynamo Kit
It’s been at least a decade since we went to a public place and didn’t see someone frantically searching for an outlet to charge their dying phone/tablet/laptop/desktop computer. It got us thinking that as long as we’re riding our bike as many places as possible, we might as well avoid the charging panic. The downside here is the initial financial investment (though it gets easier to rationalize the more expensive your bike is). Up front, you’re dropping close to two hundred buck for charging capabilities. But the dynamo hub isn’t just for generating power for a phone. Once you have the hub, you’ll have a portable electrical source, which opens up a new world of bike accessories for you. $150 | $30
Garmin Edge 25 Cycling GPS
You could very easily use your phone for this, but there’s a serious argument to be made for keeping your phone in your bag or pocket during your commute. You’ll be less prone to distracted biking, which is only less dangerous than distracted driving because your bike doesn’t weigh as much as a car. Your phone may also not be built to withstand the elements the way bike GPS units are, so one surprise rain storm could wipe out your smartphone, where the GPS powers through.
These computers come with varying levels of sophistication. The one we picked is fairly basic and tracks all the necessities for a bike ride. You’ll know your speed, distance, elevation, time, and location, among other things. You can also plan and follow routes easily. If that’s not enough for you, there are two other steps in the Edge family of GPS units, so feel free to explore those as well. $160
Road Bike Repair Kit
We’ve seen more and more of those roadside bike maintenance stations lately, and we find that encouraging. But they can’t be everywhere, so you should still be carrying your own emergency kit. The best way to handle this is to build your own. That way, you’ll know you have everything, rather than buying a premade kit and finding out 15 miles from home there’s no inner tube replacement when that’s the only way you’re going to get this bike working again. If you run through this guide from REI, you should find yourself prepared for pretty much anything you might encounter on your commute.