Although its something many experienced cyclists might take advantage of, bringing the right gear on a ride can be confusing. From bringing so much stuff that it makes you screech up hills, to minimalists getting hypothermia by not bringing a rain jacket, or “gilet” as its known. There are all kinds of ways to be wrongly prepared for the ride ahead. So read on for a cycling equipment list that will help you properly prepare for your next cycling adventure!
The first item on this cycling equipment list is the mini pump. You always need to bring a mini pump on a ride, because flat tires happen. While some cyclists have been blessed by the flat-tire fairy and rarely get flats, for other people repairing flat tires in a common occurrence. There is no surefire way to prevent flat tires, anything from pinch flats to puncture flats can happen even if you are very careful. When the inevitable sluggish handling of your bike tells you your tire is flat however, you’ll be glad you brought along a mini pump.
There are all kinds of mini pumps: small ones, big ones, ones with articulating hoses for easier attachment. The basic idea is that you get a pump that is small enough that you wont mind taking it everywhere you ride. The smaller the pump however, the more difficult it will be to pump your tire up. So look for a balance of form and function, like the Topeak Mini Morph pump. It has an articulating hose for easier inflation, and is small enough for those weight weenies.
Spare Inner Tube
If you have a flat tire, you can repair your inner tube with a patch, or just replace the tube entirely. The key here is balance. So take along a puncture repair kit incase everything goes wrong, but usually a spare inner tube will get you going after a flat the fastest.
There are all kinds of inner tubes you can buy, high performance latex ones, and durable heavy duty ones. I don’t really put a lot of thought into my inner tubes, as I don’t think it will make any noticeable difference. The only criteria that I place on my desired inner tubes is that they hold air well, and fold tightly.
The inner tubes I have been using for years are the Michelin A1 Airstop inner tubes. They are light weight, and have stayed fully inflated over all kinds of terrain and distances.
With the amount of traffic increasing every year, being seen while riding your bike is all the more important. While fluorescent colored clothing will make you a bit more visible, you need bike lights to really make yourself stand out. By placing a light on both the front and back of your bike, you ensure cars can see you from more angles. Also, use your bike lights both the day and night for optimum cycling road safety.
The more angles you can fill with a powerful light, the safer you are.
I have been using the Cateye Rapide X3 Rear and Front light for over a year now. They’re super bright, last forever, and are quite resilient. They are also easy to install, and fit almost anywhere on the bike. Whatever light you choose, it is a crucial part of anyone’s cycling equipment list.
One of my favorite features of the Cateye Rapide X3 lights are their side visibility. When you are coming to an intersection, being seen from the sides is very important for incoming cars. With the Cateye Rapide X3, Cateye claims these lights have the “best side visibility in its class”. Awesome safety feature!
If your lucky enough to live in a place with predictable weather, than you might not need a cycling cap. However, for people like me who live in Colorado, a cycling cap is crucial. When you ride into the mountains, the increase in altitude means that it can get cold very quick. Together with random, summertime storms, you need to be prepared for the worst. This is where a cycling cap can help.
Firstly, a cycling cap will help soak up your sweat as you power along. There is nothing more annoying than having excess sweat drip into your eyes, or onto your eyeglasses. A cycling cap stores this sweat, acting as a sort of headband.
A second benefit of a cycling cap is that is can keep you warm. On those days where the sun might not be shining so strongly, a cycling cap can help you take away the cold bite. By stopping the air from hitting your head through the helmet, a cycling cap helps keep your heat in, keeping you toasty.
The cycling cap I use is the Giro Ambient Winter Skull Cap. It has ear flaps that you can pull up or down, allowing you to cover your ears for those particularly cold rides. Also, it has a windproof frontal area, and breathable top/side areas for optimal wind and heat regulation.
Another tool in the arsenal for unpredictable weather is the “gilet”. Also known as a rain jacket, or windbreaker, a gilet can help keep you warm against windy or wet weather. The key to a good gilet is that it is close fitting, breathable in some way, warm, and easily packable. To make things even more easily packable, I have a sleeveless gilet that keeps my core warm during cold descents, but folds away nicely.
If you live in a mountainous region, a gilet is an essential part of a cycling equipment list.
