By Sarah Bonner
Cycling is an expensive sport so it’s important to know where to spend and where to save. While key cycling components, such as your frame and group set, are investments, the rest of your equipment doesn’t always have to break the bank. In fact, sometimes the cheapest product is the best.
Shorts: You will never regret spending money on shorts. While you might not need the most expensive pair, comfort is crucial to performance and enjoyment. Look for a short made out of a quality wicking fabric that’s chafe-resistant or has flat-locked seams, and a well-crafted chamois that suits your needs.
Tires: Good tires are more durable. You will get more kilometres and fewer punctures on a pair of quality tires, which will save you the hassle and expense of punctures and tire replacement. If you race you may need to consider the weight and speed of the tire, but for training and regular riding, look for tires with reinforced layers between the tread and inner layers of rubber.
Helmet: A helmet could save your life. More expensive helmets are lighter, more adjustable, and offer more ventilation so they are more comfortable. Helmets are regulated and must meet safety standards in most countries so, while you don’t need the most expensive helmet on the market, a good quality helmet that is comfortable and fits properly is worth buying. Look for one in the mid-price range. Buy the previous year’s model to save a little.
Sunglasses: Like a helmet, sunglasses are a key part of your protective equipment. Expensive sunglasses cost more because the lenses protect your eyes from harmful light such as UV rays and intense glare. Don’t worry about your expensive frames falling off while you ride because most sport frames usually have rubber sleeves on the frame arms to keep them in place.
Food and Drink: In a race, a caffeine gel might be necessary but a banana will do on a training ride. Save your money for better gear, and train on more affordable foods like bananas, potatoes, granola bars, and standard sports drinks that you get from the grocery store.
For recovery mix, 200mL of chocolate milk offers the carbs and protein you need without the price tag of an expensive recovery mix. If you’re looking for added protein to assist with muscle recovery after strenuous or extended sessions, mix the chocolate milk with 20g of plain whey isolate, which can be found at bulk food outlets.
Tubes: Basic, cheap tubes are all you will ever need, especially if you have good tires. More expensive versions are made with different types of rubber, are typically lighter, and may have longer valves, but a standard tube does the same trick. Save your money and spend it on better tires.
Bottle Cages: While the carbon fibre Campagnolo bottle cage that matches your group set might pull at your heart-strings, the bottom of the range metal no-name cage will last longer and perform just as well. The weight savings are minimal, so use that extra money to spend on lighter wheels where you’ll actually feel the difference.
Cycling Jerseys: Expensive cycling jerseys are made with better quality fabrics and attention to detail but a less-expensive three-rear-pocket, zip-top works just as well. There are plenty of options at various price points so focus on finding a good fit that won’t ride up. To save more, look for end of season sales.
Sarah Bonner has lived and cycled in Canada, Africa, and Europe. Currently, she splits her time between the Netherlands and South Africa where she trains and competes at an amateur level. With a Masters in English and a Diploma in Sports Management, Sarah combines her love of writing and passion cycling to share honest advice and inspiring stories. Follow her at sarahkimbonner.wordpress.com
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