So you have your new bike, and are excited to take it out and start riding, but should you? Before you take your bike out, there are some bicycling accessories you should seriously consider purchasing that will provide safety, can come in handy during a ride, and can track your progress.
Bicycling Accessories for Safety
Perhaps the most important bicycling accessory is a helmet, and not just any helmet. You want a helmet that fits properly. A proper fit will mean better protection for your noggin if you crash. If your helmet is loose on your head, it will not provide optimal protection in the event of an accident. They are available in a range of sizes, colors, and many are extremely light, with plenty of vents to allow air flow to help keep your head cool while riding. From personal experience watching my father get hit by a car pulling out of a driveway, he could have suffered head injuries, for his head hit a wooden fence as he fell off his bike. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet that fateful evening.
Another bicycling accessory for safety are lights. As a cyclist, you want to be as visible as possible to motorists on the road. Ideally, you’d want to have both a front and rear light to go along with your reflectors. There are many options available for lights, with plenty of them being on the affordable end. Most lights run on battery power, but there are some available on the market do not need batteries, and instead can be charged via USB.
When on the road, you will encounter other cyclists, walkers and joggers. It’s always a good idea to make them aware you are going to pass them, and many times these days with walkers and joggers, they are often wearing ear buds. An optional accessory to let others aware of your prescence is a horn. Horns are inexpensive for the most part, and while it is not necessary to have one, a horn can come in handy to avoid startling those who are sharing the road with you when you suddenly blow by them.
Since cycling is a physical activity, it is important to stay hydrated. You want to drink, and drink often. Perhaps the most well-known solution most people think of is a water bottle. Not only is it the most common, but water bottles are also very inexpensive. With proper care, water bottles can last a long time.
Besides the standard water bottles, there are also water bottles that are insulated. These cost more than your standard water bottle, and the principle behind these bottles are they keep your drink cool.
The other option is a hydration pack. It’s a backpack, with a removable hydration bladder. I am a fan of these, because not only does the bladder usually come in various capacities, which are often more than water bottles; you can also store things like a cell phone, cash, bike tools, and other miscellaneous things you want to bring with your when you ride. Throw in some ice cubes in the bladder, and the drink will stay cool for a long time. I personally recommend a hydration pack, especially if you are trail/mountain riding, or are riding long distance on the road.
Uh Oh! Having Technical Issues
In my previous section on hydration, I mentioned bike tools. Many cyclists ride with as little gear as possible, however, I believe you should be as prepared as possible for mechanical situations that may arise. Flat tires in particular. There are some tools I recommend you have when you are out riding that may be able to help you do some quick fixes to get you back on your bike.
It is a good idea to purchase a saddle bag. You want to find one large enough to fit the tools I’m about to mention. There are some saddle bags out there that are very small, and as a result, have limited cargo space.
One of the more common mechanical issues you may encounter cycling are the dreaded flat tire. On a given road, there is a good chance you will encounter potholes, broken glass, nails, and other objects in the road. In order to be prepared for possible flat tires, carrying a spare tube is highly recommended.
I carry tire levers with me on my rides. There are different styles of tire levers available, but they serve the same purpose – to separate the tire from the wheel. While inexpensive for the most part, they are invaluable.
A mini-pump is also a logical accessory to have with you. There are standard mini-pumps, which are small, but sometimes not quite small enough to fit in a bag, or jersey pocket. Mine for example, is attached to the bike via a mount. Some mini-pumps work with using carbon dioxide cartridges. These pumps for the most part are very small, and should fit into a bag, or pocket.
An optional tool you can purchase and bring along with you is a mult-tool. There are plenty of these in the market. Basic ones may only have various hex wrenches, and are inexpensive. More expensive muli-tools have in addition to hex wrenches, things like a chain tool, Phillips head screwdriver, and wrench. While it is not absolutely necessary to carry a tool with you (some do have heft), a basic one may be good to have if you find you need to tighten something on the bike.
Micromanaging Your Activity
Are you someone who needs to keep track of everything in an effort to gauge improvement, or just because? Well, there cycling computers that can gauge your cycling activity. These come in a wide range of prices, for those with basic functions to more expensive computers.
The basic style computers will track metrics such as distance, ride time, calories, cadence, and min/max speeds. These can be purchased at inexpensive prices, and will usually last a long time. The more expensive computers have high resolution color screens, and features such as GPS and pre-loaded maps. Just to give an idea of pricing range for computers, you can purchase one for $25, or one for $600. For most people, I feel a basic computer would be a good choice, but it does come down ultimately to the features that matter to you.
Having a computer is not mandatory, but is VERY useful for tracking progress.
Time to Ride!
The accessories I have mentioned in this post are just a small sample of what is available on the market, but are ones I recommend looking into before hitting the road or trail. When cycling, there are two machines working in tandem – the bicycle, and you, its operator. Often it is easy to take our bodies, and our equipment for granted, but it is important not to do so. We need to take care of ourselves on and off the bike, and give a little love to the two wheel friend who can take us places we never thought of.
Have a blast on the road, or on the trail!