The best bike accessories you can buy

Like a lot of people, I only recently began cycling. After more than a decade of not riding a bike, I bought my first one as an adult at the start of the pandemic and immediately fell in love with what it had to offer. Cycling was my escape from a world that didn’t make sense anymore. It has since become the primary way I stay fit, unwind after a long day and get to where I need to go.

Along the way, I’ve tried many different cycling gadgets. The entries in the list below represent some of my favorites. Outside of essentials like a helmet, multitool and spare inner tubes, you don’t need most of the items listed below to enjoy whatever time you spend on your bike or e-bike, but some will keep you safer or make it easier to achieve your fitness goals – if that’s what you want to get out of the hobby.

Knog Rear Plus Light

Knog Rear Plus Light
Knog

Cycling frequently involves sharing the road with cars, and one of the best ways to stay safe is by making yourself as visible as possible to drivers. One way to do that is with a seat post-mounted LED light. You have a lot of options when it comes to cycling lights, but one of the best in my experience is the affordable Rear Plus from Knog.

You’ll notice the Rear Plus is one of two products from Knog on this list. The reason for that is that the company makes cycling accessories that stand out for their usability and clever design. With the Rear Plus, for instance, you plug it into your computer like a USB thumb drive whenever you need to charge it, meaning you don’t need to deal with a micro-USB cable like with many other bicycle lights. What’s more, Knog claims you can get up to 40 hours of battery life from the device depending on the lighting mode you use. And since it’s so easy to charge, you’re much less likely to find yourself in a situation where you don’t have a light when the sun is about to set.

If you’re willing to spend more, an even safer option is to buy a rearview radar like the $200 Garmin Varia RTL515. In addition to being a light, it pairs with your smartphone or bike computer, with models from both Garmin and Wahoo supported, to provide visual, audible and haptic alerts when cars are approaching you. It can detect a vehicle up to 150 meters away and will more urgently warn you if one is approaching quickly. It’s not a replacement for checking your blind spots, but it will take away much of the stress involved with road cycling.

Buy Knog Rear Plus Light at Amazon - $18Buy Garmin Varia RTL515 at Amazon - $200

Knog Oi Bike Bell

Knog Qi Bell
Igor Bonifacic / Engadget

After an LED light, you’ll want to make sure you have a bell installed on your bicycle. I know what you’re thinking: can’t you just warn people when you’re about to ride past them. The answer is yes, but they probably won’t hear you or react quickly, especially if they’re talking to someone at the time. You’ll be surprised how much more effective a bell is at communicating with pedestrians than your voice. I find one is also invaluable when you’re faced with a driver waiting to make a turn.

For an “aero” option that won’t look out of place on a carbon road bike, consider the Knog Oi Luxe. It’s easy to install and features a slick design that won’t clutter your cockpit. For something with more classic styling, look to the Spurcycle Original Bell. Both produce distinct sounds that cut through traffic and other noises.

Buy Knog Oi Bike Bell at Amazon starting at $17

Ornot Handlebar Bag Mini

Ornot Handlebar Bag Mini
Ornot

There’s a good chance you’ll want to carry your phone and other belongings with you when you set out on your cycling adventures, and that’s where a handlebar bag can come in handy. The amount of choice here is endless, with nearly every major cycling brand offering at least a few different models.

Another option is to support a local company in your area. On that front, there have never been more independent bagmakers than there at this moment. In the US alone, you have companies like Swift Industries, PS Bagworks and Roadrunner Bags making thoughtful and durable cycling bags of all shapes and sizes. Seriously, a quick Google search and you’re bound to find someone sewing cycling bags in your local area. And if all you want is a foolproof recommendation, consider the Handlebar Bag Mini from Ornot. It’s the perfect size for carrying a phone, sunglasses and a few snacks, and like all of the company’s products, the quality of materials and craftsmanship is second to none.

Buy Handlebar Bag Mini at Ornot - $44

Kryptonite Kryptolok

Kryptonite Kryptolok
Kryptonite

At some point, you’ll need to leave your bike in a place where you can’t keep a constant eye on it. Since 2020, I’ve used a Kryptonite Kryptolok to lock my bike up, and so far it has yet to be stolen (knock on wood). A lot of people swear by Kryptonite locks and I like the one I bought for its no-fuss key mechanism. It also comes with a holder you can mount to one of your bike’s bottle cage mounts.

