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Bicycle Accesories

The Bicycle Fixer
                                                                    
253-486-7468

joe@thebicyclefixer.com



The addition of a few select bike accessories like bicycle fenders, bicycle lights and small tools add solutions for safer riding, a more pleasant cycling experience and less hassle if you have a flat tire, or ride your bicycle in the dark or rain. I'll cover the best bike accessories to consider for use including bicycle lights, bicycle fenders, pumps, bicycle locks, seat bags and basic bicycle tools. Also there's some information on solutions for a bicycle work stand. The information provided is what The Bicycle Fixer considers the best bicycle accessories by type for your riding and budget consideration.

Bicycle HeadLights and Light Systems
 
One item marks your presence in the dark and they're generally required by law, a bicycle headlight. Planning to spend money on the best bicycle accessories, put it into a bicycle headlight and quality bicycle lock. Good practice is using a bicycle headlight that illuminates the path or road conditions ahead. Look for a bicycle headlight system with 650 lumens with at least narrow/wide beam options, flash mode. Add a rear seatpost bicycle light with 80 lumens for good all-around lighting. Most bicycle headlights attach to the handlebars or an accessory bar. Bicycle lights come in several types, including rechargeable (li-ion),  battery (alkaline) powered, motion activated and generator systems. We'll discuss the more modern rechargeable and traditional battery operated systems as they dominate the marketplace and are what most riders are most familiar with. Rechargeable li-ion bicycle light systems first came to the marketplace in the latter 1990's's replacing old ni-cad battery powered systems. Quality bicycle headlights have standard features including a Cree led bulb, programmable modes, low battery warning,  li-ion batteries and well engineered optics design. The modern rechargeable bicycle headlight and bicycle tailight can plug into a USB port.

Alkaline battery systems have existed since the 1950's and have vastly improved with longer battery life (some rechargeable), better optics and bulb technology.  For the occasional jaunt at dusk you'll get a decent amount of light to see and be seen by. Small battery operated or rechargeable led bicycle taillights are a nice safety addition to the bicycle's headlight if you're a year round rider. If you occasionally ride in the dark, find the best bicycle headlight that offers at least 350 lumen's. If you ride in the dark regularly, consider a minimum of 650-750 lumen's. For very dark night time travels, a bicycle headlight can have around 1300 lumens! Shop carefully as optics play a crucial part in the function of the best bicycle lights. For these reasons I offer only brands that I can contact to resolve problems or have any questions. I offer lights from Planet Bike, Cateye, Cygo-Lite, Niterider as well as Light and Motion. I was always impressed with the service provided by the folks at Cygo-Lite and it's the brand I use. Cygo-lite and NiteRider assemble everything here in the U.S.A. and have been producing bicycle lights for over 30 years. Though Light and Motion has only been around quite a number of years, their venture into bicycle light systems is relatively new. They've caught the eye of the shops and consumers with their functionality, technology, looks and wide array of offerings for a reasonable price. NiteRider started out making underwater lights for scuba divers so they understand the word "waterproof" for those that ride in inclement weather. Cateye, well, they're probably the oldest and most well respected bicycle light company from Japan (offices in the US). Planet Bike offers mostly well-regarded alkaline battery operated bicycle headlights, taillights and systems though they've entered the li-ion market recently. Check out their various Planet Bike Blaze Combo set offerings. The Blaze is probably the number 1 brand name alkaline battery powered bicycle headlight sold in the US.



Though rechargeable bicycle headlights start as low $20 you also get "what you pay for" and in this case, about 15 lumens. Below, I've provided links to some well known and trusted bicycle light brands.  My listed price range starts with 350 lumen bicycle headlights and 80 lumen taillights. These brands offer excellent bicycle headlightslights with overall best value, customer support and r&d.

                                                                                              

   

Rechargeable: 
    (Li-ion batteries)                                              starting around $35 (rears $10) 
    Pro's: higher lumen's, optics, efficiency, programmable, lightweight, usb compatible, CREE Led, Li-ion battery, durable, compact
    Cons: cost, the cheap ones are...cheap
.


