If you walk into a bike shop with zero context or little to no experience in the cycling world, the sheer amount of stuff can be overwhelming. If you’re not careful, you can end up buying a lot of things you don’t necessarily need, and missing out on some of the things you really need. Here are some of the cycling essentials (and near essentials) that will get you started in the world of cycling.
The Cycling Essentials
Okay okay, this one is a little obvious, but it can be confusing to know what to look for in a road bike when you’re first starting out. Do you get the bare minimum and upgrade later? Or do you invest a little more now? Check out this great article on “How to Buy a Bike” for some guidelines.
Riding without a helmet is NEVER cool. So, if you own a bike, you should also own a helmet. It doesn’t matter if you’re riding on busy roads, technical trails, or bike paths. If you go down and hit your head, a helmet can prevent disastrous consequences. There are a ton of cool looking options out there, so make sure you get one that fits you properly.
You may have a pair on sunglasses you’ll wear on those bright, summer days, but wearing glasses while on your bike can do more than shield from the sun. Glasses help break the wind when you’re riding, preventing eye irritation. They also work wonders to keep bugs, rain, and other debris from smacking you in the eyeball (which is not a pleasant experience). Many cycling glasses will come with interchangeable lenses, so you can wear the same pair no matter what the weather.
A Bike Lock
If you’re ever going to leave your bike outside anywhere, then you’re going to want to lock it up. Bike locks may seem pricey, and it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, but ensuring it’s difficult (if not impossible) for someone to steal will save you money in the long run.
A Bike Cover
If you don’t have room to keep your bike inside, you will want to get some sort of bike cover to keep it protected from the weather. If you leave it open to the elements, over the course of just a few weeks you will begin to see visible damage. The colour will fade, chain will rust, and your bolts will corrode and seize up. So, invest in a cover that fits well over your bike, keeping it dry while also allowing moisture to escape.
A cycling jacket is an indispensable garment that will keep you comfortable and on your bike even when the weather goes bad. Most are lightweight and waterproof, so they will not only block the wind and cold, but rain as well. Most are small enough to roll up and stuff into a jersey pocket so you are always prepared in case of an emergency.
Pump, spares, a multi-tool
You won’t want to have to end your ride and take your bike into the shop every time you get a flat. You’ll need both the tools and the know-how to take care of some of the most common bike fixes. A good tire pump, multi tool and spare tubes (if you have clincher tires) will go a long way to keep you out on the road. For some basic maintenance and repair, check out “101 Best Bike Repair and Maintenance Tips.”
The Cycling Near-Essentials
Possibly the most critical item of technical-gear you can purchase for cycling is a good pair of cycling shorts. A solid pair with a good chamois will allow you to feel more comfortable, powerful, and in control while on the bike. It will also allow you to ride for longer periods of time without discomfort.
A cycling cap is for both function and style. It keeps the sun out of your eyes as well as sweat and rain, and winter caps can keep you warm on a chilly day. Also, if you use your bike for commuting around town and are worried about having hemet-hair, a cycling cap can be a great lightweight fix.
Clipless Pedals and Cycling Shoes
Clipless pedals with cycling shoes is the most efficient and comfortable system out there when it comes to road biking. The stiff sole of the cycling shoe provides a rigid platform to transfer power from your legs to the drivetrain and propel the bike forward. Even if you’re just starting out, cycling in your regular running shoes can begin to hurt your feet, so getting used to the clipless system from the start may be the best idea.
It can be fun and inspiring to track your progress over time, and the best way to do that is with a bike computer. It can track your ride metrics; from time and distance on the most simple computer, to location, power, and far more on the most powerful ones.