Bike accessory reviews

See our round-up and recommendations for all the hottest accessories, including lights, locks, baskets, racks and floor pumps.
 
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01 .Introduction

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When you’re riding your bike, you need to stay clearly visible for surrounding traffic, have tyres that are properly inflated and have a reliable lock if you need to secure the bike while you pop into a shop. And if it’s your main mode of transport a rack or basket will help secure any belongings.

The Australian Road Rules has regulations for bike riders, especially when it comes to riding at night, so you need to keep this in mind when looking for bike lights. A floor pump will give you a quick result when inflating your tyres and a good D-lock will help to keep your bike safe from thieves. When it comes to racks and baskets, you’ll need to keep in mind some limitations before you buy.

Ride On, the Bicycle Victoria Magazine, have recently put lights, locks and pumps to the test, while we turned to our CHOICE expertise for testing a selection of baskets and racks.

 
 

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No matter what type of bike you own, you’ll need to regularly pump your tyres. There are two options, a hand pump or a floor pump. A small hand pump can be useful, getting you out of tricky situations if you need to pump up your tyres while you’re out on a ride. However, to pump your tyres quickly and with minimal effort a floor pump is the way to go.

Bicycle Victoria published the results of their floor pumps test in the February-March 2010 issue of their Ride On magazine. They put seven higher priced floor pumps to the ultimate test of both performance and endurance – the nine-day 2009 Great Victorian Bike Ride, whereby hundreds of riders used the pumps each day. Only two pumps managed to survive the nine day drilling, the Serfas FMP-500 and the Tioga Super Deluxe. Their sturdy construction, easy-to-read pressure gauge and overall ease of use gave them a good overall rating. The Serfas FMP-500 was the favourite among the participants of the ride. The Topeak Joe Blow Turbo may not have survived the onslaught of use, but it also rated highly and is recommended as the value for money option.

Jargon Buster

Presta valve or also known as “French valve”, is a narrow valve with an in-built valve cap, which must be opened to inflate the tyre and retightened afterwards to ensure no leakage. Presta valves are more common on racing bicycles because of their narrow diameter.

Schrader valve is larger than Presta and has springs that close the valves. It’s also known as an “American valve” and is the type found on cars, as well as being the most common valve type on bike tyres. The spring loaded pin however, must be depressed before air can flow during inflation. As a result, some air is lost when attaching and detaching pumps to Schrader valves.

What to look for

You first need to consider the type of bike you own, as this will depend on the type of floor pump you'll need. If you have a road bike, you'll need a pump that's quick to connect and disconnect to Presta valves and which will easily inflate to pressures of up to 120psi. However, there is more options available if you own a mountain bike (MTB) or hybrid with Schrader valves that only need to inflate to 80psi.

Before you buy a floor pump, test it out first in the store. Keep in mind the following:

  • Does the pump easily inflate to your desired pressure? Try this out a couple of times, does it work consistently?
  • Does it have a pressure gauge with a pressure indicator, to make it easy to read?
  • Does it have a solid construction that allows for good stability?
  • Is it comfortable to use, or is it awkward and tiring?
  • Can it fit to Presta and/or Schrader valves? And is the pump head easy to attach and detach from the valve?

Floor pumps
Brand / productOverall ratingFunction (performance/ease of use)Materials and componentsConstructionAppearanceValue for moneyPrice ($)
Serfas FMP-50055554.54.5125
Tioga Super Deluxe4.54.54.554.54.5120
Topeak Joe Blow Turbo4.54.544.54.55100
Blackburn Air Tower 344.53.544.52.5140
Silca Pista444.54.543110
BBB Airstealth BFP-243.53.5334.53100
XLC 2.522.52.54185

Using the table

Scores The scores are based on Bicycle Victoria's scoring system. The overall rating takes into account the component categories in the table. Each category is scored on a scale from one to five. If you're looking for performance and ease of use, these aspects are covered in the 'function' category.
Price Recommended retail, as of March 2010.

