Newbie Tip: You’ve just bought a bike, now what? (Part 2)
In part one of “You’ve just bought a bike, now what?”, I covered the essential items you’ll need after purchasing your (likely first) bike, including the helmet, spare tubes, patch kit, tools, and pump/CO2. Of course, these items aren’t nearly the only things you’ll need to prepare you for the road.
Part 2 will cover the seat wedge, pedals, shoes, and cleats.
A seat wedge may not be completely required, as you could store your spare tube, and tire levers in various places, but they are definitely a great way to gain some out of the way storage space. There are about as many seat wedges to choose from as there are bikes on the road. Sticking with a brand name is typically smart, but there are some seat wedges that tend to stand out above the rest.
I personally chose the Topeak Aero Wedge (medium with straps, review in the link), as it was well received by other cyclists, and so far it has definitely lived up to its reputation. Topeak also makes a ton of different quality seat wedges. Trek also has quite a few different seat wedges to choose from. If you need to save a buck or two, and go the budget route, Performance Bike is a great option. The trick is finding the right balance for storage space, and a pack that is unobtrusive and easy on the eyes. Much of the decision is personal preference.
Well, the pedals will primarily determine the type of shoes, and cleats you get (there are exceptions, of course), and you’ll definitely want to get clipless pedals. If I had to guess, the most popular road bike pedal would be LOOK. I’m not exactly sure what is after that in regards to popularity, but there are the plenty to choose from, including SPD pedals (SPD, SPD-SL, etc), Eggbeaters, Speedplay, and more. Wikipedia covers the majority of the variety of pedal brands.
I personally chose to go with the standard SPD pedals, and a stiff mountain bike shoe that allows me to walk in them. Typically the LOOK, or SPD-SL shoes can be difficult to walk in (resembling a duck walk). If you plan on being more of a recreational rider, the SPD, and MTB shoe combination might be a good idea (especially if you are on a budget). The Eggbeater pedals are also typically compatible with the walkable SPD shoes, and are a great alternative.
Speedplay pedals are reviewed highly among the elite due to their reliability under heavy loads, and the ease of entry and release (they also look pretty good). The problem with them is that they are quite expensive.
The cleats will typically come with the pedals. Make sure that you adjust your cleats properly, and torque them to the correct specs onto your shoes. A decent article on cleat adjustment can be found here. If you’re not comfortable with doing your own adjustments, I highly suggest taking your bike, and shoes into your local LBS to have them properly adjusted. Most newer cleats have ‘float’, and allow a bit more movement to prevent injuries, and soreness.
Depending on the type of pedal you went with will largely determine the shoes you can choose from. Make sure that you choose the stiffest shoe you can afford, and the one that is compatible with your cleats (it will be noted on the shoe box, or by looking at the bolt pattern).
Typically, the stiffer the shoe, the less likely you’ll develop hot spots (or sore spots) on the soles of your feet; the stiffer sole distributes the load of the pedaling action. If you want to walk around after cycling, or plan on commuting as well, don’t be afraid to purchase a stiff pair of mountain bike shoes. You may want to try and find a shoe with a carbon sole that is in your budget. They are very light, and of course, stiff.
A word of warning when looking at various brands of cycling shoes; none of the brands size the same way. I personally fit into a 44cm Shimano, a 43 Specialized, a 42 Pearl Izumi, and a 43 Nike. Your shoe purchase is one of those things that will determine a large percentage of your comfort on your long rides. Make sure to search around for a review of any cycling shoe that you are interested in before making your purchase.
Part 3 will cover the sunglasses, cyclocomputer, headlight/taillights, shorts, jersey, and hopefully more.