Non-Rechargeable:
    (Alkaline battery)                                             starting at $20(rears $7)            

    Pro's: cost, long run times                    
    Cons: inefficient, bulb technology, limited modes, lower lumens, battery disposal

Bicycle Fenders

Western Washington liquid sunshine! Rain........are you tired of a wet butt and a dirtier bike?! You need a set of bicycle fenders. Offering's from SKSTopeak, Planet Bike and Portland Design Works (or PDW) range from hybrid to road fender sets that attach directly to the frame, and versions for the seatpost and fork. Those bicycle fenders that don't use struts or rods to support the fender are known as clip-ons (some may use zip ties). The more traditional bicycle fenders are referred to as full fenders as they cover more of the tire. In the case of most high-end road bicycles, there's no place to attach bicycle fenders, so Planet Bike and SKS take the approach of using shorter struts attached to rubber feet which are then attached to the frame/fork with rubber straps. If you want something more durable in road bicycle fenders, an all metal road type set like the bicycle fenders from PDW (Portland Design Works) are nice looking and use the hubs quick-release as a place to mount the struts. Another unique option for a road bicycle rear fender is the Topeak Defender Iglow . It incorporates an led bulb in the fender for added safety. Surprisingly, these cost only $35-$40! For the racer or anyone using a road type bike for training or commuting in the dark, this is a nice addition to your bicycle light system.  Iglow is also offered in other fender models.

Want bicycle fenders for the old beach-cruiser look and chromes your king, look at Wald's bicycle fenders selection. Note: not all bikes were designed with fenders in mind so customized installation is a possibility. This would more likely be found on disc-brake equipped and road racing bikes using traditional bicycle fenders.

The prices listed are a general starting point.

Full Fenders:                                                            $30/pr plus
    Pro's: coverage, durability, adjustability, stability, something for most bikes
    Cons: cost, installation
Clip-ons:                                                                  $16/pr plus (singlets from $10)

    Pro's: something for all bikes, cost, installation
    
Cons: less coverage
                                                       

The Bicycle Pump

Something that really isn't thought of too much as an accessory until you realize your tires are flat! The bicycle pump. High pressure, narrow profile tires like those used by racers and road bike enthusiasts have a tendency to lose about 8-10% of air pressure in about 24 hrs. So if you pump those tires to 100lbs, the next day they're down to about 90lbs. Let them go for a few more days and they're sitting at about 70-75 psi and riding at that level with a heavier load can potentially ruin the rims they're mounted to. Larger section and/or thick walled tires will still lose air but only about 4-5% overnight because they only are pumped up in the range of 40-80 lbs.  Ok you say, so what should I do?

There's a wealth of prices and types of bicycle pumps to meet your needs. What is the best bicycle pump? First, we need to clarify what it takes to produce a good pump. A quality bicycle floor pump for home is needed since tires lose pressure every day as noted above. All qood bicycle floor pumps come with a gauge to read tire pressure. For most riders and those with a families worth of bikes, brands such as
SKS , Topeak , Park , Pedro's and Lyzyne all offer a range of price points and quality levels. My fave is the SKS line of floor pumps. Look for a metal barrel at least 20" tall and the larger the barrel's diameter the better (for faster inflation), a gauge with large numbers, a stable base and comfortable grips. A bicycle floor pump in the $40-$60 range is perfect for most applications. Expect to pay more for specialty or a tubeless floor pump. If you must have a pump that measure exact lbs. like for race mechanics, Sears Craftsman offers a digital, handheld li-ion battery powered bicycle pump. Leave that for specialty mechanics. I should note, I found a decent floor pump I sell for about $28 that has most of the above noted features (gauge numbers are smaller and the barrel is plastic).  

