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Big Selection of Accessories, Clothing for Equipment Junkies

August 06, 1992|RICK VANDERKNYFF

Take a look at your local bike shop. In many, there is almost as much floor space given over to clothing and accessories as to the bikes themselves. Accessorizing is as complex in cycling as it is in fashion and can be confusing to newcomers.

Also, accessories are expensive. If you're buying your first bike, or your first bike in a long time, you need to remember that the needed extras can add substantially to your initial outlay. When you're figuring how much you can spend on a bike, remember to include the cost of such necessities as a helmet, gloves, tool kit and pump.

Following is a list of the most common accessories, along with a description and price range. Prices quoted are for the most common brands and models, but remember that in bicycling, it's always possible to spend more. Equipment junkies see to it that there's a market for top-of-the-line doodads.

THE BASICS

* Helmet: WEAR A HELMET, even on leisurely jaunts around the neighborhood. Even slow-speed spills can cause serious injuries to an unprotected head, and many helmets now are so light and aerodynamically designed that there's no excuse not to wear one. Most bike shops carry only those models that have passed minimum standards, but you should ask any way.

Price range: $40 and up.

* Pump: Most cyclists have two pumps--a portable hand pump that attaches to the frame of the bike, for fixing road flats, and an easier-to-use floor pump to keep at the house. The air pressure on tires should be checked before each ride, so a pressure gauge is also necessary, although better floor pumps have a built-in gauge. Check to make sure the pump you're buying matches the type of inflation valve on your tires (schrader or presta).

Price range: $20 to $30 for hand pumps; $50 to $60 for floor pumps.

* Lock: If you ever plan to leave your bike unattended, a lock is a required purchase. You can buy a steel cable or one of the U-style locks. In either case, always lock the bike to something secure, take off the front wheel and lock it also, and take the pump, bike computer and any other easily removed items with you.

Price range: About $20 for cable and lock; $30 to $40 for U-style locks.

* Tools: A small selection of tools and an extra inner tube should be carried in a small bag that fits under the seat. Knowing how to use them helps too (see story, for basic tools).

Price range: $10 to $30 for bike bag; $10 to $15 for tools.

* Gloves: A set of cycling gloves is a good idea for anything more than a spin around the block. They absorb shock and vibration, help keep pressure off the nerves in the palm and aid in providing a secure grip.

Price range: $13 to $30.

* Water bottle: Staying hydrated on longer rides is a must. You'll need a bottle cage, also, to attach the bottle to the bike frame. Some bike shops give these away free with a bike purchase: Ask!

Price range: About $5 for bottle; $5 to $10 for cage.

* Cycling shorts: For a ride of any distance, cycling shorts are more than just a trendy fashion statement. Besides the obvious benefits of padding, the stretch fabric doesn't bunch up as street shorts do.

Price range: $30 to $80.

OPTIONS

* Bike computer: A good bike computer is almost a requirement for anyone using a bike for regular exercise. Most of these tiny units provide current, average and top speeds, distance (trip and total), a stopwatch and a clock. Some offer beeps or flashes to help regulate cadence.

Price range: $35 to $50.

* Cycling jersey: Not as essential as cycling shorts, a cycling jersey is nonetheless a nice addition, especially for road riders. The skintight fabrics are cool and spill the wind more efficiently than loose T-shirts, and they are cut for the crouched-forward riding position. Many have a pocket in the back for easy access to energy snacks on the road.

Price range: $40 to $60.

* Rear rack: Commuters may want to consider a rear rack for carrying a change of clothes or other items (backpacks can be awkward and hot). Note: Many road bikes do not have braze-ons for attaching a rack, while most hybrid and mountain bikes do.

Price range: $30 to $40.

* Car rack: Unless you always ride from your home, a car rack for carrying the bike to riding locations comes in handy. There are two basic types: one that attaches to the rear bumper, and another that goes onto the roof.

Price range: $50 to $100 for a rear rack; $100 and up for a roof rack.

* Clip-on pedals and biking shoes: The first big step to serious cycling. Applying equal pressure at all points in the pedals' revolution, called "spinning," is impossible with conventional pedals, and easier but still inefficient with trap-type pedals. Clip-on pedals will improve any cyclists' technique and speed instantly. Cycling shoes not only fit into the pedal cleats, but their stiff soles keep pedaling energy from being lost in unneeded foot flex. With a minimum of practice, clip-on pedals are perfectly safe; they come off with a small twist of the heel.

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