The essential gear to complete your cycling experience comes with a price
By Mon Garcia | Photos by Mattia Cioni, Boris Stefanik, Dimon Blr, and Maria Soledad/Unsplash
Getting into cycling is an exciting experience. Your shiny new bicycle is a big investment, and it’s easy to forget there are other things you should spend on in order to get the most out of your bike. Let’s have a closer look.
1. A proper bike fitting session (P1,000 and up)
Nothing hinders enjoyment and comfort more than an improper bike fit. Bicycles are very personal things. Much like fashion, fit is a top requirement not only to look good, but also to perform and ride safely. Some coaching services offer to check and adjust your fit while some bike shops have bike fitting services as well.
2. A proper helmet (At least P3,000 for decent models)
It was around the turn of the century when professional Tour de France cyclists were mandated to wear helmets all the time. Even if there are no mandatory bicycle helmet laws here, it doesn’t make sense to ride without one. I suggest getting a model from brands like Giro, Bell, Specialized, Lazer or Kask. These manufacturers test their models and have been approved by international standards organizations to actually do what they were intended for–save you from injury.
If you do unfortunately crash and land a hard fall, don’t skimp. Replace your helmet as the integrity of the shell may already have been compromised internally, even if it doesn’t show on the outside. The purpose of a bicycle helmet is to absorb the impact—and if need be, break apart in doing so—in order to protect your skull. The lightweight material is made to break and dissipate the energy of the impact that otherwise would have gone directly to your skull.
3. Cycling shoes and clipless pedals (P3,000 and above for each)
I’ll lump these two together as neither functions properly without the other. These will essentially turn you into a cyclist, and not just someone on a bike. The way current performance pedals work is that they have mechanisms to hold on to cleats that are attached to your shoes, much like the ski-binding systems they were designed after. They have been around since the 1980s, but this seems to be the one thing new cyclists are most apprehensive about. What these do for you is secure your feet to the bike and make your pedaling more efficient. It may seem counterintuitive but being clipped in is also safer, particularly over rough roads or going downhill.
4. Cycling shorts and jersey (P1,500 and above for each)
There’s a reason why we’re called lycra warriors. And there’s a reason why we choose to be. For some beginners, feeling self-conscious when showing their body shape with form-fitting lycra is one big mental hurdle to overcome. However, the benefits and advantages of wearing skin-tight, moisture-wicking lycra certainly outweigh the reasons not to. For one, proper lycra dries easier and actually keeps you cooler when you’re sweating. The materials, especially for higher end cycling wear, are designed to wick sweat away from the body and evaporate from the exterior surface. What this means is you feel cooler and drier as you ride along.
Another advantage is that wearing cycling shorts with proper chamois (that pad you see on the crotch area) prevents chafing around the groin area. Some pads are thick and seem comfortable as they provide some cushioning, but avoid these. Sometimes the padding can be too thick that it actually increases the chances of chafing instead of preventing it.
Lastly, form-fitting lycra helps your performance by being more aerodynamic. Once you go beyond 30 kilometers per hour, more than half (at least 70 percent) of your effort is to counter wind resistance. Form-fitting cycling wear helps reduce wind resistance.
5. Water bottle cages (P300 and above for each)
Your bike may or may not come with bottle cages, but it will always have provisions to attach at least one. You can go from cheap to expensive, with the difference being materials, design, and weight. Cheaper cages are made of plastic or nylon, and may crack over time. More expensive cages are made from carbon fiber or materials like titanium.
My recommendation is to get a side loading cage at least for the down tube to help you in extracting and returning your bottle as you ride. Because it opens to the side, you get to pull towards your preferred side (usually the side of your dominant hand) instead of upwards. You can buy models that open up to the right or left or have a way to switch orientation.
6. Water bottles (P250 and above for each)
Experienced cyclists don’t just buy any bottle also known as a bidon. They look for brands that don’t have that plastic smell inside. A crowd favorite is Tacx, well-known in the professional peloton and offers a no-smell drinking experience.
A current popular trend with water bottles is insulation. There are models from Polar Bottle and Camelbak. I’ve used both, and both are good. The Camelbak spout is top notch. Of interest is their Podium Ice model, which supposedly keeps water cold four times longer, thanks to the use of aerogel technology. Last I heard of aerogel, it was being used in tennis rackets and, before that, by NASA to collect space dust.
Hydration for cyclists is important. I bring at least one insulated bottle, even when just riding around town. Aside from providing hydration, it’s infinitely useful for cleaning glasses, stains on your bike, and for spraying rabid dogs who are chasing your wheel, should you have the misfortune of riding into one.