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Health and Wellness

15 Essentials Every Bicyclist Should Have

By: Elizabeth Striano
August 24, 2015

Photo courtesy Richard Masoner | CC by 2.0
Photo courtesy Richard Masoner | CC by 2.0

Este contenido también está disponible en español.

A common question new bicyclists have is: What are the biking “essentials” I should have in my “toolkit”? RTC gave the answer a shot.

Below is a list of items every bicyclist might find useful at some point, whether they’re using their bike for commuting, recreation or long-distance training on America’s trails.

Most Essential

Of course, the list is in no way meant to be final—you may want to add a few items of your own or omit some others—but this should help you get started!

  1. Helmet: This one is important, particularly if you use your bike to commute.
  2. Water bottle: Often, these can be refilled on the trail (you’ll likely need it).
  3. Bottle cage: You’ll need a place to keep that water bottle.
  4. Pump: Two types, ideally: a floor tire pump (to leave at home); and an on-trail tire pump or cartridges that can attach to your bike. Make sure any pump can supply the pressure needed for a road tire (8bar or ~120psi).
  5. Patch kit: Can save money by repairing rather than replacing a tube, and great when you get a flat and realize you’re out of spare tubes (see below).
  6. Extra tubes: Most economical if you buy the size you need in bulk; you can get 10 at a time and have enough supply for years to come.
  7. Tire levers: Essential for removing the tire from the rim when changing a flat.
  8. Multitool: A small, lightweight cycling-specific set of tools, good for most simple repairs.
  9. Chain lube: The chain is one of the most critical components of your bike, so be sure to give it some love.
Photo courtesy laughingmonk | CC by 2.0
Photo courtesy laughingmonk | CC by 2.0

Nice to Have

The following items are nice to have, but not everyone will find them essential.

  1. Bike lock: For when you’re running those errands around town.
  2. Sunglasses: Some would say eye protection is absolutely essential.
  3. Bike shorts: Padded bike shorts are particularly useful during longer bike rides.
  4. Cycling gloves: Great for keeping your hands road-rash free.
  5. $20 in cash: Just in case.
  6. Saddle bag or backpack: To hold it all!

What Else?

There are other items that you might wish to explore, as well—proper shoes, a cycle computer, bike wash, brush kit, shop rags, good socks, tire pressure gauge, and spare bottles and cages—but it’s up to every rider to determine their needs and, of course—what makes them comfortable.

Remember, the most important thing you need is your bike! 

Elizabeth Striano
Elizabeth Striano

Elizabeth Striano was formerly RTC's director of communications and marketing.

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