How we test

The pumps were situated at the front gate pumping station of the 2009 Great Victorian Bike Ride - a nine day event, which tested not only their performance, but also reliability. A questionnaire was provided to riders asking for their comments on performance and ease of use of the pumps. The WARBY team was given a more detailed questionnaire to complete. WARBY stands for 'We Are Right Behind You' and they are available for mechanical and emotional support during most major riding events.

 

What to buy
Brand Price
Serfas FMP-500 $125
Tioga Super Deluxe $120
Topeak Joe Blow Turbo $100

 

 

Profiles - the best

Serfas FMP-500

Price $125Serfas

Contact www.lifecycle.net.au

Good Points

  • Well constructed, with a broad base for stable pumping.
  • A large, easy-to-read gauge.
  • Easily inflates to 120psi.
  • A universal head that fits Presta and Schrader valves well, with a long locking lever for helpful leverage.
  • The head incorporates a 'bleed' button to release air in case you over-inflate.
  • A flexible, metal-braided air hose is a unique feature among the tested pumps.
  • The favourite pump of the WARBYs (volunteer support crew) and riders alike.

Bad Points

  • This pump lacks an adjustable hand on the gauge to indicate the desired pressure.
  • The base-mounted gauge may be difficult to read for those with poor vision.
  • Some riders found the longer lever a little difficult to use, however this could be attributed to poor technique.

 

 

Tioga Super Deluxe

Price $120Tioga

Contact www.bikes.com.au

Good Points

  • Solid construction.
  • Top-mounted, easy-to-read gauge with adjustable hand to indicate desired pressure.
  • A universal head fits Presta and Schrader valves well, with long locking lever for more leverage.
  • The head incorporates a 'bleed' button to release air in case you over-inflate.
  • Easily inflates to 120psi.

Bad Points

  • Some people found the hand lever a little difficult to use.

 

 

 

 

 

Topeak Joe Blow Turbo

Price $100JoeBlow

Contact www.bicyclestore.com.au

Good Points

  • Large, stable base.
  • Top-mounted, easy-to-read gauge with adjustable head to indicate desired pressure.
  • Durable brass Schrader valve depressor in head.
  • Easy to pump.
  • Comfortable handle with lock for transportation.
  • Hose and head 'storage' is built into the barrel, which keeps things tidy.
  • Some spare parts are available.

Bad Points

  • Wear in the pump head prevented it from working for Schrader valves but continued to work satisfactorily on Presta valves.

 

 

 

Profiles - the rest

Blackburn Air Tower 3

Price $140BlackburnAirTower3

Contact www.bikes.com.au

Good Points

  • Stable base.
  • Robust construction.
  • Top-mounted gauge makes pressure easy to read.
  • Inflated all tyres easily.

Bad Points

  • Main problem was with the dual head (Presta on one side, Schrader on the other). After several days it became difficult to make a consistently good connection to a valve, and the head began leaking air, rendering the pump inoperative.

 

 

 

 

 

Silca Pista

Price $110Silca-blank-background

Contact www.cyclelink.com.au

Good Points

  • Solid construction.
  • Presta connector very easy to use.
  • Easily inflates to 120psi.
  • All spare parts are available.

Bad Points

  • Gauge at the bottom has small numbers making it difficult to read.
  • Base-mounted pressure indicator without adjustable hand to indicate the desired pressure.
  • Rubber (replaceable) washer in the Presta head wore out after several days due to so many uses on threaded Presta valves.
  • Handle becomes uncomfortable after repeated use.

 

 

 

 

BBB Airstealth BFP-24

Price $100BBB

Contact www.bikesportz.com.au

Good Points

  • Stable base.
  • Top-mounted, easy-to-read gauge with adjustable hand to indicate desired pressure.
  • Inflated all tyres easily.
  • Comfortable boomerang-shaped handle.

Bad Points

  • Tricky to connect to Presta valves. Eventually used the pump for Schrader only.
  • The shaft (inside the barrel) got bent during use on the fifth day, which rendered the pump inoperative. However, this could be put down to user technique, as this pump had a longer shaft than others, which could have made it more awkward to use.

 

 

 

XLC

Price $85XLC

Good Points

  • None to mention.

