5 cycling accessories I wouldn’t want to be without

The first time I got a puncture whilst out on a ride, I was stood atop of Ditchling Beacon with no puncture repair kit, no pump, no battery on my phone and basically no hope of sorting myself out without the help of a passing cyclist. That was coming up to 4 years ago now, and thankfully, I’ve learned a thing or two since then.

There are a couple of items that my cycling life would be more difficult without. Inner tubes and tyre levers go without questions – but here are some of the other items I wouldn’t want to be without – from the beign, to the luxurious:

C02 cartridges

I have the Genuine Innovations Air Chuck Elite 2CTS - but there are loads of options on the market

I have the Genuine Innovations Air Chuck Elite 2CTS – but there are loads of options on the market

I know – a pump is perfectly adequate, but it doesn’t really get you rolling on the same PSI, does it? I hear the pump devotees shouting “mine does!” – and I know there are some amazing pumps that can get you up to 120 PSI, but they take absolutely ages with my scrawny little arms. C02 cartridges offer such a simple solution – screw the cartridge into the applicator, pop it onto the valve, wait for a hiiisssss and you’re fully inflated.

I realise that using a C02 cartridge isn’t as environmentally friendly as a pump, either – but this year I can confirm I’ve used a grand total of zero. Last year, I used about 5 perhaps. I look after my tyres and I don’t get a crazy number of punctures (the puncture fairy will surely visit me now..), but knowing I have the little used safety net in my saddle bag is reassuring.

My Castelli Sottile Jacket

The Castelli Sottile - blown up a bit like a parachute on a windy day but keeping me warm and dry

The Castelli Sottile – blown up a bit like a parachute on a windy day but keeping me warm and dry

My only regret in getting this jacket for my 23rd birthday was that Castelli released a women’s version about a month later. However, it’s black, which since it’s an item to be worn in the rain (eg when visibility is reduced) a black jacket doesn’t seem the smartest choice,  anyway. The jacket comes in yellow and white, now, which is much smarter. The Sottile rolls up into my jersey pocket, and comes out when it’s raining. It doesn’t keep me totally dry, but it does a good job at keeping me mostly dry – and it keeps the wind off my chest, too.

My Specialized Dirtbag Saddlebag

No, this is not because it suits my personality (who said that?!) – but because it’s massive. My fiancé calls the Dirtbag my saddle-suitcase, and I can appreciate that when full it probably adds a tonne to my bike. I bought it before a training camp in Majorca last year when I knew I’d need a day’s worth of kit stuffed in there – and now I use it for winter training rides when I want two tubes, my phone, keys, co2, allen keys, and some gels – and it fits all of those things.

A roomy saddle bag is useful on long rides. It may seem extravagantly large, but my argument is that the pockets on a women’s jersey are usually smaller (since women are smaller) – and thus we can fit less “stuff” in there.

My PowerTap

The trusty PowerTap Joule computer

The trusty PowerTap Joule computer

This is a lot more extravagant than a large saddle bag, I will admit. However, training with power is a revolution to anyone who tries it. Once you’ve gone down the long, windy road of Wattage, I’d say you aren’t coming back. I realised how much I rely on the PowerTap for training when it got sick (it turned out it needed me to turn “AutoZero” back on) and I had to train without it. Returning to using perceived exertion felt strangely daunting and a tiny bit liberating – in a bad way – I could lie to myself about how hard I was training over intervals without a number on my screen. Of course, training with power is something you would want to do if you had a goal of getting faster – so if you ride to commute or just to get outdoors, I can appreciate it’s not for you. However, for anyone wanting to race and achieve PBs, I’d recommend a power meter and a coach over a swanky bike, any day.

Ass saver

Image: http://ass-savers.com/

Image: http://ass-savers.com/

The Ass Saver is a new kind of mudguard – a compact one that fits onto a road bike without any fixings or tools. This tiny bit of plastic will reflect the worst of the rain and road debris, keeping my bum dry without requiring me to fit big heavy full mudguards. At under £10, the Ass Saver isn’t a big investment, but it make a big difference on a wet day.

