10 Must-Haves for Road Cyclists

Road bike gear for the serious cyclist

The most important thing for a serious road cyclist is comfort. If you’re not comfortable, your riding will suffer. When I speak about comfort, I’m not talking about a tractor-sized saddle with a sheepskin cover. Instead, I’m talking about making sure everything you select fits your body and riding style.

I spent years as a sponsored rider. Yes, being given your riding essentials is a perk, but it also means you’re beholden to those sponsors and their products. One of the best things about not being sponsored is being able to pick and choose the items that work best for your riding style.

The following items are all things I think are “must-haves” for the serious road cyclist. These are my suggestions based on my experience and I am not sponsored by any of the companies whose products are listed below.

Road bike clothing, helmet, and accessories

1. Bell Sweep Helmet I used to say that I have a weird-shaped head. Now I believe everyone’s head has unique shape. I wear the Bell Sweep Helmet because of its Twin Axis Gear fit system. The fit system allows for a comfortable fit that feels like the helmet is “floating” on my head. I also have A LOT of hair. The Sweep has 20 vents that keep the temperature comfortable.

2. Oakley M Frame Sunglasses – Sweep If I go riding without sunglasses I feel naked. Sunglasses are much more than something to keep the brightness at bay, glasses protect your eyes from flying debris, bugs, and dust. I have always appreciated the look and versatility of the M Frame. There are all types of lens available, and at some point in my career I believe I’ve used them all.

3. Fox Head Men’s Dirtpaw Race Glove Yes, these are mountain bike gloves, and yes, I wear them for road riding. I have a few pairs of this glove and even a pair that I “modified” for hot conditions (I cut off the fingers).
If you look at the tops of my hands you’ll understand why I want full finger gloves that are durable. These gloves hold up to crashes. I like that their not overly padded and give me a good feel for the handlebar.

4. Castelli clothing The only road cycling clothes hanging in my closet are the Castelli brand. The way Castelli cuts its clothing make for an optimal fit on the bike. Finding a good quality, comfortable pair of shorts has always been a challenge for me. The Castelli Kiss 3 pad is the closest I’ve ever come to complete satisfaction with a pair of bike shorts. As for the jerseys, I have the short sleeve full zip, the long sleeve, full zip, and the Gore-Tex Windstopper vest. I’m no longer a sponsored racer and have worn everything from Canari to Pearl Izumi and nothing has ever felt as good as a Castelli clothing.

5. Arm, leg, and knee warmers
Believe it or not, California isn’t always super hot (contrary to the conditions at this year’s Tour of California). Where I’ve spent much of the past 10 years riding is warmish-cool. Arm, leg, and knee warms are essential for choosing the right attire for the temperature. Most my rides leave from the coast and head to the mountains, and in order to not be overdressed, arm and leg warmers are the ticket. Having arm, leg and knee warmers are a must have for any rider.

Road bike pedals, shoes, and saddles

6. Sidi Road shoes
Finding a shoe that fits your foot can be challenging. The next piece of the puzzle is finding a road shoe sole that won’t flex. I’ve always been a big fan of carbon soles. I raced with them for years and even now, for recreational riding, I feel more confident with a stiff sole. Sidis feel like ballet slippers on my feet, and I can’t imagine wearing any other shoe.

7. Look Keo pedals
Combining the stiffness of a carbon soled shoe with the platform provided by a Look Keo Pedal and you’ve got a solid set up. Remember when I talked about the importance of pedal stroke? The combination of the carbon sole with the Look Keo and using the entire pedal stroke is where you can maximize pedal stroke efficiency. Another benefit to the Keo system is that it functions well even in challenging weather conditions such as rain/snow/slush/mud.

8. Wilderness Trail Bikes, Inc. Saddles
Saddles are all about personal preference. A lot of people won’t even try a saddle on their road bike because they think it’s a mountain bike saddle. I ride the WTB Deva SLT on both the mountain bike AND the road bike. My theory is if you find a saddle you love, why not put it on all of your bikes? Each WTB saddle is designed by WTB founder and owner, Mark Slate. Much thought is put into where a rider’s sit bones and soft tissue will rest on the saddle. Comfort and weight are considered and most WTB saddles come with the option of Titanium rails, ultra light foam padding, or even carbon rails. Weight: 240grams.

