Essentials to help drivers see, hear, and avoid you on the road
May weather means it’s time to leave the car at home and hit the pavement. While studies indicate that having more bikes on the road makes cyclists safer and creates better drivers, crashes still happen. Your best bet for protecting yourself on the bike is to remain alert and make good decisions—but you’ll nudge your odds toward safety with these eight essentials.
Bontrager Circuit MIPS Helmet ($150)
With more than 300 helmet models across dozens of brands, MIPS—which uses a separate, low-friction layer that allows the helmet to slide relative to your head and absorb rotational impact—is increasingly recognized as the go-to tech to save your brain in a crash. Bontrager’s Circuit MIPS is our choice for all-around safety. In addition to incorporating MIPS technology, the Circuit features a magnetic mount system that integrates with GoPro cameras or Bontrager’s light accessories to keep you visible. The lid comes in six colors, but for extra safety, go with Visibility Yellow—the color most visible to the human eye.
Blackburn DayBlazer 1100 ($90) and DayBlazer 125 ($50) Lights
Illumination for nighttime or low-light riding is a given, but studies show that daytime lights can reduce bike accidents by 20 percent. The sleek DayBlazer 1100 pumps out 1,100 lumens up front, while its partner’s three LEDs pack a 125-lumen punch with 270 degrees of visibility. Both lights have a Blitz daytime running mode that boosts your visibility in lunch-break traffic.
We’re not saying it’s likely, but we’ve seen it all. Maybe you get lost exploring a new route, crash off the road with no one around, or have a run-in with a car. Now you have less to worry about. Last year, Wahoo updated all its bike computers, like the Elemnt Mini, with its Live Track feature that automatically shares and tracks your rides in real time. Pair it with the free Elemnt Companion app on your phone, and the computer will automatically notify your designated loved ones (husband, mother, guru) when you start a ride. At any point along your route, they can check your location and ETA to be sure you’re still cranking and to have dinner ready when you get home.
Hero Kit Crash Pack First-Aid Kit ($20)
There are two types of cyclists: Those who have crashed, and those who will. Whether you sustain a nasty gash or minor road rash, you’ll want to take care of it fast. Hero Kit’s Crash Pack, designed with cyclists in mind, has you covered for most needs, complete with bandages, gauze, ibuprofen, triple antibiotic ointment, WoundStop dressing, butterfly closures, lidocaine burn gel, an irrigation syringe, exam gloves, and a biohazard bag. The surprisingly slim pack stashes easily in your jersey pocket or saddlebag.
When you can’t be seen, be heard. Bike bells are nothing new, but Knog’s take improves handsomely on the traditional model. The slim Oi encircles your bars and rings like an “angel playing a glockenspiel,” as the Aussie company puts it. We can’t argue with that. Choose from the barely-there black, copper, brass, or silver, and alert others with your beautiful music.
LaneSpotter App (free)
Cities choked with car traffic can be hard for cyclists to navigate safely, but LaneSpotter aims to fix that. The app is a crowdsourced mapping system created for and by cyclists to take the stress out of commuting. Its bike maps help you quickly find all the protected bike lanes, painted bike lanes, shared lanes, and multi-use trails in your city. Toggle to the Safety Map to find users’ average safety ratings of any section of road, from “very safe” to “avoid.” You can add your own ratings and drop alert pins onto the map to warn other cyclists of real-time conditions like potholes, closures, dangerous intersections, or shortcuts. Some cities (like our home base in Santa Fe) have no data yet, but you can change that.
Lack of visibility is the prime culprit in bike-car collisions. Giro’s insanely reflective Empire ACC shoes all but eliminate that problem. Once the sun drops and the lights come on, these hard-to-ignore shoes pop, thanks to the silver reflective coating built into Giro’s proprietary EvoFiber upper. When headlights hit, the uppers shine and give you the side visibility that bike lights often lack. High-traction walking pads that grant you stable footing off the bike are a bonus, and the laced closure provides an unrivaled fit.
While you’re at it, give your side visibility an even hipper boost with Wheel Stripes. Sure, plenty of tires have built-in reflective sidewalls, but you don’t need a whole new set of treads to be seen. Offered in a variety of sizes and neon-bright colors, these retroreflective, weatherproof stripes are designed from materials similar to road signs to keep you safe around cars—and flaunt your personality to boot.