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Promoting fun and safe cycling in central Oklahoma
Oklahoma Bicycle Society
1805 Greenway Ct.
Yukon, OK 73099
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HomeSuggestions for Cycling Gear

Suggestions for cycling gear

 
Note - these suggestions are the opinions of one OBS leader based on years of cycling experience. Use your judgement as to if these suggestions would be effective for your needs.
 

Rear-view mirror.

You probably have seen several different types of rear-view mirrors worn by cyclists. Non-cyclists offen giggle when they see cyclists with a rear-view mirror. I have personally found that riding with a mirror is safer for me than not usng a mirror. I find that it is a little difficult to ride a bike in a straight line and turn my head around to see on-coming traffic.

I have tried a few different types. There are some that attach to your handlebars. Some that attach to your glasses. Sone that attach to your helmet. Nathan clued me on on the one I use now. It is the Safe Zone Bicycle Helmet Mirror  from EVT . It is the largest mirror I have found – and also the most expensive – running $40.

It is quite sturdy, and with it’s large size, I get a better view of what is going on behind me. It comes with tie straps to attach to the helmet. I chose to epoxy it to mine – it is not going anywhere.

If you use a mirror, you have probably experienced the same thing I have. You get off your bike and remove your helmet. As you are walking you want to see what is behind you, and you automatically look up and to the left, not turning your head. They you realize you are not wearing your mirror ( but wish you were ).


Air pump.

If you do much cycling, eventually you will get a flat tire,  or ride up on someone who has, and it is time to get out the spare inner tube, tire tools, and something to inflate the new tube. You will also want to inflate the old tube to find out where the hole is located so you can try to find the sticker/glass/rim that caused the flat.

A newer invention is the CO2 cartridge that can refill a tube. They are fairly inexpensive and fast to use. I personnally have steered away from them in preference to a frame pump.

 

 

Topeak Turbo Morph Bike Pump with Gauge

It attaches to your bike frame, usually under the top tube. The one pictured is the one I use. It runs $37.  It has a little air pressure guage  and a foot handle that swings out to help you hold the frame upright as you pump. It can fill either Presta or Schrader tires. The reason I prefer the frame pump is that the CO2 cartridge is good for one fill of one tube. If you have the misfortune to have more than one flat, you better have multiple CO2 cartridges. And sometimes the cartridges do not work, and you are then out of luck. With the frame pump, you know that it will work as many times as needed.


 

Bicycle Tires

My story begins with the frustration of getting a flat tire while on rides. Just the slightest amount of glass or stickers on the trail would cause me to stop to change a flat. A few years ago I was planning a trip to ride the Erie Canal with a couple of riding friends, and knew that my 23mm tires were too narrow for the gravel path. 28mm tires were recommened. Roger Welch had rode the trail before and knew that there would be stickers waiting to cause a flat.  So I purchased a pair of Continental Gator Hardshell Duraskin Urban Premium Wire Beaded Bicycle Tires. They run about $47 per tire, but the great thing is that I have not had to repair a flat in over 4 years, despite lots of miles, glass and stickers.

 
 
 

Inner tubes

I paired the tires with extra thick inner-tubes.  These are Michelin Inner tube A2 Airstop 25/32-622/635 Presta

These run about $7.25 per tube.

 

Lights
 

– Actually the light I have been using keeps running out of juice half-way into the ride. I have even had to resort to using the flashlight app on my phone to get back home. John McClure asked me for a suggestion, so I Googled “Best Bicycle Light” and got this:  Cygolite Dash 320 USB Light  $53.  The “320” is the quantity of Lumens – in other words, it is really bright and can be seen from a couple of blocks away. This is a bit more than I would normally pay for a light, but the features make it look like a viable option for adding to my Christmas wish list. Click HERE for a review of this light.

If you do any nighttime riding, you will want to get a white forward facing light and a red rear facing light.

 

medical alert bracelet – at some point in your life, it will become important to be able to provide emergency medical and contact information in case you are in an accident and are unable to communicate. There are lots of options, some are like dog tags, some are bracelets. The one I use is the Vital Id Adult Adjustable Medical Bracelet  ( $14 ).  It is a velco braclet with a slot for storing a page of medical and contact info. You can remove the page and throw the bracelet into the washer when needed.

 
 

Most smart phones have an option named “ICE” ( In Case of Emergency ), where you can record your emergency contact information. Caregivers can read this info without needing to unlock the phone. If you have not set this up, do it now. I will wait right here while you do that.

 
 

Gloves

When I started serious cycling about 5 years ago, I struggled with numbness in all three contact points. Over time I was able to build conditioning on those spots and have overcome those problems. But there are some products that will help as you build your conditioning:

Hands:  The simple answer is padded gloves.  Probably the more padding the better.  Gloves run $15 to $50. You can try on different styles and sizes at your local bike shop to find the one that feels the best. Warm weather gloves are fingerless, and winter gloves have lots of insulation. There are also mittens for cold weather cycling.

 Non-Winter gloves  Winter gloves
   


 
 

 
Shoes

You should wear shoes when riding a bike. There are lots of different options, running around $100. Andy sold me a pair of Keen sandals 5 years ago and they are still working well. They have clips on the bottom that will attach to my pedels. I will discuss the benefits/risks of  attaching your feet to your bike at a later time.  The Sandals work well in the summer. In the winter I add layers of socks, and when it is really cold (32 degrees and below ) I wear a plastic newspaper bag between two layers of socks. You can buy insulated boots that go over your shoes. These run about $80.