Bad Points

  • The pump is top-heavy.
  • Despite the gauge being mounted at the top of the pump, the psi markings are small making the numbers difficult to see.
  • The pump head needs to be disassembled to switch between Presta and Schrader valves, which is inconvenient if you regularly ride bikes with different valves.
  • The plastic Schrader valve-depressor in the head wore and broke within three days of use.
  • The pump struggled to inflate tyres to much more than 80psi, and some riders found the unit difficult to pump even to moderate pressures (70psi). Not suitable for road bike tyres.

 

Armoured cable locks vs. D-locks

According to Australian Cyclist, it's been estimated that one in 10 Australian bicycle owners will have their bike stolen in the next five years. So choosing a good bike lock could be the difference from an enthused thief taking your bike, or moving on to an easier target. Armoured cable locks are essentially a metal spine coated in plastic or rubber, whereas a D-lock is more of a scaled up padlock.

Bicycle Victoria tested five D-locks and five armoured cable locks. In sequence, they used a jemmy bar, hammer, hacksaw, 24-inch bolt cutters and an angle grinder to try and break each lock, with the process being timed to see how long it would take to break. Combination locks, steel cables, chains and padlocks were excluded from the test as in comparison they are easier to break. All the armoured cable locks withstood the onslaught of the jemmy bar, hammer and hacksaw; however the 24-inch bolt cutters highlighted what makes a good armoured lock. On the other hand, one D-lock broke when struck by the hammer. However, all the other D-locks survived the assault of jemmy bar, hammer, hacksaw and bolt cutters, though not surprisingly, none survived the final assault with an angle grinder. Therefore, it's fair to say that since an angle grinder is almost unbeatable, D-locks offer a superior level of protection from a thief.

With armoured cable locks, bolt cutters will work when they fit around the armour. Testing found, that when the jaws didn't fit, the hammer was used to flatten the armour in order for the jaws of the cutters to get around, in order to break the lock. D-locks are more likely to resist breakage at this point. A well-designed D-lock will have its lock mechanism in the barrel's centre as end-mounted locks are easier to attack with a drill. When it comes to the security of your bike, the sturdiness and weight of D-lock's make them more likely to do the job. 

When you're out looking for a bike lock, examine it first for any weak points. Don't buy a lock if it's going to be too small for your bike, however also don't get one that will be too hard to fill. The more space between the shackle and the bike frame, the easier it is for a theif to stick in a levering bar. When locking your bike, make sure you choose a visible well lit area, secure the frame to a solid structure and remove any lights, panniers, or anything else that isn't fixed to the bike.

What to buy

What to buy
D-Locks
Brand Price
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 $100
Abus Varedo 47 $130

 

Armoured cable locks
Brand / productOverall ratingFunction (performance/ease of use)Materials and componentsConstructionAppearanceValue for moneyPrice ($)
Armoured cable locks
Kryptonite Keeper 2515 3.5 3 3 4 4 3 60
Abus Steel-o-flex 1025 X Plus 3.5 4 4 4 3 3 210
OnGaurd Rottweiler 3 3 3 3 3 3 43
Basta BA24 2 1 2 2 3 2 40
Tioga TLAJ 2 1 2 2 3 2 35
D-Locks
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 4.5 4 5 5 4 5 100
Abus Varedo 47 4.5 4 5 5 3 5 130
OnGaurd Pitbull 3.5 4 3 3 3 4 65
Tioga Watchdog TLSHW 3 3 3 3 2 4 35
Basta BA14 2.5 2 2 3 3 3 45

 

Using the table

Scores The scores are based on Bicycle Victoria's scoring system. The overall rating takes into account the component categories in the table. Each category is scored on a scale from one to five and the total score out of 25 is reduced to a star rating out of five. If you're looking for performance and ease of use, these aspects are covered in the 'function' category.
Price Recommended retail, as of March 2010.

