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Ok, after much deliberation, and a sort of false start - thanks a lot, hernia - I've finally gone and got myself a proper bike, a Specialized Secteur Triple - or at least will be taking delivery of it in a week or so - and wonder what else I need.

I know the obvious things I need; helmet, shirts, shorts, waterproof, lights etc etc. But what else; tool kit? Mini pump?

I am a complete and utter noob so no advice will be too obvious or considered patronising (unlike the guys in one of the shops I looked in. 'Oh, you don't want my £650? Fine, I'll go elsewhere') Yes, I realise a 40 something bloke buying a bike slap bang in the middle of the TDF may be a massive cliche, but I bet your boss would be pissed off to hear he lost a £650 sale because you were smirking with your mate at my lack of knowledge. That said, that was the only negative experience I had in visiting about a dozen shops. Everyone else with no exception was generous with their time and advice.

I have loads of questions, but off the top of my head; do I need - or rather would I benefit from - a computer? I've got an iPhone, would that be as good with the right app? Strava is well rated.

Is more expensive gear that much better than the cheaper stuff? Are a pair of £150 shoes or a £120 helmet 3 times better than a pair of £50 shoes or a £40 helmet, etc?

How puncture resistant are modern tyres? 'Espoir Sport 25c tyres with double BlackBelt puncture protection' according to the website spec. Would changing or upgrading them help or are punctures just 'one of those things' that are unavoidable like death and taxes? Changing tyres and puncture repair is my achilles heel. I hated it when I was younger and I hate it now. I would pay good money for genuinely puncture resistant tyres/tubes if it worked.

So many more questions to ask, but for now...any advice gratefully received. Thanks!

JD

15 comments

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jollygoodvelo [1614 posts] 2 years ago
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There's no such thing as a puncture-proof tyre, just keep the pressures high. Without wanting to tempt fate, checking your tyres for flints after every ride and brushing them off will stop them working their way into the tyre. I've never had one on the current set of tyres (Rubino Pro 3) after almost 1000 miles. Having said that - keep the originals until they wear out. You might as well.

If you're only doing riders of <2-3hours, the Strava app on the iPhone is fine. Stick it in a back pocket and ride. Bear in mind though, that if you need rescuing (puncture, crash, getting lost) it will have eaten your battery. Garmin's 500 is available very cheaply now, 200 even cheaper, so buy one.

With everything, you get what you pay for. Sometimes though, what you're paying for is that lovely glow of having nice stuff. Helmets, for example, >all< pass CE1078. Even the £10 one at Tesco. You're paying for fit, lower weight, etc.

You'll soon find that you need... everything. Or at least, you'll tell the wife you do. And then you'll need a new bike.  1

Bear in mind... all the kit in the world won't make you a better rider. Get out there and ride.

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Leeroy_Silk [149 posts] 2 years ago
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So what if you're now a noob, everyone had to jump on a bike for the first time, congratulate yourself for finally making that jump  41

As far as clothes go you can spend as little or as much as you can afford. If you're planning on spending more than an hour in the saddle get yourself a pair of bibs. Typically, the more you spend, the comfier the chamois (bum pad) will be. As for a jersey, get something that fits and is suitable for the weather you'll be riding in. A water proof pocket is useful but you'll pay for it. I always keep my phone, cash, cards in a re-sealable sandwich bag to keep them dry. One thing to consider, regardless of the weather I always wear a base layer to keep my body either warm if it's cold, or wick sweat away if it's hot.
Shoes: find a friendly local bike shop, try them for size and get a pair that feel good when new. Ignore any rubbish you might be told that you need to "bed them in". Cheaper shoes tend to have a plastic soles that can be flexible (reduced power transfer), can be heavy and may have poor ventilation. Spending more will get you a carbon fibre sole which will be stiffer, they'll be lighter and have better ventilation. If I were in your shoes (pun intended) I would avoid clipping in to begin with so maybe buy pedals with clips. There's nothing scarier (or more embarrassing) than trying to unclip in an emergency.
Helmets differ in shape depending on make; you won't know what helmet shaped head you have until you try a few for size. Cheaper helmets won't necessarily provide less protection than a more expensive helmet, expensive helmets tend to be lighter and generally have better ventilation.

