Before you begin bicycling, you should know that there are several types of necessary equipment for the beginner cyclist. Equipment such as a bicycle helmet is necessary for personal safety and, in most states, required by law. Being prepared for a bicycle ride with the proper equipment can prevent injury and discomfort and can even save your life. While a helmet is most crucial, you will also need a water source, gloves, other bicycling clothing, and a variety of tools, tubes, and pumps in case of a break down or flat tire.
Choose a bicycle that fits you and is designed for your intended purpose. If you plan on riding long distances on flat surfaces, get a road bike. If you intend to off-road or spend most of your time in the woods or mountains, get yourself a mountain bike. For the absolute beginner, don't spend too much money on a bike until you have a better idea of exactly the type of bike you want and need. Consult a bike shop pro to find a bike that best fits your body.
A helmet is the most important piece of equipment when riding a bicycle. It will be the cushion protecting your head in case of an accident. When picking out a helmet, the most important factor is finding one that fits correctly. If a helmet is too loose, it will not function properly. Getting a brightly colored helmet can help increase your visibility. Some helmets come equipped with lights, which can be used in addition to flashing lights on the front and back of your bike.
Get into the habit of carrying water with you and drinking frequently. To prevent dehydration, it is recommended that you drink 20 ounces of water for every hour spent biking. Water bottles can be carried in a bottle cage that is attached to the bicycle. Alternatively, you can use a backpack hydration system like a Camelbak with a hose for easy, hands-free water drinking.
Protect your digits with a pair of bicycle gloves. These gloves provide padding for comfort on the handlebars, as well as protection from the elements, which is particularly important in cool weather biking. The greatest function of bicycle gloves is to protect your hands in case of a fall, because bikers will generally catch themselves on the concrete with their hands.
Cyclist clothing is not merely a fashion statement. It is designed to prevent chaffing, wick away sweat, and provide visibility to passing car drivers. While spandex is not an absolute necessity, do wear clothing that is suited to the weather, won't get caught in your bike (especially the chain or spokes!), and is highly visible. Sunglasses serve a dual function to keep both the sun and debris out of your eyes.
Flat tires are the most common bike repair. Learn how to repair a flat or at least change a tube. You will want to have a spare tube, patch kit, small pump, and tire levers, which help remove the tire from the rim. Carrying more tools might be for the more advanced cyclist, but if you're mechanically inclined, it doesn't hurt to carry a few tools in case of a break down. Consider carrying a multi-tool with size 4, 5, and 6 mm Allen wrenches and a screwdriver.