Empower yourself with Kit and Knowledge to Keep you Moving
The absolute basic kit to keep with you consists of:
- Water (a bottle cage and bottle on the bike)
- Flapjack/dried fruit and nuts/snack
- Pump (my favourite is the Lezyne micro floor drive hpg)
- 2 Spare inner tubes
- Tyre levers (plastic not metal which damages the rims)
- Puncture repair kit
- Set of allen keys
- Lock (or two)
- Disposable gloves
- A rag (to run around the inside of the tyre to find the cause)
- A darning needle to remove flint, glass etc from tyre
- Spare batteries
- Extra layer (ie a rainproof or windproof jacket)
- A smart phone to access You tube to see how the rear wheel comes on and off a Brommie!
Lights are required by law. A water bottle and holder is crucial to your health – dehydration is not good for you. It is amazing how much water is used by the body when cycling, even moreso on cold days than warmer ones. Make sure you have water (replaced every day) and that you drink it whilst out on your bike.
I also have Lypsil, a nail file and a lipstick
Lights and Reflectors (red at the back of the bike, white at the front)
These are paramount and there are a myriad of options available. It is not just about seeing where you are going but about being seen by others. In a town under street lighting there is probably less of a requirement to have laser-burning lights but you do need to be able to see potholes, rubbish, pieces of glass and all the other things that could give you a puncture or bumps and drains which often have loose covers.
A dynamo light takes power from your wheel rather than batteries, but this is expensive as you need a special wheel to be built. A top of the range option worthy of consideration though.
Battery operated lights require batteries that work. I keep a spare set of batteries on my bike at all times. I also have two sets of front lights and rear lights on my bike so that I dont end up without lights. This may be excessive but I’d rather have too many than not enough.
Unfortunately all lights need to be easily removable because if you are leaving your bicycle outside they will potentially be removed.
Cateye are popular, Exposure are top of the range, LED lights from Moon are very bright although they need recharging.
Placing your lights is worth consideration – for example on the seat post is only ok if you never wear long jackets. By law they should be on the bike, not you or your rucksack. Staying visible is crucial and that is not always about lights and hi Viz.
Cycling on the Road
The best way of knowing that other road users have seen you is by making eye contact. If the driver looks back at you and not their mobile phone you know they have seen you.
Road Intelligence courses – currently called cycle training is the most empowering thing you can do to stay visible on the road as a cyclist. Using eye contact and appropriate road positioning along with competent and relevant bike handling skills make a real difference to how you use the roads.
If you like to know your mileage, calories, cadence (pedal spins per minute), heart beat or where you’ve been and where your going there is a computer for it. A basic Cateye provides the first three above although when cycling longer distances, route planning becomes crucial. I now have a Garmin and am considering a wrist watch to measure my heartbeat.
Garmin are one of the top bike computers for routes and stats. They have GPS and are sophisticated computers that can practically put the kettle on! There are also many Apps on smart phones that offer useful cycling stats but they also drain the power to your phone. Being contactable is probably more important.
The one at the front protects the chain from mud and debris on the road. The one at the back protects your back from mud and debris on the road. However, if they are not fitted correctly they can cause punctures by rubbing on the tyres and if they come off on a group ride they are extremely hazardous to the people behind you.
These vary in price and security but if a bike thief wants to steal your bike, eventually he/she will. Adding protective barriers like two locks, keeping it inside, keeping an eye on it if it’s on the street will all help. Your insurance company probably have a minimum recommendation to use.
The police operate a Bike Register which they use as a reference when recovering stolen bikes.
A Track Pump
This means that you can make sure the pressure in your tyres is exactly what it should be (embossed on the tyres)
Bike maintenance courses are free in most London boroughs and are also offered by bike shops, well worth doing.