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Do you have these cycling essentials? 10 things we think every budding cyclist needs

Unless you're a Tour de France pro, these 10 items are must-haves!

Has the Tour de France and/or the British 'summer' inspired you to dig out your bike and ride a bit more frequently, for the first time or for the first time in a while? Us too! To help you get out the door faster so you can spend more time cycling and less time stressing over the details, here are 10 cycling products that we think will improve every cyclist's ride without breaking the bank...

Spare tubes

2024 Cycling Essentials spare tube

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, nobody wants to be stranded miles away from home, relying on the goodwill of others to get themselves out of a mess. Unfortunately, punctures are kind of like the inevitable party poopers of riding a bike, but luckily they are also fairly easy to fix.

2024 Cycling essentials - flat tyre

> Psst… 23 puncture-fixing hacks to get you out of trouble

A spare tube will fix most flats, and even if you haven’t yet mastered the art of changing a tube yourself you should always take a spare.

Things to check when buying a tube: Is the valve long enough to reach through your wheel rim, and is the tube big enough for the tyres on your bike? For example, if I'm running 28mm tyres a 20-30c tube will do nicely. I’m not getting caught out this time!

Portable pump

2024 Cycling Essentials portable pump

Sticking with the puncture theme, the next thing that we always take with us on bike rides is a portable pump. One like the Topeak Roadie DA (above) is small enough to fit in either your back pocket, in a saddle bag or mounted to the frame, so there’s not really any excuse not to take one!

2024 Cycling essentials Topeak DA pump

> Review: Topeak Roadie DA Pump

This one is particularly clever actually, because it pumps air both when you push it and pull it, meaning you can spend more time clocking up the miles and less time puffing in a hedge.

Track pump

2024 Cycling Essentials track pump

Two pumps might seem a bit excessive, but when you’re home your back will thank you for investing in a track pump as it’ll make light work of getting things inflated. Tyre pressures that are too low can make it feel like you’re riding through treacle, not to mention you’re at an increased risk of getting a pinch flat.

2024 Cycling essentials track pump in use

> How to choose the best bike tyre pressure

We’d recommend getting something like this Joeblow Roadie EX, as it’s quick and easy to use, can pump tyres up all the way to 160psi (although you'll rarely need that much) and has a big pressure gauge to make it easier to get your pressure correct each time.

Multitool

2024 Cycling Essentials multitool

Our next cycling essential is a multitool. Despite its compact size, it's one of these little beauties can fix all manner of roadside problems.

Loose bolt? No problem. Gears out of whack? Easily fixed. To be honest, you never really know what you’re going to need a multitool for until you really do need one. 

2024 Cycling essentials multitool in use

> 12 of the best emergency bike fixes

When selecting a multitool, you need to balance size and weight with functionality. We'd recommend something with at least 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6mm Allen keys on it, but if you want more peace of mind then something like the Topeak Hexus X with 21 functions could get you out of all kinds of bother.

Chain lube

2024 Cycling Essentials chain lube

Repeat after me: WD40 is NOT chain lube!

However, this Squirt chain lube is! It’ll not only stop your chain from squeaking, but also help your drivetrain last longer. That's a no-brainer then!

2024 Cycling essentials applying chain lube

> How to clean your bike chain: a good way, a better way and the ultimate way

This Squirt lube is super easy to use, it’s wax-based so lasts ages and is suitable for all conditions meaning you don’t have to clog up your garage with multiple bottles.

Padded bib shorts

2024 Cycling Essentials - bib shorts

> Best cycling bib shorts

Our next cycling must-have is padded cycling shorts, they seriously do make a big difference to your riding comfort. You might not want to go full Lycra but there are plenty of options out there such as baggy shorts, all with a chamois inside to protect your more sensitive areas.

Tyre levers

2024 Cycling Essentials tyre levers

Unless you have thumbs made of steel or particularly baggy tyres, then you'll also want to invest in a set of tyre levers. It’s worth noting that some tyre levers also go brittle over time, so if your levers are as old as you are then it might be worth an upgrade. This pair set me back just a couple of quid.

Cycling shoes

2024 Cycling Essentials cycling shoes

You don't need dedicated cycling shoes to have a good time on the bike, but if you're putting in the miles on the Tarmac then they're a great way to level up your cycling experience.