Profile pictures

Armoured cable locks

Kryptonite Keeper 2515

Kryptonite-Keeper

Price $60

Contact www.cassons.com.au 

 

 

 

 

Abus Steel-o-flex 1025 X PlusSteel0flex

Price $210

Contact www.velovita.com.au/cycling/index.shtml

 

 

OnGaurd RottweilerRottweiler

Price $43

Contact www.bikegearwearhouse.com.au  

 

 

 

 

 

Basta BA24BA24

Price $40

Contact www.echelonsports.com.au  

 

 

 

Tioga TLAJTLAJ

Price $35

Contact www.bikes.com.au  

 

 

 

 

D-Locks

Kryptonite Evolution Series 4Kryptonite-Evolution4

Price $100

Contact www.cassons.com.au 

 

 

 

 

 

Abus Varedo 47Abus_Varedo-47_lock

Price $130

Contact www.velovita.com.au/cycling/index.shtml

 

 

 

 

 

 

OnGaurd PitbullPitbull

Price $65

 

 

 

 

 

Tioga Watchdog TLSHWTLSHW

Price $35

Contact www.bikes.com.au

 

 

 

Basta BA14BA14

Price $45

Contact www.echelonsports.com.au 

Bicycle Victoria takes these rules and regulations into consideration when they conduct their annual lights test; whereby industry experts are called on to judge a range of bike lights.

What's the law?

When you ride your bicycle at night or in low-visibility conditions, such as fog or heavy rain, the Australian Road Rules (which form the basis of state and territory laws) require that you have:

  • A white light at the front
  • A red light at rear
  • A red rear reflector.

The lights whether steady or flashing must be visible for at least 200m. Ideally, they should also be visible 50m from the side. The red rear reflector should be visible from 50m from the rear when light is projected onto it by a vehicle’s headlight at low beam.

How we test

A range of bike lights have been reviewed by Bicycle Network Victoria and a panel of industry experts in line with the Australian Road Rules. The tests and overall scores are made up of the following:

  • Function and quality (80%): The lights are assessed for their effective visibility at night on a suburban road with a popular cycle path, at a distance of 200m, and also at 50m with the lights angled at 45 degrees (to simulate the bike approaching an intersection). The flash rate, where applicable, is also assessed. The industrial design ratings (durability, weather resistance and useability) are conducted by the team at RMIT Industrial Design.
  • Price (10%): Is the price appropriate to the quality and category of the light?
  • Appearance (10%): Is the light visually appealing?

What to look for

  • Good visibility: head-on and angled.
  • Durability: robustness and how securely the light stays in its mount.
  • Type of batteries required - AA or AAA are easier to get and you can use rechargeables.
  • Ease of battery replacement.
  • Ease of fitting and removing.
  • Compact size for taking with you after you park on the street. 

Check out our full bike lights review for the results.

There is a vast array of bike baskets and racks on the market, so the models chosen for this test are only a representation of the different varieties available, where we aim to highlight the issues and/or limitations involved with each.

Baskets are ideal for situations like carrying your shopping home. They can be either wire or wicker in construction and you can get front baskets which attach to the handle bar or rear baskets which need a rear rack to attach to. You need a basket that's easy to attach and remove, is stable when you're riding and is also lightweight to carry.

In this test, the Velogear Front Wire Basket came out on top with a 4.5 overall rating. It scores well for its ease of attachment and removal, and its light weight also makes it easy to carry. However, on the downside, its instructions state that it only has a 3kg maximum loading weight. The tested baskets all fare well overall, however they are mostly let down by their stability. You need to keep in mind that when a basket is fitted to the bike, the steering is altered, particularly for a front basket, which you'll need to get used to.

Baskets
Brand / product Overall ratingStabilityEase of
attachment
Ease of removalEase of carryingWeight of
basket (kg)
Stated maximum
loading weight (kg)
Construction
material
Position of
basket
Price ($)
Velogear Front Wire Basket 4.5 2 5 5 5 0.82 3 Wire Handle bar 55
Beauty Shopper Wicker (front basket) 4 2 5 5 4 0.87 5 Wicker Handle bar post 109
Basil Jura 15010 4 3 5 5 3 2 15 Wicker Rear 129
Topeak MTX Basket Rear TB2005 4 3 5 5 2 1.53 ns Wire Rear 60
Topeak Front Handlebar Basket TB2001 3.5 2 5 5 2 1.12 ns Wire Handle bar 60
Velogear Rear Wire Basket 3.5 2 4 4 4 1.13 ns Wire Rear 44


 

Using the table

 Scores The overall rating is calculated from the four aspects covered (stability, ease of attachment, ease of removal and ease of carrying). Each category is scored from a scale of one to five and the total score out of 25 is reduced to a star rating out of five.
Price Recommended retail, as of March 2010.

