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  1. #1
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    Newbie: What do I actually Need?

    Hi all,

    Great forum, I've gotten a lot of useful information from here and am ready to dive into cycling. After some research, I settled on the Trek 7.3FX since it will fit my needs for now. But other than a helmet, I haven't purchased anything else. I've noticed that there is a plethora of accessories and gadgets for bikes, and I wanted to know what I actually need.

    My riding will be mainly composed of riding around the streets (suburbs) where I live for exercise, then doing some paved and packed dirt trails, then eventually buying a trailer and towing my 20 month old around. Here are my questions regarding what I need for this type of riding:

    1. Bags/pouches:
    I will need to at least carry a cell phone and keys while riding, especially when doing trails, I can't imagine carrying anything bigger than that. What is the best way to carry these items, a saddle/seat bag? Handlebar bag? Just stuff them in my pockets?

    2. Computer:
    I'd like to get a read on how fast I'm going and what kind of time I'm doing for the same ride every day/week, what computer should I pick up for these basic functions? Are cadence or heart rate monitor a valuable addition?

    3. Clothes/shoes:
    I'm going to be riding in sneakers, shorts and a t-shirt, is there any reason to invest in jerseys, or bicycle shorts, or cycling shoes?

    4. Other accessories:
    I see a lot of other accessories being discussed (i.e. lights, toolset, flat-tire repair, etc.), the one that sticks out to me is a water bottle and cage, how highly is this recommended?

    That's it for now, I pick up my bike later tonight and am excited on going on my first ride. Also, please feel free to throw in anything else I might need that I may have forgotten.

    Basically, I'm looking for the things that are absolutely essential for cycling, so any recommendations are highly appreciated. Thank you!

  2. #2
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    Get the pump, patch kit, tire levers, and spare tube first. You have to buy them before you need them. Get the lights if you're riding at night. Everything else you can get as you find a use for.

  3. #3
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    The only thing you NEED to ride a bike, is a bike and the ability to ride it. Everything else is optional.
    Last edited by chipcom; 07-09-08 at 11:50 AM.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    1) You REALLY need a spare tube/patch kit, levers and mini-pump. Flats happen, you don't want to get stuck.
    2) You need a water bottle cage. Dehydration is a very bad thing.
    3) You can fit the small stuff in a seat bag:



    4) You want some gloves. They help your grip, cushion your hands, and will proctect them in a fall.
    5) You can wear what you like. Now, if you start to develope hotspots on longer rides, you might want to look at seamless padded bicycle shorts. I only wear those on 50+ mile rides. Otherwise, regular clothes + sandals.

  5. #5
    Pat
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    What you need depends on how far you ride, how often your ride and how fast you go. If you are riding a mile down to the local convenience market and back to get cigarrettes once a summer, you probably don't need much.

    1) Bags. You really should take a spare tube, tools to change a flat, and inflator (I prefer a pump over CO2 but most see that as hopelessly retro). Also having a set of allen wrenches and other commonly used tools is a good idea. It is nice to be able to quickly make minor repairs on site rather than call someone to rescue you. I use a fairly large bag.

    2) Computer. Here you seem to show some interest in performance by thinking of cadence and heart rate functions. Cadence is nice to have. Having a wireless computer is nice too. For heart rate though, generally the dedicated heart rate monitors do a better job. I use a pretty basic computer. But for new riders, having a cadence readout is a good idea.

    3) Is there any reason to invest in jerseys, bicycle shorts and cycling shoes? Comfort, comfort, comfort. Do you think that the vast majority of riders wear these things because there is some sort of bike geek uniform compliance code? They do it because they work. Shoot, my grandfather rode 100 years ago and he wore that stuff.

    First off, shoes. Bike shoes have rigid soles. That protected your feet from the pedals pushing into pressure points of the feet. Try riding with sneakers for very far and you will know what I mean. Shoes also fit the clipless pedal systems which give your feet much better attachment to the pedal and great efficiency of pedalling. Go out and look at recreational riders and what percentage wear cycling shoes and clipless pedals? I would say about 95%.