Buy Kryptonite Kryptolok at Amazon - $64

Strava Subscription

Strava
Igor Bonifacic / Engadget

Even if you only consider yourself a casual cyclist, you should use an app like Strava to record your rides. Like with any activity, it can be easy to get discouraged with cycling, particularly if you finish a ride where you feel like things didn’t go your way. But here’s the thing, you’re getting better whether you realize it or not.

When I first started cycling in the summer of 2020, I was averaging a speed of about 15km per hour. I can now do about 23km per hour. I know that because I have a record of nearly every ride I’ve gone on since I bought my first bike at the start of the pandemic. And it’s all thanks to Strava.

The best part of the app is that you don’t need to pay for its annual $60 premium subscription to get access to some of its best features. Recording your rides is free, and the company recently made its Beacon feature, which can automatically notify your loved ones of your location, available to all smartphone users. In my view, it’s worthwhile upgrading to Strava’s premium tier if you think you’ll get value out of its route-building tool. It uses the company’s data to generate routes in your nearby vicinity, and I find it’s a good way to add some variety to your rides.

Subscribe to Strava - $60/year

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt V2

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt V2
Wahoo

In your phone, you already own one of the most useful cycling accessories you can buy. Not only can it point you in the right direction when you get lost but you can also use it with apps like Strava to track your rides. In those instances, it can be useful to have easy access to your phone when you’re on the saddle. That’s where a handlebar phone mount can be invaluable.

One of the most secure options I’ve tried is made by Quad Lock. The company’s system involves a case made specifically for your make of phone and a dual-stage locking mechanism that ensures both case and device stay firmly affixed to your bike. They also offer both stem and out front mounts, with the option to orient your phone horizontally – making it a great fit for Zwift.

Another option is to buy a dedicated bike computer such as the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt. The Bolt offers turn-by-turn navigation and an interface that’s purpose-built for cycling. That means the inclusion of tactile buttons that make it possible to interact with the device by feel alone, even when you’re wearing cycling gloves. Plus, a $300 bike computer is a lot more affordable to replace than a high-end smartphone if you end up in a crash. Just make sure you go for the V2 version. Wahoo recently updated the Bolt to add USB-C charging and a color screen.

Buy Element Bolt V2 at Amazon - $300

Garmin Rally Pedals

Garmin Rally Pedals
Garmin

If you already own some variation of everything else on this list, then you’re probably at the point where you’re considering a power meter so you have a more consistent way of measuring your fitness gains.

To be clear, the majority of people, even those for whom cycling is their primary form of exercise, don’t need a power meter. But if you’re absolutely set on buying one, Garmin makes one of the best options. The company’s Rally pedals offer several advantages over other models. They’re much easier to install than power meters that replace either your bottom bracket or crankarms. All you need is a pedal wrench. Additionally, with Garmin offering the Rally pedals in Shimano SPD, SPD-SL and Look Keo versions, there’s a good chance you won’t have to replace your existing clipless cleats to use them. Garmin also offers a conversion kit that allows you to use the spindle mechanism across multiple bikes. With a price tag that starts at $649, they are expensive, but also one of the most versatile options on the market.

Buy Rally pedals at Garmin starting at $649

Samsung merges Pay and Pass into a single Wallet app

Samsung is making it easier to store your credit card information and other digital data on your phone. On Wednesday, the company announced the merging of its Pay and Pass apps into a single Wallet platform. With the change, you won’t have to use two different apps to manage your digital identity. Instead, the company’s new Wallet app will let you store your debit and credit card information for mobile payments, in addition to your login credentials for websites and apps.

Samsung says you can also use the software to store digital car keys from brands like BMW, Genesis, Hyundai and Kia, as well as airline boarding passes, starting with Korea Air. And just in time for crypto winter, there’s support for monitoring your cryptocurrencies across a variety of exchanges.

Later this year, the app will allow you to store digital IDs, including student cards and driver’s licenses, from participating institutions and state governments. There’s also integration with Samsung’s SmartThings platform. Everything is stored securely on your device with protection from Samsung’s Knox platform.

