Cycling can be expensive. There is an endless array of stuff out there. Some of it is great, some of it is extravagant and some of it is plain useless. If you are new to the sport, it can all seem a little overwhelming. Who knew that bicycles needed three sets of wheels, two computers and a special bath each night? Who knew that riding a bike required a diet not available on regular supermarket shelves (or eaten by anybody since the Bronze Age)? To enjoy cycling, you don’t need to be in the highest tax bracket. Here are a few practical ways to save some money.
Buy second hand
There are enough cyclists in need of the latest and greatest gear. Their hand-me-downs will suit you just fine. You can easily find gently ridden, quality material at really good prices.
Quality aluminum frames aren’t much heavier than their carbon-fibre counterparts. They also cost less and are more durable.
Get one set of wheels
Race wheels are nice but a good set of aluminum clinchers is fine for training and racing.
Run a mid-range groupset
The major manufacturers offer fantastic components in the second- and third-tiers of their range. For a few extra grams and some minor esthetic differences, they offer technology that is practically the same as the top-end kit.
Use good tires
Riding old, crappy tires is no way to skimp; you’ll just end up by the side of the road with your hand pump. Flats add up: all of those extra tubes will quickly exceed the cost of a good set of tires. With good rubber, you’ll puncture less and have better grip, which will likely save some of your skin.
Wash your bike with dish soap
If your drivetrain is especially grimy, buy extra-strength dish soap. With some hot water, a few rags and a brush, you will have your bike looking like new in no time. Keeping your bike clean reduces wear, which means you’ll have to replace parts less frequently.
Read your labels; sugar is sugar, protein is protein and fat is fat. There is no need to buy special nutrition products. Energy bars are just glorified cookies that cost 10 times as much. Avoid food fads; they are fads. Don’t buy into the hype.
Join a club
Club discounts on kit will save you a bundle. More important, you’ll meet new friends and gain access to a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Ride by feel
You can be a very good cyclist without worrying about watts per kilogram. Before dropping a pile of cash on a power meter, ask yourself if you are ready to add all those numbers to your rides.
Cycling is simple; keep it that way. Choose kit wisely, avoid paraphernalia and enjoy the ride.