Thursday, October 22, 2015

Gear every cyclist needs

It's 2015 (still) and apparently, riding a bicycle is not as simple anymore as we used to do it when we were kids. You can't just hop on your bike and start riding (or can you?). Now you need a whole bunch of stuff you have to carry with you. According to this video, here is the list of gear every cyclist needs:
Sunglasses - I almost never wear them on bike. In fact, the first time I wore them some nasty bug (a bee?) hit me in the face at high speed and got stuck somehow between my face and the glasses frame. Then it panicked and stung me. The part of my face next to the right eye was terribly swollen for the next 3 days. I would've done better without any glasses at that time.
Because I wear my normal prescription glasses on daily basis, I find it inconvenient to carry 2 sets of eyewear on a bike ride. Hence, sunglasses get some use only in the summer, on longer day rides. Oh, and they are certainly not aerodynamic as the video suggests. I'm not in Tour de France anyway.
Water bottle - Good advice but I found out that an ordinary plastic bottle with a pull-out cap you can buy in most grocery stores works very well. It's also lighter and you can always trash it after the ride if you don't need it anymore. You don't need a cycling-specific bottle at all. Having said that, I do use them sometimes but I don't find them necessary. 

Floor pump - This is actually really useful. Makes inflating tires a trivial task. However, you don't have to check your tire pressure with a gauge "every time you ride". In fact, if all you do is ride to work or to run some errands, why would you bother to know whether you have 30 or 40psi in your tires? As long as they roll well and don't get punctures, you are likely fine.
Shoes with stiff soles - "Always wear them on bike"? - it's a myth, I say. Stiff soles are absolutely necessary with tiny clipless pedals for the simple reason that there is very little area available to transfer force from your legs onto the cranks. But once you switch to large platform pedals and leave SPDs at home, you will quickly find out that stiff sole shoes are not necessary at all. Years ago I used to go mountain biking wearing... Converse sneakers with very soft soles. Now I use Five Ten shoes with moderately stiff soles, still much softer than any SPD shoes have. Not to mention that if you do a fair amount of walking during your cycling escapades, stiff sole shoes are a pain. Literally.
Helmet - The one I use on my ride to work is awesome. It's called AirHelmet, is completely transparent, invisible, fully ventilated and weighs zero grams. Ok, but joking aside, I wouldn't go serious mountain biking without one. 

Full finger gloves - This applies to mountain bikers, not so much on a road bike. However, even on my daily commute in winter I use such gloves (duh!). But they are not cycling-specific at all. 

Padded shorts with chamois cream - On a 50-100mi ride? Sure, why not. But I really don't need them on a 10mi ride to work. 

Jersey - I stopped wearing these years ago. Maybe at some point I will go back. For now, I'm really happy with thin, wool, fitted t-shirts. I don't know if every cyclist needs a jersey, but probably every cyclist should at least try to avoid cotton. Regarding the back pockets for storage - that's what on-bike bags are for. 

Saddle - By all means yes. A good saddle is God-given. Unfortunately, most bikes sold in stores come with really shitty saddles so it will likely be the first thing you are going to replace on your new bike. I always go with either Brooks or Selle An-Atomica. 

Extra tube - For long(er) distance rides it's definitely a good idea. Add two tire levers, a tire boot and a mini pump as well. But if you ride to a supermarket five blocks away, don't bother. 

Cash - For a person who never carries any cash this is a good idea. Having some spare cash with you on a longer ride may be live-saving sometimes.

That's what I think about the video's list. For any long ride I would also add a phone. It can be a lifesaver in some situations.
In general though, there isn't much you should need to ride a bike. Unless you plan on riding 100mi in one day, just your bicycle should be all you would need.

What's on your list?

1 comment:

  1. Haha, recreational cyclists are so cute!

    First on my list would be a decent u-lock and/or chain lock. Recreational cyclists don’t really go anywhere, I guess.

    Number two would be the brightest lights you can afford. It’s illegal to ride without a headlight in the rain or after the sun goes down in California, and being able to see potholes through oncoming SUV traffic can save your rims and your wrists.

    Number three is a rear rack with a mousetrap. They are very hard to find these days, but wedging a 12 pack behind your seat without the need for bungies is the best.

    My favorite cycling shoes are wingtips or Red Wings chukkas. I like to dress for my destination, rather than my trip and the pointy toes on these shoes are easy to poke into my cages.

    Fancy pump, yes! I do it about once a week which probably works out to 50 or 60 miles.

    I also keep a flask in my bag, usually with a decent single malt or rye. Shhh.