After a winter spent mostly indoors, most people are looking forward to a summer filled with friends, outdoor activities, and soaking up the sun. And one of the best ways to spend your time outdoors during the summer is by biking.
If you plan to bike for fun this summer, you’ll need to invest in a few items to stay safe and enjoy every ride. Biking during the summer boils down to two things:
- Carrying everything you need for work or adventure
- Avoiding sweat, both in transit and upon arrival (there’s nothing worse than sitting in a sweaty shirt during dinner wondering if someone can smell you)
Whether you’ll be going on joy rides around town, commuting to work, or biking with friends, here are your must-have items to thrive this summer on two wheels (trendy bike shorts not included).
First and foremost: please wear a helmet. I know, “it’s just down the street” or “it’s not too crowded where I’m biking.” Just do it. More commonly, nowadays, helmets come with MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system), which means as you experience impact, the helmet mitigates the forces on the brain by dispersing the force in the helmet — definitely helpful if you do hit the ground with your head.
If you’re not wearing a helmet because it makes your hair sweaty, I get it. Instead of going without a helmet, look for one with more ventilation—the more vents in the helmet means more airflow and less sweat. Consider a helmet like this for more ventilation; at under $100, it’s a small price to pay for your safety (and intact hairstyle).
To understand different helmet ventilation systems, compare the number and size of the vents above to the one below. To my friends not as concerned about ventilation, this is a great helmet option. If you plan to bike through different seasons, aren’t as worried by sweaty hair, or aren’t interested in splurging on a helmet for your new hobby — this one will keep you safe. It still has MIPS, and the fit is adjustable.
Bike lights are something you don’t think you need until you’re out after dark and worried about getting hit by a car that doesn’t see you. Luckily, bike lights are usually small and lightweight—so throwing them in your bag before leaving the house is no problem. The only thing worse than being out after dark wishing you had bike lights is having bike lights and realizing the battery is dead. These are rechargeable and will help you avoid that awkward moment of no glow after turning on your light.
Now that you’re a biker, it’s time to find a nearby repair shop. You will be popping in to see them a few times over the summer for unexpected repairs and flat tire mends. Knowing where you want to go before you need to go is helpful and supporting a local business is always a plus. If you’re in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, consider saying hi to Joe at Quick Release.
For a summer of fun, you’ll want to comfortably carry items with you as you travel on your bike. Both options below are waterproof, which sounds like something that won’t matter until you get caught in a summer storm, and you have your laptop on you.
This is the backpack that I have had for four years, and I can’t recommend it enough. There are many compartments to keep me organized; it’s very lightweight, there is padding on the side that touches your back, and as a bonus, this bag is 100% recycled material.
The best alternative to a backpack if you’re worried about back sweat is a saddlebag or Pannier, like this one. This clips onto a platform you install on your back tire. Upon arrival at your destination, you can unclip and carry it over your shoulder.
Lightweight biking shirt
Along with your bike lights, throw a shirt in your bag if you are biking to get somewhere like work or hangouts. You’ll want to invest in a lightweight shirt, like this, to wear while biking, help minimize the sweat situation. When you arrive, plan time to change because you’re not going to want to stay in the shirt you just biked in unless you biked to the gym.
For a good time, while riding, I recommend against wearing headphones so that you can hear what’s happening around you. A waterproof Bluetooth speaker is the safest way to add some music to your ride. This one is similar to a speaker I have.
If you are biking to a location, you’re going to want to buy a lock. U-locks, like this one, are the best to protect against bike theft. U-locks are made of steel and require power tools to cut through. Cable wire locks are not made of steel and easily cut through with bolt cutters making those locks are more likely to be cut through if you’re parked in a row of bikes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when locking up your bike.
That’s it! You’re geared up and ready to go. There’s not much better than traveling by bike during the summertime. Happy travels!