Best bike gadgets and accessories for cycling
The bicycle is one invention that has changed little since the first chain-driven model was invented by H.J Lawson in 1876, with improvements mostly coming in the materials used in manufacture.
However, this hasn't stopped a plethora of gadgets and gizmos being invented, which could make your cycling experience easier and hopefully a little more fun.
So, with summer not too far away we thought it'd be nice to do a quick rundown of some of the kit you might need to enable you to get the most out of your trusty two-wheeled steed.
Ahead of the game
When it comes to helmets, cyclists generally fall into two camps, those who wear them and those who don't.
For those that wear them already, Giro manufactures a decent range of helmets, in particular the Ionos, with its 21 giant wind tunnel vents and carefully placed internal exhaust channels for maximising air flow across your head, which gives some very good protection.
For those resistant to cycle headware and concious that it makes you look like a bit of a dweeb, helmet specialists Nutcase are on hand to add some much needed cool in the department.
Both ranges should go some way in helping you avoid the nasty anti-social side effects of frontal lobe damage, if you do happen to have a crash.
Carrying on the safety theme, and we come to the other essential element for any gentleman cyclist - the horn/bell.
Which device you opt for is tricky and probably depends on your personality - would you prefer to give a light tinkle of the bell to make pedestrians aware of your presence, or would you prefer to startle them with a timely hoot of your horn.
For the bellers amongst you, you can't go too far wrong with the classic selection that Velo Orange offers, which includes Japanese style and classic brass.
Horners on the other hand will get a kick out of the Delta Airzound 2, which should be more than sufficient at making pedestrians and cars alike aware of your presence.
A fork in the road
Getting lost isn't fun, so here a few options for those who like their bikes, but suffer from a lack of directional awareness.
For those of you with either an Android handset or iPhone there are a couple of nice options for getting help with your whereabouts. If you're sporting an Android device then you can't go too far wrong with Google Maps Navigation for mobile, as it's built into Google Maps, whilst iPhone users will perhaps want to go for either the CoPilot or TomTom options.
For those wanting a more serious take on the whole finding your way around thing, the Garmin Edge 5000 could be the device for you. It offers the user a large range of data including speed, distance, time, calories burned, altitude, climb and descent, which is all recorded for you to review at a later date. The Edge 500 also incorporates a barometric altimeter to pinpoint changes in elevation - hardcore.
For those on a budget, or that perhaps like to do things the old-fashioned way, the Dunlop bicycle compass bell will not only ensure that you're heading in the right direction, but won't break the bank.
Head up display
Cycling and mobile phones aren't, as a rule a match made in heaven. However, if you've opted to navigate using your phone (see above), some bright sparks have put together some mobile holders, which will ensure your handset stays secure.
For the iPhone the GoRide from Biccio seems to be one of best, and should give a relatively safe haven for your pride and joy whilst cycling. Another more generic device comes in the form of the range from Herbert Richter, the range covers a large number of phones so have a root around on Amazon to find the one that suits you best.
The only trouble with this method of mobile usage is when it decides to rain, which in England is more than likely. Given this you might want to look at a few Bluetooth headsets instead.
If you can't find what you're looking for then you might want to have a go yourself, check out instructables.com for a few tips.
Lights are all important, allowing you to see and more importantly be seen by others. And unless you're Dutch you'll probably want to steer clear of the dynamo option. Choices are many, but here are a few of our faves.
The Stella 200, pictured above, is a pretty high-end bike light, with small dimensions, weighing under 300 grams and a 3-hour recharge time. However, there's a pretty hefty price tag attached as at the time of writing it's going for around £199.99.
More affordable is the NiteRider UltraFazer 5.0, NiteRider UltraFazer 5.0, which offers waterproofing to 50 metres a decent mount and 5 LEDs for lighting you way. Taking two AA batteries its design will ensure you can also be seen from the side. All for just over £20.
You'll also want to grab yourself a rear light, in which case CatEye have a very decent range.
Seven deadly sins
It is commonly thought that there are seven deadly sins, but this is in fact false - there is one more. The eighth sin is to wear lycra. However we can appreciate, for some, mainly top athletes, the wearing of it is a necessary evil in order to perform to the highest possible level.
For the more casual rider the ones to go for, if you want to keep cool and the oil off your best chinos, are the Endura Hummvee Baggy Shorts.
A great allrounder, these shorts are made out of Teflon-treated nylon - yes the same stuff that coats your frying pan - and there are pockets aplenty; including a zipped one for your mobile phone and a tabbed pockets for any maps you may need.
Chaffing should also be kept to a minimum thanks to the "seamless stretch inner leg panel".
Whether you're carting around a laptop to work or taking your bike into the wilds, a good backpack can make all the difference.
This is probably as good as you're going to get in terms of backbacks, and is equally adapt at carrying your laptop for the morning commute as it is for cycling through the wilds.
Made by Ergon, the BC2 has a flexible Profax PP-frame which transfers up to 80 per cent of the load to the hips, while the dynamic Flink ball-joint offers practically unhindered freedom of movement to the upper body. A bladder is provided for your favourite beverage, and you'll also get an integrated rain cover.
It's pricey, at over£100, but we have it on good authority it's well worth the money.
Baby on board
On the whole babies and cycling don't mix, as, let's face it, they're rubbish at it. However, if you just have to get your cycling fix and you happen to have one - a baby that is - then a decent baby chair is essential.
The BabySeat 2 from Topeak is one of the best we've found, as it offers some great protection and versatility. A wrap-around seat body creates a virtual cocoon of protection and features a 6-point harness system. whilst a suspension system cushions bumps and jolts, if your cycling, or indeed the road, isn't up to much.
The real winner with this, though, is the BabySeat II QuickTrack system that requires no tools to attach and remove seat from rack - allowing for some very quick removal.
We hope you found these suggestions useful, but we appreciate there's a whole lot more equipment out there so be sure to let us know your favourites in the comments below.