Whether it’s an outdoor vacation that’s part biking to go with hiking or camping, or it’s a dedicated bicycle tour, here are some tips for cycling gear that you may want to put on your bike travel checklist for things to pack!
While my bike touring plans aren’t concrete, this is a list of things I’ll be looking into taking for my fall 2017 cycling trip.
Since there are many different types of bicycle tours, I’m going to first explain what type of trip mine is going to be, so you can keep that in mind as you’re reading. Generally speaking, no matter what type of bike tour you’re embarking upon, I’d think that there’s much you can take away from this list if you’re starting from scratch as a beginner.
For me, I have 2 general locations in 2 separate destinations in mind for biking, and I am thinking not so much in the traditional “bike touring” way. Instead, it will be biking almost every day from a home base. It’s touring by bike, but in a different way. 😉 I’m still considering overnight bike touring for my second destination, but even if I do that, I will be staying in guesthouses and airbnb homes along the way.
So, this means that I won’t be bike camping, and I won’t need bike camping gear.
But aside from that, the things on this list below are things I’m looking at getting for my bike trip, which can be relevant bicycle touring gear without or without bike camping! So there may be a few takeaways on this list for your own bike touring checklist even if you will be camping!
If you’ll be mostly camping on your tour but you want a warm bed now and then during your bike tour, you may want to have a look to warm showers. It’s a free hospitality site where cyclists open up their homes to other cyclists. I used it once nearly 10 years ago when I was in Europe, and it was indeed amazing. In addition to being provided a bed, and a warm shower ;), I shared a meal with 3 generations, toddler to parents to grandma, in a small town of Luxembourg. Made possible by Warm Showers. 😉
You may also want to have a look to airbnb for places to stay. You can browse airbnb homes to see what kind of places are available on your bike route. If you decide to give it a go, here’s a referral link with a discount on your first booking!
Now for the bike touring gear list!
Note that this is NOT an all-inclusive list, but a list for bike touring that may give you more ideas! It can also be good for ideas if you’re going on any type of bike vacation… or even biking right around your region! 😉
THE BICYCLE TOURING BIKE
The most important part. 😉
So nearly 10 years ago when I was in Europe, I biked there for about a month. I took a Trek 7.5 FX hybrid bike like this one, and I was planning on taking that same bike this year. I’ve been riding it now and then since I was in Europe.
I recently took my bike into the bike shop, and upon initial inspection, the bike shop mechanic told me it looked like everything that’s wrong with the bike is fixable.
But then upon further inspection… he found an issue that he deemed to be UNfixable.
But since that bike worked out for me before, I would have gotten another Trek 7.5 FX, except apparently they have done away with them. I was told that the FX 3 like this one is comparable. So I got that one. I am no bike expert, but all I know is that the last Trek FX worked for me, so I’ll stick with it! That bike is actually a WSD women-specific bike, but there’s also a regular FX 3 like this one too.
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I also like the tires that the Trek 7.5 FX bike came with. They are said to be more puncture resistant. In all the time that I’ve had the bike (which was also the bike I trained for several triathlons with), I never once got a flat tire. KNOCK ON WOOD for the new bike with similar tires. Maybe it’s because I got lucky with the roads, but we’ll also give some credit to the tires. 😉
The FX 3 comes with Bontrager AW1 Hard-Case Lite tires like these ones, in case you are looking for bike tires with that added layer of protection during your bike tour. It may be especially helpful depending on the type of roads you’re riding!
The easiest way to buy Trek bikes and Bontrager tires seems to be through an authorized bike shop. So if you’re in the U.S., have a look for Trek stores near you here.
I needed a new bike helmet because I think my old helmet was way past its expiration date. I went with a Giro helmet with MIPS technology like these. MIPS stands for multi-directional impact protection system, and the idea is to, well, protect your head from impact in multiple directions. 😉 There seems to still be debate over whether a MIPS helmet actually helps more than a helmet without the technology, but better safe than sorry? MIPS helmets usually cost $10-20 more than their non-MIPS counterparts.
I like having a bike computer. The most minimalist ones tell you speed and mileage, which I think works just fine! There are also ones that give you more information like how many calories you’ve burned or how many strokes you’re pedaling (your cadence). I went with the most basic bike odomoter when I bought my bike, and here are a range of basic bike computers.
