Reader Henry recently wrote:
“Now that it’s warm out, I’m trying to use my bike instead of my car as often as possible, and I was wondering if you had any recommendations for good looking bike accessories.”
That’s great to hear Henry, and yes, I do.
If you don’t already have one, you’ll want to get a good bag. By good, I mean one that’s fully water / weatherproof, doesn’t block your site lines, and is comfortable to wear for extended periods (also, the more it can carry, the better). Along with bigger brands like Chrome, De Martini, BaileyWorks, and Brooks, there are a number smaller, artisanal outfits that are well worth checking out. Firstly, Portland, OR’s Archival Clothing offers a handful of bike-friendly styles, all of which are made in Springfield, OR in an owner-operated facility using heavy-duty 22 oz. waxed cotton twill.
Another option is Philadelphia, PA’s Laplander Bags, which has a wide range of designer-made waxed canvas carriers. The nice thing about Laplander, is that all of their bags can either be attached to your bike’s rack / basket, or worn (and they look just as good either way). Speaking of racks, typically, a decent one will run you about $100 (a little steep, yes, but something you’ll only have to buy once). Ben’s Cycles in WI has a great selection, including Japanese-made models from Nitto and GAMOH.
Wheelmen & Co.
If you don’t want to go the messenger bag route, then I’d recommend the Babylon Backpack from Wheelmen & Co. It’s made in the US, has a waxed cotton outer, 1000d Cordura nylon inner, sealed zippers, and comes in three colors. Also, you gotta love the brand’s logo.
One accessory I can’t recommend enough if you’re planning on turning your bike into your go-to mode of transportation is fenders. If you’re riding fixed, or just want to keep your load light, the e9th Fender from Cleveland’s Blicksbags is a good option. It’s handmade from reclaimed Ash, and is fully adjustable, to ensure maximum backside coverage.
If you’re looking for a little more protection, the Aluminum Fenders from Hanson Bikeworks are pretty great. They’re handmade in Utah, and will class up pretty much any ride you attach ‘em to.
If you really want to go all out, then take a look at the fenders from Woody’s Fenders. Each set is painstakingly handcrafted in Portland, OR from a variety of exotic woods. I’ll warn you before you click though, that the prices do reflect the materials / craftsmanship.
Death & Texas
There are also items that, while not crucial to the success of your ride, certainly won’t hurt it (and might even make it a little more enjoyable). Case in point, the U-Lock Holsters from Brooklyn’s Death & Texas offer a stylish way to transport your lock on those rides you don’t want or need a bag. Each holster is handmade from vegetable tanned leather, and easily attaches to your belt.
Portland, OR’s (noticing a trend?) Walnut Studiolo makes an assortment of attractive bike accoutrement. Whether you’re looking for straps for your rack, leather bike grips, or just an attractive way to transport your morning coffee, the co. has you covered.
Lastly, as any avid cyclist will tell you, you should always travel with tools. And the Mopha Tool Wrap from Seattle’s E.H. Works is a great way to carry them. Each wrap is handmade from waxed canvas, and comes with a leather strap, so it can easily be affixed to the bottom of your bike’s saddle. Unfortunately, the tools pictured are not included (but, they are a good guide for what you should have with you).
You might have noticed that helmets are missing from this list. While I do endorse the use of them (especially if you’re riding in a city), there are almost no helmet brands that still produce in the US. That said, there are a few European models, if you don’t want to buy China-made. Here’s a handy guide to help you find helmets by their location of manufacture. Enjoy your ride!
Got a question you want answered? Send an email to brad[at]well-spent[dot]com.