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10 Cycling Essentials Every Cyclist Needs

Robbie Ferri

Bike Essentials

Bike essentials might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about cycling, but they should be. In order to completely enjoy the sport, you need other various pieces of biking equipment.

This could be a helmet for safety, a tool kit for repairs, or even a pair of padded shorts for comfort.

When you order your bike, companies typically don’t give a list of what you might need to get the most out of the experience. 

When I first started cycling, I didn’t know what bike essentials I needed to take with me, and I had to learn the hard way. It nearly put me off cycling altogether.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about cycling essentials to ensure you have the best time out on the roads and cycle paths.

See how many bike essentials you have on the list!

 

Helmet

Helmet is the most basic biking equipment

Helmets are the most important bike essentials. They protect your head and thankfully they are required in several countries.

Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a serious head injury. That could be the difference between getting back up or ending up in the hospital (or even worse).

Gone are the days of helmets being uncomfortable and looking awful.

Helmets are now lighter and smaller than ever, and with systems like MIPS, you get not just great protection for your head, but they practically feel like you’re just wearing a light hat. No longer do we need to ride around like we have a mushroom on our heads.

Another great feature of modern helmets is their ability to improve your performance.

The aerodynamics of a helmet has been proven to make you faster, and a time-trialist wouldn’t be seen without one. You also have helmets with lighting in and attachments for cameras for those epic descents and mountain bike trials.

 

Water Bottle and Cages

On most bike frames, you will find two bolts about four inches from each other. Typically you will find them on the down tube, but on modern bikes, they will be on the top tube and in other places. These are what you call water bottle mounts. You can attach cages to them which hold water bottles.

It’s always recommended if you go out cycling to take water with you.

Drinking while exercising is important as it helps transport blood around the body, can aid in digestion, regulates body temperature, and has many other benefits. 

They say cyclists should roughly drink 500ml of water per hour at an endurance pace. This figure does change depending on many factors, but as a rough estimate, it is a good figure to aim for. Staying hydrated can help with performance and help avoid dehydration. 

 

Lighting

Lighting is one of the main road bike essentials

Lighting has come a very long way in the past few years. With LED technology at its finest, good lights are much cheaper than ever and last much longer.

Studies have shown lights used not just at night but during the day makes a huge difference to your visibility and in places have reduced accidents up to 19%. Many competitions now ask for people to use lighting even when riding throughout the day. 

We are seeing lights that are much brighter, last twice as long, and have some very intelligent functions. Gone are the days of running a dynamo on your front wheel and having to pedal harder so you can see the road. 

Related: Best Bike Lights 

High-end lighting can now sense when cars are behind you, meaning they can change their flashing pattern and brightness while still conserving battery when nobody else is around.

There are even lights with cameras inside and even lights that turn themselves on and off if you forget to. 

 

Locks

Getting your bike stolen is an awful feeling. Something you have saved your hard-earned cash to buy being taken from you is very upsetting.

Modern-day locks are much better than locks we had years ago. They are more compact and offer a higher level of protection.

If you go out for a ride to a café or to meet your friends, you typically won’t take a lock, but we believe a lock should be on the cycling essentials list.

Most people think all bike locks are giant chains or heavy D locks. They now come in all shapes and sizes for every occasion.

Small mini locks for leaving your bike outside the cafe. Large locks with cables if you plan on leaving your bike on the street while at work.

If you plan to insure your bike, companies will ask for proof that you have purchased a certain standard of lock.

The technology on equipment for bikes has come a very long way to the point we are seeing electronic locks with an alarm that goes off when people try to break them.

There are also trackers on the market for bikes. So if they do get stolen, you can track them too.

 

Correct Clothing

When people start cycling, they typically grab gym gear or a pair of shorts they use for running or an exercise class. Although this is fine to use, there’s a limit to how long you can stay comfortable.

Many people get put off cycling because they feel uncomfortable and think it’s not for them when actually, what’s happening is they are just wearing the wrong clothing.

The best clothing you can invest in for cycling is padded shorts and a cycling jersey. They completely change the feeling you get when you’re riding.

They are made to reduce friction, so you don’t get chaffing, and also made to be very breathable to keep your body temperature down.

Other pieces of cycling kit we recommend are:

  • Cycling shoes
  • A rain jacket
  • Under helmet cap
  • Arm and leg warmers 
  • Gloves

 

Cycling clothing is changing. Gone are the days you need to be in super tight lycra.

Learn more: Guide to Cycling Clothing

Many brands now make lots of casual, relaxed-fit cycling clothing, which offers all the benefits of cycling clothing but also looks like typical sports gear or casual coffee shop attire.

You will also find the price much cheaper than it has ever been with many top companies making budget ranges.

Biking essentials such as clothing don’t have to cost a fortune, it just needs to do its job.

 

Tools and Spares Kit

Multitools are worth carrying just in case

Bikes break down and fixing these issues is just a part of cycling. There’s actually something very satisfying about fixing your own bike.

Many bike shops now even run beginner’s courses on how to do general maintenance and fix your bike on the go. What do you need in your tool kit though?

