Essential Equipment For The Cycling Enthusiast

By: Robert G. Knechtel

There are a few things you'll need to have when you start cycling. The first and most obvious is a quality bike that fits you! While that might seem like a no-brainer, plenty of people start out on bikes that are too small, or made with poor quality parts, just because they're cheaper. The right fit and a well made bike can make your ride a lot easier, however. Don't be tempted to bargain shop for your bicycle. Instead, buy one that will last you a long time. Once you have a bike that's right for you, it's time to get the other items that will help you become a regular cyclist.

Lights

The minimum required by law for your bike is a few reflectors. However, a headlight and tail light are helpful, even in daylight hours. When it's dark and rainy, they can make a big difference in your visibility to cars. Choose lights with long battery life and reasonable lighting power, but be sure that you don't pick a light so bright it'll blind pedestrians and other cyclists.

Tools

Just like driving a car, accidents do happen while you're biking. Keep a small tool kit on you at all times to take car of flat tires, uncooperative chains, loose bolts and other problems. A good kit will contain enough tools to get a wheel off, a spare inner tube, a puncture kit, and a small emergency pump. If you have a cell phone, think about taking it, too.

Helmet

While it's legal in most locations to go without a helmet, in many others, one is required. If you're planning on biking regularly, it's smart to have one even in areas where no helmet law exists. Get a good quality helmet that fits you snugly. Since you'll be wearing it every time you go out on your bike, spending a little more to get a helmet that's comfortable is a smart idea. Remember that this item could mean the difference between safety and a trip to the hospital. Even if you're a careful cyclist, rough terrain, careless pedestrians and drivers who don't watch where they're going are all hazards.

Clothes

While special cycling clothing is certainly optional, it's wise to pay attention to what you're wearing. Loose garments should be avoided, or tucked up so they don't get caught in the chain. Stay warm, but remember that exercise can make you get overheated in clothes that are comfortable when you're not riding. If you're riding a long distance to work, a separate set of clothes to bike in will keep your work clothing pristine and odor-free.

Locks

Unless you're lucky enough to live in an area where you can keep your bike inside all the time, a lock is important. Even in rural areas, there are people who will gladly steal and resell your bicycle. For some, a simple chain and padlock will do the job. If you live somewhere with more determined thieves, however, a good lock is vital. Kryptonite brand is popular, but others work just as well. Be willing to pay a little bit for a good lock - it could be the thing that keeps you from having to buy a whole new bike.

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