Having the right gear can make biking both safer and more enjoyable. We've provided information about some of the most common items that you might want to add to your bike, or get for yourself.
Your local bike shop should carry most of these items.
Accessorize your bike
Fit your helmet
You'll probably fall over once or twice, whether you're a new rider or an experienced one (we all have). A helmet can help protect your head. In Massachusetts, people who are 16 years old or younger must wear a helmet when biking. Most people riding in Boston, no matter their age, choose to wear a helmet.
Many inexpensive helmets are just as good as expensive ones. Just make sure your helmet meets the standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Be sure to replace your helmet after any crashes or when you see signs of damage.
Helmets only work if they are properly fitted. If you can, try on your helmet before you buy it. You don't want it to be so small that it sits on top of your head, or so large that there are big gaps between your head and the sides of the helmet. Once you've bought the right size, make sure it's on correctly:
- Wear your helmet low and level. Only two fingers should fit between your eyebrows and the brim of the helmet. When you look up, you should see your helmet. It should not tilt forward or backward.
- Adjust the straps to make a "v" underneath and just in front of your earlobes.
- Buckle the chin strap. Tighten it so it is snug but not too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers between the strap and your chin.
- Shake your head a bit. Your helmet shouldn't move around a lot. If your helmet has a slider or dial in the back, use it to make sure you have a snug fit.
Watch this video from FHWA on how to properly fit a helmet.
Regardless of the season, remember that you will likely warm up during your ride. If you need a light jacket while walking around, just carry it with you during your ride.
A waterproof rain jacket, cape, poncho, and/or rain pants will help keep you dry. Remember, there’s a big difference between water-resistant and waterproof. Water-resistant products are ok if you don't mind being damp. Opt for waterproof products if you want to stay dry.
Don’t overdress. Do wear layers. Biking will make you warm, so wearing a few mid-weight layers will help you control your temperature throughout your trip.
Protect your head. A lot of body heat is lost through your head. Get a thin, but warm, hat that fits under your helmet.
Protect your extremities. Gloves, a scarf or balaclava, and warm socks are essentials. Goggles or large glasses can help protect your eyes from cold wind.
Stay hydrated. Even in the winter, light exercise can lead to dehydration. Bring a water bottle or thermos so you can hydrate during your trip.
Bring a bottle of water with you. Riding at a comfortable pace can prevent you from getting sweaty. If you sweat a lot, consider bringing a change of clothes.
Don’t overdress. If you’re hot before you start riding, you’ll be even hotter once you get going.
Arrive at your destination early to cool off. A washcloth, some baby wipes, and/or deodorant can be helpful if you need to freshen up but don’t have access to a shower.
Light yourself up so that other people can see you at night. When riding at night you should always have:
- a white light on the front of your bike
- a red light or reflector on the back of your bike
- reflectors, on either your pedals or ankles, that are visible from the front and back of your bicycle, and
- reflectors, on either your bike or your clothing, that are visible from the left and right sides of your bike.
Other Boston by Bike sections
Boston by Bike
An overview of the Boston by Bike guide.
Choose a bike
We've provided information to help you find a bike that's right for you!
This is the current page.
Plan a route
We've provided information to help you figure out the best routes for bike trips. This includes info about taking your bike on the T.
Ride your bike
Here's what to do before each ride, how to ride on Boston's streets, and tips for riding in different weather conditions.
Park your bike
We've provided information on where you should and should not park your bike.
Fix your bike
Learn how to repair your bike or just get a tuned up.
Report a problem, learn the laws
We've summarized information about how to report a bike-related problem and included a summary of the Mass. General Laws about biking.
(Women) learn to ride
We spread the joys of biking and encourage more women and gender-nonconforming people to travel by bike.