This may seem like a long list of stuff, but you only need to buy it once and you can acquire it over time. This isn’t everything that is great to have, but it is a good list of things to start.
Everyone needs a helmet, even Lance Armstrong. You don’t need the fanciest one, a $35 model will protect your head just fine. The differences between a $35 and $250 helmet are the fit, weight, comfort, aerodynamics, style, and ventilation. Up to about $60, helmets are one size fits all with an adjustable retention system so it fits properly. Some helmets are road or mountain oriented, but almost any helmet can be used for both.
The most neglected item with beginning cyclists. A jersey is fitted specifically for cycling with technical features that make riding more pleasant. High tech fabric draws perspiration and moisture away from the body so it can evaporate. Pockets in the back let you stash little things like a cell phone, warmers, wallet, a shell, etc. Jerseys are cut to fit close to the body and cover your rear end as you lean over on your bike. Jerseys are a great way to express your individual style. Bright yellow or white jerseys help you stay visible on the road and on the trail. Jerseys start around $40 (and the Infinite Cycles custom jerseys are $70).
- Leg and arm warmers
For spring and fall riding, warmers are a great way to combat unpredictable and changing weather. Warmers are simply add on long legs or long sleeves to keep you warm and block the wind. They roll up small so its easy to put in a jersey pocket. Warmers start around $20.
A shell is a thin, lightweight jacket that will block wind and water for those summer storms. They roll up really small and are handy when you need it. You can also buy a vest shell to just keep your upper torso warm. Cannondale makes a unique shell called the Morphis. The Morphis is convertible from a full shell to a vest easily. The upper back, sholders, and sleeves are connected with magnets and can be removed while riding your bike! That allows you to be prepared for almost anything with just one multifunction jacket. Shells range from around $70 up to and over $150.
Cycling shorts will make a huge difference in your comfort level while riding. Virtually all shorts include a chamois (pronounced shammy) or pad to increase comfort and endurance, eliminate saddle sores, and reduce chafing. Another benefit to using cycling shorts is the compression fabric. Keeping your leg muscles compressed reduces fatigue. Like jerseys, shorts draw away moisture to keep your skin dry. Bibshorts have suspenders built in to keep them up and cover a little more of your body.
Not all shorts are skin-tight. Baggy cycling shorts have a removable padded inner liner, but look like regular shorts on the outside. We have a new pair of shorts that look like basketball/fitness shorts with a liner in them for only $50. Baggy shorts are usually mountain bike oriented, but recreational riders can share in the benefits without looking like a racer. You can even buy the short liners separately to wear under your regular clothes. Cycling shorts cost somewhere between $40 and $140.
Gloves are another must-have item to protect your body if and when you crash. Gloves come with or without padding to increase comfort and keep your hands from going numb. Gloves will keep your hands from sweating as much, just like socks. A great pair of gloves is around $40, but you can spend less if you want.
Cycling specific socks are made of thinner tech materials to keep your foot dry as well as providing support. Most socks have arch support and a heel cup so your feet feel good longer and help your shoes fit better. Lots of styles and colors make socks one of those things to show your style and attitude in a more subtle way.
Keep your eyes protected and be able to see when you are flying 40 miles per hour down Traverse mountain or Yellowfork Canyon. Like everything else, there are many kinds, quality levels, and styles on glasses. Get a nice pair of polarized glasses around $50.
Clipless Pedals and Shoes
“What If” Stuff
You’re out riding and what can possibly go wrong?
You don’t need a whole lot of tools, but a basic multi-tool and tire levers are about all the tools you should need for most situations. You may need to raise, lower, tighten, or other wise adjust your saddle, seatpost, stem, handlebar, brake levers, derailleurs, etc. A multi tool is as little as $12 and tire levers at just a buck each.
Whether you want the ease and speed of CO2 cartridges or the simplicity of a hand pump, you need some way to add air to your tires. The only downside to CO2 inflators is if you run out of cartridges with multiple flat tires. Pumps start at $20 and CO2 inflators are between $12 and $25 that include one cartridge.
Patching a tube on the side of the road or trail isn’t that fun and takes up some time. We advise people to bring a spare tube to replace when you get a flat, then either patch or throw away the punctured one at home.
- Patch Kit
If you get more than one flat, you will have to fix it out there. Lightweight and compact glueless patches will get you home.
All this stuff needs to go somewhere. You can mount a bag under your saddle, carry a Camlebak, or put it all in your jersey pocket.
- Cash money and/or plastic money
Who knows what could happen, so plan ahead. You might just need a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger or a Frosty to make it home.
- Cell Phone
We don’t sell them, but you ought to carry one with you. If you get stranded with mechanical or physical problems, somone can come rescue you but only if you call them. To increase the freedom and escape of cycling, turn your phone off until you need it.
Remember to keep hydrated and refreshed as you ride. A water bottle or two can be easily put on your bike. If you need more water, carry a Camelbak. Energy bars or gel keep your body supplied with electrolytes, carbs, calories, and other scientific nutritional stuff to keep you going. There are many kinds to choose from, but keep one stashed somewhere so you don’t “bonk.”