To get cycling, all you technically need is a bike but there are loads of other essentials, as well as fancy gadgets and gizmos that you can buy to enhance your experience, make things safer or simply just to show off. Your local cycle shop will be able to advise you about the right accessories, but here is a guide to give you a helping hand.
Click on each one to see more information, including an approximate cost:
Modern helmets can be thin, colourful, lightweight and stylish and don't cost as much money as you thinkThere is no legal requirement to wear a helmet when out and about on bike in the UK and there is an ongoing debate on whether cyclists should or shouldn't wear one. This is a decision that is entirely down to you. Your head is quite important and a helmet will give you that extra bit of protection if you're unlucky enough to come off. Modern helmets can be thin, lightweight and stylish. A cycle shop will be able to measure you up to ensure it fits properly to provide maximum protection. Good for: Everybody who cycles. Cost: £15 to £250.
Panniers are carry cases that fix either side of the rear wheel and will make carrying your belongings easier and more comfortableCarrying your stuff in a rucksack can give you a not-so-pleasant sweaty back and may make you less stable by raising your centre of gravity. Panniers are carry cases that (normally) fix either side of the rear wheel and will make carrying your belongings easier and more comfortable by letting your body and arms move freely. If you cycle more than a few miles, they really can make a huge difference. Make sure you invest in waterproof panniers though, or your belongings might arrive wet through, which isn't ideal if you are carrying a laptop or change of clothes. Talk to your cycle shop about fitting a pannier bracket to your bike for you too. Good for: Anyone with things to carry. Cost: £40 to £300 for a pannier rack and bags.
Without them, cycling on wet roads will leave you with a dirty wet line up your back and this is the UK, so the roads are quite likely to be wet!It’s easy to overlook mudguards and think they are for ‘off-roading’ only. It’s worth pointing out that cycling on wet roads will leave you with a dirty wet line up your back without them, and we live in the UK, so it’s quite likely that the roads will be wet some of the time. Some mudguards can even be clipped on and off when you need them without the need for bolts or screws. Mudguards are easy to fit, cheap and can be fitted onto most bikes. If you're buying a new bike, ask your cycle shop to fit them there and then and you might get a discount too. Good for: Off-road riders and anyone who rides in the wet. Cost: £15 to £80 for a set.
Lights aren't just for night-time riding. Rain and fog can reduce visibility and can make cyclists harder for motorists to seeLights aren't just for night-time riding. Rain and fog can reduce visibility and can make cyclists harder for motorists to see. Most cycle lights now use LEDs rather than older bulbs and can last hundreds of hours on one set of batteries. You can even get rechargeable lights that simply need plugging in whenever they get low so no messing around with expensive batteries. If you’re going to leave your bike unsupervised, make sure you can easily detach your lights because you don't want to have them stolen when it's parked up. Good for: All Cyclists. Cost: £15 to £500 for a set.
Changing the standard saddle for a more padded, differently shaped version can really make your journeys a lot more comfortableGetting back on the saddle for the first time in a while can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable. Changing the standard saddle for a more padded or different shaped version can really make your journeys a lot more comfortable. There are even different shaped specialist saddles for men and women. You can also buy padded covers that fit over your current saddle, or an entirely new seat. In general, road bikes come with the most solid saddles and mountain bikes have more padding. A cycle shop will help you to find the comfiest saddle for your shape and size. Good for: Anyone wanting a comfier ride. Cost: £5 to £300.
Modern cycle computers fit onto your handlebars and will calculate your speed, time, calories and distance for youIf you like to know how fast you’re going or how far you've been then you want one of these. If you are into gadgets, you will probably want one of these too. Modern cycle computers fit onto your handlebars and will calculate your speed, time, calories and distance for you. Some more expensive versions can even link wirelessly to your smartphone to track your progress. A cycling GPS is basically a sat-nav for your bike and is great if you like to cycle to new places, but may be a bit of a waste of money if you cycle the same route to work each day. Good for: Serious cyclists and gadget lovers. Cost: £15 to £500.
Investing in a good quality hand pump with a built-in pressure gauge will make dealing with punctures much easierIf you cycle regularly you will probably be unfortunate enough to suffer a puncture every now and again. A puncture really isn't that much of a problem as long as you know your bike and have a spare inner tube in your bag. Investing in a good quality hand pump with a built-in pressure gauge will make dealing with punctures much easier. Another solution is a CO2 tyre inflator which uses a small canister of gas to quickly inflate the tyre, without any pumping whatsoever. For home use it's best to get a good quality foot or electric pump, because pumping a road-bike tyre to 120PSI with a hand pump will tire your arms out quite quickly. Good for: Everyone with a bike. Cost: £15 to £100.