    Next are shorts. A decent cadence is around 90 rpm. That come out to 5600 rounds per hour. Now think of sweating and chaffing. It is not a pretty picture. Bike shorts are far more comfortable than just wearing cut off blue jeans.

    T-shirt - sure you can ride with a t shirt. Cycling jerseys are cut so that they cover your rear when you are bent over the bike. Also they are usually made of wicking fabrics and not cotton like t-shirts. Finally, they have pockets in the rear for snacks, cell phones, a small bill fold etc.

    Helmet - if you ride far enough, you will probably fall and you may well hit your head. I have shattered a helmet. I have seen several other cyclists take falls where they have shattered their helmets. I don't know if my helmet saved me from grievous injury or not. I do not intend to put that one to the test. You might consider it.

    4) Other accessories. Water bottle and cage. Can you spell S U N S T R O K E ? It comes about from dehydration. You are out in the sun. You are riding on black asphalt. It is summer and hot. You are exercising... hard. Don't you think you will be sweating? You sweat enough and you hit heat exhaustion and later sun stroke. The general rule of thumb is to drink a water bottle every hour.

    Now you can go out and find out the hard way. I have a prediction to make. If you ride frequently and for over an hour at a ride, you will end up adopting virtually everything above. It is a matter of utility, safety and comfort.

  6. #6
    Senior Member avmanansala's Avatar
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    Congrats on the bike!

    1) As far as a bag goes, depending, get a medium sized bag (maybe 50-70 cubic inches). You should be able to store a tube, patch kit, tire lever(s), mini tool, $20.00, ID /Medical Card. Larger bags will let you keep a Co2 inflator and a couple of cartridges, too and your cell and keys.
    I've found the Cannondale Fastbag 78 (78 cu in) to be more than adequate to carry everything. I can take the essentials (2)Co2/Inflator, tube, tire levers, multi-tool, ID and keys in a Transit Small Speed Wedge (32 cu in) - both available from Performance.

    I run with a Cat Eye Strada wireless computer; no HR nor Cadence. I use it to track distance, speed, time. I like the cleaner look of a wireless computer.

    Personally, I have found that I am more comfortable wearing my cycling kit...I'm not a sweaty mess at the end of a ride when I wear my jersey. I'm more comfortable with my shorts or better my bibs - a good chamois is definitely worth it. I've found my cycling shoes (Specialized moutain bike shoes (SPD clipless) more comfortable and stable.. That's not to say I haven't gone out with whatever I'm wearing (including flip flops) and ridden around the block with my kid and his bike but for anything over five miles, I'll kit up. Almost any athletic tops will do but I like having the back pockets on my jersey for my phone, keys and garage door opener. If you don't like road tights, buy some mountain bike shorts or slip on some shorts over your cycling tights.

    As far as other accessories go...I ride with both a CO2 and a pump (Topeak Road Morph G). CO2 goes in the saddle bag, pump in a holder (from Performance for their Hurricane pump) on the seat tube. I run two bottle cages and two water bottles. I also have removable lights...rear is a Planet Bike Super Flash Stealth (REI) and a Flare 5 light (again from Performance Bike).

    What annc said:
    Get the pump, patch kit, tire levers, and spare tube first. You have to buy them before you need them. Get the lights if you're riding at night. Everything else you can get as you find a use for.

    Get a helmet first, get the bike adjusted (saddle, stem, brake levers) and ride. Pick up stuff as you go you don't need to have it all at once. I buy my clothes at the discount racks (last years models) or when its on sale.

    Have fun! Stay hydrated.
    "Study your math, kids. Key to the Universe." - Gabriel in The Prophecy

  7. #7
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post

    First off, shoes. Bike shoes have rigid soles. That protected your feet from the pedals pushing into pressure points of the feet. Try riding with sneakers for very far and you will know what I mean.
    Hi. I rode a century in these:



    Bike shoes have rigid soles because racer wanna-bes have teeny-tiny weight saving pedals they clip into. But if you have nice wide pedals, you can wear soft-soled shoes because the pressure has a large area to distribute over. Its nice to wear nice, comfortal footwear that you can also walk in .

