Bikes get you out of the house, and accessories keep you going. Bike racks, like those from Küat, mount to your car so you can reach those remote trailheads. Bike pumps keep your tires rolling. There are small, handheld bike pumps that can travel with you, and standing pumps for those final parking lot adjustments. Bike lights help you see and/or be seen on the road. A bike repair stand helps hold your bike while you fix it. And so on.
Bike accessories are optional, but if you want to keep your bike rolling smoothly, they should not be overlooked. A bottle cage and bike water bottles keep you hydrated. Some electrolytes in your drink, like those from Skratch Labs, will be tasty and can further fuel your ride. A bike saddle bag containing tools like tire levers, tube, patch kit, maybe a bike chain tool, should be on your bike when you head out. Bike computers can tell you how far you’ve gone or become a training companion in preparation for coming races.
Bike lights are a good idea for most everyone. What constitutes the best depends on your riding. If you’re a roadie, small, bright blinky lights can add a measure of safety. If you venture off-road or take gravel backroads, high-lumen lights to see with can be a life-saver.
While many things are quotidian, some accessories may seem like hefty investments, but they can potentially change your life. Indoor bike trainers will make it easy to get your ride on, even in the middle of a sub-zero winter.
The things you need to pack on a road ride are typically a bit leaner than what goes for trips further away from civilization. Food and drink are often accessible. And if you have a crash, you can hitch a ride or call a cab. No matter the case, a saddlebag, bottle, computer, pump, and a few tools should be the minimum.
When you can’t rely on getting bailed out by a buddy, consider packing more. On-bike kits come in different sizes, and larger kits can be better. You can't always rely on CO2 cartridges, so bring a tube as insurance. A chain tool and multi-tool that can handle all your bike’s bolts are also highly recommended. A shock pump might best be left at the trailhead, but if it’s a multi-day adventure or you find yourself riding unknown terrain, having that flexibility can be beneficial. And remember that all your touchpoints can be changed. The right bike grips, saddle, and pedals make a huge difference.
When it comes to unpaved adventures, advisable accessories sit between what roadies might carry on a light day and what mountain bikers might carry on a bikepacking tour. CO2 cartridges might work for some racing and local riding, but the risks of being stranded should be weighed. Likewise, hydration packs might make sense for some gravel riding.