Beginner’s Guide: Give Your Bike a Glow-Up This Spring
May 5, 2023 @ 12:00pm
Here’s a shortlist of accessories and ways to trick out your ride, so you can celebrate National Bike Month in style.
When you work in a bike shop, you know the first warm day of spring means things are about to get intense.
“You can almost set the calendar to it,” says Loren Copsey, co-owner of The Daily Rider bike shop in Northeast D.C. “The first weekend it hits above 70 degrees, you know that next week is going to be crazy.”
Between seasoned year-round cyclists outfitting their bikes with the latest accessories or shopping for a new whip, casual riders coming in for a tune-up and budding bikers in the market for their first bicycle, springtime finds cyclists of all stripes preparing for miles of warm-weather fun ahead.
According to Copsey — a die-hard cyclist who sold his seldom-used car a few years ago when he noticed moss growing on one side — it’s a good idea to bring your bike in for a check-up, particularly if it spent the winter hibernating outside. One of the first things his team will do, Copsey says, is give the bike a good cleaning: removing excess road grime and debris that can cause corrosion over time, and giving all the parts a once-over.
For Renée Moore, outreach director at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), spring means it’s time to swap out the flowers decorating her bike.
“My bike is decorated in flowers all year,” says Moore, who learned to bike as an adult on a date in Georgetown. “Right now, there’s sunflowers. I haven’t put new ones on there yet, but they’re probably going to be huge. Like peonies or something. It depends on what I see at Michaels. I get a big string of flower garland and I decorate my baskets and then I string string-lights around it.”
Though she bikes all year, biking in the spring offers its particular joys, not least of which is the chance to express her personal style.
“My favorite thing is to bike in sandals, heels, sundresses. I switch out my bags for straw baskets,” Moore says. “Everybody has their own bike style. For some people, it’s the bag they put on it, whether they have a basket, the lights they use. I think infusing yourself into it — that’s what makes
With help from Copsey and Moore, we put together a shortlist of accessories to trick out your ride — so you can celebrate National Bike Month in style.
Basil Memories Bottle Basket
These open, wire-frame baskets mount to your rack and are versatile, lightweight, relatively inexpensive and easier than a pannier to put odd-shaped/rigid things into. Copsey, who thinks he has about six in his house, says they’re perfect for a grocery run.
Hate riding in the rain? Tight, so does everyone. Moore recommends Cleverhood, which makes rain capes and jackets with cyclists in mind, with styles that drape over your handlebars and seat and hoods designed to fit over a helmet. And though you may never come to actually enjoy biking in a downpour, having something waterproof to protect you in a pinch is a real game-changer.
Hiplok D1000 Bike Lock
Copsey loves this new angle grinder-proof U-lock from Hiplok. “It has a material in it that defeats grinding wheels, which is how a lot of U-locks are defeated nowadays, and that changes the game for the person who needs to lock up in a less-than-secure area,” Copsey says. It’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t want their bike to get stolen, so you’ll probably want one.
Light & Motion Lights
“I don’t think you can ever have enough lights on your bike,” Moore says. “You should always be seen. Even in the summer, when the days are longer, you never know if you’re going to be out a little later or at dusk.” Light & Motion makes lights that are extremely bright, rechargeable, waterproof, easy to attach and detach and offer a daytime flash setting. Remember: It’s not about you seeing something; it’s about cars, other cyclists and pedestrians seeing you.
Nite Ize Phone Holders
Nite Ize makes two styles of handlebar-mounted phone holders that pin your phone snugly in place with a silicone strap. Copsey notes these are great for all types of riders: “Delivery drivers who love having that GPS right in front of them, moms programming music for the kids in the back of the cargo bike, people doing their weekend trip to an unknown splash park and want to have GPS turn-by-turn.”
Larger-than-life lemons. Swirling peacock feathers. Topographic lines. Nutcase helmets are fun, colorful — and if you have a big head or lots of hair, they might just be your best bet. “I think it adds a little bit of personality to your bike style,” Moore says. “I’ve had like four of them over the years.”
Po Campo Bags
Stylish, functional unisex bags from a woman-owned company? Say less. Po Campo makes products for people who want to substitute a bike for a car. Think panniers that convert to a grocery bag then back again, or feed bags that strap to your frame to hold snacks or a water bottle.
Friday, May 19 is Bike to Work Day in the DMV. Learn more and register at biketoworkmetrodc.org.
The Daily Rider: 600 H St. NE, DC; thedailyriderdc.com // @thedailyriderdc
Washington Area Bicyclist Association: 2599 Ontario Rd. NW, DC waba.org // @wabadc
Ride + Shine.
Whether your bike is emerging from hibernation or you’re pedaling year-round, practice these simple, DIY maintenance techniques (commonly known as “the ABCs” for air, breaks and chain, cassette and crank) to keep your ride looking good and cycling safe. Visit waba.org for an ABC Quick Check webinar.
Put air in your tires.
Use a gauge and bring your tires to the recommended pressure (hint: it’s written on the side of your tire) every two to three weeks. Not only do properly inflated tires prevent flats and protect your wheels, they reduce rolling resistance, so your bike will feel less sluggish, which means it’s going to be a lot be more fun to ride.
Test your breaks.
Car doors, errant soccer balls and darting children come out of nowhere. Your bike should be able to bring you to a complete stop very quickly. Brake parts wear out and get dirty, so it’s important to check them and either get them fixed or fix them yourself if they’re not functioning at full capacity.
Check your chain, cassette and crank.
Make sure your drive train is tight, not worn and clear of excess debris and dirt, and your chain is lubricated.
Learn to care for your bike at a co-op.
These education-focused community bike nonprofits offer maintenance classes, open-shop hours and more:
The Bike House
thebikehouse.org // @thebikehouse
Gearin’ Up Bicycles
gearinupbicycles.org // @gearinupdc
phoenixbikes.org // @phoenix_bikes
Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative
velocitycoop.org // @velocitycoop