With tubeless tires, a compressor is still the best as bicycle floor pumps need to match the capability of shop air compressors to seat the tire bead, but a quality pump design remained elusive until the last few years.  A few companies offer a separate cannister/barrel that can be charged with a standard floor pump or compressor. Specialized Air Tool (about $55) and the Airshot ($94+) fill this niche. If you're looking for a floor pump that fills the need for tubeless and standard tubed tires, the newer Topeak Joe Blow Booster ($140) will fill the bill. This led me to try the Topeak Joe Blow Booster and though one of the most expensive, I can see why.  It features a larger, easy to read gauge, much longer hose, integrated charge/inflation switch, bleed button and a larger, more stable base. Also, Topeak offers replacement parts and it's patented "Smart Head" design works better than the rest. SKS has introduced a new floor pump head (TL-HEAD Tubeless) that accepts a CO2 cartridge (available with 2 cartridges) to help seat tubeless tire beads or to use as a standard floor pump head. The head will fit floor pump hoses with a 4.5-5.5mm diameter hose. Cost runs about $29.99. It's available in shops and through The Bicycle Fixer.

At $40, I have to say (as do industry sales numbers) that Topeak's Joe Blow Max HP is the best value floor bicycle pump going. In all honesty, I don't use one as I need something different for my business but but for personal use it's an excellent bicycle floor pump. The barrel is steel construction for durability, is tall enough, has a decent sized gauge that reads up to 160psi and Topeak's Smart Head. 

But what about if I have a flat tire while I'm riding?  Traditionally, the best bicycle pump is a frame fit but they don't fit all frame types. In the last 20 years, mini-pumps and CO2, have been fitted to bicycle frames to help with the inevitable. Frame-fit pumps, which by design have a longer barrel, are quicker to use if you don't want to stand by the side of the road pumping that tire for a while. Mini-pumps are offered by all the major pump manufacturers and distributors under their house-brand name. There's only a few companies offering frame-fit pumps, Topeak, Silca and Zefal. If your road or hybrid bike can accept a frame-fit bicycle pump, get one! Probably the all-around best bicycle pump for on the road repairs are offered by Topeak with their
 Morph line of mini-pumps. Some have a foot that folds when in use and allows the user to pump like it's a floor pump along with a swivel hose with an inline gauge. I guess we can call them a mini-floor pump. Costs runs about $34 - $45. I don't recommend it as a permanent floor pump alternative. CO2 systems crossover into the mini-pump realm as they are very small. Some incorporate a CO2 cartridge with a mini-pump that can work with or without the cartridge as in the PDW Barkeep Inflator. Most mini-pumps are 7"-8" in length. CO2 cartridge inflators also work for tubeless tires out on the trail or on the road.

Last but not least, one thing that kills the ability of any bicycle pump to work effectively is what the head clamps onto, the tubes valve stem. There's a rubber insert within the pump head that seals around the valve. Even the best bicycle pump head is susceptible to wear.  Though better pumps can be rebuilt, why kill the bicycle pump head prematurely? Over the course of usage on threaded
Presta valves
, and to a lesser extent, Schraeder Valves, this rubber insert wears out and leaks air while inflating the tire. One way to slow this problem is to use smooth presta valve stems. These types of valves are found on a limited number of tube brands and generally only on narrow road and some mountain size tubes. Sunlite, Michelin and Specialized come to mind. So based on 40+ years of riding and servicing bicycles, the best bicycle pump is really a matter of two. One for home, a floor pump. My favorite floor pump brands are SKS and Topeak. And one for my bike(s) and the best bicycle pump for me, any Topeak Morph and/or a Silca frame pump.


Frame-fit bicycle pump:                                                        $25 plus
    Pro's: longer barrel for more air/stroke, durability, rebuildable
    Cons: Cost, doesn't fit all bikes

Mini-bicycle pump:                                                                 $15 plus
    Pro's: compact, cost, fits any bike
     Cons: short barrel ( low volume/stroke ), durability
Floor Pump:      $15 (no gauge), $25+ w/gauge
   Pro's: gauge, stroke volume, durability
             long hose, broad price point
   Cons: cost for mid-level and up