Bike phone mount
Again with those stats. 😉
For a thing that can display my route and stats on my phone when I’m biking, I went with this phone holder. I like it because it gives me extra security if my bike goes down or if the mount somehow comes off. Although, another thing I like about this bike phone holder is that it gets put in place with velcro straps, and it does seem like it’d be difficult to come off the bike. It’s an enclosed case, and it has some padding on the bottom side of the case. These things make me feel like my phone won’t break or come loose if something catastrophic happens to my bike.
There’s also a slot inside that you can place your credit card and some cash in for shorter rides. (Have a look at the pictures.)
Because it’s an enclosed case, it also makes it waterproof, which was also important to me. Although, there’s one negative review here that says the enclosure is a problem because it can overheat the phone… which might be one reason you might want to go with an open-face mount like this one.
You know what they say about thieves… you can’t stop a determined thief…
And I don’t think any bike lock is completely thief-proof…
At the moment I’m planning on going with a U-lock bike lock. U-locks tend to be known as one of the most secure ways to lock up your bike. They also tend to be heavy. (Although they may not be as heavy as these chain locks.)
But this lock is a lighter miniature U-lock. If I go with that one, I’ll also get a cable like this one to go with it. Note that there are different cable lengths. Cables locks like these alone are probably one of the least secure types of bike locks.
How secure of a lock you want will also have to do with how safe you feel your bike will be wherever your cycling destination is, as well as how often you may be leaving your bike alone.
Kryptonite bike locks like these also tend to come with insurance if your bike is stolen when it’s secured with a Kryptonite bike lock. Just make sure that you register your bike immediately after you buy the bike lock. You only have a certain period of time to do so. This brand is also known for being one of the best bike lock brands.
Rear bike rack
I still have my rear bike rack from before, so I’m using that one. It’s kind of like this one. When you’re looking for bike racks, pay attention to the max weight allowed. A maximum of 50 pounds seems to be a reasonable amount of weight.
It’s VERY important to stay hydrated during your bike tour!
I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking this backpack with hydration pack with me. I bought it for hiking, but I tried it out biking too, and I loved it!
Grabbing the water bottle from the rack and drinking it on-the-go is not a skill that I have. 😉 Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t tried it much. Either way, I usually drink water only when I’m at a stop.
Having a hydration pack makes it really easy to drink water when biking. And the easier it is to drink water means you’ll be drinking more frequently, which means you can stay stronger for longer on the bike! Plus, it lets you carry more water. I think that’s important too.
You can find backpacks that are pretty much just for water like this one. The one I have has a little extra room to pack a few things. You can also find hydration backpacks that will store 3 liters of water. 1 liter = 4.2 cups.
Even if you think you won’t be biking at night, and even if you say you won’t be biking at night, your circumstances can change when you’re out on the road. For example, you might go the wrong way and end up biking at night. So it’s a good idea to have bike lights no matter what.
Take a look at this combo pack that comes with a front and back light.
Bike lights can be helpful even when biking during the day too, if you want to be extra safe. Have a look at some high-tech bike lights.
Flat tire kit
In the unfortunate circumstance that you’re in the middle of nowhere and get a flat tire (but hopefully you won’t because you have those puncture resistant tires ;)), you will really want a way to fix that flat tire. Take a look at something like this with a patch kit and mini bike pump.
Bike chain lubricant
On the topic of bike maintenance, it’s also a good idea to carry a small bottle of bike chain lube like this to keep your bike chain in good condition so it won’t break on you when you’re out on your bike tour.
You are exerting a LOT of energy and using your muscles a LOT every day, so it’s important that you stay on top of your nutrition and help yourself to recover faster! This includes food and water.
This is what I did for my Europe bike tour, and I think it’s what I’ll do for my upcoming trip too.
Before I left for the trip, I put a scoop of protein powder in a bunch of ziplock bags. Mini ziplock bags work well for this. Then on the trip, when I was done riding for the day, I’d fill my water bottle up with water, and then mix the protein powder from one bag.
So for example, if I knew it’d be a 30 day trip, then I’d have 30 ziplock bags with one scoop of protein powder each. If you’re going on a longer trip, you might consider the protein powder on an every other day basis to make it last longer.
Take a look at protein powder like this. Protein powder can be an acquired taste, but vanilla is generally a safe flavor to go with.
I also had a ziplock bag full of multi-vitamins like this for extra insurance that I was getting my vitamins and minerals. Even if you think you’re eating well, it may be something to consider, because again, you want to keep your body strong for day after day of cycling!
