This is a Guest Post from Andrew at Probike
It’s hard to narrow down all the essentials you’ll need as you start your journey as a cyclist, but we believe we’ve given it a good go. There are thousands of accessories you can take on board as soon as you decide you want to be a cyclist, but deciding which to leave behind is almost as important as deciding which to take with you, as added weight leads to a slower ride.
These 5 Essential Cycling Accessories have made the cut based on their usefulness in almost all cycling situations.
Whether you’re a city cyclist who uses a bike purely for the daily commute, or you find yourself biking up in the mountains at the weekend, each of these accessories will serve you well on your journey.
No. 1 Cycling Accessory – A Bike Helmet
Helmets definitely deserve the top spot. No cycling accessory is more important than a bike helmet, a point that is echoed time and again by people who have crashed their bike, only to have their head saved from meeting the road by their correctly fitted cycling helmet.
Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist writes about her own bike accident here. She is sure her bike helmet saved her from serious injury.
Choosing not to wear a helmet is simply unwise. Not wearing a helmet based on the way it makes you look (or the way it shapes your hair into the ever-unpopular helmet-hair style) is ignorant. We can’t stress enough how important it is to wear a bike helmet. It may save your life one day, so your bike helmet will be worth every cent you spend on it.
Average Joe Cyclist interrupts this guest post with an important safety announcement!
The above is one point of view. There are also other points of view on bike helmets. Helmets are necessary simply because most of the world does not have safe cycling infrastructure. If we did not have sidewalks, pedestrians would also need to wear helmets (and body armor). Cycling is not dangerous – cars are dangerous. In The Netherlands, where almost all cycling is car-free (separated bike lanes), less than 1% of cyclists wear helmets (and yes, that includes kids) – yet they have the lowest rate of cyclist head injuries in the world. Read more here about why we need separated bike lanes. And bear in mind that while a helmet might help, it will most likely NOT save your life if you are hit by a car. So don’t let a helmet give you a false sense of security (research shows that motorists are less careful around helmeted cyclists, and that helmeted cyclists take more risks). For that and other reasons, many cyclists strongly oppose bike helmets, and especially mandatory bike helmet laws, which make people less likely to ride, and therefore less likely to be fit and healthy. Overall, the negative health impacts of bike helmet laws have been shown to outweigh their benefits.
No. 2 Cycling Accessory – Weather-Appropriate Clothing – Cycling Jackets, Cycling Tights, etc.
Cycling clothing varies depending on the weather and where you’re doing your cycling. A large waterproof poncho, for example, is perfect for mountain biking. However, on the slippery city roads, it may be a distraction that drivers around you struggle to see through.
An absolute essential is a really good, completely waterproof cycling jacket. Gore Bike Wear is famous for making some excellent jackets using their Gore Tex product. Showers Pass also makes some very trusted jackets for cyclists, generally a bit cheaper than Gore. (Note: Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist, also known as Maggie, loves her Showers Pass jacket, which she reviewed here.)
You will want to vary what you wear depending on how much rain (or sun) there is. In general, you’ll want to wear less clothing than you think you need, as cycling, even for a short amount of time, will warm your body up substantially. If you’re wearing too much, you’ll arrive at your destination sweating heavily. The best advice is to wear layers that you can strip off as you warm up.
A great pair of waterproof or water resistant pants is another essential. There are two ways to go here:
- completely waterproof outer pants, usually worn over your regular cycling tights; OR
- water resistant cycling tights, that are worn on their own. Such as the [easyazon_link identifier=”B008BZRPOU” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”avejoecyc0e-20″ cart=”n”]Pearl Izumi Men’s Ride Select Thermal Tights[/easyazon_link] shown above.
Obviously water resistant cycling tights are for lighter rain days, while the waterproof outer shells are for heavy rain. The disadvantage of the rubber outer shells is they are not very comfortable, and they restrict movement a bit.
Note: Average Joe Cyclist reviews a great pair of men’s water resistant cycling pants here. Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist reviews water resistant cycling pants that look good here.
