O.k., so you’re about to go buy a beginner bicycle of some type. However, before you get on your new bike and ride there are some cycling accessories that you may need or want. In this post we will go over the basic beginner cycling gear and I will give you some suggestions to help you find the best cycling accessories at reasonable prices (bicycle gear can be expensive if you don’t seek out bargains like these).
Essential Cycling Accessories
Here are a few things you will need immediately:
Cycling Helmet: I know, I didn’t wear a bicycle helmet when I was a kid either — but with the possibility of going over 50 m.p.h. on a bike downhill, you really need one. I’m a cheapskate and went with the cheapest bike helmet at my local bike shop, and it has been fine. I bought one like this: Giro Transfer Bicycle Helmet. A slightly cheaper alternative is the Schwinn Thrasher Bike Helmet.
Bicycle Tire Pump: You’ve got to keep your tires pumped up to avoid pinching the inner tube and getting a flat. I (of course) went cheap to start with and bought a foot pump at a big box retailer. It quickly broke, so I ponied up the extra money for a better bicycle floor pump that can accommodate both types of bicycle tire valves (schrader [like a car tire valve] and presta [usually on road bikes]). Here’s a link to a good one Topeak Floor Pump.
Bicycle Chain Oil: All bicycle chains need lubrication, and most bike manufacturers don’t recommend using WD40 (supposed to evaporate too quickly). So, you’ll want some decent bicycle chain lubricant to keep everything running smoothly. Here’s the bicycle chain lube that I use: Finish Line Ceramic Wet Bike Chain Lube.
Water Bottle Cage and Water Bottle: It is important to stay hydrated any time you are riding a bike, whether you are riding bicycles with the kids or out on the road or a trail. So, you will want a good sized BPA-free water bottle (like this: CamelBak Insulated Bottle) and a water bottle cage (like this: Planet Bike Bottle Cage or a lightweight Carbon Fiber Bottle Cage) to hold the bottle on your bike.
Bike Lock: If you are going to be parking your bike anywhere but your own locked garage, you will want a bike lock to keep it safe. Most people recommend a U-shaped lock to secure the frame, along with a cable to secure your wheels. Here’s an example: Kryptonite U-Lock with Cable
Other Important Bicycle Accessories
Here are a few other items that you will need soon:
Bicycle Taillights: It didn’t take long after I started riding on roads that I realized I needed a bike tailight even on sunny days, because on tree-lined roads you can still blend into the shadows and motorists may not see you from very far off. So, you want a really bright bike taillight that makes you seen from afar even in the daytime. Here’s the bike taillight I recommend: Planet Bike Superflash Taillight. This light has an eye-catching flashing pattern, and can also be set for steady light at night.
Bicycle Headlights: With cars coming up from behind in your lane, a taillight is most important in daytime. However, many motorists don’t expect cyclists and may pull right into you unless you have a headlight to catch their attention. Here’s the bike headlight I have: Planet Bike Blaze 1 Watt Headlight. The flashing mode is great for daytime, and the steady mode is the best I have seen in a regular battery headlight — to get better you would probably need to spend much more money and possibly have to wire up a battery pack.
Bicycle Shorts: One question many beginner cyclists have is: “Must I wear skin-tight spandex or lycra bicycle shorts?” The answer is: “No, you don’t have to, but you will need to wear something padded unless you are on a cushy cruiser bike or comfort bike seat (and even then, padded shorts can help).” There are basically two alternatives to tight bicycle shorts that you should consider if you have a road bike or a mountain bike:
(1) Baggies — baggy shorts that have a built-in padded layer (sometimes removable) but look mostly like regular shorts. These are especially popular with mountain bikers and people who tour on bicycles. Examples are: Aero Tech Baggy Shorts. For a wider selection of baggies, check out these , men’s baggy cycling shorts and women’s baggy cycling shorts pages.
(2) Liners — padded cycling underwear that you can wear under regular clothes. This is a convenient option, as you can wear them under any gym shorts or sweat pants that you already have. Examples: Louis Garneau Liner Shorts (I have these, and like them) and Pearl Izumi Women’s Liner Shorts. These often run a size smaller than normal, so if you need plus sizes you might also consider these Big Men’s Cycling Shorts.
Please note that most cycling clothes run smaller than U.S. sizes usually do, so err on the side of ordering a larger size. Also note that if you wear liners under normal sweat pants that you probably should buy some straps to keep your pants legs from getting in the way, like these: Reflective Leg Bands
Also note that some states have laws setting forth when you must use bicycle lights and many require bicycle bells (I have the Mirrycle Incredibell), so you may need these immediately.
These beginner bicycle accessories apply to any type of bicycling that you are doing. If you’re out riding on the road a lot, be sure to see my beginner road cycling gear post with specific recommendations here: road cycling accessories for biking gear that you will need when you start to venture out a good distance from home. Until then, happy beginner cycling!
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