 

Socks
Lots of people ride without socks. Not me. I found the Tholro socks at a local running shoe store, and love them. They have extra padding on the bottom, thin fabric on the top, and are made from “tech” material ( no cotton ) so they wick sweat away from your foot. They run about $15. The bottom padding helps cusion the bottom of your foot to prevent a condition called “hot foot”, something you get when riding a lot

Seat

Your bike saddle is one of the most important parts of your bike to provide you with a comforable ride. Ok, let’s not kid ourselves, sitting on a bike seat is never comfortable unless you are on a recumbent bike or trike. How about we target “not painful” for our preferred bike seat. The seat that comes on most new bikes are probably not a good choice for most anyone. Better seats run $25-$200.

 

The Brooks leather sadles are popular – they start at $100. You might think the more padding the better, but that may not be ideal in the long run.  Some bike shops will allow you to try out different saddles until you find the one that works for you.


Shorts

Bike Shorts – Bike shorts come with padding. They run $35-$120. The most popular style is made from Lycra or other skin tight fabric. You can also buy bike shorts that look like regular walking shorts, but with the padding built in. Do not try to be cheap when buying shorts, you get what you pay for, and cheap shorts will probably result in a disappointing experience. I have been told that experienced riders usually do not wear underwear with bike shorts.

 
You might take a look at these - highly rated - Pearl Izumi Attack Short
 

Water bottles:

One of most important practices for cycling is to stay hydrated. A general rule is to drink at least 1 bottle ( 21 oz. ) of water per hour. More if it is very hot or you are moving fast.

Water bottles come in several qualities:

  • Single wall – these are the types that you might get for free at organized T-Shirt rides. About $5 at the store. These have no insulating properties, so your water will match the outside temperature in a few minutes. There is nothing enjoyable about drinking 100 degree water when it is 100 degrees outside and you have been riding for an hour.

  • Double-wall bottles. These say that they will keep your water cool for twice as long. These run about $16 at the store. The do keep the water from getting hot too fast.  Look for: CamelBak Podium Chill 21 oz Insulated Water Bottle

  • Gel-walled bottles. These say that they will stay cold for 4 times longer. These run about $23 and it is my preference. Recommended: CamelBak Podium Ice 21 oz Insulated Water Bottle

 

I carry two bottles on my bike when riding more than 20 miles. There is nothing worse than running out of water and you are thirsty and no rest stops in sight.

For longer distances, or very hot weather, I wear a “Camel-Bak”. It is a backpack that contains a plastic water filled bladder. There are different sizes available. The one I have carries about 64 oz. You can put ice in the bladder, which will keep your water cold for over an hour. The Camel-Bak has a water tube that runs through the back-pack strap near your mouth. You can ride with both hands on your handle bars and still drink and peddle at the same time. These run $35-$70.


Pedal Clips

New riders see experienced riders clip their shoes into their pedals, and ask if that is something they should do. Most experienced riders will tell you that they get more power when they clip into their pedals.  The concept is that you can move the pedals not only down, but with clips, they can pull up on the pedals to get even more power.

There is a trade-off with clips: the fact that you are “attached” to the bike, there is a risk that you might fail to get unclipped when stopping, and over you go. Most clipped riders can tell you their stories of falling at least once. It is a hard lesson that you quickly learn to be sure to unclip as you prepare to stop. Even then, there are times when you might have to make an emergency stop and do not get unclipped in time.

For me, I do use clips. I find that when I am clipped in I feel that I become a part of the bike, or the bike becomes part of me. I have also found that when the bottom of my feet get tired of pedaling down, I can switch to pulling up for a while, and the feet feel better fast.  

One way to learn to use clips is to wear one clip, and wear an unclipped shoe on the other foot. That way if you forget to unclip at a stop, you still have the other foot to catch yourself.

There are several different types of pedals, clips and cages, and your bike shoes have to be compatable with the type of pedal you have. Your local bike shop can help you with this. They run about $150+ for pedals and matching shoes.


Electrolyte tablets.
Have you ever gotten cramps in your legs after a big ride? Probably all of us. There are lots of theories about why cramps arrive, and how to make them go away ( Kennon suggests to drink pickle juice while you are cramping ). Sharon clued me in on these: Nuun electrolyte tablets. You put one tablet in your water bottle each time you fill it up. The idea is to replace the minerals that you loose when sweating. I have had success with these, although it is equally important to train well and not over do it if possible. They run about $16 for 48 tablets.

Bike Bags and tools 
Each person has unique needs for the items they need to carry on a bike ride. I prefer to not carry a backpack, except for a Camel-Bak on occasion. I have tried a few variations of bags and have settled on a rear equipment bag that fits under and behind the saddle.

In it I carry a couple of spare inner-tubes, tire tool, patch kit ( in case I get more that two flats ), and a bike multi-tool.

 

And in front of my handle-bars I have a front bike bag. I find it handy for carrying wallet, cell-phone, keys, sun-block cream, snacks, jacket, and emergency rain gear: a kitchen sized trash bag with holes for your head and arms. Thanks to Moni for this invention.

There are lots of other bag options. You may wish to check them out at your favorite bike shop to see what works best for you.

 

SunglassesWhen I first started cycling, I rode without eye protection. But the first time that a bug flew into my eye, I decided that was a really bad idea.  There are a ton of different options for eye protection. I was told about a set of wrap-around sun glasses that come with 4 different filters ( from clear to dark ), plus they come with frames that will hold prescription lenses. It runs about $70.  No matter what you use, please always wear some type of eye protection.

 

Sweatband/Liner The first time you have sweat dripping down into your eyes while riding, you know the pain of salt in the eyes, as well as the blinding situation that makes it dangerous to ride. I tried exercise sweatbands for a while, but have now settled on what is called a helmet liner. It is thinner than a sweatband, but does a great job of  keeping the sweat out of the eyes. They cost $12-$15.

I have seen a product called a sweat gutter, which is a tiny gutter that you wear on you forehead to re-direct the sweat to the back of your neck. No info on it’s effectiveness.

 

 
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