Accessories and tools for the beginner
So you’ve just bought a new bike and you want to make sure you’re kitted out and ready to ride. There are a few things you’ll need, in addition to a bike, to get started.
If you’re new to bikes, think of all of these as essential. They’re just as important as the bike is and you should expect to spend money on this. Several of the parts can be purchased secondhand, reducing the price, with the exception being the helmet. I know it seems like a lot, but it’s all completely worth it.
Excluding the helmet, most of these items can be found on craigslist, eBay, and on the DC used bicycle market place Facebook page pretty inexpensively.
This is an extremely important part of bikes and riding. There are a handful of accessories that you need if you’re going to be riding a lot. These each deserve some consideration and investment. The must have accessories are:
The helmet is obvious. I have been saved by helmets many times in many situations. Without a helmet a small crash can turn into a life changing head injury. Dark but true. Most helmets are “single use” meaning they’re designed to take one big hit. It can be hard to tell if a helmet is cracked just by looking at it so, don’t buy a used helmet. All helmets you can buy at a shop pass the Department of Transportation tests. Just pick whatever style you like, is comfortable, buy it and wear it.
Second a lock. If you’re going to be riding and locking up in the city a good lock is a must. I use a Kryptonite Evolution Mini U-Lock with a cable for the wheels or locking skewers. In general, I suggest a U-lock if you’re going to be locking up in the city regularly. Be sure to follow good lock up practices. Lock to a sturdy structure with a part of the frame of the bicycle - I typically lock around the head tube. Be wary of sign posts as they can sometimes be pulled out of the ground by hand.
Third lights. Yes, you need lights if you ride at night, and no, reflectors or a high-viz vest is not a stand-in. If you’re skeptical of the necessity, next time you’re out at night keep an eye out for cyclists with and without lights and note the difference in night time visibility. I suggest lights which are USB rechargeable and either mount to the bike with tools or are easily removed. I have had lights stolen off my bike when locked up on the sidewalk so be aware. I like the Planet Bike Super Flash USB for a rear light and a Light In Motion Urban 500 in the front, but any decently bright lights will do.
Lastly, there are a couple tools you will want to have starting out. This part of your collection will expand over time too, but these are just the most basic basics.
1. Bicycle specific multi-tool
2. Tire levers
3. Patch kit
The multi-tool should have a full run of Allen keys, screw drivers, and, if possible a chainbreaker. I suggest something like the Crank Bros. M17 or Park Tools IB-3.
Any ol tire levers will work. I prefer the basic Park tool or Pedros tire levers.
Patch kits are largely all the same as well. You want to make sure the tube of glue on the inside is still liquid. If you don’t know how to patch a tube, there are plenty of online tutorials or we can teach you at a Bike House class or clinic.
Lastly, a pump. Unlike tire levers the cheap pumps really are worse. Being that you will use this roughly once a week I would suggest investing in a decent pump for use at home - something by Planet Bike or Topeak are good examples.
By Ian Carr