Basic Ride Necessities:
To ride responsibly and ensure that you are prepared for anything that might occur, you need at least the following items:
Nowadays helmets are lightweight, comfortable and even look cool so there is no excuse for not wearing one. The number one brands are Bell and Giro. We have them starting at $40.
Simply put, a method for carrying drinking water. The cheapest is a water bottle and cage. One of these will cost you $10 to $20. Some people prefer backpack-type hydration bags sometimes known as camelbacks. They carry more water than a bottle and also have room for other items like food and tools. They also allow for hands-free drinking through a hose while on the bike. Hydration bags range in price from $40 to over a hundred depending upon capacity and features.
Flat Repair Kit
No matter where or what you ride, you are going to have flats. You need to learn how to fix them and you need to have the tools on hand to do it. The best way to handle this is with an under-seat bag. Inside the bag you need to carry a spare tube, a set of tire levers (used to pry the tire from the rim) a method of inflation (either a frame pump or a CO2 inflation device) and maybe a patch kit as a backup for the spare tube.
Many people fail to realize how essential a good floor pump is. You need a floor pump with a gauge to maintain correct tire pressure in your bike at all times. Your bike tires do not keep their air pressure for very long. A high-pressure, low volume tire like those on standard road bikes lose about 5psi per day. You could inflate your tires on Saturday before your ride and by next Saturday they are dangerously low. If you ride a tire that is recommended for 110psi at 70psi you are asking for a pinch flat or a dented rim. You need to check your tire pressure before each ride therefore you need a floor pump at the house. The frame pump you bought to fix flats on the road is not going to be adequate for this job.
These are essential if you are going to be riding for more than a couple of miles. Cycling shorts prevent you from being chafed and make you much more comfortable on the saddle. Ordinary shorts have seams down the center that will rub you raw on a long ride. Cycling shorts have a seamless pad –much better.
You want cycling gloves because they have padding that helps prevent sore and numb hands. It can be very difficult to manipulate the shift and brake levers when you can’t feel your hands. Gloves help prevent this. They also come in handy in the Texas summers when sweat pours down your arms onto your hands making them slippery. The textured surface keeps your hands from slipping. Gloves also cut down on the injury to your hands if you crash.
Cycling Shoes and Pedal System
If you are going to do any serious cycling, you need cycling shoes that are designed to attach to a “clip-less” pedal. The shoe/pedal system ensures a more solid connection between rider and bike. They increase your performance by maintaining the correct foot position on the pedal. Cycling shoes have stiffer soles than other types of shoes which aids in your power transfer so you can put the hammer down. There are basically two types of pedal systems – SPD and Look-type. SPDs have a small steel cleat that is recessed in the shoe so they are more comfortable and stable to walk in therefore mountain bikers, urban riders and some road riders prefer these. Look-type pedals use a larger triangular shaped cleat, which extends below the sole of a more rigid road shoe. Because the shoe is more rigid and the cleat is larger, they provide better power transfer than SPDs and are therefore preferred by performance oriented road riders and road racers.
We have both pedaling systems. SPD systems start at about $120 for a pedal and shoe combo. Look-type systems start at about $160.
Often you need to drive to a place to ride so you need a carrack to haul your bike. Your choice of car rack will depend on how many bikes you want to carry and what type of car you have. Most racks carry at least two bikes however Saris makes a $50 trunk mounted rack that carries a single bike. Saris, is one of the oldest and best rack companies especially for trunk-mounted racks. We carry the Saris Bones and Guardian models, both of which are reliable solid racks that will not let you down. They are available in two and three bike versions and fit most cars. For SUV’s and any vehicle that has a trailer hitch receiver we recommend platform style racks. These plug into your hitch receiver. You set your bike into the wheel wells push the ratcheting top tube clamp down onto the frame and off you go. We carry the Swagman brand because they offer the best value in this type of rack. For $220 you can get a two-bike platform rack. Roof racks are for people who don’t mind lifting their bike overhead and clamping it onto their roof, who don’t mind spending $400 or more for a rack, and who can remember not to drive into the garage with bikes on top. There are not enough of these type of people left in our neighborhood for us to carry roof racks.
