You scouted along street corners and many, many local bike stores. You have looked at a thousand bikes. You have read hundreds of reviews and gone thru just as many magazines and websites. You have listened to many conflicting advices from friends, sales assistance and YouTube. You reached a higher plane of confusion but alas you have narrowed your sights on the bike. You are ready to ride.
There are a few things we need to cover before you get on the road. All this may seem daunting or maybe a hassle even trivial to some but it is for your comfort and more importantly your safety that you may enjoy cycling for many years to come.
As you will be riding along side much larger motor vehicles and more moronic motorist, you will need to equip yourself with some knowledge and accessories to ensure you get home safe. On the road, you are just another vehicle. You do not have special privileges. Yes, contrary to popular believes, you are not “King of the Road”. You stop at red lights; you look where you going; you use hand signals before turns and you respect pedestrians and other motorists. Simply put – if you get hit by a bus you will, I repeat, you will go out in bloody pieces.
A good way to learn all these is by joining one of the many cycling groups in town. Ask the local bike stores or checkout the local magazines like Cyclist and Cycling Asia (for Malaysians) for more information.
When you buy a bike you only get a bike. You will need something to keep the bike propped up. You will need something to protect your head and maybe even your body. You will need something to let other motorist know that you are there in front of them. Yes, there is so much more to buy. If you are a woman, you might actually be very please with this. We will go through each item however, since I am simply a beginner cyclist on a road bike, you should get more information from you local bike store in relations to the type of bike that you have.
A must. Not Optional. If you go flying head first at 35km per hour; it will not be pretty. The value of the helmet equates the value of your head.
Helmets do come in various shapes and sizes but the most important thing is the helmet has to fit your head comfortably and snugly. It should not have room to move about when you strap it up. There are different types of helmets for different types of cycling. A road bike helmet does not have visors due to the angle that you sit as it can hinder your vision. An off-road cyclist might get a carbon fibre full face helmet.
Wearing the right clothing is necessary. Long pants and skirts can get caught in the chain and crank. Short skirts are generally not advised however I do support women who insist on wearing them. For most, you will need to get cycling shorts. Cycling shorts are worn without underwear as it is designed to prevent chafing and rashes and protect the skin against the repetitive friction of your crotch area as you pedal.
Cycling jerseys are recommended but not necessary to the casual cyclists. Cycling jerseys are designed to take in your sweat and allow it to dissipate quickly as you cycle.
Other items such as arms and legs warmers, base layers, cycling bibs, body armours, balaclavas are dependant on the type of cycling that you do. If you would like extra precaution, you could invest in knee and elbow protection.
You may probably wonder why I would cover eyewear. Whatever type of cycling you do, eye protection is vital whether you buy a five ringgit plastic set from the hardware store or you invest in a thousand ringgit branded eyewear. As you cycle, you will face a lot of debris coming from passing vehicles or flying insects. A mosquito is no threat until it hits your eye at 20km per hour as you are taking a sharp corner. You can get some decent looking safety glasses at a hardware store. These come with clear lenses and are designed purely for protection. Sporty shades are cool but can be functionless in the night. Polarized lenses are a great option but be careful of scammers. If you didn’t already know, when you place one polarized lens in a 90 degree angle over another polarized lens; little to no light passes the overlapping area.
I would advice you to get a decent pair of sports eyewear that suits the time of day that you ride the most. The design has to wrap around your head unlike fashion glasses. It does not have to cost you an arm and a leg but it should fit snugly on your face and it must be comfortable.