Bicycle Commuter Survival Kit
Anyone who rides their bicycle in the city every day knows the typical hazards of the road: an errant door opening in your path, pedestrians watching cars but forgetting about bicycles, potholes, etc. Sometimes it’s the little things that bicycle commuters have to remember to help them out of a jam. Unlike a car, there are no tow services for bikes, so having the tools to fix a few things on the road is helpful. Here are a few things that might be of great use to you in the unfortunate event that you would need them.
1. Good Quality Bicycle Lock
Seems like a no-brainer, right? While many people tend to have a lock for their bicycle, there are still a number who do not have quality locks. U-Locks are made by many manufacturers and are one of the best options when it comes to locking up your bike. A great option in terms of safety is a chain with very thick links; however, they are a bit unwieldy and quite expensive. The cable locks, which can include keys or combination locks, are not as reliable as a strong pair of bolt cutters can do away with this type of lock after a few hearty snips. Whether you are riding a new and expensive road bike or a beat-up hand-me-down, no one wants to lose their transportation. Spend the money and protect your ride.
2. Good Quality Helmet
The second of the two most important bicycle accessories. Now that your bike is protected from theft, you have to protect yourself from injury. Though smart riding can avoid most injuries, there are simply some things that are out of a cyclist’s control. Just check out these stats in relation to bicycle-related injuries and it’s clear that wearing a helmet should be done every time you ride. Check out our previous post about getting a correct fit for your helmet. Padded gloves are also good to think about as they can help you avoid road rash and may make gripping the bike handles a little more comfortable.
You can pick up these from any bicycle store or even a hardware store. The best way to pick one is to look at your bicycle and figure out what kind of screws and connections attach the parts. Having a multi-tool with an Allen key and a wrench is pretty standard as many bicycle screws/connections are of this type. As a cheaper solution you can simply figure out the size of your connections and buy a single key/wrench specific to your bike. Lifesaver for loose handle bars and bicycle wheels!
4. Extra Inner Tube/Pump/Tire Levers
Changing a bicycle tire is not particularly easy but there may be times when you need to do it. If your tire is not significantly damaged, these three items are indispensable. Extra tubes are usually folded into a small rectangular box, a travel pump is usually the size of a small umbrella, and tire levers are very small as well. (The multi-tool linked above has these built in.) While videos like the one above can give you an idea of how to change a tire, taking a class or learning from a seasoned pro is suggested. If you want to get started yourself, check out this how-to.
5. Bike Bag
You have to have something to carry this stuff, right? The great thing about bike bags is they can really be anything. If you’re a student you are likely carrying a backpack/messenger bag, so tossing a couple of bike essentials in one of the compartments is a quick and easy way to stock some of the essentials. Other options include bags that attach to your bike in a variety of ways. In a range of sizes there are bags that attach directly to the frame, the handle bars, and even the seat tube/post. It really depends on how much you carry and what’s most comfortable to you.