Being prepared used to mean carrying a spare tube, pump, and a modicum of tools. In the age of smart phones, however, preparedness has taken on a somewhat different meaning. For many, being prepared now means having the latest rideshare app installed on their phone. Carrying a phone while riding is never a bad idea, but a spare tube and the necessary tools are cheap insurance when you’re in a remote area with poor–or no–cellphone coverage.
In the not-so-distant past, bicycle lights typically came in one of two flavors: see-by or be-seen. In recent years, however, the line between the two has become a bit more fluid. Be-seen lights now offer greater coverage and increased brightness, while see-by models enjoy new features such as daylight modes for improved visibility when the sun is up. Like most things tech, prices have continued to drop while functionality has steadily increased.
When choosing lights, it’s important to remember that every light is, ultimately, a compromise. Battery life, weight/size, brightness, and cost are all factors to consider, so your idea of the perfect light may not exist (or fall within your budget). And when it comes manufacturers’ stated run times, remember that those numbers are based on ideal conditions. Cold weather can affect battery life, so choose accordingly if you’ll be riding when temperatures are low.
Whether you ride for recreation or utility, there will be times when you need to leave your bike unattended. If you want your bike to still be there when you return, you’ll have to rely on some form of security other than faith in humanity or just plain dumb luck. In other words, a lock. Bike locks are a lot like auto/health/life insurance: you buy it, but you hope you never need it. How do you choose the right lock, though? The answer is, it depends.
Reviewing helmets is tricky. You can test fit and comfort, but very few of us are willing to take one for the team and actually crash test them in the name of journalistic integrity. While I’m happy to report that I didn’t need to test the efficacy of these helmets, I’m no stranger to cycling-related head injuries. Two and a half years ago I fell while riding my bicycle. I hit my head and sustained a concussion.
As you might imagine, that incident sparked an increased interest in bicycle helmet construction and design. At last year’s Interbike trade show, I spent a good portion of my time talking with manufacturers about helmet technology and mild traumatic brain injuries. And while each company touted the superiority of their respective technologies and features, practically every bicycle helmet shares the same basic design–namely, a layer of crushable foam encased in a protective shell that’s secured with a simple chin strap.