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Getting into road biking- What do I need?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I just bought a road bike, and I'm wondering what other gear I should look into that would make my cycling workouts more fun and effective. So far I have a bike, a helmet, and an iPod. What investing in a heart rate monitor and one of those cyclecomputers make a significant difference?

post #2 of 23
I'm sure there are others here who can give you more info than I, & perhaps I will learn more as well. I just got a road bike this summer after 20 some years of strictly mountain biking. I rode road bikes a lot before mountain bikes came along, but now I'm getting back into doing both. Some of the clothing & equipment cross over for both, so I already have a lot of stuff from mountain biking.
Here's a short list:
Bike shorts
leg & arm warmers
jerseys w/front zip & rear cargo pockets
small seat pack for tools, tubes & CO2 cartridge
good shoes & pedals
rain gear

Some of my friends have heart monitors, & I can see how one can help requlate your pace for the type of ride your doing and your progress.

Bike computers come in many price ranges & have alot of different functions. I have a very basic one on each bike for under $50. It's a really nice reference to have.

Like I said this is a short list, & I'll look forward to others adding to it.

Thanks for the topic,
post #3 of 23
What are you looking to do? i.e., do you want to race some day, or do you just like riding for fitness reasons?

Heart rate monitors are interesting tools; you can pick up basic units fairly cheaply these days. I personally use one in spinning classes at the gym just to verify that I'm not cheating myself. There are a variety of books out there that give information on how to effectively use one.

The "new rage" thing is to ditch heart-rate monitors and go with power meters, which tell you exactly how much power you're cranking out for each pedal stroke. Highly cool gadgets that are unfortunately still pretty expensive. If you're just riding for fitness though, a power meter is probably serious overkill.

Cyclometers are nice just so that you know how far you've gone. There are various books and internet resources that list various rides, complete with directions. They generally list turns in terms of distance, so it obviously helps to know how far you've gone.

My favorite cyclometer feature though is cadence -- i.e., how fast you're turning the pedals over. Most people find a cadence of high-80s, low-90s is ideal. You can always count yourself (i.e., count how many times your knee comes up in 6 seconds and multiply by 10), and over time you'll learn to "feel" what your cadence is, but until then -- it's nice to have a visual reminder that you're "bogging down".

All that said -- it is nice to know how fast you're going, especially when you're in a full tuck bombing down some hill. :

As for knowledge -- learn how to change a flat. You will get one.
It's easy to learn... Easiest way to learn is to have somebody show you. Head down to your local shop and have them show you how it's done, or some shops offer clinics in basic bike maintenance, which are usefull to go to.
post #4 of 23
I agree with KevinF. Cadence is worth having. I'd have an SRM if I could though.
post #5 of 23
I would save the iPOD for the indoor cycling. There are far too many occasions outdoors where it is useful to hearing what is happening around you. IMHO
post #6 of 23

Road Riding

Circa, all above good stuff. Computer is good can customize your workouts/rides. Distance, average speed, top speed etc. then you can compare on next ride and try to outdo yourself. If you ride alone the computer can be your competition for better fitness, actually you will be competing with yourself.

MUST HAVE ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!! If you are going to ride the roads of America you have to have a REAR VIEW MIRROR, if you ride roads with an Ipod without a mirror, it isn't if you're going to get clipped/hit its when. There are several types, go to a good bike shop and try them out. I have one thats clips/velco straps to my handlebars at the brake lever. I didn't like the helmet mirrors. Wear a helmet. I've logged somewhere around 7,000 road miles and the mirror has saved my bacon more than once.
post #7 of 23
Sorry, but what is so hard about looking over your shoulder. No offense, but all of the other cyclists are thinking "GAPER!" as they ride past you.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks a lot for the quick responses guys.

Looks like I have a lot of research to do on equipment and computers. I think riding with an iPod would be a bad idea, but for the start I would mostly be riding on country roads around me.

I think I'll end up getting a heart rate monitor, since a trainer that I work with has given my heart rate ranges that I should be at while I'm riding. I think getting a cheap computer would be good too, since I'll be doing this for fitness and I love statistics.

I'll also look into basic repairs. Other than flat tires, what are common problems that you guys have had while riding? I'm not very handy. :
post #9 of 23
Originally Posted by CircaRevival View Post
I think I'll end up getting a heart rate monitor, since a trainer that I work with has given my heart rate ranges that I should be at while I'm riding. I think getting a cheap computer would be good too, since I'll be doing this for fitness and I love statistics.
You can get both in one unit and not clutter your handlebar too much.

