Welcome to Bicycle Bob’s CycleEssentials, today we are going to go over the essential bicycle accessories that every cyclist must have when going for a ride. I have broken these cycling essentials into four categories; Helmets/Lids, Lights, Locks, and Essential tools that every rider should have.
Helmets / Lids – Functionality and Styles
Cycling helmets are designed to protect riders from head injuries. When looking for a helmet some factors come into play; like comfort, aerodynamics, and breath ability. All helmets sold by reputable retailers will meet the standards set by State and Federal authorities in the country of sale.
Mountain Bike Helmets:
There are two types of helmets for mountain bikers, they are full – face and half – shell.
- Full – Face: Protects the whole face they come with a chin and face guard.
- Half – Shell: Protects the head, above the ear and back of the head.
Road Bike Helmets:
There are many types of helmet for Road Cycling. The two types I will be going over are leisure /commuter and performance. Leisure helmets are ideal for people just getting into cycling or people who aren’t about spending a lot of money to save a few grams of weight. Usually they are just as comfortable as the more expensive helmets but slightly heavier.
Performance Helmets: Are among the lightest available, often seen worn by professional riders during races. You’d be spending extra money to have the ultra lightweight and added venting.
Commuter Helmets: They tend to be more trendy, heavier, and has less venting.
Commuter cyclist have different needs in a helmet than a road cyclist and a Mountain cyclist. A commuter helmet should be stylish, low profile, for easy storage off the bike you are ridding. It should offer plenty of ventilation, in addition to protection and not empty your wallet in terms of affordability. Additionally features integrated helps you safely and easily navigate through the busy city streets.
When choosing your helmet take into account ventilation during the summer months, you will be grateful for this. Less so in the chilly months, however to combat the chill your can throw on a cycling cap and or helmet/lid cover.
Lights – Rechargeable or Battery operated
When looking at lighting there are a few factors you will want decide before buying your first/next set. The first thing to decide is do I want battery operated or rechargable. To do this I made a list of the pros and cons of each.
Rechargeable Styles Lights
- Can be recharged either on the go with a portable charger or at home.
- Can use for or many hours before needing to recharge
- Usually made of higher quality
- You have to plan your night ahead
- The price is higher
Battery Operated Lights
- Cost is cheap
- When it dies you can just pop new batteries in it.
- Almost everywhere sells batteries
- The long term cost of replacement batteries.
- They usually are of cheaper quality.
- They are more likely to build corrosion.
Keep in mind when purchasing your lights that not all lights are created equal. You are going to want to consider what are your going to be using them for? If your are going off-road, through busy city streets, etc. The lumen levels vary greatly (lumen=brightness), most now are waterproof but not all. Some even have added features to improve safety in the city, like built in turn signals and stopping notifications. Some can even link to your GPS. If your want to add a bit of character to your ride your can even get lights that project designs either on the ground around your bike or on your rims. Really the sky is the limit all depending on your budget, so have fun while lighting the trails.
Locks – Three main types
A bike is only as good as the lock that keeps it safe. Make sure yours can STOP any would-be thief.
There are three main types of locking system, lets go over the pros and cons of each but first lets explain what the three main types are. You have your cable, chain, and your U-Locks also called D-Locks;
Cable Locks come in different styles. Many have armored coatings, some feature stylish designs with integral combination or key locks. Others require a separate pad locks. They are versatile and adaptable but offer less theft protection than U locks. Thieves can easily carry cable cutters in their pockets or bags that easily cut through even high end cables, like a sharp knife through a tomato.
These are ideal when paired with a U lock to secure easily removable parts(e.g., seat, rims, and racks). They are also suitable for low crime areas.
Chain Locks can vary from chain that your can buy at your local hardware store, to specially designed chain link made from cobalt steel with special liners that resit hack saws or chisels. When using this type of lock system remember to invest in a sturdy padlock. No matter how strong the chain, thieves can easily cut or break cheap locks
The downside of these is that they are heavy, bulky and only as strong as your padlock you put on them and can cause possible damage to your frame if not coated.
U-Locks (my preference) are very widely used and an excellent theft deterrent. The bulky locking mechanism is resistant to hammers and chisels, the U shape can limit leveraging if your buy the right size for your bike. When purchasing a U-Lock the goal is to size the lock in a manner that allows it to go around a pole, your frame and through your back rim with as little gap as possible. They work best when in pairs. One for the front and one for the back. They also can be used in combination with a cable to stop thieves from stealing easily removed bike parts.
Additionally there are some added features that you can look for in locks, for example some high end locks offer theft notification via messaging in an app, screaming when tampered with and unlock by phone features to name a few.
In my option the U locks are your strongest defense against bike thieves.
Tools – Travel / Portable
When you are out and about on a ride, your going to need to be prepared to do some maintenance/quick repairs. To ensure that you have what you need in your travel tool kit. I have created this Basic tools list that I believe every cyclist should have, to help you be prepared for those unexpected moments like
- Making adjustments to improve performance
- Small repairs if something on the bike breaks
- Making adjustments to improve comfortability
- To do regular maintenance to keep your bike happy
The specific tools you will need will vary depending on a few different factors. Like the difficulty of the road or trail at hand, distance from home/bike shop, and your own mechanical skill set. If your a novice then you can start with just the basic (essential bike repair tool kit). If you are more advanced in your mechanic skills and you are going out on some crazy trails, you might need more.
If you’ve been riding for a long time or are just starting out, you probably already know that the most common problem cyclist face is a flat tire. So to start your tool kit you will need;
Tire repair kit:
- Tire levers
Tire levers help you remove the tire from the rim of your wheel set, especially helpful in removing road tires because of the tight fit they typically have on the rim.
- Bike pump
Durning replacement/repair of a tube/tire while out on the road you’ll need to be able to re inflate the tire after reassembly. You can either buy small hand/frame pump or a co2 pump that can easily fit in either your backpack, bike bag or mount to your frame. Make sure your pumps max inflation is above the recommended tire pressure for your wheel set.
Next you will need to be able to handle the occasional break down. The best tool for this job if you are just commuting locally or on the trail is a basic multi-tool. This small tool can handle a large amount of repairs, making it invaluable. It is small enough to fit in your backpack or bike bag.
When looking for a multi-tool pay attention that it is made of good quality and has the following:
- allen wrenches, 2.5mm to 8mm
- adjustable, hex, or open wrenches(I recommend it at least have 8mm,10mm, and 15mm)
- phillips and flat head screwdrivers
- a chain tool
You will also want to carry
- electrical tape
- zip ties
- Bungee or some type of cord
- lightweight lube.
Where do I put all this
Once you have built your kit up you can carry it in many ways. You can put it all in your backpack, or a bag designed to mount on your bike frame. Some options include saddle packs, handlebar bags, rack trunks, frame bags, panniers and bottle bags. Any which way you decide to carry it, I recommend that you use a tool wrap (you can buy one or make your own) to keep everything organized and easy to get to in an emergency.
Thank you for Reading
I really hope that this helps you when you purchase your cycling essentials, so many of these items are overlooked when people buy their bike. Even though they are every bit as necessary as the bike itself. If you found this helpful or if you can think of anything that needs to be added to this list please add it to the comments below or contact us directly. I always enjoy hearing from my readers, until next time ride safe and I hope you enjoy your bike as much as I enjoy mine.
Founder Bicycle Bob’s CycleEssentials