You may or may not be mechanically inclined but either way you would benefit from having a handy little folding Allen wrench set for your bike. Most of the fasteners on a bike are metric Allen bolts. We sell little folding metric Allen wrenches with all the relevant sizes for $10 and up. Even if you can barely hold a tool correctly you may be able to raise and lower your seat, adjust the angle of your handle bar or control levers with one of these handy tools. For the more mechanically inclined we have folding tools which in addition to the Allen wrenches have a screwdriver for adjusting your derailleur, a chain tool to fix a broken chain and a torx wrench to tighten your rotor. If you want to learn how to do all these things we sell the Park Blue Book, which has tons of color photos and clear instructions on most everything you would want to fix on a bike. We also have a Park Tool display rack with most any tool you would want for most operations.
Chain Lube and Cleaners
You have to keep chain lube on your chain or it will rust and get stiff. Apply chain lube sparingly - just one drop on top of each link is all you ever need. After you apply it, pedal the bike a few revolutions and then wipe off the excess with a clean rag or paper towel. We sell a variety of different chain lubes. Some are Teflon-based, some wax-based. I prefer Tri-Flo in a small drip bottle. You might also invest in a degreaser to clean the oily parts of the bike. We have that also. A clean bike functions better than a dirty one.
If you are planning to ride at night then you need lights. Most people opt for the flashing LED taillight that is easy to clip onto any bike and sells for $10 and up. Then for a headlight there are more choices depending upon how much illumination you need. We have triple-A battery powered LED headlights that throw a pretty good beam for city-street riding that start at about $20. We also have rechargeable headlights with a 250-lumen beam that sell for $150. Those are powerful enough to ride on an unlit trail.
It is always nice to know how far and how fast you are riding. A cycle computer tells you that as well as your average speed on a ride, the elapsed time, and your maximum speed. Basic ones start at $25. You can also get one that will tell you your heart rate and your pedaling cadence. Those are more expensive and we have those as well.
If you ride all year long like we do, you will encounter some cold and/or wet weather. For cold weather I recommend you have arm warmers, knee warmers, toe warmers, booties, a beanie, a pair of full length unpadded cycling tights and thermal long–fingered gloves. Toe warmers are little covers that slip over the front of your shoe to prevent cold air from getting to your toes. Booties cover the whole shoe and are for colder days. Arm warmers are little lycra sleeves that keep your arms warm. Knee warmers are the same thing for your thigh, knee and upper calf. On a cold morning, the way to use these two items is to dress in your cycling shorts and short sleeve jersey with knee and arm warmers to start the ride. As you and the day warm up you can easily shed the warmers and put them in your jersey pocket. This beats having a jacket and full-length tights to have to deal with after it gets warm. But you will need the jacket, tights, booties, and beanie on those days when it does not climb above 45 degrees.
You will need some sunglasses and we sell cycling oriented ones that have interchangeable lenses in different tints for different light levels.
GOOD INFO TO KNOW WHEN SELECTING YOUR SUNGLASSES: Black/Gray lenses are best for bright conditions, great for road rides on sunny days. Brown is the all around lens. If you want one lens brown is the way to go except for night riding. Brown is great for shady areas like trails. Red or Rose lenses great for cloudy or gray days. Yellow is great for foggy, hazy conditions not good for bright days. Clear lenses are great for evening rides to protect your eyes dirt, debris and flying objects.
Locking your bike is necessary almost anytime you are not on it. Many bikes are stolen out of people’s garages all around this part of town. Of course if you stop at a store you need to lock your bike outside. If you stop at a restaurant after a ride with your bike on your carrack you need to lock the bike to the car. We have all types of locks.