Having the proper bicycle accessories makes your bicycling experience safer, more comfortable and far more enjoyable. Protect yourself with the highest quality bicycle helmets. Ride faster and more efficient with cycling shoes and clipless pedal systems.
Keep yourself properly hydrated with on-board insulated water bottles or for the off-road experience, throw on a hydration system. From inflation systems… to protective eyewear… to safety locks and mirrors… we have provided you with detailed buying guides, organized by category.
Wearing bicycle helmets is sort of like wearing your seat belt. You know it will protect you from serious injury, but you think an accident won’t happen to you. Unfortunately, if one does, and you are not wearing a helmet, the consequences can be devastating.
If you plan to ride with clubs.. or in events.. or with experienced riders.. or go with travel groups.. luckily, you won’t have to make a choice. No helmet.. No ride!
In addition to life-saving potential, bicycle helmets have many other benefits. You will keep cooler with helmets because of the way the vents are designed on your helmet. A continuous flow of cool air is driven over your head like a cool breeze.
Bicycle helmets are made of the same material ice coolers are made of (polystyrene), and this foam like materila keeps heat out. Some helmets come with a visor, or better yet, a removable visors. Visors are especially good for off-road riding by blocking sun rays flashing through trees and keeping your head protected from low branches.
Bicycle helmets normally come in 3 different sizes. Small is 20 to 22 inches; Medium is 22 to 23 1/2 inches; and Large is 23 1/2 to 24 1/2 inches. To get an accurate sizing, measure your head right above the eyebrows, where the helmet is supposed to be worn.
Bicycle helmets do come with fitting pads, so if you measure accurately, you will be able to adjust your helmet to fit perfectly.
After you purchase your bicycle helmet, please read the instructions very carefully, as they provide you with precise fitting instructions, both for comfort and for safety!
More expensive bicycle helmets do not equate to safer helmets. The added benefits you get are lighter weight, more advanced strapping systems, more vents for cooling and are constructed to hold up under much heavier use.
The average life of bicycle helmets are 3 to 5 years. If you do crash, it is highly recommended that you get your helmet checked to see if it needs replaced.
We recommend Giro and Bell Products, although there are other quality brand names. These two however, are synonymous with high quality helmets.
Before you spend big bucks on a new saddle, you should check to make sure that you are riding with the proper seat adjustments. The following are some simple guidelines for you to consider:
- – if the seat is too low, then you waste energy and faticue your legs much sooner. If the seat is too high, then you put excess strain of your knees. How to find the proper height? When the crankarm is at the 6:00 position, and your foot/pedal is parallel to the ground, then there should be abotu a 5% bend in you knee.
- – check to see if your seat is level, if not, the shift in weight either foward or backward will cause strain on different parts of your body.
- – finally, the seat can also be adjusted front to back, and might provide smoother pedaling and a more comfortable seating position.
Seats, today, come in many shapes and sizes, but in general, there have been tremendous improvements over size, comfort and performance. It is important to note that if you are new to cycling, you will experience discomfort. Normally, this numbness and discomfort will go away as you begin to ride more consistently and longer distances. If the discomfort continues for a long period of time, then you should consider replacing your seat.
The “bigger the better” does not mean the most comfortable. Seats with big pads might fit the beach cruise or social riding, but the high tech seats are best for road and mountain biking. Seats are constructed with a shock-absorbing base, proper layers of foam for comfort and support, channels to alleviate pressure in soft tissue areas and designed to fit you sit bones for cycling comfort.
Pedals & Cycling Shoes
There is no doubt that Clipless Pedals have had an enormous effect on the speed, stability and comfort that cyclists experience today! Getting the proper cycling shoes will make a huge difference in your riding… it is that simple.
Buying the proper shoe is first determined by which pedal system you will utilize. This pedal/shoe combination is determined by what type of riding you will do. In general, the three types of shoes are:
- – road shoes are lightweight, have an easy fastening system and have very stiff soles. The stiff soles help transfer power efficiently from your feet to the pedals and also to protect your feet. Higher end racing shoes have the stiffest soles, are made of material making them very light and have an extra-secure strap system for confidence when jumping out of the saddle when sprinting. The only negative with road shoes are that the cleats are not recessed, thus walking with them on can be a little awkward.
Mountain, Off-Road Riding
- – off-road shoes provide the same power transfer through the shoes to the pedals as road shoes do. The primary differences are that the soles are a little more flexible, the cleats are recessed and they have an aggressive tread patterns. Off-road riders often times have to dismount from the bike and carry it across unridable sections of trail. The uppers of these shoes are designed to protect the foot from brush, tree limbs and an assorted aray of nature that off-road riders ride through!