Here’s our bike essentials list for maintenance:

  • Mini pump
  • Spare inner tubes
  • Patch kit
  • Multi-tool (with Allen keys)
  • Tire levers 
  • Tubeless plugs (if you run tubeless tires)
  • Spoke key

 

This is all the biking gear you will need to fix issues such as punctures, make adjustments to your fit, and even true your wheels. These tools won’t just help you on the road they can be used for general bike maintenance at home too. 

When it comes to buying tools, we highly recommend investing in good brands.

Cheap multi-tools from unknown companies are much more prone to breaking, and this is the last thing you need when you are out on the road because it can be a very long walk home with a broken bike.

 

Saddlebag or Frame Bag

Frame bags are a good way to store biking equipment on rides

Now you know what you need to take as far as tools go, the next question is where you will keep everything. Many cyclists use bike bags.

These are bags that attach to your bike and help you store biking gear when you are riding, so you don’t have to carry everything in a rucksack or your pockets.

Learn more: Bike Bags Guide

There are so many different types of cycling bags, such as saddle bags, frame bags, top tube bags, and handlebar bags.

This means you will never struggle for a place to store your things. Biking bags are great for carrying a phone, rain jacket, emergency food, or even money if the ride lasts longer than expected.

Something we highly recommend when it comes to cycling bags is to get waterproof bags. It will protect your tools from getting rusty and keep any spare clothing like a rain jacket dry.

Spending a little more on bags for your bike goes a long way for better fitment, and they will typically last much longer. As a biking essential, it’s worth the investment.

 

Bike Pump

You can have the best inner tubes and tires on the market, but your tire air pressure will still go down over time.

A job you will always do as a cyclist is pumping up your tires, it might be once a week it could be once a month. Typically this can be done with a mini pump that you take out riding with you, but this is going to take some time as they are so small and are best used only in an emergency.

You can invest in a bike pump to add to your collection of biking gear. This is what most cyclists keep at home and makes pumping up your tires a much simpler job than using a mini pump.

A bike pump is much larger and much easier to use. What’s also great about a bike pump is that it typically will have a gauge so you can get the correct PSI (Pressure) in your tires. 

Modern bike pumps will even have what they call boost chambers. This is used in the installation of tubeless tires. It’s where you can pump pressure into a chamber and then release it all in one single shot, which pops tubeless tires onto the rim instead of needing a compressor.

A bike pump will save you a lot of time and energy and will be a wise investment for your bike essentials kit.

 

Cycling Computer

Cycling is an amazing sport, and like with any sport, it’s nice to track our progress to see if we are getting better. Having a cycling computer can do this for you. It tracks a huge amount of data you can use to see your improvements or see where you might be making errors and why you’re not improving.

Here’s generally what cycling computers will track for you:

  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Time
  • Elevation
  • Calories burnt 

 

If you attach extra sensors, you can also get:

  • Heart rate
  • Cadence
  • Power figures

 

You can also get navigation if you go for a high-end model such as a Garmin or Wahoo computer. This means you can plan routes, and the computer will tell you which way you need to go.

Imagine having a Sat Nav for your bicycle. Modern cycling computers now have this ability.

Having a cycling computer is a great way to see your own training and improve your fitness.

It’s a biking essentials product if you want to start training and plan or racing.

 

Bike Cleaning Kit

It’s very easy to get in from a bike ride and just put your bike in the garage and forget about it. Getting into the habit of cleaning your bike after each ride is a very good habit to get into.

When you leave a bike covered in mud and neglect cleaning, it can heavily reduce the life of your components. 

Dry chains with no oil create horrible rust, and mud and grit can cause havoc on suspension forks if left to set in and dry. A small cleaning kit can make cleaning your bike clean a very easy and fast task. We highly recommend getting these bike essentials.

  • Brushes
  • Bike wash
  • Degreaser
  • Bike protecting spray
  • Oil

 

The process of cleaning a bike is very easy. Start by soaking the bike down. Then degrease the chain, cassette, and derailleurs. Soak the bike again and wash using a bike wash. Let the bike dry, and when you’re done, spray it with bike protection and oil the chain.

This will add so many miles to the life of your components. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

It's really easy to overthink what you need when it comes to cycling. The last thing you want to do is go through a checklist of what you need before each ride. You can get away with the basic bike essentials such as a bike, helmet, and some basic tools, but if you want to make it easier and more enjoyable padded shorts and a cycling computer will really improve the experience.

Beginners don't need much when they start cycling. A helmet, some basic cycling clothing, and a tool kit are good starting points.

It would be worth it to look into smaller bike bags to keep the tool kit, this way, you won't forget to take it with you.

Road cycling is a lot of fun and typically you don't need to carry much. You are definitely going to want a helmet and lighting as you will be on roads with cars. Some visible clothing is advisable too.

A tool kit for road bikes, the correct inner tubes, and an Allen key set are must-have tools-wise. These are the road bike essentials to get you started as you get more experience you might end up taking less or more.