Let’s be real: If there was ever a time to get into riding bikes, this is it. Warm temperatures are still lingering for another month or two, which makes a cycling workout complete with DIY wind fan and picturesque scenery idyllic. Plus, moving via your own two wheels means that you can avoid public transportation—especially since COVID-19 makes that option less than appealing. All you need before you clock those cycling miles? Some beginner bike gear essentials.
Unlike hitting the saddle in spin class, there are very specific items that you may want to splurge on before hitting the open road. Not to fret: We’ve got you covered so that you can comfortably cruise (and to not look like a total newb). Keep scrolling for a few cycling favorites that will have you joining the 50-miler club in no time.
If you’re hopping on the biking bandwagon for both fitness and commuting, this pick from Thousand is the perfect complement to a more sophisticated cycling look. Retro in style, the helmet has modern detailing: vegan leather straps and a built-in, low-profile visor keep the sun out of your eyes. As a bonus, the helmet comes with a secret PopLock, which means that you can easily lock it up with your ride.
Shop now: Thousand Heritage Bike Helmet, $89
In cycling, cushioning around the nether regions is called a chamois, and if you’re riding for longer than 30-or-so minutes, you’re definitely going to want some. While there are a slew of $60 to $75 padded short options on the market, investing in a good pair with a quality chamois is probably the most important purchase you can make (next to the right helmet). Enter the Rapha Women’s Core Cargo short. Not only is this chamois top-notch, but this pair also has pockets for safe storage of necessities, like your cell or house keys.
Shop now: Rapha Women’s Core Cargo Shorts, $130
If you thought GPS navigation devices were left in the early 2000s, think again. This cycling computer from Garmin will make your entire experience a lot more enjoyable, and it comes with preloaded maps that allow you to focus more on your ride and less on worrying about getting lost. If we listed all of the features, we’d be here for a while, but other top highlights include dynamic performance monitoring (think heart rate, calories burned, and suggested recovery time) and a bike alarm that sends a notification to your smartphone if your bike is moved while you’re taking a water break or making a quick Instagram photo pitstop.
Shop now: Garmin Edge 830, $400
Choosing bibs (with integrated suspenders) versus non-bibs shorts is totally a personal preference thing. Bibs are marketed to help keep bike shorts firmly against your crotch, which sounds a little odd but makes for a more pleasant ride. This style from Machines for Freedom reigns supreme. Not only is the padding comfortable enough to ride for hours on end, but the leg bands also offer the right amount of compression to stay put without squeezing.
Shop now: Machines for Freedom Endurance Bib, $235
Looking to level-up your helmet experience? This newly released bargain buy from Specialized is a no-brainer. Available in seven different colors, the helmet features a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), which protects against the dangers of angled impacts. It’s super easy to adjust, and also has reflective decals for better visibility if you happen to be heading out early with the sun.
Shop now: Specialized Align II MIPS Helmet, $55
While you may feel a little funny rocking these glasses off of the bike, pair them with the right helmet and you’ll look like an experienced pro. The Oakley PRIZM lens technology is designed for medium to bright light, and their three-point fit ensures that contact only happens at the bridge of the nose and behind the temples for a snug, cozy fit.
Shop now: Oakley Sutro Glasses, $166
A good cycling jersey is ideal because this is your item of clothing that’s guaranteed to have storage spots. Most jerseys offer up pockets on the backside, which are critical for bringing fuel on the move. This Lululemon top is anti-stink and has a breathable back to let off steam during your most intense climbs.
Shop now: Lululemon City to Summit Cycling Jersey, $69
Cycling isn’t as high impact as other cardio-heavy workouts, but it does involve enough movement that you want to make sure your girls are secure and comfortable. This Under Armour favorite can take you from yoga to cycling (and beyond), is double-lined for full coverage, and has a super-soft elastic band for a stay-in-place fit.
Shop now: Under Armour Mid Sports Bra, $22
The best cycling shoes have a next-to-foot feel and don’t make your feet feel too cramped. This Shimano style uses a special lacing system that replaces classic strings with stainless steel wires, which are connected to a turning knob, for a next-level fit. Using the knob, you can tighten, loosen, and snap laces into place. This pair also comes complete with a Velcro strap at the toe box for an extra-cozy feel.
Shop now: Shimano SH-RP5 Performance Cycling Shoe, $90
Slip on these babies, and you’ll feel like a total biker babe. Lightweight and made of breathable fabric, these mitts have great grip and help stave off those phantom vibrations that happen after a decent amount of time clocked on your bike. Plus, they’ll give you an extra grip on those handlebars, giving you good control.
Shop now: Rapha Pro Team Mitts, $28
If you’re heading out for a long day on your bike, layers can be your BFF. This lightweight shell is easily packable, folds up into its back pocket, and can fit practically anywhere. It’s ideal for wind and water protection, and, if you opt for the lime green color, you’ll get noticed in low-light situations.
Shop now: Pearl Izumi Women’s Summit Shell Jacket, $100
This pair of sunglasses is built with all-out effort in mind. The scene: You, climbing up a hill on your bike, feeling really confident in your ability, and paying zero attention to the glasses that are protecting you from a glare and anything that gets kicked up from the road mid-push. And, the brand’s coming out with a super cute collaboration of this style with Machines for Freedom at the end of the month that will feature floral accents.
Shop now: Roka GP1 Sunglasses, $215
The right gear is important, but the saddle is something that people often (accidentally) overlook. This female-specific pick from Specialized will make riding all day long a lot more comfortable. It’s got tech to both reduce swelling in soft tissue and ensure blood flow to sensitive arteries—because, let’s be real, cycling pain down there is no fun.
Shop now: Specialized Women’s Power Expert Saddle, $160