Also, you won’t get far in your cycling without a great pair of gloves. See the Average Joe Cyclist review of Gore-Tex Cycling Gloves here.
These [easyazon_link identifier=”B006URAMVO” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”avejoecyc0e-20″ cart=”n”]Gore-Tex cycling gloves[/easyazon_link] are the warmest and most water resistant that I have found so far. Bear in mind that they fit on the small side, if you order a pair.
No. 3 Cycling Accessory – Cycling Shoes
It’s recommended you wait a while into your love affair with cycling before purchasing clipless cycling shoes (as shown in the picture). Though they’re a great accessory to have (and some people swear you’ll never want to go back to cycling in normal trainers), they’re not essential when you’re just starting out.
Clipless cycling shoes are said to improve your cycling efficiency by 35%. They may be a little awkward to begin with, as they’re specifically designed to stop your feet falling off the pedals by clipping your toes into them, but once you get used to them you may wonder how you ever did without them. An added benefit of cycling shoes is they’re perfect for long distance and competitive rides.
If you don’t like the feel of having your feet strapped down, a very good alternative are the rugged urban cycling shoes now made by companies such as Five Ten. They feature very grippy soles, so you get as much pedaling efficiency as possible (without actually going to clipless). The advantage of these is you can wear them for walking as well, once you get off the bike. (Average Joe Cyclist reviews these Five Ten Cycling Shoes here.)
No. 4 Cycling Accessory – A Bike Lock
A bike lock is essential if you need to leave your bike alone even for a few minutes (to enter a shop or grab a coffee) and you don’t want to see your bike getting stolen. Get a trusted name such as Kryptonite. A bike lock is NOT the area where you should save money.
One of the best things you can invest in for cycling peace of mind is a great [easyazon_link identifier=”B005YPK8G2″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”avejoecyc0e-20″ cart=”n”]Kryptonite bike lock[/easyazon_link]. Get a big one so you don’t waste ages battling to get it hooked around the bike lock.
No. 5 Cycling Accessory – A Puncture Repair Kit and Pump
Whether you’re mountain biking up a nearby peak, or curving in and out of side streets, there is no worse feeling for a cyclist than that moment of dread when you realize you have a puncture in one of your tires.
Your puncture repair kit should include tire levers, other wise it will be useless – you can’t fix the flat if you can’t get the tire off! We recommend you have a patch kit with you, so you are able to patch over any type of punctures. OR, carry an extra tube, which can save you a lot of trouble. The $5 for the tube is well worth avoiding the hassle of sticking on a patch!
You will also need a bike pump so you can inflate the tire back up after fitting the patch. Get a mini pump that you can attach to the frame of your bike, so that you always have the pump with you. This is not just for punctures – it will also help you out when your tires are too soft. Softer tires make you much slower and less efficient on your bike. Try to get a pump with an ANY VALVE. This is a valve that will work on both kinds of valve (Schraeder and Presta). For example, the highly-recommended Blackburn pump. You don’t even have to adjust it – it just automatically becomes the right valve, like magic!
Usually a mini pump will not have a gauge on it, so keep a full-sized pump at home, with a gauge. Use it to check that your tire pressure is optimal at least once a week. A finger pressure test is NOT enough. Also, the full-sized pumps are much easier to use.
Always check what the pressure should be by referring to the tiny type on the tire itself, and compare this to the pump gauge reading. You would be amazed at how many cyclists are out there with tires that are too soft! Also, once you have managed to see that tiny type on the tire, it’s well worthwhile to make a note of that optimal pressure on your smart phone, for future reference. As your tires get older and dirtier, that type gets harder and harder to read, and it can be frustrating to be down on your hands and knees with a flashlight, trying to see what your optimal tire pressure should be!
Note: If you are not up to changing tires on the side of the road, substitute the puncture repair kit with a transit ticket in your back pocket, or a credit card for a cab! Who says being a cyclist means you have to suffer?
Get yourself set up with these 5 essential cycling accessories, and you will be all ready to succeed as a cyclist!
About the Author
Established in the early 90s, ProBikeKit is a leading online cycling specialist, offering a large range of components ranging from bicycle tires to handlebars.
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