Essential items to take on a bike ride
Updated: Mar 27
Many people who are new to cycling ask us what items they should take with them on a bike ride. Here is a short guide to the essential items we always take on our rides.
In our opinion, number one is always, always, always, wear a helmet. We can’t stress enough how important it is to get a good helmet. It is also essential to make sure you get the right size and it fits properly. It isn't funny, but sometimes cyclists do look ridiculous with a poorly fitting helmet.
Lights are as essential as a helmet when it comes to safety. We would recommend that you always have a rear light on your bike and use it, even on bright sunny days anything that improves your visibility out on the road is not a bad thing. We also think front lights are worth having on your bike. There are some great small front lights that simply ensure other road users can see you.
Bottle cage and bottle (bidon)
These two go together and are essential items on longer rides or hot days. Staying hydrated is important both for the enjoyment of the ride and for your overall health. If you are planning to do longer rides we would recommend getting two. Bottle cages are a standard size and most modern bikes have at least two mounting points. If you are going on longer rides also think about getting some electrolyte tablets for your water (especially if you are prone to getting dehydrated or cramp).
We would recommend you get a track pump to keep your tyres correctly inflated. Most include a pressure gauge so you know you have put the right amount of air in the tire. Most of them also come with an adaptor that can connect to both schrader and presta valves.
Mini Pump or CO2 Pump
You don't just need a pump for home it makes sense to take a pump with you on a ride. It is personal preference whether you have a mini pump or a CO2 pump. CO2 pumps are great as they are small and can inflate a tyre very quickly but some people prefer mini pumps (some old school people still prefer the long hand pumps stored under the top tube!). It doesn't matter what you choose, just don’t go out without a pump of some sort.
Always have some spare inner tubes at home and take at least one with you on a ride (even if you are running tubeless). A puncture can ruin a ride and lead to a long walk home (or an embarrassing call home for help). Having a pump, tube and tyre levers is essential on all but the shortest rides.
These are another essential to take on all rides. Multi-tools are basically the swiss army knife for cycling. As their name suggests, they have screwdrivers, allen keys, torx wrench and spanners all in a handy pocket size tool. And of course don’t forget to take two tyre levers in case you have a puncture (but remember these are only for getting the tyre off the rim, you use your thumbs and palms to get the tyre back on).
So where are you going to put all this stuff? Some of it will go in the back pockets of a cycling top but that can be uncomfortable. We would recommend having a saddle bag. This fits under your seat and they come in all shapes and sizes, from ultra small all the way up to tent size! You can also get other bags that can fit on various places on your bike. Another option to consider is a tool box that can fit in one of your bottle cages.
Unfortunately we have to include locks in our list of essentials. When buying a lock think about where you are going to leave your bike and how long for. If you are leaving it for a few minutes then a small pocket lock will stop the opportunist thief. If you are leaving it longer you will need a more robust lock. There are several lock rating schemes (Sold Secure and Thatcham) that indicate how secure the lock is. Typically the more secure the heavier a lock will be. Be aware that if you insure your bike the insurer may stipulate that the lock has to be approved by a scheme.
This isn’t cycle specific but we would recommend always taking sun protection with you on a ride. Tan lines are the mark of a cyclist but you can still get them safely using sunscreen.
Mobile Phone / Money / Debit Card
Obviously not things you would buy when getting a bike but we would always recommend taking these with you when you are out and about on two wheels.