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Off the Bike

Proper clothing and tools for bicycling : 22/100

In yesterdays post we talked about choosing a bike based on the style of riding you plan on doing. TLDR; if you are just getting started I suggest getting either a cruiser or hard tail mountain bike. Either one will be comfortable and affordable. Cruiser for pavement riding, mountain bike for dirt riding, although it will also be good on the pavement.

Today we are talking about clothing and tools. For many people the thought of riding a bike means spandex. While spandex does make cycling a lot more comfortable it is not necessary. As a beginner you want to focus on being comfortable and spending as little as possible. You still need to figure out if you want to ride a bike.

T-Shirt and Shorts

The easiest outfit to start of riding a bike in is whatever you wear for working out it already. Shorts and a t-shirt made of anything but cotton. You should avoid cotton as it absorbs moisture and that means your seat is gonna get wet. Which can cause chafing and all kinds of bad things. Athletic underwear, socks, shorts, and shirt are the best combo to keep you dry and happy. On days where I am just spinning the pedals for 30 minutes I will wear the same clothes I wear for my strength training.

Shoes

For shoes you can get away with running or tennis shoes. You should not be considering clip in pedals yet. If you don’t know what clip in pedals are then even better. You should just have flat pedals that are large enough for your foot to comfortably fit on. If you need to buy shoes you shouldn’t need to spend over $50.

Helmet

There is strong debate about whether wearing a bike helmet makes you any safer. For city riding at reasonable speeds I do not think wearing a helmet is necessary. However if you are going to ride longer distances at higher speed you should consider wearing a helmet. If you are going to do any riding on dirt or trails I think you should wear a helmet.

This is the helmet I recommend. It has MIPS technology for safety and a visor which just looks cool. 😎 Oh and the price is very reasonable and there’s a number of good color options.

Tools

The most basic tools you should have to get started are a water bottle, multi-tool, floor pump, tire levers, spare tubes, and chain lube. With these tools you will be able to stay hydrated, tighten almost any bolt on the bike, inflate the tires, change a tire, and maintain the chain.

Having a water bottle with you on a bike is a good idea. Since you are riding at a faster speed than when walking or running you will need more water to stay hydrated. Also the bike usually has one or two bottle holders just sitting there to be used. I like the Camelback Podium Chill bottles as they keep your water colder:

A good multi-tool is small enough to fit in a pocket and has enough tools to fix just about anything on your bike.

For $11 you have the multi-tool and tire levers. We call that a 2’fer.

For a bike pump I have had this Specialized Pump for years. You can find it a many local bike shops in the US, but you cannot find it on Amazon.com. Having a good pump with an accurate gauge will last you a long time. It is important that you check your tire pressure before every ride. The recommended pressure is usually written on the sidewall of the tire. Having it properly inflated will make the ride smoother and reduce the chance of a pinch flat.

Bike tubes come in a variety of sizes and even valve types. Once you get your first bike you will then know what type of bike tubes to buy. Most road type bikes are 700c and most mountain bike types are 26 inch for the diameter of the tube. There are also a variety of widths involved. The 2 valve types are Schrader and Presta and are determined by the size of the hole in you rim. Again, once you get your bike you will know what size tube and type of valve to get. Prices on tubes seem to be going up. I remember them being 2 to 3 dollars a piece but now they are more. They also vary in price. You should be able to get the lowest cost ones and be fine. Be sure to have at least 2 spare tubes and a patch kit:

$10 patch kit will keep your tubes lasting a lot longer.

On a bike with gears you need to pay attention to the chain. If it is not properly lubricated it can shift poorly or even break. You can use regular oil to lubricate the chain but it will get dirty very quickly. Before I changed to waxing my chain I used this lube:

All in all you will probably spend about $100 on the basic tools to start bike riding with. With these tools you should be able to avoid going to the bike shop unless a more serious mechanical issue occurs.

Summary

Having the right clothing to start bike riding is pretty easy. Just avoid cotton at all costs. Deciding to wear a helmet is up to you but if you are going on dirt or off road its generally a good idea as falling is more likely. Getting the basic set of tools mentioned means you will be self sufficient unless you have something break on the bike. With those tools and Youtube you will be able to keep your bike running without visiting the bike shop, unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket.

Workout Detail

Today was a strength day but last night I was up late looking for a friend who was supposed to be on a 2 hour ride. They ended up being fine but I ended up staying up late trying to get yesterdays post done. So I slept in this morning. However, after my work shift I did spend an hour working on a new trail I am building on my land. It was a decent workout and I made some good progress. I will write some articles about that process soon!

I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. Tomorrow we cover how to stay safe on your bike. See you then!

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