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Essentials

Must-Have Bike Gear

THESE THINGS ARE TRULY ESSENTIAL

We get it - when you've just spent big bucks on a bike, additional accessories feel like “upgrades” that slimy used car salesmen try to tack onto the sale.  But we call these Essentials for a reason - we can't imagine going out for a ride without them.  As cyclists, we both use and stand behind all of the Essentials we carry.


We also list the “Not Essentials” - these are things that every serious rider owns at least one of, and they're all money well spent - but they're not essential per-se for all cyclist.  To make it easier on your wallet, purchase all 6 Essentials or 8+ Essentials/Non-essentials, and get them all at 15% off.  

THE 6 ESSENTIALS

We highly recommend making space in your budget these essentials.  If you've gotta choose between spending more on your bike or getting these things, get the Essentials.

HELMETS

Yes, we all remember the feeling of the wind rushing through our hair when we rode without a helmet as a kid.  But the risk just isn’t worth it, and newer helmets are way more comfortable than they used to be.  More expensive helmets are lighter and better ventilated, as well as being equipped with the latest safety technology like MIPS and ANGI.  We've got a bunch of different styles and colors to choose from, so no matter what your style is, we've got a lid for you.  It's also good to note that the foam degrades after 5 years (or if you crash and hit your head) - you’ll find manufacturing dates on the inside of most helmets - just add 5 years to that and you've got a good date to buy a new helmet.

LIGHTS

Besides being Alameda law for riding at night, good lights are the most important way for you to be seen out on the road.   Basic battery operated lights will help you be seen, but if you really want to cast some light, a rechargeable USB headlight is the way to go.  Higher illumination helmet-mounted options are also recommended if you mountain bike at night - you've gotta have one on your bars and one on your head so you can see both where you're going and where you're about to go.  We also recommend a daytime running taillight in the flash setting for country road or car-filled city riding.  

LOCKS

If the bike will be left unattended at any time during your ride, bring a lock.  We have a wide variety of locks based on price, intended use, size, and strength.  We recommend the tried and true U-lock for almost every application, but there’s also a wide range of chain locks that vary in size, strength, and weight.  If you’re locking up in higher theft areas, we also recommend that you secure your components like wheels and seat.  Cable locks are generally only recommended for securing components -- not for the bike itself.  

FLOOR PUMPS

We generally recommend pumping up tires weekly - tubes are porous and naturally lose pressure all the time.  An under-inflated tire leads to quicker wear, a sluggish ride, and more flats.  Simply put, a properly inflated tire provides a major boost to your performance.  We recommend you purchase the best pump you can afford -- better floor pumps are easier to use and produce more air per stroke -- especially for clients who are lighter or physically challenged.  And no, a hand pump that attaches to your bike is not a substitute for a floor pump.  Using a hand pump to regularly inflate your tires will be a frustrating experience.

REPAIR KITS

A standard flat tire repair kit is essential for everyone, composed of: an inflation device (like a hand pump or CO2 inflator), tire levers, a spare tube, a patch kit, a multi-tool for adjustments and a bag to keep it all together.  Even if do not know how to fix a flat, you’ll need one when a helpful fellow cyclist passes by.  Want to learn how? Check out our flat-tire clinic as soon as you can.

HYDRATION

If you’re riding short distances, hydration may not be essential, but you should always have a bottle and cage for the inevitable ride that becomes longer than expected.  If you’re riding longer distances, two bottle cages are essential - there's nothing worse than bonking due to dehydration - trust us on this one.  We generally recommend Camelbaks for mountain bikers and adventure riders - they also double as storage containers, and if you've got a full suspension bike or frame bag, you may not be able to put bottle cages on so easily.  

NON-ESSENTIAL ESSENTIALS

While not true for all cyclists, for some rides these accessories are absolutely essential.  And for everyone these purchases are money well spent.

CARGO CARRYING

Cargo comes in all sizes, and what sort of racks, bags, or baskets you'll need will vary based on what you want to carry and what your bike can take. You could also consider a cycling-specific backpack, which fits higher on the back than a typical backpack and provides more even weight distribution for a smooth ride.

LUBE & HOME TOOLS

If your chain is squeaking, it’s likely in need of lube.  Riding a dry chain will prematurely wear out your drivetrain - that is, your chain, cassette, chainrings, and pulleys.  These aren't cheap to replace, and the longer you go before catching it, the more you'll wind up spending.  A super dirty drivetrain can also cause excessive wear, so proper cleaning solvents and brushes are also a must for regular riders.  You can use your multi-tool from your repair kit (you got that, right?) but full-size tools and a basic repair stand will work wonders for your riding experience, and likely save you money if you’re repairing your own bike.  

AUTO RACKS

If you’re riding as a family, an auto rack is almost an Essential.  An auto rack expands your riding options, from weekend camping to an impromptu day trip.  There are amazing mountain bike trails and road rides in Marin and Santa Cruz, and there are endless family day trips across the East Bay Regional Parks.  Our first choice is a hitch rack, but trunk racks cost less and fit on most vehicles (though some cars require adapters to get the fit just right).  Roof racks are neat, but they’re pricey and proprietary, plus for shorter folks they can be a physical challenge.

PEDALS AND SHOES

For road bikers and many mountain bikers, "clipping in" is the biggest performance boost out there (second to proper tire pressure).  When you use clipless pedals, it's easier to spin in circles, which gets all of your leg muscles to work together.  With properly installed cleats, you'll have more power and less pain.  If you want to maximize efficiency on the bike, get some pedals and shoes.

GLOVES & APPAREL

Everyone deals with a sore butt, tingly fingers, and smelly body odor.  Proper apparel provides comfort when you ride, and a more comfy ride experience equals a happier ride experience.  

Gloves offer a multitude of benefits: they offer protection against spills, absorb road vibrations, and provide a nice piece of terry for sweat and snot (yes, it’s gross, but true).

Shorts provide an antimicrobial padded chamois for comfort (yes, you ride without underwear).  The lycra material conforms to your legs as you pedal, reducing chafing and saddle sores.  Use chamois creme, too - your body will thank you.

Jerseys (and shorts) provide two-way insulation - they keep you cooler when it's hot and warmer when it's cold.  Jerseys wick away sweat and keep you dry.  Most jerseys also have back pockets which are incredibly useful for snacks, wallets, keys, phones, etc.  Base layers are also super nice, as they help maintain your core body temperature and help manage sweat.

Warmers are actually big money savers.  They let you convert your short-sleeve jerseys and regular shorts into year-round pieces, great for chilly Bay Area winters and early morning rides (yes, we’re wussies).  Toe covers, neck gaiters, and winter gloves are also great to have - your extremities get much colder than your core.  Nothing is worse on a morning ride than cold toes. 

Wind vests are nice because they’re generally thin enough to fit in a jersey pocket while offering a lot of protection from the wind - they keep your core warm without overheating your whole body.  

Jackets that are specific for cycling are sleeker to reduce the flapping wind sail effect, and have lower backs to keep your whole body covered when you're leaning forward.  Jackets like these are made of breathable, wind-deflecting material, often have reflective trim, and some even come with rear pockets and detachable sleeves.

Need some more help?

When you text us during open hours, you'll talk with a real life member of our sales team, giving you expert advice based on actual Bay Area conditions.  Contact us or just come on by.