What are the Different Types of Cycling Gear?

Dan Cavallari

Cycling gear can be broken down into three general categories: cycling gear that goes on the body, gear that is used to build the bike, and tools that are used to maintain the bike. Cycling gear may include components of the bicycle, such was wheels, brakes, suspension forks, handlebars, shifters, derailleurs, chainrings, cassettes, seats, and seat posts. Gear that goes on the body includes helmets, glasses, gloves, jerseys, shorts, arm warmers, knee warmers, cycling shoes, and cycling socks. Tools may include work stands wrenches, cone wrenches, Allen wrenches, tire levers, and specialty tools such as a cassette tool, bottom bracket puller, and so on.

Allen wrenches, which are often used to fix bicycles.
Allen wrenches, which are often used to fix bicycles.

Most people buy a bicycle and concentrate on supplementing their bike riding experience with cycling gear to be worn on the body. Helmets should be worn at all times when riding a bicycle, so the helmet is perhaps the most commonly purchased piece of cycling gear. Cycling shoes are specifically designed to be extremely rigid; this prevents pedaling power from being lost to shoe flex and promotes power transfer from the legs to the drivetrain of the bicycle. Gloves protect the hands from friction during riding, thereby helping avoid hot spots, blisters, and calluses. They can also be useful in preventing injury in the event of a fall.

A man riding a bike.
A man riding a bike.

Upgrading the bicycle is another common hobby of cyclists, and such upgrades require the purchase of cycling gear that can help the bike owner install the new components. The components themselves range in price and function depending on the cyclist's needs; people upgrade components very often to save on weight, so carbon fiber components are very common. Carbon fiber handlebars, stems, seat posts, and even water bottle cages are all available to help a cyclist lighten his or her bicycle. Tires are perhaps the most commonly replaced or upgraded components on the bicycle because they are easy to replace and countless models of tire are available.

Cyclists wear specialized gear, including shoes, shorts and a helmet.
Cyclists wear specialized gear, including shoes, shorts and a helmet.

To execute some of these upgrades, some specialty tools will be required. Most cyclists carry a multi-tool in a backpack or jersey pocket during a ride. This is an indispensable piece of cycling gear, as it could mean the difference between riding home and walking. Specialty tools for bigger jobs may include a derailleur hanger alignment gauge, a chain whip and cassette tool for removing the rear cluster of gears, crank pullers to remove crank arms, bottom bracket pullers to remove bottom bracket bearings, and a truing stand for straightening wheels.

The best cycling shoes are lightweight but extremely rigid.
The best cycling shoes are lightweight but extremely rigid.
Older or cheaper bike models typically require wrenches for maintenance and repairs.
Older or cheaper bike models typically require wrenches for maintenance and repairs.

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