Your Top 10 cycling accessories

I am writing this after a recent conversation with a friend and a subsequent post on Cheshire Mavericks Facebook page about cycling accessories.

cycling accessoriesIt all started with a conversation as to what we carry in our seatbags/ jacket pockets/ tool tubes whilst out on our bikes. There were many suggestions, and some very informative and inventive ‘necessities’ people carry around with them.

I haven’t included a phone on the list below, as this is one thing most of us do not leave home without in any case.

What’s in the bag then?

So here we go with your Top Ten of what we (should) carry whilst out on the bike:

  1. Spare Inner tube(s) – you never should go anywhere without spares and always take any used tubes back home with you for disposal, don’t leave them as litter.
  2. A means of inflating the above inner tube – be that a pump or CO2 inflator and spare cartridges.
  3. Multi tool (with tyre levers and chain splitter) – these essential tools can get you out of a multitude of situations.
  4. Tyre Boot – If a tyre splits this may be the only way that you will be able to get home under your own steam, of course you will need the above two items as well, as invariably the inner tube will ‘split’ at the same time as the tyre!
  5. Inner tube patches – if all else fails a patch can repair one of the tubes you are carrying home with you.
  6. Spare chain link – inexpensive, light and the only way that a chain can be repaired effectively.
  7. A waterproof jacket – usually carried in your back pocket, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like when you leave to go out, being the British Isles this means nothing, expect the worst!
  8. A supply of food for whilst out on the bike, there is nothing worse than suffering the dreaded ‘bonk’ and being unable to ride.
  9. An emergency rear light – this is an excellent idea and can be a necessity when you need to don the waterproof jacket – even in the middle of the day.
  10. Cash – last but not least, for cake, espresso and if really desperate, a means of getting home.

Everybody has their own necessities whilst out on the bike but the above is a good means of ensuring that you stay safe whilst out and have the ability to be able to get your bike back on the road and get home, and also have some cash to have a drink or refuel.

And so to the weird and the wonderful…

I was amused by some of the suggestions that came from the post and some of the more inventive are below:

  • A copy of last weeks Racing Post – obviously a necessity for protecting your chest when on those Cheshire ‘Alpine’ descents
  • A Happy Meal – really?
  • I have a top tube bag – with a 5 course meal. Now that is planning.
  • A £20 note folded makes the best tyre patch – possibly someone with too much?

And my personal favourite:

  • A copy of Yellow Pages – in case I want to buy some flowers on the way home. Very thoughtful.

One item missing from the list above is a First Aid Kit, it’s an emotive subject and one we all hope never to have to need. But a few plasters and some antiseptic cream may be a lightweight and non-bulky solution to meet those minor needs.

Upgrading your bike?…all that glitters is not gold

We all like something shiny and new, be it the latest tech. gadget, new clothes or even that new bike…

So, thinking of upgrading your bike?

We all change and all desire certain material things and, if you’re a keen cyclist, it’s likely that after a few years of riding the same bike, for whatever reason – be it worn, battered, broken or just wanting a change, the ‘need’ for a new bike can be tough to resist.

The need to change bikes is even more relevant to children’s bikes, once they start growing there’s no stopping them. I know of at least two parents who have ended up buying two bikes in a year as the first was outgrown within 6-9 months, now that is expensive and short of stopping feeding children they will grow and the need to increase the size of the bike will exist!

But just to get the latest design of bike, development in components or upgrade for a child can be an expensive business and given that most bikes depreciate faster than a badly built 1970’s Jaguar car, the second hand market isn’t really a viable option to recoup some of the cost of the purchase.

A little forethought when initially buying a bike can certainly reduce the need for large sums of cash being paid out in the future. Most manufacturers will sell a bike with a variety of components not all necessarily the same brand and same group, common practice is to have a variety of components from, for example, Shimano but a mix of say Sora/ Tiagra/ 105 components.

This can mean a bike with a good frame can be bought at a reasonable price, the main areas where ‘savings’ are made by the manufacturers, tend to be wheels, brakes, chainset and handlebars. Over time these can be upgraded as they wear or funds become available!

I believe the best upgrade is by investing in a good set of wheels – there are some excellent offers to be had on lightweight wheelsets that will make an immediate difference to the ride experience on your bike (and unless you are built like the proverbial whippet this will be a massive gain when getting up those hills!). Follow that on with brakes, chainset etc. and an excellent bike will be yours.

Upgrade doesn’t necessarily mean that everything has to be bought new – trying to buy from friends or known contacts will more than likely make the second-hand purchase a pleasant experience. BUT, just a word of caution when buying from the likes of EBay etc; make sure you check the seller out as much as possible, as there are some horror stories out there from people who haven’t exactly got what they thought they were getting…

Investment in components can make any future upgrade far more economical:

The bike below has had all the existing components swapped from the existing bike to the new frame. The only extra cost was new cables and a replacement front brake calliper (to replace a broken original). The upgrade was relatively inexpensive as the frame had been sourced from a reliable seller on EBay.

Upgrading your bike

But what of the ever growing children?

