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FIVE MUST-HAVES FOR NEWBIE CYCLISTS
ESSENTIALS YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE YOUR RIDE SAFER AND MORE ENJOYABLE
Cycling is the new golf, and for millions of people across the UK it’s an exciting adventure they are embarking on for the first time. Government research indicates that the number of miles British cyclists travelled every year between 2006 and 2016 was up 26%. More people are buying bicycles, taking them to work, and cycling for leisure than ever before. If you’re part of this new wave of cyclists, here are the five essentials you’ll need to make your ride safer and more enjoyable.
Stylish cycling clothing is probably the most crucial element of this sport - especially in the UK, where you can expect poor weather for most of the year. Investing in the right gear will keep you warm and dry regardless of what nature throws at you. Start with the basics and build a cycling wardrobe that doesn’t break the bank. You’ll need a base layer, bib-shorts, hand and knee warmers, a short-sleeved jersey, and a gilet. Gloves during winter and a lightweight rain jacket are also essential depending on the season. Try to pick the lightest attire so that it’s easy to carry and pack away when you reach your destination and change. For instance, shorts for long bike rides should be padded. This is a specialist piece of gear that isn't replaceable, especially with an old pair of lycra sports shorts or anything similar.
Bicycles are simple and most of the repair work can be done in a few minutes. But you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with no network coverage to call out for help when your tyres are punctured or the chain breaks apart. Of course, you can’t carry all your tools, but you can prepare for the most common disruption - punctured tyres - with a small inner tube and lightweight pump. If you’re willing to carry a mobile toolkit around with your bike, make sure it has Allen keys, a spare chain link, gear cable, and Torx bit.
Cycling accidents on British roads are unfortunately common. Although you can’t prevent injuries entirely, you can reduce the chances and severity of head trauma by diligently wearing a helmet everytime you ride. For now, all helmets sold in the UK meet European Union standards so even a basic helmet will protect you. Expensive helmets may offer better ventilation or light-weight materials.
4. Water Bottle + Cage
The humble water bottle and cage combination is perhaps the least expensive and most essential cycling gear. Cycling without it will quickly lead to dehydration, so make sure this is the first thing you buy.
5. Cycling Shoes
Clipless pedals or cycling shoes are shoes with cleats that drastically improve your cycling experience. They bind with the pedals and allow you to pedal more efficiently, with pressure on the downstroke and leverage on the upstroke. It’s difficult to explain, but you will intuitively know how to use them to your advantage the first time you put them on. “As natural as breathing,” is how most professional cyclists would describe the experience. Once you try them, you’ll never want to cycle with regular shoes again.