10 Essential Items for Beginner Cyclists

If you’re just getting into cycling, the amount of equipment available can be a little overwhelming. From GPS devices to bike locks, there’s a fair bit of kit to consider. 

Instead of navigating this alone, we’ve gathered a series of items you might want to think about acquiring to make your cycling life a little easier. Our 10 essential items for beginner cyclists should get you off to a flying start in your cycling journey. 



Repairs and Upkeep

Comfort and Clothing

Biking essentials - helmet

Safety Essentials 

[1] Hi-Vis

High-visibility kit is incredibly important for beginner riders who will be riding at night. Whether your commute is later than planned or you’re planning a longer ride, the chances are that you will end up riding under cover of darkness. A hi-vis is a key piece of clothing because it allows you to be seen. Along with a helmet, it could be the difference between a nasty accident and avoiding a hazard.  

[2] Bike Lights

The second key piece of equipment to help you be seen is a good bike light. Making yourself known to other road users, both car and bike alike can be the difference between life and death. Not only do bike lights allow you to be seen, but they also do a good job of illuminating the way ahead on particularly dark rides. 

When affixing lights to your bike, you should make sure there are both rear and front lights attached – so that you are visible from more than one direction. Conveniently, you can get bike lights sets, including front and rear lights. Bike lights can be battery-powered, rechargeable or work using the kinetic energy you generate whilst riding. 

[3] Bike Helmet

It can’t be overstated that it is absolutely crucial to protect your head if you’re thinking about taking up cycling. All kinds of cyclists, from MTB, road, gravel and beyond, risk severe injury if they fall without protecting the most crucial part of the body. Bike Helmets should be at the top of your list if you’re a beginner cyclist. Making sure the cycling helmet is the right size and type is something you’ve also got to get right. It should come as no surprise that you would attract unwanted attention if you turned up to a road-riding club in an MTB helmet! However, helmets are not the only kind of protective gear you might need. You may need additional protection for MTB, like body armour and knee pads

Beginner cycling essentials - safety light

Biking must-haves for Repairs and Upkeep 

[4] Multi-tool

You never know when you’ll need to swap out a wheel or adjust your seat. Needing to do so mid-ride and not having the tool you need can be a nightmare. A multi-tool is a compact and all-in-one contraption with several handy gadgets. These can include tools like crosshead and flathead screwdrivers, Allen keys in several sizes, and rivet extractors. As a beginner, you’ll be thankful for a multi-tool to get you back riding with minimum fuss.

[5] Puncture Repair

Hopefully, this suggestion speaks for itself. It would be unwise to operate under the illusion that you can avoid a puncture. The minor disaster that is a puncture is an age-old problem that plagues riders of all stripes and experience levels. With your handy multi-tool, you’ll want to ensure that your kit bag includes a well-stocked puncture repair section. With these two hardworking repair pieces, you can ride safely with the knowledge you can overcome any bump in the road.   

[6] Bike Pumps

One final consideration in terms of repair essentials is the humble bike pump. Effective and reliable, a pump will serve you well in your cycling journey. A decent track pump will also let you know if the pressure is correct, allowing you to get the most out of your tyres. 

As well as a floor pump, investing in a CO2 pump will also save your rides time and time again. A floor pump is quite large and not a very portable item to be carrying around. A CO2 pump is pocket-sized and will fit inside any saddlebag. This kind of pump is also ideal for tubeless tyres as a mechanical pump doesn’t deliver enough air to provide a seal.  

swinnerton cycles Cycling essentials, cycling clothes, cycling base layers

Comfort and clothing cycling essentials

[7] Outerwear and base layers

There’s an enduring and incredibly useful piece of advice about dressing for the temperature. Summed up, this advice states that you can’t conjure up layers to wear if you’re too cold, but you can take them off if you’re too hot. 

As a beginner, you won’t want to fall into the trap of battling the elements unprepared. A base layer refers to a piece of clothing worn under other attire. Ideal for optimum temperature retention and dryness, base layers are often close-fitting, thermal and moisture-wicking. Investing in a base layer will ensure you’re warm in cold weather and will help you avoid uncomfortable chafing.  

Whilst a base layer is designed to be worn under your clothes, a good piece of outerwear is designed to be the first defence against the elements. As the weather can sometimes be unpredictable, making sure you are waterproof is key for the keen outdoor rider. Our incredible range of cycling jackets, including from top cycling brands Santini, Pearl Izumi, and Alpinestars, have crucial features like insulation, thermal technology, and that all-important waterproof element. 

[8] Cushioning — bike saddles and cycle shorts

The wrong saddle is not something we can recommend putting up with. It can make for a very uncomfortable, unpleasurable ride and can be very off-putting for a beginner rider. The seat on your bike should be one of the most comfortable parts of it, which is why we can suggest two things – cushioned shorts or tights and a good saddle. 

A good bike seat should be pretty high on the list of biking essentials for the beginner. Cycling saddle brands like Selle Italia and Fizik are just two examples of incredible saddles. Not only are they optimised for comfort, but they’re also based on pro-level requirements, so even as a beginner, you can feel like a top rider! Most saddles are ergonomically tested and trialled in wind tunnels meaning they should also be considered as parts of your bike that contribute to minimising drag. 

Cushioning isn’t only to be bolstered in the seat you choose. As well as the right saddle, a beginner cyclist should absolutely consider cushioned cycling shorts. The right pair of cycling shorts should benefit you in that they provide support in the areas that have the most demands – the seat and the inner thighs. In combination, padded shorts and a well-chosen, high-quality seat should keep you from experiencing dreaded saddle discomfort. 

swinnerton cycles Cycling essentials - bike saddle

[9] Shoes

Getting the right shoes for the kind of riding you do early on will save you all kinds of stress. Particular shoes with certain kinds of features are needed for some forms of cycling. Road cycling shoes, for example, enable you to clip them into the pedal to provide greater stability making your pedalling more consistent. They are also lighter and sleeker, which means they are more comfortable for long periods of pedalling. 

On the other hand, MTB shoes are made to be more versatile across the different terrain you might find yourself riding on. They don’tt clip in easily, making dismounting more convenient, and they’re heavier as they’re not built with aerodynamics in mind. However, with more hybrid forms of cycling, you may require a different shoe altogether. Looking after your feet whilst riding may also include alternative insoles as well. 

 [10] Pedals 

These are not necessarily clothing items, but they tie in directly with the shoes you choose. If you’re a beginner cyclist, the shoes you need should correspond with the pedals on your bike. Just as there are MTB shoes, there are also certain pedals for mountain biking that are grippy enough to maintain control whilst not being attached to your shoes. Road cycling pedals allow the shoes you have selected to clip into them. They allow for the cleats on the shoes to lock into them, usually in a three-bolt mechanism. 

Essentials at Swinnerton Cycles

All good cyclists started somewhere and they, like you, likely didn’t automatically know what equipment they needed. With these essentials, you will be well on your way to cycling stardom, give or take a few sessions in the saddle. As well as what is suggested in this helpful how-to, you might want to check out accessories for more by way of hydration, mudguards and more.

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