Tip #1 The Spare Reflector – Capital Outlay $0
If you turn up at bike events often enough you will end up with a few of these snap-on reflector-bands by default. I don’t dress up as a road-cone by day but I like to be seen at night and wear velcro reflectors on each ankle for side visibility. If I forget to throw those in my bag I have this little spare permanently wrapped around my seatpost as a back-up.
Tip #2 The Rear Helmet Light – Capital Outlay $10-$30
If you wear an aero-styled helmet they often have a ventilation hole in the rear large enough to fit one of these little LED lights. This one is a Knog and cost me $15 but I have seen cheapos for a lot less. The Knogs are great because they are completely water-resistant and are made of stretchy silicone that you can attach to almost anything. If I forget my larger rear blinky I know I at least have this little one with me at all times. Usually I have them both flashing and look like a 747 taking off.
Tip #3 The Homemade Mudflap – Capital Outlay $0
Mudguards are fantastic on a commuter-bike but most are not long enough to keep your feet dry and dog poo off your bottom bracket. To the mirth of all who come across them I made these ones from a couple of 3 litre milk bottles. The double-sided tape is slowly giving-up but they are still hanging on grimly and doing a great job after four years hard use. Because the plastic is so feeble it just bends out of the way if it catches going down the stairs at work. I can ride home on really wet roads and stay perfectly dry. Highly recommended if vanity is not a priority.
Tip #4 The Bungie you Can’t Lose – Capital Outlay $0
I must admit I have never had a bungie-cord stolen but I have left them at home on occasion. By permanently attaching one end with a pair of pliers I can’t forget them and sticky-fingered kids can’t pilfer them.
Tip #5 The Low Down Light Mount – Capital Outlay $5
This is only of use if you have a Wald front basket. When my basket is loaded a handlebar-mounted light is of little use so I cut a 50mm section of aluminum tube from a scooter someone was throwing out in the inorganic and made a mounting-post for the rack-stay. It only cost $5 because I used a stainless-steel bolt, nylock nut and washers but you could do it cheaper with galvanized steel parts from the hardware store. A length of old inner-tube prevents the light-bracket from slipping around the post.
Tip #6 The Wall Protector – Capital Outlay $0
This one opens me up to more ridicule than milk-bottle recycling but I’m past caring by this stage and everyone has an old tennis ball lying around somewhere. I have all sorts of bikes hanging neatly from hooks in the garage but the commuter/grocery-getter is always at the ready, propped-up against the wall. I cut a tennis ball with a kraft knife to make a wall-protector and it works a treat. Keeps the wall free of black marks and stops the bike sliding down and giving the cat a heart attack as he’s trying to eat his dinner.