Bike Stuff | December 2021
Cycling Gear 101
Guest post by Petra Kliese
Don’t fall into the trap of being the cyclist who is just starting out but has ‘all the gear and no idea’. Get the basics! Go second hand where possible and learn what you like and need!
When I first started cycling when I was a kid the minimum requirements for cycling were so simple to me…
- BIKE: Probably taken from the dump, probably had a slightly bent wheel, definitely had broken gears (it wasn’t until years later that I realised people ‘changed down gears’ rather than just jumping off and running up the hill).
- WD40: For a rusted out chain (What ever you do. Do not use WD40 on your chain! It is a degreaser… I wish I could go back and tell my younger self).
- Tube Patches: Because buying new tubes just never crossed my mind.
- Helmet: Probably only worn (if I could find it) on the craziest of cycles (think flying down the mountain on a dirt trail).
It wasn’t until I was well into my 20’s and cycling to work that I actually entered a bike shop and realised two very interesting things…
- There are ‘Tyre Levers’ – I had been using a butter knife my whole life (I'm serious!!).
- Bike shops are the reason I had always heard ‘cycling is expensive’ – A concept up until that point which I had dismissed as ‘incorrect’.
Since that eye opening day I’ve invested a little bit more in my cycling and my minimum requirements have changed. I call this the 101 gear list / essential items …
101 Gear List
Purchase / acquire a bike that is suited to the type cycling you enjoy. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and second hand bikes can always be found! I purchased my first road bike secondhand for $500 and we cycled together for thousands of kilometres with no trouble. I’m a particular fan of going second hand first – because you might cycle for a year and have a clear idea of exactly what you want for the long term and shop around – if you buy new and a year later have a better idea of what you want, it might have been an expensive mistake!
Safety is sexy (something my younger self did not believe).
Front and back – and if you are cycling in areas that are not well lit, get powerful ones (which are more expensive but so worth it)!
It’s what’s in the saddle bag that counts…
- Spare Tube and/or patches: You can find these at your local bike shop and they are surprisingly cheap
- Tyre levers: (seriously can’t believe I used to use a butter knife).
- Gas canister and connector / Hand pump :(the hand pump is more likely to be attached onto your bike vs the saddle bag).
- Zip lock bag: Trust me, when you get caught in the rain and you are worried about damaging your phone – you will thank me.
- Rubber bands: Again trust me – you never know when you will need these – but they come in handy for temporary repairs (just take some off the asparagus).
CYCLING OUTFIT (optional)
Now this is dependent on your type of cycling, for example when I was just using my bike to commute I never had anything special in the outfit department. Now that I do a lot more road cycling and for longer distances I always wear padded pants and a cycling jersey.
CYCLING SHOES & CLEATS (optional)
I love cleats, they help you cycle more efficiently because you are pulling and pushing the pedals (this extra power is particularity noticeable on hills). You don’t need cycling shoes and cleats to have an awesome cycle – but if are you looking for more efficiency give them a try (you won’t go back)!
Grab a floor pump for home with a pressure gauge (using your hand-pump will take ages and you really only want to do it in emergencies).
Do not use WD40 like my younger self! It will eventually destroy your chain! Head to the bike shop and grab chain lube and use it a couple of times a month.
* This is my essential gear list - this might differ depending on your type of cycling and your cycling goals' .
See you out on the road.
About the Author
Petra, a Brissie local, has had a love for riding around South East Qld on two wheels for as long as she can remember! As primarily a road cyclist, she’s always getting involved with community cycling events. Not to mention her involvement with her group triathlon team, Still_triing, where she races in the cycling leg (check them out on Instagram @still_triing). As well as this she is an aspiring Strava local legend, New Farm roundabout record holder and an all round sporting enthusiast. She is proud to be an ambassador for Birds on Bikes, a brand which she finds herself wearing almost daily!