How to customize your Bike: A beginner’s guide

Is it time for a bike makeover? Here is some inspiration! 

Whether you’ve been cycling for years, picking out a new ride, or just recently dug your old schwinn out of the basement, it can be a lot of fun sprucing it up and making it your own. There are so many different directions you can go in when customizing a bike that it can sometimes feel overwhelming with where to start. Here are some things to remember when you’re setting out on making your bike your own.

Have Fun

Making your bike feel personal should be fun. Finding a theme or inspiration can make a real impact. Try this: picture your bike as a person. Is your bike all business?  Is your bike a plucky teen on its way to a punk show? Maybe it’s an undersea explorer diving to the bottom of an oceanic trench! It might seem silly, but lateral thinking can serve as useful inspiration for approaching this kind of design project. Most bike shops have a great selection of gear to choose from in a panoply of different colors, so finding the right color seat, tires, and pedals can take things in the direction you want. 

When I was picking out accouterments for my bike I wanted it to feel like a wild and free bird of paradise. As you can see, the colors and elements don’t exactly match that theme but I think it captures that feeling whenever I’m wheeling down a hill. It brings another element of joy to my commute, and these elements together help add important visibility to my commute.

Customize your bicycle for your ride goals

It’s important to remember what you’re going to be using your bike for when you’re outfitting it. When you’re picking out new grip tape in that fun, new color, be sure to check out if it has the kind of grip that feels right to you. If you’re looking to mostly use gravel trails with your bike, then what kind of tires do you need. 

“There have been times when I’ve forgotten comfort for aesthetics, and while I was able to delight for an afternoon with the tiniest, bronze bike bell I could find, I found that no one could actually hear it when I was one the road. Ultimately I chose something that was loud, but not as fun as what I was originally looking for; so keep your mind open when choosing something for your ride,” said BikePGH Office and Membership administrator Marc Rattay.

If you are looking for something fun that can add visibility to yourself, a high vis hip sack from Nittany Mountain Works is a great way to tote things around on and off your bike.  And compromises can be made! Maybe all your bike needs is a fun safety pizza to get ready for the road.

Keep it simple

But what if your bike is already in good shape, but you still want a small touch to keep it personal. Even adding a few bumper stickers to your front tube. It might not be the most dazzling from a distance, but it’s an easy way to make a statement! Might I suggest one from our organization if you’d like to show your support.  If you’re looking to protect that bike you’ve just finished personalizing, you can add your bike to the National Bike Index.

A bike helmet with a painting of a banjo and the phrase “born to pick” on it.

Safety is Paramount

The most important thing you need for your bike is to be sure it’s safe and well maintained. Check out our video on How to do an A-B-C Quick Check bike maintenance from our archives to see if your bike is ready to ride! , and if you don’t know what to do you’re more than welcome to visit a local bike shop and ask them what they think. Click here to check out a list of our local bike shops. 

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