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Cycling Essentials For Beginners

There’s nothing scientific about it. You can jump on a bike and through the power of your own legs, move forward. Sometimes it’s a ride around the yard and sometimes the ride never ends. But between the two are huge differences. You’re not going to decide one day that you’re going to hop on a bike and Gump your way across the United States. Ride Forest! Ride! Believe it or not it takes some conditioning. All joking aside, every year many people purchase brand new bicycles, ride them for a brief period, then lose interest. That’s unfortunate. As a cyclist you may have gone through this stage of evolving from a recreational rider to an avid cyclist. And that’s where this article was hatched. We want more people on bikes. It’s good for all of us. So here are a few ideas and options for turning that first bike purchase into lasting venue of enjoyment and exercise.

First of all consider you’re riding style. You might be surprised to realize that your style leans more towards paved surfaces than sand or gravel. Maybe you’re more inclined to cruise through the city than the beach. You wouldn’t purchase a road bike if you’re planning on traveling surfaces of loose stones or gravel. Likewise you wouldn’t want a bike with wide tires and aggressive tread patterns for hammering out miles of paved roads. Bikes are made for all types of riding styles and if you do some research you can make a fairly educated decision regarding how your money will be best spent. Regardless of the bike you ride don’t let it define your style. Just ride.

Put your best foot forward. Purchase the best bike you can afford but don’t spend all of your money on this single purchase. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping at your local big box store, local bike shop, or online, save a little bit of your budget for accessories that will make your time on the bike seat more enjoyable. A brand new bike might seem like a new lease on independence but when minutes turn into miles you may need more than the bike to keep you moving. We’re talking about a few basic items that will benefit you as a cyclist. And creating a proper experience will go a long way towards keeping you motivated and interested.

Here are 4 simple accessory suggestions for getting started.

1. Bottle cage and water bottle
Hydration is extremely important while cycling. There’s a general rule to undertake when cycling and that is to drink before you get thirsty and eat before you get hungry. If you’re new to cycling you have no idea how important these two elements are and how staying hydrated and fueled will increase your performance and alleviate the stress and strain. If you choose sports drinks to water then load your water bottles with those unless of course the containers will fit properly in your bottle cages.

You can spend a lot of money on a carbon bottle cage and insulated water bottle if you want, but for $20 you can get both in a cheap version and even less when you find a sale.

2. A cycling jersey
What you may not realize about a cycling jersey is it’s very lightweight and it doesn’t have to be tight fitting or brightly colored. The material is made to keep the sweat away from your body by providing ventilation and wicking properties. Unlike a sweat-soaked tshirt which clings to your body and raises body temperatures. Still skeptical? Most jersey’s also have pockets in the back. Keys, media, some ID, and the all important high energy foods can all be stored conveniently and out of the way. It’s a multi-purpose item that makes your time on the bike more comfortable.

There are numerous types and brands and you can get started with a brand new jersey for as little as $25.

3. Cycling shorts
One word. Padding. Cycling shorts have padding in the butt and genital areas. If you have ever rode a bike until it seemed your tailbone was bruised, broken, or mis-aligned, a pair of padded cycling shorts would have been a welcome addition to your wardrobe. If you believe buying a thicker bicycle seat is the answer then you’re looking in the wrong direction. Yes, a thicker seat will help, but padded shorts are the correct remedy. Tight fitting lycra just isn’t your thing? Then there’s the option of baggy cycling shorts that also have padding.

While you can buy new cycling shorts in many different brand names a basic pair will run you about $25.

4. Bike helmet
There’s a lot of statistical debate about bicycle helmets and the protection provided. Most arguments gather around the fact that most people will never need one. But what about those who are involved in an accident? As with all of these items they are going to be personal preferences. But a helmet, while speaking in terms of percentages, hardly ever being needed, just isn’t a very good argument. We recommend a helmet not because we sell them but because they could save your life. If there’s one main aspect to consider when purchasing a helmet it would be ventilation. Find a good helmet that suits your fancy and has adequate ventilation.

Helmets come in all sizes, colors, styles, and of course prices but you can buy a decent entry-level helmet with good ventilation for around $30.

So that’s $100 of accessories that will protect your melon, keep your upper body cool and provide storage, pad your precious behind, and supply the tools for hydration. It doesn’t get anymore basic than that. And here’s something more to consider.

If you stick with it and become immersed in the world of cycling you will look to upgrade your gear or purchase new gear. There’s a long list of gadgets out there but here are a few that were short of making our top 4.

1. Cycling Gloves – When you start adding miles you will want these.
2. Bike Computer – Really nice for tracking performance.
3. Seat Bag – For carrying extra innertube and tire patch kit.
4. Air Pump – Either frame pump or CO2.
5. Handlebar Bag – For carrying extra items like camera, first aid.

All of these are mainly inexpensive if you’re not reaching for the top shelf items. And a little bit of an insider tip here. These are perfect gift items and personal purchases for those moments when you may have lost a little enthusiasm or need a touch of coaxing to get back in the saddle. It happens.