The right accessories are essential to your riding enjoyment. Having the right accessories can make all the difference in your riding enjoyment. If you read Ernest’s bike buying rule blog you’ll see the importance he places on the right accessories.
I break Accessories into three categories:
1.) “The Essentials”
2.) “You Are Going to Want Them”
3.) “Nice to Have”
These are the accessories that I think everyone who rides needs to have.
1.) Helmet – Need I say more? It’s a law for children under 16 years old in Maryland.
2.) Bell or Horn – In Maryland it is a law that you have a bell or horn on your bike. Many will say that your voice counts, but it doesn’t meet the requirement of the law. A bell is such an easy way to let people know you are approaching them.
3.) Hydration – You need to stay hydrated while you ride. A water bottle and cage is a small investment. Need to carry more water? A hydration pack can allow you to carry up to a hundred ounces of water and provide you with additional carrying capacity for stuff.
4.) Gloves – I don’t know what you do for a living but I imagine you use your hands on a daily basis. Gloves are a lot easier to replace then to clean your hands of debris from a fall and nurse them back to health. They also make holding the grips a lot more comfortable.
5.) Floor Pump – Proper tire inflation is one of the keys to avoid flat tires. A floor pump is the best way to inflate your tires. My favorite is the Bontrager Turbo Charger.
6.) ID – I like RoadID so if the worst occurs people will know who to contact. Another great solution is to take a luggage tag and include your important emergency contact information and medical information on it. Place this in your jersey pocket or in your saddle bag.
“You Are Going to Want Them”
While not essential, if you ride on a regular basis the accessories in this category are going to greatly increase your riding enjoyment.
1.) Fix a Flat Kit – Seat Bag, Inflation Device (pump or CO2), Patch Kit, Spare Tube, Tire Levers and a multi tool. In many ways I think this is an “Essential” accessory. Even if you don’t know how to fix a flat tire a fellow rider who passes by may be able to help you as long as you have the right stuff. It’s in the Cyclist Creed that you don’t ride past a fellow cyclist stop on the side of the road without asking if they are okay. Now a days with cell phones you are less likely to get stuck without a ride home, but your ride won’t have to end if you can fix your flat.
2.) Cycling Shorts – Shorts provide you riding comfort. If you ride on a regular basis and our distances of 10 miles or more a pair of cycling shorts in going to make all the difference in the world. There are two styles Traditional and Baggy.
3.) Shoes – Cycling shoes bring comfort to your feet by adding a constant platform for your feet. Riding longer distances, I think these move into “The Essentials” category. If your riding in cycling shoes I also think clipless pedals are a necessary accessory.
4.) Sunglasses – To protect your eyes from the sun, bugs and road debris. Glasses for cycling will offer you greater protection for your eyes and have features that keep them from fogging up and slipping off your face.
5.) Cycling Computer – It’s always fun to know how far you’ve gone. Did you ride your twenty mile loop faster today then last week? If you are riding in an organized ride your going to need a computer so you know where you should be turning.
7.) Chain Lubricant – Keeping your chain properly lube will keep your bike shifting smoother and increase the life of your chain.
8.) Car Rack – A car rack will make it easier for you to get you and your bike to all of the great places to ride. Make it easy to ride and you’ll ride more often. Check out my post about car racks.
9.) Lock – If you are going to leave you bike somewhere while you are riding a lock is going to give you peace of mind.
When I think about important areas on the bike I always look at the contact points of your body. Consider these when you think about your cycling accessories and when you plan to purchase them.
1.) Hands – Gloves and Grips
2.) Rear End – Shorts and Saddles
3.) Feet – Shoes, Socks and Gloves
“Nice to Have”
As you get more and more into your riding you’ll see many of things being added to your cycling items.
1.) Cycling Jersey – Jerseys can keep you cooler while riding by helping your body manage it’s moisture.
2.) Bicycle Cleaning Kit – Keeping your bike clean will increase the life span while protecting the finish. Items can be bought separately or in a kit. I recommend a bicycle cleaner like Pedro’s Green Fizz, a bicycle polish like Bike Lust, chain cleaner, some cleaning brushes and a gear cleaning brush are a good start.
3.) Cycling Socks – A good pair of cycling socks will give your feet support and help them manage the moisture. I love Swiftwick socks and they are the only ones I’ll wear now. My wife was shocked at all the benefits a true pair of cycling socks offered. Now she is hooked!
4.) GPS – If you’re a data junkie or just want to know where you are a GPS well serve you well.
5.) Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) – If you’re trying to improve your fitness a HRM is a great tool to help you do that. HRM’s start around fifty dollars and also can come integrated into a cycling computer.
6.) Lights – If you think you may be completing your ride around dusk lights are essential to keeping you safe.
7.) Bags – If you are riding for several hours or day touring a handlebar bar or rack trunk will come in handy for storing your camera, bringing along food and much more.
8.) Cleat Covers – If you ride with clipless pedals cleat covers will increase the life of your cleats while making them easier to walk in.
9.) Repair Stand – If you like to clean your bike and do basic maintenance a repair stand will make your life a lot easier.
10.) Indoor Trainer – Sometimes it is just too ugly to ride outside or your schedule doesn’t permit it.