As for repairs on the road, you need a tube a CO2, a small chain tool and a mini-tool (hopefully, you'll never use any of this, but eventually, you'll use all of it). Throw a couple Gus in your pocket and you are goo to go.
post #10 of 23

Road Riding

Originally Posted by epic View Post
Sorry, but what is so hard about looking over your shoulder. No offense, but all of the other cyclists are thinking "GAPER!" as they ride past you.
I can answer that question. Sudden dog on your right, pull left quickly right into a car.

Oops steel chards on left, saw at last minute, going 26 mph on level ground, pull right - right into.........

Rear view mirror shows big truck couple hundred yarrds back, look up ahead road shows logging truck coming about 200 yards away - make a decision quickly.

Drunk coming up from behind, high rate of speed, all over road.....

Other bicyclists will think I'm a gaper - on their way to the hospital - don't really care what another biker thinks!

Of course yes you could look over your shoulder and while you're doing that a housewife pulls out from a side driveway and you're dead.

Keep Gapers to skiing and ski totes not common sense on the road.
post #11 of 23
New bike
Some additional thoughts I would add if this is your first significant road bike experience. If not, please ignore.

Suggest practicing changing a 23/25mm flat…front and cassette end...helpful prior to first timing on the road. Also I suggest initially ditching the ipod for now and focus only the road noise. Between the 4 wheels traveling their tons at intersections and the club cyclists spinning past you at 20-30 mph on the favorite biking tarmac you should have your ears wide open. Also I assume you are using clipless [speedplay, Keo etc] pedals and have good [new] road shoes with appropriate cleats. Practice your balance with quick step in and out near home. Road biking situations often very abrupt and out of your control…going down with the bike while remaining 'clipped in' is often the case with a new bike and pedal/cleat setup. The key to keeping your road rash down is thinking and looking ahead a few moves as you gain experience with various situations. Practice your balance in the garage standing on the pedals ‘clipped in’ with a safe bail out prepared.

Finally, I hope you and your new bike geometry have been dialed in along with a review of your pedal stroke. As with ski boots, nothing is more significant than a proper fitting done at your LBS with a good fitter which pays a greater first dividend than any computer in your cockpit displaying your heart rate and pedal cadence. My guy's name is Hans. What is yours?

Have a great ride!
post #12 of 23
Good Luck !!!
post #13 of 23
Get a good saddle and a good fit if you're planning on doing long rides (ie centuries and such). A good one and a bad one can mean the difference between comfort and excruciating pain with 25miles still left to get back home lol.

Saddles are highly personal items so it's not something one can recommend easily...sit bone positions, how badly your perenium (crotch...i think) hurts when under pressure from sitting, etc.

Actually, get a good saddle even if you're not gonna be doing long rides. Shorter rides 2-3 times a week with a bad saddle can wreak havoc on your behind

also, shave your legs if you're worried about road-rash from falling...it makes a huge difference...without hair, it hurts...with hair it can be excruciating as your leg hairs are yanked out while you skid on the ground :P
post #14 of 23
Originally Posted by CircaRevival View Post
I'll also look into basic repairs. Other than flat tires, what are common problems that you guys have had while riding? I'm not very handy. :
The only other "common" thing I've had happen is to break a spoke. Well-built wheels can take an incredible amount of punishment; in 50,000+ miles over the years, I can remember breaking three. *knock on wood* Depending on your wheel, you can either try to fix it, or you can easily be reduced to pulling out a cell-phone and getting somebody to pick you up.

I've had a few minor bolts start vibrating loose (i.e., rattling water bottle cages), so as epic mentioned -- it's nice to have a multi-tool with a variety of allen keys available. Righty-tightly, lefty-loosey.