How we test

Our tester, Peter Horvath, assesses the bike baskets primarily on their ease of use. He looks at how easy they are to attach and remove from the bike. He also assesses their stability when riding and their ease of carrying when they are taken off. He follows the maximum loading weights where specified.

Profile pictures

Velogear Front Wire Basket05-velogear-front-wire-

Price $55

Contact www.velogear.com.au 

 

Beauty Shopper Wicker (front basket)01-beauty-shopper-wicker

Price $109

Contact www.cheekytransport.com.au

 

Basil Jura 1501002-basil-jura-15010

Price $129

Contact www.cheekytransport.com.au  

 

Topeak MTX Basket Rear TB200504-topeak-MTX-rear-TB2005

Price $60

Contact www.bikes.com.au  

 

 

Topeak Front Handlebar Basket TB200103-topeak-front-hb-basket-TB2001

Price $60

Contact www.bikes.com.au

 

Velogear Rear Wire Basket06-velogear--rear-wire-

Price $44

Contact www.velogear.com.au

There is a vast array of bike racks on the market, so the models chosen for this test are only a representation of the different varieties available, where we aim to highlight the issues and/or limitations involved.

Racks attach to the framework of the bike and are used to carry baggage like rear mounted baskets and/or panniers. In this test we looked at two different types of rear racks. While the racks we looked at are reasonably priced, the Tubus Cosmo Stainless Steel stands out at $289. This rack is designed for serious expedition trailing, so if you're not a serious rider and only need to carry a small pannier or basket, cheaper racks will do the job.

The Topeak MTX BeamRack V-type attaches to the seat post of the bike via a lever mechanism. This type of rack is designed to be easily removed, especially when leaving the bike in public places. While this is a useful feature, it doesn't fit as securely as a rack that is fitted with screws, and has a comparatively low loading weight. When our tester took the bike for a ride, he found that there was slight sideways movement of the rack when cornering.

All the other racks are attached to the bike with screws which allows for a more secure attachment. While they score lower for attachment and removal (as its more time consuming and fiddly), this type of rack is usually only fitted to the bike once and stays permanently fixed to the bike. It also sits very securely allowing no movement of the rack in any direction. However, keep in mind that some racks may need to be manipulated to fit, depending on the build on the bike. This may need to be done at a bike store which can be a hassle.

Bike Racks
Brand / product Ease of attachment Ease of removal Maximum loading weight (kg) Position of rack Price ($)
Topeak MTX BeamRack V-type (TA2096V)559Seat post90
Tioga Rear Alloy Touring Carrier3325Rear40
Topeak Explorer Rack (TA2026B)339Rear50
Tubus Cosmo Stainless Steel3340Rear289
Velogear 15kg Rear Rack Dh3093315Rear44

Using the table

Scores There is no overall score for bike racks, only a rating for ease of attachment and removal. Price Recommended retail as of March 2010.

How we test

Our tester, Peter Horvath, assesses the bike racks and baskets primarily on their ease of use. He looks at how easy they are to attach and remove from the bike and in the case of baskets he also assesses their stability when riding and their ease of carrying when they are taken off. He follows the maximum loading weights where specified.

Profile pictures

Topeak MTX BeamRack V-type (TA2096V)02-topeak-MTX-TA2096V

Price $90

Contact  www.bikes.com.au

 

 

Tioga Rear Alloy Touring Carrier01-tioga-rear-alloy

Price $40

Contact www.bikes.com.au  

 

 

 

Topeak Explorer Rack (TA2026B)03-topeakexplorer-TA2026B

Price $50

Contact www.bikes.com.au  

 

 

Tubus Cosmo Stainless Steel04-tubus-cosmo

Price $289

Contact www.stkildacycles.com.au  

 

 

Velogear 15kg Rear Rack dH30905-velogear-dH309

Price $44

Contact www.velogear.com.au  

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