You’ve got your dream bike assembled and adjusted perfectly to your body. Now the fun part: upgrading and customizing your vehicle for your lifestyle. It’s an exciting time to cycle — there’s all kinds of goodies for both sports and transportation bikes. Gone are the days of riding the same ole off the shelf bike your friends are riding. Are you ready for some bling your bike ideas? The possibilities are endless!
Bike customization is easier than ever before in the U.S., especially for commuter and leisure-style bikes. Fenders, long standard on European bikes, and skirt guards are finally making an appearance in The States to protect your nice clothing and let you wear your favorite outfits on your bike without risk of splash damage from rainy roads or loose fabric catching in your spokes. They’re functional and good looking — fenders come in everything from sporty plastic to retro hammered metal, and skirt guards range from crocheted splashes of color to wire modern-art confections. For rainy or snowy climates, try a chain guard. They keep your chain running smoothly, keep your long pants from getting caught and ruined, and incidentally provide a whimsical decorative touch. Look for chain guards with stenciled designs for a great retro or romantic feel.
Coordinate your tires with your seat and grips; tires come in all colors and sizes, from neon green to cream-colored whitewalls. Grip tape likewise comes in ever-increasing variety, from springy cork tape to festive cloth. These small accents can really tie a look together.
Baskets and Bags
Rear racks, baskets, and even frame-based totes let a bicycle carry almost as much as a small car. Panniers and containers for bikes are getting more attractive all the time; forget those fold up wire monstrosities of the 80s. Now, it’s all about sophisticated fabrics and upscale hardware. As an added bonus, some manufacturers carry good-looking panniers and front bags that convert to messenger bags and briefcases, so you can easily use them for business or shopping. There’s nothing quite like a warm afternoon ambling home from a hard day’s work with dinner in the front basket and a bottle of wine hanging from the top tube — why drive?
To complete the transformation to commuter vehicle, try dynamo lighting for a powerful, attractive headlight that charges while you ride. And consider a bell to warn pedestrians of your approach. They’ve come a long way from the bell you had as a kid. Now they come in everything from retro brass to adorable ladybug shapes, and are a great final touch to a bike you’ll want to ride every day.
Sleek and Streamlined
Sporty bikes have options, too, though they’re more limited by weight and aerodynamic constraints. Ditch the clunky, hard-to-use water bottle holders for sleek, streamlined designs that adjust to fit most bottles and flex to hold or release your water easily. Carry your favorite flashlight with you for biking and hiking, with a handlebar-mounted clip that turns your handheld light into a headlight. Look for small, specialized containers that fit under your seat and carry patch kits or spare keys for long rides. There are lightweight fender and mudguard options for mountain bikes, too, perfect for muddy trails (and they look great, besides). Finish off your fitness machine with a computer to track distance, speed, and improvement. Modern bike computers pack heart-rate monitors, GPS tracking and sometimes even route mapping, into one small package.
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