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Outfitting your first road bike

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Outfitting your first road bike

Old 03-31-21, 12:24 PM
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tenniscyclist
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Outfitting your first road bike

Planning to get my first real road bike (new) in a matter of weeks. As far as basics to outfit it, I would guess a taillight, two water bottles and holders, a mirror, and something to carry a spare in (anything to look for re: those items?). I observe bike computers(?) and the like that I don't understand...what should I consider getting for 40-50 mile riding about three times a week? Have been riding for some months now with a Walmart taillight on my old road bike and a water bottle. Would appreciate any specific input (obviously I'm still new to this).
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Old 03-31-21, 12:55 PM
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- Inexpensive rear lights can work just as well as expensive ones. It just needs to be visible from a distance and not die on you often.

- Bottles are something that doesnt matter to some and matters a lot to others. I couldnt care less about the graphics or color, but all mine are Specialized with their MoFlo top because I am oddly particular about the top. Its the only Specialized branded product I own.

- Mirrors are popular with some because they feel safer. I have no interest in one as I dont care if a car is behind me since I will ride my line and it will go around me. An expensive alternative is Garmin's Varia which is basically radar connecting your bike computer and rear light.

- Bike computers can be cheap and simple or complex and expensive. Get a wireless one regardless of what you buy. GPS allows you to create routes and follow them. It also lets you easily upload rides to various tracking websites.

- Just buy a cheap aluminum bottle cage. It will last for years and weigh almost the same as cages 10x the cost. If you want to get wild, choose ones with a neat looking design. Just realize that the simple basic design is proven to work well.
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Old 03-31-21, 01:26 PM
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I'll assume you'll take your existing pedals off your old "not real" bike? Otherwise add those to the list.
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Old 03-31-21, 01:33 PM
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I had a tail light with replaceable batteries, and as the batteries died, the light would grow dimmer till it was useless. And I was going through 2032 batteries like crazy. So I got a rechargeable one, plugs into a USB socket and once charge runs longer than any of my rides. Lezyne KTV Drive. Highly recommended. Just charge after every ride. I also have a Blackburn rechargeable front light. It works, but only lasts about 3 1/2 hours, so if I go longer it dies. Not as big a deal, since I only ride during the day and the front light is less important. It's only REALLY important if you ride someplace where there's a lot of cross traffic, people pulling out of driveways, etc. I got one after a women riding in an area with dappled sunlight died running into the side of a van that pulled out in front of her.

Bottle cages are cheap, as are bottles, but as summer comes on, having two cages and two bottles is a good idea. 50 miles is about 3 - 3 1/2 hours, and you'll need to drink more than one bottle on a hot day.

I don't use a mirror myself, having always depended on ears and looking over my shoulder. But I just ordered a Garmin Varia radar unit, because nowadays there are so many cyclists I have to pass a lot of people and the over the shoulder look could use some help.

A bike computer is helpful, to know how far you've gone, how fast, etc. More sophisticated ones - so, more expensive - will allow you to map your ride afterwards, determine how fast you did a particular stretch in, etc. Even more sophisticated ones will allow you to map out routes in advance and tell you when to turn, and even allow you to plot a route while you're out. But you don't need one to ride, especially if you have a good sense of direction and a knowledge of the nearby roads.

A saddle bag to hold a tube, tire levers, some patches, and a multitool would be wise, as well as some kind of pump. Some folks like CO2 inflators, but once you blow your last cartridge, you're walking. Ask me how I know. Oh, you can call someone to pick you up, but once you've done that a couple times, they will be a lot less enthusiastic about coming to get you.
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Old 03-31-21, 01:34 PM
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Probably worth investing in a small saddle bag that can carry a spare tube, two tire levers, and a CO2 pump/cartridge. Other nice to haves are a front light (if you ride in traffic) and maybe a bell (if that's your sort of thing).
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Old 03-31-21, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
- Inexpensive rear lights can work just as well as expensive ones. It just needs to be visible from a distance and not die on you often.

- Bottles are something that doesnt matter to some and matters a lot to others. I couldnt care less about the graphics or color, but all mine are Specialized with their MoFlo top because I am oddly particular about the top.
I agree. Specialized offers a few tops, but there is one I like better than the others. I don't recall what it is called, but I know it when I see it. Also, I have some cheap tail lights and some nice ones. I use whatever is charged at the time.


Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
- Just buy a cheap aluminum bottle cage.
Here, we disagree. The cheap aluminum ones do last forever, but they wear out bottles. The plastic or nylon ones are not much more expensive than aluminum ones and do not cause as much wear and tear on the bottles.

And I agree with the other suggestions about a saddle bag, spare tube and small flat repair kit.
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Old 03-31-21, 02:27 PM
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I like the little Bontrager Flares. They are fine for daytime riding needs and times you might get caught out late. For real night time riding, I'd get something else, but I don't ride at night often or intentionally, so I don't know what to say.

The more expensive models of the Bontrager Flares can even be controlled from your Garmin device and I'd guess Wahoo's and other devices too. Garmin makes a radar unit, Varia, that might make you feel more secure out on the open road. They aren't for congested traffic use though. They'll just confuse you for in town traffic. My son has one and sometimes I'll even connect to it and use it while he is riding with me. But if I get too far ahead or behind I loose the Ant+ connection.

