Cycling Gear Essentials
With the weather continuing to look up and this being the first year of normality in a long while, there’s no better time to get the old bike out of the shed and go for a ride, either on the road or in the lovely countryside. No matter where you ride, you’ll want to make sure you are properly equipped and prepared to avoid any issues and ensure that any incidents are minimal.
Therefore, we have prepared the ultimate beginner’s guide to cycling equipment and gear; detailing the clothes you’ll need and the tools you’ll want to carry. Cycling is a fun and engaging way to stay fit and get outside so we want to make sure you can get the most out of it.
- Baselayer: Your baselayer is essential to staying comfortable for long rides. It should be close fitting, wick sweat away from your skin and continue to insulate even when damp. The baselayer is designed to provide comfort as well as a warm layer for the best possible performance. When considering a material for baselayers, merino wool is often considered the better material for synthetics as it is a warmer material and anti-bacterial. However, if you want a cheap and cheerful option for a bit of cycling in the summer, synthetics are probably a better choice as they are generally far cheaper and wick away sweat better. It all depends on how often you ride and when and neither material is inherently wrong.
- Gloves: While gloves are mostly used to keep your hands warm and protect them from the elements, they do provide an added bonus while riding. Most gloves allow you to grip your handlebars easier and many cycling-specific gloves come with extra padding that allows you to take added pressure and avoid cramp and numbness in your hands over long periods of riding.
- Waterproof jacket/Softshell jacket: Look for an athletic fit, close seals around the collar and cuffs, a drawstring hem with a longer tail and some easy to access pockets. For cold and dry days, a softshell jacket will offer better breathability, more insulation and should also have a degree of water resistance in case of rain showers. Softshell jackets are particularly good for consistent riding, such as road cycling.
- Bib tights : Bib tights are perfect for longer rides, cushioning your most sensitive areas and absorbing shock for long-ride comfort. The straps are designed to not be too tight, sitting smoothly against the body and keeping everything in place. Reflective details finish off the tight well, maximising visibility in low light riding conditions.
- Socks: Avoid going with overly thick socks as these will actually make your feet colder by reducing circulation to your feet. Merino wool is a perfect middle ground, not too bulky and you can get waterproof and breathable socks that are lined with it and these are particularly effective in the winter months.
- Overshoes: Neoprene overshoes fit over your regular cycling shoes providing protection against the elements as well as protection from bits of gravel and dirt.
Alterations for sunny conditions
- Sunglasses: Keep the sun out of your eyes as well as any grit or dirt. When moving at decent speeds, you can’t afford to be blinded or get something in your eyes and at cycling speeds, a bit of debris can do some damage so keep your eyes protected. This is particularly important when riding off-road.
- Sunscreen: If you are riding for a while, you can quickly get sunburnt so prepare with sunscreen. If it’s a particularly long ride or a day break, take some with you so you can reapply as needed and use water resistant where possible.
- Short sleeved jersey: When riding in hotter weather, a short sleeved jersey is a life saver. Make sure it has got decent rear pockets as well as an easy to use, full length zip to allow for easy use while riding.
- Bib shorts: Far more comfortable and cycling friendly than standard shorts, a decent pair of bib shorts is a must for warm weather if you are planning on a decent ride. Always pays to pay a bit more here for a better brand as you’ll be able to tell the difference after a few miles.
- Sunglasses: Use clear or light enhancing lenses, the goal here is to protect your eyes and keep vision clear. The latter are particularly useful in this regard. On dull and overcast days, they are great for increasing object definition.
- Baselayer: Even more important on colder days. Make sure you wear it and this is where you’ll probably want to spring for the wool versions.
- Arm warmers: Arm warmers are invaluable to cyclists in cold conditions. They are easy to slip off and store as the conditions improve or you just don’t feel a need for them anymore.
- Gloves: To be more specific, full fingered gloves are key here. A fairly lightweight windproof pair will cover you in most conditions and make sure your hands don’t get too cold.
- 3/4 length bib shorts/bib tights: An old adage among cyclists is that your knees should stay covered unless it’s warmer than 15 C. While this may not be completely true, you’ll want to have your knees covered during the winter and autumn months.
In terms of gear, you’ll want to have things for yourself and things for the bike. This means you’ll want some key items so if you end up in trouble, you can correct it.
Core Bike Repair Items
- Spare tube
- Air Pump
- Tire levers
- Cycling multi-tool with Allen wrenches
- Water : Keep hydrated. You can take a sports drink if you want as well to restore your electrolytes during exercise or a particular hard ride but ensure you are still drinking enough water.
- Snacks/energy food : You’ll want something easy to eat, easy to store and with a lot of protein or carbs to help repair and restore your muscles or give you a needed energy boost. Usually, you’ll want a snack selection that has both but is still easy to store. May we recommend Luchos?
- Sunscreen : As mentioned earlier, you’ll want more sunscreen as it can easily fade over a long ride.
- Plasters or a first aid kit : A crash can lead to a cut or worse so make sure you have a first aid kit or plasters to allow for this. Obviously, if you are seriously hurt, stop riding and call for help but for a minor scratch, a plaster should do the job.
This guide is designed to give a detailed list of all the gear and equipment you should try to bring when you head out. Obviously, clothing can be subjective and you’ll want to use whatever makes you most comfortable but these are our own personal suggestions for maximum comfort for long rides across most terrains and riding conditions. We hope you take advantage of the recent good weather to get out there and get on your bike and remember to take a Luchos with you wherever you go. If you are looking for ideas on the best routes to try out, why not check out our guide to the best cycle routes in the UK?