Newbie Tip: You’ve just bought a bike, now what? (Part 1)

1 March 2008 By Justin Cooper 1 Comment 6,581 Views

trek-1500-thumb.jpgBuying a brand new, perfectly fitted, road bike can be quite an experience, but it’s just the beginning. You’ll need a few more things just to get started, so I hope you’ve set aside some of your hard earned money for the essential cycling gear, tools, and components.

First, let’s cover the essential things you’ll want to get now that you’ve picked out the perfect bike.

Helmet

Bell Alchera HelmetWhat better way to protect your noggin’ than with a CPSC certified cycling helmet? There are so many helmets that you can choose from that it becomes a bit overwhelming. The key thing is to buy a helmet that is CPSC certified. This will ensure that the helmet will actually do what it’s advertised to do. A higher quality helmet will typically have more R&D behind it, so they will be lighter, allow more airflow, and sometimes may even look better! I spent a lot of time trying to find a helmet that is comfortable, but not overpriced, and ended up with the Bell Alchera.

Spare Tubes

Bike TubeA spare tube happens to be quite useful during those unfortunate time when you get a flat, and are quite cheap at around $4-5. The first thing you’ll need to know is which type of valve you have, either Shrader or Presta. You can tell by looking at your bike. The shrader valves look like the valves on a typical car (in North America at least!), and the Presta valve is usually long and skinny. The next thing you’ll need to know before purchasing your tube is the size of your tire. For example, a Trek 1000 has a 700×25 tire. You’ll find that by looking at the sidewal of the tire. I suggest getting two tubes to start with, as they really aren’t that expensive.

Patch Kit

Park Tools Patch KitI’m a firm believer in always taking along a quality patch kit. It’s a very cheap addition to your take-along kit, and doesn’t take up very much space. You can choose from a number of different patch kits, but I continue to take along the pre-glued variety, as it’s one less thing to worry about. The last patch kit I bought was a Park Tools GP-2 (pictured), but most name brand patch kits will work fine. If you need some help on how to patch your tube, this link at the Park Tools site is a great help.

Tools

There are a ton of great multi-tools that you can choose from. A good multi-tool is going to have a variety of uses. Most of them include a hex set in a range specifically used on your bike, screwdrivers, and a few optional components. A bare bones tool will start at around $9.00, and a monster all-in-one tool can reach $50. I’ve found that the tools in the $15-20 range are fine for how often they’re used. I wouldn’t suggest buying a multi-tool as your everyday bench tool, but for emergencies, they can come in handy.

Crank Brothers Multi-17 ToolHow do you choose which one to buy though? There is a Topeak Alien 2, Park Tool MT-1, Crank Brother Multi-17 among many, many others. I would suggest a multi-tool that is not overly complicated, and a single piece (so you don’t lose any parts). The Crank Brothers Multi-17 tool looks a bit complicated, but is a favorite among many. The Park Tool IB-2 would also be a good bet.

Park Tool Tire Lever SetYou’ll also want to take along a set of tire levers (or your spare tubes, and patch kits won’t be much help). Some of the multi-tools include tire levers (why not?), but I suggest getting a dedicated set of them. You can find them as a Nylon/Plastic material, and they seem to work well enough. Park Tool makes a good tire lever set, at a decent cost (pictured). The average set of tire levers can be found for less than $5, they don’t take up much space, and are relatively light. These are a must have to take along with you.

I consider a chain tool to be optional depending on how far you’re going, and if you have easy access to be picked up. They’re relatively cheap, and many multi-tools include a simple one.

Pump/CO2

There are primarily two options when it comes to filling up your tires out on the road. You can take a portable pump, or Co2. There are definite pros and cons for each of the two options. I’m of the opinion that most newbies should take along a reliable mini-pump or frame pump.

Crank Brothers Power PumpThere are a few things to look for in a portable pump. Some of the pumps are crazy small, but will typically max out at a much lower psi. The tricky thing with a portable pump is actually pumping up the tire, as you have to worry about keeping the pump head on the stem, and also keeping a low amount of stress on the stem. I’ve written up about the Topeak Road Morph G recently, and it’s actually my current favorite to take along due to it solving a few of those problems. At 5.6″ long, the Crank Brothers Power Pump is much smaller, and would likely fit in your seat wedge.

Innovations Ultraflate PlusCO2 is a lighter, and smaller option, but not typically as reliable, or environmentally friendly (recycle the spent cartridges). It’s much easier to do; just pop on the CO2, and let it rip. They’ll also be able to hit your desired psi without issue. The problems can come in on longer rides (more than one or two flats…unlikely, but possible), or when the CO2 doesn’t work (head slips off the stem, etc). A good idea might be to take along a mini-pump to start out a flat, and finish filling it up with the CO2.

Part 2 will cover the seat wedge, pedals, shoes, cleats, sunglasses, and hopefully more.

Update: Here is Part 2, and Part 3 of this series.

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