For many of us, the process of researching the next addition to our infinitely expanding kit collection is part of the joy of the sport. The thrill of the chase never gets old – with endless hours scouring online reviews resulting in overflowing drawers of lycra and bemused family members whenever another mysterious brown box arrives.
The result of course, is that you end up with a lot of stuff; some good, some great, some a complete waste of time used once and forgotten forever. Amongst them however, are often a handful of items that stand head and shoulders above the rest.
You know the ones – those pieces that never let you down and become your go-to items season after season. The things you simply couldn’t live without and when they do eventually wear out from overuse, you replace them like for like without hesitation. Ultimately, these are the bits of kit that make the difference – that genuinely improve and deepen your enjoyment of cycling.
In nearly a decade of riding I know I’ve got through my fair share of kit, and there are a number of items, big and small, that based on personal experience, have made it onto my hall of fame. So without further ado and in no particular order, here is The Obsessive Cyclist’s list of the top ten best cycling accessories:
Of all the items on this list, it was the decision over which power meter to buy that led to the most procrastination. It’s a major purchase after all, and the options can be overwhelming, but once I’d decided I wanted power pedals it came down to the Garmin Vector 3s and the Favero Assiomas. My in-depth internet research at the time pointed to countless horror stories about the reliability of the Garmins (apparently now resolved), and yet the Assiomas, despite coming from a much less known brand, seemed to be universally praised. After nearly two years with these pedals, I can see why – they are quite simply, brilliant.
From consistent, accurate readings and simple plug and play connectivity, to long (rechargeable) battery life and the general user experience, these Italian pedals are unbeatable. I’ve used them in some of the most demanding conditions all year round and they just work. The fact they’re one of the best-priced power meters on the market only adds to their appeal.
Price: £375 (single sided) / £640 (dual sided)
Is it a jersey or a jacket? Whatever it is, for roadies in the know, this proven winter classic needs no introduction. An evolution of the legendary ‘Gabba’, etched into the fabric of pro cycling folklore, Castelli’s Perfetto is my default long-sleeved choice when the temperature plummets to single digits. Combining windproof Gore-Tex fabric with a stylish race-fit cut, excellent storage and highly visible reflective panels, it’s the most complete piece of winter kit I own. Somehow it always keeps you perfectly warm when it’s freezing yet never gets too hot either. I’m about to go into my third winter with mine and it looks and feels as new now as it did when I bought it. ‘Perfetto’ indeed.
Lezyne Control Drive Co2
Roadside punctures are never fun, and I’m a firm believer in the advantages of using Co2 canisters to get you back on the move quickly. Where I’ve struggled in the past however is with the inflator – the nozzle adaptor that connects the canister to the tube valve. I’ve got through a few of these, and found many to be rather hit and miss, and on more than one occasion have had issues where the inflator doesn’t seal with the valve and all the gas from the canister escapes leaving you with an uninflated tube – disaster.
Not so with the Lezyne Control Drive. This nifty little gadget is so simple and effective, and most importantly means you’ll never fail to get all the air into the tube again. Once the canister is installed, simply press the device into the tube valve and gently unwind the tap to release the amount of air you want. It seals every time and, as the name suggests, puts you in complete control of the airflow.
It now holds permanent residence in my saddle bag – an essential item for roadside repair.
Var Nylon Tyre Lever
We’ve all been there: Fixing a puncture, you struggle to get the last part of the tyre back onto the rim with your frozen fingers. With no option but to use tyre levers to shoehorn it on, you accidentally pinch the new tube you’ve just put in and bang – another flat and you’re back to square one.
This incredibly simple tool removes that risk and makes getting stubborn tyres on an absolute breeze. Placing it over the tyre, one side rests on the rim whilst the other hooks under the tyre on the other side, enabling you to effectively pull the tyre onto the rim, therefore avoiding any risk of pinching the tube.
It’s been an absolute lifesaver for me. I’ve also used it to help so many friends and other riders struggling to get their tyre back on mid ride, and would never set off for a ride without this in my jersey pocket. It might be one of the cheapest cycling accessories you can own, but also one of the best.
Park Tool Cyclone Chain Scrubber
We all know cleaning and degreasing your chain can be a messy affair – not so with this ingenious device from Park Tool. Simply fill up the reservoir with degreaser, clamp over your dirty chain and spin the cranks a few times. Within seconds you are presented with a thoroughly cleaned chain that looks like new. A quick rinse off with water and left to dry, and its ready to be lubed again.
This was one of the first cycling-specific tools I ever bought and I’d never consider clearing my chain without it. Eight years on and it’s still going strong. Recommended.