If finances allow, buying the first bike with good quality components can certainly mean that as they grow the need to buy full bikes can be negated and swapping the components to a new frame can be less of an impact on parent’s finances.

There are some amazing offers on frames through the likes of Planet X, which can mean the cost of an upgrade can be very economical indeed. The only other components required may be forks, some bearings or perhaps cabling?

Both of the bikes below were upgraded recently (both bought exactly the same frame in isolation!!), one was a straight swap, the only extras being a new brake cable and a new headset bearing.

Bike upgrade

The second was an upgrade of the groupset from 8 speed to 10 speed and new ‘second-hand’ wheels.

Upgrading your bikeBoth were cost effective use of existing components that can then be swapped onto another bigger frame when they grow.

So, getting that better bike need not cost the earth and can be completed over time, which makes the upgrade or change a far more economical option than a full bike purchase.




Dare to go bare? A guide on what to cycle wear

Cycle wear or not? No this isn’t a ‘call to arms’ for everyone to join in on the London naked bike ride, but if that floats your boat, please carry on!

This is a look at what to wear and when to wear it and some of the science behind the theories, for which I take no credit and have quoted those far more eminent in their field than I.

cycle wearToday is the first day of British Summer Time and true to form the sky is heavy, the wind is brisk and the forecast is for heavy rain………. welcome to summer, but at least it can only get better (can’t it?).

The decision of what to wear today won’t be a problem, rain jacket, winter long sleeve jersey, warm winter tights, winter socks and waterproof winter boots, these are a given and still after 50 miles water will have found its way everywhere.

I have ridden virtually every week throughout the year and during 2014/15 have only been stopped by the weather once, and that was due to snow.

But what I have been amazed by, throughout the winter months are the number of people riding with bare legs and even bare arms, on one occasion just after Christmas my Garmin was indicating a temperature of 1 degree and a group of riders past the opposite direction in shorts and thin jerseys – their legs were bright red from the cold! I know we are used to the cold ‘Up North’, but even being brought up on the North East coast, I know it’s not good to bare that much flesh in those conditions.

So what is the thought behind the effects of cold on, especially, the knee joints?

Well the knee is the pivot point between the two major muscle groups of the thigh and the calf which when you look at it doesn’t have much in the way of protection, and given that we rotate, push and pull the pedals to cycle it is imperative that we keep the knee free from damage. The knee is surrounded by fluid which lubricates during rotation, the effect of cold on lubricants is well known and the knee fluid will also become thicker in the cold making the knee less efficient, which long term may lead to cartilage damage and dreaded ‘knee pain’.

The knees don’t have exclusive rights to being at risk when cycling, the other major joints – elbow, neck etc. will also be affected and also consider general health, especially the chest – it wasn’t that long ago that it was common to see a soigneur at the top of a climb in the Tour de France and other races handing out newspapers for the riders to put down their tops during descents to lessen the effect of extreme sweat on the ascent chilling to such a level that chest complaints were commonplace.

It may be 9-12 degrees at the moment, but take into account any wind will cause a ‘wind chill’ reducing temperature and also if you’re riding along at 15-20 mph the effect will be heightened and even more so on a descent, so the 9-12 degrees could very easily be halved to an ‘actual’ temperature of between 5-7 degrees. Adding rain will also heighten the temperature deficit.

The best way is to cover up until such time that the weather is settled and any adverse effects are negated, and the most effective solution is to ‘layer’, it is easier to add or remove layers dependant on the conditions and what you are actually doing at the time.

I have quoted James Hewitt’s guide below as it is the most up to date reference I have found researching the science behind the above and this guide from the paper is an ideal reference for what to wear, when:


  • 19°C-21°C: Base layer; short-sleeved jersey; shorts; racing mitts; socks
  • 17°C-19°C: Add arm warmers
  • 15°C-17°C: Add knee warmers or 3/4 length tights; swap for thicker socks; swap mitts for thin full-finger gloves
  • 13°C-15°C: Swap knee warmers for leg warmers; add gilet
  • 11°C-13°C: Swap warmers for full medium-weight tights, thicker full-finger gloves; add long-sleeved jersey; toe covers or over-socks; head-band
  • 9°C-11°C: Swap to long-sleeved base layer; thin hat, add race-cape/packable water-proof for changeable conditions
  • 7°C-9°C: Swap to full over-shoes or winter shoes; thicker hat
  • 5°C-7°C: Swap for heavier-weight tights; lobster gloves or mittens
  • 3°C-5°C: Add a second long-sleeved jersey; a midlayer sock
  • 1°C-3°C: Add additional base-layer; knee warmers under tights
  • 0°C and below: High-risk of ice on the road so consider an indoor session!

Be positive, get out there but make sure you wear the correct level of clothing to ensure you have a comfortable ride, but also are able to get out long term injury free.


CALL MARTIN ON: 07929 892429

As well as helping to keep your bike in top condition, I’m also keen to help you get the most out of your cycling.

If you’re truly passionate about your bike, why not consider having a bespoke bike built to your exact specifications? See some recent bike builds can be found on our Bike and Wheel Building page – there’s even some stunning retro bike builds amongst them!