Improving your riding experience is a mix of learning new skills, honing your technique and using the right kit so that you’re ready for any situation. We’ve put together a list of some things you should have to hand to make sure you’re riding like a pro. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start!
Cycling is one activity where you’ll need more than just a T-shirt and shorts to be on par with the pros! Depending on the kind of riding you do and the weather conditions you’ll need to invest in different types of kit. Here are the essentials:
Wherever you’re riding your bike, the number one most important piece of kit for a cyclist has to be a helmet. There’s a wide range of styles to suit everyone’s tastes, so it’s wise to go into a local store and try them on. Most people wear sunglasses while riding, so make sure that these are comfortable to wear with your helmet too.
If you’re road cycling, you’ll want a tight fitting jersey that does not flap or cause drag. For mountain biking, you’ll be fine with a long or short-sleeved sweat-wicking jersey. Wind resistance isn’t as important in this discipline, as speeds are usually much lower than on the road.
Budding road cyclists may already be familiar with skin-tight Lycra bib shorts worn by professional riders. Invest in quality bib shorts that feel comfortable and not overly tight.
Mountain bikers can go for baggier shorts for the trails. Don’t worry about pockets on your shorts – you can keep things in jersey pockets, a saddle bag or backpack. That way, you won’t have things getting in the way as you pedal!
Although normal cotton socks are OK, your best bet is a pair of sweat-wicking, comfortable socks with a blend of merino wool and nylon or spandex for a little extra stretch. This is true in both hot and cold climates as you’ll either be damp with sweat or rain, so quick-drying materials are the way to go.
As well as improving grip on handlebars and keeping you warm, gloves are essential for protecting yourself if you come a cropper. Full length gloves are normal for mountain bikers to protect knuckles, palms and fingertips. For road cyclists, fingerless gloves are more commonly worn. Of course when it is cold, it’s time to break out the windproof and insulated gloves to keep you warm and keep your fingers working!
In the UK we’re not always blessed with sunny weather throughout the year. When it’s raining, be sure to be wearing a lightweight rain jacket to help you stay dry on your bike for longer. A waterproof jacket will keep you dry, which is really important if you want to keep warm. That way, all of your energy can go into turning the cranks.
Again, for the colder climes of the UK, leg and arm warmers can really help keep you on the saddle through changing weather conditions. You can put these on with shorts and a short-sleeved jersey on a cold morning, then take them off as it warms up (or the other way round!).
Investing in knee pads or elbow pads is a smart move to stay safe when riding off road. Typically, when you have a fall, you’ll land on your knees, elbows or hands, so keeping these areas protected can let you keep riding with little more than a bruised ego.
Depending on your riding style, you might want to move on to cycling shoes with cleats. These work in conjunction with clip-in pedals and help you to pedal more efficiently. They’re most commonly seen in road cycling but you can also get ones specific to mountain biking.
Flat shoes are also suitable, especially if you’re planning a short ride. Make sure they’re a comfortable fit and have good grip on the pedals. Some mountain bikers prefer flat shoes, too. Even if you don’t use clip-in pedals, cycling-specific shoes will have a stiffer sole, to keep your foot stable and stop you wasting energy as you pedal.
Whether you’re out on the woodland trails or halfway to a century ride on the road, there’s nothing worse than a mechanical problem or a puncture! Having the correct tools to hand can mean the difference between a short stop and a long walk home, so it’s important to get the right kit. Here are some of the basic tools you should take along with you:
Flat tyres are one of the most common problems for riders of all disciplines. Carry two spare inner tubes, just in case you’re really unlucky. Remember to check that they’re the right size for your wheels and that the valve is compatible with your pump.
You’re not going to be able to blow your tyres up yourself with lung power, so invest in a lightweight mini-pump to attach to your frame or pop in your saddle bag or backpack.
A good multi-tool can be used for almost everything, from adjusting handlebars to indexing your gears. Make sure it’s got a selection of different sized Allen keys, the most common tool used to adjust bike components. These are typically quite small, so you can easily take one along with you.
Unless you’ve got extremely strong fingers, a tyre lever will be an invaluable tool for getting your tyres off and on your wheel rims. They’re cheap, lightweight, and almost essential for replacing inner tubes if you get a flat tyre.
OK, so you know what you need to get in order to ride comfortably like a pro, but what’s the next step? Well, why not check out our wide selection of road and off-road cycling equipment, clothing and accessories at Halfords. Visit us online or drop into a local store to see what fits your style best.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions either! At Halfords, our trained staff will be happy to assist you in finding the perfect kit to get you out on two wheels in comfort, style and safety. Or, if you’d like to do it from the comfort of your own home, head to our Advice Centre!