If you’re looking for a Christmas present for an urban cyclist, or you’re an urban cyclist yourself and want to put someone else on the right track when it comes to getting a gift for you, we have plenty of suggestions to make life easier.
Many urban cyclists will be commuting to work in all weathers, so lots of the products we’ve included here are waterproof or water-resistant. We've also included lights to keep you safe on city streets. Performance is paramount.
If you have a 30-minute urban ride, you might not want to get all Lycra-ed up for it, especially if there’s nowhere to get changed at the other end, so we’ve also included clothing you can wear both on and off the bike. In other words, we’ve got clothes that looks like everyday civvies but with cycle-specific features to add practicality when you’re riding.
We’ve also added a dash of style wherever possible. You want to look good when you nip out to grab a coffee or a bite to eat.
So here are our suggestions covering prices from £5 up to £220.
This looks like a pretty standard everyday shirt but you get some subtle cycle-friendly features like a hidden back pocket and reflective trim when you turn up the collar and turn back the cuffs. The fabric has a bit of stretch so you can reach out to the bars comfortably and an antibacterial treatment to keep you smelling all fresh and lovely after a short ride.
These are a well-made, superbly thought through pair of trousers that'll keep you dry on the bike and looking stylish off it. They come with a seamless seating area, articulated knees and a host of other clever features. The treatment on the Epic Cotton fabric should keep them water resistant for over 200 washes.
The Carrera helmet is more squashable than foldable, losing about 25% of its width when you push the sides in. That could be handy for storing in a bag, for example, when you get off your bike and wander around town.
This skate-style helmet is pretty lightweight (296g) with easy fit adjustment via a ratchet wheel at the back. Reflective strips on the back add to your safety in traffic. It’s a good option if you don’t need masses of ventilation on your urban commute.
This looks like a normal black, red or yellow (or pink, in the women’s range) waterproof jacket. Then you shine a light on it and it goes nuts.
Thousands of tiny glass beads embedded in the fabric reflect the light back to help keep you safe in traffic.
These are well-made, hardwearing jeans that are cut especially for riding your bike. The main cycle-friendly feature is the ‘diamond gusset’: an extra panel that removes seams from the area you sit on. Clever. They’re not cheap, but Japanese raw selvedge jeans never are.
This reversible shirt is made of a lightweight DWR-treated (Durable Water Repellent) polyester skin with Primaloft Sport insulation underneath, providing plenty of warmth for its weight. It provides protection from the wind and rain without shouting ‘bike clothing’ when you keep it on at the office or café.
Our socks are legendary. Or at least leg-endary.
I can only apologise. Let’s move on.
This jacket is waterproof with fully taped seams and the dropped tail stores inside the back when you don’t need it. The reflective details catch in car headlights but they’re not conspicuous when you’re off the bike.
You’ll know that merino wool is naturally antibacterial and resistant to odours, so it’s a great option for clothing you want to ride in and then continue to wear afterwards. Howies’ merino boxers are made from superfine wool to avoid itching. Both Rapha and Vulpine offer merino boxers with a seatpad.
This T-shirt is 100% merino wool so you won’t start to reek to high heaven after your ride into town. A slim fit and slightly extended tail add to on-the-bike function without making you look out of place once you’re out of the saddle.
This waterproof saddleback – with a 12-litre main compartment and a three-litre detachable lid – is designed for touring but it could be handy for trips into town/work too if you don’t want to carry anything on your back. The fixed carry handle and removable shoulder strap add to its off-the-bike usability.
Crumpler offer you lots of pockets and compartments for keeping your stuff organised in this bag. It’s tough and water resistant and the strap is really comfortable even when you’re carrying heavy loads.
This scaled-down courier bag is durable – very durable – and waterproof. It’s roomy enough for a tablet or a small laptop, but not for a 13in model (larger bags are available from Ortlieb). On the bike, it's stable and comfortable to carry, and its size means it doesn't look silly off the bike.
This rugged and good-looking rucksack is as useful off the bike as on. It’s made from super tough oiled canvas and has a whole host of cycle-friendly features like reflective trim and a waterproof nylon lining. It’ll take a compact 14in laptop in the padded internal sleeve.
This backpack is made from old boots' tough UPVC with welded seams and it’ll keep the contents bone dry whatever the weather. Padded straps provide decent support and the price is very reasonable.
If you're looking for a smart messenger-cum-pannier bag to get your stuff to the office and back, the Altura Meta should fit the bill. It’s well-made from fairly heavy duty tarpaulin, with a long front flap that keeps the elements out in all but the foulest weather, for which there's a rain cover. An internal sleeve will swallow a 15-inch laptop, and there’s a host of other useful features.
If you’re commuting by bike you need reliable lights and Cateye’s Volt 300 is a really good single-LED light at a decent price. Battery life is rated at three hours on high, increasing to as much as 60 hours on flash, and you can recharge via a micro USB connector. Cateye's Flex Tight bracket is a simple, well-proven design that takes only a few seconds to mount on a bike while the quick-release is solid and reliable,
The Blaze’s USP is that as well as shining a light in front of you it projects an image of a bike onto the road 6 metres ahead to let other road users know you’re there.
This combined light and camera records 720p HD video and audio on a continuous loop. It’s USB rechargeable with a battery life of 6hrs. It’s also waterproof and the rear light is 30 lumens. That’s a lot of tech to fit into one 113g light!
This is a very smart, no-nonsense LED that runs for up to 50hrs in constant mode on three AAA batteries, up to 150 hours while flashing. Amber side windows improve your visibility. It has become a bit of a commuting classic.
If your employer is enlightened enough to provide showers at work, you can keep the bike theme going after your ride in by using Muc-Off’s Shower Scrub. It’s coconut based with sea salts in there to remove dead skin cells.
If you don’t have showers, Muc-Off also do an antibacterial Dry Shower (£3) that’s designed to clean you up without water.
Hiplok do a whole range of locks that you wear in different ways for ease of transportation. The V1.50 goes around your waist, coming with an 8mm hardened steel chain and a steel lock body. It boasts a Sold Secure Silver rating.
This rugged aluminium rack has two levels of pannier attachment bars and will handle loads of up to 30kg, which should be plenty for all your urban needs.
This useful and well-crafted traditional-style wicker basket hooks easily over the front bar with two plastic coated sturdy wire hooks and it sits pretty stable. There’s also a handle, attached securely with wire staples, that sits flush with the basket when not in use. The major bonus of the simple hook over design is that it’s easily removed and used as a shopping basket whenever needed.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.