Road Biking Shopping List

Planning on buying yourself a road bike?  Great idea-- you can have a ton of fun (and healthy exercise) on it!  Here's a (regrettably long!) list of things you might also want to consider buying to go with it.  You certainly don't have to buy all (or any) of these things, but they're all things you should consider (if only to reject immediately).

Although this list is aimed at novice roadies, much of it can apply to newbies purchasing some other kind of bike, of course.

Two places that anyone can buy bike gear from online (or through their catalogs) are Performance Bike and Bike Nashbar.  These guys have big selections and cheap prices.  In addition to their virtual presence, Performance also has some real brick-and-mortar stores, and I buy a lot of stuff from their store in Redwood City (in the Bay Area).  In San Francisco, Sports Basement sells lots of sporting stuff (including cycling goods) for great prices; you can also buy from them online.

So...what's on my shopping list?

Safety stuff

Things to wear

A lot of cycling duds are expensive.  That's all the warning I'm going to give you about that.


There are three main ways you can go about pedaling your bike:
  1. "Regular" platform pedals, which are just a flat surface that your feet rest on.
  2. Platform pedals with toe clips on them.  The toe clips are metal or plastic thingies that hold your feet on the pedals and enable you to apply some power to them while you're raising them.  Often one can add toe clips onto platform pedals after the fact.
  3. "Clipless" pedals, which ironically are pedals that your [cycling] shoes clip into.  (They're called "clipless" because they don't have toe clips.)  When you buy a pair of clipless pedals, you'll find that they come with a pair of cleats that you need to affix to the bottom of your bike shoes so that the shoes can actually clip in.
If you're planning on doing a nontrivial amount of biking, then I strongly suggest that you get clipless pedals and bike shoes.  They'll make it more efficient for you to transfer power to the pedals.  In addition, of course, bike shoes are designed to be good for biking.  The downside is that pedals and shoes cost money (especially for really good ones!), and you won't be able to reasonably ride your bike without your bike shoes.  (There are exceptions to this last problem-- you can buy pedals that are platform pedals on one side, but let you clip in on the other side.  See here for an example.)

For road bikes, SPD and Look are the most popular types of pedals/cleats.  There are lots of others, though.  An up-and-comer is Shimano's [relatively] new SPD-SL style, which is what I have on my "good" bike (um, and that's the kind that that Lance fellow rides, too).  Note that a given pair of bike shoes is not necessarily able to mount the cleats for every possible type of pedal that you might want to use!  Talk to your bike shop when deciding on your pedals and bike shoes.

Your bike might or might not come with pedals right out of the shop.  In fact, ironically enough, the more money you spend on your bike, the less likely it is that it comes with pedals.  Ç'est la vie.

The visit to the bike shop when you buy your bike is a good time to buy your bike pedals and shoes, too.

Fix-it supplies to carry with you


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