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Here's some of the things I've learned about gear, and how to get by on the cheap.

HELMET - First Purchase

Buy the cheapest thing that fits your head well. A $20 Bell from Target will do the same thing a $200 Giro does when your head hits something hard, so don't worry about function. If color/style is important, you can get whatever you want. My favorite is the Limar 707, in yellow to match my bar tape & cable sleeves (my bike is green, I like the combo). It has a heart shaped airhole front and center. I've used Trek Specialized Giro Bell they are all injection mold polystyrene with a plastic or painted outside. They recommend you replace every 2-3 years too, keep that in mind. I like a padded clip under my chin, and an easy to use tight/loose knob on the back.

GLOVES - Get a cheap pair to start, they wear out and you will buy more. I keep 5-6 pairs, summer crochet, some with heavy padded palms, regular plain ole gloves, whatever I find on a good deal, a 2 good pairs for touring and special days. I keep an extra pair to give to kids once in a while. I like Pearl Izumi, but have also had good success with Louis Garneau Gels, Bike Nashbar, Performance Bicycle, and BikeTireDirect cheapos.

JERSEY - My first full price Pearl Izumi Jersey, is still my favorite and it's 17 years old! Plain yelo 3 pocket 3/4 zip. I didn't know how much more I would prefer full zip until a while later, now that's all I will buy. I always wear a wicking breathable undershirt. Long sleeve winter weight doesn't work as well for me as short sleeves under a light nylon shell or vest. Always get too hot with 2 layers of long sleeves.

JACKET - SHELL - VEST - My favorite is a little nylon vest with back pocket, rolls up into a little bitty square you can pack in a back pocket. I try to get the same thing with shells (windbreakers), lightweight, rolls up small. I have had zip off sleeve types they work fine too. Cycling, running, or whatever you can get cheap will work fine. I have purchased bright yelo illuminite for night wearing, even though I'm also wearing a lit up LED yelo vest... can't be too safe, can you.

RAIN GEAR - Not wearing so much in Phoenix as I did in Orlando (6 inches rain a year vs 55). But I have the full gamut... J&G raingear out of Portland, Jacket, Pants, Shoe Covers, Helmet Cover. Nothing like it for fun than riding in the rain. Prior to the good stuff I got cheaper variety stuff from Performance bike it works fine but doesn't breathe as well, so you sweat a lot underneath and get hot hot.

COLD WEATHER - Those head cover things work great, but maybe too hot, I found out. A $1 skull cap or bike cap or painting cap work just as well, so do ear covers, that's what you really need, ears, fingers, toes warm. Cold weather gloves - Bike Gloves are a rip off at $40-$90, the best I have had were totally warm and waterproof lightweight skiing gloves from Sports Authority, $20. You get a number of pairs, light, medium, heavy weight, because once you get warmed up, you get too hot and have to go down a layer. I also like the 3 for $10 mechanics gloves from Home Depot, they work really well down to 40 or so. $1 store white meshers or jerseys work fine too, and then there's your $10 hollofill kmart blue light specials, they work fine too. Just need enough dexterity to shift and brake.

SHORTS - Padded or not? If you are unsure about spandex or have sticker shock, start with a padded underwear set, they are cheaper and lighweight, and you can wear them under anything and no one knows! A padded saddle is another option to avoid shorts. The reasons you wear shorts are they are tight on your leg muscles and feel good, and they don't have seams to rub you! If you spin 300 revolutions a mile that's a lot of seam rubs and you will get sore. And, they wick the moisture best. For padded shorts I scour the web and bike shop clearance racks, initially I liked the feel of a cotton spandex mix, but they tend to shrink up in a few years and not fit so well. Spandex bags and get loose. Bibs are awesome if you can get a good price. I use baggie mountain bike shorts more often than tight fits, and also have a couple pairs of J&G touring shorts which are all round my favorites and they last the longest, and have nice large zippered pockets too. Get a deal for the first couple pairs til you know what works for you.

SOCKS - You can go cheap or have many choices of style. I like coolmax and have a few pair of wool for winter and around the house.

SADDLE - Anything works to start, the one that comes with the bike, or a cheapo padded saddle if you aren't doing shorts. When your butt gets into riding shape, get a Brooks. You'll love it and it will last forever, very little care. I have a Flyer, which I sent to Selle Anatomica to put an Imperial slot in, and a black and brown Imperial. I wish I had kept my original pre-aged brown B17 standard, which I sold with the Klein. But i just bought a new Selle Anatomica Brown and it is working out OK. Not as comfy as a Brooks yet.

