Like most hobbies, cycling can be as simple or as complex as you want to take it. There’s no limit to the amount of accessories you can find to enhance you experience. However, there are only a handful of core gear and equipment that every cyclist should consider having. Here is a list of some of the most fundamental and commonly used equipment related to bicycle riding.
Keeping yourself hydrated is necessary for optimal performance and to help cool you down when things get hot. Water bottles allow for quick and convenient hydration, regardless of where you go or what type of riding you’ll be doing. They come in an infinite variety of styles and colors, and are even available insulated to keep the contents at a consistent temperature.
Air Pump and CO2 Inflator
There’s no getting around it, a good bicycle pump is an accessory you just can’t do without. A high quality floor pump is necessary to easily and quickly inflate your tire after a change and for just keeping the proper air pressure in your tires. It’s also a good idea to consider carrying a small handheld CO2 pump in case you have a flat while you’re out. After putting a quick patch on you can have the tube inflated and be back on your ride in no time.
Floor Pump CO2 Pump
While you may have plenty of tools aound the house already, you’ll probably want to invest in some emergency back-up items for times when something goes wrong on the road. These include such things as a compact bicycle multitool, a spare tube, tire levers, a CO2 cartridges and the like. You can find pre-packaged kits that contain these items already.
Once you have a compact portable tool kit you’ll need a way to carry it with you on your ride. Saddle bags a good way to do this. Due to their smaller size and location on the bike, you’ll find you won’t even notice it there. Besides your emergency tools, you can also put things like your keys, wallet or cell phone there as well.
Bicycle specific clothing is completely optional; however, wearing cycling shorts will help to wick away sweat and make your ride more comfortable, even after long periods of time. These shorts contain padding, referred to as a chamois, that’s attached on the inside that helps cushion your ride and prevent irritation. The compression of the spandex helps to support the muscles as well. In case spandex is not your thing, you can get some mountain biking shorts, which look more like regular shorts but have a chamois inside and help to protect you against branches, thorns and other trail-related hazards if you’re going off-road.
Again, not required, but similar to cycling shorts they help keep you dry and the form-fitting design keeps aids against wind resistance. Most bike jerseys have pockets included on the back, giving you a convenient place to put your keys, phone, mp3 player or snacks. The vivid colors and and graphics normally found on these garments can greatly add to your visibility when on the road as well.
In many places you’ll be legally required to wear a helmet, but it’s a smart idea to wear one anyway, especially if you plan on riding near traffic or on off-road terrain. Many would argue that having a bike helmet is the most important piece of gear you can buy, since it could potentially prevent serious injury or death. They are available in a wide selection of colors and designs, so there’s a helmet out there to fit everyone’s personality.
Since bicycles don’t come equipped with windshields, wearing some form of eye protection can really add to the enjoyment and safety of your ride. Wearing a good pair of cycling glasses can help keep dry air, bugs, sunlight, dust and debris from getting into your eyes, potentially creating an unsafe scenario. Many cycling helmets can be equipped with visors as well.
If you plan on doing more casual-style riding this won’t really be an issue, but for mountain biking, and especially road cycling, shoes and pedal systems can play an important part in ride speed and efficiency. This is a topic that get confusing and cover a lot of detail, but the following video should give you a good introduction:
Gloves help keep your hands comfortable, protecting them from blisters and handlebar vibrations, as well as preventing injury in the event of a fall. They can be found in many varieties, including fingerless and insulated.
If you plan on cycling where there will likely be pedestrians or other cyclists, having a bell to alert others that you’re approaching is a good idea. Not only does this add to your own protection, but it’s safer for other cyclists and pedestrians as well.
Bicycle Computers are for those who are serious about training and tracking their fitness. They measure your riding distance and help to keep track of your overall progress. This is definitely in the “not required” category, and unless you’re genuinely trying to improve your performance, or just the techy type, you can probably get by without one.