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A few items you need to have on every bike ride

If I’m riding from the house, it’s usually not a problem.  Driving to the place where I’ll start and end the ride, it will happen.  Doing an event or going on an all-day or multi-day ride where I need to pack, it happens on every bike ride.

You know what I’m talking about.  Yes.  Forgetting stuff.  Forgetting to bring one of the essential things you need to take on short or long rides.

Stuff that I need to have on every bike ride, like water bottles.  Stuff I forgot to transfer from my other bike, like pedals.  Stuff that my wife says to do and will see (and tell me) that I didn’t, like sun screen.  Stuff that I really wish I had packed ahead of time, like a towel for that welcome shower after the 6-hour ride.

I’m taking that shower anyway.

Like most enthusiasts, there’s almost never an issue of what to do before the ride.  Your bike is ready because you ride it all the time.  You keep it clean, the chain lubed, the brake pads aligned and banish every last creak.  You also know how to eat and sleep well before your ride.  Not a problem.

No, the problem comes with what you need to have for the ride.  Or better said, what not to forget to carry and feel stupid about before, during or after the ride.

If you are a cyclist and none of this connects, you are either younger or better than me.  Or both.  There’s a fair chance of that.

If you are a cyclist like me that occasionally forgets something or wants to avoid doing so on an upcoming ride, I offer you this checklist:

What You Need To Have on Every Bike Ride


  • Heart Rate Strap
  • Base Layer
  • Chamois Creme
  • Bib Shorts
  • Jersey
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Helmet
  • Headwear – hat or sweat band
  • Sunglasses
  • Weather Layer (leg/arm warmers, vest, rain jacket)


  • Pedals
  • Front, Rear Lights
  • Computer
  • Saddle Bag
    • CO2 cartridges and pump
    • Extra tubes, patches
    • Tire levers
    • Spare derailleur hanger
    • Extra chain quick link
    • Multi-tool


  • Water Bottles
  • Ride Food
  • Electrolyte tablets
  • Ibuprofen


  • Phone
  • ID/License
  • Cash/Credit Card/Wallet
  • ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact on paper, not just in phone
  • Ziplock Bag for above
  • 2nd Ziplock bag with dry cloth, tissue
  • House/Car Key


  • Download route
  • Clean cycling sunglasses
  • Put on sunscreen/lotion and lip balm
  • Inflate tires
  • Zero offset power meter
  • Start computer/GPS


  • Event Packet, Racing License, etc.
  • Pump
  • Reading/Driving Glasses
  • Post-ride Recovery Drink
  • Phone Charger


  • Wash Bag – soap, shampoo, etc.
  • Meds
  • Towels
  • Fresh Kit for additional days
  • Change of Clothes
  • Sneakers/Slides
  • Headphones
  • Charger Cords, Batteries for electronics, GPS, lights, etc.
  • Regular Sunglasses
  • Plastic Bag for dirty kit
  • Bottle Opener

Tell us, my fellow road cycling enthusiast friends, what have you forgotten to bring?

And, what did I forget to put on this list?  Tell me below and I’ll add them as you comments come in.


  • Rajarajan Rajamani

    One small thing that was missed out in your list – a ziploc bag to keep your phone + cash in your back pocket – in case it rains.

  • Spare der hanger, especially if you go abroad. Spare battery or small powerbank for your phone and GPS. Murphy’s law says that they’re going to go dead when you need them most. Since started riding more MTB and having many accidents, I carry small wound spray and spray plaster on road too. Oldschool patches and glue. Credit card knife in my protective phone case. Pocket pack of wet wipes.

  • At least one sheet of paper towel on every ride (same ziploc bag I keep my phone+ID). I wear prescription glasses and in warm and humid mornings is not uncommon for my glasses to fogged up, sometimes really bad.

  • I did the stupidest th No this past Sunday. Went to ride with the cycling club. Got my car packed with everything. Took the 20 minute ride to meeting location. Took my bike out of the car just to realize I left my bike shoes home. Put the bike back in the car and went home. Had to ride on my own. no matter how much you prepare sometimes you forget the most important things!