SAFETY VEST - My daughters used to make fun of me and my "dork patrol" look... but I have seen car drivers eyes snap to me. Nowadays I use BRIGHT YELO mesh vests with light up LED lights all over. It's your life... just sayin... I wanna live.

LIGHTS - Two choices, to be seen - strap anything on the handlebar that flashes.... or to see, you'll spend a little more for this. I get my flashers off Ebay for $low, for seeing I use a strap on headlamp like for hiking, works great and when you are camping you can take it off the helmet and wear on your head

BELL - If you are in the city or riding trails and sidewalks a lot, it's helpful to let people, dog walkers, and slow pokes know you are coming through. You can get cheapos at any shop or target, wmart. I like the japanese temple bell from Jitensa Studio or Velo Orange

RACKS - Get a 3 member rack. That is, 3 supports top to bottom. Blackburn expedition is a good one for about $50. The flimsy 2 member racks don't hold up as well and don't save you much. Tubus makes a good variety of high quality racks with adapters if you don't have rack braze ons.

PANNIERS - I like waterproof. Have NOT had name brands Arkel or Ortlieb, I went CROSSO, out of Bialystock Poland, because no one else was offering GREEN at the time, and they are waterproof and very well constructed. 6 years and they are holding up very well from daily commuting and touring use (i have 3 sets, small, medium, large).

LOCKS - Definitely U-Lock or Heavy duty chain, go overboard. - We have had 2 bikes 2 stolen off our carport, when we lived in Orlando, which were locked with cable locks, and I came out of the grocery store to see a guy spin away from my Bilenky with a pair of cable cutters in his hand and jump into the waiting van when he saw me coming in my gear. Only u-locks now. Leave them where you park it, at home, at work, so you don't have to carry them everywhere. I carry a lightweight combo cable lock for a quick pop into 7-11 when it won't be out of sight for more than 10-15 seconds

COMPUTER - Start cheap - most bike shops have a $20-25 starter which they will install and set for you. Done. I like the clean neat look of wireless.

REAR VIEW MIRROR - All shops have them, I make my own for about 50 cents with pipe cleaners, hot glue, and mirrors from the craft store.

BOTTLES - I use insulated because I'm in hot weather most of the year and must have ice. I like the Camelback with jet valve, polar bears are OK too. Plain ole bike shop bottle are fine too, if they're easy to clean. I started out buying big (22+ oz) bottles but now like 20 oz best, they're easier to handle and if you are riding for a while you need a break once in a while to refill anyway. I have 2 bottle cages on my bike and on the daily commute I have icewater in one, and my stainless coffee cup in the other. The coffee cup works fine for icewater in the afternoon. I had a backpack cooler for mountain biking, didn't really like it. They get funky and are a hassle to clean.

PEDALS - I started, an still use Shimano SPD's for just about everything. I have 2 sided on the mountain bike, and platform on one side, spd the other on my commuter/touring bike. I just got the Spectrum a couple months ago, and it came without pedals, so I thought to try Speedplay Zero's because of their "easy on your knees" reputation. I have been having some knee problems the last 7-8 years. So far, I like them best of all. They cost a bit more ($200 stainless new) , but they clip easily and solidly, and I like the feel. I keep 2 pair of shoes, one with each style of cleat so I can change bikes any time.

SHOES - I've had Nashbar, Performance, Shimano, Time, Sidi. They all work, let your budget guide you. My favorite pair for comfort were nashbar split leather mountain bike shoes (look like bowling shoes, sadly not made anymore or I'd still be wearing them). They didn't look so durable but they lasted about 10 years through all kinds of stuff. The Time's had breathable mesh uppers, dried quickily when wet. The Sidi's are working out great. I got 2 pair off Ebay, otherwise I buy clearance. I paid full price for my first pair with my first store-bought road bike, but since then, I find bargains work just as well.

HANDLEBAR BAGS & HOLDERS - If you have room, this is an easy way to keep everything you need close by and easily removable without buying a rack. You can mount a cell phone belt clip across your cables in the front and it will stay secure too, but you gotta have a tight fit for bumps and potholes, I learned the hardway picking up a new iPhone with a cracked face

KICKSTAND - I don't use them. Never had a problem finding something to lean up against and lock to.

TOOLS - Get a simple multi-tool, tire paddles, and a good pump to start. I carry tube patches and if there's room a tube.






Helmet that fits well

Padded shorts or saddle










ON THE CHEAP - Always try to buy local first!

Clearance rack at your local bike shop

Make your own

Target or Wmart




Performance Bicycle