There are days when you feel like suiting up in head-to-toe spandex and going as far and as fast as your bike will take you. And then there are days when you just want to feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair as you spin down the street. For the occasions when you just want to hit a local coffee shop or brewery or pedal to the library, you need only a bike and a few bonus items that make you more comfortable. Below, find our favorites for a casual tour around town.
Leisurely riding: yes. Foolhardy riding: no. Protect your dome with this casual helmet from Thousand, which has a magnetic chinstrap buckle for one-handed fastening and a pop-out channel that you can thread your lock through—just in case someone else takes a fancy to the Heritage’s good looks. With seven vents and internal channeling to keep the wind blowing through your hair and vegan straps for an extra dose of urban sophistication, this is a head-turning pick from a company that is carbon neutral. $89
BYO shopping basket wherever you go with this honeycomb-pattern cargo bin from Electra. It mounts to most handlebars with an included quick-release; pop it off for grocery runs then reattach it when you’re ready to pedal home. Powder-coated steel is strong and sturdy enough to handle up to 11 pounds of produce or any other curbside scores you might want to pick up on your jaunt around town. $68
Yes, a good bike bell can alert other bikers, cars and jaywalkers to your presence. But a good bell can also bring a lot of joy to your everyday commute, too. Made from solid brass—and with a brass striker—this bell from Portland Design Works emits a clear, loud and musical “ding!” The mount fits standard 22.2 to 25.4mm handlebars and attaches via a simple clamp system, so you can configure it for thumb striking or trigger-finger ringing. (Bonus: The alloy mount is fitted with rubber inside, so it won’t scratch your bars.) $25
You don’t have to spend big bucks to get a reliable—and fun—city commuter. This aluminum hybrid from Co-op Cycles hits all the must-haves for a fun get-around bike: plenty of gears for hilly routes, mechanical disc brakes for quick stops in sketchy conditions, a durable aluminum frame and puncture-resistant tires with plenty of tread. It’s also compatible with fenders and rack mounts, so you can deck it out with splash protection and the hauling capabilities you need to tote groceries or a change of clothes from work or home. $649
Trade plastic-soled, metal-clad stompers for a pair of Sleuth DLXs from Five Ten, which feature a sticky, supportive non-marking sole and look nice to boot—brightly colored suede (women’s or men’s) or leather (men’s). The DLXs also have a reinforced toe rand to withstand any rogue curb-bumps, as well as reflective heel wrap for better visibility in headlights. $120
This pack from REI Co-op keeps your stuff safe, dry and organized, whether you’re stuffing it full of groceries or work essentials. Rain and splashes are no match for the Commuter Pack, which has a durable water repellent-treated oxford packcloth exterior and a built-in rain cover that tucks away when not in use. Other features: more than eight pockets (including a laptop compartment that can double as a hydration reservoir), an adjustable sternum strap and a detachable waistbelt. $89.95
See and be seen with this pair of USB-rechargeable lights from Bontrager. The Ion’s 200 lumens light the way up front, whether you mount it to your handlebars or helmet (it also has a strobe mode for daytime visibility that the manufacturer claims can be spotted from more than a mile away). Mount the bright-red Flare rear light to your seat post to stay visible to traffic. $115.
Behold, the bike jersey for people who don’t like bike jerseys. The REI Co-op Active Pursuits has all of the moisture-wicking properties you expect in a jersey, but in a lightweight T-shirt style that’s soft, stretchy and puts a premium on comfort. There’s even reflective tape on the back of the shirt to help promote visibility. $24.95
Flylow Preston Bike Short – Men’s & Flylow High-Waisted Life Bike Shorts – Women’s
As a brand, Flylow is perhaps best known for its no-nonsense, not-trying-too-hard approach to resort-friendly technical ski apparel. But even skiers need something to do in the summer. These shorts will tackle all of the technical singletrack you throw at them, but will also pedal the city streets with an understated vibe. A hint of spandex provides easy movement and a zippered side pocket keeps your phone safe. $80
There are plenty of bike-specific shorts and tights to choose from, but if you’re just going for a casual about-town jaunt, there’s no real need to put on a chamois. Instead, cover your bases with these tights from REI Co-op. A wide waistband offers extra coverage while in the saddle and flatseam construction reduces friction between you and your bike. The Active Pursuits Tights have a hidden stash pocket in the waistband and reflective piping, too. $69.95
No one wants to look (or feel) like they’re suiting up for a hurricane every time the sky looks ominous—but no one really wants to get wet, either. This stretchy, water-shedding jacket from Pearl Izumi looks casual but hides a barrage of bike-friendly features like stretch-woven fabric, PI Dry tech to keep moisture off and a magnetic drop-tail hem that you can deploy in low-visibility conditions—or help avoid skunk stripe. $150
Writer Graham Averill contributed to this article.
Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.