A small bag to go under my seat with tube, CO2 inflator a few hex keys, screwdriver and spare key for the house.

Cameras and power meter are in my future, but not immediate need. Though maybe for you they can be.

Water bottles and holders on the down tube and seat tube. Rear jersey pockets will hold more for the few times you might ride long enough to need them.
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Old 03-31-21, 02:28 PM
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A means of carrying water, a means of fixing a flat, a means of being seen in low light.
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Old 03-31-21, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
A means of carrying water, a means of fixing a flat, a means of being seen in low light.
So succinct!
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Old 03-31-21, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
I agree. Specialized offers a few tops, but there is one I like better than the others. I don't recall what it is called, but I know it when I see it.

.
Watergate? These are the self-sealing ones that open upon squirting.
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Old 03-31-21, 04:51 PM
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Bare minimum for me:
  • stuff to fix a flat and inflate
  • water/hydration. 2 full bottles for anything more than a short ride.
  • Take a look mirror
  • Lights. I think daytime visibility is critical so an annoyingly bright tail light and flashing headlight that have batteries that will last as long as you plan to be out.
  • Have some spare cash and a mask in case I have to stop somewhere.
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Old 03-31-21, 05:08 PM
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Things I always take on a ride: helmet. Things I always want to take on a ride: tube/pump/levers, rear light, wallet, mask, one bottle, cell phone. I won't ride without a helmet so I always put it on my head so I don't forget it. I've forgotten everything else on my list at least once.

I also find a second water bottle, food, a bike computer, and a power meter useful things to have though only the water bottle and food are really critical if I'm biking more than 2 hours.
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Old 03-31-21, 05:24 PM
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Watts. Lots and lots of Watts. And the occasional hammer, which will be dropped. Don’t worry, though. Once you stop it you don’t need it... until the next time. So, a bag of hammers. A really BIG bag.
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Old 03-31-21, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tenniscyclist View Post
Planning to get my first real road bike (new) in a matter of weeks. As far as basics to outfit it, I would guess a taillight, two water bottles and holders, a mirror, and something to carry a spare in (anything to look for re: those items?). I observe bike computers(?) and the like that I don't understand...what should I consider getting for 40-50 mile riding about three times a week? Have been riding for some months now with a Walmart taillight on my old road bike and a water bottle. Would appreciate any specific input (obviously I'm still new to this).
  • Must haves:
    • Pedals (clipless along with shoes, or good, grippy platforms, your choice)
    • Rear light (I have Cyglolite Hotshot Pro rear lights on my bikes)
    • Bottle cage (you need one if you're riding under 25 miles. Two if you're riding longer, imo)
    • Bottle (one for each cage. But on shorter rides you're only going to take one with you)
    • A spare tube (for tires that need tubes)
    • A tube patch kit or tubless tire repair kit, plus tire levers.
    • CO2 or a small pump. CO2 is typically smaller and easier to use, but I prefer a pump because once you've used your CO2 the next flat is going to be very sad. I have a Lezyne on one bike, and a Topeak Mini-Morph on the other.
    • A helmet
    • A mini-tool. I don't like the giant 25-blade tools. I use a Topeak 6, or 9, or something like that. Minimal. It has some hex wrenches and a phillips. Just enough to deal with simple things like setting limit screws or adjusting the seat.
    • A means of carrying your accessories. I have a seat wedge pouch. It doesn't need to be some big monstrosity. All I keep in mine is a tube, patch kit, mini tool, tire boot, a photocopy of my ID along with phone numbers, and a power bar. My cell phone goes in my jersey back pocket.
  • Nice to have:
    • Bike computer, so you know how far you went, how fast you were going, etc. I rode for years with just a simple one. A few years ago I switched to a Garmin Edge GPS and love it. But just get whatever your budget permits. You can always upgrade later.
    • Riding clothes. It makes a big difference for me to feel comfortable on the bike. If you don't like the look of spandex you can get mountain biking shorts which are a little more baggy, stretchy and still have the spandex inside.
    • Front light. It should be a decent, bright one from a good manufacturer. I have a Cygolite on one bike and a Light & Motion on another bike. It needs to have a flash mode for day riding, and a steady mode for night.
    • Tire boot / patch kit. This is useful if you ever slice a tire.
    • Sweat liner for the helmet
  • Only if you ride at night a lot:
    • Amber flashing side lights. There are a couple manufacturers out there who make these. One mounts under the bottle cage, and one straps anywhere on the frame.
    • Ankle reflector bands.
  • If you ride long distances
    • A second bottle and cage, for sure. Extra snacks, usually carried in the jersey pocket.
I wouldn't get the nice to haves until you need them, except for a 2nd bottle and cage, since you may be particular about your bottle cages matching. Mostly anything else you can buy is just an added expense and added weight.
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Old 04-01-21, 05:53 PM
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Thanks for all of the excellent responses. I learned a lot.

daoswald, your post directly above deserves special thanks for its comprehensiveness.
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Old 04-01-21, 06:02 PM
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Practice changing and inflating a tube, to make sure you can do so on the side of a road.
Check a few suggestions for your recommended psi, depending on tire size and your weight.
After you get a few miles in, try out adjusting handlebar and seat tilt, fore/aft adjustment to dial in your fit.
Good luck, keep it fun.
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