The Cycling Non-Essentials that are Worth It

By Matt Adkin

The world of cycling is a bit like Professional Wrestling: it’s full of colourful spandex-wearing characters that come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them even spend a lot of time shouting at each other and falling over

Moreover, they each have their personalities and partake for a range of different motivations. Some cycle to be the best in the world — for fame and glory. Others are happy to trudge along and enjoy the overall journey and experience.

It’s a confusing world to an outsider, which may make you reluctant to climb on to a saddle. However, while very daunting at first, it’s easy to enjoy once you get stuck in. What I’m trying to say is that cycling is such a personal industry, where everyone has contrasting opinions about how to do it right, so it’s hard to know what to buy to start your new passion.

It can be hard to find information about good purchases for a beginner outside of the basics. You’ve probably read numerous blogs about the perfect bike in your price range and you will have looked at the safest cycling helmets on the market (it’s not the one that makes you look like Batman unfortunately). You might have even looked at cycling gloves, which are essential, unless you don’t particularly like the skin on your hands.

These are all imperative investments, worth both the money and time spent finding the best option in your price range. However, there are other less significant and less mentioned purchases you can make to ensure you have the safest and most enjoyable cycling experience. Here is my personal list of non-essentials that are well worth adding to your Amazon wish list.

Cycling socks

Cycling Shoes appear on everyone’s list of essential equipment before setting off on your holiday but unless you’re cycling from Land’s End to John O’ Groats they are, in my opinion, an avoidable purchase. If the shoes you wear have flexible soles, are a good fit and aren’t too stiff, you can avoid spending another £100 on specific cycling kicks. You can purchase some semi decent cycling socks such as these HRC Team Cycling ones which really help with averting cramp and keeping you cool. I’ve done several long trips with and without cycling shoes but have always taken several pairs of good quality socks with me. If you have purchased cycling shoes then you should break them in by cycling around 20 miles or so before your holiday.

A multi-tool

It’s better to have it and not use it than need it and not have it. For such a small item, it is often amazing how much it can do. A multi tool can often save you from an emergency phone call or being lost in the middle of nowhere. Whether you’re re-joining a broken chain, moving your seat, adjusting a rubbing brake or a slipped cable, you can pretty much service a whole bike with one. Most of them come with a step by step written guide which you can take with you and there are numerous video guides on YouTube.

A bike seat bag

Our holidays remove the need to be weighed down by panniers or huge backpacks by offering luggage delivery, so you only need to worry about your daily essentials. Cycling bags are a good purchase if you plan on taking a travel towel, change of clothes or food but they can still be annoying if they aren’t a perfect fit. If you are a particularly light traveller then a bike seat bag is a fantastic, cheap investment. They are large enough for you to keep your wallet, phone, multitool, portable charger, first aid kit and any other small essentials safe so you have free movement without a backpack to worry about.

A water bottle holder

This is a no-brainer. Keeping hydrated while cycling is crucial and this should be at the top of your list of cycling accessories. You will be surprised by the number of rented bikes that don’t come with a bottle holder and if they do, it may very well be a small 500ml holder (which won’t last two hours). You can never have enough water so a large holder is advisable; this one is a great size and can be attached to your handlebars or frame. I would highly recommend a bottle holder at the front end of the bike (I once went headfirst over my handlebars after trying to get a bottle attached by my seat).

The Get There Dry app

My final recommendation is something that is both incredibly useful and free. Get There Dry is a mobile-friendly website where you can plan your route, using postcodes or coordinates. It will tell you the total distance, the easiest route, the likelihood of rain and the elevation levels of the journey. It even shows you the best time of day to travel to avoid rainfall or bad traffic. There are several mobile apps that do the same but most them aren’t free or as user-friendly; Get There Dry is simple and easy to use.

There are literally hundreds of gadgets and gizmos that claim to turn you in to the next Lance Armstrong or Sir Bradley Wiggins, but these 5 simple things are guaranteed to help any cyclist, regardless of ability. You don’t need £100 shoes or a £300 streamline helmet to enjoy cycling, and that’s the beauty of the industry. Anyone and everyone can hop on a bike and enjoy it. While the cycling world is full of different, colourful characters and contrasting ideas, everyone shares the same passion and enjoyment for cycling - from novice to Tour De France Participant - and these five things will help get the wheels turning (pun intended).

Originally published 05/04/17

Top posts