    • Nope, never happened to me! Ha!
      Now what you really don’t want to do is…after a ride, put all your stuff in your helmet (gloves, headphones, Garmin, glasses) and leave it on the bike rack and drive off! Ask me how I know! 😉

  • I can’t go out for a ride without some sort of under helmet head wear. A sweat band or cap in warm weather, a thicker cap in cold.

    • Same with me. But I’m bald. I always wear bandanna or something warmer if necessary.

      • Ha! Same here! So the headwear is dual purpose for us, it sops up sweat and protects our chrome domes from sunburn. Glad Steve included it in his list which I’ve copied into Evernote for my own use. Thanks for all the great knowledge sharing Steve!

  • • Patches for running out of spare tubes
    • Bell for riding in normal traffic (I always ride with a bell except for races)

  • Spare gear hanger and quick link for the chain you’re riding. Both very important and things most people don’t think to carry!

  • Why the Ibuprofen?!

  • Thanks for another great post, Steve.

    One extra ‘better-safe-than-sorry’ item which this old’un took on the TBN-organised 200 mile ‘hairshirt’ up in Canada this past Sunday – a dozen sheets of toilet paper!

    Finished in the dark – glad I had taken advice and fitted flashing lights to the wheels to improve ‘side-on’ visibility (there are a lot of inattentive drivers out there).

  • Good list, Stevo! What kind of idiot would forget water bottles? Oh, wait….

  • I have a gym bag with a separate compartment for shoes that I keep the necessities in. Not that I don’t forget things sometimes, but it does cover the vast majority of what I need. It goes over the shoulder as I walk out the door; haven’t forgotten it yet. I keep a spare bandanna and socks in it, because those are the things I forget most.

  • Antonio Boškovi?

    that seems a bit excessive, i usually take a mini pump, patches one tire lever
    obviously drinks, phone some food if going longer thats just common sence as is the helmet and rest of the kit

  • Antonio Boškovi?

    that seems a bit excessive, i usually take a mini pump, patches one tire lever
    obviously drinks, phone some food if going longer thats just common sence as is the helmet and rest of the kit

  • A good looking, well ventilated helmet that keeps the sun off our scalp is a golden opportunity for the manufacturers.

  • I take a moment and start at the top of my head (helmet) and work my way down my body, to include mouth (food/drink), clothes etc. I hit every part of my body to think about the required equipment. Usually works.

  • One thing i recently added to my tool bag is a gojo degreasing towel. If you have to remove the rear wheel or touch the chain for some reason this will get your hands clean. I have been on many rides where chain lube made a mess on the handlebars and rear jersey pockets.

    • John, a similar option is just to carry a latex glove or two in your bag. They don’t weigh anything and take up little space. Put them on if need to deal with chain issues.

  • Hi Steve, love your site and have used it many times. Not sure where to ask this question, so I chose this review. I don’t see that you’ve done a smart trainer review, but I did see that you referred readers to the DC guy who does. Anyway, my question: for indoor smart training purposes, does it matter too much what bike you’re riding? I mean, weight doesn’t matter, right? The bike should “fit” you and be comfortable. And I suppose the drivetrain should be smooth. Any other “requirements” for the bike itself on a smart trainer? Asking bc im thinking of getting a cheap, used “smart trainer-only” bike.

    • Hi Jay, Thanks for your kind feedback and for supporting the site. Right, weight doesn’t matter.Using a bike in your trainer is the most important bike-related thing. Otherwise, the training benefit and muscle memory won’t translate as effectively as it would with a bike that does. So things like crank length, stack and reach, saddle, etc. should be set up the same. That may make your cheap bike become a more expensive proposition. Unless you are planning to ride inside and outside during the time you are doing a lot of trainer rides (and even if you are), it may be easier and less expensive to pull off your back wheel and put it on the smart trainer with your existing bike than try to find a similar bike or pay for the used bike to be fitted and replace parts of the cockpit and drive train.

      BTW, you can get 10% off Saris and TACX trainers through our exclusive code with Power Meter City. You can see the details and get linked straight to those trainers in my recent post The Best Bike Deals for Enthusiasts. Steve

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