The investment: Only your favourite bike ever
The price point may seem steep, but people who’ve bought a Simcoe don’t look back — it’s that smooth a ride, that safe, that durable. Simcoe is a Canadian-founded company that’s designed a commuter bicycle with northern climes in mind: chip-resistant coating, rust-resistant fenders, tires built to defy potholes and streetcar tracks. Best of all, the bike manages to make you feel sturdy on the road and at the same time nimble — a duality almost as impossible as a cinnamon bun that’s good for you. All that, and it’s pretty darn good-looking, too.
Simcoe Step Through Deluxe, $1,000
A bargain bike that will absolutely do the job
When it comes to bikes, if you want something adorable, you’re going to have to pay reasonably big money. But if you’re willing to go with something less flashy, there are plenty of solid models out there (that are also affordable). A brand like Giant has been wheeling people around for more than four decades, has stores all over Canada, and its “Liv” line caters specifically to women. This Alight 3 model is quality for a relatively affordable price.
Liv Alight 3, $519
With colour options that include salmon orange and lemon yellow, this “bottle basket” will sharpen the style of even the dullest beater bike. Its double hooks fit easily on the side of a back rack.
Basil Bottle Basket, $40
Here’s a 1.1-kilogram basket that carries up to 25 kilograms in groceries. You can even bring it into the store if you like — it has a quick release mechanism as part of its universal rack attachment. You can also mount it permanently if you prefer.
Axiom Market Basket, $60
Saved by the bell
The ultimate in utilitarian. This super-affordable bike bell is a tool-free installation and comes with two sizes of bands, meaning it’s sure to work on your handlebar. And you get to pick your colour — green, pink, black, silver, orange.
Filzer Ding Ding Bell, $8
Bike bling, big ring
This tidy looking dinger is said to produce a “remarkably loud ring.” It’s on the pricier side when it comes to bike bells, but it’s well-made (from stainless steel and brass), easy to ring, and adds a certain elegance to your ride. It comes with large and small attachments in a sweet little box, making it the perfect gift for your cycling friends.
Spurcycle Bell, Raw, $49
Pretty (and practical) helmet
You can practically see Carrie Brownstein sporting one of these bright and singular lids in an episode of Portlandia. Nutcase, which is based in the same city, is on a mission to save bike helmets from being boring. And they certainly succeed, with multiple collections and dozens of designs. You are almost guaranteed to stand out in “Silver Fly,” or “Cherry Blossom,” or “Moo.” But the most important thing about a helmet is that it fits your head, so try to road-test one of these puppies before ordering online.
Nutcase Dots helmet, $90
No-nonsense, workaday helmet
When it comes to bike helmets, you just can’t scrimp — $70 is about the minimum you should expect to spend. It’s critical that the helmet have safety certification; in Canada, the standard is CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission); look for the sticker. This all-purpose Lazer model has it and everything else you want in a helmet — plenty of ventilation, a comfortable fit, built-in visor, and an easy dial at the back to adjust the grip on your head (helpful for when you might need an extra layer in winter).
Lazer Cyclone helmet, $75
The best insurance from theft is a heavy-duty U-lock and this one from the German company ABUS is a favourite of staff at Toronto’s Curbside Cycle. It’s especially resistant to both cutting and bending and is made of highly engineered steel, making it exceptionally rustproof as well.
ABUS Granit Plus 470 U-Lock, $140
Because your bike deserves a bag
It’s as pretty as a purse but it’s also super practical — made of water-repellant material and featuring reflective stripes on either side as well as an inside pocket for keys and phone and hook-on system for attaching to your rack.
Basil Wanderlust double pannier bag, $90
Briefcase, shoulder bag, or pannier — you decide. This waterproof number from Ortlieb is loaded with zippers, flaps, and snaps to keep everything organized, has a dedicated spot for your laptop, and fits snugly onto the left side of a bike rack. And it’ll make you look like a total pro on the road.
Ortlieb Office Bag M, $212