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Folding bikes can make commuting more convenient and easy to stow away at the end of the day. The right gear will allow you to ride safely and comfortably.
However, as a beginner, it can be challenging to know what you need. I put this guide together to make things easier, talking you through the essential equipment and what you should look for when shopping. Keep reading to learn about the essential gear for riding a folding bike.
What Is Essential Folding Bike Gear for Beginners?
There is a range of essential gear that folding bike owners should have.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to have the proper safety equipment, most importantly, a strong helmet and bicycle lights. It’s also vital to have a lock to prevent thieves from stealing your folding bike.
There are also some items required to create a more convenient riding experience. For example, you will need a pannier bag to give you a place to put your things. You should also have maintenance kits to deal with a flat tire or a minor mechanical problem.
A strong helmet is a vital safety precaution, regardless of the type of bike you are riding.
A helmet will help protect you from brain trauma if you have an accident. It’s estimated that wearing a helmet has reduced the number of cyclists killed by 34 percent and decreased severe head injuries by 60 percent.
Here are some things to consider to find the best helmet for you:
- Fit. It’s vital to choose a helmet that provides a snug fit. Straps will allow you to adjust how tight it is.
- Material. A helmet is usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) and covered with polycarbonate. Ideally, it will feature Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), which redirects the impact force after a fall.
- Comfort. Choose something with good ventilation, so the heat doesn’t get trapped under your helmet.
Considering all these factors, I recommend the Giro Fixture MIPS Adult Mountain Cycling Helmet. This is lightweight, uses MIPS technology, and the design ensures that one size fits all riders. Plus, it has a visor to keep the sunlight out of your eyes and make the helmet more aerodynamic.
There are a few other pieces of safety gear you should consider. You might want sunglasses to keep the wind out of your eyes. It’s also a good idea to wear reflective clothing, so drivers can see you coming.
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Having a light on your bike will improve your visibility so drivers can see you coming, especially if you plan to ride at night. There are a few types of lights you can use, including:
- Front lights. These are designed to light up the road in front of you when traveling at night. How powerful they need to be will vary. If you ride in an urban environment, you should have 200 lumens. In rural zones, you will need 400 lumens.
- Rear lights. These are colored red and ensure that oncoming drivers can see you.
There are multiple things to consider when deciding what lights to use on your bike. It’s best to choose lights that have USB connectors, so they can be easily recharged.
It’s also worth considering the modes that are featured. For example, you should have half-brightness during the day and full-brightness when traveling at night.
I recommend the Ascher USB Rechargeable Bike Light Set if searching for lights. These lights can be recharged through a USB, is water resistant, and can be installed easily.
If you plan on traveling at night, though, I recommend the Ascher Super Bright 800 Lumen model, which has a far more powerful headlight.
Folding bikes can be expensive, with top models costing over $3,000. A simple bike lock is one of the most effective ways of preventing thieves from targeting your bike.
The lock will be wrapped around the frame or wheel of the folding bike, attaching it to a stationary object, like a bike stand or telephone pole.
There are plenty of types of bike locks available, including:
- U-Lock. This lock is a horseshoe shape and locks your wheels and frame to the object. Because it’s made of solid metal, it can’t be opened with a hammer or chisel.
- Cable locks. These are flexible, making it easier to bind your bike and frame in place. But they are best used in low-crime areas. A bolt cutter can slice through the cable.
- Chain locks. These are the most secure option. These use a sturdy metal chain and strong padlock. Thieves won’t be able to cut through the thick metal. But, this type of lock is only suitable for a short commute because of the weight of the chain.
- Folding lock. These are made of a series of joined steel plates, which can be shaped to fit around a wide range of objects.
Though plenty of locks are on the market, I recommend checking out the FoldyLock Clipster Folding Bike Lock. This is a foldable lock, so you can secure your bike to various objects. It’s solid and challenging to cut through but light enough to clip onto your bag or belt when riding.
If you seek a more heavy-duty option, check out the Kryptonite Keeper 785. This features a 7mm chain built from Manganese Steel. The nylon sleeve will be resistant to drills. Even the most persistent thief needs to get through this chain lock.
Bags and Panniers
You want to take some things with you. But where are you supposed to place these items? The answer is a bag or pannier rack. Here are some folding bike storage options to explore:
- Backpacks. This is the best option for a short trip. However, choose another option if you are going on a longer ride. These backpacks aren’t breathable and can leave you sweating.
- Messenger bags. These feature a strap, which can be worn over your shoulder, or put across your body. Usually, they are a little small, but they will be suitable for items like laptops.
- Panniers. A pannier is hooked onto the rack, often at the bike’s rear. Not all folding bikes have a pannier rack, so add one. These bags are waterproof, and you can have one hanging from each side of the bike.
- Saddlebag. These bags sit underneath the saddle. They tend to be small but will be large enough for the essentials, like a repair kit.
- Trunk bag. These sit on top of the rear rack, with zippers allowing you to seal the bag and protect your items from the rain.
There are a few types of bags that stand out.
For example, the Topeak MTX Trunk Bag has plenty of interior storage and can be turned into a shoulder bag.
Another option is the Ibera Bike Trunk Bag, which features a taillight and is made from high-visibility material, suitable for those who like to ride at night. A third recommendation is the ROCKBROS Bike Panniers, which have thick pads to separate and protect your items.
Maintenance and Repair Kits
Sadly, riding your bike won’t always be a smooth experience. You will have flat tires and other minor mechanical issues to contend with. This is why it’s essential to carry a maintenance kit with you. Here are some of the items to keep in your kit:
- Tire pump
- Spare tube
- Tire patches
I recommend the Bicycle Repair Bag from XCH Robot Stores. This kit comes with everything you need. Plus, the equipment is small enough to add to your trunk or saddle bag easily.
Mark PlummerMark Plummer is an experienced bike mechanic who has built, repaired, and customized thousands of bikes over the years. A former mountain biking athlete, his cycling adventures have taken him all over the globe from the mountains of Scotland to the South Island of New Zealand. These days he enjoys the benefits of commuting to work and touring on his Dahon and Brompton folding bikes.
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