Samsung Wallet is available to download starting today in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK. If you already have the Pay and Pass apps installed on your phone, you’ll be prompted to migrate to the new software the next time you open them. A fleshed out Wallet app has been a long-time coming for Samsung, particularly after the company added support for digital car keys last year.

Bored Ape Yacht Club Discord compromised in $357,000 NFT phishing attack

Less than two months after someone compromised the official Bored Ape Yacht Club Instagram account to steal $2.4 million worth of NFTs, BAYC creator Yuga Labs is again facing questions about its security measures. In the early hours of June 4th, a scammer carried out a phishing attack that netted them 200 Ethereum worth of NFTs, according to Web3 is Going Great. After obtaining the login credentials of a community manager, the hacker reportedly used the official Bored Apes Discord to promote a fake giveaway exclusive to holders of Bored Ape, Mutant Ape and Otherside NFTs.

“Do not mint through ANY other websites,” the announcement said after linking to the website the hacker used to steal the NFTs. “This is the only official site!” According to data from blockchain security firm PeckShield, one BAYC and two Mutant Apes tokens were stolen in the scam. At the current Ethereum exchange rate, the entire trove is worth more than $357,000.

"Our Discord servers were briefly exploited today," said Yuga Labs. "The team caught and addressed it quickly. About 200 ETH worth of NFTs appear to have been impacted." The company said it was still investigating the incident. The BAYC Discord, among a handful of other servers tied to high-profile NFT projects, was also hacked at the start of April when a bad actor compromised the CAPTCHA bot Yuga Labs used to deter spammers.

Update 8:46PM ET: Added comment from Yuga Labs and updated theft estimate. 

DuckDuckGo reportedly removes search results for major pirate websites (updated)

DuckDuckGo's crackdown on dodgy content now supposedly extends to digital bootleggers. TorrentFreak has claimed the search engine no longer lists results for some major pirate websites, including The Pirate Bay, 1337x and Fmovies — look for anything from their domains and you'll come up empty-handed, according to TF. Streaming and stream-ripping sites like Flixtor and 2conv also produce no results using these methods, while other pirate outlets (such as RarBG) may only turn up one result instead of the hundreds of thousands you see elsewhere.

The site for the video download tool YouTube-dl also produces no results despite recent defenses of its legality. While the RIAA has portrayed YouTube-dl as a piracy tool, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, GitHub and others found that it doesn't rip DRM-protected material.

We've asked DuckDuckGo for comment. As TorrentFreak says, though, liability for copyright violations might be an issue. The company removed pirate "bangs" (shortcuts for pirate sites) as far back as 2018, and competitors like Google and Microsoft are already downranking piracy-related results. A move like this could protect DuckDuckGo against costly copyright battles.

Update 4/18 8:15AM ET: DuckDuckGo tells Engadget that The Pirate Bay and Youtube-dl were never removed from search results if you looked for them by name or web address, and that there have been problems with the "site:" queries used for these and other searches. Others frequently change domains and may not always be easy to find. These pages should now turn up in results, DDG said. We've updated our story accordingly.

UK’s financial regulator orders shutdown of all Bitcoin ATMs

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned operators of cryptocurrency ATMs in the UK to shut down their machines or else face enforcement action. In its announcement, the financial watchdog said that it hasn't granted any of the crypto firms registered with it the permission to operate ATM services. That means all crypto ATMs in the UK are illegal. 

"Crypto ATMs offering cryptoasset exchange services in the UK must be registered with us and comply with UK Money Laundering Regulations," the regulator wrote. As The Telegraph reports, there are around 81 functional crypto ATMs in Britain based on data from the Coin ATM Radar tracker, located mostly inside supermarkets and convenience stores.

These ATMs allow users to deposit cash in exchange for cryptocurrency, which they can then transfer to their digital wallets. The regulator previously raised concerns that the machines could be used for money laundering, because they require minimal background checks, especially for small deposits. 

Gidiplus, a Bitcoin ATM operator, tried to overturn the FCA's refusal to grant it a license. The regulator argued that bad actors could take advantage of its machines' weak identity checks on people depositing less than £250. Money launderers and illegal businesses could potentially use multiple "mules" to do small transactions in order to avoid getting noticed by authorities. The UK's Upper Tribunal ruled against Gidiplus, which has since sold its ATMs to an Eastern European buyer. 