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    Shoes also fit the clipless pedal systems which give your feet much better attachment to the pedal and great efficiency of pedalling. Go out and look at recreational riders and what percentage wear cycling shoes and clipless pedals? I would say about 95%.
    Except that it doesn't really give you any greater efficiecy.

    Lets just kill this myth already.

  8. #8
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by envane View Post
    Except that it doesn't really give you any greater efficiecy.

    Lets just kill this myth already.
    Incorrect.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  9. #9
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    Thank you all for the helpful replies. Definitely a lot of useful information here that I will take in slowly.

    I'm sold on the water bottle and cage, so I will pick that up when I pick up the bike later this evening. I'm definitely starting to ride slow (2-3 miles every couple of days), and I'll wait on the clothes/shoes until I ride longer distances.

    I already got the helmet, it was the first thing I purchased after the bike. So I'll just pick up the flat repair kit, spare tube and pump and see a bag that fits it all.

    One other question: Is there anything I should keep an eye on as I'm breaking in the bike? Should I go slow the first few rides for example? Or adjust the brakes or tire pressure after the first/second/third ride?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeSphinx View Post
    ... I've noticed that there is a plethora of accessories and gadgets for bikes, and I wanted to know what I actually need.

    1. Bags/pouches:
    I will need to at least carry a cell phone and keys while riding, especially when doing trails, I can't imagine carrying anything bigger than that.

    2. Computer:
    I'd like to get a read on how fast I'm going and what kind of time I'm doing for the same ride every day/week, what computer should I pick up for these basic functions? Are cadence or heart rate monitor a valuable addition?

    3. Clothes/shoes:
    I'm going to be riding in sneakers, shorts and a t-shirt, is there any reason to invest in jerseys, or bicycle shorts, or cycling shoes?

    4. Other accessories:
    I see a lot of other accessories being discussed (i.e. lights, toolset, flat-tire repair, etc.), the one that sticks out to me is a water bottle and cage, how highly is this recommended?
    My opinions:
    1) There's a lot of cheap seat and frame mini-bags. The frame bags strap inside the front triangle of the frame, and you can reach into them while riding. What I used to like to do was have a seat bag for the "bicycle" stuff, and then a frame-pack for "my" stuff--so when my phone would ring, I could grab it easily.

    2) Any cheap computer will indicate speed/distance/time. Most cheaper computers don't have cadence. For heart rate monitoring I prefer a separate watch, because then you can use it for other activities if you wish.

    3) Consider some bicycling-specific shorts--and yes I mean the tight, "gay-looking" spandex ones. They are the most comfortable to ride in, and you don't wear anything under them. Beyond that--synthetic clothes are beneficial (they are cooler when it's hot and warmer when it's cold) but shirts are expensive for an upright bike, because they are cut with longer lengths. Synthetic socks are a nice change too, as they don't lose their cushioning ability when you sweat like cotton socks do.

    4) Other accessories.... (randomly)

    ...Get a rear-view mirror, whatever kind works best. There's handlebar, helmet and eyeglass-mounted kinds. This is more important to road riding safety than a helmet is. Being able to see behind you and in front of you at the same time is enormously useful when riding in any kind of traffic.

    ...Clipless pedals & shoes is not necessary for light riding. My long-distance bike has them and my commuter/errand bike does not. If I had to use the same pedals on both, I would put clipless pedals on the commuter bike. You can "pull up" on the pedals for extra power and they do keep your feet on the pedals when you are tired, but they aren't that beneficial for casual short-distance riders.

    ...Get a flat-resistant tire setup. Mr Tuffy-style strips, Slime tubes, puncture-resistant tires or airfree tires are the choices. Flat tires are probably the most common type of breakdown that bicycles suffer and paying extra to prevent them from happening keeps things much more enjoyable. Each has its advantages and disadvantages; I use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and regular tubes on my around-town bike and often don't carry a patch kit or pump at all.

