7 everyday items that are ideal for cycling | Household goods that are cheaper than cycling-specific kit

Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or a novice commuter, these tips will save you money

Everyday cycling hacks

Products designed specifically for cycling can command higher prices than their day-to-day counterparts.

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In some instances, cycling-specific products can make riding and maintaining a bike easier and more enjoyable. But there are plenty of more affordable items that perform the same or similar functions.

Here, we share our favourite everyday goods that can add to your cycling experience without breaking the bank and help you save money in the process.

Washing-up liquid

Washing up liquid
This kitchen essential can clean more than just the dishes.
Getty Images

There are products designed for cleaning almost every part of your bike, from dedicated degreasers to foaming frame sprays. But not all are necessary to keep your bike looking and riding its best.

While the best bike cleaners may contain compounds that are more effective at removing grime from your pedal pony, household cleaners such as washing-up liquid can achieve a similar result for a lot less money.

Some of us at BikeRadar forgo premium bike cleaners, instead opting for whatever’s next to the kitchen sink.

If you are especially keen on keeping your bike’s paintjob in tip-top condition, you may be wary of the salt content of some detergents. While this may be a no-go for some, we find a final rinse removes any trace of the washing-up liquid.

However, we do advise you invest in a drivetrain degreaser. Washing-up liquid can never really cut through the build-up of oil and grime when cleaning a bike chain.

Old brushes

How to safely pressure wash a road or mountain bike – step-by-step guide
Various brushes can be used for different areas.

On a similar theme to washing-up liquid, old brushes can be repurposed for cleaning your bike, meaning you don’t have to splash out on specific cleaning products.

While bike brushes are shaped to scrub even the most out-of-reach parts of your bike’s drivetrain, they do come at a cost.

Many riders already know a toothbrush is as effective at cleaning the teeth on your cassette as the ones in your mouth, but there are plenty of other household gems that can assist in your bike cleaning.

Larger kitchen brushes do a good job of dislodging stubborn chunks of dried mud from your bike, while old cloths can be pulled through cassettes and derailleur cages.

The beauty of repurposing old brushes and rags is they’re already past their best and you’re giving them a second life before they’re given up completely. You don’t have to worry about the condition you leave them in, either.

Cereal bars

Dark chocolate almond granola bar
Cereal bars can be just as calorie dense as energy bars.
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The best energy bars for cycling offer high levels of glucose and can be consumed quickly while out on the bike, giving you the fuel to ride further and faster.

If you’re training or racing, the right nutrition is paramount to your success, but that’s not to say you can’t save some cash along the way.

Breakfast bars and cereal bars can offer the same convenience and calorific density as some of the best energy bars and usually cost a lot less.

Making your own energy bars is even more cost-effective, and often tastier, too.

Heat shrink wrap

Shrink wrap comes in different diameters and colors, and, as its name implies, shrinks down to fit under application of heat
Shrink wrap comes in different diameters and colours.
Ben Delaney / Immediate Media

Heat shrink wrap is more often associated with electricians than bike mechanics, but both revel in its cable-covering magic.

The plastic contracts when heated. As a result, it can help clean up your cockpit and reduce frame wear by combining your cables together and adding a grippy protecting layer.

This hack does require a little effort, with some cables needing to be disconnected to get the wrap over them. But it’s well worth the effort once your handlebar is free from messy cables.

Shrink wrap can also be placed over your brake levers to provide a grippier surface, similar to Lizard Skins’ DPS Lever Grips.


Spare emergency cash
Banknotes can come in handy in various emergencies.
Katherine Moore / Our Media

Cash is something most of us carry when we go out for a ride, but sometimes it can prove more valuable than its monetary value.

If you hit a large thorn or piece of glass, it can take a chunk out of your tyre, which will then stop a fresh tube from inflating properly, leaving you stranded.

Instead of handing your banknotes over to a taxi driver to help you get home, you can use them as a tyre boot by placing them over the affected area. The note will keep the inner tube from escaping the tyre, enabling you to ride on.

This trick works best with polymer notes, and when you fix your tyre you’ll be reminded of the money you saved.

Gardening gloves

Gardening gloves
While not as comfy as cycling gloves, you’ll be thankful for them on cold days.
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While the best cycling gloves have in-built features such as gel inserts that add comfort when riding, gardening or labourers’ gloves can be just as effective at keeping your hands warm and safe while on your bike.

Gardening gloves can be found relatively cheaply, with some offering elements of waterproofing and grip to help you hold the bars on wet rides.

They may not be ‘on brand’, but they do the trick if you’re looking for a decent pair of gloves.


Close up of a dark blue crumpled canvas cover
Tarpaulin offers your bike high levels of protection if storing it outside.
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If you store your bike outside, it’s a good idea to protect it from the elements. Rain brings rust, which will not only affect how your bike looks, but also how it performs.

There are many bike covers on the market, which are designed to protect your bike from harsh conditions, with most consisting of water-resistant materials and rip-cord closures.

You might not need to fork out for a cover if you have tarpaulin lying around, because the waterproof barrier can protect your bike just as well.

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If you are handy with a hole punch and have some string, you can even fashion a closure for the bottom of the tarp to make sure it doesn’t blow away.