Getting into Cycling… Priceless!

Well it’s been almost two months since I took the leap and made my new bike purchase. Since then I’ve put at least 100 miles on the bike, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’m not to the point where I can ride to work regularly, but I am looking for more excuses to leave my car at home and bike to more places.

With gas prices going up the way they are (and don’t I feel that pain with an SUV), it’s comforting to know that every 15 miles I ride I’m saving a tank of gas. $3 isn’t much, but it’s not bad for enjoying the summer weather and getting healthy while doing it. I have this notion that some day I’ll pay back the money I invested into my bike with saved gas money.

Two months later, I’m realizing that I have a long way to go. When I laid down over $400 for my new bike little did I realize that it was only going to be the beginning of my bike expenses. I knew that I was going to need some basic safety equipment, but as time goes on I find myself "needing" more accessories with my bike. Luckily I’ve had some great people who have gifted me bike accessories, but I’ve shelled out some fat cash for my bike right now.

The story starts off simple: I get my bike, and I obviously need a bike helmet for safety. I also need to protect my bike, with a lock. I also would like to maintain my bike, so I’d better get a bike tool as well. I also need to keep hydrated while I’m riding, so I need a water bottle (and Bethany got me a wonderful camel back to cover my needs). As time goes on, and the more distance I bike, the more accessories I find that I "need’.

Two months later, here is a list of all the accessories I have:

  1. Helmet
  2. Bike Lock
  3. Bike Tool – (Looks like a big allen wrench that contains all the common tools to maintain you bike)
  4. Camelback Water & Backpack
  5. Bike Computer (Reads speed, distance, time, etc)
  6. Light (Front & Rear)
  7. Storage Rack
  8. Basket for storage rack
  9. Hand-pump
  10. Hitch Bike Rack for my car

My latest accessory – the hitch rack.

As you can see, the list has really added up. Looking at this list, I can rationalize everything on there. I also have a wish list of things I’d like to get, which includes:

  1. Bike Gloves
  2. Spare tube(s)
  3. Rear-view mirror
  4. A Bell
  5. A bike shirt (very bright, possibly neon for dusk/night riding)

I know there’s more on my wishlist, but I’ll stop here for now. Combining both of these lists this seems like too many accessories, especially considering that I have to carry most of these items. If I were to do it all over again, I would probably end up buying the same number of accessories, but I would prioritize them in a different order:

  1. Helmet – Safety first
  2. Bike Lock – You need to protect your investment
  3. Lights (Front & Rear) – In Fort Collins (and I’d imagine in most places), it’s illegal to be out at dusk with no lights. This is also a big safety issue as well
  4. Water Bottle / Camelback – Need to keep your fluids up.
  5. Hand Pump (if you spring a leak you can at least try to make it back home)
  6. Spare tube – with the detachable wheels it’s easy to make an emergency repair
  7. Rear-View Mirror – This is especially important for highway riding. Right now I hate looking over my shoulder and taking my eyes off the road.

At this point I can divide this first tier and mark them as the "bare necessities of biking". The rest of the items, while important to me, aren’t dire to my health, safety and functionality of riding. This is how my second tier would be prioritized:

  1. Storage Rack
  2. Storage Basket (If you’re looking to do any kind of shopping, office-commuting or simply would like to carry anything, these two items a must)
  3. Bike Tool – This would normally be great to have. It’s a great compact tool, but luckily I haven’t found any situations where it’d be extremely important to have this while riding.
  4. Bike Computer – It’s important to be able to brag about your distance and know your Mph.
  5. A bike shirt – While this is a safety item, it’s only important for night-commuters or hard-core bikers.
  6. Bell – this is one of the neatest things, but I can still yell at people to get out of the way
  7. Bike Gloves – I have great handlebars and don’t see a need for them. That may change when it gets cold.
  8. Hitch Bike Rack for Car – This is only needed if you’re looking to transport more than 2 bikes and you don’t want to take the wheels off. Although now that I have it, I use it frequently.

The more I bike, the more I realize that it’s a pricey activity. The nice thing about biking, is that you can start with the bare minimum, go with what you afford, and add items where appropriate. I’ve gotten so many accessories, I feel like I can do a Mastercard commercial.

Being able to leave the car at home… PRICELESS.