The regulator ended its announcement with a warning that cryptocurrency is high-risk and that people could lost their money if something goes wrong:

"We regularly warn consumers that cryptoassets are unregulated and high-risk which means people are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them."

Kia EV6 owners will get up to three years of (limited) free charging

You might not have to pay to charge the Kia EV6 if you take it on a road trip — but you might want to dial back your expectations. Kia and Electrify America have launched a deal that gives EV6 buyers 1,000kWh of free charging at any of EA's US stations for up to three years. That offers around 3,500 to 4,000 miles of driving, depending on your model and road conditions.

The promo might be helpful if you're in a hurry. If you happen to find one of Electrify America's 350kW chargers, you can reach an 80 percent charge as quickly as 18 minutes.

As you might have guessed from the numbers, though, the deal isn't quite as sweet as it sounds. If you're driving the longest-ranged EV6, the 310-mile "Wind" trim, you'll get around 11 to 13 full charges before you start paying. That's fine for cross-country jaunts, but it won't help much if you're hoping to save money during your commutes. You might want to spring for the Ioniq 5 (which promises unlimited 30-minute charges for two years) if you want a Hyundai group EV without paying for frequent top-ups.

Nonetheless, this might be a useful offer. It could soften the initial blow of EV ownership, particularly if you're unsure about the costs of driving long distances. To some degree, it's also a competitive necessity — Tesla's Supercharger network is still larger than Electrify America's equivalent, and this may persuade you to buy the Kia if you were otherwise hesitant.

Apple pulls verification requirement for US education shoppers

Earlier this week, Apple began requiring that students and teachers in the US verify their identity through authentication service UNiDAYS before they could take advantage of the company’s discounted education pricing. The move closed a long-standing loophole that had allowed almost anyone to save money on an Apple device as long as they weren’t caught in a random check.

However, mere days after implementing that requirement, Apple has just as quickly removed it. Per MacRumors, you can once again buy discounted Macs, iPads and other Apple products from the company’s US education website without the need to verify that you’re currently a student or a teacher. The outlet suggests the company may have made the change after some educators and school staff members complained they couldn’t verify their status through UNiDAYS properly, and therefore couldn’t obtain a discount on a product they wanted to buy.

It’s unclear if Apple plans to reimplement the requirement once it sorts out any potential issues with the system. For years, Apple has used UNiDAYS in many other countries, including the UK, to ensure only those who qualify for its education discounts can get them. We’ve reached out to the company for comment and more information.

‘We Met in Virtual Reality’ finds love in the metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg's vision of a sanitized, hypercapitalist metaverse will likely never be as compelling or idiosyncratic as VRChat, the virtual reality community that's been home to anime fans, Furries and a slew of other sub-cultures since 2014. That's my main takeaway from We Met in Virtual Reality, the first documentary filmed entirely in VRChat, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival today.

There's no chance Zuck's metaverse would let people wear trademarked avatars without paying a ton, attend exotic clubs to receive (or give) virtual lapdances, or allow users to build whatever the hell they want. VRChat, as portrayed by director Joe Hunting, is basically a proto-metaverse where anything is possible. And for many, it has served as a crucial social hub during the pandemic, a place where they can forget about the world, relax with friends and maybe find love.

But of course, that's been the nature of practically every online community. We're social animals — people have always been able to connect with each other over BBS, IRC, Usenet and the plethora of forums and chat services that populated the early internet. I spent most of the '90s hanging out in anime and gaming chat rooms, the sorts of places that today's connected youth would probably find quaint. Still, the people I met there helped me survive the worst parts of middle and high school. Those relationships, and the internet itself, shaped me into who I am (for better or worse).

We Met in Virtual Reality proves that the unbridled, experimental sense of online community is still alive and well today, despite relentless consolidation from Big Tech. But now, instead of staring at tiny CRT monitors, people are slapping on VR headsets to explore fully realized environments. Hardcore VRChat users are also investing in powerful computing rigs as well as upgrades like finger and whole-body tracking. In the '90s, I was grateful to get another 16MB of RAM so that I could have more than one browser window open. Today, VRChat devotees can communicate using American Sign Language, or have their anime avatars show off their belly dancing skills.

