No matter if you hope to enjoy a long weekend of intense mountain biking, or are simply looking to protect yourself during your fixie-commute to work, it’s important to equip yourself well when packing for a bike trip.
Thanks to how mobile and light most bikes are (at least compared to motor vehicles), and the bad habits of our youth, we can sometimes feel as though little to no preparation is required to ride a bike well. However, if you plan to ride your bike on the roads, or tackle hard terrain, you need to outfit your kit bag properly. That being said, even completely flat, safe journeys can benefit from good preparation because we can never predict how each cycling session will turn out.
It’s very well and good to say all of this – but what exactly should we bring with us? After all, we need to economize on space when selecting our cycling gear. A rucksack and two protective pouches on the bicycle are usually the most we can use, any more than this will offset the natural weight balance of the bicycle and make our journeys more troublesome to deal with.
In this article, we hope to help you stay equipped for your bike journeys with growing confidence:
It can be worthwhile to bring a few cycling equipment spares in your saddlebag, for the purpose of performing maintenance mid-route. A spare innertube can help you alleviate a troublesome puncture, meaning that you needn’t walk the bike a long-distance or put yourself in danger riding on a deflated tyre. Additionally, a chain breaker, often found on a multi-tool, can help you if your chain snaps or becomes damaged. A quick link chain can also help you replace said broken chain if necessary, again allowing you to resume temporary cycling if you encounter an issue. Furthermore, a patch kit and tyre levers can make puncture-replacement a doddle in all weather conditions.
If you cannot ensure you’ve taken all of the practical safety precautions before cycling, don’t cycle. That can seem somewhat strict, but ultimately we must remember that we are small presences on the road, and it’s up to us to remove all unnecessary risk. A high-visibility vest is essential to stay visible on the roads. A worthwhile bike helmet (brand new) is also important in case of knocks and bruises. Armbands or knee pads can also be useful if road cycling or encountering difficult terrain. They could save you a deep injury in the event of a fall (and falling from your bike is a matter of if, not when). Additionally, a secure pouch to hold your smartphone (some prefer armbands) can grant you GPS instruction as necessary, or at least keep this expensive item protected.
Remember that cycling is hard work. A good, clean water bottle is one of your best friends on the trail, and can be steel or a softer flask depending on your preference. If your bike hasn’t an underholster for this water bottle, purchasing one should be cheap and easy.
It’s also important to wear the correct clothing when cycling. A pair of overshoes in your saddlebag can help you maintain correct grip on the pedals and cycle with confidence and comfort. Furthermore, a visor or riding glasses can help you ensure debris and other visual impairments will not impact visibility on the road. Some prefer to wear lycra for their cycling journeys thanks to how form-fitting and breathable it is, allowing you to dry quickly in bad weather conditions and stay warm no matter what. You might not have pictured yourself in spandex before – but it can really help.
While it’s not something physical you can pack into a bag, common sense is perhaps more valuable than anything else on this list, because even safety equipment will fail to function without it. Common sense when cycling on the roads includes learning the correct arm signals and utilizing them. It means keeping to your lane and planning your journey ahead of time. It also means considering the protective measures that are personal to you, such as keeping your medication in your saddlebag, a few first aid items such as plasters or sore cream, and making sure the weight is balanced correctly across your bike frame.
Common sense also means understanding the cycling conditions before you head off on your journey. Black ice and heavy storms are the bane of the cyclist, and so it’s best to temporarily pause your journey if needed.
With this combination of bike equipment, safety equipment, personal equipment and common sense, you’re sure to maintain yourself as responsible, practical cyclist.