As for not being mechanically inclined. Bikes are the only mechanical things I feel comfortable working on; i.e., it's pretty easy. There are two awesome web resources that tell you everything you'd ever want to know:
  1. http://www.parktool.com/repair/
  2. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/ -- what Sheldon does not know about bikes isn't worth knowing. You could spend a year reading everything on his pages. There is sooooo much more then just mechanical advice on his site. Well worth checking out.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for the replies. Looks like there's a lot I need to do before getting out on the road.
post #16 of 23
Basic tools (all in a small behind the seat bag)- spare tube, patch kit (carry both is easiest- spare tube gets you 1 flat fixed the fastest while on the ride) the patch kit can be used if you get multiple flats without making a phone call to get you home. Tire levers (2 min or usually come in a 3 pack) to get the tire back on the rim. A frame pump or the CO2 canisters to get air back in the flat tire after the repair/change over. Multi-tool- various hex wrenches, straight and philips screwdriver head, maybe a chain tool (and a spare link or 2 in the bag (not as critical as you can usually remove 1 link and reassemble the chain)- if you know how to fix/remove a broken chain link. Some more fancy ones have other wrenches and options too- MacIver style. A spare dollar bill (can be used to place in between the blown out tire wall and the tube to get you home.) Otherwise- for comfort you will probably want to look at gloves, a nice pair of shorts with padding, a jersey or nice light weight jacket that allows breathing (depending on your riding times of the year this can expand to colder weather gear). Rear pocket(s) are always nice too. Hydration- water bottle(s) or something like a camelbak to keep you hydrated (many do not like a camelbak due to the sweating on the back, but to each his own.) For basic maintenance before you ride regularly- floor pump to put the correct air in your tires (best thing to prevent flats is the right air pressure.) A chain lube and something like WD40 or citrus degreaser to regularly clean the chain (spray it while spinning the pedals until it is clear and no longer drips black or comes off the rag black.) Basic check of the bike tires- seat (height etc.) brakes and pads, wheels, etc. Those are the top items on my list to start out. Also for the computer- to start heart rate may or may not be important to you (if you are training for racing or cardo and charting your work-outs then yes) but a basic one that has speed, max speed, distance, time on the bike, average speed, etc. is usually enough to get started. I have not ridden with my heart rate chest strap for a number of years now. Some get the watch too that can be used for running or other things off the bike, so if you start out with out one then you have options later (either replacing the cycleputer with one that does heart rate or going with the watch.) So also really like cadance too for their spinning monitoring.
post #17 of 23
I don't mean to sound morbid-
Get yourself a "Road ID", it's identification that can be worn as a wristband or necklace. Google it and you will easily find it. Also note your name and emergency contact on the inside of your helmet. In the event of a crash, in most circumstances the EMT's will not remove your helmet, so it will be there at the hospital with you.

Aside from that, everything above is great advice to consider. The best advice is to get out and ride, then see what you need. If your uncomfortable then get the shorts, if you are curious get the HRM and computer. I personally like to ride without the HRM and computer upon occasion and rely on instinct to tell me how hard to ride. I find that I can ride 190BPM today and feel good, tomorrow it's 170BPM and I am suffering.. so they just become numbers to compare.

HAVE FUN, and don't get all caught up in having $1,000's of dollars in gear!!!
post #18 of 23
Originally Posted by epic View Post
Sorry, but what is so hard about looking over your shoulder. No offense, but all of the other cyclists are thinking "GAPER!" as they ride past you.
Then I'll just be happy as a "GAPER!" I have the helmet mounted mirror and love it.

If your experience follows mine, you'll need Betadine, non-stick gauze pads, and adhesive tape. Also surgical thread. But that's only the first season.
post #19 of 23
Get yourself some Mace/ Pepper Spray.
It works wonders.
Sometimes you have to be a teacher.
post #20 of 23

Me too!

I guess I'll go with a 'me too' list...

Small saddle bag (really small) that is so jammed full that things don't RATTLE. Mine contains:

1 metal reinforced tire lever (some hook-bead tire/rim combinations are mightier than plastic spoke wrenches. other combinations can be changed with bare hands. know what you have)
1 tube
2 super mini self-adhesive patch kits (5 patches each). These kits are the size of a postage stamp and about 1cm thick.
1 multi-tool (SMALL) that fits the various hardware on my bike
1 chain tool
1 spare chain link for the proper type of chain
1 $20 bill (for when I need to buy a snack, taxi, whatever)
1 $1 bill (combined with tube patch kit can make a tire patch for a bad cut)

Depending on your multi-tool, you may also want a spoke wrench and your chain tool may be included.

Attached to my frame I have:
2 bottle cages
1 GOOD pump
cyclometer with cadence

Some people prefer CO2 instead of a pump, or a CO2 inflater with a little crappy backup pump. I have a Topeak road morph pump. It can easily and reliably get to 120 psi with minimum fuss on the road. Even a person who isn't that physically strong can reach 120psi with this pump. I highly recommend it. Others prefer the ease and speed of CO2... but I always worry about multiple flats, and if I'm gonna carry a pump anyway, why bother with that other stuff? Decide if your pump is there to just limp home after a flat or to continue your ride. Also consider a presta/shrader adapter. I had one of these in the bag and lost it during a flat change. I didn't replace it because I've never needed it due to having the good pump.

So far I have needed every one of those items except for the money, the chain tool, and the patches (but used the tube several times). I busted the chain on my mountain bike once with insufficient equipment to fix it, and it was a LONG way home, luckily down hill...

