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Cycle equipment, clothing and gear

There are two kinds of cycle equipment - one is required by law the other is optional.

Compulsory equipment

Compulsory equipment

  1. A red or yellow rear reflector that is visible from a distance of 200 metres when light shines on it.
  2. Good brakes on the front and back wheels (or, if the cycle was made before 1 January 1988, a good brake on the back wheel).

When cycling at night or when visibility is poor, cycles must have the following:

  1. One or more steady or flashing rear-facing red lights that can be seen at night from a distance of 200 metres
  2. One or two white or yellow headlights that can be seen at night from a distance of 200 metres. Only one of these headlights may flash.
  3. Pedal retroreflectors on the forward and rear-ward facing surfaces of each pedal. If the cycle does not have these the cyclist must be wearing reflective material.

Cycle lights

There are many cycle lights on the market – some are designed to help cyclists be seen by other road users during times of low light, and some lights are designed to help cyclists see where they are going, like a headlight.

When considering lights it is important to be mindful that:

  • Headlights should be attached to handlebars and pointing down.
  • Your lights can be a hazard if used incorrectly. You must not use cycle lighting equipment in such a way that it dazzles, confuses, or distracts so as to endanger the safety of other road users. Angling your front lights down toward the road helps prevent this.

Correct use of cycle lighting will make your cycling experience safer and more enjoyable, while ensuring other road users are not at risk.

Optional equipment to fit to the cycle

There is a wide range of other equipment that can be fitted to cycles. Some of the more useful items are:

  • mudguards - only the long ones will keep you clean
  • carriers - can be used with or without panniers (saddle bags) and are the best way to carry loads. A load cannot extend more than 50 centimetres on either side
  • locks - these can be attached to the cycle to ensure that you always have a lock with you, or you can carry them separately
  • bell or horn - to warn pedestrians when using shared paths
  • pump and tools
  • water bottle holder
  • clip in pedals for use with shoes with cleats - special shoes that clip into the pedals
  • pedals fitted with toe straps - an alternative kind of pedal/foot fastening device.

Other items include:

  • side and front reflectors - front reflectors cannot be red
  • safety flags - can help other drivers see you
  • rear-view mirrors
  • chain guards
  • kick stands
  • training wheels.

Whatever accessories you use, check regularly to see that they are securely fastened on.

Optional clothing and gear

It is safer to wear bright coloured and reflective clothing when you are on your cycle. If you wear a backpack it should also be bright and reflective, or covered with something bright and reflective such as a vest or cover. It is also recommended that closed toe shoes are worn. Jandals should be avoided as they slip off easily. Clothing you choose to wear shouldn't catch on the chain or on any other part of the cycle. Shoe laces and the bottoms of trousers are normally the main culprits for catching on the chain.

The following things may be useful:

  • Waterproof raincoat and pants.
  • A reflective vest, sash or high visibility belt with tail.
  • Reflective covers for bags.
  • Cycle shoes with cleats - for experienced cyclists.
  • Puncture repair kit or spare inner tube.
  • Bike pump.
  • CO2 canister - pumps up the tyre quickly.
  • Multi-tool.
  • Chain breaker and master chain link.
  • Spare batteries for the bike light.

On longer rides:

  • Mobile phone.
  • Water bottle/food.
  • First aid kit.
  • Identification and emergency contact.
  • Bike computer (for record and display of trip information).
  • Spare change for an ice cream/drinks etc.

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Last updated: 30 March 2017