You’ve just bought a used bike or are about to. You’re doing great! You’ll soon be on the open road, having endless amounts of fun. Before you go, you will need a few pieces of essential equipment.
No matter your level of experience, quality riding gear is essential to road cycling. Road cycling apparel should make your ride more enjoyable by keeping you comfortable and cool for long periods in the saddle. You can go further and faster with certain gear.
This list will help you to build your gear collection. It also explains the basics. This will make you look great and allow you to have more fun. This is the essential gear that every road cyclist should have in their kit bag.
You can learn more about road cycling by checking out our Road Bicycle Buyer’s Guide.
Protect your head, it goes without saying. The use of a helmet reduces the chance of sustaining a head injury by 50% and that of sustaining neck, head, or face injuries by 33% [www.helmets.org]. Good helmets should be your first purchase. Although we would all like to avoid falling off our Cycle World, it’s impossible to control what happens on the roads. A helmet can save your life and your head if the worst happens. Helmets today are lighter, more comfortable, safer, and sleeker than ever. There is no reason to not wear one.
Which type of helmet do you need?
Road cycling helmets tend to be lightweight and sleek. For casual riding, helmets with visors may be more appropriate for mountain biking and commuter helmets. While there is an aesthetic element to wearing a helmet on a road bike, visorless helmets are more popular for two reasons. A visor can affect aerodynamic efficiency and stability, especially if you are riding at high speeds. Visors can also block your vision when you are riding in a lower position on most road bikes.
You can still use a helmet that has a visor when you are road cycling. Yes. There are no style rules, despite what you may read on the Internet. You can rock the visor if aerodynamics don’t concern you if you are upright, or just love the look of it!
Standard road cycling helmets are light and ventilated to keep your head cool. These standard road helmets can be found easily and are suitable for all types of riding, including road racing, long-distance touring and gravel, as well as cross-country mountain biking.
Aero helmets have become very popular in the past decade. Aerodynamic experts agree the head of the rider is the main source of aerodynamic drag. Aero helmets are designed with smooth, streamlined shapes and are tested in wind tunnels to aid riders in cutting through the wind. This is important for racers and competitive riders who want to make marginal gains in order to improve their performance. Aerodynamic efficiency is more important than weight and ventilation in most aero helmets. While this might make it uncomfortable for hot days, some riders can live with the sacrifice of comfort in exchange for greater speed.
What is MIPS?
MIPS technology is used in newer helmets. Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is a low friction “slip-plane” layer that’s added to helmets. The helmet can rotate between 10-15mm and 15mm on your head in a crash, reducing the impact of rotation. This reduces the harmful forces that are transmitted to your brain.
MIPS is a personal decision. MIPS has been proven to be effective in reducing injury rates. I have suffered from concussions for many years and use MIPS helmets as a precaution. Some riders believe that MIPS layers reduce the helmet’s fit or are too heavy.
Many helmet brands use MIPS, but there are other options, such as Bontrager WaveCel and POC’s SPIN technology. All these technologies aim to reduce the impact of rotation to protect your brain.
Everybody, from professional racers to weekend riders, will be wearing what’s called a “kit” while they ride. A kit is made up of two pieces: a jersey and bib-shorts. Although not all cycling kits are made from lycra material the majority of riders refer to them as “lycra” because they are lightweight, breathable, and built for heavy pedaling. These kits are made from synthetic materials, which dry quickly and can be stretched to move along with you on your bike.
Some people might find it intimidating to ride a bike in a tight fit. However, don’t worry if you are a newbie. You will feel slightly more comfortable pedaling with a trim kit, just like you were wearing nothing.
Kits come in a variety of sizes, from ultra-tight “race” to looser “club” fittings that will fit different preferences and needs. Regular shorts can be worn over tight cycling shorts if you are more conscious about wearing a snug kit. You still get the benefits of the padded Chamois.
Shorts for cycling
Cycling-specific shorts or bib shorts have the greatest benefit: they can be sewed with a padded, chamois to the bottom. A good chamois can relieve pressure and improve comfort on your bike’s saddle. Padded cycling shorts are necessary if you plan to ride regularly or do long-distance rides. You can buy the entire kit or just the shorts.
There are two types of shorts: “Shorts” and “Bib Shorts”. Shorts are held up by elastic around the waistband. Bib shorts have straps that extend over the shoulders. Shorts are generally less expensive than bibs, and they are easier to put on and takedown. Bikinis are generally more comfortable as there is no elastic that digs into your waist while riding. It is up to you to decide which one you prefer. Good bib shorts are preferred by most performance-minded cyclists.
You should not wear your underwear underneath your cycling shorts if you don’t already know. The padded chamois for cycling shorts is best when worn as a single layer. This gives you the best comfort and stops chafing. Chamois creams can be used to provide additional protection against chafing.
To complete your kit, cycling jerseys can be paired with shorts. Road cycling jerseys have zippers that make it easy to put on and take off tight jerseys. You can also unzip the jersey to increase airflow during hot days.
One of the key advantages of the jersey is its storage pockets at the lower back. Three pockets will be located side-by-side that can hold your phone, food and tools. The pockets are placed on the lower back to prevent items from getting in the way of your legs and arms while you pedal. They also make it easy for you to reach them from the riding position.
All other apparel can be built on the cycling kit. You’ll learn what accessories you need to suit your climate as you ride more. You can add arm, leg, and vest warmers to your kit if you require more warmth. Riders who ride in hot climates and require more sweat control will benefit from a moisture-wicking layer beneath their jersey.
