Whether you are brand-new to cycling, or you have been riding for years, you likely know that cycling is a gear-intensive sport. Just the fact that you are riding a mechanical piece of equipment means that things can and do go wrong or need adjustment or need the right gear to work correctly.
We have put together a short guide of some of the most important cycling equipment that you can gather for your own use. No matter whether you are mountain biking, road biking, racing or just leisure riding, you’ll find some good information in these tips.
Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
We’re starting with the tires because they are one of the most important parts of the bike. Having the right tire pressure means you are less likely to get a flat tire and more likely to maintain traction when others are skidding off the trail in front of you. With a digital pressure gauge, you’ll know exactly what your tire pressure is before you start. If you want to adjust the next time out, you can raise or lower your psi (pounds per square inch) and see how it affects your riding experience.
Mini Bike Pump
Anyone who has ever been stuck with a flat tire on the backside of trail or by the side of the road miles from nowhere knows the importance of this one. Make sure you buy a high-powered mini pump – the flimsy versions will take forever to fill your tire and will wear your arms out. It’s worth it to spend a few extra dollars to get the real deal.
Going right along with the pump is a repair kit. The pump will do you no good without a way to repair the tire first. At a minimum, your kit should include a spare inner tube, levers to take the tire off the rim, patches to cover holes, a 15-mm wrench to remove wheels (if they are not quick-release) and a seat bag to store everything in. No matter how infrequently you ride your bike, you should put together one of these kits, especially if you are a bike commuter. You will eventually have a flat tire, and this kit will be your salvation.
Multi-Tool with Chain Breaker
Many riders know they should carry a multi-tool, but they often choose a lightweight model without a chain tool. A chain breaker, along with a quick link and a few extra pins, can make the difference between a glorious afternoon of riding and a long hike back to your house or car. The best multi-tools for biking will include hex wrenches that fit most bolts on today’s bikes, a specialized wrench, a flathead screwdriver and a Phillips head screwdriver. One tip: learn how to use the tool before you get on the trail and realize you’ve never used it before. A little practice now will save a lot of difficulties later.
It may go without saying, but we are going to say it anyway: a cycling helmet is the most important piece of equipment you can buy. According to the CDC, in 2010 in the United States, 800 bicyclists were killed and about 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required a trip to the emergency room. About half of these cyclists were under 20. If you don’t wear a helmet, chances are that you will sustain a head injury at some point. When you do wear a helmet, you are not only preventing injury, you are setting a great example for kids, making yourself more visible and protecting yourself from weather as well. When you go to buy a helmet, make sure you try it on for fit and comfort.
Helmet mirrors are another great safety feature, allowing you to keep an eye on what’s going on behind you without having to turn your entire head around, risking your own safety and that of others. One type of helmet mirror mounts on the hard shell with a screw clamp, while another type is attached with a glue patch. The mirror is positioned at the end of a stalk above and to the left or right of your eyes. With a simple 10 to 20 degree turn of your head, you can see the full scope of what is behind you.
This allows you to know when another rider or a car may be trying to pass you, which allows you to take appropriate action.
While riding gloves may seem at first glance like something you can do without, they can actually help connect you to the handlebars in such a way that you have incredible feel, control, confidence, and protection. Gloves help keep vibrations from bothering you as much, and they provide fantastic protection for your hands and palms in case of an accident that throws you off the bike. Cycling gloves can come with short fingers, long fingers and in cold weather versions.
Compression clothing helps improve athletic performance through better circulation, muscle containment, and reduced muscle vibration. When it comes to cycling, compression socks help your legs get the best supply of oxygen possible. A cyclist’s legs tend to feel heavy after a long day or riding, but the socks help provide faster recovery, more energy, and better regeneration, so your legs are ready to go again as soon as possible. The socks’ breathable fibers conduct moisture away from the skin, so you have dry feet. This gives you good contact with your shoes so you can provide direct power transmission to the pedal.
Cycling is a sport that can provide endless entertainment, fitness training and just the pure enjoyment of being outdoors. You never outgrow cycling, maybe because it’s so easy to remember the fun and excitement of riding a bike as a child. Along with the fun comes the need to have the necessary gear for the sport. We have provided a list of some of the most essential pieces that can enhance your riding experience, and we hope to see you out on the road, making the most of your riding opportunity!