Bicycle Locks 

Of all the things that can go wrong involving your bicycle, the worst may be theft. Bicycle theft has risen dramatically the last 5-10 years for many reasons. Some reasons are easier to rectify than others like using an inferior bicycle lock. The experts will always caution on where and how to lock it. Remember I mentioned earlier, if you're going to spend big dollars on accessories, spend it on a rechargeable high lumens bicycle headlight and great bicycle lock. You can purchase a bicycle lock as a; U-lock, cable with shackle or U-lock, combo lock and padlocks. Quality, brand name bicycle U-locks coupled with a thick cable are considered the best deterrent to theft.  For securing the wheels to the bike, use a bicycle lock that look like a hub quick-release without the handle. One end has a security fitting so regular tools can't remove them. There's three well- regarded and time tested bicycle lock makers, Kryptonite, OnGuard and Abus. Some folks recommend you spend 10% of the value of your bike on a bicycle lock. That's a crazy percentage if you own a $3k - $12k bicycle but at least spend $60-$70 on a quality U-lock (more for a higher end bike or if it's your commuter bike) and cable. A bicycle lock is rated on a scale and the higher the number the better. Some thieves carry around a power disc cutter that can waste any U-lock in seconds so how you lock your bike is as key as buying a great bicycle lock. So search youtube for "bicycle lock" or "how to lock your bicycle". There's some good stuff from the GMBN channel. Here's a link to one they do for the urban bike environment:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQfaFZ5OpOs

U-locks:                                                    $25+ 
 
Pro's: hardened shackles, better locking mechanism, the best need a powered disc grinder to cut through
 
Cons: weight, cost
Cable & Combo locks:                                     $10+
  Pro's: inexpensive, lightweight (compared to a U-lock)
  Cons: easy to cut, bulky
Chain locks:                                              $15+
  Pro's: better versions have very thick special metal links, tougher to break than combo's
  Cons: less expensive versions are very easy to cut, weight, cost, bulky


Bicycle multi-tools and Seat Bags

The ability to finish a bike ride sometimes depends on the tools carried during your ride. Flat tires, broken chain and other maladies can cut your ride short or leave you late for work on a commute without basic bicycle tools and repair parts. At a minimum, one can carry a multi-tool (several tools that generally fold into a compact holder), a patch kit, tire levers, tire boot and bicycle pump. A seat bag allows you to carry bike gear out of way under your seat. Many companies sell mini-tools but ParkTool and Topeak offer probably the widest range of multi-tools. Today's bikes have many types of fasteners so at a minimum I'd recommend a tool that contains a flat blade screwdriver, a selection of hex wrenches and a torx t25. Also carry a set of tire levers from Kool-Stop, Park or my personal favorite, Pedros. I don't recommend riding tubeless tires for commuting as they generally require special tire levers and at least CO2 cartridges to reinflate while on the trail. A patch kit from Rema or another favorite of mine and many experienced cyclists is the offering from Park Tool, the GP-2 preglued super patch kit...no fuss, no mess. The other item most riders may not be familiar with or don't think much about until a slice occurs in the tire sidewall is a tire boot. In an emergency, a dollar bill or something that can withstand tire pressure will do in a pinch but better yet is an actual tire boot. Again, our friends at Park Tool offer us this, TB-2, or more formally, the emergency tire boot. Just remove your tire bead from one side of the rim, take out the tube and install the boot. Reinstall the new tube (if you cut the tire it's highly likely the tube is toast) and tire and inflate with your bicycle pump and be on your way.

To carry the spare tube, tire levers, patch kit, phone, wallet, keys and extra food, you'll need something to hold all of it. A seat bag will do the trick and there's many to select from. SKS and Topeak offer probably the best mounting systems for security though most bags are fine. There's sizes that are compact enough to carry a tube, tire levers, CO2 inflator and room for keys. If you want to carry that plus food for a long ride, consider an expanding seat bag. If you must carry your phone, there's also special mounts and cases.
 

Bicycle Work Stands


If you like to tinker and perform your own bicycle repairs then bicycle work stands makes it that much easier. You can find dyi bicycle work stands on youtube but if you're looking for something more stable and compact, then I recommend something more traditional. Again, Park Tool bicycle work stands are the leader and offer the widest range ( 7 portable, 8 shop and 6 wall mount) and arguably the best bicycle work stands in the market. I own 4 bicycle work stands, all from Park Tool; PRS-3 for home, PRS-25 for The Bicycle Fixer bicycle repair shop and race service, PRS-20 (now PRS-22.2)Team race stand used for tribikes, bike washes and the original Park Tool race mechanics stand, the PRS-15 (now out of production). The PRS-25 is my favorite to use but is a bit expensive for basic work but great for more extensive repairs at about $325. I'll review 3 bicycle work stands from two companies, Gearup and Park Tool, for your home repair needs. Park Tool also offers bicycle work stands accessory tool/lube trays priced from about $16-$32. Some need adapters costing $13-$15.

