Get The Best From Your Bike In 2021

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Amidst the challenges of the last year, there have been a few silver linings, one of which is that many people have found the time to really focus on their fitness hobbies or start up new ones altogether. If you got into cycling over the lockdowns, you may be wondering how to up your game.

While investing in a new bike can be a big step, investing in the right accessories can really enhance the experience – from buying a quality helmet with extra safety features to choosing a saddle which ensures a smooth and comfortable ride. Here's our run-down of the extras you should consider if you want to get the best from your bike.

Choosing a helmet

We’d hope it’s a given that you’ll be riding with a helmet, but it’s also important to ensure you have the right helmet – one that’s well-made, well ventilated, and is as strong as it is comfortable. Ultimately, a helmet that could save your life should an accident occur.

Bike helmets aren’t built to last, they’re built to absorb the worst of the impact and damage from a collision. Even if you haven’t had any major incidents, little knocks here and there can undermine the integrity of the casing and foam, while the foam also degrades over time even without impact damage. So if you haven’t bought a new helmet for a few years, it’s probably about time you considered getting a new one.

There isn’t a one size fits all – literally, but also in terms of your preferred discipline of cycling and the intensity of your rides. For example, helmets designed for mountain biking tend to come with a visor to help shield your face from sun and rain when you’re sitting more upright in the saddle. If you’re planning to embark on long rides on hot days, you may want to prioritise ventilation, while those getting into performance road cycling may want something more aerodynamic. Whichever helmet you choose, ensure it’s a good, snug fit.

If you’re a casual cyclist then you may opt for a leisure or commuter helmet, which gives you a good balance of ventilation, protection and weight. For example, Specialized’s Align II is a comfortable, versatile, affordable and safe option. It features Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), a patented technology designed to mitigate rotational forces in the event of a collision. While Specialized might be famous for its premium range of bikes, the same passion goes into the brand’s equipment and accessories – which go through rigorous research, development and testing.

Specialized has also designed an innovative helmet-mounted sensor ‘ANGi’, that measures impact and rotational forces in the event of a crash, whether or not the helmet actually makes contact with the ground. When paired with the Specialized Ride app, it works as an alert system, assessing whether you’re ok to keep riding or whether you need medical attention, and, if the latter, informing your emergency contacts with your last known GPS coordinates. This gives added reassurance for riders new to commuting or those exploring new routes – the Specialized Ride app is always looking out for you.

Getting in the saddle

A lot of cyclists have discovered the nightmare of an uncomfortable saddle the hard way, and ended up paying for a two-hour ride with a week of being sore. While many bikes come with a decent enough saddle, you can gain an extra level of comfort and support from a saddle which fits you properly.

So what should you be looking for? Again, it depends hugely on your cycling preferences as well as your build and the position you ride in. For instance, if you’ll be shifting position on the bike a lot on mountain or gravel routes, you’ll want a saddle which can comfortably and supportively adjust to different riding positions. Even if you’re a casual cyclist and don’t require a particularly specialist design, you’ll still want to make sure your saddle is comfortable.

Everyone is built differently, so it’s a good idea to try out a few different saddle shapes and widths to see which gives you the best comfort and support. Specialist bike retailers can help you find the right saddle for you by expertly measuring you both on and off your bike. Whatever the riding position, the idea is that your weight is supported by your sit bones rather than your nerves, arteries, and soft tissues. Specialized offers a wide range of saddle sizes and shapes, with padding technology to keep you comfortable. Its ‘Body Geometry’ saddles also come with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

The extra gear

While you don’t have to be a vision in lycra to enjoy your rides, investing in some extras above and beyond the bike itself can really enhance your experience. In particular, consider extra protection and comfort for those areas of the body which make contact with the bike.

Accessories specifically designed to address some of the challenges of cycling and its effect on the body should be high on your list. For example, Specialized has developed its innovative Body Geometry technology for a range of premium accessories. This ergonomic technology not only helps boost performance, but helps prevent injury and ensure comfort at the points where your body makes contact with the bike.

Gloves are a good investment for anyone planning to spend a lot of time out on their bike. They not only help protect your hands from the elements and from falls, but some also help protect your hands from strain and pressure. Specialized gloves are designed to prevent numb hands, with carefully placed pads which help distribute the force of gripping the handlebars and reduce pressure on nerves – the gloves also mould to the individual’s unique grip to ensure maximum comfort.

Pedalling can be tough on your feet, so if you’re getting seriously into cycling you might want to ditch those old trainers. Cycling shoes can be paired with clipless pedals to enhance your performance, efficiency and control of your bike. Key to a good pair of cycling shoes is arch support and a design which ensures good knee alignment and the distribution of pressure so you don’t end up with numbness and pain points. Specialized’s Body Geometry technology takes all of these factors into account, its outsole arch support is paired with three standard footbed shapes for personalisation of your arch height so that the power from your strokes is transferred into the pedal without risking arch collapse. There’s also the Varus Wedge to help stabilise your foot and keep your alignment in check and Metatarsal Button, which alleviates pressure and prevents hot spots and numbness.

So, next time you’re wondering if you should put all of your budget into a new bike, consider whether you could also benefit from putting a little more thought into your other cycling equipment. Whether you’re thinking of hitting the road or planning some off-road scenic routes, having the right accessories to take your cycling up to the next level.

Explore the full range of Specialized equipment and accessories

Coach Staff

Coach is a health and fitness title. This byline is used for posting sponsored content, book extracts and the like. It is also used as a placeholder for articles published a long time ago when the original author is unclear. You can find out more about this publication and find the contact details of the editorial team on the About Us page.