Casual, Social Riders
- – casual shoes have been designed with comfort in mind. They are more flexible, have recessed cleats and look more like tennis or hiking shoes. These shoes are just as comfortable to walk in as they are to ride in, and you get all the benefits of clipless pedals.
When buying shoes, make sure the shoes fit snugly so your foot does not move around. Cycling socks are thin, have moisture wicking qualities and will prevent the stretching of you shoes. The beauty of the velcro fastening system is that on longer rides, when your feet tend to swell, it is very easy to loosen the fasteners for immediate relief.
We recommend the following combinations, although there are many other fine choices such as Look Pedals and SISI shoes.
Compatability – when shopping for shoe/pedal combinations, you need to pay attention to make sure you buy eqipment that will work together. The above combinations were put together to make this simple.
You will often see cycling shoe descriptions state they are “compatible with SPD, SPD-R, SPD-SL and Look pedals”. This means that the shoes come equipped with cleats that will work with the above pedal systems. Look pedals are high quality and becoming very popular.
SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics, and is an integrated shoe and pedal system that provides the pedaling performance along with the ability to walk comfortably off the bike. The SPD cleat system is available in two types and was originally developed for off-road and recreational cycling.
The SPD-R system was designed to provide a larger and more stable shoe-pedal interface for the special demands of road racing.
The SPD-SL system was developed pursuing the further weight saving, the superior entry and release mechanism, and the enhancement of pedaling efficiency.
There are three basic inflator systems… the floor pump, bike frame pump and CO2 inflator. Most experienced riders will find themselves owning all three systems. The floor pump is used to inflate your tires prior to riding, is easy to store in your garage or toss in to the car. The bike mount pump is used when you have a flat tire while riding, or to add some air in to your tires on longer rides. CO2 inflators are a quick, easy way to fix a flat tire, and can easily reach full inflation in seconds.
When buying a floor pump, make sure you buy one with a gauge register so you properly inflate your tires to the recommended pressure. The proper pressure is usually printed on the tire sidewall. Also, it is important that you know which tire valve type you have, either Schrader or Presta. Make sure any inflator product you purchase will fit both valve types. You should check your tire pressure before every ride!
We recommend Blackburn or Topeak frame mount and floor pump products.
The newest generation of CO2 inflators uses a system to control the rate of inflation, and are becoming very popular with all types of riders. They use either threaded or non-threaded cartidges and are very easy to operate. Toss one, with a few extra cartridges, in your bag and you will be happy you did!
Cycling Computers and Heart Rate Monitors
Training and riding smart demands that you have proper equipment and accessories. Even the most basic of information can assist you in becoming a better, safer and fitter cyclist. There are many manufacturers of these products and there are many features and price ranges to consider. You can rarely go wrong by selecting companies that are leaders in their field, and two names that are associated with bicycling electronics are Cat Eye and Polar.
Another suggestion, keep it simple!! The majority of cyclists just need the basics, packaged in a quality product that lasts for years.
If you plan to race, then the products get more sophisticated with computer software to download your training results and to track them accordingly.
In general, you can expect to pay $20 to $30 for a good product that will provide you the following:
Current, average and maximum speed
- Timer and clock
- Pace arrows
Dual sensors for road and mountain bikes
These computers are easy to install on your handlebars, with a small wire and sensor placed on your wheel. Although these features are relatively simple, they are very important and help you become a better rider. It is exciting to see how fast you can ride, to improve on your average speed, to ride distances exceeding your previous best and most importantly…
Keeps you and other riders safe!! How?..
As you become a more experienced rider, you will find yourself riding in pace lines. In general, a pace line is a group of riders in a single file, with the front rider rolling off to the back after a certain distance. This continually rotating line creates an efficient use of energy for cyclists, as you save up to 30% of your energy from the wind being blocked. As you can imagine, it can be somewhat dangerous if the group is makes quick stops or accelerations. This requires that the rider at the front of the line keep a steady pace… and of course, this is impossible without having a cycling computer to give you your speed, and pace line arrows to tell if you are accelerating or decelerating.
We recommend the CAT EYE Mity 8 or Enduro 8 for basic computer functions.
Although the majority of cyclist will do fine with these base models, you can add a few features and still keep the price in the $30 to $60 range. The two primary added features are
Wireless technology provides you with more mounting options, as you obviously do not have a hard wire leading from the computer to the wheel. The cadence feature is utilized for cyclists who follow training routines which call for maintaining a specific cadence (pedal revolutions), using certain gearing and level of intensity.
We recommend the CAT EYE Astrale 8 or Cordless 7 for computers with these more advanced features.
Finally, for the ultimate cycling computer, we have the downloadable feature. You remove the computer from your bike after each training session and download the data on to your computer. Software is included which helps you track your training. I’m sure Lance Armstrong uses this, I’m not sure how many of you need it!