1) 
Gearup Simple Man
. This would be the absolute minimum I'd recommend for bicycle work stands. If you only need a bicycle work stand for adjustments, headset service, on bike wheel truing and bicycle cleaning, this will do the trick. I wouldn't use it for heavy duty work or bicycles over 40lbs. It has no height adjustment though ok if you're not much over 6' tall. In my early years as a race mechanic, bicycle work stands similar to this were pretty much all race mechs had available that was collapsible.

Features:
   
Foldable, 3-point stability, price. 
   Includes parts tray & frt wheel stabilizer                   
               $48
                                                                     
                                 



Follow this link to see other Park Tool bicycle work stands. www.parktool.com/category/repair-stands

2) 
Park Tool Repair stand PCS-10
.2This Park stand is for the serious home mechanic. 

Features:                                                                    
   3-point stability, height adj 39"-57", clamp to 3", 360' rotating head, 
   foldable, powder coated steel tubing, capacity 80lbs.
 
  
 
Cost: $200
                                        





3)Park Team Race Stand PRS-22.2 The features of this bicycle work stand are geared towards teams and tri-bike owners but will work just fine for all repair services except cutting. Also available are adapters for bikes with thru-axles and longer wheelbases. Perfect for bike washing. Note, it's height adjustable but is limited. Height isn't a requirement for bike washing.

Features:                                                                       

    Height adj; stability; horizontal rotation 360'; bike secured via front or rear dropouts (adapter for thru-axle systems), 36" 
    tall, integrated bottom bracket cradle w/ strap; tripod base. This is a lighter weight version the the previous PRS-21. Aluminum is        substituted for the center steel support
.
Includes an adjustable strap that goes over the downtube to help secure the frame.


   
Cost: $340                                    PRS-22.2

           






There's several high-quality bicycle work stands and bike tools I didn't mention here as I could write a book on that. Read reviews from other consumers with a wary eye on what is said. Bicycle work stands can be a fairly expensive investment but then so is a multi-thousand$$bike. Same with tools. Cheap, not inexpensive, bicycle tools will kill your bicycle, it's components and fasteners. Park, Pedro's, Bondus, Enduro and CDI (Snap-On torque wrenches), Felco C-7 (cutter) and Knipex tools are highly regarded in the bicycle industry. Next time you're at your local IBD or LBS have a look at the wall of tools in the service area...do they all pretty much have the same blue color on the handles? All industry folks know the blue immediately, as Park tools, and the color is actually trademarked! If you want to invest in a bicycle tool kit, find your way to the Park Tool website (
http://www.parktool.com/) and look at the mechanics kits. There's something for everyone from the minimilast (WTK-2) to the shop starter Master mechanic kit (MK-297) that "only" costs about $8000 plus shipping. Oh, there's no kitchen sink included or a bicycle work stand. At about $5000+ is the Base Master mechanic kit (BMK-275). It comes minus any major frame cutting tools compared to the MK-297. If you're serious about maintaining your own bicycle, consider nothing less than Parks PK-4 . It's cost runs at least $720 but it includes general bike tools plus advanced tools for removal/installation of headsets, cutting steer tubes, installation/removal of bottom brackets and the dropout hanger alignment tool. Another good option in bicycle tools is the brand Pedro's mentioned above and in the in the pump section. They also offer a good selection of tools and kits but not quite the spread of Park Tool. Whatever tool kit you buy or build up, make sure you have a chain checker tool. A chain checker will save you hundreds on prematurely worn cogsets and chainrings.

More to come another day!



Let's review what accessories to use with your bicycle
bicycle headlight and tailight
bicycle lock
seatbag
bicycle pump
tire levers

bicycle fenders (for wet weather)

              Now that your bicycle is loaded and outfitted, enjoy your rides wherever they may take you!                                             

Safety ~ Efficiency ~ Enjoyment

S.E.E.

Enjoy Your Bike!

The Bicycle Fixer

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