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Expert Advice - Cycling Gear

Bike Components
Bike Accessories
Bike Frames 101

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Choosing The Right Bike Accessories

Spare Tubes, Patch Kits and Tools

  • It is always a good idea to have a spare tube along in case of a flat
  • If flat tires are a particular problem on your rides, consider buying a puncture-resistant tube
  • Patch kits are a necessity if you need to repair a tube, either on the road or in the comfort of home
  • Patch kits typically consist of tire levers (little crowbars that are used to pry the tire off the rim), rubber patches, tire cement, and a piece of sandpaper (to rough up the surface of the tube so that the cement will adhere and hold the patch in place)
  • Other basic tools that are handy to have include screwdrivers, wrenches and allen keys for quick adjustments as well as a chain tool for taking the chain apart for cleaning and repair

Pumps

To keep your bike running smoothly, it's important to keep the tires inflated to their recommended pressure. There are three basic types of pumps.

  • Floor pumps
    • Larger models designed for home use
    • They feature a large air chamber and heavy-duty construction that can accommodate high pressures and repeated use. Many models have a built-in pressure gauge.
  • Frame-fit pumps
    • These are designed to fit on your bike frame without the need for mounting hardware
    • They are good for the occasional emergency, but are not sturdy enough for long-term, constant use
  • Mini-pumps
    • Mini-pumps are light, small, and will fit easily in a bike bag or jersey pocket
    • They can also be mounted under the bottle cage via frame clips
    • Although the size is convenient, mini-pumps often require a hundred or more strokes to fill a tire
  • One other option is a CO2 inflation system
    • This system provides instant, effortless tire inflation. The cartridges are small, light and easy to carry. However, this method becomes expensive when used for anything but emergency use.

Water Bottles and Cages

  • If you plan to ride for more than 15 minutes, you'll probably want to bring along a water bottle
  • Bottles come in two basic sizes, regular and oversized
  • If you like your drink to stay cold, look for an insulated bottle or a wide-mouthed model that can handle ice cubes
  • Bottle cages will generally fit all bike bottles
  • Most bike frames have braze-ons (small fittings) to accommodate cages, thereby eliminating the need for mounting hardware
  • Mountain bike cages are usually heavier and thicker than road cages
  • Road cages tend to be light and aerodynamic

Handlebar and Seat Bags

  • Handlebar and seat bags come in a variety of sizes and styles, and are handy for stowing anything from house keys to picnic lunches
  • Handlebar bags attach to the front of the handlebars. They are more suited to road and hybrid bikes than to mountain bikes, and are especially useful for touring and recreational riding.
  • Some bags have special map pockets, and will easily detach from the bike for use as a carry-all
  • Seat bags fit below the seat and are usually wedge-shaped. They are good for any rider who wants to carry a bare minimum, such as a spare tube and patch kit.

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