I always carry either a cell phone or ham radio because road bike rides can take you FAR away from civilization. You may find chap stick desirable. Most people like some sort of eye protection (sunglasses) that are shaped to keep the wind (and BUGS) out of your eyes. Finding a sports drink that works for you and that you can tolerate during a workout is good. I use hammer HEED. 1 bottle of sports drink and 1 bottle of water is what I generally carry. Drink whichever you crave, but drinking sports drink first helps keep energy levels up on longer rides. ~1 bottle of liquid per hour is a common rule of thumb. Learn where you can fill bottles along your favorite routes.

I also highly recommend riding with an experienced buddy, especially at first. They can help you with pacing (take your first hills as slow as possible until you learn your limits), equipment issues, preferred (read: safe) routes, etc. You'll be shocked just how much stuff (food, drink, equipment, windbreaker) you can jam in to jersey pockets. I know I was.

Make sure to purchase, and regularly use chain lube. Also, check your chain for wear (there's a special chain gauge tool for this, or you can just use a measuring tape). An over-worn chain is likely to break and will cause extreme wear of your cassette as well. Most people get ~2000 miles from a chain and ~2 chains per cassette change. YMMV (by a lot).

Most of all, get out there and RIDE! Cycling is crazy fun, and it's particularly great cross-training for SKIING.

post #21 of 23
You need:

1. A decent bike with a good fit
2. Lights if you ride after dark
3. At least one water bottle
4. A saddle that fits your ass... And once you find it, buy a few of them.
5. A helmet - the difference between an open casket and a closed casket.
6. LOSE THE iPOD!!! You'll end up in the casket quicker otherwise. Be aware...
7. Good QUALITY shorts.
8. Saddle bag with at least: tube, tire irons, CO2 pump (or frame pump), multi-tool if you think you need one.

Again, leave the iPod at home. It's dangerous enough to share the road with psycho drivers. Don't make it worse by being oblivious - I hate the iPod sheep... You may think you "can hear well enough", but trust me - you can't. And follow traffic rules -- all the a-hole cyclists blowing through lights, stop signs, cutting off traffic, blocking traffic, and so on GIVE A BAD NAME TO THE REST OF US, as well as making it more and more dangerous for the rest of us for those looking to "get even" with the last jerkoff that blew off traffic signals, etc.

Be a good citizen.
post #22 of 23
Lots of good suggestions above with many repeats. As you get into cycling you should also consider road pedals and road shoes with cleats. The very stiff sole helps to translate power into the pedal stroke and increases efficiency, while reducing fatigue. Once you get used to using cleats, the sense of being "one with your bike" can be increased.
post #23 of 23
The basics:

Small seat wedge bag that can hold the following:
- small multi-tool (allen keys, flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers)
- tire levers (I love the yellow ones from Pedro's - one is usually enough for most tasks)
- tube (stored in a ziploc baggie with some talc: the baggie protects the tube, the talc keeps the tube from sticking to both itself and the inside of the tire, which prevents abrasion flats)
- CO2 inflator and spare 16 g. cardridge (optional if you carry a pump)
- small adhesive patch kit
- Presta/Schraeder adapter (because you never know....)
- $20 bill
- $1 bill -or- PowerBar wrapper (useful as tire boot/patch)
- a place to attach a small LED taillight (if you ride near dusk or dawn)

A pump (either a full frame-fit pump from Zéfal or Blackburn, or the Topeak Road Morph)

LED lights, front and rear (if you ride near dusk or dawn, usually easily removed. I prefer Cateye lights, which are reliable and bright.)

Water bottles and cages (if you can, spring for the Polar insulated bottles, which keep your liquids cool in the summer and prevent freezing in the winter)

A saddle that's meant for your posterior (this'll take time and experience, but will make things better in the long-run)

Cycling-specific shoes and clipless pedals (and as you'll note from my other posts in this forum, I'm an advocate of road-specific pedal systems on road bikes)

A helmet that fits your head (audition many brands until you find one that fits you properly and is comfortable - and wear the helmet every time you ride)

Bike shorts or bike short liners (your butt will thank you - and you may want to get some butt cream for longer rides)

Bike gloves

Cyclocomputer/Cyclometer (basic functions: current speed, average speed, max speed, trip distance, cumulative distance, ride time. If you need to go beyond that, cadence is nice. If you want to go way beyond, altimeter and HRM functions are good, too. Don't worry about the Garmis or PowerTaps yet: it's a lot of money for a beginner to spend)

And I repeat what was said earlier: NO IPOD!
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