Sunday, June 3, 2018

Accessory Must-Haves & Other Loves

Switching to ergonomic grips  before I went to NYC made a big difference in comfort.
Old grips in second photo. 
As I've experimented with accessories over the past ten years, my tastes have evolved and certain items have proven their worth to my general cycling experience - namely to make riding easier and more comfortable as I grow older. Other picks are purely for my personal style, as most readers can attest: we all have our preferences!

Ergonomic Grips
All my bikes have ergonomic grips except for my winter rider (which has cushioned bar tape). I have used all varieties from the more expensive Ergon and Selle Royal brand to cheap no-name versions, like the one pictured above on my Dahon. Every style has improved hand comfort on prolonged rides.

Platform Pedals
Platform pedals have proven their versatility countless times. I can wear flip flops, sandals, sneakers or boots and easily put my foot down on a moment's notice. I don't know why it took me years to experiment with platform pedals. I'll never go back to using toe clips!

However  I'm not entirely sold on metal platfor pedals. I'm currently using MKS RMS or "sneaker pedals" on my everyday Peugeot, yet recently I couldn't remove the dust cap when I tried to diagnose an annoying clicking sound (which ended up being not related to pedal bearings). Neither could I locate an online tutorial to help me. It's that kind of specialized, so called "serviceable pedals" that require a a unique tool that has me seriously considering ditching finicky metal pedals favor of colorful plastic versions like the ones Randy recently installed on a much loved bike. Orange would look awfully nice on my Peugeot!

Cheap Bell Mirrors
Unlike most riders who buy quality mirrors, I've gravitated to versatile, lightweight Bell type that clamp on the handlebar with a plastic screw. I place the mirror pointing downward, which gives good visibility and doesn't break should the bike occasionally topple over. I find these at a local hardware store and buy 3 at a time.

4-Hook Cargo Net
Once I started using this simple 4 hook cargo net to haul a small duffel on my Dahon's rear rack on our NYC adventure, this piece has come in handy to secure a box of donuts, a dozen bagels, and more recently is a must have as I commute around town for back up when I haul more stuff home than I went to work with. And, the hooks are red which means they're easily recognizable against the black net.

Magenta colored water bottle holder - perfect for my needs.

Strap-On Water Bottle Holder
I made a lightweight water bottle carrier out of fabric, black strap material, and Velcro-type rack fastener because the Dahon lacks water bottle braze-ons. I had initially purchased a metal clamp for the handlebar that accommodates a standard water bottle cage, yet it was finicky and hard to adjust (I expected I'd be folding the bike and didn't think I'd have patience to reinstall it). I installed and removed the fabric holder numerous times  - an easy solution - and may come in handy for additional water capacity on other bikes. (I'll write a separate blog post on construction specifics.)


Gumwall Tires
I am fascinated by gumwall colored tires. Several of my bikes already sport this retro color with the exception of Miss Clementine who came with solid black rubber and because her tire size is 650B - unlike my other bicycles or any other bicycle in our 4-person family - Clementine's tires will be changed only when worn out - which could be years at the rate I'm riding her!

Orange Bicycle Fanatic
I am attracted to orange bicycles. The turn my head on the street and in blog posts. I missed getting an orange Rivendell Clementine by a few months - by the time I ordered, only blue and mustard colored frames were available. I need another bike like a hole in the head (a phrase that my parents often used) so it's no wonder that I want orange pedals...definitely a cheaper alternative.

Give Me Chrome Any day
I am familiar with 1980's bicycles, a time when all bikes had chrome wheels, handlebars, racks, etc. To this day, I still prefer chrome on bicycles. I've never succumbed to today's ubiquitous black everything, and matte black frames, ugh. I wish manufacturers would bring back more affordable choices in aluminum and chrome finishes on bike parts and accessories.


  1. Annie, You remove the plastic dust cap on the MKS pedal with a sharp awl/pick like tool. Anything like an ice pick would work. Just stick it into the cap side slightly and pry up by using the aluminum housing as leverage. It actually comes off easily even though it seems crude. I didn't particularly like this cheaper design on this and other MKS pedals, but it seems to work well and keeps the bearings sealed.
    I recently purchased these pedals, and am continually impressed with the quality of all MKS pedals. I have run many styles of this brand for years, and they all spin like butter. I'm wanting to eventually replace other pedals on various personal and family bikes with these platform pedals.

    1. Chris, this is excellent news! I found a tool that fit 2 of the 4 holes and rotated the dust cap, but of course, from what you describe it won't unscrew but needs to be pried off. Funny that I couldn't find this info. anywhere for this particular model. It's going on 2 years and these pedals still spin quite well so I'm reluctant to try your solution as my motto is "if it isn't broken, don't fix it." I have a small awl and will remember this fix for the future. I love these pedals - my only wish is they were a tad larger.

  2. +1 on most of the above; platform pedals, Ergon grips, Gumwalls and someone told me once that Orange bikes are the fastest....Always wanted an orange bike but I have yet to get one...someday.

  3. I'll forever be a clips and straps kind of guy but I must admit that flat pedals are convenient. I'm with you 100% on component color; my preference is polished aluminum. Oddly, I have taken a shine (pun) to glossy black wheels for reasons I cannot explain. And tan sidewalls will always make me swoon.

  4. Nova and I both like orange but our one orange bike is the tandem which we ride the least. Not a big fan of chrome. Do like gumwalls. I've been thinking of trying ergo grips on the bike of mine you mention in your post.Looking forward to more info on your water bottle holder.

  5. Believe it or not, but yesterday I was doing my final bit of research before ordering some new pedals, and I thought - oh I wonder if Annie's written anything about pedals. I searched for "pedals" in your search box and found this post, not even looking at the date, and then today there it was in my inbox!

    In the end I ordered these flat ones

    I would have got the LU987u but nobody seemed to have it in stock in black (much as I love quirky coloured things I didn't think they would suite my Koga) so got these - I can't remember what the difference is now. Husband has put them on; although I have learnt to do it myself he was quite keen to do it! I'm going out on to try them out this afternoon.

    I love your bottle holder! And I'm going to look up those mirrors as I could do with one as my neck isn't as flexible as it once was!

  6. I’m with you on ergonomic grips, flat pedals, and chrome. I strongly prefer a reflective strip on my tires, though, so no gum wall for me. I do love how it looks on a bike though.

    1. I do prefer gumwalls, as I said, however when I went order replacement 1.5" tires for the Dahon, gumwalls weren't available. In 1.75", yes, but the width wouldn't fit beneath the fenders, or would be too close. I chose black tires with your preferred reflective pinstripe! Seemed like the best alternative.

    2. I had a reflective stripe on my tires when I rolled on Schwalbe Marathons. I switched to Compass tires about a year ago and haven't looked back. They don't have any reflective stripes. I found that the stripes wear down quickly when used for daily transportation and became less effective over time, for me. I use a few spoke-mounted reflectors in each wheel for the same purpose.


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