Stick with the tyres you have and change them as and when. Where you ride is going to have a bigger impact on the amount of punctures you get. Avoid the obvious; gravel, glass, freshly cut hedgerows etc. Stick to well maintained paths or roads. You will get punctures so be prepared. I never leave home without a mini pump, at least one spare tube and a pair of tyre levers. I always carry a multi tool and spare chain links too.

Stravas good fun, it lets you see what you've been up to and if you're the competitive sort it'll give you targets to aim for. Don't let it run your life though, I know of a few riders who's every ride is dictated by Strava. The thing I enjoy most about cycling is finding new roads to explore and enjoying the vista offered.

My only other piece of advise is to get a bike fit by someone with experience. It'll be the best spent money you can do to begin with. You'll be looking at around £100 for a fit and will be expected to buy any parts you may need. Second thoughts; get some miles under your belt, upgrade to clip less pedals then have a fit, the fitter should set your shoes up for you.

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denerobt [8 posts] 2 years ago
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I would have to say 'all of the above' . I was new to this a few years back, weighed in at 18 stone and now just under 15st. Managed Ventoux, a number of Cols in Spain and off to Hard Knott pass soon. I'm 48.

My best bit of kit is a small windproof and showerproof jacket that fits in my back pocket. You can find stuff in Aldi & Lidl cheap but not everything. A mini pump and small tool kit is a must - as is a small under saddle bag to put them in. A small packet of ready glued patches and spare inner tube. Put 50p or a £1 coin in there too. I'd go for a Garmin 200 at the very least. Having the data on Strava does encourage you.

Decent gloves to stop your hands going numb and damn good bib shorts - shorts with shoulder straps basically ( I have no idea where the 'bib' bits come from). Get good shoes -you'll be glad you did.

A good top with moisture wicking fabric. Thankfully, gone are the days where we put a piece of newspaper under our shirts to go down hill.

Stay on Strava and stay on this forum. No such thing as a daft question.

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denerobt [8 posts] 2 years ago
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Also get one of these...or similar

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2000-Lumen-CREE-XML-T6-LED-BICYCLE-BIKE-CYCLIN...

And a rear something that flashes  1

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dunnoh [212 posts] 2 years ago
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If you are thin already buy good stuff. I have Assos Bibs, Sidi Shoes, Castelli Gabba and a few other choice clothes - the rest I have sold.

If you are fat and want to lose weight buy Dhb stuff from Wiggle. It good quality and works really well. If you are cold, wet or too hot you wont find it easy so you might as well get good quality clothes.

Be prepared to change your saddle at least 3 times until you get one that fits you - Specialised Romin in my case. Your backside / legs will ache for months but it gets better.

Don't skimp on tyres. I did and came off in the wet. Its a real wakeup call. I ride Vitoria Paves with Kevlar inserts and thick Cross Country Innertubes. No punctures for 1500 miles over hideous roads in Manchester. People also swear by Conti GP4000's.

Basically clothes, saddle and tyres are important. Everything else is window dressing!

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notfastenough [3719 posts] 2 years ago
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Well done for taking the plunge. When I decided to get back on a bike, I just used a cheapo pair of shorts, normal trainers etc, while I worked out what I wanted. Go to a few shops that stock different brands and get a feel for what you like and what you can afford.

Go with the tyres you've got for now, they might be fine.

The advice to get some miles in, go to clipless pedals then get a fitting is good. Apart from anything else, your body changes as it adapts to riding a bike, so a bike fitting before you've started riding is of limited value. However, don't underestimate the value of a fitting- it's worth more than any flashy upgrade in performance terms, and will help to prevent injuries.

A garmin 200 is ace. Available for less than £100 and the courses feature allows you to follow a preplanned route on undiscovered roads. I love it, cycling shows me areas that I never see otherwise.

Buy warm-weather gear now, but hold some of the budget back for other kit when the weather turns sour, otherwise autumn/winter could interrupt your momentum and keep you off the bike.

