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British Cycling: Basic riding must haves

British Cycling: Basic riding must haves

Whether riding to work, to the shops or out with the kids there are some bits of kit that you shouldn’t leave home without. This month's British Cycling advice comes in the form of 'basic riding must haves'.

Whether riding to work, to the shops or out with the kids there are some bits of kit that you shouldn’t leave home without.


There are many helmet types, with each suiting a certain type of rider or discipline of cycling. Regardless of the discipline you should buy a helmet which is safety certified to British and or European standards.

After safety you are looking at comfort and style, as you will not want to wear something that’s uncomfortable, makes you overheat or discourages you from wearing it. There are many helmets out there with ventilation, good cushioning and that are light weight. Prices range from £30 - £300.


To keep your wheels rolling you might need two pumps, one for the shed at home and one for when out on your rides. At home you will have a track pump that is large, inflates tyres quickly and has a pressure gauge. A track pump is far too large and cumbersome to take on a ride though so, when out on a ride, you need a small lightweight pump that will either fit into a pocket or clip onto your frame.

The simplest pumps are the best. Make sure that the pump you buy fits the valve on your tyres, as there are two common types. Most pumps will have a “flip-over” feature, to help just in case a cycling friend is not as prepared as you or you change bikes.

Spare Tubes

Inner tubes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and with different valves. Make sure that you buy the right diameter of inner tube and the correct valve to fit in the tyre and rim. There are two types of valve. The shorter thicker valve is the Schrader valve, mainly found on BMX and commuter mountain bike tyres. The Presta valve is the thinner, longer, with a twisting valve lock on the top and is mainly found on road, track and higher end mountain bike tyres.

Tyre Levers

Gone are the days where you would have to ride with two teaspoons in your back pocket to help you get your tyre off the rim. Now purpose made plastic tyre levers make the job of fixing a puncture far easier and are much friendlier to your rim.


Many parts on a bike are locked together with different nuts and bolts, requiring a range of tools, which we cannot carry all at once. A multi-tool is light enough to carry and enable you to complete most simple fixes out on a ride.

Mobile Phone

Mobile phones on bike rides now have many uses, including an array of route finding and distance measuring apps but the primary uses are for safety, in case of emergency or getting lost. In your phone you should have ICE (in case of emergency) in the title of the people to contact on your phone, allowing a person that is helping you to contact the right relative or friend. Make sure you do not have your password lock on your phone on when riding and that your battery has enough charge for the duration of the ride. Never talk on your phone or send texts or e-mails while riding. (This might sound silly, but it does happen)


When out on a bike ride you might be stopping at some point for a drink or to have something to eat. You do not want your bike to be stolen, so you should take a lock. Try to find a lock that can be fixed to your bike as they can be heavy and uncomfortable on your back. Lightweight locks are fine for coffee stops or short breaks there you won’t be far from your bike or leaving it for long.

If you are going to lock up your bike on a ride, try to find a spot to lock it where it can be seen by you, you don’t want to give potential thief any opportunity to take your bike.


The Insight Zone is full of comprehensive cycling advice and know-how from British Cycling’s experts, to help you improve your riding. The Insight Zone is available at


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