Wahoo Kickr Core
With indoor cycling booming, there are countless options when it comes to indoor smart trainers for every budget. At £699, the Kickr Core is Wahoo’s mid-market offering. I purchased it having never done indoor training before, and didn’t want to splash over £1,000 on the full-fat, top-of-the-range Kickr only to get bored and sell it 3 months later.
I’m pleased to report that, over two years on and hundreds of workouts later, the Kickr Core remains at the epicentre of my indoor training setup. Seamlessly connecting to Zwift, TrainerRoad or whatever app you throw at it, this trainer just quietly gets on with the job. I say quietly, as this thing is almost silent, meaning housemates, sleeping kids and neighbours will have nothing to complain about during your early morning or late night interval sessions. With the same size flywheel as the previous generation Kickr, it provides an excellent and very realistic feel when riding simulated courses in Zwift – so much so that I defy anyone to be able to tell the difference between this and the full Kickr in a back to back test. In fact, the only noticeable difference between this and the top-of-the range model is the design, which features unfoldable, bolt on legs, rather than the Kickr’s smaller, neater, foldable footprint for added portability. Then again, I don’t know anyone who needs their indoor trainer to be portable, so if like me you can live with the Core’s slightly more unwieldy design, then the question is, do you really need anything more?
Based on my own experience, and the fact that of all of the cycling accessories I have ever bought, it is this device that has made me a fitter, faster cyclist, then the answer is emphatically, no – you don’t need anything more than a Kickr Core.
Thule Proride 598 Bike Rack
Thule are the market leaders when it comes to bike racks, and with the Proride 598, it’s easy to see why. When putting your carbon fibre pride and joy on the car roof and bombing down the motorway, you want complete peace of mind, and with this classy-looking roof mount from the Swedish brand, the bike feels rock solid even at high speeds.
Integrating seamlessly with Thule’s roof bars which are bought separately, the Proride takes two minutes to fit and remove. Adjustable wheel mounts mean you can tailor the size to your specific bike (I’ve had both a full suspension 29er mountain bike and a road bike on it with zero issues), and with an adjustable clamping claw which grips the downtube near the bottom bracket, you feel totally confident in securing it to even the most delicate carbon frames. A smart, lockable system secures the bike to the rack and the rack is secured to the bars, meaning security is taken care of too. The whole system feels high quality and brilliantly engineered, meaning no matter what road you’re on you can relax and enjoy the drive rather than worrying if your bike is safely mounted.
It’s been a loyal piece of kit for thousands of miles on countless roadtrips and never missed a beat, so a big thumbs up from me.
Fizik Artica R5
Having got sick of using overshoes that didn’t keep your feet warm or dry and never lasted more than one winter, I knew it was time to invest in some proper winter boots. These classy-looking shoes from Fizik have become a staple of my winter riding wardrobe, and for good reason. On even the most brutally wet and cold rides in the depths of winter down to temperatures below freezing, they do a brilliant job of keeping your feed warm and, for the most part, dry. A sealed zip and ski boot-style toggle system ensures a snug fit, while the Velcro ankle strap keeps the top sealed nicely. I’m now going into my third winter with these and they look almost like new. In terms of fit, like any shoes, it’s a highly individual thing and Fiziks generally come up quite narrow, which suits my feet well.
Of course, in torrential rain, even the best winter boots can never completely stop the inevitable problem of water coming down the leg and entering the boot from the top. Thankfully, I’ve found a solution that too (see below).
For the wettest rides, these have become an essential item. So simple and yet so effective, these rubbery gaitors form a water-tight seal around your ankles and go over the outside of your boot to ensure any water trickling down your legs are dispersed onto the shoes – rather than into the shoe itself. The result is dry feet in even the most torrential rain. I hardly see anyone using these, but as far as cycling accessories for the wet rides go, they’re a game changer.
Rapha Brevet Jersey
Love them or hate them, Rapha’s reputation for top quality kit is, for the most part, entirely deserved. I’ll admit I do own a lot of Rapha items, but when it comes to short sleeved jerseys there is one piece to rule them all – the Brevet. Designed with big distance rides in mind, I’ve used this jersey on some of my longest and toughest days in the saddle including the Mallorca 312, and L’Etape du Tour and it delivers every single time. A comfortable yet fitted cut, generous, zippable pockets and excellent reflective features for those super-early starts and through the night excursions, it’s just a brilliant all rounder with a timeless, classic design.
What cycling accessories are in your hall of fame? Let us know in the comments below.
Still hungry for kit reviews? Check out our take on the Rapha Pro Team Long Sleeve Thermal Jersey.