New season kit comes out around October-ish, so keep an eye out if you're looking for any discounts.

Finally, if you state your general area, people here will be able to suggest good shops/bike fitters etc.

Oh, and have fun!

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parksey [342 posts] 2 years ago
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Can only really second what has been said already.

In terms of gear, no point rushing out and spending hundreds just in case you don't get the bug, so start modest and upgrade as you need to. Both BTwin (Decathlon) and DHB (Wiggle) are good places to start for affordable, but decent quality kit.

The tyres that come on your bike will be fine, no need to replace them until they wear, just take it easy if its wet out. A note on puncture repair though, always carry a spare tube, and I'd personally go with CO2 cartridges over a mini hand pump, as you'll struggle to get the pressure you need otherwise. Get yourself a decent track pump for the garage/shed too, makes achieving 100psi so much easier.

Oh, and I'm not sold on the need for a standalone GPS either. If you've already got a reasonable phone then get yourself something like a Quadlock mount and you'll be good to go. Plenty of alternatives if you don't fancy the "competitiveness" of Strava either, I use MapMyRide, which has a much better route planner anyway.

Above all though, just get out there and enjoy yourself!

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MartyMcCann [261 posts] 2 years ago
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I second MapMyRide as an alternative to Strava-both are free so check them out to see what suits you best-they work well with smartphones and if you do decide down the line to get a Garmin then you can upload to both. Also this is quite a good time to think ahead and pick up winter gear such as bibtights etc reasonably cheaply-just keep an eye out-might also be a good motivating factor as well to keep at it!

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arfa [847 posts] 2 years ago
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On punctures, you could go for gatorskins but they are a pig to get on and off and nothing is bullet proof ! In your situation, I would ride the bike as is, then upgrade the tyres to gp4000's after 2000 miles or so. I would also start out with the pedals as is and only go for clip ins as and when you're confidence allows. Then go for spd's with a touring shoe like the shimano rt82 (easy to walk in).
Find quiet routes to ride - have a search on ridewithgps or plotaroute. See if there is a local cycling club or do you have people to introduce you to the sport ?
Cycling is broadly a very friendly sport, yes there are a few people who take themselves far too seriously - don't worry what they think.
Just one safety request - don't stuff an off the shelf shop water bottle in your bottle cage - buy a proper water bottle - it will save you money and most importantly it will not fall out at speed and take down another rider/yourself.
Good luck!

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LinusLarrabee [119 posts] 2 years ago
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Most cheaper gear is perfectly adequate for a beginner. Generally, prices increase as items get lighter and/or more aero-dynamic.

Essential items (budget permitting):

- a bike fit. You'll enjoy riding much more if your bike is setup for you properly
- a small toolkit. I use a small saddlebag to store spare inner tubes, allen keys, puncture kit etc.
- a helmet. One that fits properly.
- cycling glasses / shades. To protect your eyes.
- a pump. You can get pumps that work manually and with Co2 canisters.

Nice to have:

- a track pump. Getting your tyre pressure up to 100+ PSI before you set out on a ride will be so much easier
- folding tyres. If you do have to stop to repair a puncture they are much easier to remove than the cheaper tyres with wire beads

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bikebot [2120 posts] 2 years ago
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Congratulations on buying your first bike. The first thing you need to buy after purchasing your first bike, is your second bike...

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sergius [413 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd second the majority of what's been said here, if you are just starting out - potentially you will find your body shape changes a lot initially (a little extreme but I went from a 36" waist to 30").

I'd start off buying relatively cheap gear and then upgrading once you feel it is appropriate.

For example the Tenn outdoors stuff from Amazon is cheap-as-chips and will do to begin with. The cycle shorts for example are nothing to write home about, but they cost about £12 IIRC, and were plenty good enough for a 32 mile round trip commute. You can treat yourself to fancier gear later on when you are happy that you intend to keep riding and your size/shape is steady.

Absolute basics for a saddle bag would be a spare tube/puncture kit and a multi-tool. You'll want a mini-pump and a bottle holder, lights if you intend to ride when light is failing.

