After over a year of living in the new normal created for us by the global pandemic, things are slowly, if disjointedly, easing up. But even as restrictions are loosened and we begin to socialise again, life as we knew it will not suddenly return, which is giving us time to reconsider how we want to live in the world.
One of the major areas for reconsideration is how we travel. With public transport a major source of coronavirus-based anxiety and access to cars limited for many, it’s unsurprising that there has been a meteoric increase in bike sales across the UK.
Not only can a bike be a major money saver if you’re used to travelling on public transport, it is also the easiest way to travel while maintaining social distancing, reducing the potential for accidentally breaking the rules and endangering yourself or others.
As a longtime commuter by bike I’m obviously delighted to have so many more two-wheeled friends. The most important thing I’ve learned in the two years I’ve been cycling half an hour a day to and from work is that a ride is only as slick or as safe as your accessories. The impulse to jump on and go without any of the requisite equipment is understandable but not worth it – anything from a car to another cyclist or just a rogue branch could knock you from your bike. Only by wearing a helmet can you protect yourself and reduce the risk of a serious head injury by up to 70%. And it’s not just your head! Essentially, without tools to make you more visible, safely carry your wares or secure your bike, you are putting yourself and your bipedal friend in danger.
But all is not lost! Personally I embrace the ‘safety first’ attitude, which means I look, frankly, like a massive nerd on my daily commute but in no way does that mean you should, too. A host of independent brands are making bike-specific pieces which are as convenient as they are chic, meaning you can be as safe as you like on your socially distanced jaunt around the park. Toot toot!
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You can’t (and shouldn’t) really skimp when you’re buying a helmet. However if you’re looking for great quality under £50, you can’t do better than Bern – this helmet is light, safe and foam-lined for comfort. They come in a range of colours but we’re particularly fond of this matte sand.
Bern Macon 2.0 Helmet In Matte Sand, $, available at Bike Tart
If you’re able to spend a bit more, I can’t recommend the Thousand helmets enough. The two sets of interior padding ensure a customisable, comfortable fit, while the rubberised matte gives it a cool finish. It is built to meet CPSC and EN1078 standards (aka really, really safe) and as part of the Climate collection, a percentage of the profits from the helmet goes to the environmental charity 1% For The Planet. Nice one!
Thousand Bicycle Helmet – Arctic Grey, $, available at Cycle Chic
Another good affordable option comes from cycling favourite Bobbin. As well as being built to meet CPSC and EN1078 standards, it is peaked, meaning you can keep the sun and rain out of your eyes as you pedal into the distance.
Bobbin Metric Helmet In Matte Blueberry, $, available at Bobbin
Finding the perfect bike bag can be tough because sometimes you just need something secure to carry a couple of bits to the shop. This bag is waterproof and easily attachable to your handles. Just be sure to detach it before you lock up and go!
Cafe Du Cycliste Handlebar Bag, $, available at Cafe Du Cycliste
Another multitasker, the 3-in-1 market shopper from Good Ordering can be worn as a shopper, on your back OR attached to your bike as a pannier. Made from quality water-resistant nylon and complete with internal pockets, it’s the ideal accompaniment on your trip to work, to the park, or just to and from the shops.
Good Ordering 3 in 1 Market Shopper: Convertible Backpack Pannier, $, available at Good Ordering
If you’re feeling a bit more retro-inspired, you can’t go wrong with a wicker basket. It adds rustic charm while increasing storage capacity. Just make sure you buy a metal bracket to attach it properly.
Bobbin Allotment Basket, $, available at Bobbin
A bike is nowhere without a quality bike lock…quite literally. Kryptonite locks are the most trusted among cyclists in the know, and making use of both a cable and a D lock will only add to security. Even if you don’t go for this particular model, be sure not to go for a combination lock as they are the easiest for thieves to break through.
Kryptonite Kryptolok Mini D Lock with Kryptoflex Cable, $, available at Evans Cycles
Bike lights may not be as necessary right now (unless you’re making your way through the streets late at night) but they are a vital buy to boost your safety and ensure your visibility. These last for ages and are detachable, lessening the likelihood of them being nicked while your bike is parked. Just don’t forget them!
Lezyne Femto Drive Light Set, $, available at Evans Cycles
While the world and her wife have (rightly) got on the reusable water bottle train, this one is special as it’s super light at just 54g – and looks very slick and chic.
Mirai 550ml Water Bottle, $, available at Pedaled
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