Few things can spoil your ride than weather changes that leave you wet and cold. Or a flat tire you aren’t ready to handle. Or any little issues you aren’t ready for.
That’s where a bit of knowledge as well as some useful bicycle accessories come in. Let’s start by discussing some basics. Let’s call them necessities but some aren’t. It’s not a full list, but it’s a guide for those starting out. They are useful whether you’re mountain rider, city rider, day tourer, or extended tourer.
You should put on a helmet each time you ride. The increased quality and availability of good bike helmets is perhaps the biggest innovation in biking in the last decade and a half. Today’s helmets aren’t fail-safe, but they work really well.
Choose a comfortable helmet. You can try different styles and models at your bike shop, and find a properly fitting helmet. Remember that helmet fit is vital. A helmet that’s too loose may not be able to protect you, whereas one that’s too tight may hurt you. All decent helmets have in-built vents and most are quite light. Also, most provide aerodynamic benefits over a bare head.
You need a saddlebag to carry your little tools used for bike repair. There are great bags which can be attached below the saddle. The saddlebag should have enough space to carry things like your house key, identification, some cash, as well as coins for pay phone use.
You also need some items to let you take care of a flat tire. In case you’ve never done this, as your bike seller for directions. Check out magazines and books to get more information. Then, try to do what you’ve learned a few times at home so you’re not frustrated away from home.
Basically, you need to get a patch kit, which should have patches to properly seal any holes in the tire tube. The patch kit should also contain some sandpaper for roughening the surface and some glue to stick the patch. Get some tire levers to separate the tire from the rim. You should also have an additional tube, in case the tube you are using is completely shredded. An extra tube also allows you to fix the puncture later on, and quickly replace the damaged tube with another good one while you’re on the road.
You also need to get your bike a pump. Bike pumps come in plenty of styles and are light. Your bike dealer may also sell you some decent little compressed air device which pumps carbon dioxide, saving you the hassle of pumping.
If your tires are tubular, have a pre-glued or pre-stretched spare tire on hand. This saves you all kinds of potential troubles. And get a strong lock if you’re going to leave your bicycle parked away from you.