Equipping yourself with the essential road bike accessories is the first step to ensuring a comfortable and safe riding experience. With so many options available–from foundational components like saddles and pedals to safety features such as lights and locks, as well as essentials like hydration and sustenance–it's important to consider your ride characteristics, performance goals, and personal preferences when deciding what to take with you. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or a beginner, we’ll provide you with 25 must-have road cycling accessories to help you gear up for your next ride.
How to choose road bike accessories
The best cycling accessories and apparel for you depend on your riding style, personal preferences, and goals. Here's what to keep in mind when selecting accessories for yourself or your road bike:
1. Consider your riding style.
Determine the type of riding you'll be doing, whether commuting, touring, racing, or a combination of these, to find the right riding apparel and accessories for your bike. If you're training for a race, you might prioritize aerodynamic clothing and lightweight accessories to enhance speed. If you're a commuter, you might focus on comfort and visibility with ergonomic clothing and bright lights. Additionally, different types of road bikes have unique requirements for components, so you’ll want to consider your bike's specifications.
2. Prioritize safety.
Safety should always be a consideration. Begin with essentials, like a helmet, front and rear lights, and reflective clothing or accessories. Helmets, lights, and reflective features ensure you're visible to other road users, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries, even in low-light conditions. And repair kits help you maintain your safety and your bike’s performance on the road.
3. Consider comfort.
Choose clothing and accessories that fit well and won't cause discomfort during long hours in the saddle. Well-fitting clothing prevents chafing and discomfort during rides, allowing you to focus on your performance and the road ahead.
4. Optimize performance with the right accessories.
Depending on your goals, consider items that enhance performance, like aerodynamic clothing, clipless pedals, and cycling shoes that maximize power transfer. Also, consider a cycling computer to track and improve your performance.
5. Plan for various weather conditions.
Select apparel that can adapt to different weather scenarios and have options on-hand for hot, cold, rainy, and windy days. Look for accessories like cycling gloves, arm warmers, leg warmers, shoe covers, and caps that can enhance your comfort and protect against varying conditions.
6. Prepare for long rides.
If you'll be doing longer rides, make sure you’re equipped with adequate nutrition and hydration that can accommodate your energy needs. Pack energy gels, bars, and sufficient water to sustain yourself. Additionally, wear clothing with ample storage (e.g., back pockets on jerseys) to carry extra nutrition.
7. Consider maintenance and cleaning.
Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and lubricating your bike's drivetrain, prevents premature wear and maintains optimal performance. Investing time in maintenance not only extends the lifespan of your road bike accessories but also ensures consistent performance and a smoother overall riding experience. Remember that some cycling apparel made from performance fabrics may require specific cleaning methods to retain their quality.
8. Balance aesthetics and functionality.
While aesthetics matter, ensure your road cycling accessories and apparel also offer the functionality you need for riding. Options that combine both aesthetics and functionality elevate your riding experience by performing well and reflecting your style.
9. Seek expert advice.
If you’re not sure how to find the cycling accessories that are right for you, seek advice from experienced cyclists and professionals to help you make informed choices that align with your riding goals.
Essential road bike accessories
A well-fitting saddle supports your sit bones and minimizes pressure on soft tissues. Before choosing a saddle size, you’ll first need to measure your sit bone width. Also, look for a shape that matches your anatomy and with a level of padding that suits your riding style.
Learn more: The Best Road Bike Saddles
2. Clipless pedals
Clipless pedals, designed to attach to clipless cycling shoes, optimize energy transfer throughout the pedal stroke and prevent your foot from slipping. These pedals help you maintain a steady cadence and stability, making them ideal for climbing, accelerating, and riding long distances. Make sure you choose a compatible pedal and shoe system. They don’t have to be from the same manufacturer, but it helps ensure that your pedals and shoes are the right fit. If you’re new to cycling, we recommend professional installation of your clipless pedals.
3. Flat repair kit
This kit typically includes spare inner tubes (make sure they're the correct size for your tires), tire levers to help remove and install tires, and a mini pump or CO2 inflator to reinflate the tire after fixing a flat. A patch kit features patch options in various sizes, accompanied by sandpaper and a tube of vulcanizer used as an adhesive for patches. This approach reinforces the tube's strength and effectively prevents air leakage.
4. Chain lube
Applying chain lube to your drivetrain is essential to minimize the metal-on-metal contact that occurs within the drivetrain during pedaling. For distance riders, using a wet lube is recommended, although frequent cleaning might be necessary. Wet lubes are ideal for wet conditions but attract dirt. Dry lubes are suitable for dry environments, repelling particles, while wax lubes offer cleanliness and require multiple applications. Choose the type that best suits your riding conditions and maintenance routine.
A saddle bag accommodates cycling essentials like spare tubes, tire levers, a mini pump or CO2 inflator, and a multi-tool. Look for a saddle bag with a secure attachment, water-resistant features, and easy access to your items.
6. Front, rear, and side lights
Front, rear, and side lights keep you visible, especially during dawn, dusk, or nighttime rides. These lights are essential for alerting other road users to your presence, but they won’t help you see in dim conditions. Mounting headlights to your handlebars can help you see and be seen.
7. Bike lock
Choose a portable and secure bike lock to protect it from theft. U-locks or chain locks are popular choices because they're more secure than cable locks, but chain locks are usually the most practical option to carry.