I rely on Strava for my tracking/mapping needs. My Samsung S4 will happily do a 6 hour ride on a full charge and still have ~30% battery left (and that's without disabling WiFi/Bluetooth etc for longer life). I've not felt the need yet for a visible map while riding, though I have taken a few wrong turns because of it!

Depending on when you ride (weather/season wise), you'll likely want a wind/waterproof jacket - again the Tenn outdoors one I picked up for £45 has last me a couple of years without too much bother - though it will need to be replaced with something fancier this winter.

Regarding the bike fit, there is a lot you can research on this yourself on the internet - you can do a pretty reasonable job yourself with some research - and then get a proper fit later on if you feel it's appropriate (I'm a little biased against them TBH, I had one done, spent a lot of money on some new parts, and it exacerbated my knee issues).

You'll want gloves and a helmet, in my limited experience they are do the job - you pay more for better brands/lighter weight - even the very basic stuff should last a couple of years. I'd probably steer clear of cleats until you are a bit surer of yourself, but that's a whole other discussion.

HTH

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Daveyraveygravey [513 posts] 2 years ago
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Punctures - it may be worth practicing at home before you get caught out beside the road. If you are out on a ride, just take your time and do a proper job; I've lost track of the times I've tried to do an F1 pit stop stle puncture repair, only to have the tube deflate the minute you set off again.

I try and find a lay by or gate to get away from the road. You won't be in a good mood, and having traffic whizz by a few feet away will make it worse. Plus you may need to be able to hear the air escaping and you can't with close traffic.

I always take a new virginal tube with me and fix the holed one when I get home. There will be rides when you get two or even three punctures though, or you may give your new tube to someone else in the same boat as you.

Before you take the wheel off the bike, have a look to see if you can see the entry point and whatever caused the puncture, and try to see where it is in relation to the valve. Usually punctures when out on the road are quite big and easy to spot, but not always, and it is very frustrating when you're sat beside the road and you can't find the damn hole. If you're at home you can dunk it in a bucket of water which will find the tiniest hole, but then you have to dry the tube and mop up the mess in the kitchen.

Always always have a good long slow deliberate feel round the inside of the tyre before you put the tube back in, it's amazing how a small piece of flint/thorn can stay in there just to trash your nicely mended tyre.

I find the self-adhesive patches don't always stick enough, I have them and an old school patch and glue kit on both bikes.

Tubes sometimes have a pronounced seam, if your hole is near it, sand the seam down to get a flat area for the patch. Don't sand too much away though.

Presta valves can be a pain in the ass; when you unscrew the little bit at the top/outside edge, you can sometimes unwittingly unscrew the whole valve out of the metal part, very annoying.

As for clothing, I don't have any of the high end stuff (apart from Castelli socks!) so can't comment. I can say that Lusso shorts are great as is a lot of DHB stuff. I don't understand the "bib-shorts are best brigade" - I never have a problem with builders bum in normal Lusso cycling shorts, and the comments you get from non-cyclists about mankini shorts will put you off. As will having to go to the loo and all the stuff in your jersey pockets falling out on the loo floor because you can't get the straps off your shoulders any other way.

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JudgeDreddful [12 posts] 2 years ago
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All really useful advice and lots of food for thought so far, thanks chaps!

To recap, it seems there are certain 'must have' items, certain 'wait and see if you really need them' items - with no need to go over the top and get the most expensive available.....and I need to man up, expect punctures and practice, practice, practice repairing them until I can do them blindfolded.

Just counting down the days until I get the bike now....

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Suffolk Cycling [65 posts] 2 years ago
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Good luck. I'm six months in and loving it. Purchased:

Trek 1.1
basic trip computer to see how slow I am
Shoes and clip-in pedals
Pump for garage
Mini pump for bike
mini tool kit for bike
spare tube
lights
cheap jerseys but decent padded shorts x 2, wind jacket, cycling socks
gloves and fingerless mitts
helmet
Glasses
Strava app for phone
Chain oil and cleaner
Water bottle
And last week a GoPro to film my exploits!

I really hope the wife does not read this list  13