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Minimum Gear for Biking

Experienced cyclists have a few simple ideas about equipment that makes biking a lot safer and easier. Here’s the minimum gear they recommend.

Helmet
An absolute must for cycling!

Spare Tires

To prevent flats: Keep your tires at maximum air pressure; they lose a little air every day. Skinnier tires lose air more quickly. Many cyclists use puncture-proof tire liners (like Mr. Tuffy), Kevlar-belted tires, thorn-resistant tubes, or tube sealants. Heavy-set or rough-surface riders should try wider tires.

To fix flats: Always carry a spare inner tube or a patch kitand tools to get your tube out. Use tire levers (best) or a screwdriver (not as good); a wrench if you don’t have quick-release hubs; an old sock or rag to cover your hand when you grab your chain; and a hand pump or a quarter to pay for a gas-station pump. High-pressure pumps can explode your tire!

Carrying Rack
Make your bike carry your things! Use bungee cords to tie things to your carrying rack. If you carry things often you should invest in panniers, or the many varieties of bike bags available. Instead of a rear rack or front basket, you can use a backpack. However, a backpack can strain your shoulders and make balancing harder. And carrying stuff in your arm is unsafe; it’s harder to steer and brake.

Toe Clips
Toe clips give your pedaling more power. But if they’re not adjusted right, the clips can lock your feet to your pedals so you can’t put a foot down when you lose your balance. When using toe clips, make sure you can get your feet out of them fast. Another option is to go clipless.

Ankle Strap
Getting your pants caught in your chain can make you lose control and ruin your pants. If your bike doesn’t have a chain guard, use a clip or Velcro strap around your pants cuff to keep it from hitting your chain and frame.

Sunglasses
To protect your eyes from bugs and airborne debris, wear sunglasses, especially with contact lenses. Wraparound glasses are best. If your glasses steam up in cold weather, apply an anti-fogger. Some cyclists use a light coating of gel toothpaste.

Night and Foul Weather Gear
If you ride at night or in bad weather you are going to need lights, reflectorsand more.


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