Cycling shoes come with either a two-bolt or three-bolt cleat pattern, have a stiffer sole than most shoes and allow you to clip into the pedals. The result is more efficient power transfer, no chance of slipping on the pedals and you can also utilise the upstroke more. 

2024 Fizik Omna Wide - 1

> The most common bike fit mistakes and how to avoid them

When purchasing cycling shoes you need to make sure that the ones you choose fit your feet, as some can be quite narrow. The Fizik Vento Omna Wides are staff favourites here at road.cc with a wide footbed, wipeable upper and plenty of ventilation to keep you comfortable no matter how long the ride.

Bike lights

2024 Cycling Essentials bike lights

Bike lights come in two forms: to be seen, and to see with. Even if you're not planning on riding in the dark we recommend getting (and using) a set of be-seen lights as you never know when the weather might make a turn for the worse, or you get caught out in receding light.

2024 Cycling essentials rear light on

> road.cc front bike lights Beam Test

Something like this Moon Sport Lightset with a 1500-lumen front light and 100-lumen rear light has enough output to illuminate even really dark lanes and get you seen in bright sunlight, which are often the hardest conditions to see cyclists in. Most importantly they're easy to fit, meaning they're more likely to be on your bike when called upon rather than sitting in a drawer.

Bottle cage and water bottle

2024 Cycling Essentials water bottle and cage

Cycling is thirsty work, and by far the easiest and most convenient way to transport fluids is with a bottle cage and water bottle (or bidon for anyone who's been watching the Tour de France).

Neither need to cost a fortune; for example, this Topeak Shuttle Cage AL has an RRP of just £10.99 and holds a multitude of bottles securely.

...and don't forget! 

2022 Clif Bar Mini.jpg

> How to conquer long bike rides without getting too tired

Forget aero, forget saving grams and forget spending hundreds and thousands on bikes... the one way to ride faster for longer and ward off the dreaded bonk is by fuelling properly. Make sure you leave some room in your pockets for snacks!

2024 Van Rysel NCR CF Apex - riding 2.jpg

Let us know any of your own cycling must-haves down in the comments below. 

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

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17 comments

Avatar
Stephankernow | 2 days ago
1 like

My Pashley is fitted with a pump and full tool kit, plus dynamo lights I also have fitted battery lights.
I do feel.sorry for people with racing bikes and the like who get nothing added.

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froze | 2 days ago
0 likes

Lezyne Power XL levers are great, not made of plastic but reinforced carbon fiber.  I've had numerous plastic levers break due to cold weather use, but so far after 5 years the Power XL has not; the XL is their longest but that gives more leverage and fits my hands better.

I tried the Topeak Roadie DA and sent it back, it took around 250 strokes to get to 90 psi whereas the medium-size Lezyne Road Drive only took 180 and with less effort on my 25c tires.  I also have the large size Lezyne Road Drive on my touring rig with 38c tires and it only takes about 120 strokes to get to 80, but the large size is 11 inches, it's more like a 1/2 frame pump, but it does make putting air in tires a lot easier.  Even the Lezyne Road Drive small can get to 80 psi with about 170 strokes, and it's smaller than the Topeak, but it takes a huge effort to get there!  I seriously doubt if any mini pump can reach 160 as companies claim.

Most floor pumps work pretty well, there are some that are better than others but only slightly, unlike mini pumps where most won't get you to 60 psi!  You can find a lot of really nice durable floor pumps for under $100.

I don't think that a 100-lumen tail light is enough to remain safe in broad daylight, I wouldn't recommend anything less than 250 lumens.

Multi-tools are useless if you don't have the skills to do some of your own repairs. Plus you have to buy a multi-tool that has a selection of tools that your bike uses.

 

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Global Nomad | 6 days ago
1 like

no point having cycling shoes if you dont have the pedals to go with them.....

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Cayo | 1 week ago
0 likes

Along the lines of zip ties, I have a velcro strap with me. You can buy DIY kits enabling you to cut to length and add a buckle for adjustability.

Handy for securing many things that may come loose - seat pack, cables etc and also to use as a shim under mounted accessories such as lights, computers and so on.