    ...The problems with water bottle cages is that the bottles will fall out if you hit bumps very hard. This is especially true if you get the extra-capacity "tall" water bottles, and also if you ride off-road much at all. For casual riding there's not anything cheaper and better however. Tying a piece of shoestring around the bottle neck and through the bottle cage will ensure that the bottle can't fall out (riding along at a good clip and having to stop and pick up your water bottle is a huge bummer). Water bladders are great for long-distance riding but are overkill for shorter casual rides.
    ~

  11. #11
    Senior Member Smooth James's Avatar
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    Things to keep an eye out for:
    It is a good idea to check your tires every week or so, some people check them every time they ride but unless your tires have a tendency to lose pressure then you donít need to be that fanatical about it.
    Also if you got a brand new bike it would be a good idea to check the adjustment of your shifters and brakes every 50 Ė 100 miles or so. As things wear in they will move. i.e. if your chain starts skipping you will have to adjust the indexing on the shifter, if you donít know how to do that it is easy to figure out, or you can take it to your LBS. A lot of shops offer a free tune up on new bikes they sell for just this reason.

    Stay hydrated

  12. #12
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeSphinx View Post
    Hi all,

    Great forum, I've gotten a lot of useful information from here and am ready to dive into cycling. After some research, I settled on the Trek 7.3FX since it will fit my needs for now. But other than a helmet, I haven't purchased anything else. I've noticed that there is a plethora of accessories and gadgets for bikes, and I wanted to know what I actually need.

    My riding will be mainly composed of riding around the streets (suburbs) where I live for exercise, then doing some paved and packed dirt trails, then eventually buying a trailer and towing my 20 month old around. Here are my questions regarding what I need for this type of riding:

    1. Bags/pouches:
    I will need to at least carry a cell phone and keys while riding, especially when doing trails, I can't imagine carrying anything bigger than that. What is the best way to carry these items, a saddle/seat bag? Handlebar bag? Just stuff them in my pockets?


    saddle or seat bag will be good. later if you want you can add a rack and trunk bag if you want to carry more stuff.


    2. Computer:
    I'd like to get a read on how fast I'm going and what kind of time I'm doing for the same ride every day/week, what computer should I pick up for these basic functions? Are cadence or heart rate monitor a valuable addition?![/QUOTE]

    there are a lot of computers available, some pretty inexpensive.

    3. Clothes/shoes:
    I'm going to be riding in sneakers, shorts and a t-shirt, is there any reason to invest in jerseys, or bicycle shorts, or cycling shoes?![/QUOTE]

    No. you can ride in regular clothes.


    4. Other accessories:
    I see a lot of other accessories being discussed (i.e. lights, toolset, flat-tire repair, etc.), the one that sticks out to me is a water bottle and cage, how highly is this recommended?

    That's it for now, I pick up my bike later tonight and am excited on going on my first ride. Also, please feel free to throw in anything else I might need that I may have forgotten.

    Basically, I'm looking for the things that are absolutely essential for cycling, so any recommendations are highly appreciated. Thank you![/QUOTE]


    I would just get stuff with which to fix a flat. and a good multi-tool. I always carry a spare tube with me.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smooth James View Post
    Things to keep an eye out for:
    It is a good idea to check your tires every week or so, ...

    Stay hydrated
    You did not read my sig, did you? ;)

    If you quote part of the message that you are responding to, the forum software will thread it in the right place. If you don't quote anything, then your message gets stuck onto whatever the last message was.
    ~

  14. #14
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  15. #15
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    Other than bike + helmet, a 3-way tie:
    1. Bottle cage
    1. Patch kit/levers/pump
    1. Seat bag to carry patch kit, levers, allen wrench to adjust seat, etc.

    That's all you need. What's left is what you'd find useful, probably starting with gloves or a computer. And then brace yourself, because this list grows quickly the more you ride and the more bikes you see around town.

  16. #16
    Pat
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    Check your tire pressure frequently. Things go a bunch slower on low tires. You might think of getting a floor pump so you can pump up the tire easily.

    Another thing to look for is cable stretch on a new bike. The shifting will get less crisp as the cable gets loose. The shop that sold you the bike will generally adjust this for free. The same thing happens with the brakes so check the gap between the brake pads and tire rims every so often.

    As for maintenance, parts of the bike need lubrication every so often. The lube is cheap and you can as the LBS about where to lube.

    Another thing is cleaning your drive train: chain, chain rings, and rear cluster every so often. They wear and wear out a bunch faster if they are never cleaned.

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