When starting out in the sport of cycling, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by everything involved. The types of bicycles (their respective sizes, components, price points, materials), the myriad of clothing choices, training recommendations, and the list goes on, and on, and on. It doesn’t have to be that hard.

When first starting out, I think folks may jump a little overboard as far as buying equipment before they fully understand what they’re getting themselves into. I think this is why we see so many bicycles on Craigslist due to new cyclists quitting. Or they don’t even start because they’re too overwhelmed about perceived ‘requirements’.

What you DON’T need

If you’re new to the sport of cycling, I wanted to provide you a list of items that I think you DON’T need when you first start out. They are:

  1. An expensive bicycle. Some would disagree with me on this and we could get into a long discussion regarding the ability to upgrade later, comfort, and quality. Maybe we’ll talk about that someday. But I believe that if you’re just starting out, you don’t need to drop $2500, or even $1500, on the latest bicycle (Bicycling Mag says $1500 is the minimum a new rider should spend – March 2010, page 48). I think my first road bicycle, which I bought brand new, cost me $500 back in 1996. I rode it off and on for 15 years until some problems with it last year forced me to retire it. I looked at some brand new bikes as a replacement but would have had to spend at least $1200 to get exactly what I wanted. I know that isn’t much on the bicycle price meter but when you’re on a budget that’s a lot of money. I found a great deal and pulled the trigger on a used bicycle last month for $500.
  2. Expensive cycling clothes. This is another touchy subject amongst cyclists. I’m all about saving money so, yes, I have issues with spending $300+ on cycling bibs (or even a $100). Just like everything else, cycling clothing has price points and the quality you get certainly affects the price. I’ve heard that those $300+ bibs are unbelievably comfortable but I just can’t do that. Would I review them if they were sent to me? Absolutely but there’s no way I’d buy them myself. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $50 for a set. There are places out there where you can find cheaper cycling clothes. Look for the sales too. I never buy clothes, of any kind, unless they’re on sale. Also, if you’re new to cycling and overweight like me, you’ll find that as the price in clothing goes up, you’re less likely to find anything that fits. I’ll have some posts in the future that discuss places to find cycling clothing that’s inexpensive and fits both Clydes and Athenas.
  3. Fancy electronics. These days you can buy computers for your bicycle (called cyclocomputers) that not only record your distance, speed, and time but they’ll also store all that information for download later, display your route via GPS on a color screen, show how many feet you’ve climbed, the current temperature, what your heart rate is, and make you a nice steaming cup of coffee. Ok, I was kidding about the coffee but I think you get my point. If you’re just starting out, you don’t need all that extra stuff. I’ve survived on a simple cyclocomputer that has speed, average speed, ride distance, ride time, and an odometer for years. It’s not as fancy some of the nice stuff but it’s basic and gets the job done. Don’t get me wrong, do I want a nice computer that offers downloading and heart rate? Sure, but that’s because I think that will be my next big step in my cycling training and not because it’s required.

What do you think?

Ok readers, there’s three things. I know many of you have opinions on this subject so I’d welcome them in the comments below. Think back to when you started cycling and apply what you know now. Some of you may disagree with me and that’s OK. Let me know why below.

Tomorrow’s post is going to be on ‘Things you need to start cycling’. If you have recommendations for that list, send them to me at bryan[at]bikingtolive.com.

Feature image courtesy of daniele_satori.