We bring you a kit guide to help you figure out what you need to get the most from your bike rides.
You’ve got your bike – maybe it’s brand new, maybe it’s new to you, or maybe you’ve just dug it out the back of the shed? Now, you’re ready to hit the road – or the trails. Aren’t you? Here’s our guide to the extra bits and pieces that we think will help make your bike rides safer, happier, and more comfortable.
Riding a bike generally isn’t all that dangerous, but if you take it off road we think you should wear a helmet. The split second between hitting that rock/tree stump/giant hole disguised as a puddle might well take you by surprise, and we’d like you to make it home to tell the story about what happened. Find yourself a comfortable helmet, do it up right so it stays firmly on your head, and then hopefully never actually deploy it. The Lazer Coyote MIPS gives you the added protection of MIPS, which is designed to help prevent injury from rotational forces in the event you do crash.
Front and rear lights will help you get home safely if you find yourself staying out having fun for just a little longer than expected, and with Light and Motion having started out life as a diving equipment manufacturer you can be sure these lights will survive those wet rides you’ll no doubt encounter. Take your phone with you – safely wrapped up of course – and help should never be too far away if you need it. For easy cruising round local spots, we think these purchases will go a long way to keeping you safe.
Safety Gear Shopping List:
- A helmet
- Front and rear lights
- Phone wallet
Keep rolling – kit for the trail
Rides don’t always go exactly to plan, and a single loose bolt could have you walking home if you don’t have the means to tighten it back up. Keep yourself rolling along with at least a multitool on every ride – the Park Tool I-Beam has a tool for most trailside fixes. A pump is a good addition too – if you’re lucky-ish and have a slow puncture you might manage to get home by just pumping the tyre back up again. An inner tube or patch kit and tyre levers will fix the problem properly, but it’s a job worth practicing at home. If you’ve upgraded to a tubeless set up, some ‘noodles’ should help you plug any holes you might get, and are immensely easier than swapping a tube, especially in muddy conditions. If you have any intention of stopping – even if it’s just to pop into a shop for a snack – you should carry a lock, so you can be sure that your bike will still be wherever you left it.
If all that sounds like a lot to fit in your pockets, grab yourself a small pack to pop it all in – plus then it’s all there ready to grab for every ride. This Thule Vital also has water carrying capacity so you won’t go thirsty on your ride. Which reminds us – pack a snack like a pack of sweets or energy bar. All that pedalling uses up a lot of energy, and if you run out of it you’ll end up ‘bonking’ – you’ll feel tired, exhausted and grumpy! Keep a smile on your face with a snack, or even a tailored cycling bar like this chocolate and orange one from Science in Sport.
Trail Kit Shopping List
- A backpack
- A multitool
- A pump (and inner tube to fit your bike!)
- A patch kit
- Tubeless fixers
- A portable lock
- A snack
For Added Comfort
Riding a bike is a lot more fun if you’re comfortable – and in poor weather comfort and safety are close bedfellows. Whatever the weather, padded shorts will help keep your undercarriage comfortable so you can keep pedalling – choose some gender specific ones with a pad shape that fits snugly against your body without sagging or folding. A soft technical jersey and pair of shorts can slip over the top, wicking away sweat and preventing any rubbing.
For cool or damp days, waterproof shorts like these DTE short available in both a men’s and women’s fit, will help keep your bum warm and dry, and help prevent against chafing. A cycling specific waterproof jacket will have a cut that suits your position on the bike – usually a longer back so you don’t get a gap above your waistband, and a slimmer fit so you don’t flap too much as you whizz down that hill (or cycle into that terrible headwind!). Some cosy gloves like these Hump Photons will make sure you can still feel your fingers – and the brakes – even in poor weather. For better days, a thinner glove like these Madison Alpines – available in sizes from youth to adult – will keep your hands more comfortable and give protection from grazes if you take a tumble.
It’s not just about the clothes though – add a mudguard to your bike as a first line of defence against mud and spray, and if you’re struggling to sit comfortably watch our guide and consider buying a saddle that better suits your own particular posterior.