If you’re looking for discounts on all this cycling gear, I recently came across www.voucherbox.co.uk which has voucher listings of various online shops. Give it a look and I hope it helps!

Those are my top items – what would you not want to ride without?

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30 Responses to 5 cycling accessories I wouldn’t want to be without

  1. Tom 05/03/2014 at 8:39 am #

    The only problem with CO2 cartridges is that no none who uses them seems to be able to take their litter with them and instead leaves the sides of roads strewn with little aluminium bottles.

    • D. 06/03/2014 at 8:36 am #

      OMG thats what those are! I’d just assumed that they were something left over from “the party crowd”! I use an actual hand-pump, myself.

      • Tom 06/03/2014 at 8:49 am #

        Yeah, what’s particularly fun about them is that after they’ve been there a while and run over a few times, they split and have sharp edges that can cause a puncture if you hit one. Happened to a friend while we were out on a ride and cut his tyre so badly it needed replacing.

        • Mik 06/03/2014 at 9:51 am #

          Are they all used ones? I cycle S.E. London area on my commute and autumn time last year a plethora of them suddenly appeared along my route in and my different route back. I never stopped to look at them (you don’t stop if you don’t have to after all) but the quantity and sudden arrival made me think someone had dropped a bunch of them rather than used loads and discarded them.

          I guess a train of Freds could have run over a broken bottle or something.

          I’ve gone back to carrying a pump, with wider profile tyres the couple of times I’ve used a cartridge it just didn’t seem to do the job and they aren’t particularly cheap. I’ll probably carry a couple when I do the sportive later in the year, just to make sure I get a decent pressure in the tyre (although I’m also tempted to research a decent, small, high pressure hand pump)

      • Robbi 06/03/2014 at 11:46 am #

        The ones you see in the street are almost certainly ‘party crowd’ ones.

        I realised I was too old when I was at a party and people were inhaling balloons full of gas from a catering cream dispenser!

        • tom 06/03/2014 at 6:06 pm #

          The ones I’m talking about are certainly cycling ones, unless the roads going up through Epping Forest are as popular with balloon fans as they are with roadies!

    • MJ Ray 07/03/2014 at 8:20 am #

      Yes and I’ve seen too many people fail to secure the cartridge in the nozzle and it shoots off across the road… and then even if it hasn’t been run over by a car yet, the user shrugs and doesn’t go find it 🙁

      Another shout for cycling gloves (in winter – mitts in summer).

  2. Alan Moore 05/03/2014 at 10:48 am #

    Shame the Ass Saver doesn’t help the person behind you who is getting sprayed in the face…

    • Vincent 05/03/2014 at 12:07 pm #

      Yes. Besides, they’re too small to be effective, and what about the front wheel?

      Better options for road bikes:

      • Matt 07/03/2014 at 11:44 am #

        Mudguards are a waste of time in my opinion. Person behind shouldn’t be cycling so close in the first place.

        • MJ Ray 07/03/2014 at 12:47 pm #

          The person behind shouldn’t be cycling within twenty metres because the rider in front is an idiot who isn’t bothering to keep their bike nice (no mudguards to protect their bottom bracket or even their own back from a skunk stripe) so they might well do all sorts of other dangerous stuff.

        • Matt 07/03/2014 at 4:30 pm #

          I clean my bike religiously. As for ‘skunk stripe’, I wear cycle clothing so it isn’t an issue.

          I also fail to see the link between an ‘unclean’ bike and dangerous activity?

        • Vincent 09/03/2014 at 9:58 pm #

          Matt > Mudguards are a waste of time in my opinion.

          They do help keeping your pants + shoes dry (or drier than without, at least.)

    • Robbi 06/03/2014 at 11:44 am #

      Yep, it’s particularly unhelpful when some arrogant hipster has no or ineffective mudguards. SKS do some great, cheap light ones that can be easily removed in dry weather.

