Bike Gear

Comfort and safety are major considerations while riding my two bicycles (the Ridgeback Voyage and Thorn Audax Mk3R). The following are not commercial recommendations, but rather my guide – based my own research and experience – of the best quality products on the market for riding with ease and precaution.

Lights

Every time I ride my bike, I am staggered by the intrinsic invisibility of cyclists to motorists and indeed roaming pedestrians and pigeons, despite my efforts to be seen: riding assertively and wearing hi-vis clothing. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to be visible is to be lit up. I mainly cycle in the day, and (during autumn and winter) in the dawn and the dusk of the day, and I think a constant flashing light is the best way to be spotted.

The versatile Cateye Volt 400 front light serves me well for the days, the dawns and the dusks, and when I’m occasionally caught out at night.

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Technical specs:

High mode 400 lumens: 3hrs / Middle mode 100 lumens: 8hrs / Low mode 50 lumens: 18hrs / Hyper Constant mode 400/50 lumens: 11hrs / Flashing mode 50 lumens: 60hrs

The Bontrager Flare R rear light was conceived for daytime riding and is possibly the best one on the market for this purpose. What’s more, it performs very well in the low lighting of the dawn and the dusk, and in the nighttime.

Technical specs:

65 lumens for visibility from over 2km day or night with balanced optics for 270 degree visibility near and far / Day modes: 65 lumens flash for 4.25hrs; 35 lumens all-day for 10hrs; 25 lumens steady for 4.5hrs / Night modes: 65 lumens flash for 23hrs; 5 lumens steady for 21hrs

Bell

dsc00468There’s being seen and there’s being heard!

The Decathlon B’Twin 540 bicycle bell is excellent budget value and makes a good audible (and retro) sound. I recommend. Other than a good bell, safety entails a willingness to use our vocal chords to let others know we are there. I confess that in this respect I need to learn to occasionally yell, “cyclist!”, rather than mutter, “err excuse me”.

Saddle

dsc00475Comfort is a major consideration when riding. Indeed, being distracted by uncomfortableness while on the bike is dangerous. The women’s leather Brooks B17 S Standard is fitted to both my bicycles and offers me a superb level of comfort; and this is despite my oldest one of five years still not breaking in! I’m told that the Brooks leather saddle once broken in – to the unique contours of one’s own specific behind – provides unrivalled rear comfort. 🙂

Water bottles

dsc00474dsc00471Keeping hydrated whilst out on a ride is so important. The Camelbak Podium range of water bottles are excellent for ease of handling and long-term durability. The bottles come in a range of sizes and have a self-sealing, squeezable design and lockout valves, so they’re completely shut to prevent leaks when not drinking. What’s more, the bottles are easy to clean and look great!

Storage

It’s essential to always carry the right cycling gear: spare inner tube, tool kit, pump, rain jacket, and fuel. I use two Carradice saddlebags (compatible with the Brooks saddles): one for commuting to work, the Originals Junior; and the other for day touring, the Originals Zipped Roll. The Originals Junior accommodates my essential cycling gear plus much more for work purposes, whereas the Originals Zipped Roll (which is surprisingly roomy) packs in the essentials nicely.

The Originals Junior attaches to the bike through the Carradice Classic Saddleback Rack (indeed it will attach without the rack but then might not give enough clearance from the rear wheel). The Originals Zipped Roll fits to the bike through three leather straps.

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Carradice Originals Junior. Weight: 440 grams / Capacity: 9 litres / Dimensions: 30cm wide x 18cm high x 15cm deep [Weight of the Classic Saddlebag Rack: 330 grams]

Both bags are made of cotton duck fabric, and Carradice boast its following high performance: “The fabric is pressure impregnated with parrafin wax to make it waterproof. This means there’s no coating that could get rubbed off. It also allows the fabric to breathe, so your belongings don’t ‘sweat’. When rain hits the fabric, the outer cotton filaments swell, effectively closing up any gaps in the weave and around the stitching. Combined with the barrier of wax, this very effectively stops the rain getting through.”

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Carradice Originals Zipped Roll. Weight: 310 grams / Capacity: 2 litres / Dimensions: 13cm diameter x 28cm wide