Hunting approaches his subjects with the eye of an anthropologist, without any judgment towards their sometimes ridiculous avatars (do all the anime ladies need to have jiggly, Dead or Alive-level boob physics?). We Met in Virtual Reality begins as a chill hangout flick — we follow a group of friends as they have virtual drinks and go on joyrides in crudely-built VR cars — but it quickly moves beyond the novelty of its setting. One person credits their VRChat girlfriend for helping them to "unmute" after being silent for two years. An exotic performer explains that being able to dance for people in VRChat helped her grieve with a family tragedy and manage a bout of alcoholism.

We Met in Virtual Reality
Joe Hunting

The film chronicles how that exotic dancer, a young woman based in the UK, formed a romantic relationship with another VRChat user in Miami. These sorts of cyber relationships aren’t anything new, but the VR platform allowed them to do much more than trade links and memes over IM. They could exist in a space together, go on dates to new environments every night. I won’t spoil where things end up for the couple, but I can say that it wouldn’t have been nearly as effective outside of VR.

We Met in Virtual Reality effectively conveys why people would gravitate towards VRChat, especially during a pandemic. But it doesn't fully capture the wonder of exploring these environments yourself. Seeing people hop on a virtual rollercoaster isn't nearly as thrilling as doing it, where your entire field of vision is covered and you can easily get vertigo. But I don't blame Hunting too much for that; his job was to boil down the VR experience so people can enjoy it on a 2D screen, and the film is mostly successful in that respect. The film was shot using a virtual camera that could mimic all of the functionality of a typical shooter, from focus points to aperture levels. So even though it's produced in an alien environment most people aren't familiar with, it still feels like a traditional documentary.

Hunting has spent the past few years making VR documentaries, starting with a few short films, as well as the series Virtually Speaking. It’s clear from We Met in Virtual Reality that he’s not just dropping into the community for a quick story. Instead, he sees the humanity behind the avatars and virtual connections. These people aren't just escaping from their lives  with VR — their lives are being made richer because of it.

Malaysia’s updated copyright law imprisons streaming pirates for up to 20 years

Illegal streaming could be particularly costly in Malaysia. TorrentFreakreports the country has passed amendments to its Copyright Act that punish those who enable pirate streaming. People who offer streaming services and devices that "prejudicially" hurt copyright owners can face fines equivalent to $2,377 or more, prison sentences up to 20 years, or both.

The updated law also discourages companies from either participating in streaming piracy or tolerating its presence. Unless managers can show they were unaware of a violation and took "all due diligence" to stop such acts, they'll be considered guilty of the relevant crime.

Copyright laws worldwide frequently cover digital piracy, but some of them were designed to tackle downloads and other, older forms of bootlegging. That was a problem for Malaysia, which couldn't use the Copyright Act against people selling piracy-oriented streaming devices until a High Court decision allowed those cases.

The potential punishments are strict, and the wording suggests it may be difficult for some companies to avoid entanglements with rogue employees. How much diligence is necessary, for example? Still, this shows how some countries may specifically address streaming through legislation, and might please the US and other copyright-driven nations worried their neighbors might tolerate illegal internet services.

Malaysia’s updated copyright law imprisons streaming pirates for up to 20 years

Illegal streaming could be particularly costly in Malaysia. TorrentFreakreports the country has passed amendments to its Copyright Act that punish those who enable pirate streaming. People who offer streaming services and devices that "prejudicially" hurt copyright owners can face fines equivalent to $2,377 or more, prison sentences up to 20 years, or both.

The updated law also discourages companies from either participating in streaming piracy or tolerating its presence. Unless managers can show they were unaware of a violation and took "all due diligence" to stop such acts, they'll be considered guilty of the relevant crime.

Copyright laws worldwide frequently cover digital piracy, but some of them were designed to tackle downloads and other, older forms of bootlegging. That was a problem for Malaysia, which couldn't use the Copyright Act against people selling piracy-oriented streaming devices until a High Court decision allowed those cases.

The potential punishments are strict, and the wording suggests it may be difficult for some companies to avoid entanglements with rogue employees. How much diligence is necessary, for example? Still, this shows how some countries may specifically address streaming through legislation, and might please the US and other copyright-driven nations worried their neighbors might tolerate illegal internet services.