Clipless shoes and pedals
Clipless pedals, also known as “clipping in,” are a common term used to describe road cycling.
It is possible to be confused by the naming convention. Clip in and clip out of clipless pedals. Clipless was invented because of the use of toe clips by competitive riders. These were small cages with straps that held their feet to the pedals. In the 1980s, the first modern pedals were made. They used a cleat that locked into a binding-like mechanism. These pedals were known as “clipless” because they kept your feet attached to the pedal without using toe clips.
Clipless pedals are more efficient and allow you to apply power throughout the entire pedal stroke. While the majority of your power will be generated by the downstroke of pushing the pedals, you can also apply power to the upward and horizontal portions of your pedal stroke. This allows riders to “spin” instead of “mash”, which is more efficient and better for their sensitive joints.
To function, clipless pedals must be worn in a clipless shoe. These shoes come with a compatible cleat that is bolted to their soles. The clipless pedal attaches the cleat to the sole. Clipless pedals are more stable than flat pedals. Your entire shoe becomes a rigid pedaling platform. This will increase power transfer and comfort for road cycling.
Clipless shoes and pedals ensure that your foot is in the same place every time. Clipless pedals are easy to use. Your foot will always be in the same spot every time you turn it on.
There are many styles and types of modern clipless pedals. Road-specific pedals are preferred by most cyclists. They have a broad platform for power transfer and can be worn with a shoe that is specifically designed for road cycling. Although it’s easy to walk in shoes designed for road cycling, you will have difficulty if your feet are able to grip the ground if you want to run off-road. These pedals are often single-sided.
Dual-sided clipless mountain bike pedals and shoes are for riders who need more versatility. These shoes have smaller cleats and can be placed between the shoe lugs to make it easier to walk. This shoe and the clipless pedal are also popular for gravel riding and cyclocross.
Clipless pedals require some learning. For new riders, it’s a way to learn. You do it often and never forget to unclip.
You can choose to ride in regular or flat shoes. You can ride what you want. Clipless shoes and pedals are great for longer, more difficult rides.
Sunglasses protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays and dust from cars and bikes. Your eyes may become dry and irritated from road cycling’s speed.
Although you don’t require specific glasses for cycling, they do have useful features such as interchangeable lenses that can be used in different lighting conditions and a sporty fit to ensure they stay on. High-end glasses have lenses that can improve your vision and enhance clarity.
Road cycling isn’t as fond of backpack-style hydration bags as those used by mountain bikers and runners. Road riders love their back pockets and prefer to keep their cool.
Bottle cage mounts are located on the inside of road bikes’ front triangles. Two bottles are sufficient to carry most bikes for rides lasting between 1-4 hours. Two bottles and two cages are included with your purchase of a new bike. We include a complimentary bottle when you purchase a bike from The Pro’s Closet. You can carry another bottle of water in your jersey pocket if you have a need for more. You can personalize your bike by using colorful bottles and cages.
Our instincts tell us to reach out and grab our hands if we fall. Your hands are the most vulnerable part of your body in a crash. You will be fine. If you do fall, gloves will protect your hands from getting cut by the blades.
Special gloves for cycling are made of very thin leather or synthetic palms. They provide dexterity and feel while protecting your hands. These gloves will offer more control and grip, especially for sweaty hands. In the summer, most riders prefer to wear cooler gloves with no fingers and warmer gloves with full-finger or thermals in the winter. Cycling gloves have a breathable backside that can be used to wipe off sweat and your nose.
Gel inserts are placed on the palms of some gloves to reduce pressure and improve comfort. These inserts can be helpful for those who suffer from hand pain or numbness, as well as anyone who rides long distances on rough roads. Gel inserts may not be right for everyone. You might need to try different gloves to find the perfect pair.
Some experienced riders choose to ride without gloves. Some feel it is more comfortable, while others find it fashionable. To provide extra protection, I recommend that new riders use gloves. I have been in many crashes and my skin has always been saved by gloves.
Flat tires are inevitable. If you don’t have a spare flat kit, glass, stones, thorns and other road debris could cause serious damage to your ride. You don’t need a large or complicated flat kit. A small saddlebag can hold most spares and tools. Riders may simply keep their flat kit in their jersey pockets.
Tubeless tires have a lower risk of punctures and are often sealed with sealant. However, most road bikes come with traditional clincher tires, and inflated rubber inner tube. To continue riding, the inner tube must be replaced or repaired if it is punctured. An inner tube is also required for tubeless tires that cannot seal.
Park Tool has created this instructional video to show you how to change a flat. An essential flat kit includes at least one spare tube and an inflator. A tire lever is a useful tool if you have difficulty removing and installing tires manually. You can choose between a small hand pump or a CO2 inflation device. Because it is compact and fast, CO2 is very popular. Small pumps are preferred by riders for their reliability and reusability. Two tubes might be necessary for longer rides and on bad roads. To avoid extra bulk, most riders will only need one tube. This basic kit can be stored on your bike so it is always available for you.
A multitool can be a useful addition to your toolbox. It can be used to adjust any component of your bike during a ride. A multitool should contain:
- Hex 3mm
- Hex 4mm
- Hex 5mm
- T25 Torx
These four pieces will fit most hardware on a road bike. These bits will allow you to do basic repairs such as straightening your handlebars and adjusting the levers.
A multitool that is more comprehensive might have more tools or a smaller chain-breaker, in case you need to replace broken links on a chain. You can save your bike by having a spare quick-link.