Required Cycling Equipment for safe biking tours
A cycling race may look quite simple and not as dangerous as other races, but for riders to stay safe, there’s a huge list of cycling equipment that they must be aware of and ready to use.
This sport is done on racing bicycles, also referred to as bikes. So among the most crucial things of all for safe races are the bicycles themselves and the bike gears.
Essential as well, besides the racing bicycle and the safety gear, are the riders’ clothes and shoes that should suit the weather, protect the riders from injuries, and avoid discomfort, especially on challenging hill climbs that are often so risky.
Bicycle or Bike?
Racing bicycles are also called bikes. As opposed to motorbikes, these types of bikes are manually driven. The riders power the bikes by pedaling and there’s no electrical or mechanical machinery involved or attached.
Racing bicycles are entirely human-powered and are critically important equipment to the riders. To be able to perform well in a safe manner, having the facing bike in perfect order is key.
Before starting out in a cycling race, racing bikes driven by cyclists must meet international UCI standards. The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) is the worldwide cycling governing body.
The UCI is managing and promoting the eight disciplines that make up the world of cycling: track racing, road racing, mountain biking, cyclocross racing, BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle, indoor racing, and trials.
The UCI has standards that the characteristics of racing bikes must meet. These standards enable organizations to recognize the cyclists’ efforts and to determine who wins a race. There are specific characteristics and standards that racing bikes must meet:
- Maximum length: 185 cm
- Maximum width: 50 cm
- Total weight: not under 6.8 kg
- Equal diameters of both wheels ranging from 55 to 70 cm
- Minimally 12 spokes in each of the wheels
- The position of the saddle must be between 24 and 30 cm
- The bicycle frame must be triangular-shaped with tubular elements in straight lines
- The frame’s thickness cannot exceed 2.5 cm
Cycling Racers Gear
In all racing categories and formats, the bicycle riders must wear some basic protective clothing layers. Let’s take a closer look at what racing in the outdoors requires riders to wear:
Bib Shorts: These lightweight, skinny, and colored shorts are usually made from lycra material. Usually, there will be some padding as well to avoid any discomfort from being seated for longer periods of time during races.
Base Layer Suit: The bicycle racers will have to wear thermal base suits to maintain their body temperatures and manage moisture levels due to changes in weather conditions. These thermal base suits are made from fine fabric and are worn on top of their bib shorts.
Jersey: Usually, bike racers wear colorful, short-sleeved, skin-tight jerseys made from nylon. These are perfect for the often changing conditions during races. The jerseys’ colors generally represent the rider’s identity or the nation the rider represents.
Gloves: The riders wear hand gloves for the proper grip of the bicycle’s handlebar. UCI standards, however, require the racers to not cover their fingers in road races. So the racers use fingerless mitts which additionally provide aerodynamic advantages to speed up the bikes.
Socks: There are basically two types of socks that bicycle races use, depending on weather conditions. They can use thermo-protective lite fabric socks in cooler weather or air mesh cycle socks for better breathability during hot weather. These socks are specifically designed for bike racers and will avoid fatigue and pain from their feet and legs.
Cycling Shoes: Bike racers use specially designed pedaling shoes that come with custom-made soles specifically developed for pedaling. The soles are thick to offer the cyclist comfort and proper grip.
Helmet: The helmet is the crucial safety element of a rider’s entire gear. The helmet is designed to reduce the risks of face and head injuries. Cycling helmets have an inner layer from EPS foam to absorb shocks in crashes. A helmet’s outer shell consists of high-quality plastic materials and layers of special fiber that offer extra protection.
Glasses: During road bike races, the riders wear specifically designed glasses to protect their eyes from weather changes, sun, wind, rain, dust, and other foreign particles. Cycling glasses are specifically designed to comfort the riders, also in their most challenging movements.
15 Basic Bicycle Safety Equipment Tips
1. Be sure to wear a properly fitting helmet to reduce the severity of brain and head injuries
2. At night, use reflective gear, accessories, or tape for optimal visibility
3. When going out on trials, be sure to carry a patch kit, spare tube, tire levers, and a pump
4. Use a cage (water bottle holder) to carry sports drinks
5. Make sure your bike is equipped with a proper (white) front headlight and a red rear light/reflector for riding in darkness, twilight, or weather conditions that require carrying lights on bikes. Keep in mind that in Minnesota, this is legally required!
6. Be sure to carry proper identification and, when needed, current medical information
7. Make sure to carry a cellphone for emergency situations and to document serious issues
8. Don’t forget to use shatter-resistant and protective eyewear
9. Always wear biking gloves to protect your fingers and hands (crashes happen all-too-often)
10. If possible, put a mirror on your glasses, helmet, or handlebar for better overall awareness and to observe other cyclists
11. Always carry a (chain) lock for securing your bike when needed
12. To keep long pants from your bike’s chain, wear reflective and protective leg bands
13. It is always wise to carry a bag (on your back, on your rack, or under your saddle)
14. Make sure your bike had a horn or bell installed to warn other riders of your approach. This is specifically important when riding on trails
15. For basic repairs, always carry a multi-tool. On certain bicycles, a crescent wrench may be very helpful
So even when you’re not climbing the steepest hills and mountain tops and just want to take some bike trail rides, for example, in North Dakota over the summer, it is key to take the above advice at heart. You never know where accidents occur and you better be prepared, right?