16 Cycling Essentials Every New Rider Should Own, According to Experts
When you’re ready to hop on two wheels, stock up on these cycling accessories, gear, and bike tools.
The indomitable Freddie Mercury once sang to the world in 1978 that he wanted to ride his bicycle. Since then, bicycle sales have skyrocketed. Is there a correlation here? Probably not. The sentiment, however, remains. Children as young as three years old want to ride a bike, and some will continue pedaling well into—or past—their golden years. And as we pedal through life, we need to ensure we’re keeping our trusted bicycles tuned up, kitted out, and ready for whatever the road throws at us.
To wit, we talked with three expert cyclists about the essentials you need when you’re ready to hop on two wheels—the best cycling accessories, gear, and bike tools. First up, we have Bekah Rottenberg, a professional mountain bike coach and NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Bekah runs her own business, Brave Endeavors, which specializes in helping people feel confident on and off the bike. Next, there’s Brad McCartney, a professional cyclist and founder of BikeHikeSafari.com, which covers everything related to hiking, backpacking, and bicycle travel. Finally, there’s Becky Timbers, the creator and founder of the bike travel blog Two Wheeled Wanderer. Becky’s a Level 1 PMBIA mountain bike coach who’ll never say no to a two-wheeled adventure.
Between the three of them, we gathered 16 cycling essentials—from portable bike pumps and cycling helmets to multi-tools and bike tech—that you’ll definitely want to use. Let’s check out what they had to say.
Why Bekah loves it: “You’ve got to have a way to fix a flat. And even if you don’t know how to do it, a stranger will be much happier to help you if you have the proper tools. The Speedfil repair kit has everything you need, and I love it because it fits into a water bottle holder—but you can just as easily toss it into your pack.”
Why Bekah loves it: “I won’t ride with anything other than the CamelBak Podium Dirt Series bottle. CamelBak has a whole line of podium series bottles which I love for the easy squeeze nozzle, which allows you to drink without needing to pull the valve open. But the best part of the Dirt Series is the small plastic cover that sits perfectly over the nozzle and keeps the grime and mud out of your mouth. Designed specifically for the dirty environment of mountain biking, I use the Dirt Series bottles on all my rides—trail, gravel, and road.”
Why Bekah loves it: “Most people spend lots of money on expensive chamois and chamois cream, but if you get a good saddle, you and all your parts will be happy. I can’t say enough good things about the Ergon SMC Sport Gel. Ergon specializes in saddle ergonomics and takes your anatomy into consideration. You will find saddles specifically for men and women and a saddle to match your ride discipline. My personal favorite is the SMC Sport Gel for women. It has allowed me to completely ditch the chamois for rides from 1-5 hours. Make sure you get your sit bones sized appropriately and you will finish every ride with a massive smile.”
Why Bekah loves it: “If you don’t have a STRAVA subscription, get one. Even if you aren’t ready to create your own routes or analyze your heart rate zones, the free version of the app allows you to track your rides and see improvement over time. The social nature of the platform helps keep you accountable and provides new ideas for rides in your local area. For $60/year you can bump up your access and features and use my personal favorite, the STRAVA Beacon, which allows you to share your location with family members or friends while you are riding.”
Why Bekah loves it: “Nothing ruins a good ride more than getting cold. For those high alpine rides, or commutes where the weather has a chance to turn, I always carry the Houdini Jacket. Small enough to fit into any pocket, the Houdini jacket provides just enough weather resistance to get you home without shivering.”
Why Brad loves it: “The Revelate Designs Gas Tank Top Tube Bag is a small bag that attaches to the top tube of the bike near the bars. Although small, it is big enough to fit a multi-tool, keys, snacks, and even your phone. It is weatherproof and [is] a great lightweight way to carry everything you need on a short or long ride. The bag is suited for road bikes, mountain bikes, e-bikes, and/or touring bikes.”
Why Brad loves it: “I never leave home without a good quality bike computer. One of the best on the market is the Garmin Edge 1030. It helps you stay found, and lets me know things such as speed, distance traveled, and so much more.”
Why Brad loves it: “A good quality multi-tool is a must on every ride, and the Topeak P20 is one of the best. This multi-tool has everything you need to make small adjustments to the seat, handlebars, brakes, gears, and more. It is small, lightweight, and can even be carried in your pocket if you don’t have any storage on your bike.”
Why Brad loves it: “The Topeak Mini Morph is an ultralight and compact bike pump that is small enough to be taken on every ride. It can be strapped to the frame of your bike and is super handy when you need to add air to your tires.”
Why Brad loves it: “A quality bike helmet will be money well spent, and one of the best out there is the Specialized Tactic 4 MIPS helmet. MIPS stands for ‘multi-directional impact protection system,’ which means you will be protected from an impact from any direction.”
Why Becky loves it: “Whether you’re getting started as a mountain biker or gearing up to hit the bike paths, a pair of HANDUP gloves will keep your hands dry and help prevent them from slipping off your handlebar grips. They’re also super fun with great patterns and witty quips on the palms. HANDUP also offers lightweight summer cycling gloves for warm days and half-finger gloves, which are popular with road cyclists.”
Why Becky loves it: “Every cyclist, new or seasoned, should always carry a good multi-tool with them on every ride. Multi-tools are essential for fixing or adjusting components on the bike like seat height, brake lever position, a broken chain, and almost anything else that goes wrong on your ride. The Crank Brothers M19 multi-tool is one of the best because it includes 19 different tools, it’s compact, and it isn’t flimsy like some other multi-tools.”
Why Becky loves it: “If you’re the kind of person that loves looking at numbers and stats, the Garmin Fenix watch is the perfect cycling companion. This watch tracks everything on your route via GPS, mileage, elevation gain/loss, heart rate, and more. It can also sync with your favorite bike apps like TrailForks, Strava, and others.”
Why Becky loves it: “Be prepared for emergencies with the Cycle Medic First Aid Kit. Cyclists can choose from the Standard Kit, which includes everything a cyclist might need for minor injuries or situations, or the Pro Kit ($100), which includes more advanced supplies for more serious emergencies. The Cycle Medic kit straps directly onto the frame of your bike or you can simply throw it in your pack before hitting the trails.”
Why Becky loves it: “A good tire pump is a non-negotiable for cyclists. Getting caught with a flat and having no way to fix it can lead to a long walk back to the car. The OneUp Components EDC Pump is a great pick because it gives you options: You can use it as a normal hand pump or carry a CO2 cartridge and use the integrated CO2 inflator to quickly pump those tires.”
Why Becky loves it: “As a new cyclist, the most important piece of gear you need is a helmet. The Bontrager Solstice MIPS Helmet is a great entry-level biking helmet because it’s affordably priced, and it’s designed with MIPS technology, [meaning] it helps protect your head from rotational forces in the event of a crash.”