Fix your bike vouchers: The gear you need to cycle safely as new scheme launches

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or have taken it up during lockdown, it’s important to ensure you’re equipped with the essentials to keep you safe.

From glasses that improve your visibility, high-vis jackets to make yourself known to drivers and other cyclists on the road or elbow pads to cushion a fall, we’ve created a shopping list for the must-haves.

As the weather in the UK can be temperamental, items you need, such as bike lights, will come in handy no matter what terrain you’re venturing onto.

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It’s an ideal way to catch up with friends or family, while getting some exercise in, all while easily adhering to social distancing measures.

Not to mention, it’s a good way to avoid coming into close contact with people if you’re feeling wary about being in public spaces.

So before you head out onto the road, make sure you’ve checked these products off your list, so you can be as safe, secure and as comfortable as possible.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Helmets for adults

It goes without saying that you should always wear a helmet, to keep you cool, agile and most importantly protected.

It was the rounded design with a shiny hard shell finish that fits well that won our reviewer over, along with the nice thin straps and a highly adjustable retention cradle.

We found it to be lightweight, aerodynamic and super-comfortable. It also has seven vents at the front to draw in cool air, with another 16 exhaust ports to get rid of it.

Our reviewer said: “There are some great design details to look out for – you can slot your sunglasses into the rear-facing arm holders while climbing hills and the lay-flat chin straps can be popped out when you need to wash them. The padding is minimal and there’s a dial at the back to adjust the cradle, the position of which you can also raise or lower.”

Helmets for kids

Surprisingly, children riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or anything on wheels aren’t required by law to wear a helmet. But to give parents space of mind and protect little heads from injuries, we would highly recommend encouraging them to wear one.

Thanks to modern designs there’s plenty of colourful patterns that are both comfortable and safe, which will make wearing them simple, rather than lead to a tantrum.

According to our reviewer: “The hard-body shell and impact absorbing features are ideal for serious mini cyclists, skateboarders or any child that spends more time riding on hard pavements than soft grass.”

It has well-thought-out features from a moulded anti-insect net to anti-allergenic padding and we found it to be a sensible choice if you tend to take your child on evening cycling trips, as it has a rear LED light fitted into the adjustment band, so your child will be seen both off or on road.

“This style is adjustable from 52 to 57cm, ensuring the helmet will grow along with them and even our young tester became quite attached to wearing it, with very little persuasion – and that in itself makes it value for money.”

Hi-vis jacket

If you are going out when it’s dark, make sure you have a high visibility jacket to keep you safe.

This fully reflective jacket will make you very visible at night, especially if you’re cycling on poorly lit roads

It’s covered with millions of tiny glass beads, making it 100 per cent reflective at night time, but it will still look completely normal by day.

Our reviewer noticed the biggest change in drivers’ behaviour when riding in this jacket: cars gave her more space, and because the whole sleeve lights up, she felt much safer signalling turns on dark roads.

The jacket is waterproof but mesh-lined and has great ventilation, which means you don’t feel uncomfortably sweaty on long rides. Other features are quietly luxurious: the fleece-lined collar, generous chest and back pockets, for example.

Stay warm, dry and visible with this reflective jacket

It’s windproof, water-resistant and includes attention-grabbing high-vis and reflective details.

“It’s superbly stitched together too, with a form-fitting design which will help you to cut through the wind with no annoying flapping material,” said our tester.

There are four pockets too, for carrying snacks and valuables on your rides.

Cycling glasses

Protect your eyes from the elements, whether that’s blinding sunlight, lashing hailstones, insects or road debris with a pair of glasses.

The magnetic arms mean you can swap between lenses by just tilting the end of the arm and then snap it out of position to remove it – then click it into your spare lens.

With no frame to get in the way, forward and peripheral vision were excellent, while a little cut out section at the brow helped airflow, so they didn’t fog up. The megol nose and arm pads ensured they stayed firmly in place, even when our testers were sweating in hot weather.

Knee and elbow pads

Spare children’s knees and elbows from scrapes and grazes, especially if they’re cycling on uneven terrain, with padding.

This SFR essentials triple pad set (John Lewis & Partners, £15) comes in two sizes; small and medium and is designed for beginners at cycling, skateboarding or rollerblading.

Avoid bumps and bruises with protective padding(John Lewis and Partners)

It contains knee pads and elbow and wrist guard with soft lining, impact caps and backing socks for maximum comfort and will cushion any nasty falls.

Bike light

While of course, bike lights are useful for visibility, it’s also against the law to ride at night without them, so it’s well worth investing in a set that’s both bright and long-lasting.

Many modern styles are compact and easily portable and come with USB chargers for easy on-the-go top-ups.

Each light weighs less than 60g each, but offer output of 400 lumens at the front and 300 at the rear and there’s also a single, super-bright Cree light that grabs the attention from up to 3km away.

They stay securely fixed to your hike with a plastic mount and you can link them up with the app on your phone to unlock the theft warning and trigger alert features, and the battery provides up to 16 hours of use.

GPS

If you’re confident on going on longer rides, use a GPS device to track them, set distance goals and record your pedalling rate, power output, or heartbeats.

This GPS bike computer won’t distract you from the road ahead

It highlights important bits on your route, such as major roads and rivers.

The screen is a hefty piece of glass which should stand up to the rough and tumble of off-roading.

Plus, you can set the LEDs on the left of the screen to show heart rate or power zones.

Bike locks

Once you’ve arrived home if you don’t have the storage space to bring your bike indoors or into a back garden, a good bike lock is a necessity.

Keep your hardware soft with a reliable bike lock, like this one, which is big enough to go through your frame or a wheel

It’s Sold Secure gold-rated and the lock is protected from the weather by a rubber seal. You get three nicely-sized, tactile keys which are easy to use, even with gloves on. And if you ever lose them you can get replacements using a unique code.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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