Many people pedal cheerfully in their everyday clothes, with only a knapsack to carry their belongings. Cycling gear, on the other hand, can make your time on two wheels easier, safer, and more enjoyable if you cycle regularly, whether for fitness or commuting. What exactly are they?
Basic cycling gear you need
Is it necessary to wear a helmet? It is debatable. Cycling is actually a lot safer than you think, especially if you follow a few simple safety precautions. In some places, wearing a bicycle helmet is required by law, but if that isn’t the case where you live, cycling is actually much safer than you might think.
Many European towns and cities do not require cyclists to wear helmets because it is unlikely that they will be involved in a catastrophic accident while riding around town. Many others, on the other hand, find wearing a helmet reassuring.
A good helmet is an especially wise addition for types of riding where there is a high risk of a non-motor vehicle crash, such as mountain biking.
A helmet must be properly fitted and firmly attached to your head in order to be effective, which means it must be level, cover your forehead, and the straps must be snug.
The best road bike helmets we recommend are:
- Bontrager Starvos WaveCel – very airy, adding extra comfort to rides in hot weather.
- Giro Foray MIPS – great looks with a smooth, rounded compact shell and truncated rear to maintain efficiency in all head positions.
- Kask Protone – designed to maintain aerodynamics and airflow in any common riding position.
- Lazer Blade – a value-packed lightweight helmet that is available in a range of colors.
- MET Idolo – an entry-level road helmet
2. Bike clothing
Newcomers may find specialist bike clothing strange, especially on those of us who aren’t low-body-fat super-athletes, but it’s quite comfortable, particularly on long rides.
If you want to pursue a more athletic career, you should overcome your shyness and learn to appreciate cycling clothing. Stretchy, close-fitting shorts move with your body and are completely breathable, keeping you cool. Cycling shorts should be washed after each use and should not be worn with underwear.
The good news is, you can have head-to-foot clothing categories in some brands:
- Assos – Has a long history in the world of cycling, Assos went on to pioneer the use of more aerodynamic, synthetic riding apparel. Now, Assos continues to produce top-quality cycling gear ranging from bib shorts to jerseys, jackets, and gloves.
- Black Sheep Cycling – Their mission is to close the gap between what you wear off the bike and what you wear on it. So they put together simple, attractive gear that functions incredibly well and looks even better.
- God and Famous – This New York City-based brand produces stark, reflective gear for the track and cycling community in their home city and ships to cities worldwide.
3. Cycling shoes
Cycling shoes have stiff bottoms to keep your feet from getting sore or wasting energy flexing over the pedals.
There are flat-soled shoes, but the majority have threads that allow clipless pedal cleats to be bolted on.
Mountain bike shoes have these threads sunken in the bottom, allowing you to use regular pedals or walk in them – a great option for inexperienced riders – but road shoes leave the cleat exposed, making walking much more difficult.
- Giro Empire SLX – offers a high-performance option that is potentially unrivaled in terms of low weight and comfort.
- Fizik Infinito R1 – provides an extremely stable pedaling platform that will enable comfortable riding all day.
- Shimano S-Phyre RC902 – features a unibody construction that reduces stack height to improve pedaling feel.
4. Front and rear lights
Lights have two functions: they make you visible and brighten the road. They are required if you are cycling at night – or if you are in danger of being caught out after dark.
In most cities, there is enough ambient light that tiny, moderately bright units are all that is required to make yourself visible to other road users, and they can be paired with reflectors to raise your profile.
A more powerful solution is required for highway lighting. As a result of the development of highly efficient, bright LEDs and lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, compact lights with tremendous power have emerged in recent years.
High-powered lights are required for mountain biking, but they are also useful for road cycling on dark roads.
Even if the light can produce thousands of lumens to provide daylight-like lighting, it will have a variety of settings, allowing you to choose a less powerful option on city streets to save battery life and avoid blinding other drivers.
For more, see our guides to the best bike lights for road cycling and commuting, and the best mountain bike lights.
- Blackburn Dayblazer 800 Front Light – a solid choice in every regard, including brightness, waterproofing, and particularly its all-metal body.
- Cygolite Hotrod 50 – affordable strap-on taillight is an exceptional value and easily mounts to almost any bike part.
