5 bike accessories you should bring to Burning Man

bike locked to a pole, 5 bike accessories

You’ll be relying on your bike something fierce at Burning Man.

These five tips and recommended accessories will make your playa bike experience smoother. These playa tips are presented in order of importance, as I would rank them. These accessories are in addition to the many lights and decorations you need.

1. Use a WORD or combination lock (not a key lock)

Using a bike lock is less about preventing outright theft and more about preventing accidental confusion of your bike with another person’s bike. Combination locks are best for locking your bike at Burning Man. Personally, I would never use a key lock on the playa because little things can get lost easily. The likelihood you’ll find or recover a lost key is remote. Very, very remote.

Bikes, like bins and gear, start to look remarkably alike after a short while in the dust, so without a lock, someone could easily mistake your bike for theirs, and ride off with it. Intentional theft does happen, though it’s rare. I’ve lost a bike at the playa. A brand new one. I’ve also found (and taken) obviously abandoned and unlocked bikes at Burning Man.

When it comes to your bike lock, you don’t need anything fancy or ultra-secure. A simple word lock and cable work great. And do always lock your bike!

2. Make a durable label for your bike

Create a durable bike tag and adhere it securely to your bike in an easy-to-see location. Include on your bike tag —

  • your playa name and/or your name,
  • your camp name and,
  • your camp location, e.g. 7:40 & A.

This one small task may be the thing that helps a lost bike get returned to you.

The year I lost my bike, I had the wrong camp address on my bike tag. The address was off by about a quarter of an hour. Maybe someone tried to return it. Maybe they didn’t. I’ll never know. The bike I lost looked a lot like the famed “yellow bikes” of Burning Man; it wasn’t locked to our camp’s bike racks, and our camp’s racks were (unwisely) placed at the front of our camp and in a very public area. It walked off one day and I never saw it again. (I also made a decision that never again would I place our camp’s bike parking on the street. After that, we moved our bike parking area to a spot internal to our camp’s defined boundaries.)

3. A bike basket can sure come in handy

A bike basket is great for carrying some of your items when you’re out and about. Bear in mind the playa can be bumpy and cause items to “jump” out of your basket, At Burning Man, I think a deep bike basket with smaller holes is better than a shallow bike basket with larger holes. Collapsible fabric bike baskets provide a great option here.

4. Some small bags to clip onto your bike basket

In order to have easy access to items that can get buried in a backpack, you may want to bring small purses and bags and clip them onto your bike basket for easy access to small items. I’m kind of nerdy (excessive) in the bring-extra-bags-to-Burning-Man department. Thrift stores are great for finding these small bags. There are so many options! Before you buy or bring these little bags, consider how you’ll attach them to your bike basket. Swivel hooks and D rings, or carabiners, work well, I’ve found.

5. A bike seat cushion to soften the bumpy ride

The playa can be bumpy. Super bumpy in some areas. Gel cushion seat padding can be nice for extra comfort when riding your bike at Burning Man. I haven’t had the best of luck (yet) with seat cushions (they didn’t secure well to my bike seat), but I’m still enamored with the idea.

Bike lock photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

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