Sunday 6 February 2011

Stuff Which Is Not Essential, But Which You May Wish To Consider

6. Foot pump

Not something many people think about buying. This is a shame. It’s important to keep your tyres at the right pressure; soft tyres make for more difficult cycling, and are slightly more prone to punctures. Unless you possess the upper-body strength of Arnold Schwarzeneggar, however, it is difficult to pump tyres up to the right pressure using a handpump, and the gauges on many hand pumps are not very reliable. A foot pump makes it much, much easier to get the tyres up to the right pressure. (Note: it will say what the pressure for your tyres should be on the tyre wall AKA the side of the tyre.)

7. Luggage rack

Up to you if you want to get this fitted. Some people prefer not to have the extra expense and weight on the bike. On the other hand, a bike with a luggage rack has a much higher carrying capacity and thus becomes a much more versatile machine. Riding with heavy backpacks is not ideal as it throws off your centre of gravity and is likely to give you backache. If you decide to go for, ask about getting this fitted if you’re buying a new bike – they may give you a discount and fit it for free.

If you go for a luggage rack, you will probably also want at least two stretchy “bungee” cords (thick elastic cords with hooks at each end) to hold stuff onto it. Panniers are also an option if you plan on carrying a lot of stuff around with them. Both items can be bought cheaply from Argos or Wilkinsons. I’ve hauled my gear (work clothes, gym kit, shopping, six days’ worth of clothes and other supplies for a cycling holiday) around in a pair of £20 panniers from Argos for years. A bike with good gears, a luggage rack and a set of panniers can haul a mighty amount of stuff for surprisingly little effort.

8. Mudguards

Like a luggage rack, something of an optional extra. Some people prefer not to have the extra weight or expense. Also, they do not look “cool”. Some people take the view that cheap plastic mudguards add little in the way of expense or weight, and that there is nothing terribly cool about arriving at your destination covered in muddy spray from the wheels if it rains.

Again, it’s worth asking the shop to fit them if you’re buying a new bike. You may like to ask them to fit a rear reflector to the rear mudguard at the same time. This aids visibility, as it’s at the same height as a car’s headlights (all bikes are sold with a rear reflector, but it’s usually mounted higher up the bike, under the saddle). It also means that if you decide to go for a luggage rack, you can pile stuff on top of the rack and not risk obscuring the rear reflector.

As may be apparent from this article so far, I subscribe to the view of Richard Bernstein, author of the Bicycle Book, that: “Cycling at night can be dangerous. The only really safe way to do it is looking like a Christmas tree gone berserk”.

No comments:

Post a Comment