THE BIKE CLOTHES: WHAT TO WEAR
I have bike shorts made by Shebeest, Pearl Izumi, and Nishiki. I’ll probably take 2 pairs of bike shorts. It’s probably best if you can try on bike shorts before you buy them because the padding can feel different to different people.
I also plan on taking some spandex shorts that aren’t bike shorts for shorter rides that I’ll be out and about walking around too. You know, so I won’t be walking around in awkward-looking padded shorts, and instead will be walking around in awkward-looking straight up tight shorts. 😉 I have shorts like these. They are UnderArmour and I love them. I actually lost a pair, but I went with the same shorts because I liked them so much.
I’m grappling with whether or not to get new bike shoes. If I do, I want to get bike shoes that make it easy to walk when you’re off your bike, like these ones. The bike shoes I currently have are more traditional bike shoes that make noise as the metal hits the pavement or ground.
Do you need bike shoes for your bike tour? I didn’t have them during my Europe trip. I actually bought them, but didn’t take them because… I couldn’t figure out how to clip in and clip out!! Really… 😀 When I got started with triathlons, I learned how to do that. 😉
But I like having bike shoes and think I will take them on my bike trip because it means you’ll be biking more efficiently. And biking more efficiently means energy saved! And energy saved means you can bike stronger for longer! So, I’m planning on taking bike shoes. The question is, whether I’ll just stick with the ones I already have. $$
If you get bike shoes, you’ll need to get compatible bike pedals too.
Wind is blowing into your eyes and debris can fly into your eyes. Getting sports sunglasses that stay on your face while riding can be safer for your eyes. These sunglasses can be ideal for biking because they are flexible and also come with interchangeable lenses so you can protect your eyes even when it’s cloudy, and they even have lenses designed for the night. Take a look at all the features that can make these sunglasses ideal for cycling.
I’ll be taking shirts with me that aren’t cycling-specific.
I think it would be very helpful to have moisture-wicking shirts during your bike tour. I love the ones I currently have, which I got from Kohl’s. It’s this one here. I think I have like 5 of these FILA sport performance shirts in different colors. I bought these shirts for the first time 2 years ago, and last year I went back to get a couple more!
I like them because they are moisture-wicking and they are BRIGHT! I like wearing bright clothes when biking and running so as to help to be seen on the road. Do what you can to help those drivers out. 😉
From one of the reviews at that Kohl’s online store, it looks like the current version of the shirt has changed a bit, which is sad. They also have less assortment of colors than previous years.
Moisture-wicking shirts are helpful because it can help to keep your sweat from becoming bothersome. So if you’re looking to buy new shirts for your bike tour but not sure if you want to go with a cycling jersey (learn what makes cycling jerseys special here), then I believe it’s best to go with moisture-wicking shirts like these.
For one of the places I’ll be cycling, I think it will be better if I don’t expose so much skin to avoid stares, since it’s largely a more conservative country. I’ll still wear a short-sleeve shirt, but for the bottoms, on top of my bike shorts, I plan to wear these capris. I love them. They are from outdoor gear maker Columbia. They are reasonably water resistant, they give you sun protection (!), and most importantly, they are comfortable! If you go directly to Columbia, you can have a look for similar type material for other clothes too. And, they are much more descriptive. 😉 So have a look at the features there!
I have adidas athletic socks. I got them because they had an assortment of colors that came with the pack to match the bright colored shirts. 😉 But socks are another area where it’s best to go with ones that are specifically for the active person, to minimize the effect of the sweat. So that’s why it’s best to go for one of these pairs of socks.
That’s it for now!
This list will continue to be updated, and I reserve the right to change my opinions and plans. 😉
HAPPY BIKE TOURING!
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- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see these travel sandals.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.
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Best things to pack for active travel- First-time snorkelers love full-face snorkeling masks.
- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!
- These types of small backpacks are perfect for a day out so you can carry essentials... and snacks!
- And these popular packing cubes can be a life-saver when you're traveling!
Don't get your valuables stolen when you travel- On city excursions: This neck pouch that tons of people love. It makes it harder for money to be stolen, and RFID-blocking feature stops thieves from scanning your credit card info when they are close to you.
- At the beach: This type of pouch that you can easily take your wallet in the water with you, instead of leaving on the beach.