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Mr Hoopdriver | 1 week ago
0 likes

A Bob-Yak trailer and petrol compressor to help when you need to change your tubeless tyre at the roadside.

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froze replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 1 day ago
0 likes

Mr Hoopdriver wrote:

A Bob-Yak trailer and petrol compressor to help when you need to change your tubeless tyre at the roadside.

LMAO!!

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pjclinch | 1 week ago
1 like

Not a bad list, but one that could do with its headlines giving a bit of adjustment.

As often the case when viewed with a wider perspective, this list of "essentials" tends to the... not actually essential, and also makes rather big assumptions about what sort of person we mean by "every cyclist". So If I'm touring on my MTB miles from anywhere I'll have a lot of that but if I'm popping out to the shops most of it's a bit over the top.
The Netherlands is full of people who get about by bike for a significant amount of their transport needs and won't have either want or need of padded shorts or clicky shoes/pedals, and if they get a puncture they'll just have the local repairer do it for them. That might be anathema to a Keen Cyclist but these folks are still part of "every cyclist".

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The_Ewan replied to pjclinch | 1 week ago
1 like

I think it's in the nature of lists like this they can't really be actual literal essentials because that's not interesting - pointing out to people that they're going to need wheels and pedals isn't a useful contribution.

But it seems reasonable in the interests of headline brevity to assume a basic degree of media literacy on the part of the reader, and that they'll be able to understand that they're going to be getting a list of things that they might not have considered, but really should, and which they can then make individual decisions about how applicable they are to their specific style of riding.

But that's a lot less snappy as a title, and it should be obvious.

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mdavidford replied to pjclinch | 1 week ago
2 likes

pjclinch wrote:

these folks are still part of "every cyclist".

Ah, but they're not 'real cyclists'...

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NotNigel | 1 week ago
3 likes

What, no helmet? [joke]

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Rendel Harris | 1 week ago
3 likes

I would add a good pair of photochromic sunglasses, both to protect your eyes from debris, bugs etc and to improve your vision in dazzling conditions. Only just switched to a photochromic model and will never go back, previously on a long ride in changeable conditions I might have stopped to change lenses three or four times, now it's just put them on and forget about them, even when darkness falls.

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Stephankernow replied to Rendel Harris | 2 days ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

I would add a good pair of photochromic sunglasses, both to protect your eyes from debris, bugs etc and to improve your vision in dazzling conditions. Only just switched to a photochromic model and will never go back, previously on a long ride in changeable conditions I might have stopped to change lenses three or four times, now it's just put them on and forget about them, even when darkness falls.

Night or yellow lensed glasses are excellent

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froze replied to Rendel Harris | 1 day ago
0 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

I would add a good pair of photochromic sunglasses, both to protect your eyes from debris, bugs etc and to improve your vision in dazzling conditions. Only just switched to a photochromic model and will never go back, previously on a long ride in changeable conditions I might have stopped to change lenses three or four times, now it's just put them on and forget about them, even when darkness falls.

  All photochromic sunglasses made for cycling are made of plastic, plastic performs poorly in photochromic ability compared to glass, for me they don't get dark enough for intense sunlight conditions.  It's much better to have swappable lenses, at least for my eyes.

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Dunnoeither | 1 week ago
2 likes

A windproof vest also comes in handy If you are facing a sudden change in weather, descends or return home later than planned.

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David9694 | 1 week ago
2 likes

Consider mini pliers and a chain tool. Cable ties can fix a range of things and don't add any weight/bulk. If you're using removeable valves, check that your screw-on mini pump doesn't remove them.  Put a couple of M5 bolts and chain links in. Take at least one metal tyre lever. I take a silver emergency blanket. Cycling convinced  me to enrol for Apple Pay. 

Consider Carradice as a means to carry everything.  

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pjclinch | 1 week ago
1 like

I use padded shorts for long rides when off-road touring (for the touring on road I use a recumbent which renders them pointless) but other than that having a comfortable saddle saves an awful lot of faffing about with contrived padding. Padded shorts may well be "essential" with the *THINGS* that are supplied to sit on with modern sports machinery, but there are actually seats available that aren't agony: much better to get one of those than have to wear padded shorts every trip.

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jaymack | 1 week ago
10 likes

Thing No.1 out of 10 would probably be a bike...

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