- Cygolite Hotrod Front 110 and Hotrod Rear 50 USB Combo – all-around visibility at night and during the day, but the headlight (110 lumens) does nothing to illuminate a dark path ahead of you.
If you live in a wet climate, mudguards (also known as fenders) are a must-have piece of riding equipment.
Few bikes have them because they don’t look racy (or particularly aspirational), but mudguards will keep road spray where it belongs if you intend to do more than ride on sunny days.
Even if the rain has stopped, you’d be surprised at how wet your feet, lower legs, and backside can get if the roads are still wet.
Mudguards will keep you warm and dry while also protecting your components and extending their lifespan.
Many entry-level road and hybrid bikes come standard with frame mounts for full-length mudguards. They bolt directly to the bike and provide full front and rear coverage.
For motorcycles without mounting, mudguards with clip-in mounts are also available. Their efficiency varies, but the better ones, such as Crud Roadracers, provide a lot of defense.
For more buying advice, head to our guide to the best mudguards.
- Bontrager NCS mudguards – super easy to fit and adaptable.
- Crud Roadracer MK3 mudguards – the go-to option for road bikes with no eyelets or tight clearances.
- SKS Raceblade Long mudguards – a very secure fit for clip-on mudguards.
6. Bottle cage and bottle
If you’re going to be riding for an extended period of time, you’ll want – and need – to stay hydrated.
A mountain biker’s favorite is a backpack or hip pack with a hydration bladder, but for road cycling and commuting, a simple water bottle and cage will suffice.
Most bikes have bosses on the down tube and seat tube for mounting a bottle cage, and using a bottle eliminates the need to carry that liquid on your back.
- Elite Rocko Carbon – impressively secure, a great option for frames with limited internal space and riders in a hurry.
- Tacx Ciro is a minimalist, decently priced cage but elegant, effective, tough, light, and good.
- Birzman Uncage – can be used to attach a spare tube and levers to a slot beneath the cage, too.
Nice-to-have cycling gear
Cycling glasses are almost a necessity, but they are classified as a “nice to have” because they are not required. It’s not just about protecting your eyes from the sun when riding a bike; having a fly, dirt, or, worse, grit in your eyes is a pain.
Choose sunglasses with a wide field of vision and weather-adaptable lenses, such as dark lenses for bright days, clear lenses for nights, and yellow or orange lenses for cloudy days.
- Oakley Jawbreaker Prizm Road – excellent hydrophilic treatment on the inside of the lens.
- Rudy Project Keyblade – a great option for anyone looking for one pair of shades to cover a wide range of uses.
- Rudy Project Sintryx – a stylish and practical pair of shades.
8. Clipless pedals
As your road riding abilities improve, pedals that keep you securely attached to the bike become essential.
If you don’t know how to use clipless pedals, don’t worry; being attached to the bike may feel strange at first, but you’ll get used to it quickly. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Mountain bikers debate whether to use flat or clipless pedals, though many prefer the sense of security that comes with being clipped in.
To avoid discomfort or injury, make sure your cleats are properly installed and adjusted if you use clipless pedals.
- Look Keo Classic 3 Plus pedal – stainless steel plates for stable pedaling.
- Shimano M520 SPD pedal – best road bike pedals for commuting, gravel, cyclocross and other dirty ridings.
- Time Xpresso 2 pedal – large stable platform with smooth float.
9. A lock
Make sure your bike is locked if you leave it on the street. Good locks are not cheap, but the best ones will withstand everything except power tools, forcing a thief to go elsewhere.
It is difficult to determine the security of a lock simply by looking at it. To provide some assurance about the quality of a lock, Sold Secure provides independent lock ratings – gold, silver, and bronze.
Many bicycle insurance policies require the use of a Sold Secure-rated lock. If you do want to protect your bike, check out our guide to finding the best bicycle insurance for you.
Investing in a good lock is a small cost to pay to avoid the inconvenience of a long walk home and, more importantly, the cost of a new bike if you have to leave your bike on the street or secure it at home. Check out BikeRadar’s roundup of the best bike locks for more shopping advice and our top-rated products.
Above is a collection of specialized apparel for cycling. Hope our cycling gear picks can help you.