Road bike tires and wheels

9. Continental Gator Skins Nothing ruins the rhythm of a training ride like getting a flat tire. The Continental Gator Skins aren’t the lightest tires on the market, but they are some of the most durable. I keep the Gator Skins on my training wheels (which are also pretty heavy). I can remember going for seasons without getting a flat with the Gator Skins. When I have replaced my Gator Skins, I’ve been blown away by how much glass was stuck in the cuts of the rubber and how not a single shard made it through the tire for thousands of miles.

10. Mavic Ksyrium Wheels
A race day wheel set is something I cherish. I love putting on the go-fast wheels. The bike feels faster and more nimble and mentally I feel ready to hammer. I’ve always loved Mavic products. The company makes an excellent product and has always provided amazing neutral support to racers all over the world. The Kysyriums are a wheelset that I feel confident in using for all around racing — road race, crit, or time trial. If you’re going to have one extra wheelset in your arsenal, the Mavic Ksyriums are a great all-around product.

This is a list with recommended products from ex-professional road cyclist and former junior World Champion Cecilia Potts. Please note that all links above are affiliate links which means Training4cyclists.com earns a small commission if you click the link and buy the product (there are no additional costs to you.)

8 comments… add one
  • Stephen Tsai

    I have been hearing common saying among local cyclists about “various
    road frame that goes fast” while another don’t.

    I do know that different frame maker/ models have slightly different
    geometry set up.

    I tends to believe that even with different frame geometry, we can still
    set up the bike for proper fit, if the correct frame size is selected in
    the first place.

    My question here is, Is the underlined saying above correct ? Or it just
    a matter if proper bike fit’s set up regardless of which brand/ model of
    bike frame used ?

    Thank you for reading.

    Yours faithfully,
    Stephen Tsai.

  • SM

    I never leave home without the means to fix a flat tire and also a little cash.

  • Mike T.

    You were doing ok Cecilia until you got to #10. You need to get out more if you think that those over-weight, over-priced, under-aero wheels with their exorbitant proprietary parts are great wheels. Go have a set of wheels tailored just for YOU (who are Kysyriums built for anyway?) and find out just how good a set of wheels can be.

  • I agree on Gatorkin and Mavic ksyrium wheels. These wheels are super light and love the way I can avoid a rock in a microsecond. Those gloves seem to have pretty high reviews and i’m getting some. Where I disagree is on the glasses. I used $5 from walmart and they work just fine.

  • Spooky

    I have Ksyrium Elites and they are the shite, especially in terms of weight/price ratio. Yeah, you can have custom wheels made up that are lighter, stiffer, “whateverer” … but they will cost WAAAY more than the Ksyriums. Also, good luck finding parts at the LBS for custom made wheels (or, if your custom made wheels are using parts readily available at the LBS, what’s really “custom” about them?). Please.

    What she really missed on was #7. Speedplay all the way.

  • James

    You know you talk alot about the people that sponser ( gifts) that you get for riding I have a cheap pair of carbon shoes and I think their awesome I also was give a test fizik Arizone seat I don’t have many high dollar parts but funny that I can keep up with ” the big guys ” ! You tell of your OWN GLORY and need to tell people try what works for you instead of selling them name brand products ! Personally you couldn’t give me a pair of magic rims those are so heavy and people buy them like iPod shirts ! I ride with Rolf carbon rims low spoke count and super light ! People need to find what’s right for them

  • Toe Overlap

    The point of the article, as I understood it, is that to be truly comfortable on the bike (and so able to put in lots of hard miles) it’s vital you find out all those things that work for you. This is just her list of those choices that have proven to be just right for her — the idea is that the rest of us will need to find similarly good matches to be as comfortable as we can be.

    Her inclusion of pedals, glasses and gloves reminds us that even the lesser bits are important to achieve the most comfort you can – it’s not only about the contact points, though those are the most important of all and where your first efforts should lie.

  • Shawn Gossman

    I will second the Castelli clothing part of your post! I have always purchased bike shorts on Amazon that were cheap but had good reviews. Then one day I spent over $100 for a pair of padded Castelli shorts and once I rode in them, I become hooked! They form perfectly around my body, the pad is to die for and they seem to keep me dry even on the hottest of days. I have a feeling Castelli is going to make some money off this here roadie, ha! Great post!

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