6 commuter bike accessories I couldn’t live with out

Deputy editor Jack Luke on his essential kit for any commuter bike

Jack Luke Viking commuting bike

Cycling to work comes with many benefits – it will save you money, it’s good for the environment, it’s beneficial for your physical and mental health, and is usually faster.


While any bike can be used for commuting duties, it’s worth buying (or building) a dedicated commuter bike if it’s a regular fixture of your working week.

A specific commuting bike prevents wear on your pride and joy, and you’re more likely to fit dorky practicality-boosting accessories without the fear of abuse from friends.

That final point is critical – carefully selected accessories are what separates a run-of-the-mill bike from a true super commuter.

If you’re setting up a commuting bike, these are the six must-have accessories that will make your ride more enjoyable, safer and, in the long run, cheaper.

1. Mudguards

Mudguards are not a crime.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

I’ve said this many, many times before, but life is simply too short to ride without mudguards.

The best mudguards keep you and your bike dry, prolonging the life of consumable parts and boosting morale.

You are much more likely to commit to riding year-round if you know you’ll arrive dry(ish). It also usually negates the need to change clothes when you arrive at work.

Provided they’re installed well, full-cover mudguards will last for years of rattle-free service.

Don’t delay – embrace a drier cycling life in 2023.

2. Cargo-carrying capabilities

I like to ride with a trendy front rack (please ignore the jaunty angle of the bag!).
Steve Sayers / Our Media

There’s nothing wrong with carrying your stuff in a backpack but, if you’re a regular commuter, it’s worth investing in some kind of luggage system for your bike.

There are many ways to carry stuff comfortably on your bike, shifting weight off your back.

Pannier bags mounted to a rack are good for heavier loads. If you only have a small amount of stuff, a little handlebar-mounted basket will suffice.

While I carry most of my stuff in the basket bag, I can also fit panniers to this Pelago rack.
Steve Sayer / Our Media

I prefer a large platform-style front rack with a basket. A custom-made bag then fits inside this.

This is a better option for me, because I don’t like the ‘tail wags the dog’ sensation of riding with rear-mounted panniers (particularly on a flexible frame). I like being able to see my stuff when riding, too.

I also think this setup looks cool – and I’m a fashion victim. Make of that what you will.

3. Lights (ideally dynamo-powered)

I’m yet to invest in a dynamo setup for my commuting bike, but you’ll find them on two of my road bikes.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Running lights is both sensible and a legal requirement after sunset.

Even during daylight hours, the best bike lights boost visibility – no bad thing on busy urban roads.

The ideal commuting bike will be fitted with a full complement of dynamo lights.

Because they’re powered by a generator, you never need to remember to charge dynamo lights.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Powered by either a generator built into the hub or a bolt-on accessory, you don’t have to worry about charging dynamo lights.

Most dynamo lights are also bolted to your bike permanently, so you can never forget them.

I find it hard enough putting my pants on in a pre-commute stupor, let alone remembering to charge and fit lights, so they’re a must for a dedicated super commuter.

Dynamo lights are also much harder to steal.

4. A chain guard

I regret not fitting a chain guard years ago. This Velo Orange one has been fitted solidly for months.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

Though my little leggy pegs will be out and proud in shorts once the mercury hits 15°c, for the rest of the year, you’ll find me be-trousered (if I manage to get them on pre-commute).

This presents a problem for my three identical pairs of moleskin trousers – left unrolled, they run the risk of a soiling, dangling mere centimetres from my rarely cleaned chain.

As the name suggests, a chain guard covers the drivetrain of your bike, keeping your trousers unmolested by oily chains.

Chain guards have the added benefit of protecting your drivetrain from the elements. A clean chain will prolong the life of your whole drivetrain, particularly if you commute year-round.

5. A kickstand

Kickstands are not sexy, but boy-howdy are they good at stopping your bike from falling over.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Kickstands are criminally uncool, but oh-so practical.

Finding your bike dangling by the lock in ungraceful repose after a hard day’s graft is annoying and risks unnecessary damage to it (or others).

A kickstand will… well it will stop your bike from falling over. There’s not much more to it than that.

6. Battle scars

Well-abused and, hopefully, less steal-able as a result.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

A stolen bike is not a useful one.

While you, obviously, shouldn’t ride a totally knackered and unsafe bike, one that’s a little rough around the edges will be less attractive to ne’er-do-wells.

Scrapes, bumps and a cheeky spot of rust all add to the character of a well-loved commuting bike, and make it harder to re-sell.

Similarly, a pre-bashed bike will also reduce anxiety when leaving it locked on crowded bike racks.

Patina or trashed?
Steve Sayers / Our Media

My dad makes bespoke hardwood furniture and, on delivery, advises clients to scratch a new table promptly – that way, you’ll stop worrying about the inevitable. The same is true of bikes.

On a similar note, I’d strongly advocate turning a neglected older bike into a commuter for the same reasons. You can also build a solid commuter with parts pilfered from an overflowing shed.

Giving old parts a new lease of life is green, satisfying and cheap, and that’s exactly how my lovely green commuter came to be.

With the exception of the frameset (bought for a whopping £80 locally) and the front rack, everything came from the depths of my Shed of Stress.


Touch wood, this pre-knackered bike has yet to attract any unwanted attention, and I hope we have many years of hassle-free commuting to come.