Cycling Checklist: The Essentials (And More)

Cycling Checklist: The Essentials (And More)

Bicycling isn’t exactly a complicated endeavor.

At minimum, you need a bike, and while some may think that’s enough, there are some other items that are best to have as well.

We’d go so far as to call them essential. 

So, with that said, here is a quick cycling checklist so you can make sure you’ve got the essentials down, and perhaps a few extra things as well.

For all intents and purposes, this list is for the casual cyclist who is going out for a somewhat longer ride, perhaps for an hour or two.


These are the items that we strongly recommend you have no matter what. You may be able to get by on much shorter rides without some of these, but if you are going on an actual ride that has you cycling for an extended period, it’s best to be prepared (and comfortable.)


Yeah...this one’s obvious. If you’re truly “cycling,” you’ll need a decent road bike that is up for the task. This doesn’t have to be some $5,000 professional bike, just a decent bike that’s in good condition, and fits your body.

The fit is crucial.


Biking without a helmet is not an option, regardless of where you’re going, and how long you’ll be riding.

Accidents happen, and they don’t have to necessarily be your fault -- it doesn’t take a big accident to get a serious head injury, that’s just the truth.

Man and woman with helmets on a bike.

So, if you think a helmet is an option, it’s not. There are plenty of choices out there, and it’s easy to find a comfortable model that will fit your head and fell snug and secure.

Another bonus: helmets are designed to improve aerodynamics. It’s a win-win, all the way around.

Spare Tube/Patch Kit

Road bike tires aren’t the most durable. They are skinny, frail, and don’t take kindly to big bumps and sharp debris in the road. Sometimes you might hit something just right, and that’s all it takes to blow out your tire.

If you’re without a spare tube or patch kit, you may find yourself walking more than a few miles home. Fortunately, it’s very easy to carry a spare tube ad patch kit with you, so you’ll always be prepared. I’d bring two if I were you, along with a mini air pump.

Bike Multi-Tool

Bike multi-tools look like Swiss army knives.

Each attachment has different hex keys, blades, screwdrivers, and pretty much anything else you need to make quick adjustments to your bike on the fly when needed, or if you may need to perform some sort of quick repair.

These tools are very small, and very easy to carry, so there’s no excuse not to.

Six different bike multi-tools.


It may not seem like it at first, but your hands are going to get worn out on a long bike ride. Biking gloves have plenty of benefits. For one, they offer some extra padding between your hands and the handlebars, so the repeated motions of pulling brake levers and shifters doesn’t make your hands sore.

Gloves also protect against blisters, which may be an even bigger benefit. Blistering is much more likely in warmer weather, so always make sure you have some cycling gloves.


Bike lock used on a bike.

Nobody likes a thief, and especially if it’s your bike.

Getting a bike stolen while out on a ride away from home is terrible for many obvious reasons.

It may not seem like someone is keeping eyes on your precious bike while you run into the gas station to grab some water, but odds are...they are.

A lock is easy to bring along, and in some vases you can attach it elsewhere on your bike until needed. A small investment will prevent you from losing a much bigger one. Don’t leave without it.

Water Bottle/Hydration Pack

This one’s pretty obvious too. You should never leave for a ride without water. Even if it’s a bit cool outside, you can still dehydrate just as easily. Your body needs it the entire time you’re riding.

Water is easy to bring along, and you have numerous options.

You can bring a bottle along in a pack, or attach one to your frame. If you want something more convenient, consider getting a hydration backpack, such as a Camelbak. You can carry gear in it, and have your fluids at a moment’s notice.


If you plan on riding at night, you’re going to need lights on your bike. This keeps you more visible to motorists, and even other cyclists as well.

Two men riding a bike with lights.

They are easy to use and install, and there are some that you can take off when you aren't using them. Many cities actually require lights on a bike at night, so you really don’t have a choice either way.

Optional, But Good to Have

The following items aren’t crucial to bring with you, but if you can, you’ll be glad you did.

First Aid Kit

Always good to have just in case. You may not even be the one who needs it, but perhaps a friend who is riding with you might. Either way, good to have.


Long rides mean lots of sun exposure. Bring that sunscreen along, even if it’s a cloudy day. You can still get burns from UV rays, and a pretty weird looking tan if you’re wearing cycling clothing.

Lip Balm

The wind on your face will chafe your lips before you know it. Bring some lip balm with you if your lips get dry easily, or at least apply some before you head out.

Eye Protection

Eye protection doesn’t have to be sunglasses.

You can buy clear frames that can be used day and night.

Regardless of what you use, you’ll be a lot less likely to get a bug in the eye, which can be a fairly big problem if you’re riding at a high speed.

Woman putting on eye protection before going cycling.


This may all seem like a lot, but it’s really not. Some you can wear, while others can be fit into a small backpack.

As long as you bring the essentials, you’ll be fine, but we strongly recommend this whole list.

Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

This post was last updated on September 21st, 2018 at 02:37 pm

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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