Comfort shopping list
- Waterproof Jacket
- Waterproof shorts
- Padded shorts
- Technical shorts
- Technical jersey
- A different saddle
- A mudguard
For added confidence
Now you’re out there and having fun, maybe you want to push a bit harder, or try that trickier trail? Boost your confidence and control by choosing a pair of flat pedal shoes like these Shimano GR5s and pedals that will grip to each other – if you’ve never tried these before you won’t believe the difference between these and your trainers or the pedals that came with your bike. Pedals like these Shimano XTs even come in different sizes, so you can be sure to get your feet and pedals perfectly teamed up. With your feet more firmly in contact with your bike, you can use your body to push yourself over and round obstacles, and feel the bike respond to your control.
Once you’re riding harder and faster, tumbles are going to hurt a little more – take the sting out of them with knee and elbow pads, which are now light and flexible enough to be worn on every ride. These Pearl Izumi Elevate pads have D30 which is flexible until impact, when it hardens to absorb the blow. You might also want to consider protecting your face with a helmet with a chin bar. A helmet like this Lazer Revolution with a removable chin bar can be great for climbs or tamer trails, then you clip the chin bar on when you’re planning on getting a little rowdy.
Confidence boosting shopping list
- A helmet
- Flat pedal shoes
- Flat pedals
- Knee pads
- Elbow pads
Keep Rolling – kit for your workshop
It might seem like the last thing you want to do after a muddy ride, but taking the time to rinse off your bike while it’s still wet will save you a lot of hard work (and money) later. Leaving your bike wet will make it rust, but riding it dirty will also make your components wear out more quickly. Even a quick rinse with water and a lube of the chain will help, but when you’ve got time a decent effort with proper bike cleaner, brushes, and a follow up with chain lube will keep your bike running smoother for longer. Be sure to clean around the seals on your fork and shock, get the dirt off your brakes (but don’t get any lubricant on them!) and clean off your drivetrain. Mud and grass tend to get stuck in and about your jockey wheels and in between the sprockets of your cassette, so give them a bit of attention with a good brush. Drivetrain brushes have useful pokey handles to help you get in the crevices and scrape that grime out.
When your bike is clean, it’s the perfect time to check all your bolts are still done up tight and that everything sounds like it’s running smoothly. A decent starter set of tools like this neat Pro Tool set will help you tighten everything up, and if you spot things are wearing out you’ll be able to tackle simpler fixes like swapping cassettes, changing brake pads, or even swapping bottom brackets. With its neat carry case, you can even take this set away on weekend trips to new trail spots.
More and more bikes are coming with tubeless ready tyres and wheels, and finishing the set up with sealant and valves like this MilKit set is a task well worth investing a bit of time in – punctures are easier to deal with and may even self-seal, plus you can run lower tyre pressures for more grip. Whether you’re tubeless or not, a track pump makes inflating tyres much easier than the portable one you’ll carry out on the trail. Do your back and arms a favour and invest in a pump like this Truflo Easitrax with built in pressure gauge.
Having your bike stolen is a heartbreaking experience, so protect yours between rides by locking it up securely in your shed or garage. As well as providing a strong deterrent to thieves, this Sold Secure Gold standard lock from Kryptonite will meet the requirements of most insurers.
Bike maintenance shopping list
- Bike Cleaner
- Bike brushes
- Chain Lube
- Track pump
- Tubeless kit and sealant
- Home mechanic tool kit
- A big lock
A bike is for life, not just for weekend trails!
We like all bikes – though of course we think the ones you ride off road are more fun. But fitting a bike ride in on the way to work, even if it is on the road, will add to your fitness and reduce the number of cars on the road – an all round win! You might be expected to wear more than muddy shorts at work though, and maybe you’ll have a laptop to carry with you. This Thule ‘Pack and Pedal’ bag is specifically designed for commuters so you can carry all you need safely to work whatever the weather. That’s your office gear taken care of, but look after yourself too with this Madison Stellar waterproof and reflective jacket.
You don’t need to buy all this stuff to keep riding your bike, but we do think that you’ll be safer, more comfortable and happier if you invest a little time and money in getting the right kit for you. If our suggested items aren’t exactly what you want, then have a look around the Freewheel online shop and see what else you can spot. There’s a huge array of stock, and even though you’re shopping online you can still support your local bike shop. Just select home delivery, then choose the local shop from the list that you’d like to receive a share of the profit from your purchase. All the convenience of an online shop, with none of the guilt! If you decide to share this article with someone who might just be buying you a present soon, don’t forget to tell them which bike shop to support – and all the clothing sizes you’ll be needing!