Whether you choose a mountain bike or a road bike to start your cycling adventure, there are basic tools and accessories useful in both cases. These are objects that, although not essential (except for the helmet), will make you more comfortable and safe, to fully enjoy the ride.
The helmet can save your life and its use is mandatory in many countries. You can choose from a wide range of helmets that offer adequate protection for both road cycling and mountain biking, all without spending a fortune. Remember that the helmet should not move on your head, so choose a comfortable model and the right size.
A taillight and a front light, to help you see and be seen, are key elements. If you use your bike a lot, consider buying lights with rechargeable batteries via USB to avoid wasting money unnecessarily on disposable batteries.
Padlocks are optional but if you think you need to protect your bike from thieves, don’t think twice and buy an anti-theft system (from padlocks to chains, passing through the many other alternatives) so as not to be always worried every time you park your bike around.
Bib shorts and short-sleeved cycling jersey in summer, long-sleeved jersey in winter. Obviously, nothing prevents you from going for a ride in a t-shirt and pants of a suit, but your body (and especially your backside) will appreciate the extra padding offered by the bib of the bib and the fit, breathability and perfect ventilation offered by the lightweight clothing created specifically for cycling.
As the name implies, these are not necessary elements. Welcome to the infinite universe of: “it is not essential but …”. So for safety reasons we will only talk about two types of cycling accessories: goggles and gloves.
Cycling glasses. Can I use normal sunglasses? Yes and no. NO if they have a metal frame, and YES if it is plastic. In any case, sports sunglasses are lighter, more comfortable and safer, as well as offer greater wind protection than standard sunglasses.
Gloves. They are not essential but the padded gloves will make pedaling more comfortable and will give you extra safety in the event of a fall. The use of bike gloves is highly recommended for mountain biking.
Tool kit to repair or maintain the bike
Punctures: if you do not have tubeless tires (with a liquid inside that seals small punctures), you will need levers, an inner tube of the right size and a portable pump. By taking some patches and some glue with you, you will be able to go home even in the event of more serious problems than a simple puncture.
Multi-purpose tools with chain breakers to be able to repair even broken chains without having to go home like a child pushing the bike by hand.
Where do we put all this? There are various options: The “old school” option is to put everything in the back pockets of your cycling shirt. Obviously, it is not the most comfortable choice but it is the cheapest one. The most common choice is the biking bag. There are various shapes and sizes depending on what you want to take with you. You can choose between saddlebags (or cases) under the saddle, for handlebars, to attach to the frame tubes, etc.
Tool bottles (or tool holders) are very convenient but take up too much space, which can be more useful for carrying precious water with you.
Don’t forget to hydrate and eat.
Snack. Even if you plan to go out for just one hour and don’t think you’ll be hungry, carrying a banana in your back pocket is never a bad idea. Energy gels and bars are another simple and practical option (always remember to throw the plastic wrappers in the appropriate containers).
Smartphone. Thanks to mobile phones and free apps (such as Google Maps, Wikiloc, Komoot, BikeMap, etc.) you can always know where you are and where you are going, how many kilometers you have traveled, plan your routes, etc. There are several smartphone holders to be mounted on the handlebar stem or on the handlebar itself. Some tool bags have a double function: you can put your smartphone on them as if it were a support and also keep snacks and tools inside.
Remember that we are not trying to convince you to buy tools and accessories before getting on the bike. It is important to start with the simplest thing: pedaling. Time and practice will make you understand what you might need.