NOW asked Sporting Life Bikes (2454 Yonge, 416-485-4440, and others) to outfit a mid-priced bicycle for optimal commuter comfort. They came up with a basic $499 Specialized Expedition (1) model, upgraded with nice wide tires for all-weather traction, mud-foiling fenders, a seat designed to be easy on the ass, safety-mandated front and rear lights, plus a bell, spring shock absorbers for seat and handlebars, a cage to hold a thirst-quenching water bottle and a frame-mounted pump for roadside repairs. Not to mention panniers and a seat pack for extra trunk space (see photo for details).
Even if you don't plan to replace your trusty mount, your friendly neighbourhood bike store can help you upgrade the cycling experience in terms of both comfort and safety.
Don't even consider hitting the road without a helmet, and prices are dropping on high-end, lightweight, super-well-ventilated models like Cratoni's Twister (2), $89 at Mountain Equipment Co-op, 400 King West, 416-340-2667).
Once you've ridden with gloves, you'll wonder how you coped without them. The Mas BG glove (3) goes for $39.99 at Sporting Life.
And cycling shoes with rigid soles designed for optimal distribution of leg power can look remarkably like street shoes. At $105, Sidi's Forest (4) is a popular style (MEC).
A portable tool kit makes a world of difference in breakdown situations. Alien's multi-tool (5) comes in many models (from $49.95 to $63.95 at Cyclepath, 2106 Yonge, 416-487-1717, and others).
High-performance clothing makes a big difference for any sport, but chamois-lined spandex doesn't always cut it when you get where you're going. We love the Terry Racer Sportskort (6, $85 in black and a range of loud patterns)
and Zoic's Vixen shorts (7, $59), which lead double lives with hidden cycling shorts (both from MEC).
At $220, MEC's highly reflective, top-of-the-line Bernoulli Gore-Tex jacket (8) is definitely pricey, but you'll love it from your first downpour. Being heard is every bit as critical as visibility when it comes to road safety,
and the Air Zound 2 horn (9) is very, very loud -- up to 100 dB. It's about $25 at most bike stores, including Cyclepath, Pedlar (152 Avenue Road, 416-968-7100), Velotique (1592 Queen East, 416-466-3171) and Silent Sports (113 Doncaster, 905-889-3772).