Whether you've got an even coming up and want to be prepared, or you just fancy giving your trusty steed a new lease of life, there are a range of accessories and parts available to add to your road bike.
From bar tape to saddle bags, there's also a vast range of different price points to think about. Think about what you want the accessory to do as a guide; are you planning on racing a time trial, in which case light weight and aerodynamic accessories are key, or are you going for a long weekend ride for several hours where you'll need a repair kit and some snacks.
If you are adding accessories, don't forget you'll need to remove most of them if you're leaving the bike locked up for a period of time. You don't want to come back in the morning to find your new saddle bag has left without you.
[part title="Road Bike Accessories: Saddle Bags"]
They usually hang underneath the back of the saddle itself with a couple of straps, with another strap to secure it against the seat post. Most bags should fit any bicycle. You can get some bags that have a hard shell and secure directly to the saddle.
You can get a range of sizes, from tiny ones that carry the bare essentials, to larger ones which can fit in some snacks and potentially a paclite jacket.
Bigger bags will be heavier, especially if filled, so as a general rule get the bag that just fits the essentials for most of the cycling you do. Bigger bags in particular can catch your legs when cycling. Check this doesn't happen before starting a long ride or race.
Most bags aren't completely waterproof, but are fairly water resistant. If you are planning on storing a phone or water sensitive items in there, we'd recommend popping them in a plastic bag first.
[part title="Road Bike Accessories: Mudguards"]
There are several things to bear in mind when looking for mudguards. Firstly, get mudguards that are designed for road bikes - this should be clearly stated in the name or description. They'll be thin enough to fit closely around the narrow tyres.
Secondly, a lot of mudguards require the bike to have certain bolts and bolt holes already incorporated into the frame. A lot of road bikes don't have these, so check first. Read our article on buying mudguards for more info on what to look for here.
If you are opting for this type of mudguard, make sure your bike can fit them.
Thirdly, the clearance between the wheel and the frame on road bikes is very tight, so make sure the mudguard can fit in the gap without rubbing or catching.
There are also a selection of mudguards that are designed to be used with bikes that don't have the bolts and holes, and instead strap on to the forks and stay with strong rubber straps. These perform well, and are also quicker to remove if you want to take them off in good weather.
[part title="Road Bike Accessories: Handlebar Tape"]
If you're looking for a quick way to brighten your bike, then changing the bar tape is the way to go.
There are a rainbow of colours available, and you can even get patterned tape. If you want to go the whole hog, it's also possible to get different coloured rubber hoods, the part that fits out over the gear and brake levers, to match or contrast with your bar tape.
It's not just about colour and decoration. The tape is designed to provide a little cushioning, grip, and also absorb moisture to make your ride more comfortable.
Grip tape can be made from different material. Some includes cork particles, others have a gel pad you can place on the bars under the tape for added cushioning.
Leather tape is robust and lasts and long time, but is pricy and can be less cushioned than the other options.
[part title="Road Bike Accessories: Bottle Cages"]
Firstly, they are the perfect way to carry your water when out on a road bike. Although you can ride with a rucksack, a lot of road cyclists find that this is uncomfortable when riding for a long period of time, can obscure your view when looking back over your shoulder, and can slip up the back, particularly when riding on the drops of the handlebars.
Bottle cages can be chosen based on cost, colour or weight. Starting at around £3, you can go right up to £30 and above for a superlight carbon fiber cage, which are great for keeping weight low for racing.
Cages are usually top or side entry, and which one you go for is a matter of personal preference. They'll also take pretty much any water bottle (or bidon, in the world of road cycling) securely, but some will fit better than others.
The attach via the two bolts that will located on your bikes downtube, inside the front triangle of the frame. Most bikes will also have a second set of bolts on the seat tube, and we'd recommend fitting cages to both. That will give you plenty of liquid carrying ability for longer rides, or rides in hot weather.
[part title="Road Cycling Accessories: Pumps"]
A pump is one of the essentials that you need to carry with you when you are out for a ride, particularly if you are taking part in an event or riding out away from home. It may be a long walk to the nearest bike shop.
You can get very small pumps that are designed to fit into a jersey pocket, saddle bag or bolt onto the frame.
These are lightweight - and again you can get carbon fibre options if weight is something you are concerned about, but be prepared to pay more for this.
Ensure the pump you get will fit the valve on your inner tubes; road bike tubes have narrow 'presta' type valves. Some pumps fit directly on, and others have an extendable tube, which means you can give the pumping action a bit more welly without worrying about breaking the valve.
Another option are CO2 pumps; these use pressurised carbon dioxide to rapidly inflate your tyre. Most canisters will do one road bike tube, so make sure you bring at least one spare with you.
These are very quick to use, and very small - they can fit into a saddle bag. The downside is that once you've used all the canisters you've brought, you are without a pump. To combat that, some companies now produce a device that does both.
Pumps will usually come with an attachment that allows them to be bolted to the frame under where the bottle cage attaches, allowing you to fit both to one set of bolts.
[part title="Road Cycling Accessories: Water Bottles"]
Water bottles are another essential piece of kit, particularly if you are planning on riding for anything over 30 minutes as you'll start to get thirsty.
These are also often referred to as 'bidons' in the world of professional cycling.
Apart from aesthetics, capacity is the main criteria by which most water bottles are chosen; 500ml or 750ml. For longer rides, we'd recommend going for the larger volume.
Another tip is to carry two bottles with a different drink in each; water and a hydration drink, two different flavours of drink to break things up, or a regular drink and one with caffeine in it.
You can also get insulated bottles, which are brilliant for keeping your drink cold on a hot day.
[part title="Road Cycling Accessories: Computers"]
Cycling computers are a handy addition to the road bike for a number of reasons. They'll chart your speed, tell you the time, tell you how many calories you've burned, give you info on your cadence (how quickly you are turning the pedals) and inform you how much ground you've covered.
It's all interesting information that can be motivating, and is invaluable if you are training.
Different computers will give different feedouts, from the basic speed, time and distance right up to heart rate, power, and GPS systems that plot your route or guide you along.
A lot of these feeds take information from a sensor attached to the front wheel and forks. At the lower end of the price scale, this sensor will attach to the computer with a cable. Further up in price and the sensor is wireless.
For feeds on your heart rate and cadence, you may need to get additional items, or you may be able to get the computer with a bundle of accessories included. Heart rate monitors, cadence and power meters, and GPS maps are some of the options.
A basic computer starts around £15, and you can spend up to £500 for a top of the range computer with GPS and accessories.
[part title="Road Bike Accessories: Lights"]
Riding at night, or after sunset? You'll need some lights.
It's a good idea to have a set of small, lightweight back up lights if you are out riding all day, and there might be a chance you'll stay out past sunset, because it's a legal requirement to have lights on your bike. And of course from it's a very very good idea from a safety point of view. These won't help you see where you are going, but they will allow other traffic to see you.
Lights that have a quick release rubber strap for attaching them to the bike are a great option to have as your backups, and LED technology means that even some lights at the lower end of the price range can give you good visibility.
If riding at night is something you are thinking about doing, particularly away from urban and lit areas, then you'll need to invest in some much brighter lights. In this case, you won't just need to be seen, you'll need to light up the road in front of you, to avoid potholes and hedges. Expect to pay upwards of £80 for a good set.
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