RCUK’s Christmas Gift Guide 2015: ten ideas for commuters

Gifts that'll make riding to work and back that little bit better

Like many things in life, commuting by bike is something to be taken seriously.

Mostly because the daily challenge of getting to work and back home again should ideally not involve falling off at any point, as that tends to put a damper on even the best of days.

Similarly, if you want to stay safe and comfortable on your commute there are a few bits of kit that are pretty important. Here’s a list of ideas that anyone who commutes by bike would be happy to have. And a few that’ll justify pretty nice presents in return, too…

Proviz Reflect360 Cycling Jacket

Outside of wrapping yourself in fairy lights, you won’t find much that outshines the ProViz Reflect360 jacket for visibility.

When headlights hit you you’ll light up like a human torch, and anyone who doesn’t see you will need to have your eyes closed. If you’re a safety conscious commuter, then this one should be top of the list. Like it is here. Although this list is strictly non-hierarchical. But still.

Price: £109.99

Castelli Diluvio Overshoes

Overshoes are an essential for any serious cyclist, but keeping your feet warm on dark, wet winter mornings is particularly important.

We’ve discussed the merits of overshoes, and what you should look for, at length in our buyer’s guide, but unless you want to drop serious cash in an attempt to keep water out completely, neoprene might be the way to go.

Castelli’s Diluvios keep your feet warm by using the wetsuit effect, and that’ll keep you happy riding, if not dry. You can’t have everything, after all.

Price: £35

Rapha Backpack

If you need to take anything to work with you then a backpack is an essential for commuting. Sure, you could use panniers instead, but the added manoeuvrability you get without them on the bike is very valuable in traffic.

I’ve used one of Rapha’s backpacks for the last couple of years (and yes, I did pay for it before you ask). The initial cost might be high, but after daily use it’s still in amazing condition after hundreds and hundreds of rides, and you can’t put a price on that.

It also comes with a brilliant high-vis pink rain cover stowed away in a purpose built pocket that does a great job in the rain, and makes you look like a bit of wally, too. Albeit a super visible one.

Price: £150

Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Cape

If, like me, you’re the sort of idiot who sees rain in the morning and thinks ‘it’s only a few miles, I can make it’ then you’ve probably spent more than a few mornings in a soggier state than you’d ideally like.

The great thing about a packable rain jacket is that you can always have it with you, stop and put it on should things turn nasty. Plus, if your commute is on the shorter side, you can happily sacrifice a bit of breathability for the sake of staying dry.

Endura’s Race Cape is a great example. It packs down small (and even has its own stowage bag), keeps water out wonderfully and has a few extra touches like the padded collar. Well worth it when the weather turns nasty.

Price: £64.99

Ass Saver

A simple, cheap and elegant solution to keeping your, er, ass, dry, the Ass Saver mini mudguard fits simply and quickly making for easy mounting and release on your saddle rails.

Better than that, they come in a huge variety of colours and designs, and you can even have your own made at certain shops.

Price: £6.50

Kryptonite New York M18 Lock

If you don’t lock your bike up, there’s a good chance it’s going to get stolen. Although, in the interests of full disclosure, it’s worth pointing out that even if you do you lock bike up, it can still be stolen (it’ll just be harder).

Anyway, a quality lock is a really good idea – even more so if you lock your bike in public – and Kryptonite have a huge reputation for making quality locks. The M18 provides a hefty obstacle to anyone wanting to steal your bike. Just don’t only lock the front wheel.

Price: £99.99

Bontrager Air Rush Road Mini Pump and Inflator

Punctures are a fact of life, and if you don’t carry some kind of device to re-inflate a punctured tyre, you can’t complain about that long walk home.

As a quick fix in really rubbish weather, a CO2 inflater can save you those five very wet minutes it can take to pump a tyre up to ridable pressure with a mini pump, so which do you want with you?

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between one or the other. Bontrager have made a mini pump with an inflator built in, giving you both options for any eventuality. Isn’t modern life great?

Price: £24.99

Cateye Volt 400/Rapid X2 Light Set

If you don’t have lights, you shouldn’t be on the roads at night. They help you to see where you’re going and, just as importantly, help other people to see you coming.

Cateye have a number of light sets, all the way from these down to combos that’ll set you back barely more than £20. The Volt 400 is an excellent front light for urban cycling and the odd foray onto unlit roads, and the Rapid X2 is solid rear option that’ll even mount on an aero seatpost. You know, that aero seat post you definitely have on your commuting bike…

Price: £99.99

Lezyne SV11 Multi-Tool

Known for making good quality – and good looking – kit, Lezyne have a huge selection of multi-tools.

The SV11 has long been a favourite of mine as I like the chrome finish and, more importantly, it has everything I need for common repairs on the bikes I own. The seven allen keys and two torx keys should have everything covered, and the chain breaker is a nice extra for those severe mechanicals.

All that and the small shape slips easily into a rear pocket or saddle bag. Simple stuff.

Price: £36.99

LOOK Cleat Covers

Falling off when learning how to ride in clipless pedals is one of those things you have to suffer through as a new cyclist. Slipping and sliding about like an idiot trying to walk in bike shoes is something that never goes away. Especially on tiled floors.

To make things a little easier, you can get covers for your cleats that both protect them and add a little more grip if you need to walk around. They’re pretty useful, all told, and can save embarrassment as well.

If you don’t ride LOOK pedals, you can get covers for Shimano, Speedplay and Time pedals as well.

Price: £7.99


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