You can get gilets that are long sleeved, sleeveless, waterproof, water resistant, windproof, and more. Take account of your local weather, and get the gilet that best suits you. The Gilet I use is the Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier vest, as it is comfortable and really keeps the chill out. It also comes in fluorescent yellow, which helps with visibility in harsh weather.
Spare Sunblock Stick
One of the most important items in this cycling equipment list is sunblock. When your out cycling, you have to wear some form of sunblock. Even in cloudy regions, the effects of unprotected sun exposure can be early skin aging and skin cancer. Prevent this by putting on at least an SPF 35 sunblock. Try to stick with a mineral based sunblock, as they contain a lot healthier ingredients than many common sunblock’s.
One of the problems about sunblock is that it washes away with sweat. After a couple of hours of riding, your sunblock will not be nearly as effective. This is where a portable Sunblock Stick comes in handy. Small enough to fit in your jersey pocket, a sunblock stick allows you to stay protected from UV rays long into your ride. You simply take off the cap, draw on the sunblock, and rub it into your skin. Voila, fresh application of sunblock complete!
Bringing this spare sunblock stick has helped me on many hot summer rides in Colorado. My skin would have burned if I didn’t have extra sunblock!
My favorite brand of sunblock stick is from Badger. The Badger SPF 35 face stick can be used on your face, and arms and legs. It fits neatly into a jersey pocket, and doesn’t run as you sweat! Its like a big chap stick of sunblock, try it and never ride without extra sunblock again!
If there is one item on this cycling equipment list that is kind of a given, its water bottles. When you ride your bike, especially in hot weather, you need to drink lots of water. Roughly, the water intake requirement is around 20oz per hour, more if your working harder or its hot out. It also depends on the individual how much water to drink, as some people sweat more than other, and need to replace lost fluids and salts with sports drinks.
“If there is one item on this cycling equipment list that is kind of a given, its water bottles.”
While the topic of what you put into your water bottle is for another article, here we are going to focus solely on the bottle itself. Make sure to get a bottle that is BPA-free with a tasteless plastic. After trying many water bottles, the Camelbak Podium water bottle fulfills all these criteria, and is an extremely popular bottle. I have several of them, in various different sizes, and some of them are even insulated to keep your drinks cold for longer!
Cycling gloves are a crucial piece of kit you should add to your cycling equipment list. They protect your hands from the sun, and help prevent hand fatigue and numbing on long rides. Another benefit of cycling gloves is they can help you from getting a flat tire!
Yes, you heard correctly, cycling gloves can help prevent flats. They do this by protecting your hand when your rub the tire to scrape off debris. A common precautionary measure by cyclists, scraping away debris from your tire with your hand can prevent debris from working its way into puncturing your tube. Always make sure to clear your tire from debris after running over it, and many a flat will be prevented. However, debris can often be sharp, so wear cycling gloves to protect your hand, and prevent flats!
I wear the Pearl Izumi Elite Gel gloves. They are comfortable, breathable, and have nicely placed gel pads for comfort. I get them in fluorescent yellow, as making hand signals with yellow gloves on helps me be seen!
Of all the essential gear for your bike listed in this article, the multi-tool is perhaps the most important. If you ride more than once a week, chances are you will eventually work something loose on your bike. From seat post adjustment, to gear indexing, having a multi-tool can solve all sorts of problems out on a ride, both complex and simple.
There are several main features you should look for in a multi-tool. Firstly, it should have plenty of tools, because many bikes have many different components with different types of screws. Secondly, if your like me and you want to stay as minimalist as possible, the second criteria for a multi-tool is that it is light and small.
A chain tool is an essential part of any cycling equipment list, as a broken chain can either be an easy fix or a ride ender.
A third criteria for a good multi-tool is that it has a chain tool. If you do any sort of serious riding, you will one day snap your chain. This can either be an easy fix with a chain-tool containing multi-tool, or it can end your ride. So, stay prepared for any eventuality, and bring a good quality multi-tool with a chain tool.
My preferred multi-tool is the Topeak Mini 20 Pro. It is thin, lightweight, and has all the tools you could possibly need including a chain tool. The Mini 20 Pro also comes in Gold, making it one of the coolest looking multi-tools out there, if that matters.
Remember this cycling equipment list to be prepared for your next cycling adventure!