      • Lis 07/03/2014 at 2:31 pm #

        +1 for mudguards, and + one for a proper pump: too tired to pump a little, chaps? (and an extra inner tube – or patches). If you are worrying about an extra gramme, please, do lose a pound : that much less to carry around…

  3. Tom 05/03/2014 at 10:09 pm #

    But if you are the type to be worrying about every gramme, who cares about the person behind you, they are behind, so they are a loser because of their heavy (effective) mudguards.;-)

    • Andreas 07/03/2014 at 3:16 am #

      Probably the most roadie comment I’ve ever read on London Cyclist..

      • tom 07/03/2014 at 8:06 am #

        This was more aimed at roadies…. I’d prefer to be dry and considerate!

        • Jason 07/03/2014 at 10:38 am #

          amen. riding behind someone with no mudguards in the rain in no fun…especially when they’ve only in front because they schoaled in front of you at the lights…grrrrr 😉

  4. Mònica 06/03/2014 at 11:30 am #

    I cannot cycle without cycling gloves! 🙂

  5. Andy Carr 06/03/2014 at 12:56 pm #

    those little tubes look enticing. I am going to give them a try. Worth mentioning though that I had pump to a chap who’d tried two cartridges by the roadside, and iced them up (it was a very cold day). If they ice up, they’re useless, or so it seems, so might be better for slightly warmer rides.

  6. Scrapples 07/03/2014 at 10:26 am #

    + 1 for cycling gloves summer and winter

    Also, I’ve got in my bag for my commute, a pump that also has a Co2 bottle on it. Best of both worlds!
    On special at the moment I see

  7. Andrew Russell 07/03/2014 at 2:56 pm #

    1) Hydration thingy, I have a Camelbak, I work in the desert of the ‘stans, so I need lots of water – 2 liters per hour minimum.

    2) Bug cream, the mosquitoes are astonishing, the horse flies vicious. If you do get a flat, you need protection. (sun cream and saddle cream advised also)

    3) During Spring and Autumn rides you need excellent gloves, thin but as warm as possible

    4) A head torch. Ever tried to change a flat when you are in the middle of the desert at night, and it is totally, totally black? Haven’t needed it yet, but wouldn’t like to be without it.

    5) I have Oakley glasses, don’t know the type, but they are excellent at cutting glare, I don’t think I could ride in the summer without them.

  8. SteveP 07/03/2014 at 5:34 pm #

    +1 for gloves (and clipless pedals). I use the CO2 inflators in the rain, or on the day’s 2nd puncture – that is, not usually, but they are small to carry. I also have an Ass Saver on one bike. No one rides behind me (or in front, usually). Power meter? Not relevant to 99% of cyclists, I’d venture. More like a wing on a kid’s hot hatch – you’ll outgrow that phase (hopefully…)

  9. smorkey 07/03/2014 at 6:43 pm #

    I don’t have mudguards as I don’t ride when it rains 🙂

    • Eddie 08/03/2014 at 8:57 pm #

      But what happens if you are out & about & it starts raining?

  10. Eddie 08/03/2014 at 9:06 pm #

    I always take the basics when out riding. Mini hand pump with tools, ect. (never bother with C02) Cycling glasses (with changeable lens). Decent gloves, light weight rain proof jacket & decent set of lights. Keeps me cycling ok.

  11. Phil 08/03/2014 at 9:35 pm #

    I always carry a pump, puncture kit, tyre levers and a spare tube; however, since fitting Schwalbe Marathon plus tyres I haven’t had a single puncture- worth every penny for peace of mind and time saved. Mudguards and long mudflaps are a necessity: I don’t care about weight, I just want to stay drier and not have to clean so much crap off the bike.

    • Eddie 08/03/2014 at 10:14 pm #

      I have to admit Phil, since i changed to Schwalbe Smart Sam (puncture resistance) tyres, i have only had two punctures in two years & even then they took about three days to go down.

  12. Jas 12/05/2014 at 9:44 am #

    Must admit riding an upright bike often makes you forget to bring anything. As mentioned earlier, a pair of Schwalbe tyres will save you a lot of bother over the years they last. Prefer the comfortable ride on a heavier upright bike over the weight saving any day

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