from here to get yourself and your bike properly kitted out...
What you should probably get first:
When out riding wearing a helmet will protect you against massive head trauma, like cracking open your skull yet not from concussions unfortunately. A must have then.
Road saddles are small thin and hard- no sexual innuendos to be made here... That’s why a good pair of padded cycling shorts are near the top on the list. They provide a cushioned and more comfortable ride. I personally favour bib shorts over normal shorts which do not have the same support.
Cycling Shoes, Pedals and Cleats
Cycling shoes are different to normal shoes due to their stiff soles and the holes for the cleats to be attached. Cleats are fitted to the bottom of the shoes and look like these. They enable the rider to clip into the pedals meaning they are set in a certain position optimizing power output. One of the first things you may notice when riding ‘clipless’ is that you can pull up on the pedal stroke.
So you clip in but they’re called clipless pedals. What’s that all about then?
Well it simply means your pedals do not have the buckle clips you might see provided when you first yet your bike. Unlike flat pedals they require cycling shoes and cleats to be used properly.
The cycling jersey is a piece of clothing unique to cycling which features three large pockets in the lower back to store food your keys phone wallet pump etc. A key piece of clothing if you are planning on undertaking longer rides.
Front and Rear Lights
Riding in darkness or limited visibility requires you by law to have front and rear lights. These increase your safety on the road amongst other road users. It’s good to always have your lights with you in case you run into patches of fog, riding in the early hours of the morning, bad weather, or if your ride runs late into the night.
A saddle bag saves you shed loads of space from your jersey pockets. Used for storing your puncture repair equipment: 2 x inner tubes; 2 tyre levers; multi-tool; perhaps a co2 canister or two if you have some, and if you can get hold of them a pair of disposable rubber gloves. This is something not everyone does but I find it helps keep you from getting your hands covered in oil or dirt especially if you have to take the chain off to remove your rear wheel.
You’ll need these if you don’t fancy tearing the flesh from your bones getting your tyres off to repair a puncture. Unless you’re an experienced badass of course and have mastered the art of puncture repair.
Hand Held Pump
When I first started cycling I originally only carried a co2 canister with some puncture repair patches because I couldn’t quite afford a pump. I didn’t actually know how to use the co2 canisters properly. A pump is a lot easier to use and can be used time and time again unlike co2 canisters which are expensive and can only be used once. Make sure you purchase a pump which is compatible with Schrader valves.
You may be used to puncture repair patches. They’re awful! Carry a pair of spare inner tubes with you in your saddlebag and that should cover you. But in case you happen to get more than two punctures on one ride it’s good to have a few patches with you as a last resort. I recommend the Lifeline Essential Narrow Road Inner Tubes - 6 Pack available here from Wiggle.
All the stuff you’ll end up getting:
Bib tights make winter training bearable! Bib tights generally keep your legs and core warm depending on the material will generally keep you warm during moderately cold temperatures of roughly 5°. See my post about Bib Tights here.
This really shouldn’t be on the top of your priority list. Make sure you have everything that enables you to actually ride your bike comfortably and safely first. The advantages of using a basic cycle computer however is knowing easily the time, your current speed, average speed, distance, top speed and a bit of an iffy one- calorie consumption.
I only recently purchased a base layer. It is something you can live without if you’re on a budget for a while I managed to get by using an old top too small for me which adds another layer of warmth. The advantages of a base layer however are the tight fit provides better warmth and sweat absorption.
Why not get full sleeve jersey? I hear you ask! Flexibility is the reason. It may be one of those strange days where one minute you’re feeling pretty cool but then things heat up a bit you can pull down your sleeves.
Unfortunately it turns out I’m short sighted and so I wear normal glasses. However to those of you that don’t or have contact lenses cycling glasses keep the grit of the road, flies, other debri, the wind and sun glare out of your eyes. Many cycling glasses will come with three sets of interchangeable lenses: clear, yellow and shades.
Winter Gloves - Because being able to change gears and brake is always a good thing
When it gets cold I find it’s extremities like your fingers and toes that become extremely susceptible to the cold more so than the rest of the body. A good pair of winter gloves with a warm lining will protect you from wind chill and cold temperatures.
Glove liners add an extra layer of warmth to your hands and you can operate your touch screen phone with them! Just about.
‘Socks for your shoes’. That’s how I’ve had to describe overshoes to some of my non cycling friends. Overshoes add an extra layer of wind stopping protection to your feet. Additionally if you’re really into getting aero, overshoes are used to smooth over your cycling shoes which tend to have lots of buckles and straps.
Cycling Specific Nutrition - Energy gels and bars
Unlike time in the gym, cycling requires nutrition as you go, we can be on our bikes for hours at a time. 1 portion of food per hour for rides of 2 hours or more is generally the guideline to abide by. Make sure you don’t let yourself become hungry. If you start feeling hungry on the bike you haven’t been eating enough or regularly enough. Good substitutes for high costing sport specific nutrition gels and bars are fig rolls and oat bars available in any supermarket.
Bottle Cages and Water Bottles
Bottle cages mean you can carry two water bottles on road bikes. Essential to keeping a quick .
If you are planning on using your bike for commuting or any sort of travel which means you have to leave it in a public area, take a bike lock. D shaped locks are generally the strongest out there. Lock through the frame and both wheels if you can.
Saddle out of place? Brakes needs adjusting? Chain broken? Hoods bent? A multi-tool is a compact set of allen keys, screws and even a chain tool. A helpful piece of kit when out riding when somethings not right with the bike.
Correct tyre pressures cannot be attained by the use of a hand pump. A track pump enables you to see accurately what pressure your tyres are at and make it easy to reach the correct pressure. Most road clincher tyres will go up to 115 psi. If you can’t afford to get a track pump just yet ask at your local bike shop if you can use theirs. Or if you have a friend with one borrow theirs. Beg, borrow - don’t steal.
I started using a cycling cap because I wear glasses so a nice pair of Oakley sunglasses aren’t so much an option at the moment. A cycling cap can help keep some sun glare out of your eye. Additionally I recently discovered it does a fairly good job at keeping the rain and hail out of my eyes too and strangely enough the wind too when positioned correctly. Oh yeah and they keep your head warm.
A gilet is a sleeveless top which is either windproof/waterproof or both. To be used when the weather is unpredictable meaning you can stuff it into your jersey pocket just in case you need it during your ride. If it gets too hot then take it off.
When you’re a hardy cyclist and you’ll do your commute or get out on the bike whatever the weather for a ride you’ll be in need of a winter jacket. The only problem with winter jackets is how fast you can tend to heat up and sweat in them if it really isn’t properly freezing outside.
Mudguards are fantastic. In the harsh winter of 2012, still a noob, I rode my bike without a pair and I payed for it. Every ride I would get soaked. Sometimes when it wasn’t even raining. Mudguards stop the majority of the water and grime that gets sprayed up towards you when you ride.
The buff is a sleeve of fabric which can be used in a variety of ways. I personally use it to keep my face and ears warm.
Cycling specific socks. Just because they look pro.
I don’t use fingerless gloves anymore just down to personal preference. I can’t be bothered to take them off after particularly sweaty rides in the summer. But if you’re concerned about coming off and grazing up your hands then these should be a cheap investment.
Winter Beanie/ Skull cap
Keeps your head and ears warm. Not much more to be said… apart from the fact they make you look like an egg when you take your helmet off. But hey! What’s attractive in cycling?!
The list will probably go on and I will continue to add to it. Have any suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment.