Are you new to road cycling? The good thing is that it’s pretty easy to get into road cycling, and apart from the main purchase of a bicycle, it’s not the most expensive pastime you could pick from a long list of regular hobbies that British people partake in.
If you are looking to get into road cycling and you’re not sure what you need to get started, we’ve listed some of the key things you might want to consider. Top of the list is a bike, obviously, but beyond that, you really don’t need much else - just plenty of enthusiasm and energy to turn the pedals. As you find yourself getting more into cycling, there are a few useful things that can make cycling more comfortable and enjoyable.
We’ve listed some key road cycling products in order of importance, starting with...
1. A bike
An obvious one this, but if you’re going to take up cycling of any sort, you’re going to need a bike. Now is a really good time to buy a new road bike, there is a lot of choice at a huge range of prices, and the quality of bikes across the board is really good.
Sure, you can easily drop £10,000 on a Tour de France replica, but there are lots of bargains to be had for under £500 if you don't want to spend too much.
Bikes come in many guises, this guide gives a good overview of the different types of road bike available on the market.
And if you're not sure where to start with buying a road bike, let us guide you to making the right decision, with this helpful guide.
2. Padded shorts
If you’re just planning on very short cycle rides, to the office or college, for example, you can get by just fine with regular clothes. There’s no need to wear anything special.
If you want to get into road cycling properly and tackle some longer distances, perhaps even enter a sportive or join your local club, a really good investment is a pair of padded shorts. Your bum will thank you.
They can be worn on their own, or concealed under baggy shorts if you prefer, and they provide a thin padding that provides a bit of cushioning against the saddle, and can substantially improve comfort on longer rides. Just remember, no underwear under padded shorts.
You can spend anything from about £40 to over £300, so there really is something for all budgets. Here’s our buyer’s guide
3. Cycling jersey
A cotton t-shirt might be just fine for shorter rides, but they’re not really designed for the demands of a longer cycle ride.
A cycling-specific jersey is made from a fabric designed to keep you cool in the heat, and keep you dry when you break a sweat. They also have a long zip for ventilation, and three rear pockets for carrying food and other supplies that you might need on longer trips.
Cycling jerseys also come in many varieties designed for different conditions, from cold weather to hot weather jerseys, and can be worn with other clothing accessories like arm warmers and gilets.
You can pay anything from £5 to £130 for a jersey, here’s our buyer’s guide.
4. Water bottle and bottle cage
Cycling can be thirsty work, especially in the summer heat, so keeping hydrated on longer rides is of paramount importance. Most road bikes have bolts on the frame (down tube and seat tube) that allow you to fit a special bottle cage into which a cycling bottle can be fitted.
You can stick a bottle of Coke or Lucozade in a jersey pocket or even a bottle cage, but the former isn’t very comfortable and the latter isn't the most secure. A cycling water bottle can also be reused hundreds of times, is easy to clean and is easy to drink from on the move.
5. Pump, spare tube, basic tools and chain oil
There are two things that any cyclist embarking on a ride really shouldn’t leave home without, and that’s a spare inner tube and pump. Nobody plans to puncture, but they do happen from time to time, so it’s worth being prepared so you don’t have to phone home for a lift.
A local bike shop will help you choose the right size spare inner tube (or you can read our guide below), and a pump doesn’t have to cost a lost. You can carry both in a jersey pocket or backpack, or better still is to stash the inner tube in a saddle bag, and mount the pump to the frame with the often supplied brackets.
Another thing you might want to consider is a multitool. Multitools are the cyclist's equivalent of a Swiss Army knife, with a range of tool bits that can be used to make adjustments to the bike, such as raising or lowering the saddle height or tweaking the gears.
If you are really getting into cycling and doing regular rides, you’ll want to keep the chain well oiled so the gears work smoothly and quietly. Chain oil, or lube as it’s commonly called, is available from any good bike shop and a small bottle lasts a long time and doesn’t cost much.
Because everyone wants to know how fast and far they’ve cycled, don’t they?
This isn’t an essential product at all, but as any cyclist knows all too well, the most likely question you get from friends, a partner or family after a ride is how far did you ride and how fast did you pedal? And if you are new to cycling, it’s fun to track your distance of a ride and use that to measure your progress as you get into road cycling.
Cycle computers can also show you how fast you’ve ridden, your average and max speeds, how much climbing you’ve done, and other measurements like cadence and heart rate. And as this guide below shows, they don't have to cost a fortune.
You can use a smartphone to record your ride using one of the many available apps, and this is another option, but a small dedicated computer fitted to your bike will cope with rain and hte battery will last a very long time. More expensive computers use GPS and can be plugged into a computer to download all the data.
And yes, we thought about including a helmet in this list, but as it’s not law to wear a helmet when cycling, we feel it’s up your own discretion whether you choose to wear a lid. If you feel safer wearing a helmet then go for it. Good cycling helmets can be bought for as little as £20, just make sure they comply with European standards, to look for certification stickers inside the helmet .
Is there anything we’ve missed? Let's hear your suggestions in the comment section.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.