Mudguards prevent water, mud, and debris from being thrown onto you and your bike, keeping you cleaner and more comfortable in wet conditions.
9. Cycling GPS computer
A cycling computer provides real-time ride data such as speed, distance, time, and elevation. Some advanced models also offer navigation features. If you’re looking for a great cycling GPS, we rely on the Wahoo ELEMNT for navigating our rides.
10. Cycling route planner
Route planners help you discover, map, and share new routes so you can navigate efficiently and explore new areas confidently during your rides.
Learn more: How to Map Your Rides in Google Maps & Strava
11. Turbo trainer
A turbo trainer transforms your road bike into a stationary indoor bike, allowing you to maintain fitness and have fun when outdoor riding isn't possible. A smart turbo trainer provides you with a realistic riding experience and allows you to connect to Zwift and connect with a virtual cycling community.
Learn more: Which is Better–Zwift or Peloton?
Must-have road bike accessories and apparel for the rider
Selecting a reliable cycling helmet can be life-saving during falls and collisions. While U.S. helmets adhere to CPSC safety standards, designs, and additional safety features vary. Many helmets feature Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology, which employs a slip-plane layer to counter rotational forces that might pose a brain injury risk. An ill-fitting helmet undermines your safety, so ensuring a proper fit is crucial.
Learn more: 10 Best Road Bike Helmets
13. Cycling baselayer
A cycling baselayer is the foundational layer in your cycling attire, crucial for maintaining core temperature and overall comfort across diverse climates. Baselayers are made with moisture-wicking fibers to prevent discomfort and chafing.
Shop Hincapie baselayers.
14. Cycling jersey
When selecting a jersey, ensure it has moisture-wicking fabric to manage sweat and repel water, wind-repellant qualities, breathability through mesh panels, pockets for nutrition, and suitability for your riding style. Choose between long or short sleeves based on climate and preferences.
Shop Hincapie cycling jerseys.
15. Cycling bibs, shorts, or tights
Cycling shorts, bibs, and tights are designed to eliminate chafing and abrasion in the saddle. They feature a chamois insert that cushions and protects the area between the seat bones. The chamois padding is made from gel or foam for shock absorption.
Learn more: Bike Shorts vs. Bib Shorts Buying Guide
16. Cycling socks
Cycling-specific socks are designed for cycling shoes to keep your feet dry and comfortable in diverse weather conditions. Their materials are often a blend of Lycra for flexibility, nylon for strength and weather resistance, and Merino wool for moisture-wicking warmth.
Shop Hincapie cycling socks.
17. Cycling shoes
Proper cycling shoes have a rigid sole for efficient power transfer and an attachment for clipless pedals. Cycling shoes are stiff for efficient power transfer. Finding the proper fit and adjustability with closures like laces, Velcro, or BOA systems is key when selecting the best pair for you.
18. Cycling jacket
Whether you’re seeking a hardshell cycling jacket for optimal wind and cold resistance, a softshell for transitional seasons, or a lightweight rain shell for repelling showers, selecting the right jacket entails balancing protection and comfort. When choosing a cycling jacket, prioritize essential features like ventilation and moisture-wicking linings.
Shop Hincapie cycling jackets.
Cycling gloves offer padding to absorb road vibrations, protect your hands in case of falls, and enhance grip on the handlebars. Gloves also keep your hands warm in cold weather, but they’re great for protection in all seasons.
Shop Hincapie cycling gloves.
Arm, leg, or knee warmers can be easily added or removed to adapt to changing temperatures, helping you stay comfortable during the ride. Silicone grippers secure them in place so they don’t slip while riding.
Shop Hincapie warmers.
Cycling sunglasses shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, wind, dust, and insects. The lens is their most important feature, providing visual clarity in varying lighting and weather conditions. Opting for high-quality, color-enhancing lenses often ensures heightened clarity and perception outdoors.
22. Shoe covers
Shoe covers, or overshoes, protect both your cycling shoes and feet from rain, cold weather, and road spray. In colder seasons, relying solely on regular cycling shoes can be uncomfortable. Cycling shoe covers are made to keep your feet warm and dry.
Shop Hincapie shoe covers.
Proper hydration when cycling involves striking the right balance of hydration and fuel for optimal performance using electrolyte and carb-rich hydration drinks. Water suffices for short, low-intensity rides, but carbohydrate drinks are needed for efficient nutrient absorption and energy replenishment on longer rides.
Shop Hincapie water bottles.
Energy gels, bars, or easily digestible foods provide quick and sustained energy to keep you fueled during long rides. On endurance rides, a combination of gels, hydration drinks, and solid foods prevents monotony and supplies much-needed energy.
You’ll appreciate having a first-aid kit on hand if you fall off your bike or are in a cycling accident. Basic first-aid kits include items like adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and personal medications. Adding trauma pads to your kit helps to stop bleeding and clean wounds.
With the right road bike accessories and apparel, you’ll be equipped to cycle comfortably in all seasons. Not only is it important to gear up properly, but it’s also essential to ride safely in hazardous weather. Follow these tips for safe cycling in winter or rainy weather:
Reach out if you need any assistance choosing the best cycling apparel for your riding style, and we’d be happy to help!
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